Pumbedita Academy (sometimes Pumbeditha, Pumpedita, or Pumbedisa; Hebrew: ישיבת פומבדיתא) was a yeshiva (academy of higher learning in Judaism analogous to a high school or preparatory school) in Babylon during the era of the Amoraim and Geonim sages. It was founded by Judah bar Ezekiel (220–299 CE) and, with the Sura Academy founded in 225 by Abba Arika, was an influential and dominant yeshiva for about 800 years.
After Abba Arika and Samuel of Nehardea died at the end of the first generation of the Amoraim, along with the designation of Rav Huna as dean Sura, Judah bar Ezekiel went to the city of Pumbedita and had established a new yeshiva there. Pumbedita Academy was active for about 800 years over the course of the eras of the Amoraim, Savoraim, and Geonim 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 was situated on the banks of the Bedita, a stream of the Euphrates, 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. 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 sages Rabbah Jose and Simuna, and Geonim Rab Rabbah Gaon and Paltoi ben Abbaye Gaon, as well as Sherira Gaon and his son, Hai Gaon. Pumbedita Academy was at its peak during the third and fourth generation of the Amoraim. During the days of the Amora sage Rava, Pumbedita Academy moved to Mahuza (מחוזא, modern al-Mada'in), but after his death, it returned to Pumbedita.
After with the sealing of the Talmud by Ravina II Sura, the era of the Savoraim began (499-589), in which most part of that period, proper studying on regular basis no longer took place in Sura, only in Pumbedita, due to pogroms in Sura. After the pogroms reached Pumbedita as well, the heads of the yeshiva had to move to Firuz Shapur for around 50 years until it was reinaugurated by Hanan of Iskiya in Pumbedita in 589.
During the era of the Geonim, the two Talmudic academies were correspondingly active as well. One of Pumbedita's Gaons and dean of the Academy, Hai Gaon (approximately in years 898-890), moved the academy to Baghdad because the number of Jews making a living from agriculture was growing smaller and they were migrating to the big cities, mainly to Baghdad (apart from the phenomenon of Jewish emigration out of Babylonia). However, the academy's name remained "Pumbedita Academy" despite its relocation.
The last period of Pumbedita Academy growth took place during the days of Sherira Gaon and his son, Hai Gaon. Thousands of letters with halachic issues attached were received at Pumbedita, addressed to the heads of the Academy from all around the Jewish diaspora. The Geonim of the Academy worked hard to respond to their questions. Along with Hai Gaon's death (c. 1038), the era of the Geonim ended.
Hezekiah Gaon was appointed dean of Pumbedita Academy, the only man to be simultaneously a Gaon and Exilarch. Twenty years later, Hezekiah Gaon was tortured to death by the Muslim Buyid dynasty and Pumbedita Academy closed.
List of Pumbedita academy's Deans
- Judah bar 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
- Rabbai of Rob:
- The academy was relocated to Firuz Shapur Anbar 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
- 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 Joseph (father of Nehemiah ben Kohen Tzedek) - 917-922
- Zemah ben Kafnai (Pappai) - 935-937
- Hananiah ben Yehudai Gaon (Judah) (father of R. Sherira Gaon) - 937-943
- Aaron ibn 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 Sherira - 1004, died in 1038. His death is consider the conclusion of the era of the Geonim sages.
- Exilarch Hezekiah Gaon - 1038-1040 - was killed by the Muslim caliph.
- Nehardea Academy
- Pum-Nahara Academy
- Talmudic Academies in Babylonia
- Talmudic Academies in Syria Palaestina
- Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon, in accordance with Babylon Talmud, tractate Rosh Hashanah, 23b
- According to Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon and "Sefer ha-Qabbalah", by Abraham ibn Daud
- 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.
- "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