#14 Worlds in Transition: Jewish History of the 16th Century (part 3)

In the 1500s, Jewish life was shaped by many remarkable figures among whom were a number of powerful and learned Jewish women. In this third podcast episode on Jewish History of the 16th century, David Solomon examines the lives and contributions of some of these influential Jewish women and explores the extraordinary impact they had on politics and commerce, culture and ideas, as well as Jewish life, learning and religious practice.

Franz Hermann, Hans Gemminger, Valentin Mueller: A scene from a Turkish harem. Public Domain.

Continue reading “#14 Worlds in Transition: Jewish History of the 16th Century (part 3)”

#13 Worlds in Transition: Jewish History of the 16th Century (part 2)

Jewish life in the Ottoman Empire flourished in the 16th century. In this podcast episode, David Solomon examines factors across the empire that would come together during this period to create revolutionary developments in Jewish law and mysticism. David examines the lives and work of key individuals involved in this revolution, providing an overview of the profound new ideas that emerged and the lasting impact they would have on the world.

Tree of Life. Created by PuckSmith with LView Pro 1.D2 and ACDSee 3.1 [Public domain]

Continue reading “#13 Worlds in Transition: Jewish History of the 16th Century (part 2)”

#12 Worlds in Transition: Jewish History of the 16th Century (part 1)

In the first of this podcast series looking at Jewish History of the 16th century, David Solomon examines fascinating religious and secular developments of the early 1500s in Europe and Asia and the consequences they would have for Jewish populations – both positive and negative.  David also discusses the emergence of a range of remarkable Jewish figures during this period as well as influential new texts in Jewish mysticism, history, law and commentary, and science – and an explosion in the printing of Jewish books which would have significant impact on the spread of learning and ideas across the world.

“Göke” (1495) was the flagship of Kemal Reis to save the Sephardic Jews of Spain from the Spanish Inquisition and granted them permission to settle in the Ottoman Empire. Public Domain

Continue reading “#12 Worlds in Transition: Jewish History of the 16th Century (part 1)”

#10 From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Part 4: 1250-1300)

Throughout Europe, Jewish life in the second half of the 13th century existed under economic and theological oppression. There were national expulsions; country-wide promotions of the blood libel; sermons to convert Jews; papal bulls; forced disputations; massacres; and organised kidnappings. However, this fifty-year period also saw profoundly important developments in Jewish mysticism, law and commentary. Surroundings these elements are the fascinating stories of individuals and communities whose lives and works shaped the Jewish narrative of the future as well as the broader world.

Rembrandt: Philosopher in Meditation. Public Domain

Continue reading “#10 From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Part 4: 1250-1300)”

#9 From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Part 3: 1200-1250)

Life in the first half of the 13th Century continued in the shadow of dramatic and perilous historical events including the Second Reconquista; the fourth to sixth crusades; the rule of the Ayyubids; the Mongol invasion; the rise of the Mamluks; and the emergence of high scholasticism. Within this context, Jewish life was often fraught with danger and uncertainty, but it also gave rise to a number of extraordinary individuals. David Solomon examines the personalities and contributions of some of the significant Jewish figures who lived during this time. He also explores the impact of numerous initiatives concerning Jews, including various papal decrees, the Fourth Lateran Council, the beginning of the Inquisition, the burning of Jewish texts, forced disputations, and anti-semitic canards. This period also saw Jewish spiritual, cultural and linguistic developments that would shape the lives of communities for centuries.

Woodcut carved by Johann von Armssheim (1483). Portays a disputation between Jewish and Christian scholars (Soncino Blaetter, Berlin, 1929. Jerusalem, B. M. Ansbacher Collection). Public domain – This file has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights.

Continue reading “#9 From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Part 3: 1200-1250)”

#8 From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Part 2: 1150-1200)

The second half of the 12th century is the focus of this podcast episode. David Solomon explores Jewish History through the eyes and contributions of individuals and the broader perspectives of nations. He examines the life and work of towering figures like the Rambam (Maimonides), the significant contributions made by Torah commentators and translators of the period, the observations of a famed Jewish traveller, the rise of a new mystical movement, and the impact of a false messiah. The podcast also discusses the ongoing consequences of the crusader campaigns, the regeneration of Jewish communities in Germany, Jewish life in Bagdad, the establishment of a Jewish presence in China, the forced conversion of the Jews of Yemen, and the consequence of the Third Lateran Council on the status of Jews in the Middle Ages.

Maimonides teaches about the ‘measure of men’ (compared to the earth and the universe, men is very small). Public domain image.

Continue reading “#8 From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Part 2: 1150-1200)”

#7 From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Part 1: 1100-1150)

The first half of the 12th century was  rich with Jewish intellectual and spiritual contribution but it was also marred by hardship and violence. Framed by a background of large empires and changing power structures, this podcast examines the impact that historical events like the first two crusades, the Blood Libel, the first reconquista of Spain and the Almohad invasion had on Jewish communities from Europe to the Land of Israel. David explores the lives and works of leading Jewish figures, including those known as the Rishonim, whose contributions were profoundly impactful on world Jewry as well as other important developments in culture, language, religion and society.

A scene of Ibn Ezra practicing Astrology with an Arabic manuscript being held by the men that flank him to either side. [Public domain]

Continue reading “#7 From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Part 1: 1100-1150)”

#6 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 6

Kingship was reinstated in the land of Israel following the return from Babylonian exile. This podcast episode examines the historical background of the period of Second Temple, including the expansion of the Hasmonean kingdom through military annexation and repopulation; the tension between the Sadducees and the Pharisees; and the rise and expansion of Rome. David discusses the characters and reigns of the Hasmonean kings and queens and the rule of the three Herodian monarchs.

Wojciech Stattler – The Maccabees [Public domain]
Continue reading “#6 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 6”

#5 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 5

The period of the Josianic kings, from Menasheh to Zedekiah, was the last chapter for the Judean Kingdom before the Babylonian exile. This podcast explores the personalities and actions of these kings and the overall historical setting of their reigns, including the domination and fall of the Assyrian Empire, the defeat of Egypt, and the rise and supremacy of Babylon. David looks at the lead up to the destruction of the Temple, the Babylonian exile, the return to Zion and the project to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

James Tissot – The Flight of the Prisoners [Public domain]

Continue reading “#5 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 5”

#4 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 4

The historical period from King Joash (Yehoash) to King Hezekiah (Heskiyahu), exploring the histories, personalities and fates of these kings and all those in between is the focus of this episode. David discusses the House of Jehu and the circumstances that led to the end of the Northern Kingdom. He provides an overall picture of the region at the time, including the kingdoms’ geo-political competition with Aram and the rise of Assyria. Tune in for another action-packed lecture. 

Hezekiah showing off his wealth to envoys of the Babylonian king, oil on canvas by Vicente López Portaña, 1789 [Public domain]

Continue reading “#4 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 4”