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JOSE BEN JOEZER OF ZEREDAH:

Rabbi of the early Maccabean period; possibly a disciple of Antigonus of Soko, though this is not certain. He belonged to a priestly family. With him and Jose ben Johanan of Jerusalem, his colleague, begins the period known in Jewish history as that of the "zugot" (duumvirate), which ends with Hillel and Shammai. According to an old tradition, the member of the "zugot" mentioned first occupied the office of president of the Sanhedrin, while the one mentioned second served in the capacity of vice-president. Jose belonged to the party of the Ḥasidim, and was a decided adversary of Hellenism. To prevent Jews from settling beyond Palestine he declared all heathen countries "unclean" (Shab. 46a). He declared also glass utensils "unclean," probably because they were manufactured in heathen countries. In other respects, however, he was very liberal, and received the surname "Sharaya" ("one who permits") for having rendered three liberal decisions on certain ritual questions ('Eduy. viii. 4; Pes. 15a).

The first halakic controversy known in the Talmud was that between Jose ben Joezer and his colleague Jose ben Johanan. It arose over the question whether the laying of hands on the heads of the sacrifices is permitted on feast-days (Ḥag. ii. 2). Jose ben Joezer was distinguished for his piety, and is called "the pious of the priesthood" ("ḥasid shebi-kchunnah"; Ḥag. ii. 7). He professed great veneration for scholars, one of his sayings being: "Let thy house be a meeting-place for the wise; powder thyself in the dust of their feet, and drink their words with eagerness" (Abot iv. 4). Jose was probably among the sixty pious men who, at the instigation of the high priest Alcimus, the son of his sister, were crucified by the Syrian general Bacchides (I Macc. vii. 16).

The Midrash reports the following dialogue between Alcimus and Jose ben Joezer while the latter was on the way to execution:

Alcimus: "See the profit and honors that have fallen to my lot in consequence of what I have done, whilst thou, for thy obstinacy, hast the misfortune to die as a criminal." Jose, quietly: "if such is the lot of those who anger God, what shall be the lot of those who accomplish His will?" Alcimus: "Is there any one who accomplished His will more than thou?" Jose: "If this is the end of those who accomplish His will, what awaits those who anger Him?"

On this Alcimus was seized with remorse and committed suicide (Gen. R. i. 65; comp. Alcimus). Jose ben Joezer left a son whom he had disinherited for bad conduct (B. B. 133b). See Alcimus.

Bibliography:
  • Yuḥasin, p. 60a, ed. Königsberg;
  • Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, p. 211, ed. Warsaw;
  • Weiss, Dor, i. 98;
  • Braunschweiger, Die Lehrer der Mishnah, p. 165, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1903;
  • Z. Frankel, Darke ha-Mishnah, pp. 31, 32;
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., iii. 3;
  • Schürer, Gesch. ii. 202, 352, 357, 407.
S. S. I. Br.
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