Nahshon Bar Zadok

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NAHSHON BAR ZADOK , gaon of Sura from 871–79, succeeding *Amram Gaon (who mentions him several times in his Seder). Nahshon's father, Zadok, had previously been gaon of Sura for more than 50 years, and Nahshon's son, Hai, held the office from 889–96.

Nahshon is the author of numerous responsa, in reply to queries addressed to him from various countries. Various works have been attributed to him, among them Sefer Re'umah (in J. Onkeneira, Ẓafenat Pa'ne'aḥ, Constantinople, 1566), on ritual slaughter, and he is thought by some to have been the author of Seder Tanna'im ve-Amora'im. Naḥshon made a special study of the Jewish calendar, and is best known for his discovery that the Jewish calendar repeats itself exactly every 247 years. His writing on this phenomenon, known as the Iggul de-R. Naḥhon, was published under that name in the She'erit Yosef of *Joseph b. Shem Tov (Salonika, 1521). It is possible that it was this calendrical research which led him to take up the study of Karaite literature, since he had to familiarize himself with the works of the founder of the Karaite sect for this purpose (L. Ginzberg, Gaonica. 1, (1909), 158), and his interpretations of words in the Bible and Talmud may well be related to his polemics with the Karaites. Nahshon's conservative outlook led him to discourage the innovation of reciting piyyutim in prayer, and he disapproved of the recitation of Kol Nidrei on the eve of the Day of Atonement, as did his son Hai. Most of Nahshon's responsa are written in terse and difficult Aramaic, but those ascribed to him in D. Cassel's Teshuvot Ge'onim Kadmoniyyim (1848; see German introduction, 45) are written in a simple and fluent Hebrew. Some of his decisions conflict with the Talmud and his talmudic-aggadic interpretations do not always agree with those of former aggadists.


B.Z. Kahana (ed.), Seder Tanna'im ve-Amora'im (1935), introd. xff.; Baron, Social2, 5 (1957), 22; 6 (1958), 124–5, 425; 7 (1958), 101; D. Cassel, Teshuvot Ge'onim Kadmoniyyim (1848), 9a/b; Abramson, Merkazim, 12; L. Ginzberg, Geonica, 1 (1909), 154–9.

[Meir Havazelet]