Relations with Ze'era.

Palestinian amora of the fourth century. His name does not occur in the Babylonian Talmud, whereas it is often mentioned in the older Palestinian midrashim, as well as in the Jerusalem Talmud, where he is repeatedly referred to as a halakist (Pe'ah 16b; Dem. 25d; Kil. 29b; Ma'as. Sh. 52c; 'Er. 20d; etc.). He was a pupil of Abba (Yer. Soṭah 16c), and became a colleague of Jose, the principal of the school at Tiberias, with whom he often engaged in halakic controversies (Yer. Pe'ah 16c; Sheb. 36d; Suk. 52a; etc.). He appears to have held the office of judge simultaneously with Jose, it being stated (Yer. Ket. 34b) that the latter once rendered alone a decision on a question of civil law at a time when Yudan had fled to Nawe. This statement concerning Yudan's flight from Tiberias to Nawe, in Peræa, is the only biographical datum known with regard to his career, no mention being made of his family relations, of his native place, or even of the name of his father. His own references to older contemporaries throw but little light upon his personality. Mention is made of an objection relating to a halakic thesis which Yudan personally brought to the attention of Ze'era (Yer. Sanh. 24d); and several comments which Yudan made upon Ze'era's halakic maxims have been preserved (Yer. Suk. 54a; Yer. R. H. 57d; Yer. Ber. 61b). Of his pupils, Mana, the son of Jonah, is the only one known (Yer. Pes. 33a; Ta'an. 66a). On a certain day Yudan did not visit the school, and Mana referred to him the halakic questions which had been brought up during the session (Yer. Giṭ. 47a).

This amora is one of the best-known transmitters of haggadic literature, he having handed down maxims of many of the older amoraim, as Ḥanina, Johanan, Ḥama ben Ḥanina, Simeon b. Laḳish, and Joshua ben Levi. He often transmitted also tannaitic maxims. In many instances maxims originating with older amoraim have been ascribed to him (comp. Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." p. 242, note 8); and he often places transmitted maxims side by side with his own (Yer. Ber. 13a; Gen. R. ix. 1). Together with his own haggadic maxims there are often handed down the divergent expositions of other haggadists on the same subjects. Among the haggadists whose opinions are thus given by Yudan may be mentioned Huna, Berechiah, Phinehas, and Azariah (comp. Bacher, l.c.). His maxims extend to all branches of the Haggadah, and include exegetic and homiletic explanations of Biblical passages, as well as comments on Biblical personages and narratives, sentences relating to the study of the Law, and eschatological and Messianic sayings.

Haggadic Maxims.

Some of Yudan's haggadic maxims may be mentioned here. With reference to the atoning power of suffering, he remarks that if a slave is liberated because of pain inflicted upon a single member of his body (Ex. xxi. 20), how much more entitled to liberty in the world to come is a man who has been afflicted with sufferings in his whole body? (Gen. R. xcii. 1). He who publicly teaches the Torah shall be found worthy to have the Holy Spirit rest upon him, even as it rested on Solomon, who, because he had preached the Torah, was thought worthy to write the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon (Cant. R., Introduction, § 9). The words "the law of the Lord" in Isa. v. 24 refer to the written law, while "the word of the Holy One" in the same verse means the oral law (Pesiḳ. 121b). To "the nations"—by which term the Christians are probably meant—the Sabbath has been given with the word "Remember" (Ex. xx. 8), because, although they remember that day, they do not keep it; but to Israel it was given with the word "Observe" (Deut. v. 12; Pesiḳ. R. xxiii. 115b). The visit to Seir promised by Jacob (Gen. xxxiii. 14) is meant for the future, when the "saviors shall come up on Mount Zion" (Obadiah, verse 21; Yer. 'Ab. Zarah 40c). The words "and man became a living ["ḥayyah"] soul" (Gen. ii. 7) are explained by Yudan as meaning that man was originally created with a rudimentary tail, so that he resembled an animal ("ḥayyah"); later, however, God removed this appendage in order that man's dignity should not suffer (Gen. R. xiv., where the name "Judah" occurs erroneously for "Yudan").

Yudan often interpreted Biblical words according to their consonantal formation, without referring to their vowel-sounds (Gen. R. xxxv. 1, xxxviii. 8); and he also used the numerical values of the letters as a basis for explanations (ib. xxxix. 11, lxxix. 1). He interpreted numbers in other ways, asserting, for instance, that the fact that the name of Barzillai occurs five times in II Sam. xix. 31-40 (corresponding to the five books of the Torah), teaches that he who supports the pious with the necessaries of life, as Barzillai sustained David (II Sam. xvii. 27), is regarded as having kept all the precepts of the five books (Gen. R. lviii.). With regard to the sentence "I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig-tree at her first time" (Hosea ix. 10), he remarked that even as one plucks first one fig from the fig-tree, then two, then three, and at length a whole basketful, so at first "Abraham was one" (Ezek. xxxiii. 24), then there were two (Abraham and Isaac), then three (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and at length "the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly" (Ex. i. 7; Gen. R. xlvi. 1).

Exegetic Interpretations.

Many of Yudan's exegetic interpretations give the correct and simple meanings of the words or passages to which they refer. Thus he explains, with regard to Ps. ix. 18, that the word in the first part of the verse refers to the word in the second part: "For even as the needy shall not always be forgotten, so shall not the expectation of the poor perish forever" (Midr. Teh. to Ps. ix.). In I Sam. xxiii. 27 the word denotes a messenger, and not an angel (Midr. Shemuel xvii. 2); and the word in Ps. civ. 12 is to be interpreted "leaves" in analogy with the word in Dan. iv. 9 (Midr. Teh. to Ps. civ. 9). Yudan also frequently employs parables, the following being a representative example: "Every one has a patron; and when he is in need he may not suddenly enter into the presence of his benefactor to ask for aid, but must wait at the door while a slave or an inmate of the house carries his request before the master. God, however, is not such a patron; when man is in need he shall call neither upon Gabriel nor upon Michael, but upon God direct, who will hear him without any mediators" (Yer. Ber. 13a).

  • Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor. iii. 237-272.
J. J. Z. L.
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