SIMEON HA-TIMNI


SIMEON HA-TIMNI
SIMEON HA-TIMNI (second century C.E.), tanna, a member of the Sanhedrin in the era of jabneh . His name derives from the town of Timnat near Beth-Shemesh (Judg. 15:6; cf. Rashi to Beẓah 21a) and has no connection with Yemen (Heb. Teiman). According to R. Naḥman b. Isaac the sages referred to in the anonymous formula: "It was discussed before the sages," are five well-known tannaim, of whom Simeon ha-Timni is one (Sanh. 17b). These rabbis apparently enjoyed the intermediate status of scholars of the bet ha-midrash who had graduated from that of "pupils" but had not yet been ordained. In point of fact none of these five scholars had the title "rabbi." Two of them are generally mentioned by their patronymics – Ben Azzai and Ben Zoma – and the phrase "Those who discussed before the sages" is sometimes used instead of the authors of the statement (Eduy. 1:10). To Simeon ha-Timni was applied a special attribute – the knowledge of "70 languages" – denoting exceptional members of the Sanhedrin, although its exact nature is not clear (Sanh. 17b). He is mentioned in the Mishnah and Tosefta as disputing with the greatest scholars of the generation, Akiva and Joshua, and especially noteworthy is his stand in the great dispute which agitated the scholars of that generation, on the halakhic definition of the mamzer . Simeon's ruling was already accepted as the halakhah in practice close to his time (Yev. 4:13). Also preserved are some of his aggadic statements that were also made in the course of a discussion with several of his colleagues on the meaning of the words of his teacher, Akiva (Tosef., Ber. 4:16). Another dictum by him, preserved in the aggadah, is also connected with a question to which many answers were propounded by the tannaim: by what merit was the Red Sea parted for the children of Israel? Simeon's view was: "By the merit of circumcision" (Mekh. Be-Shallaḥ 4). References to his beneficent activities on behalf of the community   have also been preserved (Tosef., Beẓah (Yom Tov) 2:6). Another dictum which some of the sources attribute to Simeon ha-Timni (Sif. Num. 103) may perhaps indicate his connection with mystic lore; he supports the view of Akiva, and even adds that the angels and "holy ḥayyot" do not see the Divine Presence. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hyman, Toledot, 1225f.; Bacher, Tann. (Israel Burgansky)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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