The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Hillel

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HILLEL, Jewish rabbi, who flourished in the time of Herod. He was commonly called Ha-zaken, the elder, to distinguish him from others bearing the same name. Descended from an ancient family of Babylonia, he left his home to study law at Jerusalem. In order to earn a livelihood, he hired out as a day laborer, meanwhile studying diligently; and became an important authority on Jewish teaching and law. He was distinguished for the liberality of his thought and his interpretations of the Scriptures and rabbinical teachings. Many fine sayings were attributed to him. He was president of the Sanhedrin for many years. By several modern writers, notably Renan, Hillel's influence on Jesus is given great weight. Consult Renan, 'Vie de Jésus' (Paris 1863); Geiger, A., 'Das Judenthum und seine Geschichte' (Breslau 1865); Stapfer, E., ‘Les Idées religieuses en Palestine à l’époque de Jésus Christ' (Paris 1878).