RABBINICAL ERAS

Zugot (Hebrew: תְּקוּפָת) הַזוּגוֹת)‎) ((təqūphāth) hazZūghôth) refers to the period during the time of the Second Temple (515 BCE – 70 CE), in which the spiritual leadership of the Jewish people was in the hands of five successive generations of zugot ("pairs") of religious teachers.

[edit] Origin of the name

In Hebrew, the word "zugot" indicates a plural of two identical objects. (In English: "pairs".) The name was given to the two leading teachers of the Law during each successive generation during the period. According to tradition, two of them always stood at the head of the Sanhedrin; one as president ("nasi") and the other as vice-president or father of the court ("Av beit din"; see Sanhedrin).

The term "Zugot" refers to 5 pairs of legal scholars who ruled the Supreme Court Beit Din HaGadol from 142 BCE when the 2nd Judean State was established as an independent state to the end of Hillel the Elder‘s rule ca. 40 BCE. Afterwards the positions Chief Justice Nasi and Vice President Av Beit Din remained, but they were not Zugot.

With the rise of the independent Judean state under Simon the Maccabee of the Hasmoneans, the nature of Judaism changed from Theocracy to Nomocracy.[citation needed] The change reflected a radical transformation from the rule of the Jewish community by God through the High Priest,[citation needed] to rule of the community through the judicial and legislative discourse of the Supreme Court. The High Priest, the Kohen Gadol, went from being the supreme legal and spiritual authority to a figurehead who ruled in the Temple but was still subservient to the Supreme Court. After the destruction of the Judean state and the 2nd Temple in 70 CE, the Supreme Court Beit Din HaGadol ceased to exist. With Roman permission the Sanhedrin was re-established, first at Jamnia, and it became the government in exile for the Jewish community.[1] In 425 CE the Roman government shut down the Sanhedrin as a result of its Christian intent to dominate religious expression and marginalize Judaism.[citation needed]

[edit] Historical background

The title of av beit din existed before the period of the zugot. His purpose was to oversee the Sanhedrin, the court of religious law (also known as the "beth din"). The rank of nasi (president) was a new institution that was begun during this period.

During the first generation of the Zugot, the Jewish supporters of Hellenistic control in Israel managed to gain control over the position of the "Cohen Ha’Gadol" (the High Priest of the Temple), and raised Greek sympathizers to that position. The purpose of the High Priest was to be a spiritual leader of the Jewish people, which led the religious leaders among the people to elect a nasi, to provide an alternative to the growing corruption of the priests of the Temple. This conflict led to the split between the Sadducees and the Pharisees, and to the political upheaval that followed.

[edit] List of zugot

There were five pairs of these teachers:

  1. Jose ben Joezer, and Jose ben Johanan
    who flourished at the time of the Maccabean wars of independence
  2. Joshua ben Perachyah, and Nittai of Arbela
    at the time of John Hyrcanus
  3. Judah ben Tabbai, and Simeon ben Shetach
    at the time of Alexander Jannæus and Queen Salome Alexandra
  4. Sh’maya, and Abtalion
    at the time of Hyrcanus II
  5. Hillel, and Shammai
    at the time of King Herod the Great

The Tannaim (Hebrew: תנאים, singular תנא, Tanna) were the Rabbinic sages whose views are recorded in the Mishnah, from approximately 70-200 CE. The period of the Tannaim, also referred to as the Mishnaic period, lasted about 130 years. It came after the period of the Zugot ("pairs"), and was immediately followed by the period of the Amoraim.

The root tanna (תנא) is the Talmudic Aramaic equivalent for the Hebrew root shanah (שנה), which also is the root-word of Mishnah. The verb shanah (שנה) literally means "to repeat [what one was taught]" and is used to mean "to learn".

The Mishnaic period is commonly divided up into five periods according to generations. There are approximately 120 known Tannaim.

The Tannaim lived in several areas of the Land of Israel. The spiritual center of Judaism at that time was Jerusalem, but after the destruction of the city and the Second Temple, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai and his students founded a new religious center in Yavne. Other places of Judaic learning were founded by his students in Lod and in Bnei Brak.

Many of the Tannaim worked as laborers (e.g., charcoal burners, cobblers) in addition to their positions as teachers and legislators. They were also leaders of the people and negotiators with the Roman Empire.

The origin of the Tannaim

Iudaea
Province of the Roman Empire
6 – 132
Location of Israel
Capital Caesarea Maritima
32°30′N 34°54′E / 32.5°N 34.9°E / 32.5; 34.9Coordinates: 32°30′N 34°54′E / 32.5°N 34.9°E / 32.5; 34.9
Prefect
 – 26-36 Pontius Pilate
High Priest
 – 6-15 Annas
 – 18-36 Caiaphas
History
 – Census of Quirinius 6
 – Crisis under Caligula 37-41
 – Destruction of the Second Temple August 4, 70
 – Bar Kokhba revolt 132-135

The Tannaim operated under the occupation of the Roman Empire. During this time, the Kohanim (priests) of the Temple became increasingly corrupt and were seen by the Jewish people as collaborators with the Romans, whose mismanagement of Iudaea province (composed of Samaria, Idumea and Judea proper[1]) led to riots, revolts and general resentment. Throughout much of the period, the office of the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) was rented out to the highest bidder, and the priests themselves extorted as much as they could from the pilgrims who came to sacrifice at the Temple.

The conflict between the high priesthood and the people led to the split between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The elitist Sadducees (who generally controlled the high priesthood) were supported by the Hasmonean royal family and later by the Romans. The Pharisees were a more egalitarian sect; they accepted students from all the tribes, not only the Levites, and they also taught laws in addition to those set forth in the Torah. These laws make up the Mishnah, whose compilation marked the end of the period of the Tannaim.

Until the days of Hillel and Shammai (the last generation of the Zugot), there were few disagreements among Rabbinic scholars. After this period, though, the "House of Hillel" and the "House of Shammai" came to represent two distinct perspectives on Jewish law, and disagreements between the two schools of thought are found throughout the Mishnah, see also Hillel and Shammai.

The Tannaim, as teachers of the Oral Law, were direct transmitters of an oral tradition passed from teacher to student that was written and codified as the basis for the Mishnah, Tosefta, and tannaitic teachings of the Talmud. According to tradition, the Tannaim were the last generation in a long sequence of oral teachers that began with Moses.

[edit] Prominent Tannaim

[edit] Their titles

The Nasi (plural Nesi’im) was the highest ranking member and presided over the Sanhedrin. Rabban was a higher title than Rabbi, and it was given to the Nasi starting with Rabban Gamaliel Hazaken (Gamaliel the Elder). The title Rabban was limited to the descendants of Hillel, the sole exception being Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai, the leader in Jerusalem during the siege, who safeguarded the future of the Jewish people after the Great Revolt by pleading with Vespasian. Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, who was also Nasi, was not given the title Rabban, perhaps because he only held the position of Nasi for a short while and it eventually reverted to the descendants of Hillel. Prior to Rabban Gamliel Hazaken, no titles were used before someone’s name, based on the Talmudic adage "Gadol miRabban shmo" ("Greater than the title Rabban is a person’s own name"). For this reason Hillel has no title before his name: his name in itself is his title, just as Moses and Abraham have no titles before their names. (An addition is sometimes given after a name to denote significance or to differentiate between two people with the same name. Examples include Avraham Avinu (Abraham our father) and Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our teacher).) Starting with Rabbi Judah haNasi (Judah the Nasi), often referred to simply as "Rabbi", not even the Nasi is given the title Rabban, but instead, Judah haNasi is given the lofty title Rabbeinu HaKadosh ("Our holy rabbi [teacher]").

[edit] The Nesi’im

The following were Nesi’im, that is to say presidents of the Sanhedrin.

[edit] The generations of the Tannaim

The Mishnaic period is commonly divided into five periods according to generations of the Tannaim.

The generations of the Tannaim included:

  1. First Generation: Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai‘s generation (circa 40 BCE80 CE).
  2. Second Generation: Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh, Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua‘s generation, the teachers of Rabbi Akiva.
  3. Third Generation: The generation of Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues.
  4. Fourth Generation: The generation of Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehuda and their colleagues.
  5. Fifth Generation: Rabbi Judah haNasi‘s generation.
  6. Sixth Generation: The interim generation between the Mishnah and the Talmud: Rabbis Shimon ben Judah HaNasi and Yehoshua ben Levi, etc.

[edit] Before the destruction of the Temple

[edit] The generation of the destruction

[edit] Between the destruction of the Temple and Bar Kokhba’s revolt

[edit] The generation of Bar Kokhba’s revolt

[edit] After the revolt

[edit] Compilers of the Mishnah

Amora (Aramaic: אמורא; plural אמוראים, Amora’im; "those who say" or "those who tell over"), were renowned Jewish scholars who "said" or "told over" the teachings of the Oral law, from about 200 to 500 CE in Babylonia and the Land of Israel. Their legal discussions and debates were eventually codified in the Gemara. The Amoraim followed the Tannaim in the sequence of ancient Jewish scholars. The Tannaim were direct transmitters of uncodified oral tradition; the Amoraim expounded upon and clarified the oral law after its initial codification.

The Amoraic era

The first Babylonian Amoraim were Abba Arika, respectfully referred to as Rav, and his contemporary and frequent debate partner, Shmuel. Among the earliest Amoraim in Israel were Rabbi Yochanan and Shimon ben Lakish. Traditionally, the Amoraic period is reckoned as seven or eight generations (depending on where one begins and ends). The last Amoraim are generally considered to be Ravina I and Rav Ashi, and Ravina II, nephew of Ravina I, who codified the Babylonian Talmud around 500 CE.

In the Talmud itself, the singular amora generally refers to a lecturer’s assistant; the lecturer would state his ts briefly, and the amora would then repeat them aloud for the public’s benefit, adding translation and clarification where needed.

[edit] Prominent Amoraim

The following is an abbreviated listing of the most prominent of the (hundreds of) Amoraim mentioned in the Talmud. More complete listings may be provided by some of the external links below. See also List of rabbis.

[edit] First generation (approx. 230–250 CE)

[edit] Second generation (approx. 250–290 CE)

[edit] Third generation (approx. 290–320 CE)

[edit] Fourth generation (approx. 320–350 CE)

  • Abaye (d. 339), disciple of Rabbah, Rav Yosef, and Rav Nachman. Dean of the Yeshiva in Pumbedita.
  • Rava (d. 352), disciple of Rabbah, Rav Yosef, and Rav Nachman, and possibly Rabbi Yochanan. Dean of the Yeshiva at Mahuza.
  • Hillel II (fl. c. 360). Creator of the present-day Hebrew calendar. Son and successor as Nasi of Judah Nesiah, grandson of Gamaliel IV.

[edit] Fifth generation (approx. 350–371 CE)

[edit] Sixth generation (approx. 371–427 CE)

  • Rav Ashi (d. 427), disciple of Rav Kahana. Dean of the Yeshiva in Mata Mehasia. Primary redactor of the Babylonian Talmud.
  • Ravina I (d. 421), disciple of Abaye and Rava. Colleague of Rav Ashi in the Yeshiva at Mata Mehasia, where he assisted in the redaction of the Babylonian Talmud.

[edit] Seventh generation (approx. 425–460 CE)

[edit] Eighth generation (approx. 460–500 CE)

  • Ravina II (d. 475 or 500), disciple of Ravina I and Rav Ashi. Dean of the Yeshiva at Sura. Completed the redaction of the Babylonian Talmud.

[edit] Other

The "Stammaim" is a term that has been coined by some modern scholars for the rabbis who submitted anonymous comments on the Talmud, some of whom contributed during the period of the Amoraim, but most who made their contributions after the amoraic period.

Rabbinical Eras

Savora (Aramaic: סבורא, plural Savora’im, Sabora’im, סבוראים) is a term used in Jewish law and history to signify the leading rabbis living from the end of period of the Amoraim (around 500 CE) to the beginning of the Geonim (around 700 CE). As a group they are also referred to as the Rabbeinu Sevorai or Rabanan Saborai, and may have played a large role in giving the Talmud its current structure. Modern scholars also use the term Stammaim (Hebrew = closed, vague or an unattributed source) for the authors of unattributed statements in the Gemara.

Role in form of the Talmud

Much of classical rabbinic literature generally holds that the Babylonian Talmud was redacted into more or less its final form around 550 CE. [1] However, some statements within classical rabbinic literature, and later analysis thereof, have led many scholars to conclude that the Babylonian Talmud was smoothed over by the Savora’im, although almost nothing was changed.[2] Occasionally, multiple versions of the same legalistic discussion are included with minor variations. The text also states that various opinions emanated from various Talmudic academies.[3].

Sherira Gaon indicates that Rav Yose was the final member of the Savora’im[3]. Occasionally, specific Savora’im are mentioned by name in the Talmud itself, such as Rabbi Aha, who (according to later authority Rashbam) was a Savora.[3]

View of Rabbi Meir Triebetz

Rabbi Triebitz[4] discusses the ‘chasimas hashas’ – the final compilation of the Talmud. The Talmud says that Ravina and Rav Ashi were the ‘end of instruction’ which is understood by many to mean that they compiled the Talmud. Yet there are statements in the Talmud of later generations. And according to Rav Sherira Gaon the Talmud was not written until many generations later.

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