Skip to main content

Symmachus ben Joseph

SYMMACHUS BEN JOSEPH

SYMMACHUS BEN JOSEPH (late second century c.e.), tanna. His patronymic is given only once in the aggadic statement, "Symmachus b. Joseph says: whoever prolongs the word eḥad ["one" in the Shema] has his days and years prolonged" (tj, Ber. 2:1; cf. also tb, Ber. 13b). He was a disciple of *Meir, in whose name he transmitted two halakhot (bm 6:5; Ḥul. 5:3), and it was stated that he could adduce 48 reasons to support every rule of ritual cleanliness or uncleanness. Such attention to detail and keen legal reasoning, characteristic of Meir's disciples, was apparently not fully appreciated by all his contemporaries. According to a talmudic aggadah, "after Meir died *Judah issued a decree to his disciples not to allow the disciples of R. Meir to enter, for they are disputatious and do not come to learn Torah, but come to embarrass me…." Symmachus nevertheless forced his way through and entered quoting a halakhic saying of R. Meir. R. Judah became angry, and *Yose commented: "People will say, 'Meir is dead, Judah is angry, Yose is silent; what is to become of the Torah?'" (Naz. 49b; Kid. 52b). That he was a recognized legal authority is evidenced by the fact that R. Nathan turned to him for a ruling (Ket. 52a). He is the author of the famous principle in monetary cases: "Money, the ownership of which cannot be decided, has to be equally divided" (bk 46a; et al.) which, however, is not accepted in practice. Although he apparently knew some Greek (Naz. 8b), he is not to be identified with the Symmachus who translated the Bible into Greek. Symmachus may have lived to old age, since the Talmud reports that *Rav, during a visit to Ereẓ Israel probably in the mid-third century, put a question to him (Ket. 81a).

bibliography:

Hyman, Toledot, 959–60.

[Michael Graetz]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Symmachus ben Joseph." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Symmachus ben Joseph." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/symmachus-ben-joseph

"Symmachus ben Joseph." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved October 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/symmachus-ben-joseph

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.