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Simon Ben Yohai

SIMON BEN YOHAI ( 2nd century A.D.), a Galilean Rabbi, one of the most eminent disciples of Aqiba (q.v.). His mastei was executed by Hadrian, and Simon's anti-Roman sentiments led to his own condemnation by Varus c. 161 A.D. (according to Graetz). He escaped this doom and dwelt for some years in a cavern. Emerging from concealment, Simon settled in Tiberias and in other Galilean cities. He acquired a reputation as a worker of miracles, and on this ground was sent to Rome as an envoy, where (legend tells) he exorcised from the emperor's daughter a demon who had obligingly entered the lady to enable Simon to effect his miracle. This Rabbi bore a large part in the fixation of law, and his decisions are frequently quoted. To him were attributed the important legal homilies called Sifre and Mekhilta (see MIDRASH), and above all the Zohar, the Bible of the Kabbalah (q.v.). This latter ascription is altogether unfounded, the real author of this mystical commentary on the Pentateuch being Moses of Leon (q.v.).

The fullest account of Simon's teachings is to be found in W. Bacher's Agada der Tannaiten, ii. pp. 70-149. (I. A.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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