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Elʿazar ben Pedat

ELʿAZAR BEN PEDAT

ELʿAZAR BEN PEDAT was an amoraic authority of the third century. Of Babylonian origin (J.T., Ber. 2.1, 4b), Elʿazar made his career in the rabbinic academies of the Land of Israel, chiefly in Tiberias. Because both Elʿazar ben Pedat and the rather earlier Elʿazar ben Shammuʿa are frequently cited without their patronymics, some uncertainty about ascription is attached to traditions bearing their names. Nevertheless, it is clear that Elʿazar ben Pedat left Babylonia after having studied with Rav and Shemuʾel. In the Jerusalem Talmud he is once called the disciple of Hiyyaʾ bar Abbaʾ (J.T., Qid. 1.4, 60b), but he eventually came to be associated with Yoanan bar Nappahaʾ in Tiberias (J.T., San. 1.1, 18b). He ended his career as Yoananʾs disciple-colleague (B.T., B. M. 84a) and spokesman in the academy (J.T., Meg. 1.11, 72b).

Possibly because of his Babylonian origins, Elʿazar was of great interest to the naottei, traveling scholars who went back and forth between Babylonia and the Land of Israel carrying reports of recent teachings of leading rabbis from one center to the other. (The work of these correspondents during the early generations of rabbinical activity in Babylonia was of great importance in preserving the unity and coordination of a movement that could have broken down into a number of relatively isolated national or regional branches.) Elʿazar's academy at Tiberias was a leading center for such exchanges of information. In the Babylonian Talmud, Elʿazar is called "the master of [or from] the Land of Israel" and the standard Babylonian formula "They sent from there" (i.e., from the Land of Israel) was understood by some as a reference to his teaching (B.T., San. 17b).

As a legal authority, Elʿazar was noted for his efforts to identify the masters whose teachings were incorporated without attribution in the Mishnah; he frequently sought to separate consecutive clauses of single Mishnaic pericope, saying, "Break it up; the one who taught this [part of the text] did not teach that" (B.T., Shab. 92b, Ker. 24b; see also Bava Metsiʿa ʾ 51a). He was the author of many aggadot (nonlegal rabbinic teachings) but was remembered for his aversion to the esoteric lore of merkavah mysticism (B.T., ag. 13a). According to the medieval Epistle of Rabbi Sheriraʾ Gaon (c. 992), Elʿazar died in the year 279, the same year as his master Yoanan.

See Also

Amoraim.

Bibliography

Aaron Hyman's Toledot tannaʾim ve-amoraʾim (1910; reprint, Jerusalem, 1964) is an altogether uncritical compendium of traditional lore concerning Elʿazar. It is almost useless as a tool for modern, critical biography, but it remains valuable as an encyclopedic gathering of information. The articles titled "Eleazar ben Pedat" in the Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1906) and in the Encyclopaedia Judaica (Jerusalem, 1971) are also useful.

New Sources

Arbel, Vita Daphna. Beholders of Divine Secrets: Mysticism and Myth in Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature. Albany, N.Y., 2003.

Robert Goldenberg (1987)

Revised Bibliography

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