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Bava ben Buta


BAVA BEN BUTA (first century b.c.e.), sage and judge during the reign of *Herod. Bava, although a disciple of Shammai, agreed with Hillel, that the "Laying of Hands" (cf. Lev. 3:2) on sacrifices during festivals is permissible and was instrumental in establishing this law (Beẓah 20a–b). As a judge, Bava was noted for his thorough investigations and for his just decisions (Git. 57a). He offered daily guilt-offerings prescribed in cases of doubtful trespass, for fear that he had committed a sin (Ker. 6:3). This sacrifice came to be called "the guilt-offering of the pious." Bava overlooked an insult to himself to make peace between husband and wife (Ned. 66b). According to another legend Bava was the only Jewish sage who was not put to death by Herod; instead, Herod blinded him so that he could seek his counsel incognito. When Herod finally disclosed who he was and asked how he could make amends, Bava advised him to rebuild the Temple (bb 3b–4a). Josephus refers to "The Sons of Bava," who were among the noblemen of Jerusalem, and were beloved by the people. They were strong opponents of Herod, and for a long time "The Sons of Bava" remained in hiding for fear of him. Ultimately they were executed by him (Ant., 15:260–6).


Schuerer, Gesch, 1 (19014), 386–7; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 4 (19502), 27–28; Hyman, Toledot, 261–2.

[Zvi Kaplan]

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