YIẒḤAḲ B. ELEAZAR OF CÆSAREA:
Palestinian amora of the fourth century. He was a teacher of law in the old synagogue of Cæsarea, where he was so loved by pupils and friends thatJacob of Kefar Nibburaya placed him as high in this synagogue as is God Himself in the Temple of Zion (Yer. Bik. 65d; Midrash Shemuel vii. 6). The following halakic decisions of his may be mentioned: one concerning sale and purchase, rendered to his pupil Hoshaiah b. Shammai (Yer. M. Ḳ. 81b); another on religious law in a case referred to him by Samuel bar Abdimi (Yer. Shab. 16d); a ruling concerning fraud (Suk. 35b); instruction in regard to the writing of a letter of divorce (B. B. 163a); halakic deduction to the effect that, although a tithe of dates need not be rendered, honey made from them must be tithed (Yer. Bik. 63d); decision concerning marital law (Yer. Ḳid. 63b); regarding signs for detecting murder upon finding a corpse (Yer. Naz. 57d); and a halakah concerning the lifting of the terumah (Yer. Dem. 26b). He appears as a traditionist of Jeremiah (Lev. R. xxxiii. 2) and of Naḥman bar Jacob (Yer. Shab. 9a), and was famed for his gastronomical art (Lam. R. to iii. 17; Yer. Ber. 61c; Yer. Ḥag. 78a). He gives examples of the ban from the Mishnah (Yer. M. Ḳ. 81a), and a prescription in accordance with them (Yer. Ta'an. 69b).
In the vicinity of Cæsarea is a cliff extending into the sea. One day as Yiẓḥaḳ was walking along this cliff he saw a large bone on the ground, and tried several times to cover it with earth, so that no one should stumble over it; but his efforts were unsuccessful, as the bone became uncovered as fast as he heaped the earth upon it. He accordingly considered the bone to be an instrument of God, and waited patiently to see what would happen. Soon afterward an imperial messenger named Veredarius came that way, stumbled on the bone, and died as a result of his fall; this messenger had been sent to Cæsarea bearing malicious edicts against the Jews (Gen. R. x. 7; Lev. R. xxii. 4; Num. R. xviii.; Eccl. R. to v. 8). In answer to a question as to how it came about that two great prophets like Jeremiah and Daniel should suppress attributes of God which had been given Him by Moses himself, he said that these prophets knew that God was a lover of truth, and that any dissimulation on their part would have been punishable (Yer. Ber. 13c; Meg. 74c). He made a comparison between wisdom and humility (Yer. Shab. 3c); and he explained the expression in Gen. xxv. 30 by a comparison with the insatiability of Rome, saying that Esau sat like a camel with jaws wide open and that Jacob had to fill his mouth with food (Pesiḳ. R. xvi.; Pesiḳ. 59a). Yiẓḥaḳ, moreover, connected the expression in Gen. xxvii. 41 with the word "senator," in order more clearly to express Rome's hatred of Judah (Yer. 'Ab. Zarah 39c).
Yiẓḥaḳ must be distinguished from an amora of the same name who lived half a century earlier, and in whose house Ḥiyya bar Abba, Ammi, and Yiẓḥaḳ Nappaḥa used to assemble to study (Ḥag. 26a; 'Ab. Zarah 24a; M. Ḳ. 20a). This earlier amora delivered a funeral address at the death of Johanan (M. Ḳ. 25b; but see Bacher ["Ag. Pal. Amor." iii. 718, note 4] for different version).
- Frankel, Mebo, p. 107a;
- Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii. 238;
- Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor. iii. 717-719.