ABBA GULISH


ABBA GULISH
Legendary figure mentioned in midrashic literature (Mid. Hag. to Ex. 2:16). Abba Gulish was a priest at a heathen temple in Damascus. However, on one occasion, when in great distress, he supplicated his idol without success. Disappointed with idol worship, he went to Tiberias where heconverted to Judaism, zealously observing the precepts. He was there appointed overseer for the poor, but he embezzled the money entrusted to him and was punished by blindness, first of one eye and later of both. An object of contempt, he returned to Damascus where his former friends, regarding his blindness as a punishment for his apostasy, reproached him for his unfaithfulness. He thereupon assembled the people in the shrine for the ostensible purpose of apologizing to the idol, but instead he told them that an idol which is unable to see could not have punished him with blindness; it was the work of the omniscient God. As he descended from the dais, his sight was restored, as a result of which thousands of heathens became proselytes. It is not possible to determine whether there is any historical basis for this legend. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Krauss, in: OLZ, 20 (1917), 110.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.


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