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Rabbinical Eras

Amora (Aramaic: אמורא; plural אמוראים, Amora'im; "those who say" or "those who tell over"), were renowned Jewish scholars who "said" or "told over" the teachings of the Oral law, from about 200 to 500 CE in Babylonia and the Land of Israel. Their legal discussions and debates were eventually codified in the Gemara. The Amoraim followed the Tannaim in the sequence of ancient Jewish scholars. The Tannaim were direct transmitters of uncodified oral tradition; the Amoraim expounded upon and clarified the oral law after its initial codification.


The Amoraic era

The first Babylonian Amoraim were Abba Arika, respectfully referred to as Rav, and his contemporary and frequent debate partner, Shmuel. Among the earliest Amoraim in Israel were Rabbi Yochanan and Shimon ben Lakish. Traditionally, the Amoraic period is reckoned as seven or eight generations (depending on where one begins and ends). The last Amoraim are generally considered to be Ravina I and Rav Ashi, and Ravina II, nephew of Ravina I, who codified the Babylonian Talmud around 500 CE.

In the Talmud itself, the singular amora generally refers to a lecturer's assistant; the lecturer would state his ts briefly, and the amora would then repeat them aloud for the public's benefit, adding translation and clarification where needed.

Prominent Amoraim

The following is an abbreviated listing of the most prominent of the (hundreds of) Amoraim mentioned in the Talmud. More complete listings may be provided by some of the external links below. See also List of rabbis.


First generation (approx. 230–250 CE)

Second generation (approx. 250–290 CE)

Third generation (approx. 290–320 CE)

  • Rabbah (d. 320), disciple of Rav Huna and Rav Yehudah. Dean of the Yeshiva at Pumbedita.
  • Rav Yosef (d. 323), disciple of Rav Huna and Rav Yehudah. Dean of the Yeshiva at Pumbedita.
  • Rav Zeira (Palestine)
  • Rav Chisda (d. 309), disciple of Rav, Shmuel, and Rav Huna. Dean of the Yeshiva at Sura.
  • Simon (Shimeon) ben Pazzi
  • Rav Sheshes
  • Rav Nachman (d. 320), disciple of Rav, Shmuel, and Rabbah bar Avuha. Did not head his own yeshiva, but was a regular participant in the discussions at the Yeshivot of Sura and Mahuza.
  • Rabbi Abbahu (d. early 4th century), disciple of Rabbi Yochanan. Dean of the Yeshiva in Caesarea.
  • Hamnuna — Several rabbis in the Talmud bore this name, the most well-known being a disciple of Shmuel (fl. late 3rd century).
  • Judah III (d. early 4th century), disciple of Rabbi Johanan bar Nappaha. Son and successor of Gamaliel IV as NASI, and grandson of Judah II.
  • Rabbi Ammi
  • Rabbi Assi
  • Hanina ben Pappa
  • Rabbah bar Rav Huna
  • Rami bar Hama

Fourth generation (approx. 320–350 CE)

  • Abaye (d. 339), disciple of Rabbah, Rav Yosef, and Rav Nachman. Dean of the Yeshiva in Pumbedita.
  • Rava (d. 352), disciple of Rabbah, Rav Yosef, and Rav Nachman, and possibly Rabbi Yochanan. Dean of the Yeshiva at Mahuza.
  • Hillel II (fl. c. 360). Creator of the present-day Hebrew calendar. Son and successor as Nasi of Judah Nesiah, grandson of Gamaliel IV.

Fifth generation (approx. 350–371 CE)

Sixth generation (approx. 371–427 CE)

  • Rav Ashi (d. 427), disciple of Rav Kahana. Dean of the Yeshiva in Mata Mehasia. Primary redactor of the Babylonian Talmud.
  • Ravina I (d. 421), disciple of Abaye and Rava. Colleague of Rav Ashi in the Yeshiva at Mata Mehasia, where he assisted in the redaction of the Babylonian Talmud.

Seventh generation (approx. 425–460 CE)

  • Mar bar Rav Ashi.

Eighth generation (approx. 460–500 CE)

  • Ravina II (d. 475 or 500), disciple of Ravina I and Rav Ashi. Dean of the Yeshiva at Sura. Completed the redaction of the Babylonian Talmud.


The "Stammaim" is a term that has been coined by some modern scholars for the rabbis who submitted anonymous comments on the Talmud, some of whom contributed during the period of the Amoraim, but most who made their contributions after the amoraic period. [1]

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

'AMORA (Hebrew for "speaker" or "discourser"), a title applied to the rabbis of the 2nd to 5th centuries, i.e. to the compilers of the Talmud. Each tana - or rabbi of the earlier period - had a spokesman, who repeated to large audiences the discourses of the tana. But the 'amora soon ceased to be a mere repeater, and developed into an original expounder of scripture and tradition.

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

A word signifying "the speaker," or "the interpreter," derived from the Hebrew and Aramaic verb amar ("to say," or "to speak"). It is used in the Talmud in a twofold sense:

The Amora as Meturgeman.

(1) In a limited sense, it signifies the officer who stood at the side of the lecturer or presiding teacher in the academy and in meetings for public instruction, and announced loudly, and explained to the large assembly in an oratorical manner, what the teacher had just expressed briefly and in a low voice. While the lecturer generally pronounced his sentences in the academic language, which was chiefly Hebrew, the Amora gave his explanations in Aramaic, the popular idiom (see Rashi on Yoma, 20b). The original term for such an office was meturgeman ("the translator," or "the interpreter"), which term, even later on, was often interchanged with that of Amora (M. Ḳ. 21a, Sanh. 7b, Ḳid. 31b). Some of these officers are mentioned by name, as R. Ḥuẓpit, the interpreter at the academy of Rabban Gamaliel II. (Ber. 27b); Abdon, the interpreter appointed by the patriarch R. Judah (Yer. Ber. iv. 7c); R. Pedat, the interpreter of R. Jose; Bar Yeshita, the interpreter of R. Abbahu (Yer. Meg. iv. 75c); Judah bar NaḦmani, the interpreter of R. Simeon b. Laḳish (Ket. 8b). On his return from Palestine the celebrated teacher Rab (Abba Areka), while still unknown in Babylonia, in the absence of the regular Amora acted on one occasion as Amora in the academy of R. Shila (Yoma, 20b). It having been discovered that younger incumbents of this responsible office, in their endeavors to shine as orators (Soṭah, 40a), often failed to interpret the ideas of the presiding teacher correctly, R. Abbahu established the rule that no one under the age of fifty should be appointed to the position (Ḥag. 14a).

Amoraim as Expounders of the Mishnah.

(2) In a wider sense the term Amora was applied, in Palestine as well as in Babylonia, to all the teachers that flourished during a period of about three hundred years, from the time of the death of the patriarch R. Judah I. (219) to the completion of the Babylonian Talmud (about 500). The activity of the teachers during this period was devoted principally to expounding the Mishnah—the compilation of the patriarch R. Judah—which became the authoritative code of the oral law. This activity was developed as well in the academies of Tiberias, Sepphoris, Cæsarea, and others in Palestine, as in those of Nehardea, Sura, and later of Pumbedita, and in some other seats of learning in Babylonia. In these academies the main object of the lectures and discussions was to interpret the often very brief and concise expression of the Mishnah, to investigate its reasons and sources, to reconcile seeming contradictions, to compare its canons with those of the Baraitot, and to apply its decisions to, and establish principles for, new cases, both real and fictitious, not already provided for in the Mishnah. The teachers that were engaged in this work—which finally became embodied in theGemara—were properly called Amoraim; i. e., interpreters or expounders (of the Mishnah). They were not as independent in their legal opinions and decisions as their predecessors, the Tannaim and semi-Tannaim, as they had not the authority to contradict decisions and principles unanimously accepted in the Mishnah itself or in the Baraitot. The Palestinian Amoraim, having been ordained, as a general rule, by the nasi, had the title of "rabbi"; while the Babylonian teachers of that period had only the title of "rab" or of "mar."

The Palestinian Amoraim are distinguished by their simple method of teaching and expounding the Mishnah. The Babylonians indulged more in dialectical discussions. This was especially the case in the Academy of Pumbedita, where the dialectical method reached its highest development. The hair-splitting dialectic prevailing in that academy is satirized in the proverb: "In Pumbedita they know how to pass an elephant through a needle's eye"; that is, by their dialectical argumentation they can prove even that which is absolutely impossible (B. M. 38b).

The period of the Babylonian Amoraim is generally divided into six minor periods or generations, which are determined by the beginning and the end of the activity of their most prominent teachers. The period of the Palestinian Amoraim, being much shorter than that of the Babylonian, ends with the third generation of the latter. Frankel, in his "Mebo Yerushalmi," treating especially of the Palestinian Amoraim, divides them also into six generations.

The Chief Amoraim:

The Amoraim mentioned in the Talmud number many hundreds. The names of the most distinguished among them, especially those that presided over the great academies, are given here in chronological order.

see table

Other distinguished teachers belonging to this generation were Rabba bar Bar-Ḥana and 'Ulla ben Ishmael.

see table

These three Amoraim were the last authorities in Palestine. The compilation of the Palestinian Talmud was probably accomplished in their time.

see table

The Amoraim were followed by the Saboraim, who gave to the Talmud its finishing touch.

For particulars of the life and work of each of the above-mentioned Amoraim see articles under their respective names.

Bibliography: For the older literature on the Amoraim: Sherira Gaon, in his Iggeret; Zacuto, in his YuḦasin; Heilprin, in his Seder ha-Dorot. Modern literature: Fürst, Kultur-und Literaturgesch. d. Juden in Asien, which treats especially of the Babylonian academics and teachers during the period of the Amoraim, Leipsic, 1849; Rapoport, 'Erek Millin, 1852, article Amora; Frankel, Mebo ha-Yerushalmi, Breslau, 1870; Grätz, Gesch. d. Juden, ii., chaps. xviii.-xxii.; Weiss, Dor, iii.; Hamburger, Realencyklopädie, ii.; Mielziner, Introduction to the Talmud, chap. iv., Cincinnati, 1894; Strack, Einleitung in den Talmud; Bacher, Ag. Bab. Amor.; idem, Ag. Pal. Amor.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
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