Judah ben Gerim

views updated


JUDAH BEN GERIM (mid-second century c.e.), tanna. Ben Gerim (Bar Giore in Aramaic) means "the son of proselytes" (see Rashi, Shab. 33b). In Gen. R. 35:3 it is told that Judah bar Giore went, together with R. Isaac and R. Jonathan, to study with *Simeon b. Yoḥai. In the parallel version cited in the Babylonian Talmud, Judah ben Gerim went together with Jonathan b. Asmai (or Johanan b. Akhnai) to study with Simeon, and they both pleased their teacher to such an extent that he counseled his son to let himself be blessed by these students. When he asked for a blessing, they apparently cursed him, though Simeon himself managed to interpret their words in a positive light (mk 9 a–b). In sharp contrast to this idyllic description of the warm relationship between these two sages, we are told in another aggadah (Shab. 33b–34a) that Simeon b. Yoḥai once uttered critical remarks against the Roman authorities, and Judah b. Gerim, who overheard these remarks, repeated them to others, and thus they became known to the Roman authorities, who sentenced Simeon to death. Simeon escaped by hiding in a cave for 13 years. According to this version of the story, after emerging from his hiding place, he saw Judah in the street. Simeon then "set his eyes upon him" and Judah immediately "turned into a pile of bones." However, in the parallel versions of this story (tj, 9, 38d, Gen. R. 79:6, pdrk 11:16) Judah ben Gerim is not mentioned at all, and it is a different character upon whom Simeon "set his eyes," and who immediately "turned into a pile of bones." S. Friedman has suggested, however, that this figure was intentionally identified as Judah b. Gerim in the tradition of the Babylonian Talmud, because of the latter's apparently harsh and cruel behavior toward Simeon and his son as described in Mo'ed Katan 9b.


Hyman, Toledot, ii, p. 559.

[Stephen G. Wald (2nd ed.)]