Haggai of Sepphoris

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HAGGAI OF SEPPHORIS (third century c.e.), Palestinian amora. Born in Babylonia, one of the principle pupils of *Huna (the exilarch), he emigrated to Palestine where he joined the pupils of R. *Johanan. There is considerable confusion between him and another amora of the same name (see preceding entry). In fact, most authorities, including the classical ones (Yiḥusei Tanna'im ve-Amora'im, s.v.Haggai), do not distinguish between the two. Even accepting that there were two distinct men called Haggai (and there were more, see Albeck, Mavo la-Talmudim, 391), it remains difficult to determine which events recorded apply to the one and which to the other. Haggai transmitted halakhic rules in the names of Abba b. Avda, Abbahu, Isaac, Johanan b. Lakhish, Joshua b. Levi, Samuel b. Nahamani, etc. When the coffin of his teacher Huna (probably the exilarch mentioned above, see Tos. to mk 25a; and tj, Kil. 9:4, 32b–c) was brought (in 297 c.e.) to Palestine to be placed in a cave (sepulcher) at the side of *Ḥiyya's remains, Haggai was chosen to place his teacher's coffin there, a special honor and privilege (mk 25a). According to another version (tj, Ket. 12:3, 35a) he was at that time an old man of over 80 and people suspected that he wished to enter the cave only to die at that chosen spot. Thus he asked that a rope be attached to his feet so that he might be pulled out from the cave after the burial of Huna.

In Genesis Rabbah (9:3) he quotes, in R. Isaac's name, an interpretation of i Chronicles 28:9 to teach that "even before thought is born in a man's heart, it is already revealed to God." Further (Gen. R. 60:2), based upon Genesis 24:12, he states that everybody needs God's grace, since even Abraham, in whose merit favor is granted to the whole world, was in need of divine grace for the success of the choice of a bride for Isaac. It is stated that when he appointed officials (parnasim) he handed them a Torah scroll to symbolize that authority comes only from the Law, as it is written, "By me kings reign… by me princes rule" (Prov. 8:15–16).


Bacher, Pal Amor; Hyman, Toledot, s.v.; J.L. Maimon, Yiḥusei Tanna'im ve-Amora'im (1963), 229–30; Ḥ. Albeck, Mavo la-Talmudim (1969), 287.