Nehemiah bar Kohen Ẓedek

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NEHEMIAH BAR KOHEN ẒEDEK (tenth century), gaon of the Pumbedita academy from 960 to 968; son of R. Kohen *Zedek, who also held this post. His brother R. Hophni was the father of R. Samuel b. *Hophni. R. *Sherira Gaon tells of the controversy between R. Nehemiah and *Aaron b. Joseph ha-Kohen Sarjado which arose several years after R. Aaron Sarjado had been appointed gaon of Pumbedita (943); it appears that the original cause of the controversy was R. *Mubashshir b. R. Kimoi's appointment of R. Aaron as president of his bet din, an appointment which Kohen Ẓedek viewed with disfavor. The struggle between Nehemiah and Aaron Sarjado broke out after the death of R. Amram, president of R. Aaron's bet din; Aaron wished to appoint R. *Sherira in Amram's place, while Nehemiah contended that the position was properly his. Failing to achieve his aim, Nehemiah set himself up as gaon in rivalry with R. Aaron. In 960, when Aaron Sarjado died, Nehemiah officially succeeded him as gaon of Pumbedita, and his brother Hophni was the president of his bet din. Sherira Gaon refused to recognize Nehemiah's appointment as gaon, although he did not suggest himself as gaon in his stead. Apparently he did not want to undermine the foundations of the gaonate. After the death of R. Hophni in 962, however, the two men agreed that Sherira Gaon would serve as Nehemiah's av bet din, and after the latter's death in 968, Sherira Gaon succeeded him as the gaon of Pumbedita. Nothing remains of Nehemiah's teachings or responsa; only a number of letters survive.


B.M. Lewin (ed.), Iggeret R. Sherira Ga'on (1921), 121, 132–4; Cowley, in: jqr, 19 (1906/07), 104–6; J. Mann, ibid., 8 (1917/18), 341–7; Mann, Texts, 1 (1931), 75–83; idem, in: Tarbiz, 5 (1933/34), 174–6.

[Abraham David]