Eliezer Ben-hyrkanos

Eliezer ben-Hyrkanos surnamed the Great, was born about the middle of the 1st century. He was of a good family, but his early education was very much neglected, and at the age of 28, urged by an awakened impulse after knowledge, he left his father's house and became a disciple of Jochanan ben-Zachai. Eliezer soon repaired his deficiencies, and became one of the distinguished Rabbins of his age. Profound in the Cabala (q.v.), he made many practical acquisitions in magical science, and became the thaumaturgist of the school. During the controversies between Gamaliel (q.v.) and the rival doctors at Jamnia, he founded a school at Lydda, where his teaching appears to have assumed so mystical a character as to involve him in difficulties with the rabbinical authorities. The Karaites regarded Eliezer as one of the defenders of their doctrines. He died about 73 A.D., at Caesarea, in Palestine. His principal work is Pirke R. Eliezeris (edit. Princ. Hebraice. Venet. 1544, 4to), translated into Latin with notes by Vorstius (Leyd. 1644, 4to), ed. by Abr. Aaron Broda, with a Heel. commentary (Wilna, 1838, 4to), and often republished. See Boraitha der R. Elieser, by Leop. Zunz (Berlin, 1832), a critical account of the work and its author. He is regarded also as the author of Orcothchaiim (The Way of Life), which has been often reprinted. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biogr. Gener. 15:825-6; Etheridge, Introd. to Hebrews Literature, page 60 sq.; Grasse, Allgem. Iterirgesch. 1:1108 sq. (J.H.W.)

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