Nathan ha-Babli one of the most distinguished Mishnaic doctors, was a native of Meshan, in Babylonia. In consequence of his high birth, as his father was the prince of the captivity in Babylon, and his marvellous knowledge of the law, both divine and human, which he acquired as a student in the country of his adoption, he was created vicar (אבבית רין of the patriarch Simon II ben- Gamaliel II, A.D. 140-163. In the Talmud he is often quoted as a profound scholar of the law (JIorajoth, 13 b; Baba Kama, 23 a; Baba Mezia, 117 b), and he materially contributed to the com, pilation of the Mishna, as he himself compiled a Mishna, which is referred to as Mishnath de Rabbi Nathan משנת דרבי נתן), and which Jehudah the Holy (q.v.) made use of in the redaction of the present Mishna. Besides this corpus juris, he is also the author of, —
1, the Aboth of R. Nathan (אָבוֹת דּרִבַּי נָתָן), being a compilation of the apothegms and moral sayings of the Jewish fathers (אָבוֹת), interspersed with traditional explanations of divers texts of Scripture, consisting of forty-one chapters. Both the historian and moral philosopher will find this work an important contribution to the literary and philosophical history of antiquity. It is printed in the different editions of the Talmud after the tractate Yebamoth, and has also been published separately with various commentaries (Venice, 1622; Amsterdam, 1778), and with two excellent commentaries (Wilna, 1833), translated into Latin, with notes, by Francis Taylor (Lond. 1654), under the title of R. Nathanis Tractatus de Patribus, Latine cum notis, but in its present form contains later interpolations: —
2, of the Forty-nine Rules (אִרבָעַים וָתֵשִּׁע מַדּוֹת), a work of mathematical import, and which Geiger thinks was written by a later author of the sabne name. See Furst. Bibl. Jud. 3:19 sq.; Kultur- u. Literaturgesch. der Juden in Asien (Leips. 1849), page 16 sq.; Zunz, Die Gottesdienstlichen Vortrage der Juden (Berl. 1832), page 108 sq.; Steinschneider, Catalogus Libr. Hebr. in Biblioth. Bodleiana, col. 2032 sq.; Geiger, Wissensch-aftliche Zeitschrift (Leips. 1847), 6:19 sq.; Gratz, Gesch. d. Juden, 4:187, 201, 203, 204; Jost, Gesch. d. Judenth. u.s. Sekten, 2:110 sq., 123; Etheridge, Introd. to Hebr. Lit. page 77; Dukes, Rabbin. Blumenlese (Leips. 1844), p. 39; Delitzsch, Zur Gesch. d. Jud. Poesie, page 33; Frankel, Hodegetica in Mischnam (Leips. 1859), pages 187-191; Ginsburg, The Essenes, their History and Doctrines (Lond.
1864), page 22; art. Sadducees, in the 3d ed. of Kitto's Cyclop. of Bibl. Lit. 3:731 sq., note, reprinted in part in Smith's Diet. of the Bible (Amer. ed.), 4:2778, note. (B.P.)