Sura (city)

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Sura is located in Iraq
Location in modern day Iraq
Coordinates: 31°53′N 44°27′E / 31.883°N 44.450°E / 31.883; 44.450Coordinates: 31°53′N 44°27′E / 31.883°N 44.450°E / 31.883; 44.450
CountryFlag of Iraq.svg Iraq

Sura was a city in the southern part of ancient Babylonia, located east of the Euphrates River. It was well known for its agricultural produce, which included grapes, wheat, and barley. It was also a major center of Torah scholarship and home of an important yeshiva, which, together with the yeshivas in Pumbedita and Nehardea, gave rise to the Babylonian Talmud.


Sura was under Roman control in the time of Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) and Ptolemy (c. 100-170 CE) but was conquered by the Sasanian king Shapur I in 253 CE. [1]

It was a Roman garrison of some importance in the Persian campaigns of Belisarius; and a full account is given of the circumstances under which it was taken and burned by Chosroes I. (A.D. 532), who, having marched three long days’ journey from Circesium to Zenobia, along the course of the Euphrates, thence proceeded an equal distance up the river to Sura. Incidental mention of the bishop proves that it was then an episcopal see. (Procop. Bell. Pers. i. 18, ii. 5.) Its walls were so weak that it did not hold out more than half an hour; but it was afterwards more substantially fortified, by order of the emperor Justinian. (Id. de Aedificiis Justiniani, ii. 9.)"[2]

According to Rav Sherira Gaon, Sura (Hebrew: סורא) was identical to the town of Mata Mehasia (מתא מחסיא), which is also mentioned in the Talmud, but Matha-Mehasia is cited in the Talmud many times, either as a nearby town or a suburb of Sura,[3] and the Talmudist academy in Matha-Mehasia served as a branch of the Sura Academy. Sura Academy was founded by Rav (Abba Arika) in the third century.

A Syriac source describes it as a town completely inhabited by Jews, situated between Māḥōzē (i.e. Al-Mada'in) and Al-Hira in southern Iraq. A responsum of Rabbi Natronai Gaon says that Sura was about 6 km from Al-Hira.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ “Thapsacus and Zeugma the Crossing of the Euphrates in Antiquity.” Michal Gawlikowski. Iraq, Vol. 58 (1996), pp. 123-133.
  2. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. Vol. II. Iabadius—Zymethus (1870). Edited by William Smith. London: Walton and Maberly; John Murray, London, p. 1048. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ * סורא. Jewish Encyclopedia Daat (in Hebrew). Herzog College.
  4. ^ Gil, Moshe; David Strassler (2004). Jews in Islamic Countries in the Middle Ages. Brill. p. 507. ISBN 978-90-04-13882-7.