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ARDAVAN °, the name of five Parthian kings. The Ardavan mentioned in the Talmud is apparently Ardavan v, last of the Arsacid dynasty, who reigned from c. 213–26 c.e. He was defeated by Ardashir i, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty. The sparse talmudic references to Ardavan indicate that he was well-disposed toward the Jews. On hearing of his death, Rav exclaimed, "The bond has been sundered" (Av. Zar. 10b–11a). A king called Ardavan is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud (tj, Pe'ah 1:1, 15d). He sent a valuable gift to "Rabbenu ha-Kadosh" ("our holy rabbi," the usual designation for *Judah ha-Nasi), and asked for a gift of similar value in return. The latter sent him a mezuzah which Ardavan returned, complaining that it could not be compared in value with the costly gift that he had sent. The rabbi replied, "You have sent me a gift which I am required to guard, whereas my gift will guard you."


Graetz, Gesch, 4 (19084), 257 (calls him Artaban iii); Dubnow, Divrei, 3 (19586), 90 (calls him Artaban iv). Numbering uncertain – see U. Kahrstedt, Artabanos iii und seine Erben (1950), 11 n. 1; Neusner, Babylonia, 1 (1965), 85.

[Moshe Beer]

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