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ELEAZAR B. DINAI:

Leader of the Zealots (35-60, C.E.). When the Jews of Peræea had boundary disputes with the pagan population of Philadelphia, the procurator Fadus killed Annibas, one of the three leaders, and banished the other two, Amram and Eleazar. The latter may be identical with Eleazar b. Dinai. When Jewish pilgrims traversing Samaritan territory were killed by hostile Samaritans, the Jews in self-defense called Eleazar b. Dinai down from the mountains, and he ravaged Akrabatene.

The procurator Felix succeeded by cunning in capturing Eleazar and his band, sending him in chains to Rome (Josephus, "Ant." xx. 1, § 1; 6, § 1; 8, § 5; "B. J." ii. 12, § 4; 13, § 2).

Rabbinical sources also mention Eleazar. The Midrash to Cant. iii. 5 says that in the days of Amram and (Ben) Dinai the Jews prematurely attempted liberation. Mention is also made of a companion of Eleazar, Teḥina ben Perisha by name, probably the Alexander mentioned by Josephus. Through the example of these two men murders became so frequent that the sacrifice of atonement for an unknown murderer (Deut. xxi. 1-8) was abolished (Soṭah ix. 9; Tosef. xiv. 1; Bab. 47b; Yer. 24a; Sifre, Deut. 205). The wife of Eleazar b. Dinai is also mentioned (Ket. 27a).

Bibliography:
  • Grätz, Gesch. 4th ed., iii. 431, 436;
  • Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 570;
  • Büchler, Das Grosse Synedrion in Jerusalem, p. 143, Vienna, 1902.
G. S. Kr.
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