ḤĪRA (Ar. al-Ḥīra ), capital city of the Lakhmid Arab vassal state of the Sassanid emperors in Persia, located on the Euphrates. The kingdom and the Jewish community supposedly date from the time of *Nebuchadnezzar (sixth century b.c.e.). It flourished during the early centuries c.e., particularly in the fourth century under the prince Imru ʾal-Qays. Contemporary Arab poetry describes several Jewish ceremonies (e.g., Kiddush) and attests that Jews were masters of the art of writing, unlike many Arabs of the period. An academy, headed by the Babylonian amora*Hamnuna, also flourished at that time. There was close contact between the community at Ḥīra and the leading centers of nearby Babylonian Jewry.
G. Rothstein, Dynastie der Lahmiden in al-Hira (1899); Baron, Social2, 3 (1957), 61; H.Z. Hirschberg, Yisrael ba-Arav (1946), index; I. Lichtenstaedter, in: paajr, 10 (1940), 185; eis2, 3 (1969), 462–3 (incl. bibl.).