Symmachus ben Joseph

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the author of one of the Greek versions of the Old Testament, see: Symmachus (translator) - Symmachus the Ebionite.

Symmachus ben Joseph [1] (or Symmachus or Summakhos;[2] Hebrew: סוּמָכוֹס בן יוסף‎‎,[3] read as Sumchus ben Yosef, or in short סוּמָכוֹס, read as Sumchus) was a Jewish Tanna sage of the fifth generation. Rabbi Meir is considered his Teacher par excellence,[4] and Symmachus has cited many of his sayings. The most known one was:

"These are the words of Symmachus who said that 'money, which is in doubt - is to be split' [by the parties].[5]"

"The Sages, however, disagrees with him: it is a fundamental principle in law: 'He who claims what is [in the possession] of another, the onus probandi falls on him' [the claimant].[6]"

— Talmud, Tractate Bava Kamma, 46a

Symmachus was considered a Talmid Chacham, wise student Torah scholar, as it was said about him:

"R. Abbahu stated in the name of R. Johanan: R. Meir had a disciple of the name of Symmachus who said, on every rule concerning a ritual uncleanness, there are forty-eight reasons in support of its uncleanness, and on every rule concerning a ritual cleanness, forty-eight reasons in support of its cleanness."

— Talmud, Tractate Erubin, 13b

After his teacher R. Meir had died, and despite R. Judah ben Ilai's reluctance to teach R. Meir's disciplines, who were considered "scolding" students, Symmachus managed to get enrolled into R. Judah ben Ilai's class and debate him over Halakha matters. In Epiphanius' treatise On Weights and Measures, a certain Symmachus is said to have converted to the Jewish religion from the Samaritan sect at the time of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who is also called Verus.[7] Rabbi Meir would have been his contemporary.


  1. ^ "Geiger has tried to identify him [ Symmachus (the Ebionite) ] with the tanna Symmachus ben Joseph; but this view has been generally regarded as unfounded",, article: SYMMACHUS, By: Crawford Howell Toy & Felix Perles
  2. ^ Summakhos | סומכוס, sages of the talmud | חכמי התלמוד
  3. ^ תניא, סוּמָכוֹס בן יוסף אומר - כל המאריך באחד, מאריכין לו ימיו ושנותיו, "Sefer Ha-halachot", by Isaac Alfasi, ch. 2 (Hebrew Wikisource); And Encyclopedia Da'at, article: סומכוס (Symmachus) - (סומכוס)
  4. ^ Or his distinguished teacher; That is, a Rabbi whom he has acquired most of his scholarly knowledge;(i.e: B. Talmud, Kiddushin, 33a;
  5. ^ 'ממון המוטל בספק - חולקין'
  6. ^ 'המוציא מחברו עליו הראיה'
  7. ^ Epiphanius' Treatise on Weights and Measures - The Syriac Version (ed. James Elmer Dean), University of Chicago Press 1935, p. 32