Eleazar ben Matya

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ELEAZAR BEN MATYA (first half of the second century c.e.), tanna. Eleazar was one of the most important of the students of Jabneh (tj, Shek. 5:1, 48a), and was apparently a pupil of *Tarfon (Tosef., Ber. 4:16). *Ben Azzai, *Ben Zoma, Ḥanina b. Ḥakhinai, and Simeon ha-Teimani were his fellow students. He is mentioned as one of the four scholars of the Sanhedrin of Jabneh who "understood 70 languages" (tj, Shek. 5:1, 48a). In general his halakhic and aggadic statements are based upon the interpretation of scriptural verses. This system was recognized by the amoraim, and Rav remarked about one of his halakhic interpretations given in the Mishnah: "Eleazar could have produced a pearl but he has produced a potsherd" (Yev. 94a). It is related of him that, together with Abba Ḥalafta and Ḥanina b. Ḥakhinai, he stood upon the 12 stones taken from the Jordan and erected in Gilgal by Joshua (Josh. 4). They discussed their weight and concluded that the weight of each stone was 40 se'ah (Tosef., Sot. 8:6). Among his statements are (Tosef., Shevu. 3:4): "No man has the misfortune to hear [a curse] unless he has sinned … he who sees transgressors, deserved to see them; who sees pious persons, has merited to see them," and "If my father asks me for a drink of water and at the same time there is a precept to perform, I must neglect the honor due to my father and perform the precept. For the duty of observing the precept lies both upon my father and myself" (Kid. 32a).


Hyman, Toledot, s.v.; Frankel, Mishnah, 141.

[Yitzhak Dov Gilat]

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Eleazar ben Matya

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