Note: Blue highlighting has been applied to the words Elizabeth Dilling underlined in her exhibits. The text is unchanged from the original.


Michael L. Rodkinson: The History of the Talmud
Previous Section











Voluminous books were written about the text of the Mishna and Talmud in almost every language, besides valuable articles by very scholarly men in different books and periodicals. In the bibliography the reader will find all modern works arranged with various references to subjects. We shall only point out the special books on this subject, viz., "Darkhe Hamishnah," (The Ways of the Mishna), by Zachariah Frankel, "The Introduction to the Mishna," by Jacob Brill, 1876, "The Tradition of the Oral Law," by H. Weiss, and "Toldat Hamishnah," (History of the Mishna), by Haim Oppenheim, all in Hebrew; "Jahrbucher," by Dr. N. Brill, Frankfort, A. M., "Real Encyclopaedie," by J. Hamburger, "Die Lehrer der Mishna," by M. Braunschweiger, and Graetz's "History of the Jews," all in German. Finally three special introductions were written (1) "Einleitung in den Talmud," Leipzig, 1894, second edition, by Dr. Herman Strack, in German; (2) "Introduction to the Talmud," 1891 and 1894, second edition, by Dr. M. Mielziner, in English, and (3) "Introduction to the Mishna," in the Russian language, by N. Perferkowitz.* In these introductions are mentioned also the different translations of the Mishnayoth and Talmud in all the languages up to the time these works were written. Finally, Dr. Erick Bischoff wrote a special book named "Kritische Geschichte der Talmud-Uberzetzungen aller Zeiten and Zungen," Frankfort,

* This work, which is the first of its kind in the Russian language, is also worthy to be considered.




a. M., 1899. All the above mentioned introductions explain the terms of the text of the Mishna and Talmud, their abbreviations and the method of both Talmuds, to enable those who desire to study the text in the original. We, however, who wish to give an introduction to our English translation of the Talmud, deem it not necessary to trouble the English reader with the explanations of the text, and shall give only what pertains to our new edition.

We have already mentioned in our brief introduction to Sabbath that the Talmud, in general, is composed of Mishna and Gemara. In this introduction, however, we shall give all the particulars pointed out by Strack and Mielziner which we deem of interest to the English reader. As a text we took Mielziner's "Introduction," which is an excellent work, omitting what seems to us not necessary for the reader, supplying it with necessary remarks and additions.


The Talmud is a combination of Mishna and Gemara, the latter is a collection of Mishnayoth, Tosephtas, Mechilta, Siphra, Siphre and Boraithas, all of these, interpreted and discussed by the Amoraim, Saboraim, and also Gaonim at a later period. "The Mishna is the authorized codification of the oral or unwritten law, which on the basis of the written law contained in Pentateuch, developed during the second Temple, and down to the end of the second century of the common era." The author of which was R. Jehuda, the prince named "Rabbi" (flourishing toward the end of the second century), taking the unfinished work of R. Akiba and R. Meir as basis.*


"The word Tosephta means Addition, Supplement, and, as indicated by this name, the work is intended to complete deficiencies of the Mishna. It is divided into Masechtoth, generally corresponding to those of the Mishna, but differing

* The meaning of the word Mishna is already explained by us in the first volume of this work, as well as its division into sections.
In Mielziner's "Introduction," pp. 18-21, "the reader will find all the details about Mechilta Siphra and Siphre and Boraitha, which we deem it not necessary to repeat as they are not of importance to the reader.

† See also our brief general introduction, vol. i., p. xvii.




from them in the arrangement of their subject, and in the division of their Perakim. The latter are not subdivided into paragraphs. There are in all sixty Masechtoth and 452 Perakim. The Tosephta contains mainly the remnants of the earlier compilations of the Halacha made by R. Akiba, R. Meir, R. Nehemia, and others not adopted in the Mishna, and, besides additions made after R. Jehuda Hanasi's death by his disciples, R. Chiya, R. Oshaya, Bar Kappara and others. But we find in that work also many sayings and decisions of later Amoraim of the Babylonian and Palestinian schools. In its present shape it belongs to the fifth or sixth century."*


"The Mechilta, the Siphra and the Siphre have this in common, that they treat of the oral law not according to well arranged subjects, as is the case with the Mishna and the Tosephta, but rather in the form of a running commentary and discussion on the biblical passages from which the law is deduced or on which it is based.

"The Siphra, also called Torath Cohanin, is a collection of traditional interpretations of the whole book of Leviticus, introduced by an exposition of R. Ishmael's thirteen hermeneutic rules."


"The Siphre, or, as its fuller title reads, the books of the school of Rab, comprises the traditional interpretations of the book of Numbers, beginning with Chapter V., and of the whole book of Deuteronomy. The author of the Siphre on Numbers was evidently not the same as the author of that on the last book of the Pentateuch. The style of the former, being more argumentative and discursive, often resembles

* The Tosephta is usually printed as an appendix to Alphasi's compendium of the Talmud. In the Vienna edition of the Babylonian Talmud (1860-72) the Masechtoth of the Tosephta are appended to the corresponding Masechtoth of the Talmud. A separate revised edition of the whole Tosephta was published by Dr. Zuckermandel (Pasewalk and Treves, 1877-82). Dr. Adolph Schwartz is publishing a new edition of the Tosephta, with notes and text corrections, of which the first volume is out, Wilna, 1891. Critical researches on the Tosephta are found in Frankel's "Darke Hamishna," pp. 304-307, and in I. H. Weiss's "Dor Dor," etc., II, pp. 217-225; also in I. H. Duenner's "Wesen and Ursprung der Tosephta," Amsterdam, 1874.




that of the Siphra, while Siphre on Deuteronomy is generally brief, bearing more resemblance to the Mechilta." The author of it is said to be R. Simeon b. Johai.

Besides the Tosephta, the Mechilta, the Siphra and the Siphre just described, other collections of a similar character existed during the Talmudical period. In the course of time they perished, but many hundred fragmentary passages thereof are quoted in all parts of the Palestinian and Babylonian Gemara. Such a passage quoted from those lost collections as well as from the Tosephta, Mechilta, Siphra and Siphre was termed Boraitha, or Mathnitha Boraitha, meaning extraneous Mishna. This term was used in order to distinguish those passages from passages in our Mishna, that is, the authorized Mishna of R. Jehuda Hanasi, compared with which they had but a subordinate value. The Baraithoth are often found to be conflicting with each other or with the authorized Mishna, and in this case the Gemara usually displays great ingenuity and subtlety in the attempt to reconcile them. In some instances, however, one or the other Boraitha is declared to be spurious.*

The authorities mentioned in the Mishna and Boraitha as having transmitted and developed the oral law belong to three different periods; namely: (1) The period of Sopherim (Scribes); (2) The period of Zugoth; (3) The period of Tanaim.

(a) Sopherim or Scribes were the learned men who succeeded Ezra during a period of about two hundred years. To them many institutions and extensions of the Mosaic law are ascribed. The Sopherim are also called collectively "the men of the Great Assembly (Synod)." According to tradition, this synod consisted of 120 members, but we have no record of their names with the exception of Ezra, its founder, and of Simon the Upright (Just), (the high priest Simon I., between 310-292, or his grandson Simon IT., between 220-202 B.C.), who is said to have been one of the last members of the Great Assembly.

* Some critical researches on the Boraitha are found in Frankel's "Darke Hamishna," pp. 311-313, and in 1. H. Weiss's "Dor Dor," II., pp. 239-244.

† {We do not find the Zugoth to be mentioned in the Boraitha. However, we do not cancel it as it is so written by Mielziner.




Antigonos of Socho, a disciple of Simon the just, was the connecting link between this and the following period.

(b) The word Eshcalath (Zugoth), meaning the pairs (duumviri), is the appellation of the leading teachers from Jose ben Joezer till Hillel, of whom always two, at the same time, stood at the head of the Sanhedrin, one as president (Nasi), and the other as vice-president (Ab beth din).

The succession of these Zugoth was:

  1. Jose ben Joezer and Jose ben Jochanan, flourishing at the time of the Maccabean wars of independence.
  2. Joshua b. Perachia and Nitai of Arbela, flourishing at the time of John Hyrcan.
  3. Juda b. Tabai and Simon b. Shetach, flourishing at the time of Alexander Janai and Queen Salome.
  4. Shemaiah and Abtalion, flourishing at the time of Hyrcan II.
  5. Hillel and Shamai, flourishing at the time of King Herod.

(c) With the disciples of Hillel and Shamai begins the period of Tanaim, which lasted about 210 years (from 10 to 220 Ch. Era). With the beginning of this period the title Rabbi (teacher) for the ordained teachers, and the title Rabban (our teacher) for the president of the Sanhedrin came in use.

In the Mishna, the term Tana, meaning a teacher of the oral law, does not yet occur. Those teachers are there signified by generally adding the title of Rabbi to their names, or by calling them collectively the Sages, while the authorities of the preceding period are occasionally designated "the former elders." It is first in the Gemara that the term Tana is applied to a teacher mentioned in the Mishna and Boraitha, in contradistinction to the Amoraim, expounders of the Mishna, as the teachers after R. Jehuda Hanasi are called. (In Babylonian Talmud: in Palestinian, however, the Amoraim are also called Rabbis.)

The period of the Tanaim is generally divided into five or six minor sections or generations. The purpose of this division is to show which teachers developed their principal activity contemporaneously, though the actual lifetime of some of them extended to more than one generation.




The following chronological tables contain the names only of the more prominent* teachers of each generation. Every table is followed by short biographical sketches of the teachers mentioned therein.




The principal Tanaim of the first generation, which lasted about seventy years, from 10 to 8o, Ch. Era, are: (1) The School of Shamai and the School of Hillel; (2) Akabia ben Mahalalel; (3) Rabban Gamaliel the Elder; (4) Rabbi Chanina, Chief of the Priests; (5) R, Simon ben Gamaliel; (6) R. Jochanan ben Zakkai. (Strack adds to this first generation [10-90] the judges), (7) Admon, and (8) Hannan; (9) Nachum the Madaith (10) Eliezer b. Jacob I; (11) Haninah b. Dosa; (12) Nechunyah b. Hakanah; and (13) Zadock.

Mielziner counts Adman, Hannan and Nachum of Madaith at the end of this paragraph, not numbering them among the first generation, so also he did with some others in the succeeding generations.

* We do not understand very well what the learned Doctor Mielziner means by the word prominent, as it seems that the Tanaim whom he omitted were not less prominent than those whom he mentioned. On the contrary, some of them were even more prominent. We are sorry that our work was delayed until after the departure of the learned doctor, who was our friend and whose loss we greatly lament, so that we cannot ask him the reason as we always meant to do. (See our remarks further on.)

† Fuller characteristics of the lives and teachings of the principal Tanaim are given in the following works:
    Graetz, "History of the Jews," Vol. IV. Z.
    Frankel, "Darke Hamishna."
    I. H. Weiss, "Zur Geschichte der juedischen Tradition," Vols. I. and II.
    Jacob Bruell, "Mebo Hamishna," Vol. I.
    J. Hamburger, "Real Encyclopaedie," Vol. II. "Die Talmudischen Artikel."
    Braunschweiger, "Die Lehrer der Mishnah."
    H. Strack, "Einleitung in den Talmud."
    N. Perferkowitz, Talmud, Part I.

‡ This comparatively great length of the first generation is easily explained by the circumstance that it refers to the duration of the prevailing Schools of Shamai and Hillel, and not, as in the subsequent generations, to that of the activity of a single leading teacher.




Characteristics and Biographical Sketches.

1. The School of Shamai and the School of Hillel were founded by the disciples of the great teachers whose names they bear. Following the principles of their masters,* they differed widely in their opinions on many legal questions; the School of Shamai, in general, taking a rigorous, and the School of Hillel a more lenient view of the question. In their frequent controversies the School of Shamai, having been founded already during the lifetime of Hillel, is always mentioned first. Of individual teachers belonging to either of these two schools only a very few are occasionally mentioned byname. Both schools existed during the whole period of the first generation, and the antagonism of their followers extended even to the middle of the subsequent generation.

2. Akabia ben Mahalalel. Of this teacher who flourished shortly after Hillel only a few opinions and traditions are recorded. According to what is related of him in Mishna Eduyoth, V., 6, 7, he was a noble character with unyielding principles.

3. Rabban Gamaliel the Elder. He was a son of R. Simon, and grandson of Hillel, whom he succeeded in the office of Nasi. Many important ordinances [H] of the Rabbinical law are ascribed to him. He died eighteen years before the destruction of Jerusalem. The epithet "the Elder" generally added to his name, is to distinguish him from his grandson Gamaliel of Jabne, who flourished in the following generation.

4. Rabbi Chanina, Chief of the Priests, or the proxy of the high-priest. He, as well as "the court of Priests," is incidentally mentioned in the Mishna in connection with laws concerning the sacrifices and the Temple service.

5. R. Simon ben Gamaliel. He was the son and successor of Rabban Gamaliel the Elder, and was executed by the Ro mans in the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. Belonging to the School of Hillel, his individual opinions in questions of law are but rarely recorded in the Mishna. He must not be

* Shamai and Hillel themselves differ in three questions only. (See Eduyoth, p. 5.) Their schools, however, differ in 316 Halakhas.




confounded with his grandson who had the same name and belonged to the fourth generation of Tanaim.

6. R. Jochanan b. Zakkai. This distinguished teacher was one of the youngest disciples of Hillel, occupied a high position already before the destruction of Jerusalem, and afterwards became the founder and head of the celebrated academy of Jabne (Jamnia).


This generation lasted about forty years, from So to 120 The principal Tanaim belonging to it are:

(1) Rabban Gamaliel IT., (of Jabne); (2) Rabbi Zadok; (3) R. Dosa (b. Harchinas); (4) R. Eliezer b. Jacob;* (5) R. Eliezer (b. Hyrkanos); (6) R. Joshua (b. Chanania); (7) R. Elazar b. Azaria; (8) Elasar b. Arach; (9) R. Juda b. Bathyra. (According to Strack), (10) Papias; (11) Alazar b. Zadock; (12) Samuel the Little; (13) Nachum of Gimzu; (14) Ben Paturi; (15) Jose the Priest; (16) Elazar of Modium.

We refrain from giving the sketches of those who were added by Strack and others, as they would take up too much space. The reader who is interested in them can easily find them in the reference books pointed out by Strack, who gives to each of them the sources in the German language from which he draws.

Characteristics and Biographical Sketches.

1. Rabban Gamaliel II. He was a grandson of Gamaliel the Elder; after the death of R. Johanan b. Zakkai he became president of the academy of Jabne, and like his ancestors, he bore the title Nasi (Prince); with the Romans, Patriarch. In order to distinguish him from his grandfather, he received the surname Gamaliel o f Jabne, or the Second.

2. R. Zadok. Of him it is related that he, in anticipation of the destruction of the Temple, fasted for forty successive

* Strack counts him and Zadok among the first generation.

† We have added him as his omission by Mielziner can be attributed only to forgetfulness as his preceding sages were also disciples of R. Johanan b. Zakkai, and for the same reason we have added Papus, who was a contemporary of R. Aqiba and of whom the Talmud speaks highly.




years. He then removed to Jabne where he as well as his son, R. Eliezar b. Zadok, belonged to the distinguished teachers.

3. R. Dosa b. Harchinas belonged to the school of Hillel, and removed with R. Jochanan b. Zakkai from Jerusalem to Jabne, where he reached a very old age. He stood in such high esteem that his most distinguished colleagues appealed to his opinion in doubtful cases.

4. R. Eliezer b. Jacob was head of a school, and in possession of traditions concerning the structure and interior arrangements of the Temple. He is also mentioned with commendation as to his method of instruction, which was "concise and clear." There was also another Tana by a similar name who flourished in the fourth generation.

5. R. Eliezer b. Hyrkanos, in the Mishna called simply R. Eliezer, was one of the most distinguished disciples of R. Jochanan b. Zakkai, who characterized him as "the lime cemented cistern that does not lose a drop." He was a faithful conservator of handed-down decisions and opposed to their slightest modification and to any new deductions to be made therefrom. His school was in Lydia, in South Judea. Though formerly a disciple of the Hillelites, he inclined to the views of the Shamaites and consequently came in conflict with his colleagues. Being persistent in his opinion, and conforming to it even in practice, he was excommunicated by his own brother-in-law, the patriarch Gamaliel II.

6. R. Joshua b. Chanania, in general called simply R. Joshua, was likewise one of the favored disciples of R. Jochanan b. Zakkai. Shortly before the destruction of the Temple he left Jerusalem with his teacher, after whose death he founded a separate school in Bekim. As member of the Sanhedrin in Jabne, he participated conspicuously in its deliberations and debates. His discussions were mostly with R. Eliezer, to whose unyielding conservatism he formed a striking contrast, as he represented the more rational and conciliatory element of that generation, and combined with great learning the amiable virtues of gentleness, modesty and placability which characterized the Hillelites. As he, on several occasions, was humiliated by the Nasi Gamaliel II., with whom he differed on some questions, the members of the Sanhedrin resented this insult of their esteemed colleague by deposing the offender from his




dignity and electing another president. It was only through the interference of the appeased R, Joshua that R. Gamaliel, who apologized for his conduct, was again restored to his office.

7. R. Elazar b. Azaria descended from a noble family whose pedigree was traced up to Ezra the Scribe. Already while a young man, he enjoyed such a reputation for his great learning that he was made president of the academy at Jabne in place of the deposed R. Gamaliel. When the latter was reinstated, R. Elazar was appointed as vice-president. His controversies were mostly with R. Joshua, R. Tarphon, R. Ishmael and R. Akiba. On account of the noble virtues which he combined with his great learning he was compared to "a vessel filled with aromatic spices," and R. Joshua said of him: "a generation having a man like R. Elazar b. Azaria, is not orphaned."

8. Elazar b. Arach, of whom it is said (Aboth, p. 61), "If all the wise of Israel were in a scale of the balance and Eliezer b. Hyrkanos with them, and Elazar b. Arach in the other scale, he would outweigh them all."

9. R. Juda b. Bathyra had a school in Nisibis (in Assyria), already at the time when the Temple of Jerusalem was still in existence. He was probably a descendant of the family Bene Bathyra, who were leaders of the Sanhedrin under King Herod, and who resigned that office in favor of Hillel. Several other Tanaim had the same family name, as R. Joshua b. Bathyra, R. Simon b. Bathyra and one called simply Ben Bathyra.


Several Teachers of the third generation, which lasted from the year 120 till about 139 (130-160, Strack), flourished already in the preceding one. The principal teachers are:

(1) R. Tarphon; (2) R. Ishmael; (3) R. Aqiba; (4) R. Jochanan b. Nuri; (5) R. Jose the Galilean; (6) R. Simon b. Nanos; (7) R. Juda b. Baba; (8) R. Jochanan b. Broka. Strack counts all the above-mentioned in the second generation, with the addition of, (9) Papus b. Jehuda; (10) Elazar b. Chasma; (11) Jose of Damascus; (12) Hananya b. Trodyan; (13) Jos b. Kisma; (14) Elazar b. Parta; (15) Simeon b. Azai; (16) Simeon b. Zoma; (17) Elisha b. Abuyah; (18) Chaninah b. Gamaliel; (19) Chaninah b. Antigonos; (20) Elazar of Bartu-




tha; (21) Simeon of Taimon; (22) Chananiah, the son of Jechosua's brother; (23) Jehuda b. Buthyra; (24) Matyah b. Cheris;* (25) Chittkah; (26) Simeon the Shakmone; (27) Chananiah b. Chakniel.

Characteristics and Biographical Sketches.

1. R. Tarphon, or Tryphon, of Lydda. He is said to have been inclined to the views of the School of Shamai. On account of his great learning he was called "the teacher of Israel"; besides, he was praised for his great charitable works. His legal discussions were mostly with his colleague R. Akiba.

2. R. Ishmael (b. Elisha) was probably a grandson of the high-priest Ishmael b. Elisha who was condemned to death by Titus, together with the patriarch Simon b. Gamaliel I. When still a boy, he was made a captive and brought to Rome, where R. Joshua who happened to come there on a mission, redeemed him at a high ransom and brought him back to Pales-tine. R. Nechunia b. Hakana is mentioned as one of his principal teachers. When grown to manhood, he became a member of the Sanhedrin and was highly revered by his colleagues. He is named among those who emigrated with the Sanhedrin from Jabne to Usha. His residence was in South Judea in a place called Kephar Aziz. His academical controversies were mostly with R. Akiba, to whose artificial methods of interpreting the law he was strongly opposed, on the principle that the Torah, being composed in the usual language of man, must be interpreted in a plain and rational way. As guiding rules of interpretation he accepted only the seven logical rules which had been laid down by Hillel, which he, however, by some modifications and subdivisions, enlarged to thirteen. A separate school which he founded was continued after his death by his disciples and was known by the name of "Be R. Ishmael." Of the book Mechilta which is ascribed to R. Ishmael.

3. R. Aqiba (b. Joseph) was the most prominent among the Tanaim. He is said to have descended from a proselyte family, and to have been altogether illiterate up to the age of his manhood. Filled with the desire to acquire the knowledge

* 22, 23 and 24 were out of Palestine.




of the law, he entered a school and attended the lectures of the distinguished teachers of that time, especially of R. Eliezer b. Hyrkanos, R. Joshua b. Chanania, and of Nachum of Gimzu. Subsequently he founded a school in B'ne Brak, near Jabne, and became a member of the Sanhedrin in the last-mentioned city. Through his keen intellect, his vast learning and his energetic activity he wielded a great influence in developing and diffusing the traditional law. He arranged the accumulated material of that law in a proper system and methodical order, and enriched its substance with many valuable deductions of his own. His methodical arrangement and division of that material was completed by his disciple R. Meir, and later on became the groundwork of the Mishna compiled by R. Jehuda Hanasi. Besides, he introduced a new method of interpreting the Scriptures, which enabled him to find a biblical basis for almost every provision of the oral law. This ingenious method was admired by his contemporaries, and notwithstanding the opposition of some of his colleagues, generally adopted in addition to the thirteen hermeneutic rules of R. Ishmael. R. Akiba's legal opinions are very frequently recorded in all parts of the Mishna and in the kindred works. His academical discussions are mostly with his former teachers, R. Eliezer, R. Joshua, and with his colleagues, R. Tarphon, R. Jochanan b. Nuri, R. Jose the Galilean and others.

R. Akiba died a martyr to religion and patriotism. Having been a stout supporter of the cause of Bar Cochba, he was cruelly executed by the Romans for publicly teaching the Law, contrary to the edict of the emperor Hadrian. (See Aboth, p. a8.)

4. R. Jochanan b, Nuri was a colleague of R. Akiba, with whom he frequently differed on questions of the law. In his youth he seems to have been a disciple of R. Gamaliel II., for whose memory he always retained a warm veneration. He presided over a college in Beth Shearim, a place near Sepphoris in Galilee.

5. R. Jose the Galilean was a very distinguished teacher. Of his youth and education nothing is known. At his first appearance in the Sanhedrin of Jabne, he participated in a debate with R. Tarphon and with R. Akiba, and displayed such great learning and sagacity that he attracted general




attention. From this debate his reputation as a teacher was established. He was an authority especially in the laws concerning the sacrifices and the Temple service. His discussions were mostly with R. Akiba, R. Tarphon, and R. Elazar b. Azariah. Of his domestic life it is related that he had the bad fortune of having an ill-tempered wife, who treated him so meanly that he was compelled to divorce her, but learning that she in her second marriage lived in great misery, he generously provided her and her husband with all the necessaries of life. One of his sons, R. Eleazar b. R. Jose the Galilean, became a distinguished teacher in the following generation and established the thirty-two hermeneutic rules of the Hagada.

6. R. Simon b. Nanos, also called simply Ben Nanos, was a great authority especially in the civil law, so that R. Ishmael recommended to all law students to attend the lectures of this profound teacher. His legal controversies were mostly with R. Ishmael and R. Akiba.

7. R. Judah b. Baba, who on account of his piety was called the Chasid, is noteworthy not only as a distinguished teacher, but also as a martyr to Judaism. Contrary to the Hadrianic edict which, under extreme penalty, prohibited the ordination of teachers, he ordained seven* disciples of R. Akiba as Rabbis, and for this act was stabbed to death by the Roman soldiers.

8. R. Jochanan b. Broka was an authority especially in the civil law. Also his son R. Ishmael was a distinguished teacher who flourished in the following generation.


This generation extended from the death of R. Akiba to the death of the patriarch R. Simon b. Gamaliel II., from the year 139 to about 165. Almost all leading teachers of this generation belong to the latter disciples of R. Akiba.

(1) R. Meir; (2) R. Jehuda (ben Ilai); (3) R. Jose (ben Chalafta); (4) R. Simon (b. Jochai); (5) R. Elazar (b. Shamua); (6) R. Jochanan the Sandelar; (7) R. Elazar b. Jacob; (8) R. Nehemia; (9) R. Joshua b. Korcha; (10) R. Simon b. Gamaliel. Strack counts all of them in the third generation, and adds, (11) Elazar b. Jose the Galilean; (12)

* We are aware only of six mentioned in vol. i., p. 11.




Ishmael b. Jochanan b. Beroka; (13) Abba Schaul; (14) Chananiah b. Akiba; (15) Chananiah b. Akashya; (16) Jose b. Akabyah; (17) Issi b. Jehuda; (18) Nehuraye; (19) Abba Jos b. Dusthai.

Characteristics and Biographical Sketches.

1. R. Meir, the most prominent among the numerous disciples of R. Akiba, was a native of Asia Minor and gained a subsistence as a skilful copyist of sacred Scripture. At first, he entered the academy of R. Akiba, but finding himself not sufficiently prepared to grasp the lectures of this great teacher, he attended, for some time, the school of R. Ishmael, where he acquired an extensive knowledge of the law. Returning then to R. Akiba and becoming his constant and favored disciple, he developed great dialectical powers. R. Akiba soon recognized his worth and preferred him to other disciples by ordaining him at an early date. This ordination was later renewed by R. Judah b. Baba. On account of the Hadrianic persecutions, R. Meir had to flee from Judea, but after the repeal of those edicts, he returned and joined his colleagues in reestablishing the Sanhedrin in the city of Usha, in Galilee. His academy was in Emmaus, near Tiberias, and for a time also in Ardiscus, near Damascus, where a large circle of disciples gathered around him. Under the patriarch R. Simon b. Gamaliel II., he occupied the dignity of a Chacham (advising Sage), in which office he was charged with the duty of preparing the subjects to be discussed in the Sanhedrin. A conflict which arose between him and the patriarch seems to have induced him to leave Palestine and return to his native country, Asia Minor, where he died. R. Meir's legal opinions are mentioned almost in every Masechta of the Mishna and Boraitha. His greatest merit was that he continued the labors of R. Akiba in arranging the rich material of the oral law according to subjects, and in this way prepared the great Mishna compilation of R. Judah Hanasi. Besides being one of the most distinguished teachers of the law, he was also a very popular lecturer (Hagadist), who used to illustrate his lectures by interesting fables and parables. Of his domestic life it is known that he was married to Beruria, the learned daughter of the




celebrated teacher and martyr R. Chananiah b. Teradyon. The pious resignation which he and his noble wife exhibited at the sudden death of their two promising sons has been immortalized by a popular legend in the Midrash.

2. R. Jehuda b. Ilai is generally called in the Mishna simply R. Jehuda. After having received instruction in the law from his father, who had been a disciple of R. Eliezer b. Hyrkanos, he attended the lectures of R. Tarphon, and became then one of the distinguished disciples of R. Akiba. On account of his great eloquence he is called, "The first among the speakers." Also his piety, modesty and prudence are highly praised. He gained a modest subsistence by a mechanical trade, in accordance with his favored maxims: "Labor honors man," and "He who does not teach his son a trade, teaches him, as it were, robbery." Having been one of the seven disciples who after the death of R. Akiba were ordained by R. Juda b. Baba contrary to the Hadrianic edict, he had to flee. After three years he returned with his colleagues to Usha and became one of the prominent members of the resuscitated Sanhedrin. The patriarch R. Simon ben Gamaliel honored him greatly, and appointed him as one of his advisers. As expounder of the law he was a great authority, and is very often quoted in all parts of the Mishna and Boraitha. His legal opinions generally prevail, when differing from those of his colleagues R. Meir and R. Simon. To him is also ascribed the authorship of the essential part of the Siphra. The Hagada of the Talmud records many of his beautiful sayings, which characterize him not only as a noble-hearted teacher, but also as a sound and clear-headed interpreter of Scriptures. He, for instance, denied the literal meaning of the resurrection of the dead bones spoken of in Ezekiel, ch. XXXVIL, but declared it to be merely a poetical figure for Israel's rejuvenation. (Sanhedrin, p, 278.)

R. Jehuda had two learned sons who flourished as teachers in the following generation.

3. R. Jose b. Chalafta, in the Mishna called simply R. Jose, was from Sepphoris, where already his learned father had established a school. Though by trade a tanner, be became one of the most distinguished teachers of his time. He was a disciple of R. Akiba and of R. Tarphon. Like his colleagues he was ordained by R. Juda b. Baba, and on this account had




to flee to the south of Palestine, whence he later on returned with them to Usha. For having kept silent when in his presence R. Simon made a slighting remark against the Roman government, he was banished to Asia Minor. When permitted to return, he settled in his native city, Sepphoris, where he died at an advanced age. Besides being a great authority in the law, whose opinions prevail against those of his colleagues R. Meir, R. Jehuda and R. Simon, he was an historian to whom the authorship of the chronological book Seder Olam is ascribed.

4. R. Simon b. Jochai from Galilee, in the Mishna called simply R. Simon, was likewise one of the most distinguished disciples of R. Akiba, whose lectures he attended during thirteen years. "Be satisfied that I and thy creator know thy powers," were the words with which this teacher comforted him, when he felt somewhat slighted on account of a certain preference given to his younger colleague R. Meir. He shared the fate of his colleagues in being compelled to flee after ordination. Afterwards, he joined them at the new seat of the Sanhedrin in Usha. On a certain occasion he gave vent to his bitter feeling against the Romans, which was reported to the Roman governor, who condemned him to death. He, however, escaped this fate by concealing himself in a cave, where he is said to have remained for several years, together with his son, engaged in the study of the law, and subsisting on the fruit of the carob-trees which abounded there in the neighborhood. In the meantime political affairs had taken a favorable turn, so that he had no longer to fear any persecution; he left his hiding place and reopened his academy at Tekoa, in Galilee, where a circle of disciples gathered around him. He survived all his colleagues, and in his old age was delegated to Rome, where he succeeded in obtaining from the emperor (Marcus Aurelius) the repeal of some edicts against the Jewish religion,

In the interpretation of the law, R. Simon departed from the method of his teacher R. Akiba, as he inclined to the view of R, Ishmael that "the Torah speaks the common language of man," and consequently regarded logical reasoning as the proper starting point for legal deductions, instead of pleonastic words, syllables and letters. In accordance with this sound principle, he tried to investigate the evident motive of different biblical laws, and to make conclusions therefrom for their




proper application. In regard to treating and arranging the oral law, however, he followed the method of R. Akiba in subsuming various provisions under guiding rules and principles. R. Simon is regarded as the author of the Siphre, though that work in its present shape shows many additions by the hands of later authorities.*

5. R. Elazar b. Shamua, in the Mishna simply R. Elazar, was among those of R. Akiba's disciples who in consequence of the Hadrian edicts went to the South, whence he went to Nisibis. He does not, however, appear to have joined his colleagues when they gathered again at Usha. He is regarded as a great authority in the law. The place of his academy is not known, but it is stated that his school was always over-crowded by disciples eager to hear his learned lectures. Among his disciples was also the later patriarch R. Jehuda. On a journey, he visited his former colleague R. Meir at Ardiscos, in Asia Minor, and with him had discussions on important questions of the law, which are recorded in the Mishna and Boraitha.

6. R. Jochanan the Sandelar had this surname probably from his trade in sandals. Born in Alexandria in Egypt, he came to Palestine to attend the lectures of R. Akiba, and was so faithful a disciple that he visited this teacher even in prison, in order to receive instruction from him. His legal opinions are occasionally recorded in the Mishna as well as in the Tosephta and Boraitha.

7. R. Elazar (or Eliezer) b. Jacob was a disciple of R. Akiba and latex a member of the Sanhedrin in Usha. This teacher must not be confounded with a former teacher by that name who flourished in the second generation.

8. R. Nechemia belonged to the last disciples of R. Akiba and was an authority especially in the sacrificial law, and in laws concerning levitical purification. His controversies are mostly with R. Juda b. Ilai. He is said to have compiled a Mishna collection which was embodied in the Tosephta.

9. R, Joshua b. Korcha is supposed by some to have been a son of R. Akiba, who, on one occasion, is called by such a sur-

* The Cabbalists ascribe to him the compiling of the Zohar, which was revealed by Moses d' Leon. The Talmud also speaks of him as the one to whom miracles occurred frequently.




name (meaning the bald head); but this supposition is very improbable, for it would be strange that the son of so illustrious a man should not rather have been called by his father's proper name, and that he should never have alluded to his celebrated parent or to any of his teaching.*

R. Joshua b. K. belonged to the authorities of this generation, though only a few of his opinions are recorded in the Mishna.

10. R. Simon b. Gamaliel was the son and successor of the patriarch Gamaliel II, of Jabne. In his youth, he witnessed the fall of Bethar, and escaped the threatened arrest by flight. After the death of the emperor Hadrian, he returned to Jabne where he, in connection with some teachers, reopened an academy, and assumed the hereditary dignity of a patriarch. As the returning disciples of R. Akiba, who were the leading teachers of that generation, preferred Usha as the seat of the new Sanhedrin, R. Simon was obliged to transfer his academy to that city, and appointed R. Nathan as Ab Beth-din (vice-president), and R. Meir as Chacham (advising sage, or speaker). Both of these officers had to retire however, when found planning his deposal on account of some marks of distinction introduced in order to raise the patriarchal dignity. He did not enjoy the privilege of his predecessors to be titled Rabban (our teacher), but like the other teachers, he was simply called Rabbi (my teacher), probably because many of his contemporaries were superior to him in learning. Still, his legal opinions, which are frequently quoted in the Mishna and Boraitha, give evidence that he was a man of considerable learning and of sound and clear judgment as well as of noble principles. He introduced several legal provisions for the protection of the rights of women and slaves, and for the general welfare of the community. All his opinions expressed in the Mishna, with the exception of only three cases, are regarded by later teachers as authoritative (Halakha). His discussions recorded in the Mishna and Boraitha are mostly

* That R. Akiba had a son by the name of R. Joshua is stated in a Boraitha; but the identity of this son with R. Joshua b. Korcha is conclusively disproved by the Tosaphist Rabenu Tam in his remarks on Sabbath 150a, and B. Bathra 113a.

† There are, however, some passages in the Mishna and Gemara in which he is called Rabban.




held with his celebrated son, R. Jehuda Hanasi. R. Simon b. Gamaliel appears to have been acquainted also with the Greek language and sciences.

Apart from the great circle of teachers mentioned above, the disciples of R. Ishmael b. Elisha formed a school in the extreme South of Judea (Darom), where they continued the methods of their teacher. Of this separate school, called Debe R. Ishmael, only two members are mentioned by name: R. Josiah and R. Jonathan.


This generation extends from the death of R. Simon b. Gamaliel II., to the death of R. Jehuda Hanasi (from 165 to about 200).

The following are the most prominent teachers of this generation:

(1) R. Nathan (the Babylonian); (2) Symmachos; (3) R. Jehuda Hanasi (the Patriarch), called simply Rabbi; (4) R. Jose b. Juda; (5) R. Elazar b. Simon; (6) R. Simon b. Elazar. Strack places these in the fourth generation and adds (7) Dustayi b. Janai; (8) Simeon b. Jehuda, of the village Akum; (9) Achia b. Joashai; (10) Jacob; (11) Itzchok; (12) Eliezar b. Simeon b. Johai; (13) Pinchas b. Jaier; (14) Ischmael b. Jos; (15) Menachem b. Jos (b. Chialaphta); (16) Jehudah b. Lakish; (17) Elazar Charkaper; (18) Abba Elazar b. Gamla; (19) Simon b. Jos b. Lecunia; (20) Simon b. Menascha; (21) Jehudah b. Tamah.

The junior sages of the fifth generation Strack quotes thus (1) Hyye Rabbi (the Great); (2) Eliezer b. Kappara; (3) Simeon b. 'Halafta; (4) Lewi b. Sissi; (5) Simai.

Both Mielziner and Strack do not count Simon Shezurri, one of the great Tanaim who belongs to the third generation, and who is mentioned in the Mishna several times, and of whom it is said (Menachoth, 30b), "Everywhere the name of Simeon Shezurri is mentioned, the Halakha prevails in accordance with him." We would also count Wradimus b. R. Jose though according to some he was identical with Menachem, and who was one of the greatest Tanaim in the time of Rabbi. (See I. H. Weiss, p. 166.) [See Appendix No. I.] His father,




R. Jose, quotes him as the author of a Halakha (Tosephtha, Baba Metzia).

Characteristics and Biographical Sketches.

1. R. Nathan was the son of one of the exilarchs in Babylon, and probably received his education in his native country. For some unknown reasons he emigrated to Judea, and on account of his great learning he was appointed by the patriarch, R. Simon b. Gamaliel, to the dignity of Ab-Beth-din (chief justice or vice-president), in the Sanhedrin of Usha. He had to retire from this office because of his and R. Meir's dissension with the patriarch, but was soon reinstated and became reconciled with the Synhedrial president, who held him in high esteem. Also the succeeding patriarch, R. Jehuda, with whom he had many discussions on questions of the law, speaks of him with great respect. R. Nathan was not only an authority in the rabbinical law, especially in jurisprudence, but appears also to have been well versed in mathematics, astronomy and other sciences. To him is ascribed the authorship of Aboth de R. Nathan, which is a kind of Tosephta to Pirke Aboth.

2. Symmachos was a prominent disciple of R. Meir and distinguished for his great dialectical powers. After the death of his teacher, he as well as other disciples of R. Meir were excluded from the academy of R. Jehuda Hanasi, as they were charged with indulging in sophistical disputations in order to display their dialectical sagacity, instead of seeking after truth. Nevertheless the Mishna as well as the Tosephta makes mention of the opinions of Symmachos. His renown lay in the rabbinical jurisprudence, in which he laid down certain principles often referred to in the Talmud.

3. R. Jehuda (Juda) Hanasi, by way of eminence simply called Rabbi, was a son of the patriarch R. Simon b. Gamaliel II., and is said to have been born on the same day when R. Akiba was executed. His principal teachers were R. Simon b. Jochai and R. Elazar b. Shamua, under whose guidance his intellectual capacity and splendid talents early developed. Besides his immense knowledge of the whole range of the traditional law, he had a liberal education in secular branches and was especially acquainted with the Greek language, which he




preferred to the Syriac, the popular language of Palestine at that time. After the death of his father he succeeded him in the dignity of patriarch, and became the chief authority, eclipsing all other teachers of that generation. Though blessed with great riches, he preferred to live in a simple style and applied his wealth to the maintenance of his numerous pupils and to charitable works. The seat of his academy was first at Beth-Shearim, afterward at Sepphoris, and also at Tiberias. Among his most distinguished disciples were: R. Chiya; (Simon) bar Kappara; Levi bar Sissi; R. Abba Areca, later called Rab; Mar Samuel, and many others. He is said to have been in a friendly relation with one of the Roman emperors, either Marcus Aurelius, or more probably, Lucius Verus Antoninus. By virtue of his authority R. Jehuda abolished several customs and ceremonies which, though sanctified by age, had become impracticable through the change of times and circumstances. His most meritorious work, by which he erected for himself a monument of enduring fame, was the completion of the Mishna compilation which henceforth became the authoritative code of the traditional law and superseded all similar compilations made by former teachers.

4. R. Jose ben Juda (b. Ilai) belonged to the great teachers of that generation and was a friend of R. Jehuda Hanasi. His legal opinions are frequently recorded in the Mishna as well as in the Tosephta.

5. R. Elazar b. Simon (b. Jochai) was a disciple of R. Simon b. Gamaliel and of R. Joshua b. Korcha. Although an authority in the rabbinical law to whom even the patriarch some times yielded, he incurred the severest censure of his colleagues for having, on a certain occasion, lent his assistance to the Romans in prosecuting some Jewish freebooters.

6. R. Simon b. Elazar (probably E. b. Shamua), was a disciple of R. Meir, whose opinions he often quotes. He established several important principles, especially in the civil law.


To this generation belong the younger contemporaries and disciples of R. Juda Hanasi, They are not mentioned in the Mishna, but in the Tosephta and Boraitha, and are therefore




termed semi-Tanaim, who form a connecting link between the period of Tanaim and that of the Amoraim. Their names are:

(1) Plimo; (2) Ise b. Juda; (3) R. Elazar b. Jose; (4) R. Ishmael bar Jose; (5) R. Juda b. Lakish; (6) R. Chiya; (7) R. Acha; (8) R. Abba (Areca).

There is no sixth generation according to Strack, and all who are mentioned here he includes in the fifth generation. We have to remark that all the eight mentioned above by Mielziner, as they formed the last generation of the Tanaim, are also named Amoraim; and therefore we find stated in many places in the Talmud where one of the above-mentioned is in conflict with a Mishna or a Boraitha: "He is a Tana, and has the right to differ with the authorities of the Mishna or the Boraitha."

The most prominent among these semi-Tanaim were R. Chiya and R. Abba (Areca).

1. R. Chiva (bar Abba) the elder, which epithet is to distinguish him from a later Amora by the same name, was a Babylonian who came at an already advanced age to Palestine, where he became the most distinguished disciple and friend of R. Jehuda Hanasi. He and his disciple R. Oshaya (or Hoshaya) are regarded as the principal authors or compilers of the Tosephta.

2. R. Abba (Areca) a nephew of R. Chiya, was likewise a Babylonian, and a disciple of R. Jehuda Hanasi, after whose death he returned to his native country, where, under the historical name of Rab, he became the principal Amora. (See the following chapter.)

Of other distinguished teachers flourishing in this generation and in the beginning of the period of the Amoraim, we have to mention especially R. Janai (the elder), and R. Jonathan (the elder). The former lived in Sepphoris and was one of the teachers of R. Jochanan bar Naphacha, the greatest among the Palestinian Amoraim.



As the Mishna compilation of R. Jehuda Hanasi became the authoritative code of the oral Law, the activity of the




teachers was principally devoted to expounding this code. This was done as well in the academies of Tiberias, Sepphoris, Caesarea in Palestine, as in those of Nahardea, Sura, and later of Pumbaditha and some other seats of learning in Babylonia. The main object of the lectures and discussions in those academies was to interpret the often very brief and concise expression of the Mishna, to investigate its reasons and sources, to reconcile seeming contradictions, to compare its canons with those of the Boraithoth, and to apply its decisions and established principles to new cases not yet provided for. The teachers who were engaged in this work, which finally became embodied in the Gemara, are called Amoraim, meaning speakers, interpreters, expounders.* They were not as independent in their legal opinions and decisions as their predecessors, the Tanaim and semi-Tanaim, as they had not the authority to contradict Halakhoth and principles accepted in the Mishna or Boraitha. The Palestinian Amoraim, having generally been ordained by the Nasi, had the title of Rabbi, while the Babylonian teachers of that period had only the title of Rab or of Mar.

The period of Amoraim extends from the death of R. Jehuda Hanasi to the compilation of the Babylonian Talmud; that is, from the beginning of the third to the end of the fifth century. This period has been divided by some into six, by others into seven, minor periods or generations, which are determined by the beginning and the end of the activity of the most prominent teachers flourishing during that time.

The number of Amoraim who are mentioned in the Talmud amounts to several hundreds. The most distinguished among them, especially those who presided over the great academies,

* In a more restricted meaning the term Amora (from [H], to say, to speak) signifies the same as Methurgeman (the interpreter), that is, the officer in the academies who, standing at the side of the lecturer or presiding teacher, had to announce loudly and explain to the large assembly what the teacher just expressed briefly and in a low voice.
    The term Tana, which generally applies only to the teachers mentioned in the Mishna and Boraitha, is in the period of Amoraim sometimes used also to signify one whose special business it was to recite the memorized Boraithoth to the expounding teachers. In this sense the term is to be understood in the phrase : A Tana (teacher) repeated a Boraitha (or taught same) before so and so, etc.




are contained in the following chronological tables of the six generations of Amoraim.*


A. Palestinian (219-270).B. Babylonian (219-257).
1. R. Chanina bar Chama.1. Abba Areca, called simply Rab.
2. R. Jochanan (bar Napacha). 2. (Mar) Samuel.
3. R. Simon ben Lakish (Resh Lakish).
4. R. Joshua ben Levi.

Strack adds to the first generation of the Palestinian, (5) Hama b. Biza; (6) Janai; (7) Jehuda; and (8) Hiskiah sons of Hyye; (9) Bnya or Bnaah; (10) Pdaya or Jehuda b. Pdaya; (11) Hoshia b. Hanninah b. Biza, named Rabbh the Great; (12) Jose b. Zimra; (13) Simon b. Yehozodak.

To the Babylonian Amoraim he adds, (3) Shila; (4) Abba b. Abba (father of Mar Samuel); (5) Kama; (6) Mar Uqba (the Exilarch).

All the Palestinian Amoraim named here are very often mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud, and as their biographical sketches are interesting we could not omit them.

Biographical Sketches.


During this generation R. Gamaliel III. and R. Judah II. were successively the patriarchs.

1. R. Chanina bar Chama (born about 180, died 26o), was a disciple of R. Jehuda Hanasi, whose son and successor, R. Gamaliel III., bestowed on him the title of Rabbi. He then presided over his own academy in Sepphoris and stood in high regard on account of his learning, modesty and piety. As

* Some scholars count the semi-Tanaim as the first generation, and have consequently seven instead of six generations. The period of Palestinian Amoraim being much shorter than that of the Babylonian, ends with the third generation of the latter. Frankel in his introduction to the Palestinian Talmud, treating especially of the Palestinian Amoraim, divides them also into six generations.

† Who was appointed by Mar Samuel to examine Rab. (Will be translated in Tract Kethubath.)




teacher he was very conservative, transmitting that only which he had received by tradition, without ever allowing himself an independent decision. Of his prominent contemporaries are: R. Ephes, who reopened a school at Lydda, in South Judea; Levi b. Sissi (called simply Levi), who, though not presiding over an academy, was a distinguished teacher, and later emigrated to Babylonia; further Chizkia, who was a son of R. Chiya the Elder, and whose teachings are frequently quoted in the Talmud. This Chizkia, who had not the title of Rabbi, must not be mistaken for R. Chizkia, who belonged to the third generation.

2. R. Jochanan bar Napacha, in general called simply R. Jochanan (born about 199, died 279), was in his early youth a disciple of R. Jehuda Hanasi, later of R. Oshaya in Caesarea, also of R. Janai, and especially of R. Chanina b. Chama. He then founded his own academy in Tiberias, which henceforth became the principal seat of learning in the Holy Land. By his great mental powers he excelled all his contemporaries, and is regarded the chief Amora of Palestine. In expounding the Mishna he introduced an analytical method, and laid down certain rules for the final decision in such cases in which the Tanaim expressed opposite opinions. His legal teachings, ethical aphorisms, and exegetical remarks, transmitted by his numerous disciples, form the principal elements of the Gemara. He is supposed to have laid the foundation of the Palestinian Talmud, though, in its present shape, this work can not have been compiled before at least one century after R. Jochanan's death.*

3. R. Simon b. Lakish, whose name is generally abbreviated to Resh Lakish, was a man who combined great physical strength with a noble heart and a powerful mind. It is said that in his youth he was compelled by circumstances to gain his livelihood as a gladiator or soldier, until making the acquaintance of R. Jochanan, who gained him for the study of the law and gave him his sister in marriage. Having developed

* As to further characteristics of this and the other prominent Amoraim, the following works may be consulted: Graetz, "History of the Jews," Vol. IV.; Z. Frankel, "Mebo"; I. II. Weiss, "Dor Dor," Vol. III.; I. Hamburger, "Real Encyclopadie," Vol. II. Besides, J. Furst, "Kultur and Literaturgeschichte der Juden in Asien," which treats especially of the Babylonian academies and teachers during the period of the Amoraim.

To Vol. II, Page 26


Come and Hear™ to increase interfaith understanding
An educational forum for the examination of religious truth and religious tolerance.