Amora of the third century; born in Babylonia. He sojourned for a long time in Alexandria, and later went to Palestine, where he became a pupil of Rabbi Johanan. In the name of Ḥanina b. Ḥama he transmitted the maxim that he who in the presence of a teacher ventures to decide a legal question, is a trespasser ('Er. 3a). He also transmitted a saying by Ḥanina to the effect that the Messiah would not arrive until all the arrogant ones had disappeared (Sanh. 98a). During his sojourn in Alexandria he purchased a mule which, when he led it to water, was transformed into a bridge-board, the water having lifted the spell which rested on the animal. The purchase-money was refunded to Ze'iri, and he was advised to apply the water-test thenceforth to everything he purchased, in order to ascertain whether it had been charmed (ib. 67b). When Eleazar arrived in Palestine he sought information from Ze'iri concerning men known in ancient traditions (B. B. 87a). Ze'iri was praised by Raba as an exegete of the Mishnah (Zeb. 43b). He was proffered the daughter of Rabbi Johanan for a wife, but refused because he was a Babylonian and she a Palestinian (Ḳid. 71b). Among those who transmitted in his name may be mentioned Rabbi Ḥisda (Ber. 43a), R. Judah ('Ab. Zarah 61b; Men. 21a), R. Joseph (Ned. 46b), R. Naḥman ('Ab. Zarah 61b), and Rabbah (Ned. 46a).
- Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor, iii. 644;
- Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii. 123a;
- Blau, Altjüdisches Zauberwesen, p. 158, note 5, Strasburg, 1898;
- Yuḥasin, ed. Filipowski, p. 134b.