Jose ben Joezer

Yose ben Yoezer (also spelt Jose ben Joezer) was a rabbi of the early Maccabean period, possibly a disciple of Antigonus of Soko and member of the ascetic group known as the Hasidæans, though neither is 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 (pairs), which ended with Hillel and Shammai. According to an old tradition, the member of the "zugot" mentioned first occupied the office of Nasi (president) of the Sanhedrin, while the one mentioned second served in the capacity of vice-president.

Yose belonged to the party of the Ḥasidim, and was a decided adversary of Hellenism. To prevent Jews from settling beyond Judea he declared all heathen countries "unclean".[1] 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 [2]

The first halakic controversy known in the Talmud was that between Yose ben Yoezer and his colleague Yose ben Johanan. It arose over the question whether the laying of hands on the heads of the sacrifices is permitted on feast-days.[3] Yose ben Yoezer was distinguished for his piety, and is called "the pious of the priesthood" ("hasid shebi-kchunnah").[4] 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" [5] Yose 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) in 161 BCE.

The Midrash reports the following dialogue between Alcimus and Yose ben Yoezer 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."
Yose, 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?"
Yose: "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. [6]

Yose ben Yoezer left a son whom he had disinherited for bad conduct.[7]

Preceded by
170 BCE - 140 BCE
Succeeded by
Joshua ben Perachyah


  1. Shabbat 46a
  2. Eduyot. viii. 4; Pesachim 15a
  3. Haggigah ii. 2
  4. Haggigah ii. 7
  5. Abot iv. 4
  6. Genesis Rabba i. 65
  7. Bava Batra 133b


  • 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.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "article name needed". Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company. 

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