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A PECULIAR KIND OF PARONOMASIA IN THE 
TALMUD AND MIDRASH 

By the Late J. D. Wynkoop, Amsterdam 

Translated From the Dutch by P. Van den Biesen 

God said to Abraham, Look now toward heaven, and 
tell the stars, if thou be able to tell them : and he said unto 
him. So shall thy seed be. Gen. 15, 5. In the same man- 
ner we may say to a Talmud scholar: 'Try to fix the num- 
ber of Tannaim and Amoraim that occur in both 
Talmuds, Baraitha, and the haggadic writings,' for their 
number is exceedingly great; nor is it easy to decide with 
certainty which particular saying each sage enunciated or 
which opinion he favored. Indeed, even as regards well 
known persons, whose names constantly recur in these 
different writings, it is obvious that the compilers did not 
always record with strict accuracy, who said this or who 
said that ; who gave this explanation or who gave that. But, 
unless this point be ascertained from different documents, 
independent of each other, or from reliable parallel passages, 
we cannot be absolutely confident that the person, to 
whom the saying is attributed, is the author. Every 
Talmud student knows that an author is often deprived 
of his claim to a saying with which he had been credited, 
and that even the very names of sages are frequently open 
to dispute. I see no sufficient grounds for admitting that 
every age had its registrar whose business was to 



2 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

record the opinions and expositions of the sages of his 
time, whether as regards the sayings in the Mishna and 
Baraitha, or as regards those in the Talmudim and 
Midrashim. Only sporadic notices are found of anything 
like records and chronicles, such as 'am nJE'D /fCiJ^n n^'JD 
DnriD nh^M ,|iDnv nb^io ,tiypv, etc., and these were the 
sources of information for later compilers. But as the 
latter lived some centuries later than the authors of the 
Halakah and Haggadah, a perfect accuracy on all points 
would have been a superhuman achievement. No doubt, 
all possible care was taken as regards the sayings them- 
selves, specially those of the Halakah (and yet, as Talmud 
scholars know, not even these are always free from 
inaccuracies) ; but the names of the sages were regarded 
as of minor importance, particularly in the case of non- 
halakic statements, and, therefore, cannot be held as in- 
controvertible. Now, of the above named works, the 
Mishna and Baraitha are almost the only ones wherein 
very frequently opinions are recorded without the names 
of those that advanced them, but in the remaining works 
comparatively few anonymous sayings occur. Sometimes 
also the name of the sage is very strange and uncommon. 
I am of opinion that we should not always take these 
names in too serious a manner, and that often the name 
or surname of a sage ozves its origin to a peculiarity in the 
saying attributed to him. For I was, more than once, 
forcibly struck by the marked resemblance which the name 
or surname of an author betrays to the saying assigned to 
him. But I would first like to show, by means of a few 
examples, that the compilers of the above-named works 
were not averse to the device of effecting a certain con- 



PARONOMASIA IN TALMUD AND MIDRASH — WYNKOOP 3 

sonance or harmony of sound between the names of sages 
and their sayings. 

In the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 981b, and in 
the Midrash Rabba Ekah, ch. I, § 51, the following passage 
occurs : 

S3' 'D "w lONJC IDC n^E* nON s^'E* m taT ?(.n''fc'» br) idc no 

tJ'DE' 'Jfi^ DSlj;i5 1DB' •'H' IDNJUf IDtylTi" nos"^ 'm 'ST ;nb''B' 

na^ triN s^ icn nDxiK* lOc nrjn noN nHrf 'an 'ai ,io{f pj' 

What is the name of the Messiah? — The followers of 
Rabbi Shila say: Shiloh is his name, because it is written, 
Until Shiloh come (Gen. 49, 10). The followers of Rabbi 
Jannai say: Jinnon is his name, because it is Written, May 
his name endure forever, may it continue (jinnon) as 
long as the sun (Ps. 72, 17). The followers of Rabbi 
Hahinah, say Haninah, for it is written : I will show you 
no favor (haninah) (Jer. 16, 13). Rashi already ob- 
served as regards IDE' \'\y (Sanhedrin, ibident) that tw 
greatly resembles 'KJ'' ; and so we may infer from this 
passage that there were three schools that gave the Mes- 
siah ( n'E'D) a name similar to that of their master. 

In the Babylonian Talmud (Berakot 396) a discus- 
sion is recorded between two sages whether the larger of 
two loaves, though a piece be cut off from it, should be 
used by preference for the blessing x'vlDrt naia. In the 
midst of this discussion someone reminds Rabbi Nahman 
bar Isaac of a Baraitha, containing a compromise between 
the two opinions; viz. vvui nnh^n nnn nonon h'jd , 'If 
there be two loaves, a larger one with a piece cut off, and 
a smaller one; both loaves should be taken while the bles- 
sing is said.' Thereupon Rabbi Nahman asked the person 
who gave the quotation, to tell his name. He replied, JD^B' 



4 THE JEWISH QUARTEREY REVIEW 

Shalman. Then said R. Nahman: Thou art D)b^ ('peace') 
and your citation is nD^C ('peaceful'), for thou hast 
reconciled two sages. 

It may appear, at first sight, strange that Rabbi Nah- 
man bar Isaac should not have heard of Rabbi Shalman. 
For, according to Seder ha-Dorot, Book III, (Warsaw 
1897), Rabbi Nahman was the head of the college at 
Pumbeditha after the death of Raba Nil. Now, R. Shal- 
man is named before Raba in the Babylonian Talmud, 
Besah $b, where his opinion, though based on different 
grounds, is said to agree with that of Raba, but to be 
opposed to that of other scholars. R. Shalman, therefore, 
was older than Raba, because the Talmud on the whole 
takes account of the chronological order when recording 
different opinions. Yet, it remains possible that R. Nah- 
man did not know his name, for as appears from the last 
named passage, he came from a different place. Again, 
there is the other alternative that R. Nahman knew R. 
Shalman's name, and that his question merely served to 
elicit an answer; just as for instance Rab acted towards 
ICarna: Shabbat io8a. 

But be this as it may, Rabbi Nahman bar Isaac play- 
fully alludes to the meaning of R. Shalman's name, which 
signifies peace, because the latter had effected a compro- 
mise between two conflicting opinions. Undoubtedly the 
phrase ^n3B'» nobtf is an allusion to the term n»btJ> , oc- 
curring in the Baraitha and cited by R. Shalman. 

It is possible, moreover, that the name of R. Shal- 
man, which seldom is found in the Talmud, owes in some 
manner or other its origin to the passage p"?^ n nojnn 
D^xn DH'JB'B'a, Baba Batra 13&. For, if both sides ac- 
quiesce, there is agreement, concord, D1^B>. And the same 



PARONOMASIA IN TALMUD AND MIDRASH — -WYNKOOP 5 

remark applies to the saying of R. Shalman as regards 
Abaye in Baba I^amma 89a. 

Let me add the well known saying of R. Pappe, ad- 
dressed to R. Bebe bar Abaye, or that of Huna, the son of 
Joshua, addressed to Raba K3"i, which occurs several times 
in the Talmud. 



Nn"hon '^''D innDx 'siiiDD ittist dik'd 
'Because thou hailest from x^»D (others understand this 
differently; see Rashi, Rashbam, and Aruk, j. v. h'o VII), 
thou sayest, etc' 

It appears, therefore, to me that connection and sim- 
ilarity between the name of an author (or of his birth- 
place) and the saying attributed to him were liked and 
appreciated by the redactors of the Talmud and Midrash. 
And proceeding on this basis, I think, I have discovered 
in this peculiar use of paronomasia the clue to the explana- 
tion of the origin of several names in the halakic and 
haggadic works, but especially in the latter. 

I. In the passage: 



'131 -iDNJc:' r\v\^r\ pis -loix vB'ini ui 
Midrash Shoher Tob on Ps. 18, 35, the name of Rabbi 
Joshua seems to have been suggested by the words p^K 
^JJ1l^'^^ . From the context we know that one of the Amo- 
raim is speaking; and Amoraim with the name Joshua 
always have in addition either a surname or a father's 
name. My conjecture is confirmed by Yalkut, Genesis, 
ch. ID, where we find the words nvit^''n pi anonymously 
recorded. 

Once the words ^5)1t^'^^ fix had occurred in Midrash 
Shoher Tob (quoted above) as the saying of Rabbi Joshua, 
we find that in Midrash Rabba, Gen., ch. 6, a father is 
given to him; and he is now called Rabbi Joshua son of 



6 THE JEWISH QUARTBUtY REVIEW 

Rabbi Nehemiah; so also in Midrash Rabba, Lev., ch. 35. 
His name again occurs with a fresh addition in Midrash 
Sholier Tob, on Ps. 80 (the beginning), viz. Rabbi Joshua 
ha-Kohen son of Rabbi Nehemiah. And finally, we come 
across his name in Yalkut, 11 Sam., ch. 162, with the fol- 
lowing modification, Rabbi Joshua bar Nahmani (no doubt 
an imitation of the name Samuel bar Nahmani), unless, as 
the author of Sepher Yolmsin thinks, he is to be identified 
with the above named Rabbi Samuel's brother whom, how- 
ever, the writer of Seder ha-Dorot could nowhere find. 

2. In Midrash Rabba, Gen., ch. 84, we read : 

.'131 a''n3 tN3 jiD'D ni mm' h Dca nai 
The same saying occurs anoymously in Yalkut, ch, 
140. Probably it was assigned to Rabbi Isaac because it 
deals ' exclusively with the Patriarch Isaac. 

3. A similar instance we find in the following pas- 
sage, Midrash Rabba, Gen., ch. 92: 

taae'a nrjn uvoty »b^ D'cac n"'3 nj'jn i3yDtj'&> ■'S^ \jyn '1 idk 

The saying also recurs anonymously in Yalkut, Gen., 
chaps. 133, 150. Nowhere, moreover, is Rabbi Benjamin 
mentioned without a surname or father's name. Thus the 
conjecture is obvious that the saying was attributed to a 
sage named Rabbi Benjamin, because it contained some- 
thing to the credit of the Patriarch Benjamin. 

It should be noticed that in Midrash Rabba, Gen., ch. 
78, the same saying is quoted with "the name of the well 
known Rabbi Benjamin affixed to it. 

4. It is probably not a mere coincidence that in 
Midrash Rabba, Gen., ch. 98, the following phrase is found 
in connection with I Chron. 5, 14. 



PARONOMASIA IN TALMUD AND MIDRASH — WYNKOOP 7 

vi^w nr i'lNEj' ''D'3 niDHj T'a s?rin' 'an ids 
See further our note concerning Rabbi Joshua bar Nehe- 
miah, § i. 

5. We read in Midrash Rabba, Ex., ch. i, on i, 21 : 
nis^D Tia N"ni n'ii>i njina Tia idk in '1^1 an DTia Dn^ trv'i 
"Rab and Levi dispute the meaning of the term Houses. 
The one maintains that these 'houses' are famiHes of 
priests and Levites, the other that they are dynasties of 
kings." 

In the same Midrash Rabba, ch. 48, a portion of this 
passage is quoted but anonymously and without the word 
r]^% viz. 

niaSon rvy\ njinan nn ?D''n2n vn noi 
"and what are these houses? a sacerdotal family and a 
royal dynasty". 

We find something similar in Siphre, section ini^^vna, 
§ 78. 

Also in Sotah lib, difference of opinion is ex- 
pressed on this point, but there the disputants are, instead 
of Rab and Levi, Rab and Samuel, whose statements on 
the whole are identical with those in Midrash Rabba, Ex., 
ch. I. No doubt, the reading of the Babylonian Talmud 
is the correct one, for the subject treated of in Ex., ch. i, 
occasioned several other discussions between Rab and 
Samuel. In Sotah iia and 11b, some of their differences 
are mentioned and one of them is spoken of also in Erubin 
53a. Both Rab and Samuel again take part in the same 
discussion in Midrash Rabba, Exodus. Finally, in Sotah, 
quoted above, Samuel is one of the principal exponents 
of Exodus, chap. i. 

The question now arises how shall we in the passage 
quoted first, viz. Midrash Rabba, Exodus, chap, i, account 



8 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

for the name Levi, the name of a scholar who, especially 
on halakic subjects, is often in conflict with Rab? The 
answer is obvious. Levi is a mistake for Samuel; and this 
mistake was occasioned by the word n'''h, occurring along 
with the word njina 'na. 

6. In Midrash Rabba, Exodus, ch. 51, we read on 33, 
8: 

'131 hp wTonDiN vn SDrr^'ai "iok ncD nnx it:uni 
In the same place a different explanation is given of this 
verse by Rabbi Johanan. Both opinions are anonymously 
quoted in the Jerusalem Talmud, Shekalim 4, 13 and 
Bikkurim 3, 3. Moreover, in the Babylonian Talmud, 
I^iddushin 33^, and in Yalkut, Exodus, ch. 393, the saying 
of Rabbi Hama ( non lai) is attributed to Rabbi Amme 
C'DK '31 ). Now, if we take into consideration that Rabbi 
Hama is very seldom, perhaps never, mentioned without 
his father's name (for Rabbi Hama, the principal of the 
school at Nehardea, 357-372 C. E., is always called N»n 31 
NyiinJD Sanhedrin lyb), the name Amme would seem to 
be the true reading and the name Hama to be a mistake 
occasioned by its similarity with 'Dn. 

7. In Midrash Rabba, Exodus, chap. 41, and Leviticus, 
chap. 35, we read: 

rh^vh njn» iJrn" 'J jriJV' m iok 
But Midrash Rabba, Gen., ch. 6, and Yalkut, II Sam., ch. 

162, have the reading pnv '31 , Rabbi Johanan, while in 
Midrash Shoher Tob on Ps. 18, 35, and in Yalkut, Gen. 
ch. 10, and ibidem., Leviticus, ch. 671, the passage occurs 
anonymously. The probable explanation is that the name 
Jonathan was suggested to the scribe by the word njno MtVi, 
all three words being derived from the same stem )n3. 



PARONOMASIA IN TALMUD AND MIDRASH WYNKOOP 9 

The two names Jonathan and Johanan were confounded; 
a not uncommon error in the Talmud. 

8. It cannot well be the work of chance that in 
Midrash Rabba, Numbers, where frequently subjects are 
discussed touching the tribe Levi, several sayings are at- 
tributed to the well known Rabbi Joshua ben Levi and 
to Rabbi Jehudah ben Levi, the latter of whom seldom 
occurs save a few times in chaps. 3, 4, and 7. 

9. Nor can it be regarded a pure coincidence that 
Rabbi Berechiah noia ''31 is the principal speaker in 
Midrash Rabba, Gen., ch. 39, where the blessings ni3"i3 
of Abraham, Gen. 12, 2. 3, and those of Isaac, Gen., 27, 
28, are discussed. 

So also in Yalkut, where names of authors are scarce. 
Rabbi Berechiah is mentioned in the discussions on the 
blessing of Jacob (Gen. 49), of the priests' blessing (Num. 
6, 24), and of the blessing of Moses (Deut. 34). 

10. In Midrash Rabba, Song of Songs, 8, 11, we read: 
'131 |K3 STia "jn< niK3s ••asbD "^rsT "\ aw pv 'i 

I cannot find the name 'O's elsewhere. It possibly 
is the name of the sage called }<''i3''S in the Jerusalem 
Talmud, Gittin i, 5, who appears to have been a pupil of 
Rabbi Johanan. But it is more probable that it was a 
clerical error for \yn, a name which occurs in Midrash 
Rabba, Ecclesiastes, 9, 11, in Midrash Samuel, ch. 17 (to- 
wards the end), in Pesikta de Rabbi Kahana, p. 45 &, in 
Yalkut, Exodus, ch. 362 (towards the end), and ibidem, 
Psalms, ch. 795. Assuming ijis to be a mistake for U'S, 
it was undoubtedly occasioned by the words JSO STia \'<H, 
for they are omitted in Midrash Rabba, Num., ch. 11, 
where, moreover, instead of the name ''3''X we find ITS. 

11. A clerical error of the same kind is found in 



lO THE JEWISH QUARTEREY REVIEW 

Midrash Rabba, Ruth, ch. 5, § 4, on Ruth 2, 12 : 



'131 niDn^ nNa IK'S son T'k 
In Pesikta de Rabbi Kahana the name is 'dv, and there 
the editor (S. Buber) already pointed out that Npn 
in Midrash Rabba was a printer's error, though in my 
opinion the mistake was made by the scribe. But how did 
this mistake happen? Probably, it is due to resemblance 
of nan to nion^ and to the term pon which, is a few 
times repeated in this passage. 

12. In Midrash Rabba, Ekah, ch. i, on Lam. i, i, 
we read: 

anto inc'p im ,'i3i le'bs ab m Kina 13 xax ^''K r\:iobH:i nrr-n 
3'1X3 'n iTn ,3'is3 siiK |K3 3''n3 Ts 3^i« (Lam. 2, 4) 

'131 3^1X3 ttha }N3 3''ri3 pN a'lS (Lam. 2, 5) 
In this passage, the haggadic interpretation of the 
three verses, Lam. i, i and 2, 4. 5, is attributed to the well 
known Rabbi Abba bar Kahana. All the same, m< '1 
also appears as author of the remarks on Lam, 2, 4. 5. If 
we consider that both verses contain the term 3''1S 'enemy,' 
and that as well the name U's as the term 3''1N is derived 
from the root i'N 'to be hostile,' and that, on the contrary 
SOS means 'father,' it is obvious that here the name 13''N 
owes its origin to the word 3''is, Furthermore, it should 
be noticed that in Yallcut, Hosea, ch. 521, all the three ob- 
servations are attributed to 13'S 'i . 

13. Rabbi Simon ben Yohai is credited in the tractate 
Berakot, with several haggadic comments. But among 
them there is one on Ps. 3, i 



133 Dl!3B'3K "iW im33 t^lb IIDtD 
'A psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom 
his son,' which is attributed to Rabbi Simon ben Absalom 



PARONOMASIA IN TALMUD AND MIDRASH — WYNKOOP II 

both here and. in Yalkut, Ps, 3, i, though in 'En Jacob, 
Berakot, ibidem, the same is again assigned to Rabbi 
Simon ben Yohai, 

It is evident that the name Rabbi Simon ben Yohai is 
correct and that the scribe substituted that of Absalom, be- 
cause the verse, commented on, mentions the flight of 
David before Absalom. And of this I am convinced de- 
spite the fact that Absalom is, the paternal name of several 
scholars, e, g. Nathan ben Absalom (Berakot 22a), Hanan 
ben Absalom (Mishna Ketubot 13, i, cf. Tosafot, ibidem, 
p. 104b), and Rabbi Simon ben Absalom (Megillah 140). 

14. In Yoma 69^ we read : 

And a little further: 

ciison DB'3 )bT;& ^jiij -los bi^i an 'an ijhd xaivoa 
"In Palestine they teach; Rabbi Giddel says, etc." where 
no doubt we have an allusion to a passage in the Jerusalem 
Talmud, Megillah, ch. 3 (towards the end). And again 
in the same tractate Yoma, but a little higher, we read: 
'131 ba-i^' 'nba 'n Tna noN h''J an 

An exposition of the difficulties in this paragraph we 
find in the commentaries of 'En Jacob, ibidem. As for 
the variants, in the three passages quoted, they may be 
removed by reading: 

BniBon DB>3 ihiK' an iD«i 
which is the text in Masseket Soferim, ch. 13, § 8. The 
name ^Ti probably owes its origin to the word )blitif 
and its insertion into the sentence is all the more intelligible 
as Rabbi Giddel was the disciple of Rab. 

15. Something similar we find in the Jerusalem Tal- 
mud, tract. Sukkah 5, and in Yalljut, Jonah, ch. 550: 

'131] n«n D'!?)-!, 'b)m w rw i"« 



12 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

In Seder ha-Dorot, s. v. nJV, where the passages con- 
taining Rabbi Jonah's name are registered, this particular 
phrase is omitted. It is obvious, therefore, that in the 
citation given above, the scribe makes Rabbi Jonah say 
something concerning the prophet Jonah which was in 
reality a saying of Rab or more probably of Rabbi. 

i6. We read in Shabbat 22a: 

The name of Rabbi Samuel of Difte does not occur 
elsewhere, but the name of Rabbi Jeremiah of Difte is 
found in the Talmud, and to him is attributed the saying 
in Sheeltot de Rabbi Ahai, section T\'1!'&^^, ch. 26. It 
is evident that the name !?K1Dt^' here is due to the saying 

17. In Baba Mesia 25a, we read: 



It is most probable that the surname Magdala'a 
DkH^D was occasioned by the word D''!5lJD3. The ex- 
planation itself, no doubt, was taken from the Baraitha, 
which is subsequently quoted to confirm it. I am aware 
that the name Rabbi Isaac Magdala'a occurs a few times 
in the Talmud, viz. Yoma Sib, Shabbat 139a, Niddah 2yb, 
33a. It is also found in the Midrash, e. g. Gen. rabba, ch. 
98 (towards the end). Num. rabba, ch. 14, Gen. rabba, ch. 
5, in a very difficult and obscure passage, which also occurs 
in Midrash Gen. rabba, ch. 20, where the word nxblJO 
is omitted, and where the explanation of Rashi, containing 
the stem ^nj, should be consulted. All the same, I think 
that in the above quoted passage, Baba Mesia, the surname 
of Rabbi Isaac Magdala'a has its origin in the statement 
attributed to him, seeing that the name pRS' m , Rabbi 



PARONOMASIA IN TALMUD AND MIDRASH — WYNKOOP I3 

Isaac, is very conspicuous in the explanations in the first 
paragraphs of Baba Mesia, ch. 2. 

18. It is remarkable that the term ban 'olive-press,' 
Baba Batra 67b, is explained by the sage !?DD na K3K '1. He 
is three times mentioned in this tractate, but does not ap- 
pear elsewhere in the Talmud. If those who identify him 
with K3K >3T , whose father's name is not stated, be 
right, the name ^DD would seem to have been added be- 
cause of the term ^DO 'olive-press.' 

19. In the same tractate gob we read that Rabbi Jose 
bar Hanina said to K31S, his servant, 'i3i nx« pis. The 
correct name of the servant is very uncertain. Sepher Yo- 
hasin has the reading kjid . The Munich manuscript of 
the Babylonian Talmud (see Dikdukc S of rim on this pass- 
age) also has kjid, and there, moreover, it appears that 
the Hamburg manuscript and the Pesaro edition read, t<3in. 
Is it not probable, therefore, that the name NJIS in our 
edition was suggested by the term pis? 

20. The Babyl. Talmud, Berakot 53^, contains in the 
Baraitha, T\2-\:in ns 33V» IDB', some very strange names 
of Tannaites, viz. 'Nrt 'n and "xb't '1, names which 
greatly resemble each other and do not occur elsewhere in 
the Talmud. After their names we meet with the fol- 
lowing passage: 

D'SiDS nianitD on'' 1= muj?^ bioa DnitDB' oca idis ^kd'hyT 'n 

The purport of this saying agrees with that of Rabbi 
Aha and Rabbi Zilai, ibidem. The name of its author, how- 
ever, does not occur eslewhere (perhaps it is implied in the 
saying of Rabbi Nahman bar Isaac). Is it not obvious that 
the name ^Nonit, which is not very pleasing to the ear, was 



14 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

given to him because of its affinity to the stem ont, which 
occurs twice in this passage? 

21. In Midrash Rabba, Gen., ch. i8, we read: 

This statement occurs a few times in the Babylonian 
Talmud, e. g. Shabbat 96a, Berakot 61a, Erubin i8a, 
Niddah 46b, but always as of Rabbi Simon ben Menashya. 
The name rf'n, in the passage quoted, is no doubt ficti- 
tious, and was suggested by the word Nn"33, which is the 
principal word in the whole sentence, and which is used 
to explain \y\, Gen. 2, 22. 

22. In Midrash Rabba, Ex., ch. 21, we find several 
expositions in connection with the phrase ^ba pyvn no 
Ex. 14, 15. Among others the passage: 

'131 DD' nviBi "i»«3{}>D'n onb yiip 'jn Spt man idik Sypv "1 

(Gen. 28, 14) 
But in Yalkut, ch. 120, we find that, on this passage from 
Gen., Rabbi Abba bar Hanina says: 

'131 no'' nviai "idnjk' son amn nx 
In Yalkut, Micah, ch. 551, the same statement is assigned 
to Rabbi Jose bar Kahana on the authority of Rabbi Abba 
bar Hanina, and in Midrash Rabba, Gen., ch. 69, the 
passage is attributed to Rabbi Abba bar Kahana. 

How then can we account for the name of Rabbi 
Akiba in Midrash Rabba, Exodus? Rabbi Akiba cannot 
have heard what he says from R. Abba, who lived long 
after him. No doubt his name is due to its resemblance 
to the name apr, which occurs in the same passage. 

23. In the same manner, we can account for the read- 
ing KOTD p in Shabbat 104&: 

onvoD D'SOT K'Vin mrb p xl'ni D''D3n^ "irri'K '1 b"tt 



PARONOMASIA IN TALMUD AND MIDRASH— WYNKOOP 1 5 

For in Tosefta, Shabbat, ch. 12 (edition Zuckermandel), 
the name is KltDD p, Ben Satoda (see Blau, Altjudisches 
Zauberwesen, 41, n. i); and so also in the Jerusalem 
Talmud, Yebamot 16, 6; but the name is omitted in the 
parallel passage, Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 7, 12. The 
explanation of this mistake is that in tract. Shabbat, 
quoted above, there is mention made of lie's by nono- 

24. It cannot be pure coincidence that the words irx 
D'p' »h Deut. 27, 26, in the Jerusalem Talmud, Sotah 7, 4, 
are explained by one called cp'' p jijJDe" Pi , who is 
very seldom or perhaps never heard of again. He is prob'^ 
ably to be identified with Rabbi Simon ben Eliakim, whose 
name occurs a few times in the Talmud (this passage is 
quoted by Nahmanides on Deut., ibidem). 

25. This desire for paronomasia may also account for 
the use of some very rare and uncommon words. We read 
in the Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra 71a: 

K'i''a vh nn tn's n? ''31 '•ith XDipj p min'' rra 
How shall we account, in the Babylonian Talmud, for 
the use of the genuine old Hebrew word tJ'i''S, with the 
meaning to explain, which is already found in Num. 15, 
34? 1DN, which is also Aramaic, was the verb one would 
have expected, or if the idea of elucidation was insisted 
upon, the word sOJin. No doubt the scribe, in selecting 
the word eh^'B, was led by his love of paronomasia. Its 
connection with the phrase, in which it occurs, is obvious. 

26. The same fondness for paronomasia may have 
led writers to modernize certain names. I refer to a pas- 
sage in Midrash Rabba, Num., ch. 7: 

'131 ['DID tna n^n vh^ po jWd T's mv i"x 

whereas in the same place, ch. 13, we read : 

'131 o^DTD xb '131 Y\'aw nyE'3 "xnv p jiJdb' '1 w:i 'JKn 



l6 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

And so the passage is found also in Midrash Rabba, Song 
of Songs, ch. 4, § 7. Now, it is well known that Rabbi 
Simon ben Yohai, in the Talmud and Mishna, is com- 
monly called Rabbi Simon. In the first of the two cita- 
tions, therefore, pD''D 'T can be no one else but |iy»B' h 
''unv p, named in the second. As, moreover, the prev- 
alent diction in Midrash Rabba, Numbers, is on the 
whole tolerably pure Hebrew, there is no reason why the 
name Rabbi Simon should have been Hellenized, and 
spelled jiD'D , except for its resemblance to the word 
pDlD, occurring in the same phrase. 

27. In some instances, it would seem, the process is 
reversed, and sayings are recorded, because they contain 
words resembling the name of the person who is treated 
of. Thus we read in Sotah 41b : 

'131 nsun be* nsi-ijx inJE' nvD anshn p C'-in 
How shall we account for the word tinJN 'fist'? — 
Now and then we find in the Talmud the expression 
fSltJS 'SjJl 'violent men,' lit. 'men of the fist,' a kind 
of synecdoche for ynt ^bv2 'men of the arm'; e. g. 
Sanhedrin 21a. Such also is the explanation of Rashi, 
viz. nna 'power.' But why is not the more common term 
used; or, rather, why not simply write: HDiJn maJK' DVD 
'from the day that hypocrisy increased,' after the manner 
of several sayings which occur at the end of this treatise? 
— The answer is obvious. The term nanJsT is advisedly 
chosen, because there is question here of king DanJK. 

28. In a similar manner we may account for a state- 
ment occurring in Midrash Rabba, Gen., ch. 85. 



'131 nsxv nn\T NnroDTpana ■!"« 
Rashi explains KHDiaD by Nn^K", 'caravan.' KT"tj', 
sometimes also NnVD, is the more common word for cara- 



PARONOMASIA IN TALMUD AND MIDRASH — WYNKOOP Ij 

van. Whether ^?n^■l3» occurs elsewhere with this meaning 
I do not know. But here, I think, it is used because of its 
resemblance to the name of the speaker n^^na 'i. 

29. On the same principle a passage, occurring in the 
Babylonian Talmud, may be fitly explained: Nedarim 66b. 
In connection with a certain occurrence, we find the fol- 
lowing remark: 

'131 Xan pST Npl N~3"3K ND13 [3 N33 3'n'' HIH 
Samuel Edels rightly observes that it is not clear why 
it is stated that Baba ben Bota was seated at the door. 
His explanation is that, though he was not seated at the 
door, he was not far from it, and that this vicinity made 
the woman think that he was referred to in the saying of 
her husband K33T KE^n. I, for one, thought that S33K y>rv 
was a juridical phrase, not uncommon in the Talmud, 
and that S33 here is analogous to sw in Hebrew, which 
would obviate the difficulty raised by Samuel Edels. But 
if this were not so (and just now I cannot recollect a par- 
allel instance, nor can I believe that it would have been 
unknown to such a Talmud-expert as Edels), then N33K 
has been probably added by the scribe because. of its sim- 
ilarity with the name XD13 J3 K33. I am confirmed in this 
opinion by the coincidence that the term K33K does not 
occur in Seder ha-Dorot, where the incident is quoted. 

I am bound, however, to point out that it is surprising 
to find here the name of Baba ben Bota, who, if we may 
rely on what is recorded in Baba Batra ^b, lived in the 
days of Herod. If, what is related of him, really took 
place, we would expect to find it mentioned in a Baraitha. 

30. In Midrash Rabba, Lev., ch. i, we read: 

'131 -li?'! \wb PX p3E' KH'' 13 "IDS nJD •1B3T ")3B'B" h 



l8 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

The same saying, but without the words pstr Kn' no 
occurs in Yal^ut, Job, ch. 897. The name of Rabbi 
Issachar of Chephar-mande is more than once met with 
in the Midrash; e. g. Midrash Rabba, Esther, ch. 7. I am 
inclined to think that the scribe, who copied Midrash 
Rabba, Lev., was reminded by the name Issachar of the 
passage inati' D^^^^e tnJ , Gen. 30, 18, and thus was led 
to add the words, paB* Nn» '\2. 

31. Something similar must have happened in Mid- 
rash Rabba, Num., ch. 23; where we read: 

'131 DhiN )mr\ i^D' ,nn3 an^n /n'rv nttbm "iDixlivp h 

This saying occurs also in Midrash Yalkut, TehilHm, ch. 
818, but with the following variation: 

'131 nj?pa D' '131 nis^Bj idis vtJ^n^ 'i 
The conjecture lies at hand that the speaker in Mid- 
rash Rabba, Num., while quoting a saying of Rabbi Joshua, 
wished to use a phrase resembling the latter's name. Per- 
haps, he was thinking at the time of Ps. 44, 4. 

32. In some cases the scribe appears to have proceeded 
even further in this direction, and to have aimed at 
producing a similarity of meaning between the name of 
the speaker and some word or other occurring in his state- 
ment. An instance of this, I think, I have found in Baba 
Batra 1 190, as regards the passage: 

'131 Ka'pj? "1 n^ttbriD lan 1^ irin i3iDpK>n \)vkiv npi'n T'k 

This saying occurs also in Siphre, ch. 68, and 133 (Vienna 
1864). The name Simon ha-Shikmoni does not seem to 
occur elsewhere. But according to another reading the 
name Is 'JlB>Dpn. See Dikduke Sofrim on this place. 

The uncertainty concerning the name of Rabbi 
Hidka is even greater. In some manuscripts the name is 



PARONOMASIA IN TALMUD AND MIDRASH — WYNKOOP I9 

missing. In others we find the name of mw 'n instead 
of Rabbi Hidka. 

I think that the scribe, who took the surname to be 
•'JlE'OP, invented the name apT^n ''ai, or, vice versa, he, 
who read spT'H , ahered i3i»pK» into ''Jitj'Dp . For, as is 
known, Kp'Tn or spin (Hebrew pnn) is the Aramaic word 
for thorn, and is equivalent to the Hebrew !lK>Dp. 

33. It is quite possible also that sometimes the name 
given to a sage was suggested by its resemblance to the 
subject or purport of a Bible-passage on which he had 
expressed an opinion. This thought occurred to me while 
reading a saying, contained in the Midrash of Rabbi 
Nehunya ben Hakanah (a work unknown to me), and 
quoted by Nahmanides in his Commentary on Deut. 22, 
6. 7. 'If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way, 
in any tree, or on the ground, with young ones or 
eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon 
the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young; 
thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, but the young 
thou may est take unto thyself; that it may be well 
with thee, and thou mayest prolong thy days.' 
The subject dealt with is the statute known as jpn nii)r, 
and in connection with it soniething is recorded on the 
authority of Rabbi 'Nom, a name which, as far as I know, 
does not occur elsewhere in Midrash or Talmud. If we 
further consider that the statute expresses a humane feel- 
ing towards animals ( D'Dm, see Mishna Berakot S, 3, and 
Talmud Bab. ibidem, 33&), then it is quite obvious why the 
sage, who discussed this point, was called Rabbi 'NOni, 
i. e. 'mercy.' 

34. Sometimes, it would seem, the name of a sage 
owes its origin to the initial letters of certain words con- 



20 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

tained in his saying. An instance of this, I think, is found 
in Berakot 62b : 

sna W'N 'TTK Nja''pDTN -iBN '131 "Stn 12 Kjn 2n 
Though the name nhn repeatedly occurs in the Tal- 
mud, that of Rabbi Hana bar Ada is nowhere to be found. 
In the Babylonian Talmud, moreover, Megillah 29a, we 
find the same saying quoted on the authority of Kan. Is 
it not likely that the name of the sage was suggested to 
the scribe by the initial letters IN of the first two words 
in his saying? 

35. We find another instance of this kind of parono- 
masia in Midrash Rabba, Deut., ch. 2, and in Midrash 
Shoher Tob, ch. 65. 

nijsn nytr ^'x 'lai ihd pm "13 ^nidc hh bNt^• ndd in nrjn 'i 

Q'biVi coys D'nins D'cys 
This saying is repeated in Midrash Shoher Tob, ch. 4, 
but without the words: NSS 13, viz. 

D''0»s ni^an njft5» ^'n -^b pw nmao inn ^nide' 'i^ ba^ srjn 'n 

bvbipj D''D»a D'nins 

And again the same passage is found in Yalkut, Tehillim, 
ch. 69, but there the name of the sage is entirely omitted. 
It is well known that Rabbi Samuel bar Nahman, in 
Midrash Rabba, Deut., ch. 2, is the same person as Samuel 
ben Nahman in Midrash Shoher Tob, ch. 65, and that he 
is often called Samuel or Rabbi Samuel, without his 
paternal name; for instance in the second of the two 
citations given above. Now, Rabbi Papa lived a century 
after Rabbi Samuel, and, therefore. Rabbi Hanina, the 
son of Papa, could not have addressed a question to Rabbi 
Samuel. This difficulty is obviated by adopting the read- 
ing of Midrash Shoher Tob, ch. 4, because Rabbi Hanina 



PARONOMASIA IN TALMUD AND MIDRASH — WYNKOOP 21 

(the same as Hanina bar Hama) was, like Rabbi Samuel, 
a disciple of Rabbi Jehudah Hanasi. 

But what induced the scribe, in the first of the above 
quoted citations, viz. Midrash Rabba, Deut., ch. 2, and 
Shoher Tob, ch. 65, to add the name KSD .'' A satisfactory 
answer is furnished by his love for paronomasia. The 
repetition of the letter E5 in the words D''ninD D''DJ?B sug- 
gested to him the name NSD. 

36. In the same manner we may account for the 
name of Rabbi Papa in Baba Kamma 54^ 

'Rabbi Papa says : the Paponseans know best how to ex- 
plain this. And whom do I mean? — I mean Rabbi Aha 
bar Jacob.' — Now, Rabbi Aha came from a place called 
Papona. 

This statement is repeated in ICiddushin 35a, 
wh^ere it is attributed to Raba I N31 ) . And this is most 
likely the true reading. For, as we know from B. I^amma 
40a, Raba was a great admirer of the learning of Rabbi 
Aha bar Jacob. No doubt the letters qq in the word 
''^5i1Sa led the scribe to attribute the saying to Rabbi Papa. 

37. The same remark applies to the name Rabbi 
Tshmael, in Midrash Rabba, Esther, ch. 7. 



'131 nif?» 'ni t\hti iw njDB' bawv' "tti 
The same passage recurs in Yalkut but anonymously. 
I doubt whether the name Ishmael is found elsewhere in 
the Midrash in connection with a haggadic statement. 
It was probably suggested by the initial letters of the three 
words s^^^? -it^j; nJOts' which, when joined together, pro- 
duce the name ^Kj;»E'\ The letter ■> need not cause any 
difficulty when we recollect the derivation of the name 



22 THB JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

given in Gen. i6, ii. 'And thou shalt call his name Ishmael 
(God heareth) because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.' 

38. There are also cases in which, it would seem, the 
process was reversed. The name of the sage induced 
the scribe to couch his saying in words in which the name 
might easily be recognized. An instance of this is given us 
in Midrash Rabba, Num., ch. 17. 



'131 ^ipn nn r\r\T pnT 'is 
The common phrase, in the Talmud, for expressing 
this saying, would have been: !)ip na nnv. And so we 
find it in all places where the subject is treated to which 
the statement of Rabbi Isaac refers : Midrash Rabba, Gen., 
ch. 35; Yalkut, Joshua, ch. 31, and Kings, ch. 193; 
Babylonian Talmud Moed Katan ga; comp. Shabbat 306. 
The two passages in Yalkut do not even contain the name of 
the sage. It is quite conceivable that a scribe, fond of 
paronomasia, seized the opportunity to remodel the saying 
of Rabbi Isaac, and to express it in words which repro- 
duce the letters of his name. 

39. Finally proceeding in the same direction, I think 
that in some cases the number of the ciphers, signified by 
the letters of an author's name, played an important part 
in the recording of his name and saying. An instance of 
this may be found in Midrash Rabba, Lev., ch. 16. 

'131 D''n3''»5 n"»-| 1DN Slot }3 ■'DV '1 DB'3 "IW^N '1 
Rabbi Jose ben Zimra is a well known personality in 
the haggadah. There is, moreover, often mention in the 
haggadah of the 248 members of the human body 
(Mishna Ohalot 18; comp. commentary of Rabbi Simson, 
ibidem). The passage quoted recurs in Midrash Yalkut, 
Ifohelet, ch. 971. But there, ch. 878, on Ps. 120, the 



PARONOMASIA IN TALMUD AND MIDRASH WYNKOOP 23 

words DAIS'S n"D"i are omitted, just as in the Babylonian 
Talmud, Arakin 15&, where several other sayings of Rabbi 
Jose ben Zimra are recorded. 

The inference is obvious. The letters of the name 
KIDT are equivalent to the number 248. This made the 
scribe think of the term n"D"i, and further induced him to 
let Rabbi Jose ben Zimra also express an opinion on the 
subject of the 248 members of the body. 

This list of examples illustrating the use of parono- 
masia in Midrash and Talmud may be enriched by several 
others. The instances, selected by me, were taken indis- 
criminately from diverse passages. They suffice, I believe, 
to prove that the method of recording the names of sages, 
especially those in the haggadic writings, is not to be 
judged by a strictly historical standard, and that their 
sayings are not to be regarded as directly received from 
the lips of those to whom they are attributed.