Nathan ben Abraham II

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NATHAN BEN ABRAHAM II (d. before 1102), av bet din of the academy of Ereẓ Israel. Nathan was a grandson of Nathan b. Abraham *i. Few biographical details are known of him. He was appointed av bet din of the academy of Ereẓ Israel during the gaonate of *Abiathar in 1095, in succession to Zadok b. Josiah. Nathan compiled a short Arabic commentary to the six Orders of the Mishnah, in which he incorporated explanations of many specific words. A Yemenite scholar who lived in the 12th century copied his commentary, and added some commentaries of other scholars to it. In the opinion of some scholars, however, Nathan is himself responsible for some of the additions from the commentaries of his predecessors. It is not clear which literary sources were already used by Nathan himself and which were added by the Yemenite scholar. The scholars quoted in the commentary, except for two contemporaries, Nathan b. Jehiel of Rome and Isaac Alfasi, lived before him. Nathan, or the Yemenite scholar, frequently quotes the later geonim, particularly Saadiah Gaon, Samuel b. Ḥophni Gaon, Sherira Gaon, and Hai Gaon. There are few quotations from the earlier geonim. In general the commentary gives the meaning of words and concepts, a more extensive commentary being found only for a few tractates: Berakhot, Shevu'ot, and Avot. A few tractates are preceded by a short introduction explaining general concepts and essential matters necessary for an understanding of the whole tractate. R. Nathan, or the Yemenite scholar, gives a short survey of the development of the oral law down to his time in his introduction to the work. He discusses the relationship of the Tosefta to the Mishnah, taking the view that the Tosefta explains obscurities of the Mishnah. He also discusses the principles laid down by talmudic scholars for deciding halakhah where there are opposing opinions. The chapter divisions of the tractates in the commentary differ from the accepted form. The commentary seeems to have been widely known and it was already used by Baruch Samuel of *Aleppo.

A number of extracts were published in the original with a Hebrew translation by S. Assaf and by M.L. Sachs. The whole commentary in the Hebrew translation of J. *Kafaḥ was published by El ha-Mekorot (Jerusalem, 1955–58) together with the Mishnah text and other commentaries.


Mann, Egypt, 1 (1920), 151, 193f.; 2 (1922), 229–32; S. Assaf, in: ks, 10 (1933/34), 381–8, 525–45 (= Assaf, Ge'onim, 294–332); M.L. Sachs, in: Sinai, 17 (1945), 167–75; S. Abramson, Rav Nissim Ga'on (1965), index.

[Abraham David]