Talmudists

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Talmudists [1]

Under this head we include all those rabbins whose opinions are regarded as authoritative in the Talmud. The period of these men comprises the time from about B.C. 180 to A.D. 500, i.e. from Simon the Just to the completion of the Talmud. This period is again subdivided into that of the Tanaim and that of the Amoraim the former representing the time from about B.C. 180 to A.D. 219, the latter from A.D. 219 to A.D. 500.

I.' Tanaim. The first recognized, after Simon's death, as the head of the Sanhedrim was Antigonus of Soho, about B.C. 180. His contemporary was Eliezer ben-Charsum, celebrated for his opulence, learning, and zeal in the promotion of religious knowledge. After Antigonus, always two (or zugoth) stand at the head of the community-the first being the president, the second the vice-president. As the first of these zug Ô th, or pairs, are mentioned Jose ben-Joezer and Joseph ben-Jochanan, about B.C. 70. They were followed by Joshua ben-Perachja and Nithai of Arbela (q.v.). Their successors were Jehuda ben-Tabal and Simon ben-Shetach (q.,v.). The fourth pair is represented in Shemaja and Abtalion, about B.C. 47. The fifth and last pair are Hillel (q.v.) and Shammai (q.v.). Under their presidency lived Baba ben-Buta, Chanina ben-Dose, Jochanan ben-Zachai (q.v.), and Nechunjah ben-haKana (q.v.). Hillel was followed by his son Simon (benHillel) (q.v.). His successorwa's Gamaliel I (q.v.), who was followed by his son Simon (ben-Gamaliel) (q.v.). With Simon closes the period of the so-called earlier Tanaim. The later Tanaim first figure in history when the Temple was in ashes and Jerusalem a heap of ruins. At this period, verging upon decay, when Judaism was without any center and support, appeared Jochanan ben-Zachai, the last among Hillel's eighty disciples. Jochanan established a school at Jamniah, or Jabneh, whose president he became. His successor was Gamaliel bar-Simon (q.v.), and his fellow- laborers were Akiba ben-Joseph (q.v.), Eliezer ben-Asarja, Eliezer ben- Arak, Eliezer ben-Hyrkanos (q.v.), Ismael ben-Elisa (q.v.), Joshua ben- Hananja (q.v.), Nechunjah ben-ha-Kana (q.v.), and Tarphon (q.v.). Gamaliel was succeeded by his son Simon (ben-Gamaliel II) (q.v.),' who transferred the Rabbinical apparatus to Tiberias. To his college belonged Nathan ha-Babli (q.v.), Jose ben-Halephta, Jehudah ben-Ilai, rabbi Meir (q.v.), and Simon ben-Jochai (q.v.). Simon ben-Gamaliel was succeeded by his son Judah the Holy (q.v.).

II. Amoraim. With the life and labors of rabbi Judah ended the succession of the Tanaim, who were now followed by a new order, the Amoraim ( אמוראים ), i.e. the expositors of the law, at length no longer oral, but reduced to a written text. Some of the most distinguished of their number were rabbi Chija, Chanina bar-Chana, Abba Areka, or Rab (q.v.), Bar-Kappara, Jochanan bar-Napacha (q.v.), and Simon ben-Lakish (q.v.). Of the scholastic labors of these men we have the monumental result in the Palestine Gemara, commonly called Talmud Jerushalmi ( תלמוד ירושלמי ).

After the death of Judah, not only learning, but also the patriarchal dignity was more and more in the decline; for with Judah's death the star of Judaea's learning had set, never to rise again in Palestine. Rabban Gamaliel III, Judah's son, and Judah II, son of Gamaliel III, his successor, were weak in character, mediocre in learning, and deficient in theological acumen. The latter transferred his residence to Tiberias, and Galilee, once so despised, now became "the Holy Land," and Tiberias its Jerusalem. Of Gamaliel IV, the successor of Judah II, and Judah III, son and successor of Gamaliel IV, history has nothing to record, except that they close the line of Palestinian teachers. Meanwhile numerous migrations of rabbins to Babylon had taken place, especially in the reign of Constantius, who persecuted the Jews. We leave Palestine and turn to Babylon, where the schools at Sora. (q.v.), Pumbaditha (q.v.), Nahardea, and Machusa were in a flourishing condition.

At Babylon the greater and more noble part of the Jewish families settled at the Captivity, to return no more to their ancestral soil, and there the literary culture of the people took a development which exerted no small influence on the studies of after-generations. There the Jews lived under their resh gelutha, or prince of the exiles, whose office was of an ecclesiastical and secular kind. So long as the Temple was standing the Babylonian Jews acknowledged the presidency of the high-priest, and paid the didrachm contribution to the Temple, which, however, they did not after the destruction of that edifice. Finally, the Babylonians succeeded in establishing their own independence, in civil and ecclesiastical matters, of the Western patriarchate, and established schools of learning all over the country without material aid from those of the fatherland, though the schools took the same undeveloped form as those of the Holy Land. The names given to these schools were Aramaean forms for the Hebrew ones of the Palestinian schools. The "house of learning" was called Beth Ulphana ( בית אולפנא ); Beth Midrash ( מדרש בית ), "the house of doctrine;" Beth Ha Vaad ( הוועד ; Heb. בית הכנסת ), "the house of assemblage;" Beth Metibtha ( בית מתיבתא ; Heb. ישיבה ), "the house of sitting;" Beth Rabbanan ( בית רבנן ), "the house of the masters;" Beth Sidra ( בית סדרא ), "the house of order." The principal or rector of the school was entitled Rab Beth Ulphana ( רב בית אולפנא ), Resh Metibtha ( ריש מתיבתא ), Resh Sidra ( סדרא ריש ), etc.. So, too, the academical degree of Mar ( מר ) was equivalent to the Palestinian title of Rabbi. ( רבי ), and was conferred after the same course of study by the Semikah, ( סמיכה ), or "imposition of hands."

III. Schools. The earliest school of which we have any specific information is that which was situated at

1. Nahardea. With this school we first become acquainted towards the close of the 2d century. Nahardea was situated on the Euphrates, and for a time she was the Babylonian Jerusalem. While the Temple was yet in existence; this place had the treasury of the Babylonian congregations for the Temple-offerings which were brought to Jerusalem (Josephus, Ant. 18:12). The first rector at Nahardea was R. Shila, who was succeeded by Mar-Samuel, the astronomer (also called Ariob and Jarchinai), in A.D. 190 247. His disciples were Nachman ben-Jacob, Sheshet, Rabba ben-Abbuha, and Joseph ben-Chama. When Nahardea was sacked in 259 and the academy broken up, they migrated to

2. Machusa, a town on the Tigris, about four hours from Cesiphon, where a new academy was founded. Rabba ben-Abbuha promoted this school of learning by his lectures, and Machusa attained some celebrity. Ten years (A.D. 363) after Rabba's death, the city was demolished by the Romans in the war under Julian. The most famous schools, however, were those at

3. Pumbaditha and Sora, where the Amoraim attained great renown. The teachers of these schools having already been mentioned in the arts, (See Puibaditha) and (See Sora), we need only to refer to them. Of' the names mentioned, we have only given the most prominent, which, in part, are already given under the respective letter, or will be treated, so far as omitted, in the supplement, volume.

IV. Literature. Luzzatto , סדר תנאים ואמראים (Prague, 1839); Liber Juchasin, ed. Filipowski (Lond. 1857); Frankel, Hodegetica In Mischnam (Lips. 1859[Heb.]); Weiss, Zur Geschichte Derjidischen Tradition (Vienna, 1872-77, 2 vols. [Heb.]); Chiarini, Le Talmudc De Babylone (Leips. 1831), 1, 105 sq.; Bacher, Die Agada Der Babylonischen Amoraer (Strasburg, 1878). The Talmudists whose names are mentioned in the treatise Baba Metsia are given by Sammter in the appendix to his German translation of Baba Metsia (Berlin, 1879), p. 160 sq. SEE Scribe. (B. P )

References