Ḥama Bar Bisa

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ḤAMA BAR BISA (end of second century c.e. to third century), Palestinian scholar, contemporary of *Judah ha-Nasi. He was the father of Oshaiah, and at times is referred to simply as "Father of Oshaiah" (mk 24a). He lived in the southern part of the country (tj, Nid. 3:2). Judah ha-Nasi praised him before Ishmael b. Yose b. Ḥalafta (Nid. 14b; tj, Nid. 2:1). Ḥama b. Bisa was a judge, and his halakhic teachings are mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud in his name, as they were transmitted by Yose b. Ḥanina (tj, Shev. 2:2, 33d.) and Judah b. Pazzi (tj, Suk. 1:1, 52b), and there is also a reference to a question Ḥama posed before Ḥiyya pertaining to a halakhic matter (tj, Nid. 3:2). In the Babylonian Talmud too, there is a quotation in his name on a question of halakhah (mk 24a). It is related that he had left his home and city for 12 years in order to devote his time to the study of Torah. Upon his return he did not wish to startle his family by his sudden reappearance. He stopped at the bet ha-midrash and sent word to his family, informing them of his arrival. His son Oshaiah came to welcome him but was unrecognized by the father. They engaged in scholarly discourse, and R. Ḥama was deeply impressed with the young man's erudition, regretting his failure to give his son an adequate education because of his long absence from home. To his great surprise he finally learned the identity of his son (Ket. 62b). Bisa, Ḥama's father, was also a prominent scholar. To these three generations of scholars, Bisa, Ḥama, and Oshaiah, Rami b. Ḥama applied the verse (Eccles. 4:12): "A threefold cord is not quickly burst asunder" (Ket. 62b; bb 59a). Opinion is divided as to whether this Oshaiah is identical with *Oshaiah Rabbah, the compiler of the beraitot (cf. Tos. to bb. 59a).


Bacher, Pal Amor; Frankel, Mevo, 85b; Hyman, Toledot, 458; Ḥ. Albeck, Mavo la-Talmudim (1969), 160.

[Zvi Kaplan]