Hananiah (Hanina) ben Teradyon

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HANANIAH (Hanina ) BEN TERADYON (second century c.e.), tanna during the *Jabneh era, and martyr. Two halakhic precedents are brought in his name (Ta'an. 2:5; Tosef. Ta'anit 1:13), and a small number of explicit dicta in halakhah and aggadah are ascribed to him (Tosef. Mik. 6:3, cf. Men. 54a; Avot 3:2). A halakhic dispute between his son and his daughter is mentioned in the Tosefta (Kel. bk 4:17), and Sifre Deut. 307 briefly relates the story of his martyrdom, mentioning also his daughter. These traditions concerning his life, his family, and his martyrdom are further elaborated in the later talmudic aggadah. According to tradition, Hananiah was head of the yeshivah of *Sikhnin in Galilee (Sanh. 32b). When the news of the martyrdom of Akiva at Caesarea reached *Judah b. Bava and Hananiah, they said that his death was an omen that the land of Israel would soon be filled with corpses and the city councils (*Boule) of Judea abrogated (cf. Sem. 8:9, Higger's edition p. 154–5). This was apparently a reference to the destruction of Judea which followed the crushing of the *Bar Kokhba revolt and to the ensuing religious persecution by Hadrian. Hananiah's martyrdom was apparently also a part of these persecutions. He was sentenced to death for teaching the Torah and holding public gatherings in defiance of the prohibition against it, in order to foster Judaism. Unlike *Eleazar b. Parta who was arrested with him, Hananiah, when interrogated, admitted that he had been teaching Torah, since it was a divine command. He was sentenced to be burnt at the stake, his wife to be executed, and his daughter sold to a brothel. All three accepted their fate with equanimity, justifying the way of God, except that Hananiah was distressed that he had devoted himself only to study and not to philanthropic activity. He was burnt at the stake wrapped in the Sefer Torah (which he had been holding when arrested). To prolong his agony tufts of wool soaked in water were placed over his heart so that he should not die quickly. In answer to the wonder of his daughter at the fortitude with which he bore his sufferings, he answered, "He who will have regard for the plight of the Sefer Torah, will also have regard for my plight." It is stated that the executioner (quaestionarius), moved by his sufferings, removed the tufts and increased the heat of the fire, and when Hananiah expired he too jumped into the flames, whereupon a heavenly voice proclaimed that the two "are assigned to the world to come" (Av. Zar. 17b–18a; Sem. 8:12, D.T. Higger's edition p. 157–9). His daughter, who had been consigned to a brothel, preserved her virtue, and was eventually ransomed by *Meir who had married her sister, the learned *Beruryah. It is also related that one of Hananiah's sons associated with robbers (possibly the reference is to a group of political rebels) and when he was put to death, Hananiah would not permit him to be eulogized but applied to him censorious verses from the Bible (Lam. R. 3:16, No. 6; Sem. 12:13, Higger's edition p. 199–200). In the stories of the *Ten Martyrs in the *heikhalot literature, the account of Hananiah's martyrdom is further embellished with mystical additions.


Bacher, Tann; E.E. Urbach, in: Sefer Yovel le-Yiẓḥak Baer (1960), 61–64.

[Moshe David Herr]