Eleazar ben Yose I

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ELEAZAR BEN YOSE I (second half of second century c.e.), tanna. Eleazar was the second son of *Yose b. Ḥalafta of Sepphoris (Shab. 118b; j, Yev. 1:1, 2b). He attained distinction as a scholar during the lifetime of his father, who quotes him and praises his statements (Sif. Deut. 148; cf. Pes. 117a; Yoma 67a). He cooperated with his father in intercalating the year (Tosef., Sanh. 2:1). The Talmud counts him among the scholars of the academy of Jabneh (Shab. 33b) and reports that *Simeon b. Yoḥai held him in high esteem (Me'il. 17b). His halakhot are found in the Tosefta and beraitot but he is not mentioned in the Mishnah. Nevertheless, many statements in the Mishnah which are quoted anonymously may in fact derive from the Mishnah of Eleazar b. Yose (Kelim 11:3; cf. Tosef., Kelim; bm 1:2; Nid. 8:1). Tannaitic sources relate that he gave rulings in Rome in connection with ritual purity (Tosef., Nid. 7:1; Mik. 4:7), and while there he saw the vessels plundered from the Temple at the time of its destruction. He testified that the veil was spattered with blood from the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement (Tosef., Yoma 3 end). Talmudic tradition explains that Eleazar journeyed to Rome together with Simeon b. Yoḥai in an attempt to persuade the emperor to abrogate the edicts against Jewish religious practices that were reinstituted in the period of the Antonines (Me'il. 17a; see Alon, Toledot, 2 (19612), 61). According to the aggadah, they were helped by a miracle. A demon possessed the emperor's daughter and they succeeded in exorcising it. The emperor took them into his treasure chamber and invited them to take whatever they desired. They saw the text of the edict, and consigned it to flames (ibid.). We are also told that while in Rome Eleazar had discussions with *Mattiah b. Heresh, the leading scholar of the capital (Yoma 84b; Me'il. id), and saw the high priest's gold plate inscribed with the words "holy to the Lord" (the Tetragrammaton) in one line (Suk. 5a; et al.). According to the aggadah he also saw the insect that entered the nostrils of Titus and penetrated to his brain (Gen. R. 10:7, ed. Theodor Albeck, 82, note 3), as well as fragments of Solomon's throne that had been carried off by Nebuchadnezzar and taken from one nation to another until it reached the treasure house of Rome (Esth. R. 1:12). Eleazar also was reported to have visited Alexandria where an old Egyptian showed him hair and bones reputedly of the enslaved children of Israel embedded in a building from before the exodus from Egypt (Sanh. 111a and Dik. Sof. ibid.). He disputed with Samaritans and Sadducees, proving to them that their copies of the Torah scroll were forged and their commentaries false (Sot. 33b; Sanh. 90b). In addition to his halakhic powers he was also a gifted aggadist. He is quoted as saying: "All the charity and kindness practiced by Israel in this world bring abundant peace and serve as powerful advocates between Israel and its Father in heaven" (bb 10a).


Hyman, Toledot, 177–80; Epstein, Tanna'im, 178f.; Bacher, Tann. s.v.

[Yitzhak Dov Gilat]