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Pumbedita Academy (sometimes Pumbeditha, Pumpedita, or Pumbedisa; Hebrew: ישיבת פומבדיתא) was a Jewish Yeshiva academy in Babylon, during the era of the Jewish Amora and Geonim sages. The academy was founded at the beginning of the second generation of the Amora era, by R. Judah ben Ezekiel, and was active as an influential and dominant Jewish academy for about 800 years, along with the Sura Academy.
After Abba Arika ("Rav") and Samuel of Nehardea died, at the end of the 1st generation of the Amoraim, along with the designation of Rav Huna as dean of the Yeshiva Academy of Sura, R. Judah ben Ezekiel went to Pumbedita city and had established a new Yeshiva there, the Pumbedita Yeshiva Academy, that was active for about 800 years, during the course of the Amora, Savora, and Geonim eras, and up until the days of Hai Gaon. The city of Pumbedita was previously settled by Jews for a long time before the academy's establishment, since the days of Second Temple of Jerusalem. Pumbedita city was situated on the Bedita river, that was a Stream of the Euphrates river, on the waterside (Pum = in Aramic "mouth" or "lips") of Bedita river, and thus it was named Pumbedita. The modern-day city of Fallujah stands in its place.
At the time, the academies of Pumbedita and Sura became the most influential and dominant Yeshivas of the Jewish communities' world, and all Torah decrees and other religious rulings were issued from these Yeshivas to all the Jewish diaspora. The Pumbedita academy served as a field of growth to the greatest Jewish sages for generations to come, among them: Rabbah bar Nahmani ("Rabbah"), Rav Yosef b. Hiyya, Abaye and Amora sage Rava, Savora Rabbah Jose and Simuna, and Geonim Rab Rabbah Gaon and Paltoi ben Abbaye Gaon, as well as Rav Sherira Gaon and his son Hai Gaon. The Yeshiva academy of Pumbedita was at its peak during the 3d and 4th generation of the Amora sages era. During the days of the Amora sage Rava, the academy of Pumbedita was relocated to Mahuza (Hebrew: מחוזא), but after his death it was moved back to Pumbedita city.
Along with the sealing of the Talmud, by Ravina II (at Sura city), the era of the Savora sages has began (years 499-589; ד'ר"ס - ד'שמ"ט Hebrew calendar), in which most part of that period, proper studying on regular basis did not take place in Sura Academy (only in Pumbedeita), due to pogroms against the Jewish community in Sura. After the pogroms reached Pumbedeita as well, the heads of the Yeshiva had to move the Pumbedeita academy to Firuz Shapur (Hebrew: פירוז שבור) for a course of around 50 years, until it was reinaugurated by R. Hanan of Iskiya at Pumbedeita city in year 589 (ד'שמ"ט; Hebrew calendar).
During the era of the Geonim, the two Talmudic academies were correspondingly active as well. One of Pumbedita's Gaon's (a title for the deans of these academies during the Geonim era), R. Hai ben R. David (approximately in years 898-890; ד'תר"נ- ד'תרנ"ח Hebrew calendar), moved the academy to Baghdad, because during his period, the number of Jews making a living from agriculture grew smaller, and they were constantly moving to the big cities, mainly to Baghdad (apart from the phenomenon of the Jewish Emigration, settling out side of Babylonia). However, the academy's name remained "Pumbedita academy", despite its relocation. The last blooming period for Pumbedita academy took place during the days of Rav Sherira Gaon and his son Hai Gaon, towards the end of the era of the Geonim sages. Thousands of letters with Halachic issues attached were received at Pumbedita, addressed to the heads of the academy, and from all around the Jewish diaspora, and the Geonim of the academy worked hard to respond to their questions. Along with R. Hai Gaon's death (approximately in year 1038; ד'תשצ"ח Hebrew calendar), the era of the Geonim has ended. Exilarch Hezekiah ben David was appointed dean of the academy of Pumbedita, the only man to be simultaneously a Gaon and the Exilarch. However, 20 years after the latter event, Hezekiah ben David was executed in torture by the Muslem caliph, and the Pumbedita academy was closed.
List of Pumbedita academy's Deans
- Judah ben Ezekiel:
- Huna b. Hiyya
- Rabbah bar Nahmani ("Rabbah")
- Rav Yosef b. Hiyya
- Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak
- Rav Kahana IV
- Aha b. Raba
- Rav Rahumi I
- Sama b. Rabba
- Rabbah Jose
- R. Simuna
- Rabbai of Rob:
- The academy was relocated to Firuz Shapur, due to pogroms against Jews, and moved back to Pumbedita city after 50 years
- Hanan of Iskiya - from 589
- Mari ben R. Dimi Sargo - around 591
- Rav Hana (Huna) - around 630
- Rav Rabbah (Rava, Ravah) - 651
- Rav Bosai (Bostanai) - around 660
- Huna Mari ben Mar R. Joseph - around 689
- Hiyya of Meshan - around 700
- Rav Rabya ben R. Abaye (Moronai) - around 710
- Natronai b. Mar Nehemiah (called Mar R. Yanka) - 719
- Judah Gaon - around 730
- Joseph Gaon ben Kitnai (called Mar Kitnai) - 739-748
- Samuel ben Mar R. Mari - 748-755
- Natroi Kahana b. Emuna (Natrunai, ha-Kohen) - around 755-761
- Abraham Kahana (ha-Kohen) - apparently 681
- Dodai ben R. Nahman (Rav Dorai) (brother of R. Yehudai, Gaon of Sura Academy) - 761-767
- R. Hananya ben R. Mesharsheya - 767-771
- Malka ben R. Aha - 771-773
- Rabba ben R. Dodai (Abba) (ancestor of R. Sherira Gaon) - 773-782
- Rav Shinwai (Shinui)- in 782
- Haninai Kahana ben Abraham (ha-Kohen) - 782-786
- Haninai Kahana ben Abraham (ha-Kohen) - 782-786
- Huna ben ha-Levi ben Isaac - 786-788
- Manasseh ben R. Joseph - 788-796
- Isaiah ha-Levi ben R. Abba - 796-798
- Joseph ben R. Shila of Shilhe - 798-804
- Kahana ben Haninai Gaon (ha-Kohen) - 804-810
- Abumai Kahana ben Abraham (Ikhomai, ha-Kohen) - 810-814
- Joseph ben R. Abba - 814-816
- Abraham ben R. Sherira - 816-828
- Joseph ben Mar R. Hiyya - 828-833
- Isaac ben R. Hananiah (Hunai, Hiyya) - 833-839
- Joseph ben R. Abba (R. Rabbi, Ravrevay) - 839-841
- Paltoi ben R. Abaye - 841-858
- Aha Kahana ben Mar Rav (ha-Kohen) - in 858
- Menahem ben R. Joseph ben Hiyya - 858-860
- Mattithiah ha-Kohen b. Ravrevay b. Hanina (R. Rabbi) - 860-869
- Abba ben R. Ammi ben Samuel (Rabba) - 869-872
- Zemah ben Paltoi Gaon - 872-889
- Hai ben R. David - 898-890
- The academy was moved to Baghdad, because many Jews ceased making a living from agriculture, and moved to the big cities. The academy kept its original name, despite its relocation.
- Kimoi ben R. Ahhai Gaon (Qimoi, ha-Kohen, Ahi) - 896-905
- Mebasser Kahana ben R. Kimoi Gaon (ha-Kohen, Qimoi) - 905-917
- Kohen Tzedek Kahana ben R. Joseph (father of R. Nehemiah ben Kohen Tzedek) - 917-922
- R. Zemah ben R. Kafnai (Pappai) - 935-937
- Hananiah ben R. Yehudai Gaon (Judah) (father of R. Sherira Gaon) - 937-943
- Aaron ben R. Joseph Ha-Kohen (Aharon b. Sargado) - 943-960
- Nehemiah ben Kohen Tzedek - 960-968
- Sherira Gaon - 968-1006, Passed the torch to his son Hai Gaon, while he was still a live. The Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon ("[The] Epistle of Rav Sherira Gaon") is accounted as an important historian source, especially to Jewish history.
- Hai Gaon ben R. Sherira - 1004, died in 1038. His death is consider the conclusion of the era of the Geonim sages.
- Exilarch Hezekiah ben David (Hezekiah Gaon) - 1038-1040 - was killed by the Muslim caliph.
- Firuz Shapur
- Nehardea Academy
- Pum-Nahara Academy
- Pumbedita (City)
- Sura Academy
- Sura (city)
- Talmudic Academies in Babylonia
- Talmudic Academies in the Land of Israel
- The list names in accordance with Hebrew Wikipedia; & Jewish Encyclopedia - Gaon- Synchronistic List of the Geonim of Sura and Pumbedita
- The list dates are in accordance with the work of Prof. Moshe Gil, "Kingdom of Israel in the Gaonic era", 1997 (Hebrew). Some of the information concerning the dates are based on factual sources, however, some are based on premises, in the absence of authoritative sources or due to contradiction between sources. There is a dispute among the scholars concerning some of the dates, and not all is agreed upon.
- Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon, in accordance with Babylon Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashanah, 23b
- According to Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon & "Sefer ha-Qabbalah", by Abraham ibn Daud
- "Jews in Islamic countries in the Middle Ages", Moshe Gil, p. 404 - A Chronological List of the Geonim of Sura and Pumbedita books.google.com