Ishmael ben Elisha


Ishmael ben Elisha

(flourished 2nd century AD) Jewish scholar. Born into a wealthy priestly family, he was taken captive by the Roman legions that sacked Jerusalem in AD 70, but he was ransomed by his former teacher and was sent back to Palestine to study. Ishmael founded a rabbinic school and wrote commentaries on the Torah, developing 13 rules of exegesis based on the 7 rules of Hillel. Known for his simple, literal approach to biblical scholarship, he sought to relieve hardship for observant Jews in the interpretation of the Law. He is often portrayed in dispute with Akiba ben Joseph for what he saw as the latter's excessive interpretations of superficial biblical words or phrases.

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