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SAMUEL HA-ḲAṬON:

Tanna of the second generation; lived in the early part of the second century of the common era. His surname "ha-Ḳaṭon" (= "the younger") is explained by some as an epithet given him on account of his extreme modesty, while others regard it as an allusion to the fact that he was only slightly inferior to the prophet Samuel (Yer. Soṭah 24b). It is also possible, however, that the name was first applied to him posthumously, since he died at an early age.

Samuel was so humble that when, during a conference on the intercalation of a month to make a leap-year, the nasi asked an outsider to withdraw, Samuel, not wishing the intruder to feel humiliated, arose and said that he was the one who had come without invitation (Sanh. 11c). He was, moreover, held in such esteem by his contemporaries that when, in an assembly of sages, a voice was heard proclaiming that one of those present was worthy of the Holy Spirit ("Ruaḥ ha-Ḳodesh"), the entire company considered that Samuel was intended (Yer. Soṭah, l.c.).

None of his halakot has been preserved; but some of his haggadic aphorisms are still extant, including the following: When asked to explain Eccl. vii. 15 he said: "The Creator of the world knows and understands that the pious may waver; wherefore God says, 'I will take him away in his righteousness' [this being the meaning of "be-ẓidḳo"], that he may not falter" (Eccl. R. ad loc.). The words "and all the upright in heart shall follow it" (Ps. xciv. 15) are interpreted as meaning that the holy may expect their reward only in the future world (Midr. Teh. ad loc.).

Samuel was exceedingly pious, and once, when he ordered a fast on account of drought, rain fell on the very morning of the day designated by him for the fast (Ta'an. 25b). According to Brüll, he originated the use of the invocation "Ribbonoshel 'Olam" = "Lord of the World," that he might avoid pronouncing the name of God (comp. Shab. 33a, where he employs this periphrasis of the divine name).Samuel is known especially for the anathema against Judæo-Christians, Minæans, and informers ("birkat ha-minim") which he composed at the request of the patriarch Gamaliel II., and which was incorporated into the daily "Shemoneh 'Esreh" prayer (Ber. 28b-29a). He is known also for the sinister prophecy uttered by him on his death-bed: "Simeon and Ishmael are doomed to destruction; their companions, to death; the people, to pillage; and bitter persecutions shall come upon them" (Soṭah 48b). This prophecy, which many of those present did not understand, was fulfilled in its entirety (comp. Krochmal, "Moreh Nebuke ha-Zeman," p. 62). His favorite maxim, Prov. xxiv. 17, shows his pious and humane character, although some deny that this was his motto (Ab. iv. 19; comp. Rahmer's "Jüdisches Lit.-Blatt," 1892, p. 195), while others ascribe to him the apothegm on the ages of life (Ab. v. 21; Taylor, "Sayings of the Jewish Fathers," p. 23).

Bibliography:
  • Brüll, Einleitung in die Mischna, i. 98-99, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1876;
  • Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 370-372;
  • Grätz, Gesch. iv. 59.
W. B. J. Z. L.
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