Akiba

, a famous Rabbin, who flourished a little after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, was a Jew only by the mother’s side, and it is pretended that his father was descended from Sisera, general of the army of Jabin king of Tyre. Akiba, for the first forty years of his life, kept the flocks of Calba Schwa, a rich citizen of Jerusalem, whose daughter is said to have induced him to study in hopes of gaining her hand, if he should make any considerable progress. He applied himself accordingly to his studies with so much assiduity and success, for upwards of twenty years, that he was considered as one of the most able teachers in Israel, and was followed by a prodigious number of scholars. He declared himself for the impostor Barchochebas, and asserted that he was the true Messiah; but the troops which the emperor Hadrian sent against the Jews, who under the conduct of this false Messiah had committed horrid massacres, exterminated this faction, and Akiba was taken and put to death with great cruelty. He lived an hundred and twenty years, and was buried with his wife in a cave upon a mountain not far from Tiberias. The Jewish writers enlarge much upon his praises, and his sayings are often mentioned in the Mishnu and Talmud. When he died, they say, the glory of the law vanished away. This happened in the year 135. He was in truth a gross impostor, and the accounts handed down to us of him are entitled to very little credit. He is said to have forged a work under the name of the patriarch Abraham, entitled “Sepher Jezirah,” or, “The Book of the Creation,” which was | translated into Latin by Postel, and published at Paris in 1552, 8vo, at Mantua in 4to, and at Basil in folio, 1587. Some charge him also with having altered the Hebrew text of the Bible, in order to contend with the Christians on certain points of chronology. 1

1

Gen. Dict. Lardner’s Works, vol. VII. pp. U3, 145, 148.