Palestinian scholar of the first century; contemporary of Eleazar b. Azariah and a disciple of the school of Shammai. He was reputed for his acuteness, in recognition of which he was styled "bekor saṭan" (= "first-born as adversary," i.e., a fierce disputant; Yer. Yeb. i. 6; Yeb. 16a; comp. Rashi ad loc., and rabbinic dictionaries, s.v. "Bekor"). R. Ẓemah, however, amends the reading to "bekor shoṭeh" (lit. "foolish first-born son"; applied to a son first-born to the mother—but not to the father; Zacuto, "Yuḥasin," ed. Filipowski, p. 11). Athough the school of Hillel was the standard authority in halakic matters, Jonathan prevailed upon some of the Rabbis to permit, in accordance with the school of Shammai, marriage between a man and his brother's widow, where she was the co-wife of his daughter. The Jerusalem Talmud (Yeb. l.c.) relates concerning this the following incident: The disciples of Hillel, having heard that a son of Horḳinas had granted this permission, credited it to Dosa b. Horḳinas, Jonathan's older brother, of the school of Hillel, and consequently went to Dosa for an explanation. Dosa referred them to his brother Jonathan, who, he said, had three hundred arguments in favor of such a marriage. The Rabbis then went to Jonathan, whom Dosa had warned by letter to prepare for a visit from the wise men of Israel. Jonathan, accordingly, explained to the Rabbis his arguments, but they could not understand them. Becoming impatient, he cast clods of earth at them and drove them out through three different doors. Then he wrote to his brother: "Thou hast informed me of the visit of the wise men of Israel, but those that came to me are in need of learning." Meeting Akiba, Jonathan said to him: "Thou art lucky to have acquired such renown while thou hast not yet acquired the knowledge of a cowherd" (Yeb. l.c.).

  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., iv. 20;
  • Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii.
J. M. Sel.
Images of pages