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“Speech is worth a sela (a shekel), silence | Ben Zakkai was known as a firm adherent two.”* The saying of Simeon ben Gama- to the old Jewish traditions, and a strict liel has reference to the vain wrangling teacher of morals. He was disposed to which often occurred in the Jewish schools be friendly to strangers, although he lived during the Roman period, and which not at a time when the feeling of the Jewish unfrequently concerned matters really be nation was aroused to desperation against yond the comprehension of man. Such their cruel tyrants the Romans. He idle talk often sorely perplexed the poor taught his disciples that there was a hope ucinitiated wayfaring men,” who some. even of the salvation of the Gentiles in times scarcely knew how to find the way the future state. From the expression to the city (Jerusalem), although they ven- used in Prov. xiv. 34 - " Righteousness tured to engage in subtle questions of exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to theology. At an earlier period the di- the people”- he drew the conclusion vinely inspired Koheleth had found it (the theological correctness of which need necessary similarly to rebuke folly (Eccl. not here be discussed) that moral goodness X. 12-15), and to remind his hearers of the would procure the same mercy for the fact there was "a time to keep silence" Gentiles as the sin-offering obtained for (Eccl. iii. 7). The Talmud contains many Israel (Baba Bathra, 10 b). similar warnings. The man who pre- The learning and wisdom of Ben Zaksumes to talk too much, even in praise of kai attracted many disciples around him, the Holy One of Israel, is warned that he even in those troublous times. He occu. is in danger of being "swallowed up," or pied himself chiefly in expounding the “rooted out of the earth.” † The prophet law, and in teaching the traditions which Habakkuk says, “ The Lord is in his holy in process of time had clustered around Temple : let all the earth keep silence it." He used to teach his disciples in the before him;" and the Psalmist exclaims, cool of the evening, sitting under the “ Silence is his praise” (Ps. Ixv. 2). On shade of the Temple walls. He attacked the wisdom of keeping silence on many the tenets of the Sadducees; and conpoints of theological controversy the Tal- demned all attempts at rebellion against mud notes, “ Beautiful is silence to the the Romans as wicked and foolish. Hence wise, how much more so to the fools." She occupied a position similar to that One might well compare the Latin prov- which had been assumed by Jeremiah erb, “ O! si tacuisses, philosophus man. during the Babylonian war. sisses!"
Ben Zakkai was, like Jeremiah, a strong Johanan ben Zakkai and Jonathan ben advocate for peace. " Wherefore will Uzziel were contemporaries of the great ye,” said he to the Zealots, “destroy the Gamaliel. They were termed respectively city, and give over the Temple to confia" the eldest” and “the youngest” of a gration?" Jadignant at the iniquities group of eighty disciples who specially which prevailed among the Galileans, he attached themselves to Hillel. A later exclaimed, “O Galilee, Galilee, thou hattradition in the “Aboth R. Nathan” (ap- est the law; thine end will be to seek parently founded on the ambiguity of the employment from the hands of the robHebrew expressions denoting “eldest” | bers" (Jer. Shabbath, xvi. 15.d). and “youngest") amplifies the statement, According to a story told on Jewish and relates that 'Hillel had eighty disci. authority, and referred to in the Talmuds, ples, thirty of whom were worthy that the during the siege of Jerusalem the gates of Shekinah should rest on them as it did on the Temple, which had been duly shut and Moses; thirty that the sun should stand barred in the evening, were found to have still for them as it did for Joshua ; while mysteriously opened themselves in the twenty were of medium capacity, the least morning. R. Johanan ben Zakkai reof whom was Johanan ben Zakkai. The buked the gates of the sanctuary in the latter story does not indeed harmonize following terms: “O sanctuary, sanctu, with the fact that Hillel himself used to ary! why dost thou trouble thyself ? ! term Johanan ben Zakkai, " the father of know of thee that thine end is to be left wisdom and the upholder of the future." desolate, for Zechariah the son of Iddo
prophesied long since against thee, • Open • Midrash Koheleth on ch.v. 5.
thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may † See Dr. C. Taylor's note 38 on p. 39. 1 This is the literal sense of the phrase rendered devour thy cedars.'” (Zech. xi. 1).* praise uniteth for Thee," in our A.V.
* See on this passage my “Bampton Lectures on ment of Delitzsch on that passage, and also of Pe. Zechariah,"'. p. 303. The Targum Sheni on Esther rowne.
relates a similar legend, and states that the words $ Jer. Talmud, Pesachim, ix. 1; Babli, Pesachim, were spoken by a voice from heaven when the Temple 99 a.
was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
See the com
As Ben Zakkai was known to belong to and not sacrifice” (see Baba Bathra, 10 b). the peace party, he was offered during On account of his re-organization of the the siege of Jerusalem a place of refuge in Jewish ecclesiastical arrangements, and the Roman camp. He first strove to per the adaptation of the old law to ihe altered suade the Jews to surrender, but finding circumstances of the times, Ben Zakka: that in vain, he determined to accept the has been termed by Graetz, “the founder offer of the Romans. He induced his of Talmudic Judaism." It is owing nephew Ben Batiach, a captain of the chiefly to Ben Zakkai's efforts that the Zealots, to aid him in effecting his escape. Jews, in spite of their misfortunes, conHis disciples spread abroad the news tinued to exist as a nation though no that their master was dead, and in the longer a State ; that Judaism in its altered dusk of evening two of them (Elazar and form attained the position of a religion, Joshua) bore the supposed corpse in a though destitute of a common sanctuary coffin to the gate of the city. They had and without sacrifice, and that the Jewish wisely taken the precaution to place inside doctrine attained the right of law though the coffin some meat in a state of putrefac- without any recognized legal tribunal (see tion, in order that the odor of its decom- Bacher, p. 26), position might aid them to attain their ob- Ben Zakkai's love of peace led him to ject. But even that device hardly enabled give curious explanations of certain pasthem to secure the wished for permission sages of Scripture. The command in to pass beyond the gates. It required all Exod. xx. 25 not to employ a tool of iron the authority to be exercised which Ben in the erection of the altar was explained Batiach possessed before the wild soldiers symbolically: “ The iron is the symbol of were finally restrained from forcing open war and strife, the altar that of peace and the coffin. Having thus escaped with the reconciliation ; iron must therefore be skin of his teeth, Ben Zakkai was favor- kept far from the altar" (Mechilta on ably received by the Romans. He exerted Yithra, $ 11). "Jf God commanded that all bis eloquence to induce the Roman no iron should be employed over the general to punish only the guilty and to stones of the altar, which neither see, nor spare the city and Temple. According to hear, nor speak, because they procure the common legend, the rabbi salured the peace between Israel and the Father in Roman general as king. The Roman in Heaven, how much more shall God's judg. formed him that he was not a king. ment be far from every one who makes " True," replied the rabbi, " thou art not peace between individuals, between man yet a king; but a morarch shalt thou be- and wife, city and city, nation and nation, come, for the Temple of Jerusalem can kingdom and kingdom, family and family only perish by the hands of a king." (see Bacher, p. 31). The blessings pro
At his earnest request the Roman com- nounced in the Sermon on the Mount mander permitted Ben Zakkai to open a must recur to the minds of all: “ Blessed school in Jamnia, a small city situated are the merciful: for they shall obtain not far from the seacoast between Joppa mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers : (now Jaffa) and Ashdod. The request for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. appeared small, but it was fraught with v. 7, 9). important results to the Jewish people. A saying of Ben Zakkai's is quoted in
When tidings came of the terrible the treatise · Aboth :" " If thou hast prac. though expected catastrophe, and of the tised Thorah (the law) much, claim not destruction of the Temple round which merit to thyself, for thereunto wast thou the affections of the Jews were centred, created.” Compare the words of our Ben Zakkai rent his clothes, and mourned Lord: “When ye shall have done all those as for the loss of a nearest relation. But things which are commanded you, say, he did not abandon himself to despair, We are unprofitable servants: we have though his disciples were disposed to re. done that which was our duty to do "(Luke gard all as hopelessly lost, because there xvii. 10). We may also call to mind the was no longer a temple in which to wor- saying of the apostle: "If I preach the ship God, nor a place where the sin-offer- gospel I have nothing to glory of; for ing could be offered in accordance with necessity is laid upon me; for woe is the law of Moses. Johanan ben Zakkai unto me, if I preach not the gospel ” (1 strove to console them with the thought Cor. ix. 16). that acts of benevolence and mercy would Ben Zakkai had five favorite disciples, be accepted by God in room of the sin whom he used thus to describe : “ Eliezer offering, and dwelt on the teaching of the ben Hyrkanus is like a plastered cistern, prophet (Hosea vi. 6), “ I will have mercy which loseth not a drop of water; Joshua
ben Hananyah, happy is she that bare eon, who spoke of King David's loss of bim! Jose the priest is pious; Simeon his child. R. Elazar ben 'Arak next enben Nathanael is one who fears sin; tered. When Johanan ben Zakkai saw Elazar ben Arak is a bubbling spring” him, he said unto his attendant, “ Throw (Aboth ii. 10, Strack's edit. ii. 86). away your things, and go to the bath, for
He asked these disciples one day to “go this is a great man, and I am not able to and see what is the good way which man stand before him.” Elazar entered, and sat should cleave to." R. Eliezer said, “A down before Ben Zakkai, and said, " I will good eye (i.e., a bountiful eye); R. tell thee a parable as to what this thing is Joshua said, “A good companion ; " R. like. It is like unto a man into whose care Jose, A good neighbor; ” R. Simeon, a king had entrusted a deposit, and who “He who foresees that which shall hap- was daily wont to weep and say, 'Woe is pen ;" R. Elazar ben Arak said, “ A good me, how'shall I be able to render up this heart.” Ben Zakkai said, “ I approve of deposit safely?' Rabbi,” said he, * thou the words of Elazar ben •Arak rather than badst once a son who used to read the yours, for his words include yours.” Law, and the Prophets, and the Holy
On another occasion Ben Zakkai said Writings, Mishnah, Halakoth, and Hag. to his disciples, “Go and see what is the gadoth; he has departed from this world evil way from which man should keep free from sin, and canst thou not receive himself.” R. Eliezer ben Hyrkanus said, comfort in the thought that thou hast re“ An evil eye ; "R. Joshua said, “ An evil stored to God in safety the deposit he companion ; ” R. Jose said, “ An evil neigh. committed to thee?” “O Rabbi Elazar, bor;"R. Simeon said, He that borrow- my son," replied the aged teacher, “thou eth and payeth not again; he who borrows hast comforted me in the manner in which from man is like one who borrows from the sons of man may be comforted."* God [lit. "the Place "], as it is said, “The In another treatise of the Talmud, that wicked borroweth and payeth not again, entitled “ Berachoth,” it is related that but the righteous is gracious and give when Rabban Johanan was on his deatheth ;' "" R. Elazar ben •Arak said, "An bed his scholars came to visit him. When evil heart.” Johanan ben Zakkai said, “I he saw them he began to weep. Then approve the words of Elazar ben 'Arak said his scholars to im, “ O Light of Ismore than your words, for his words in- rael! O Pillar at the right hand!” (allud. clude yours.'
ing to the two pillars erected by Solomon When Ben Zakkai was overwhelmed in the porch of the Temple, Boaz on the with sorrow at the death of his only son, left and Jachin on the right, 1 Kings vii. these five scholars came to visit him, and 21), “O mighty Hammer! why weepest sought to console him. They came in thou?” He said to them, “If they were one by one, and sat each down alone be- about to bring me before a king of flesh fore him, and begged permission to speak. and blood, who to-day is and to-morrow Permission having been granted, R. will be in his grave, even then I might Eliezer ben Hyrkanus sought to comfort weep. But if he were angry with me his the teacher by adducing the case of anger is not eternal; and if he were to Adam, who comforted himself after the cast me into chains, his chains are not death of his son. Ben Zakkai replied, eternal; and if he were to put me to death, " Is it not enough that I should be afflicted his death would not be eternal; I might myself, that I should also be reminded of appease him with words, or bribe him with the grief of Adam ? R. Joshua next riches. But now they are about to lead entered, and spoke of the sorrow that over- me before the King of kings, the Holy whelmed Job when he lost all his sons and One, blessed be he! who liveth and abid. daughters in one day. The old rabbi eth for everlasting; and if he casts me gave a similar answer: "Is it not enough into chains, his chains are eternal chains, that I should myself be afflicted, but I and if he kills me, it is everlasting death ; must also be reminded of the sorrows of and I cannot appease him with words, nor Job?” R. Jose the priest next begged bribe him with mammon. Nor is that all: permission to speak, and tried to console there are before him two ways; one leads him with recalling to his mind that Aaron, to the Garden of Eden, and one to Gethe great high priest of Israel, lost his two henna, and I know not which way they sons when grown up to maturity. He will conduct me to ; and shall I not weep?" received the same reply; so did R. Sim- His scholars said to him, “Bless us, o
• These two anecdotes are both found in “ Aboth" ii, 12, 13, or in Strack's edit. ii. 8 b. 9.
. We have somewhat curtailed the anecdote as told in the “ Aboth Rabbi Nathan," $ xiv.
our master!" He said to them, “ May it serpent, and all their words like coals of be the will of God that the fear of Heaven fire." may be impressed upon you like the fear R. Joshua, the second disciple, was de. of flesh and blood !" His disciples said servedly held in good reputation. He was to him, “Is that all?" He said to them, the disciple who, in company with Elazar “And would that it were even so !” (that ben 'Arak, had borne Ben Zakkai in his is, that you had always such fear before coffin out of the gate of Jerusalem into you !), " for when a man is about to com- the Roman lines. He was a Levite, and mit a sin, he is wont to say, If only no belonged to the singers of the Temple. man would see me !” Shortly before his He was, however, compelled to follow the death, Ben Zakkai exclaimed, “ Keep the occupation of a smith in order to obtain vessels from uncleaoness ” (i.e., take them his daily livelihood. Hence he occupied out of the house, since all the vessels are in some respects a middle position beunclean which are in a house where a tween the upper and the lower classes of death occurs), “and place a chair for Jewish society, and is said to have been Hezekiah, king of Judah, for he is coming "the only one of the learned class who had (Berachoth, 28 b). That is, in accordance any hold upon the affections of the comwith a prevalent belief that dying saints mon people. He was so ugly in person were visited by the spirits of the departed, that a Roman princess once asked him Ben Zakkai's last thoughts were that Hez. the impudent question, "Why is so much ekiah, the pious king of Judah, was ap. wisdom contained in such an unshapely proaching to conduct him to the judgment vessel ?” She received, however, a pun. seat of the Eternal. It is not for us to gent reply. “Wine,” remarked the rabbi, moralize over this death-bed scene in the “is not kept in golden jars, but in earthenmanner Lightfoot has done with more than ware vessels." Like his master, R. Joshua questionable taste, exclaiming, “Ah! mis. was a man of peace, and did all in his eram ac langueotem Pharisæi in morte power to calm his countrymen during the fiduciam."
rebellion against Roman domination in the The five disciples of Ben Zakkai sur. days of Trajan. He is said to have had vived their master. Of the eldest of them, considerable knowledge of astronomy and Eliezer ben Hyrkanus, Ben Zakkai once to have uoderstood some of the laws that said, “If all the wise men of Israel were regulate the reappearance of comets, and placed in one scale of the balance, and his knowledge of such matters enabled Eliezer ben Hyrkanus in the other, he him during a sea voyage to save the crew
а would outweigh them all" (Aboth ii. 8 b). from destruction. His sayings (preserved Eliezer ben Hyrkanus, some years after in “ Aboth ') are: “An evil eye (envy), Ben Zakkai's death, was, however, placed and the evil nature, and hatred of the under the ban, because of his determined creatures (mankind), drive a man out of opposition to the opinion of the majority the world." Compare with the last clause of the learned men. But it is noteworthy the more profound saying of the apostle, that, notwithstanding this fact, as Jost" He that hateth his brother is a murderer; (Geschichte der Juden) remarks, the Mish- and ye know that no murderer hath eternal nah bas preserved more of his sayings life abiding in him” (1 John iii. 15). than of those of his contemporaries. An R. Jose, surnamed by his master "the joteresting collection of these on a large pious," also said three things : “ Let the variety of subjects is to be found in wealth of thy companion be as precious to Bacher's valuable treatise. His three say thee as thine owo ; prepare thyself to ings (preserved in the treatise “ Aboth”) learn Thorah (the Holy Scriptures], for it show that he wished his disciples to profit is not an inherited possession [that is, its by his experience, and to be more ready acquisition requires personal toil and than he was to submit to the decisions of effort]; and let all thine actions be done the majority of the sages. These sayings for the name of heaven” – for the honor are: " Let the honor of thy friend be dear of God, and not for selfish ends. Dr. C. unto thee as thine own and be not easily Taylor observes that an Oxford manuscript provoked; and repent one day before thy of “ Aboth” here contains a reference to death (that is, repent to-day, for to-morrow the blessing pronounced on Jael for the thou mayest die]. And warm thyself be murder of Sisera, as a good illustration of fore the fire of the wise, but beware of the principle that an evil action done from their coals, that thou mayest not be burnt; a good motive is better in God's sight than for their bite is like the bite of a fox, and a good action performed from evil motives. their sting the sting of a scorpion, and The first of R. Jose's sayings reminds their hissing like the hissing of a fiery us of our Lord's remark, “ If ye have not
been faithful in the uprighteous mammon, be put to shame, who revile your good who will commit to your trust the true manner of life in Christ." riches ? And if ye have not been faithful Gamaliel II. was grandson of the rein that which is another's, who will give nowned Gamaliel. He was carefully you that which is your own ? ” (Luke xvi. trained by his father, Simeon, in all the 11, 12). His last saying may be paralleled learning of the Jewish schools. He rewith, “ Whether ye eat or drink, or what. mained in Jerusalem during the terrible soever ye do, do all to the glory of God” siege of Titus, and was one of the prison(1 Cor. x. 31).
ers taken at its capture. His life was R. Simeon ben Nathanael, the fourth spared by the Roman general, at the indisciple, commended by Ben Zakkai as tercession of Johanan ben Zakkai. Adone who "feared sin," seems to have had vanced to the presidency of the Jewish something of the character of the Nathan. Sanhedrin, and recognized by the Roman ael commended in the Gospel as “an authorities as the representative of the Israelite indeed, in whom was no guile " Jewish nation, Gamaliel strove hard to (John i. 47). Were we to let ourselves be unite the two great parties which had long guided by fancy, we might conjecture that divided the Jewish schools, namely, the the two men were related to each other. followers of Hillel and Shammai. He R. Simeon's sayings are : “ Be careful in exercised a rigid discrimination in admit. reading the Shema' (that is, the “ Hear, ting students to the school at Jamnia, and O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,” placed at the
door a janitor to exclude the Deut. vi. 4, recited morning and evening unworthy. From the precision in which by every Jew), and in prayer; and when the scholars were drawn up in regular thou prayest make not thy prayer an or. lines, that school obtained in his day the dinance, * but an entreaty before God, name of “The Vine Garden." He strove blessed be he! for it is said, •for he is as far as possible to suppress disputations gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and on useless subjects, and made all feel the plenteous in grace, and repenteth of the authority of the patriarchal chair. He evil' (Joel ii. 13); and be not wicked unto introduced the ban or excommunication, thyself.” The last clause is a quotation in order to silence opposition. The ban from Sirach xiv. 5, and is probably cor. or excommunication was, however, in that rectly explained by Geiger (ap. Sirack), period comparatively mild in its effects, though differently interpreted by Taylor, although the person under such a sentence “ be not sinful for thyself" — i.e., when had to wear mourning, and was restricted thou art removed from the company and in intercourse with his fellows. Gamaliel observation of other men, and then reveal. used this weapon not merely to punish est thy true character to thyself by heart. junior offenders, but to strike down his lessness in prayer, as one who has no love equals. R. Akiba was threatened with to God. The sayings of the fifth disciple, this punishment, and it was actually inR. Elazar ben Arak, are peculiar: “Be Aicted on the most lcarned disciple of Ben diligent to learn Thorah, that thou mayest Zakkai, pamely, Eliezer ben Hyrkanus. know what to answer to Epicurus [a com. But the further attempt to exercise disci. mon designation in the Talmud of the pline upon R. Joshua aroused to a flame free-thinking Jew), and know before whom the long pent-up indignation against the thou toilest, and who is the Lord of thy patriarch. He was accordingly deposed work, that he may render to thee the re- at the synod of Jamnia (A.D. 118), and ward of thy doing.” A New Testament the presidency bestowed upon the youthparallel to this is the warning of St. Peter ful Elazar ben 'Asariah. The synod of in his first epistie, addressed to the Jews Jamnia was remarkable for several other of the dispersion (ch. iii. 15); “ Fear not subjects brought under discussion, and their fear, neither be troubled ; but sanc. especially for having been the Jewish tify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being council which finally silenced the objecready always to give answer to every man tions made in Jewish circles to the reienthat asketh you a reason concerning the tion of the Book of Koheleth and the hope that is in you, yet with meekness Song of Songs among the sacred writings. and fear; having a good conscience, that,
Elazar ben •Asariah at once threw open wherein ye are spoken against, they may the school at Jamnia, removed the porter,
and admitted all who chose to enter freely. That is, not like some command attended to only The obnoxious rules passed by Gamaliel from compulsion, and gone through without any taste were repealed. The school was soon for it. Shammai used to insist on the reading of the filled to overflowing. Gamaliel exhibited law at stated times as a fixed ordinance which should dever be omitted.
under these circumstances remarkable