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ḤAMA (of Nehardea ; fourth century), Babylonian amora and head of the *Pumbedita academy from 356–377 c.e., in succession to *Naḥman b. Isaac. Ḥama was a native of *Nehardea (bb 7b and Rashi ibid.) and the term "amora of Nehardea" is stated to apply specifically to him (Sanh. 17b). He was evidently a disciple of Rabbah, whose teachings he transmitted (Ket. 86a). Ḥama's teachings and practices are referred to in several places in the Talmud (Ber. 22b; mk 12a, et al.). His legal decisions were approved by later generations as the authoritative law (bb 7b; Shevu. 48b). Ḥama made a living by selling goods where they were cheap at the higher cost prevailing in other markets, the purchaser transporting the goods there at Ḥama's risk (bm 65a; cf. 69b). It is stated that King Shapur of Persia asked Ḥama about the biblical source of Jewish burial rites (Sanh. 46b), which being quite different from those of the Persians seemed strange to him. Ḥama did not know. When Aḥa b. Jacob heard of this, he said "The world is run by fools! Why did he not cite the verse [Deut. 21:23] 'Thou shalt surely bury him the same day'?" However, since Shapur i – it is unlikely that Shapur ii (310–379) is being referred to, since he was not on close terms with the Jews – reigned from 241 to 272, the reference is probably to another, earlier, Ḥama.


Hyman, Toledot, 456–8, s.v.; Margalioth, Ḥakhmei, 316, s.v.; Ḥ. Albeck, Mavo la-Talmudim (1969), 408f.

[Zvi Kaplan]

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