Avot 1:2-4:

שִׁמְעוֹן הַצַּדִּיק הָיָה מִשְּׁיָרֵי כְנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה....‏

אַנְטִיגְנוֹס אִישׁ סוֹכוֹ קִבֵּל מִשִּׁמְעוֹן הַצַּדִּיק...‏

יוֹסֵי בֶן יוֹעֶזֶר אִישׁ צְרֵדָה וְיוֹסֵי בֶן יוֹחָנָן אִישׁ יְרוּשָׁלַיִם קִבְּלוּ מֵהֶם.‏

Shimon the Righteous was one of the last of the men of the great assembly...

Antigonus a man of Socho received [the oral tradition] from Shimon the Righteous...

Yose ben Yoezer a man of Zeredah and Yose ben Yohanan a man of Jerusalem received from them.

Who does "them" refer to? The previous Mishnah only lists one individual: Antigonos a man of Socho.

  • There are several other examples in this perek of saying “received from them” where it is clearly referring to the previous two mishnayos. Granted, in your example there is no equivalency between the two people, but it may be the same phenomenon.
    – Alex
    Nov 23, 2020 at 13:43
  • A nice observation but why is it important? Do you have a Nafka Minah from it?
    – Al Berko
    Nov 23, 2020 at 17:22
  • I heard (so it seems in WIKI) that there are over 150 years from Simeon HaTzadik to the first pair. So Antigonus does not count as one, there should be more generations in between. Can you check it? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simeon_the_Just
    – Al Berko
    Nov 23, 2020 at 17:25
  • 1
    @AlBerko Re: your first comment, peshat in a mishnah is always important
    – Joel K
    Nov 23, 2020 at 18:06
  • @AlBerko Re: your second comment, I think that is the issue alluded to in Harel13's answer below
    – Joel K
    Nov 23, 2020 at 18:07

2 Answers 2


Rabbeinu Yonah writes that the 'them' is Shimon HaTzaddik and Antigonos. Before they studied under Antigonos they studied under Shimon HaTzaddik.

It could also mean the Men of the Great Assembly (Tiferes Yisroel).

Rashi sees them as students only of Antigonos. Some explain this to mean that 'them' implies the students of Antigonos and his court. It could be that Rashi had an alternate reading: received the tradition from "him".


I heard in this class by Rabbi Anthony Manning on the subject of "The Missing Years" (i.e. the chronological discrepancy between the Jewish chronology and the general chronology) that Rabbi Shimon Schwab once held that the solution to the issue was that Daniel was commanded to distort history in order for the Jews to not be able to guess when Mashiach will come. Chazal took it upon themselves to assist in Daniel's mission by distorting parts of history, but there are hints to this in a number of places. One of those places is this mishna, or in other words, there was at least one generation between the two Rabbis Yosei and Antignos.

Note: Rabbi Schwab himself later changed his view on the missing years for a number of reasons. Here is his discussion on the subject.

Eliezer Finkelstein in "The Pharisees and the Men of the Great Synagogue" suggests that it was the policy of the Knesset Hagedolah to publicize their decisions under the banner of the whole of the Knesset, and for this reason hardly any of their names are known1. This tradition continued on until the time of Yose ben Yoezer and Yose ben Yochanan, when the sages began to voice their views individually. Therefore, the "received from them" refers to Antignos and all other leading sages of his time.2

1 Although Rabbi Yaakov Medan opined in his essay "Introduction To C. Chefetz's Essay On the Persian And Median Empire" that when the various names of the leaders and heads of the families in Ezra and Nechemiah are added together (excluding those that appear more than once, or those that can be argued to being variations of the same name of the same person), plus adding Chaggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Shimon Hatzaddik, you get exactly 120 names, and these were the actual Knesset members (he has also some variant suggestions. I assume at least one version works with the common tradition that Ezra was Malachi).

2 To who some of them might have been, see here.

  • Downvoter, I'm going to go ahead and assume it's the conspiracy aspect that got you. Regardless, I recommend you go look into the sugiya yourself, at least to understand what's going on there. I can send you more sources if you're interested.
    – Harel13
    Nov 24, 2020 at 9:49

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