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AHABAH (AHAWAH, AḤA, AḤWA) B. ZEIRA (ZERA):

Palestinian amora of the fourth century, who taught at Cæsarea (Yer. Ḥal. i. 57a; Yer. Pes. ii. 29b), son of R. Zeira (Zera) I. His fame as a halakist spread beyond his native land, even reaching Babylonia, and sages consulted him on the ritual. Inquiries concerning his father's decisions were made of him (Yer. Ber. 3d), and even during his father's lifetime Ahaba transmitted the paternal Halakot to his colleagues ('Er. 96b, R. H. 30b). He is also favorably known in midrashic literature. Commenting on Ps. xxviii. 3, he points out a characteristic difference between Joseph's brothers and Absalom. He remarks that the good qualities of the sons of Israel may be gathered from the mention of their faults. Thus, it is said of them (Gen. xxxvii. 4), "And they hated him [Joseph], and could not speak peaceably unto him," which shows that what they felt in their hearts they expressed with their mouths. OfAbsalom, however, it is said (II Sam. xiii. 22), "Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad," hiding his feelings in his heart (Midr. Teh. xxviii.; Gen. R. lxxxiv.; YalḲ., Gen. § 141). On Solomon's comparison of his beloved to the apple-tree (Song Sol. ii. 3) he remarks: "as the apple-tree sends forth its buds before the appearance of its leaves, so Israel expressed faith before hearing the purport of the divine message. Thus it is written (Ex. iv. 31), 'And the people believed and heard.' Also at Sinai (Ex. xxiv. 7), they promised first to do all the Lord should command and then to hearken to His voice" (Cant. R. ii. 3). Other homiletic remarks of his occur in Yer. Ber. v. 8d; Gen. R. lxxxiv; Lam. R. ii. 17; Eccl. R. iii. 11, ix. 11.

Bibliography:
  • Frankel, Mebo, 63a;
  • Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor. iii. 656-659.
S. M.
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