HANANIAH (ḤANINA) B. TERADION:
Teacher and martyr in the third tannaitic generation (second century); contemporary of
Hananiah's life proved that with him these were not empty words. During the Hadrianic persecutions decrees were promulgated imposing the most rigorous penalties on the observers of the Jewish Law, and especially upon those who occupied themselves with the promulgation of that Law. Nevertheless Hananiah conscientiously followed his chosen profession; he convened public assemblies and taught the Law. Once he visited Jose b. Ḳisma, who advised extreme caution, if not submission. The latter said: "Ḥanina, my brother, seest thou not that this Roman people is upheld by God Himself? It has destroyed His house and burned His Temple, slaughtered His faithful, and exterminated His nobles; yet it prospers! In spite of all this, I hear, thou occupiest thyself with the Torah, even calling assemblies and holding the scroll of the Law before thee." To all this Hananiah replied, "Heaven will have mercy on us." Jose became impatient on hearing this, and rejoined, "I am talking logic, and to all my arguments thou answerest, 'Heaven will have mercy on us!' I should not be surprised if they burned thee together with the scroll." Shortly thereafter Hananiah was arrested at a public assembly while teaching with a scroll before him. Asked why he disregarded the imperial edict, he frankly answered, "I do as my God commands me." For this he and his wife were condemned to death, and their daughter to degradation. His death was terrible. Wrapped in the scroll, he was placed on a pyre of green brush; fire was set to it, and wet wool was placed on his chest to prolong the agonies of death. "Wo is me," cried his daughter, "that I should see thee under such terrible circumstances!" The martyr serenely replied, "I should indeed despair were I alone burned; but since the scroll of the Torah is burning with me, the Power that will avenge the offense against the Law will also avenge the offense against me." His heart-broken disciples then asked: "Master, what seest thou?" He answered: "I see the parchment burning while the letters of the Law soar upward." "Open then thy mouth, that the fire may enter and the sooner put an end to thy sufferings," advised his pupils; but he said, "It is best that He who hath given the soul should also take it away: no man may hasten his death." Thereupon the executioner removed the wool and fanned the flame, thus accelerating the end, and then himself plunged into the flames ('Ab. Zarah 17b et seq.).
It is reported that, on hearing his sentence, Hananiah quoted Deut. xxxii. 4, "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment"; while his wife quoted the second hemistich, "A God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he"; and his daughter cited Jer. xxxii. 19, "Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings" (Sifre, Deut. 307; 'Ab. Zarah l.c.; Sem. viii.).
Of the surviving members of Hananiah's family are mentioned two daughters: the learned Beruriah, who became the wife of R. Meïr, and the one marked for degradation, whom R. Meïr succeeded in rescuing ('Ab. Zarah 18a). Hananiah had also a learned son. It is related that Simon b. Hananiah applied to this son for information on a point of ritual, and that the latter and his sister, presumably Beruriah, furnished divergent opinions. When Judah b. Baba heard of those opinions, he remarked, "Hananiah's daughter teaches better than his son" (Tosef., Kelim, B. Ḳ. iv. 17). Elsewhere it is reported of that son that he became a degenerate, associating with bandits. Subsequently he betrayed his criminal associates, wherefore they killed him and filled his mouth with sand and gravel. Having discovered his remains, the people would have eulogized him out of respect for his father, but the latter would not permit it. "I myself shall speak," said he; and he did, quoting Prov. v. 11 et seq. The mother quoted Prov. xvii. 25; the sister, Prov. xx. 17 (Lam. R. iii. 16; comp. Sem. xii.).
- Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 397;
- Brüll, Mebo ha-Mishnah. i. 140;
- Frankel, Darke ha-Mishnah. p. 133;
- Hamburger, R. B. T. ii. 132;
- Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii.;
- Zacuto, Yuḥasin, ed. Filipowski, p. 32a.