Nahum the Mede

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Rabbinical Eras

Nahum the Mede (Hebrew: נחום המדי‎, translit: Nahum ha-Madi) was a 1st-century tanna of the first generation who came to the Land of Israel from Media. He lived in Jerusalem and according to Nathan the Babylonian, he was one of the three most renowned criminal judges in the city. He was one of the seven great contemporaries of Johanan ben Zakkai who had survived the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans and who probably became members of the Sanhedrin at Jabneh.

Only six of his laws have been preserved in the Babylonian Talmud, three of which were said not to have been recognized. Some, however, attribute to him four other and anonymous teachings. The opposition to the decisions of Nahum, according to the view of a later amora, seems to have been due to the dislike of the scholars of the Land of Israel for those of other countries.

Nahum's teachings include:

  • "Nahum the Mede says one may use melted tallow for the Sabbath lamp, and the sages prohibit it." (Mishnah Shabbat 2:1)
  • "If a man sold an ass, he has not sold its trappings, but Nahum the Mede says he has sold the trappings." (Mishnah Baba Batra 5:2)

Jacob Neusner suggests that there is no evidence that Nahum came from Parthia or was in fact a Medean, a name which may be indicative of his family's origin.[1]

15th-century scholar Abraham Zacuto in his Sefer Yuchasin (1498), speculates that mention of a certain "Nahum the Elder" in the Baraita refers to Nahum the Mede.[2]


  1. ^ Jacob Neusner (1968). A History of the Jews in Babylonia. Brill Archive. p. 122. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Dominican studies. Blackfriars Publications. 1 January 1948. p. 224. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainA. S. Waldstein (1901–1906). "Nahum the Mede". Jewish Encyclopedia.  Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography: Grätz, Gesch, iv. 22; Frankel, Darke ha-Mishna, p. 63, Leipsic. 1859.E. C.