JONATHAN, second-century tanna. Although his patronymic is never given when he is mentioned, as he most frequently is, with his colleague josiah , he is identical with the Jonathan b. Joseph and Nathan b. Joseph mentioned elsewhere in rabbinical literature. Like his colleague, he was a disciple of R. Ishmael b. Elisha and followed his system of hermeneutics, the main feature of which is the interpretation of scriptural verses according to the rules laid down by him in order to establish the halakhah, in oppositon to the system of R. Akiva (see midreshei halakhah ), and his exegesis is largely confined to this. His statements therefore appear mostly in the halakhic Midrashim which emanate from the school of R. Ishmael, the Mekhilta of R. Ishmael and the Sifre to Numbers (but see also TB Yoma 57–58 and TB Sotah 74–75). Apart from one Mishnah in his name in Avot 4:9, "Whosoever observes the Torah in poverty shall be vouchsafed to observe it in affluence, and he who neglects its observance in affluence will live to neglect it because of poverty" (Chap. 4), like his colleague, he is not mentioned in the Mishnah, and it has been assumed that this was due to the fact that Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi, the compiler of the Mishnah, based himself on the Mishnah of R. Meir. After the death of his master he seems to have adopted part of the system of R. Akiva (see TJ Ma'as 51b). Jonathan is the author of the rule that the saving of human life transcends the Sabbath (TB Yoma 85b). After the Hadrianic persecution, like his colleague, he decided to leave Ereẓ Israel. Whereas, however, Josiah emigrated to Nisibis in Babylonia, Jonathan relented. Together with Mattiah ben Ḥeresh, Ḥananiah, the nephew of R. Joshua, and R. Judah b. Hai, he set out, but when they reached the frontiers of Israel, their love for the Land of Israel prompted them to relinquish their plan and they returned (Sifre, Deut. 80). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bacher, Tann 2, 351; Frankel, Mishnah, 146; Hyman, Toledot, 697–700.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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