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JOSEPH (JOSE) B. ḲISMA:

Tanna of the first and second centuries; contemporary and senior of Hananiah b. Teradion. He is never cited in connection with halakot, but some ethical and eschatological sayings of his are preserved in the Talmud. He prized association with scholars more than gold; and when a rich man once offered him great wealth as an inducement to follow him to a place where no sages lived, he declined it: "If all the precious metals of the world were offered me, I would not live but in the atmosphere of the Torah; as David has said, 'The Law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver'" (Ps. cxix. 72). Nevertheless, when, in disregard of the Roman prohibition against teaching the Law, Hananiah b. Teradion held public assemblies and taught, Jose endeavored to dissuade him from pursuing that dangerous course (see Hananiah b. Teradion). This came to the ears of the Romans, and when Jose died the foremost among them attended his funeral ('Ab. Zarah 18a). On one occasion at the bet ha-midrash of Tiberias, he witnessed a warm controversy between Jose b. Ḥalafta and Eleazar b. Shammua', in which the debaters became so excited that they rent a scroll between them; thereupon he severely reprimanded them, and predicted that the bet ha-midrash eventually would be converted into a pagan temple. It is said that his prediction was fulfilled (Yer. Sheḳ. ii. 47a). Asked by his pupils "When will the Messiah come?" he exacted from them a promise not to call for signs to satisfy them of the accuracy of his prediction before he answered their question; and when they had promised, he replied: "When this gate shall have twice fallen and been restored, and fallen again, then, before it shall be restored the third time, the Messiah will come." Before his death he ordered that his coffin be placed deep in the ground; for, said he, "a time will come when to every palm in Babylonia a Persian horse will be tethered, and out of every coffin in Palestine Median horses will feed" (Sanh. 98a et seq.).

The word "Ḳismaḥ" is a locative noun, probably identical with "Ḳesam," by which Targ. Yer. (Num. xxxiv. 4) renders "Azmon." Neubauer ("G. T." p. 280) suggests its identity with "Ḳasmeya," name of a place in Upper Galilee.

Bibliography:
  • Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 401;
  • Grätz, Gesch. 2d ed., iv. 174.
S. S. S. M.
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