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NITTAI OF ARBELA:

Vice-president of the Sanhedrin under the nasi Joshua b. Peraḥyah at the time of John Hyrcanus. In Yer. Ḥag. ii. 76d he is called Mattai of Arbela. Arbela was a city of Galilee not far from Tiberias. No halakot of his are extant, but some of his apothegms have been preserved which afford a glimpse of his character. They are as follows: "Withdraw thyself from an evil neighbor; join not thyself unto the wicked; and renounce not the hope of retribution" (Ab. i. 7). These bitter utterances contrast sharply with the gentle maxims of his colleague Joshua b. Peraḥyah. Nittai seems to have spoken thus after John Hyrcanus had deserted the party of the Pharisees and joined the Sadducees, persecuting his former friends. The phrase "renounce not the hope of retribution" was intended to comfort the Pharisees with the thought that Hyrcanus himself would not escape punishment, while the other two injunctions were designed to keep them from joining the Sadducees.

Bibliography:
  • Weiss, Dor, i. 132;
  • Z. Frankel, in Monatsschrift, 1852, pp. 410-413;
  • idem, Hodegetica in Mischnam, pp. 33-34, Leipsic, 1859.
S. J. Z. L.
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