Megillat Yuḥasin

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MEGILLAT YUḤASIN (Heb. מְגִלַּת יֻחֲסִין; "genealogical scroll"), a work mentioned by tannaim and amoraim as having been found in Jerusalem and containing genealogical information on traditions of importance in halakhah and in aggadah. Simeon b. Azzai (the tanna living at the beginning of the second century c.e.) relates that he found a Megillat Yuḥasin "in Jerusalem in which was written: so and so is a *mamzer from a married woman" (Mishnah Yev. 4:13). A baraita in the Babylonian Talmud (Yev. 49b) adds in his name that this Megillat Yuḥasin also included the following two traditions: "the Mishnah [teaching] of Eliezer b. Jacob is little but well sifted; [King] Manasseh killed [the prophet] Isaiah" (Yev. 49b). Similarly Levi (the amora of the end of the third century) states that he found in the Megillat Yuḥasin in Jerusalem details of the family origin of Hillel, Yose, Nehemiah, Ḥiyya, Yannai, and others (tj, Ta'an. 4:2, 68a; Gen. R. 98:10; ed. Theodor-Albeck, 1259). Josephus too (Apion, 1:30ff.) testifies to the existence of genealogical documents in Israel, particularly of priestly families. According to him, the priests in Egypt and in Babylon notified the center in Jerusalem of details of their marriages and of the patriarchal families into which they married. The Talmud (Pes. 62b) also mentions a "Sefer Yuḥasin," but it does not appear to have any connection with the aforementioned Megillat Yuḥasin. It is difficult to determine its exact nature from the data given in the Talmud, but it seems to have been a kind of Midrash or baraita to the Book of Chronicles. According to Rashi (Pes. 62b), the work contained "reasons for the Laws of the Torah," but from a statement of *Amram Gaon (Oẓar ha-Ge'onim to Pes., p. 80, no. 190) it seems that the work served as a commentary and supplement to the genealogical lists in the biblical books. The Talmud there states that Simlai requested Johanan to teach him Sefer Yuḥasin but the latter refused to accede to his request. It also states in the name of Rav that from the time the Sefer Yuḥasin was concealed the sages became weak and their vision was dimmed.

[Yitzhak Dov Gilat]