Antigonus of Sokho

views updated


ANTIGONUS OF SOKHO (early second century b.c.e.), sage. Antigonus represents the link in the chain of tradition between *Simeon the Just, his teacher, and the *Zugot ("pairs"). His Greek name indicates the extent of Hellenistic influence in this period. Only one of his statements has been preserved: "Be not like servants who minister to their master in order to receive a reward, but be like servants who minister to their master not in order to receive a reward; and let the fear of Heaven be upon you" (Avot 1:3). It is not clear, whether this saying has any actual background specifically typical of Antigonus' age. Antigonus did not thereby intend to deny the doctrine of future reward, but according to rabbinic tradition, his dictum was misinterpreted by his pupils, Zadok and Boethus, who saw in it a denial of the afterlife. As a result, they founded the sects known as the *Sadducees and *Boethusians who denied the doctrine of the world to come. "They (Zadok and Boethus) taught their disciples who repeated it to their disciples… and said to them, 'what caused our forefathers to say this? Is it possible that a laborer should toil all day and not receive his reward in the evening?' Therefore, had our forefathers known of the existence of the world to come and the resurrection of the dead they would not have said this" (arn1 5, 13; cf. arn2 10, 13). It is hard to say what historical basis there is to this legend. Some scholars find significance in the fact that the first recorded controversy among the Pharisees themselves (over the issue of semikhah "the laying of hands on the head of a sacrificial animal") started in the days of Antigonus' disciples.


Geiger, Mikra, 41, 71f., 86; Weiss, Dor, 1 (19044), 94f.; Frankel, Mishnah, 9, 31f.; Halevy, Dorot, 1 pt. 3 (1923), 371–3; L. Finkelstein, Ha-Perushim ve-Anshei Keneset ha-Gedolah (1950), 40–45, 77–79.

[Moshe David Herr]