Mar Zutra

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ZUTRA, MAR

ZUTRA, MAR , the names of three *exilarchs during the fifth and sixth centuries. mar zutra i (d. c. 414), exilarch from 401 to 409, the successor of Mar Kahana and a contemporary of R. Ashi. It may be that he was the son of Huna b. Nathan, although his father's name does not appear in the sources. Mar Zutra was a student of R. Papa and R. Pappai and he transmitted the teachings of the earlier generations. He associated to a great extent with R. Ashi and Ameimar, and their differing opinions regarding various laws concerning meals are recorded in the Talmud (e.g., Ber. 44b, 50b; Shab. 50b). His piety and character were exemplary, and the title "the pious" was appended to his name (bk 81b; bm 24a). Whenever he had to pronounce a ban on a scholar, he first banned himself and then pronounced it on the culprit. Later, Mar Zutra absolved himself and then absolved the other (mk 17a). He prayed and fasted for the welfare of others but never on his own behalf (tj, Ma'as. Sh. 5:8, 156d). When Mar Zutra was carried in honor on the shoulders of his audience on the Sabbath before the Pilgrim festivals at a time when he preached on the festival laws, he would repeat the verse (Prov. 27:24): "For riches are not for ever; and doth the crown endure unto all generations?" (Yoma 87a).

mar zutra ii (c. 496–520), exilarch from 512 to 520. He was the son of *Huna, who had previously served as exilarch and was killed during the persecutions instituted by the Persian monarch, Firuz. His mother was the daughter of the head of the academy, Mar Ḥanina. According to tradition, Mar Zutra was born after the entire house of the exilarch had died out, and he was the sole survivor of the House of David, from whom the exilarchs were traditionally descended. During his minority, the exilarchate was administered by his brother-inlaw, Mar Paḥra or Paḥda, who bribed the king to retain him in office. When Mar Zutra reached the age of 15, his grandfather induced the king to install him as the legitimate exilarch. The new exilarch took up arms against the Persians, perhaps because of Persian oppression of the Jewish religion. Marching at the head of 400 Jewish warriors, Mar Zutra succeeded in defeating the Persians and setting up an independent Jewish state, with Maḥoza as his residence. The new state survived for seven years, but immorality spread among his followers and they were finally defeated in battle by the Persians. Both Mar Zutra and his grandfather, Ḥanina, were taken prisoner and beheaded, and their bodies were later suspended from crosses on the bridge at Maḥoza.

mar zutra iii (sixth century), the son of Mar Zutra ii. According to tradition he was born on the day that his father was executed and was therefore named after him. He later succeeded him as exilarch. He left Babylon to settle in Ereẓ Israel, where he was appointed to an academic position in a college. It is thought that he disseminated knowledge of the Babylonian Talmud in Ereẓ Israel.

In addition to a tanna called Zutra who is mentioned in a baraita (Ber. 13b), there were also some other amoraim of this name: zutra ben tobi (third century), a student of Rav and R. Judah who transmitted their teachings (Ber. 7a; Yev. 44a); mar zutra ben r. naḤman (b. Jacob; fourth century), who transmitted his father's teachings and who, in his youth, adjudicated a monetary case without previously obtaining the permission of the exilarch and erred in his decision (Sanh. 5a); and mar zutra ben mari (b. Issur; fourth century), the brother of R. Adda the elder (Kid. 65b).

bibliography:

Hyman, Toledot; Ḥ. Albeck, Mavo la-Talmudim (1969), 283–4.

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Zutra, Mar. Three Jewish exilarchs of the 5th and 6th cents. CE. Mar Zutra I (d. c.414), known as ‘the pious’, was famous for his compassion and exemplary character. Mar Zutra II (d. 520) defeated the Persians and set up an independent Jewish state, 513–20. His son, Mar Zutra III, was traditionally born on the day his father was executed. He left Babylon and eventually settled in Erez Israel.

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Mar Zutra (Jewish exilarch of 5th cent.): see ZUTRA, MAR.

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