Lydia, Lydians

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LYDIA, LYDIANS (Heb. לודיים ,לוּדִים ,לוּד; Assyr. Luddu), people who, together with the Phrygians and other Anatolian peoples, infiltrated Anatolia after the decline of the *Hittite empire at the beginning of the 12th century b.c.e., and settled in the vicinity of the Maeander River (modern Buyuk Menderes) and the western part of the Anatolian heights. After their infiltration, the Lydian tribes assimilated within the local Hittite population and partly took on its language. It is significant to note that one of the kings of the first dynasty is called by the Hittite name Muršiliš (Gr. Myrsilus), a name which was common among the Hittite kings. This dynasty ended with a court uprising, when the head of the royal guard, Gyges, took over the rule. Gyges established the second Lydian dynasty, which ended with the reign of Croesus, when Lydia was conquered by the Persian king Cyrus. During the time of Gyges, relations were established between Lydia and the kingdom of Assyria, because Gyges sought the aid of the latter against the Cimmerians. An important part of this episode has been preserved in the Annals of Ashurbanipal, which records a request for aid by "Guggu king of Luddu (Lydia)" from the Assyrian king (Rassam Cylinder, 2:95). The name of Gyges, in its Hebrew form, *Gog, found its way into Ezekiel (38:2–3). He is referred to here as the head of two Anatolian peoples, Meshech and Tubal. It may thus be concluded that legends about Gyges were popular in both the classical world and the Assyrian empire. Gyges attempted to gain control of central Anatolia and its western coast. The Lydian capital was at this time already in *Sardis. The last Lydian king was Croesus, known throughout the Greek world for his legendary wealth; he was defeated by the Persian army in 547. This brought an end to the Lydian kingdom, which became a province of the Persian empire. The name of the area was preserved as Lydia until a later period, and appears in its biblical Hebrew form, Lud, in talmudic sources as well. The name appears in the Bible together with the names of the Anatolian peoples who were known in the ancient Near East in the eighth and seventh centuries. In Genesis 10:22, Lud is considered a son of Shem and listed together with Elam, Assyria, etc. This ethnic juxtaposition reflects the geographic relationship of the whole northeastern territory as well as an ethnic unity. The parallel list in I Chronicles 1:17 also includes Meshech, which emphasizes the geographic-ethnic orientation of the list. There is an interesting report in Jeremiah 46:9 which speaks of the army of Pharaoh Neco and which also mentions the Lydians as bowmen serving as auxiliaries of the Egyptian forces. Some scholars regard Ludim (Lydians) as a distortion of Luvim (Libyans), but it is more reasonable to assume that the verse refers to mercenary forces of Lydians who, like the Greeks, served in the Egyptian army.

[Aaron Kempinski]

Jews in Lydia

The beginning of Jewish settlement in Lydia is connected with the establishment of Jewish military settlements by Antiochus III. Josephus relates that during Antiochus' campaignin the East in 209–204 b.c.e. a revolt broke out in Lydia and Phrygia, and Antiochus decided to transfer 2,000 Jewish families from Mesopotamia to the rebellious regions. Each family received a plot of land upon which to build a house and for cultivation. They were to be exempt from taxation for ten years, and during the initial period their needs were to be provided for. They received special authority to live according to the customs of their ancestors. The authenticity of the document quoted by Josephus (Ant., 12:147ff.) is denied by some, but since Jews served as soldiers and dwelt in military settlements as early as in the Persian era, it can be regarded as genuine. These settlements became the nucleus of the Jewish settlement in Asia Minor generally and in Lydia in particular. Lydia remained in the possession of Antiochus until the battle of Magnesia in 190 b.c.e. when it was given by the Romans to Eumenes II king of Pergamum.

In 133 b.c.e. Attalus iii bequeathed the kingdom to the Romans and an Asian province was created which included Lydia. Information about the Jews of Lydia derives chiefly from the Roman era. Many documents having reference to the Jews of Sardis have been preserved. From a resolution about the Jews by the citizens of Sardis it is clear that the Romans granted the Jews the right to live according to their customs and even to be judged by their own laws. The ancient synagogue of Sardis was discovered and excavated in the 1960s.

The sending of the half shekel to the Temple in Jerusalem was a source of friction between Jews and gentiles, who did not look favorably upon the export of the money from their city to a foreign country. The proconsul Gaius Norbanus Flaccus (in the time of Augustus, 27 b.c.e.–14 c.e.) wrote to the authorities of Sardis ordering them not to prevent the Jews from collecting the money and sending it to Jerusalem. There is extant from a still later period, the time of Trajan, an inscription from the city of Thyatira in Lydia (Frey, Corpus, 2 (1952), 16, no. 752). In this inscription the word Sambatyon occurs. Some consider it to be a Jewish inscription, while others regard it as being connected with "the God fearing ones" who were not regarded as full Jews. There is already reference to a "God fearing" woman from this city in an earlier period in Acts 16:14.

[Lea Roth]


G. Radet, La Lydie et le Monde Grec… (1892); A. Goetze, Kleinasien (19572), 206–9; A. Heubeck, Lydiaka (1959); G. Neumann, Untersuchungen zum Weiterleben hethitischen und luwischen Sprachgutes (1961); R.D. Barnett, in: cah2, vol. 2, ch. 30 (1967). jews in lydia: A. Buechler, Die Tobiaden und die Oniaden (1899), 144ff.; Schuerer, Gesch, 3 (19094), 12–15, 75; Juster, Juifs, 1 (1914), 190; Pauly-Wissowa, 26 (1927), 2197; Frey, Corpus, 2 (1952), 16–18, nos. 750, 751, 752; Schalit, in: jqr, 50 (1959/60), 289–318; V. Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews (1959), 288.