The New International Encyclopædia/Hillel

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HIL'LEL, called Hababij (‘the Babylonian’), or Hazzaken (‘the elder’). A Jewish rabbi who died a few years after the beginning of the Christian Era. By birth a Babylonian, he left his home and came to Jerusalem to study the law. By doing manual labor he was enabled to support himself while attending the lectures of Shemayah and Abtalion, the president and vice-president respectively of the Sanhedrin. His progress was rapid. His solution of a difficulty which arose concerning the lawfulness of slaughtering the Paschal Lamb on the Sabbath led to his being appointed president of the Sanhedrin (B.C. 30), and he held this position till about A.D. 10. Hillel's character was gentle, patient, and peace-loving. It is Hillel to whom is ascribed the maxim, “What is hateful unto thee do not unto others.” He plays an important part in the history of Jewish legal science. He introduced a set of seven rules, by which the Scriptures are to be interpreted and laws derived from them. Entirely the opposite of Hillel in character was Shammai (q.v.), the vice-president of the Sanhedrin. His teaching was marked by a strict adherence to the letter and great vigor. The difference between the leaders was continued by their followers, so that, years afterwards, we still encounter the school of Hillel and the school of Shammai. The honor and respect won by Hillel was so great that his position of president of the Sanhedrin remained in his family. — Hillel Hannasi (‘the prince’). A descendant of the preceding, who lived about A.D. 350. He was also president of the Sanhedrin and had charge of the school at Tiberias. His great work was the arranging of the Hebrew calendar. In this he followed the system instituted by Meton.