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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For the Arab month by this name, see Nasi (month).
Also the Malay/Indonesian word for rice. (e.g. Nasi goreng)

Nāśī’ (נָשִׂיא) is a Hebrew title meaning prince, in Biblical Hebrew, Patriarch (of the Sanhedrin) in Mishnaic Hebrew, or president, in Modern Hebrew.



During the Second Commonwealth (c. 530 BCE - 70 CE), the nasi was the highest-ranking member and president of the Sanhedrin or Assembly, including when it sat as a criminal court. The position was created in c. 191 BCE when the Sanhedrin lost confidence in the ability of the High Priest to serve as its head.[1] The Romans recognised the nasi as 'Patriarch of the Jews', and required all Jews to pay a tax for the upkeep of that office, which ranked highly in the Roman official hierarchy.

Gamaliel VI was the last nasi. He was executed in 425 CE by Emperor Theodosius II, who also suppressed the office of the patriarchate thereafter. The patriarchal tax was diverted to the Roman treasury from 426.

Certain great figures from Jewish history have used the title, including Rabbi Judah haNasi, the chief redactor of the Mishnah.

In Modern Hebrew, nasi means president, and is not used in its classical sense. The word for prince is now nasich.

Under Jewish law, the intercalary thirteenth month in the Hebrew calendar, Adar Bet, was announced by the nasi.[2]

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz has taken the title nasi in an attempt to re-establish the Sanhedrin in its judicial capacity as the Supreme Court of Judaism.

Nasi of the Sanhedrin

The office has been filled as follows:

Unknown 191 BCE 170 BCE
Yose ben Yoezer 170 BCE 140 BCE
Joshua ben Perachyah 140 BCE 100 BCE
Simeon ben Shetach 100 BCE 60 BCE
Sh'maya 65 BCE c. 31 BCE
Hillel the Elder c. 31 BCE 9 CE
Rabban Shimon ben Hillel 9 9
Rabban Gamaliel the Elder 9 50
Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel 50 80
Rabban Gamaliel II of Yavne 80 118
Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah 118 120
Interregnum (Bar Kokhba revolt) 120 142
Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel II 142 165
Rabbi Judah I haNasi 165 220
Gamaliel III 220 230
Judah II Nesi'ah 230 270
Gamaliel IV 270 290
Judah III Nesi'ah 290 320
Hillel II 320 365
Gamliel V 365 385
Judah IV 385 400
Gamaliel VI c. 400 425
Nasi III c. 1986 Present


Rabban was a higher title than rabbi and was given to the nasi starting with Gamaliel the Elder.

The title rabban was restricted in usage to the descendants of Hillel the Elder, the sole exception being Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai (c. 30 BCE - 90 CE), the leader in Jerusalem during the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE and who safeguarded the future of the Jewish people after the Great Revolt by pleading with the Emperor Vespasian.

Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, who was nasi between 118 and 120 CE, was not given the title rabban, perhaps because he only occupied the office of nasi for a short while, after which it reverted to the descendants of Hillel.

Prior to Rabban Gamliel the Elder, no titles were used before anyone's name, in line with the Talmudic adage "Gadol miRabban shmo" ("Greater than the title rabban is a person's own name"). For this reason, Hillel the Elder has no title before his name: his name is in itself a title. Similarly, Moses and Abraham have no titles before their names, but an epithet is sometimes used to differentiate between biblical and historic personages, hence Avraham Avinu (Abraham 'Our Father') and Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses 'Our Teacher').

Starting with Rabbi Judah I haNasi (born 135 CE), not even the nasi was given the title rabban. In its place, Judah haNasi was given the lofty accolade Rabbeinu HaKadosh ('Our Holy Teacher').[3]

See also


  1. ^ Goldwurm, Hersh and Holder, Meir, History of the Jewish People, I "The Second Temple Era" (Mesorah Publications: 1982) ISBN 089906454X.
  2. ^ Steinsaltz, Adin, The Essential Talmud: Thirtieth-anniversary Edition, trans. Chaya Galai (Basic Books: 2006) ISBN 0465082734, 16 - 18.
  3. ^ Goldwurm and Holder, 322

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