SIMEON B. JOSE B. LEḲONYA:
Tanna of the fourth generation; contemporary of R. Judah ha-Nasi I. He was the brother-in-law of Eleazar b. Simeon, whose son he educated and instructed in the Torah (B. M. 85a). Only a few of his halakic sentences have been preserved (Bek. 38b; Yer. Pes. 33b). He gave as a reason for the thirty-nine kinds of work forbidden on the Sabbath that the word "melakah" (work) occurs thirty-nine times in the Torah (Shab. 49b); but this enumeration is inexact, since the word occurs oftener—indeed, Simeon seems to have disregarded purposely some passages in making his list. Among his haggadic sentences the following is especially interesting, as indicating the indestructibility of Judaism: "In this world Israel is compared to the rock [Num. xxiii. 9; Isa. li. 1] and to the stones [Gen. xlix. 24; Ps. cxviii. 22], while the nations of the earth are compared to the potsherds [Isa. xxx. 14]. The proverb says: 'If the stone fall upon the pot, wo to the pot; and if the pot falls upon the stone, wo to the pot.' Thus, whoever seeks to trouble Israel will not be allowed to go unpunished (Esth. R. vii. on iii. 6).
- Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii. 372-373, Warsaw, 1882;
- Bacher, Ag. Tan. ii. 488-489.