Thecity of Zippori (Sepphoris) is located on a hill in the Lower Galilee, midway between the Mediterranean and Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).The city dates to the era of the Maccabees
in the second century B.C.E. and was described by the first centuryC.E. Jewish historian, Josephus Flavius, as "the ornament of all Galilee." The city may get its name from the Hebrew word "tsipor"(bird) because the view from the town gives a sense of flying. Zippori is mentioned in many Jewish sources of the first centuries of the common era. Founded in the Hellenistic
era by Alexander Janneus, it was captured by the Romans
in 37 BCE when the inhabitants fled in the midst of a snowstorm.
The Jews of Zippori did not join the revolt
against Rome in 66 C.E.; instead, they opened the city gates to thelegions of the Roman Emperor Vespasian and surrendered. On coins minted in Zippori at that time, the city is named Eirenopolis, "city ofpeace." Later, its name was changed to Diocaesarea in honor of Zeus and the emperor.
The Jewish community grew when thousands of refugees from Judea moved to towns in the Galilee following the Bar-Kokhba revolt
of 135 and Zippori became the center of Jewish religious and spirituallife in the Land of Israel. Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, who compiled the Mishnah
, lived in the city for 17 years and relocated the Sanhedrin
(the supreme Jewish religious and judicial body he headed) to Zippori in the third century.
Even after the seat of the Sanhedrin was moved to Tiberias
, Zippori remained a center of Bible study and notable sages taught inits numerous academies. Also, its location on or near major trade routes in the lower Galilee, made Zippori a prime market for traders.
Learn more about Zippori
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