Jonathan ben Uzziel

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Tomb of Jonathan Ben Uzziel

Jonathan ben Uzziel (Hebrew: יונתן בן עוזיאל‬) was one of the 80 tannaim who studied under Hillel the Elder during the time of Roman-ruled Judea. He is the author of Targum Jonathan and a book of kabbalah known as Megadnim.

Jonathan ben Uzziel is mentioned in the Talmud (Sukkah 28a, Bava Batra 133b, Megillah 3).

According to Zev Vilnai, Rabbi Shmuel ben Shimshon wrote about the tomb in 1210: "There is a large tree next to it, and the Ishmaelites [Arabs] bring oil and light a candle in his honor and make vows in his honor." An illustration of Yonatan ben Uzziel's tomb appears in "Ancestry of fathers and prophets" (Hebrew: יחוס אבות ונביאים), a book printed in 1537.

The tomb of ben Uzziel is located in Amuka, Galilee near Safed, Israel. It is customary to visit ben Uzziel's tomb on Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the lunar month, and on 26 Sivan (the day on which he died), although visitors arrive all year round. A practice that began in the 17th century was to pray at the gravesite for a good marriage partner, for children, satisfaction from one's children, a good livelihood, health and happiness. Many unmarried men and women pray there for a match. Doing so is considered a segula (propitious remedy) for finding one’s mate within the coming year.[1]

In his book "Holy Places in the Land of Israel" (Hebrew: מצבות קודש בארץ־ישראל), Zev Vilnai offers two theories for this custom (a)The practice developed from the Pseudo-Jonathan translation of the Bible on Deuteronomy 24:6, where he writes that anyone who prevents the connection between a husband and wife forfeits his portion in the world-to-come; (b) The practice is based on a mistaken reading of Rashi in Yevamot 17a s.v. "Shehakol ponim sham," where he writes in reference to a place called Harpania (Aramaic: ___) "Everyone goes there: all ineligible men (pesulim) who cannot find a woman turn and go there. And it is deeper (Amuka): and worse than Gehinnom." The words "and it is deeper (Amuka)" are the headwords to Rashi's next comment, and do not relate to his preceding comment about men going to Harpania to look for women. However, the mistaken reading connects Rashi's words to the community named Amuka.

It is also widely believed that Jonathan ben Uzziel was single or childless, so men in similar situations seek to benefit from his special powers, but nowhere in the writings of Chazal is this stated.


  1. ^ "The Mystical Power of Amuka". Hamodia. 18 June 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 

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