Samuel ben Nahman

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Samuel ben Nahman (Hebrew: שמואל בן נחמן‎) or Samuel [bar] Nahmani (Hebrew: שמואל [בר] נחמני‎) was a rabbi of the Talmud, known as an amora, who lived in the Land of Israel from the beginning of the 3rd century until the beginning of the 4th century.


He was a pupil of R. Jonathan ben Eleazar[1] and one of the most famous aggadists of his time.[2] He was a native of the Land of Israel and may have known the patriarch Judah I.[3]

It appears that he went to Babylonia in his youth but soon returned to Israel.[4] He seems to have gone to Babylon a second time in an official capacity in order to determine the intercalation of the year, which, for political reasons, could not be done in Israel.[5] As an old man he went to the court of Empress Zenobia (267-273) to petition her to pardon an orphaned youth who had committed a grave political crime.[6] In the days of the patriarch Judah II, Samuel ben Nahman appears among the most intimate associates of the patriarch, with whom he went (286) to Tiberias at Diocletian's order; later he joined the emperor at Paneas.[7]

Of Samuel's sons two are known by name—Nahman and Hillel; sayings of both have been preserved.[8]


Samuel held a position of authority in the academy; to him is ascribed the rule that during the heat of the day instruction should be suspended.[9] Due to his fame as an aggadist, questions were addressed to him by such authorities as the patriarch Judah II,[10] Simeon ben Jehozadak,[11] Rabbi Ammi,[12] Hanina ben Pappa,[13] and Helbo.[14]

Among the transmitters of Samuel's sayings were Helbo, Levi II, Abbahu,[15] and Eleazar ben Pedat.[16]

Samuel ben Naḥman's decisions and sayings concern the study of dogma,[17] prayer,[18] and Shabbat regulations;[19] the history of Israel and the nations and empires;[20] the laws regarding converts;[21] Scripture;[22] halakic exegesis;[23] and Biblical characters and narratives.[24]

Other teachings of Samuel b. Nahman's refer to homiletics,[25] to God and the world,[26] and to eschatology.[27]


Especially noteworthy is Samuel b. Naḥman's description of the grief of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and of Rachel, over the destruction of the Temple.[28] It is written in beautiful Hebrew prose, and is accompanied by dramatic dirges in Aramaic. Then follow the dirges of all the Patriarchs, which they intone when Moses for the second time has communicated to them the sad tidings. Finally, Moses himself chants a lament, addressed partly to the sun and partly to the enemy.


  1. ^ Pesachim 24a
  2. ^ Yerushalmi Berachot 12d; Midrash Tehillim to Psalms 9:2
  3. ^ Genesis Rabbah 9
  4. ^ Sanhedrin 96b
  5. ^ Yerushalmi Berachot 2d; Pesachim 54b
  6. ^ Yerushalmi Terumot 46b
  7. ^ Yerushalmi Terumot 9,end; Genesis Rabbah 63
  8. ^ Genesis Rabbah 10, 32; Midrash Tehillim to Psalms 52; Yerushalmi Shevuot 36b; Yerushalmi Kiddushin 61c; Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:4; Midrash Shmuel 15 (on Nehemiah 8:17).
  9. ^ Lamentations Rabbah 1:3,end; Midrash Tehillim to Psalms 91:6
  10. ^ Genesis Rabbah 12,end
  11. ^ Genesis Rabbah 3,beginning; Leviticus Rabbah 31; Pesachim 145b; Midrash Tehillim to Psalms 104; Tanhuma to Vayakhel, beginning; Exodus Rabbah 50, beginning
  12. ^ Leviticus Rabbah 31,beginning; Lamentations Rabbah 1:13
  13. ^ Pesachim 157a; Midrash Tehillim to Psalms 65; Lamentations Rabbah 3:45; Yerushalmi Shevuot 35b
  14. ^ Bava Batra 123a,b
  15. ^ Leviticus Rabbah 35,end; Yerushalmi Ta'anit 3
  16. ^ Pesachim 159b
  17. ^ Yerushalmi Peah 17a; Megillah 74d; Hagigah 76d
  18. ^ Pesachim 157a,b; Deuteronomy Rabbah 2; Yerushalmi Berachot 7a; Genesis Rabbah 68
  19. ^ Genesis Rabbah 11,end; Pesikta Rabbati 23; Yerushalmi Shabbat 15a
  20. ^ Pesachim 15b, 151b; Leviticus Rabbah 2,beginning, 24,end, 39; Numbers Rabbah 2,end; Yerushalmi Shevuot 35b; Yerushalmi Avodah Zarah 44b
  21. ^ Shir haShirim Rabbah 6:2; Yerushalmi Berachot 5b,c
  22. ^ Avodah Zarah 25a; Bava Batra 15a; Genesis Rabbah 6,end; Shir haShirim Rabbah 1:1, end
  23. ^ Yerushalmi Shekalim 45d; Yerushalmi Shabbat 9b; Yerushalmi Hallah 57b
  24. ^ B. B. 123a; 'Ab. Zarah 25a; Yer. Yeb. 9c; Yer. Ber. 4b; Tosef., Shab. vii., 25; Gen. R. xlii., xlix., lxii., xcviii.; Ex. R. xliii.; Lev. R. xi.; Pes. vi.; Eccl. R. vii. 1; Midr. Shemu'el xxiii.
  25. ^ Genesis Rabbah 14, 20, 43; Bava Batra 123b; Hullin 91d; Shabbat 113b
  26. ^ Genesis Rabbah 33; Pesachim 139a; Eruvin 22a; Bava Kamma 5a,b)
  27. ^ Genesis Rabbah 8; Midrash Tehillim to Psalms 73,end; Pesachim 156b; Midrash Shmuel 19; Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:8
  28. ^ Lamentations Rabbah, Pref. 24, end

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Samuel ben Nahman". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. It has the following bibliography: