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Eleazar of Modi'im

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Eleazar of Modi'im

Rabbinical Eras

Eleazar of Modi'im (Hebrew: אלעזר המודעי) was a Jewish scholar of the second tannaitic generation (1st and 2nd centuries), disciple of Johanan ben Zakkai (B. B. 10b), and contemporary of Joshua ben Hananiah and Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (Mek., Beshallah, Wayassa', 3 et seq.). He was an expert haggadist, and frequently discussed exegetical topics with his distinguished contemporaries. Gamaliel II often deferred to Eleazar's interpretations, admitting, "The Moda'i's views are still indispensable" (Shab. 55b).

Life

As his life embraced the period of Hadrianic persecutions and of the Bar Kokba insurrection, many of his homilies refer, explicitly or impliedly, to existence under such conditions (H. Grätz, "Gesch." iv. 79, note). Eleazar expressed his confidence in Providence in this comment on the Scriptural statement (Ex. xvi. 4), "the people shall go out, and gather a certain rate every day" (lit. "the portion of the day on its day," דבר יום ביומו): "He who creates the day creates its sustenance." From this verse he also argued, "He who is possessed of food for the day, and worries over what he may have to eat the next day, is wanting in faith; therefore the Bible adds [ib.], 'that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no'" (Mek. l.c. 2).

Eleazar's last days fell in the dark period of the insurrection headed by Bar Kokba, and he ended his life in the then besieged city of Betar. Of these days rabbinic tradition relates as follows:

The story adds that a "bat ḳol" (heavenly voice) thereupon pronounced the immediate doom of the chief of the insurrection and of the beleaguered city, which soon came to pass (Yer. Ta'an. iv. 68d; Lam. R. ii. 2).

Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography

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