"Tsippor is the greatest city of Galilee, and built in a very strong place."
"Kitron (Judg 1:29,30) is Tsippor: and why is it called Tsippor? Because it is seated upon a mountain as Tsippor, a bird."
"Sixteen miles on all sides from Tsippor was a land flowing with milk and honey."
This city is noted in Josephus for its warlike affairs; but most noted in the Talmudists for the university fixed there, and for the learning, which Rabbi Judah the Holy brought hither, as we have said before. He sat in this place seventeen years, and used most frequently to say this of himself, "Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and Judah lived in Tsippor seventeen years."
He sat also in Beth-Shaarim, as also in Tiberias, but he ended his life in Tsippor. There is this story of his death; "The men of Tsippor said, Whosoever shall tell us that Rabbi is dead, we will kill him. Bar Kaphra, having his head veiled, looked upon them and said, 'Holy men and angels both took hold of the tables of the covenant, and the hand of the angels prevailed, and they snatched away the tables.' They said to him, 'Is Rabbi dead?' He said, 'Ye have said.' They rent their garments after that manner, that the voice of the renting came as far as Papath, that is, the space of three miles. R. Nachman in the name of R. Mena said, 'Miracles were done on that day.' When all cities were gathered together to lament him, and that on the eve of the sabbath, the day did not waste, until every one was gone home, had filled a bottle with water, and had lighted up a sabbath-candle. The Bath Kol pronounced blessedness upon those that lamented him, excepting only one; who knowing himself excepted, threw himself headlong from the roof, and died."
"R. Judah died in Tsippor, but his burial was in Beth-Shaarim: dying, he gave in command to his son, 'When ye carry me to my burial, do not lament me in the small cities through which ye shall pass, but in the great,'" &c. What say you to this, R. Benjamin? In you it is, "His sepulchre is in Tsippor in the mountain, as also the sepulchre of R. Chaija, and Jonah the prophet," &c. Do you make up the controversy with your kinsmen now cited.
There were many synagogues in Tsippor. In the story but now alleged, concerning the death and burial of R. Judah, mention is made of eighteen synagogues that bewailed him; but whether all these were synagogues of Tsippor, or of other places, it is questioned, not without cause.
"The synagogue of Gophna was certainly in Tsippor." There was also "The synagogue of Babylon in Tsippor." There are also many names of famous doctors there.
"R. Honna Rabba." "R. Abudina of Tsippor." "R. Bar Kaphra in Tsippor." "R. Chaninah of Tsippor." The mention of whom is most frequent above others.
A controversy, risen at Tsippor, was determined before "R. Simeon Ben Gamaliel, and R. Jose."
Among many stories acted on this stage, which might be produced, we shall offer these only:--
"An inquisition was sometime made after the men of Tsippor: they, therefore, that they might not be known, clapped patches upon their noses; but at last they were discovered," &c.
"One, in the upper street of Tsippor, taking care about the scripts of paper fixed to the door-posts, was punished a thousand zuzees." These words argue some persecution stirred up in that city against the Jews.
"A certain butcher of Tsippor sold the Jews flesh that was forbidden,--namely, dead carcases, and that which was torn. On one sabbath eve, after he had been drinking wine, going up into the roof, he fell down thence and died. The dogs came and licked his blood. R. Chaninah being asked, Whether they should drive away the dogs? 'By no means,' said he, 'for they eat of their own.'"
"Counsellors and pagans in Tsippor" are mentioned.
And also "The sons of Ketzirah, (or the harvest), of Tsippor."
Tsippor was distant from Tiberias, as R. Benjamin tells us in his Itinerary, "twenty miles."
Zipporin with Zain is once writ in the Jerusalem Talmud; one would suspect it to be this city: "When R. Akibah went to Zippor, they came to him, and asked, Are the jugs of the Gentiles clean?" A story worthy of consideration; if that Zipporin denote ours, was R. Akibah in Tsippor? He died almost forty years before the university was translated thither. But schools haply were there before a university.
In the Talmud, the story of "Ben Elam of Tsippor" (once it is written, "in Tsippor") is thrice repeated; who, when the high priest, by reason of some uncleanness contracted on the day of expiation, could not perform the office of that day, went in, and officiated.