Exilarchs of the Jews

From approximately the mid-second century to the mid-13th century of the Common Era, Babylonian Jewry was subject to a series of imperial regimes (two Persian, one Arabian)—the Parthian (Arsacid) Empire, the Sassanid/Sassanian Empire, and the Islamic Empire. For more than 12 centuries, Jews were internally managed by a succession of hereditary exilarchs, each of whom served as a political leader administering the Jewish community’s affairs while also representing the Jews to their various overlords. The exilarch (head of the exile) was known in Aramaic as the resh galuta (in Hebrew, rosh golah; in Arabic, ras al-jalut), and recognized as a royal scion of Davidic lineage; thus was each exilarch in the Diaspora acknowledged as the counterpart of each patriarch (nasi) in the Land of Israel. The imperial regimes accorded the exilarch an official status equivalent to that of the Catholicos (leader of the mostly Nestorian Christian communities in Persia), and exilarchs wore a distinguishing sash of office known as a kamara.

The exilarch’s induction ceremony was a grand occasion accompanied by week-long festivities, the height of which was a Sabbath assembly in synagogue wherein hymns and liturgical poems were recited and blessings pronounced in the appointee’s honor. His name was specially inserted in the Kaddish prayer, and he sermonized or else authorized the head of the academy to do so on his behalf. The cantor lowered a Torah scroll before him while the congregation rose to its feet. For the duration of the festivities, he hosted in his home well-wishers, who proffered presents.

Thereafter, whenever out and about, the exilarch was conveyed in a state carriage accompanied by a large retinue. If the exilarch desired an audience with the emperor, he sought permission to do so, and when he reached the imperial palace he was greeted by servants to whom he distributed gratuities. Inside, he would be assigned a seat and questioned regarding his communal needs by the emperor, upon whom the exilarch lavished praise and blessings. After ingratiating himself and soliciting the emperor on behalf of the Jewish community, the exilarch would obtain the emperor’s written consent to his demands and, after displaying his gratitude, depart the imperial palace.

Throughout their collective tenure, the exilarchs were forced to contend for influence within the Babylonian Jewish community with its religious leaders—rabbinical sages who regulated Jewish law (halakhah) and custom (minhag) and who were revered for their rectitude and erudition—especially after the advent of the rabbinical academies at Nehardea, Sura, Pumbedita, Mahoza, and Naresh in the third and fourth centuries. Jewish political and religious leaders were seldom identical; exilarchs were counseled on religious matters by the leading sages, in which role the latter were officially referred to as hakhamim. The relationship between the exilarchate and rabbinate was often amicable, sometimes disputatious, but always interdependent. Exilarchs appointed the rabbinical principals (Geonim), but the rabbis also exerted influence over the appointment of the exilarchs. Judges (dayanim) who served on a religious court (beit din) were sometimes appointed by rabbinical principals, sometimes by exilarchs. The exilarch oversaw trade and commerce between Jewish merchants and consumers. He may have also served as the imperial regime’s chief tax-collector for Babylonian Jewry: the Jerusalem Talmud cites an instance when the exilarch was required to furnish the Persian emperor with a roomful of grain (JT, Sotah 5:3), though it remains unclear whether this was a regular function or an exceptional case. Exilarchs earned income primarily from communal taxation, as well as for issuing marriage contracts (ketubbot), divorce bills (gittin), official writs, and gifts. Exilarchs were authorized to penalize their constituents by imposing the ban of excommunication, and at times also through fines, flogging, or incarceration.

Tradition traces the origins of the exilarchate to the exiled King Jehoiachin of Judah and the Babylonian Captivity, and thus would include the Davidic descendants enumerated in I Chronicles 3:17-24. However, the dignity is usually reckoned to have officially been instituted only in the Roman period, shortly after the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Information on the exilarchate is primarily derived from the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds, the Midrash Rabbah, Seder Olam Zuta, Iggeret Rabbi Sherira ben Hananiah, Simhah ben Samuel’s Mahzor Vitry, Nathan ben Isaac HaKohen HaBavli’s Akhbar Bagdad, Abraham ibn Daud’s Sefer HaKabbalah, Abraham Zacuto’s Sefer Yuhasin, Benjamin of Tudela’s Massa’ot shel Rabbi Binyamin, Petahiah of Regensburg’s Sibbuv, and the Arab chroniclers al-Jahiz, Ibn Hazm, and Ibn al-Jawzi. Regrettably, due to the general paucity of historical information and the divergent accounts among extant sources, there remains considerable confusion regarding the precise pedigree of known exilarchs (esp. whether certain relationships were fraternal, filial, or avuncular); the following list, therefore, including its names and dates, can be but a considered approximation.

  1. Nahum (140–170 CE) – Perhaps identical with the Ahijah/Nehunyon cited in the Talmuds. Nahum served Babylonian Jewry during the period of the Hadrianic persecutions in the Land of Israel. Nahum may have shared power for a time with, or been succeeded by, his brother Johanan then the latter’s son Shaphat.
  2. Huna I (Anan) (170–210 CE) – Huna was a contemporary and rival of Judah HaNasi, in whose lifetime Huna’s body was conveyed to the Land of Israel for burial in Beit She’arim.
  3. Mar Ukba I (Nathan Ukban I) (210–240 CE) – Perhaps the son of Huna I, and a disciple of the sages Mar Samuel, Abba ben Abba HaKohen, and Levi ben Sisi. Mar Ukba headed the court in Kafri, and regularly rendered judgments in the presence of his master, Mar Samuel, but routinely accompanied the latter to his home out of respect. He once decided a dispute between Mar Samuel and Karna, and once arrested the sage Rav when the latter served for a time as market commissioner and declined to regulate the price of goods. His scholarly colleagues in the Land of Israel wrote to him and addressed him as “the one whose nobility equals the nobility of Moses, who was like a son to Batya, Pharaoh’s daughter”. Mar Samuel instructed him in concocting medicinal cures, and Mar Ukba received a request from the sage Yannai (Rabbah) for some of Samuel’s eye salve. He similarly attended to his colleague Aha bar Joseph who suffered from chest pain. He was wealthy, and along with his wife became renowned for philanthropy. He mourned a nephew for 30 days and was consoled by the sage Huna. His wife died during his lifetime, and he outlived Rav and Mar Samuel as well. During his reign the relatively liberal Parthian (Arsacid) Empire fell and the religiously inspired Sassanid/Sassanian Empire arose in its place (224–651). Prior to his death, Mar Ukba consulted his accounts and discovered that in total he had donated 7,000 gold dinars to charity, prompting him to remark, “it is a light meal for a distant journey”, whereupon he ordered that half of his fortune be distributed to charity upon his death. His two sons Mari and Nathan became Torah scholars. His disciples included the sage Hisda. He may have been also known as Nathan DeTzutzita.
  4. Huna II (240–260 CE) – Son of Mar Ukba I, and son-in-law of the sage Rav. It was during his reign that Nehardea was destroyed by King Odainat (Odenathus) of Palmyra during his campaign against the Sassanids in 259.
  5. Nathan I (260–270 CE) – Son of Huna II, brother of Nehemiah, and grandson of the sage Rav. He was counseled by the sages Judah bar Ezekiel and Sheshet. He corresponded with the sage Eleazar ben Pedat.
  6. Nehemiah (270–313 CE) – Son of Huna II, brother of Nathan I, and grandson of the sage Rav. He was said to have dressed entirely in silk attire.
  7. Mar Ukba II (Nathan Ukban II) (313–337 CE) – Son of Nehemiah, and brother of Huna III. He was counseled by the sages Rabbah bar Nahmani and Abba. Emperor Shapur II the Great of Persia recaptured Armenia from the Romans during his reign (337). He is perhaps to be identified with the contrite sinner Nathan DeTzutzita mentioned in the Talmud.
  8. Huna (Mar Huna) III (337–350 CE) – Son of Nehemiah, and brother of Mar Ukba II. He was counseled by the sages Abbaye and Rava.
  9. Abba Mari (350–370 CE) – Son of Huna III (or Mar Ukba II). He was counseled by the sages Rava and Ravina. Emperor Shapur II the Great of Persia conquered Netzivin (Nisibis) during his reign.
  10. Nathan II (370–400 CE) – Son of Abba Mari, and brother of Kahana I.
  11. Kahana I (Hanan) (400–415 CE) – Son of Abba Mari, and brother of Nathan II.
  12. Huna IV (415–441/442 CE) – Son of Kahana (Hanan) I (or Nathan II), and brother of Mar Zutra I. He was personally girded with his kamara by Emperor Yazdegerd I of Persia. As an amora, Huna IV combined scholarship and high office, although he was counseled by the sage Ashi, to whom he subordinated himself. Ashi arrogated the duty of fixing the Judaic calendar, and Huna left Nehardea to be proximate to Sura, the center of Jewish activity. He married a woman from Mahoza. He had many halakhic discussions with Rava, and his halakhic dicta are often cited in the Babylonian Talmud. Huna IV was close colleagues with the sages Nahman bar Isaac, Papa, and Ameimar.
  13. Mar Zutra I (441/442–450/455 CE) – Son of Kahana (Hanan) I (or Nathan II), and brother of Huna IV. He was counseled by the sage Ahai of Diphti. On the Sabbath before the pilgrimage festivals, he was borne aloft on the shoulders of the crowd and proclaimed: “For riches are not forever; and does the crown endure throughout all generations?”
  14. Kahana (Hanan) II (455–465 CE) – Son of Mar Zutra I, and brother of Huna V. He was counseled by the sage Ravina.
  15. Huna V (465–470/475 CE) – Son of Mar Zutra I, and brother of Kahana II. He was executed by Emperor Firuz (Peroz, Pheroses) I of Persia during the persecutions by the Zoroastrians, who slew half the Jews of Isfahan, forcibly converted Jewish children, closed the rabbinical academies, and pillaged Sura. Thereafter the exilarchate was left vacant for some years during the Sassanid persecutions.
  16. Huna VI (484–508 CE) – Son of Kahana (Hanan) II, and nephew of Huna V.
  17. Mar Zutra II (508–520 CE) – Son of Huna VI, and a grandson of Mar Hanina, head of the academy. He became exilarch aged 15, at a time when the Zoroastrian mobad (priest) and reformer Mazdak the Younger was promoting communism in Persia with imperial approval. In 513, in response to this radical movement and to religious persecution, Mar Zutra went on to lead an armed rebellion against the Sassanid forces, achieving for seven years political independence for Babylonian Jewry. He and his grandfather Mar Hanina were decapitated then crucified by Emperor Kavad I of Persia on the bridge of Mahoza. He had a son, Mar Zutra bar Mar Zutra, who was born the day of his father’s death and, instead of becoming exilarch, immigrated to the Land of Israel where he became head of the academy in Tiberias and assumed the title of “Resh Pirka”, also known as an archipherecite.
  18. Mar Ahunai (c. 520–550 CE) – He reportedly avoided appearing in public for 30 years in the aftermath of his predecessor’s failed rebellion.
  19. Huna VII Mar Hanan (550–560 CE) – He may be identical with Mar Ahunai.
  20. Kafnai (Hofnai) (560–581 CE) – Son of Huna VII Mar Hanan. In 581, the rabbinical academies were closed by Emperor Hormizd IV of Persia, and many Jews moved to Firuz-Shapur (called in the Talmud Bei-Shabur; modern Anbar) near Nehardea, where eventually an academy was established.
  21. Haninai (581–590 CE) – Son of Kafnai. He was put to death by Emperor Khosrow II of Persia for supporting the imperial usurper Bahram VI Chobin.
  22. Bustanai (c. 610/618–660/670 CE) – Son of Haninai. He was born after his father’s death, and his name derives from the Persian word bostan (garden or grove). In 642, the Arabs under the banner of Islam conquered the Sassanid Empire during Bustanai’s reign, and he was confirmed in his role by Caliph Ali (or else Caliph Omar). Although he already had Jewish wives and children, he was given Izdundad (Azdaudar, Dara), a daughter of Emperor Yazdegerd III (or Emperor Khosrow II) of Persia, as a wife, and she bore him either three or five sons. The exilarchate regained its prestige with the tenure of Bustanai, but much controversy was generated regarding whether or not his Persian wife ever converted to Judaism. For 300 years, his children by the Persian princess were regarded as slaves and illegitimate office holders. He died in 670 and was buried in or near Pumbedita, where his tomb was a site of pilgrimage until the 1100s.
  23. Hisdai (Hasdai) I (660–665 CE) – Son of Bustanai, and brother of Bar Adai. He and his brother attempted to undermine the status of their half-brothers from their father’s Persian wife, whom they considered a female unmanumitted prisoner of war.
  24. Bar Adai (Bardai) (665–689 CE) – Son of Bustanai, and brother of Hisdai I. He and his brother attempted to undermine the status of their half-brothers from their father’s Persian wife, whom they considered a female unmanumitted prisoner of war.
  25. Hanina (689–700 CE) – Son of Bar Adai, and brother of Hisdai II.
  26. Hisdai (Hasdai) II (700–730 CE) – Son of Bar Adai, and brother of Hanina. He had at least two sons, Solomon I and David (whose son was Anan, founder of the Karaite sect). His son-in-law was Natronai ben Nehemiah, head of the Pumbedita academy for 20 years. He is believed to be the exilarch quoted in the 13th century Arabic geographer al-Kazwini’s Athar al-Bilad.
  27. Solomon I (730/733–759 CE) – Son of Hisdai II. He wielded much influence on the Sura gaonate and appointed three Geonim to the Sura and Pumbedita academies, among whom were his brother-in-law Natronai Kahana (to Pumbedita) and Yehudai ben Nahman (to Sura). His nephew Anan was the founder of the Karaite sect.
  28. Isaac Iskoi (Iskawi) I (759–767 CE) – Son of Solomon I. His life and reign were short-lived.
  29. Judah I Zakkai (Babawai) (767–771/800 CE) – Son of Isaac Iskoi I (or Ahunai), and brother of Moses. In 767, he had to contend with the anti-exilarch Anan, his kinsman and the founder of Karaism, and in 771 with Natronai I ben Havivai.
  30. Natronai I (771–773 CE) – Son of Havivai, and a disciple of Yehudai Gaon. He was a recognized Talmud scholar, and contested Judah I Zakkai’s reign. It is unclear whether he was supported by Malkha ben Aha, head of the Pumbedita academy, or opposed by him and his counterpart Haninai Kahana ben Huna, head of the Sura academy. It seems that once Malkha died in 773, Natronai was banished westward via North Africa to Spain, where he reportedly wrote the Babylonian Talmud from memory for the sake of Spanish Jewry.
  31. Moses (800–810 CE) – Son of Isaac Iskoi I, and brother of Judah I Zakkai.
  32. Isaac Iskoi (Iskawi) II (810–820 CE) – Son of Moses.
  33. David I (820–834/840/857 CE) – Son of Judah I Zakkai, and first cousin of Isaac Iskoi II. His position was contested by his brother Daniel, a Karaite, but in 825 Caliph al-Ma’mun decided in David’s favor. The caliph’s edict permitting 10 men of any minority group to establish a distinct community and appoint their own leader served to weaken the exilarchate. In 833/834, David appointed Isaac ben Hiyya (or Hunai/Hanina/Hananiah) as head of the Pumbedita academy. In 834, he issued an epistle confirming the authority of the sages in the Land of Israel to regulate the sanctification of the new moon and to intercalate the Judaic calendar.
  34. Natronai II (840–865 CE) – Perhaps the son of Judah I Zakkai and the brother of David I, or else the grandson of Natronai I.
  35. Judah II (c. 857 CE) – Son of David I, and brother of Zakkai II.
  36. Hisdai (Hasdai) III (865–880 CE) – Son of Natronai II.
  37. Zakkai II (880–890 CE) – Son of David I, and brother of Judah II.
  38. Mar Ukba III (c. 890/900–913/915 CE) – Son of Hisdai III. As the result of a dispute regarding the revenues from Khurasan, and at the instigation of Kohen Tzedek II, head of the Pumbedita academy, Mar Ukba was briefly deposed and banished to Kermanshah until reinstated in 918 by Caliph al-Muqtadir. Thereafter he was deposed anew and moved to Kairouan, Tunisia, where he was accorded great respect.
  39. David II (917–940 CE) – Son of Zakkai II, brother of Josiah, and perhaps the nephew or cousin of Mar Ukba III. David proved to be a chronic controversialist. He either appointed Kohen Tzedek II Kahana ben Joseph to head the Pumbedita academy instead of his opponent Mevasser (Mubashshir) Kahana ben Kimoi, or Kohen Tzedek was the incumbent gaon who was appointed by the academy and who opposed Mar Ukba III and his relative and successor David, who consequently sought to replace him with Mevasser. In 922, David and Mevasser were on good terms, and Kohen Tzedek succeeded Mevasser as head of the Pumbedita academy upon the latter’s death in 925. When Aaron ben Meir, head of the Jerusalem academy, sought to alter the Jewish calendar, David (along with Saadia ben Joseph) opposed this measure and later excommunicated Aaron. David was soon involved in another controversy with Kohen Tzedek, this time featuring his erstwhile ally Saadia (whom David had meanwhile appointed head of the Sura academy), when Saadia declined to endorse the terms of a will benefiting David, despite Kohen Tzedek’s endorsement thereof. A feud ensued in which David and Saadia each excommunicated the other and appointed a replacement: David replaced Saadia with Jacob ben Joseph ben Satia, and Saadia returned the favor by replacing David with his brother Josiah. In 933, after both parties had appealed to Caliph al-Muqtadir, the dispute was settled by the latter’s successor Caliph al-Qahir, who sided with David, resulting in the banishment of Josiah to Khurasan and the removal of Saadia from the Sura gaonate. Saadia thereafter sojourned for four years in Bagdad. In 937, David and Saadia finally reconciled during Purim, and Saadia was reinstated as gaon. David owned vast estates, manses, hospices, and commercial concerns. Despite his stormy temperament and excessive severity against his adversaries, David is credited with reinvigorating the declining Sura academy at a time when it was near its demise, and with restoring the exilarchate’s authority over the wealthy among Babylonian Jewry. In 940, when David and his son Judah III died in quick succession, Saadia raised David’s grandson Hezekiah in his own home until his death in 942.
  40. Josiah (Hassan) (930–933 CE) – Son of Zakkai II, and brother of David II. In 930, he became exilarch at the instigation of Saadia ben Joseph, head of the Sura academy. His reign was brief, and following Caliph al-Qahir’s verdict against him, he was banished to Khurasan. His descendants, however, were to serve as exilarchs as well.
  41. Judah III (940 CE) – Son of David II. He reigned for only seven months, dying soon after his father. His 12-year-old son Hezekiah was graciously raised for a time by his father’s opponent, Saadia ben Joseph.
  42. Solomon II (945/951–953/955 CE) – Son of Josiah (Hassan).
  43. Hezekiah I (955–987 CE) – Son of Judah III. He was raised for two years (940–942) by the sage Saadia ben Joseph.
  44. Azariah (987–1000 CE) – Son of Solomon II. His reign was peaceful. His non-exilarch descendants settled in Mosul, Aleppo, and the Land of Israel.
  45. David III (1000–1016 CE) – Son of Hezekiah I. Seven of his descendants served as exilarchs during the 150 years following his reign.
  46. Hezekiah II (1016/1021–1058 CE) – Son of David III. He was the last major head of the Pumbedita academy, a position in which he served for either 2 or 20 years. Hezekiah corresponded with sages in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and North Africa. Falsely accused of high treason, Hezekiah was put in chains, incarcerated, and tortured to death by the fanatical Caliph al-Qaim. He had three sons: the eldest, David, succeeded him as exilarch while the two younger sons fled to Spain where they took refuge with Joseph, son of Samuel HaNagid. His death in 1058 is generally reckoned to close the period of the Geonim, although both the gaonate and exilarchate were nominally continued for centuries.
  47. David IV (c. 1058–1090 CE) – Son of Hezekiah II. David lived in Jerusalem for a period during the gaonate of Solomon ben Judah. He also visited Egypt, where his authority was recognized by many Jews, before returning to Bagdad. During his reign, David ben Daniel (I) became a rival exilarch in Egypt from 1081–1094, when he was deposed by his opponents.
  48. Hezekiah III (1090–1110 CE) – Son of David IV.
  49. David V (1110–1130 CE) – Son of Hezekiah III.
  50. Hisdai (Hasdai) IV (c. 1130–1135/1150 CE) – Son of David V. A pupil of his, David Alroy, became a pseudo-Messiah, whose disappointed adherents placated, via Hisdai, Caliph al-Muqtafi with 100 gold talents in the aftermath of their ill-conceived rebellion. In 1139, the sage Abraham ibn Ezra visited Bagdad and may have met Hisdai (or else his son, Daniel I); in Ibn Ezra’s Tanakh commentary, he mentions that the exilarchs possessed a “book of genealogy, going back to antiquity”.
  51. Daniel I (1150–1174 CE) – Son of Hisdai IV. In 1168, he met the traveler Benjamin of Tudela. Daniel was confirmed as exilarch by Caliph al-Mustanjid, who received him in audience weekly and treated him as a peer, and who commanded Arabs and Jews to stand in Daniel’s presence. A cavalry contingent preceded his carriage and announced: “Make way for our Lord, the son of David!” Clad in silk attire and wearing a bejeweled white turban bound with a scarf featuring the caliphal seal, Daniel rode on horseback in public. He is known to have sent a letter of ordination to Netanel ben Moses HaLevi, head of the Cairo academy, possibly in order to impose his authority, at least symbolically, on Egyptian Jewry. He was known as the “Exilarch of all Israel”. He died without any sons to succeed him, and so two of his nephews competed for the right of succession.
  52. David ben Zakkai II (David ben Hodaya of Mosul) (1174–1220? CE) – A descendant of Josiah ben Zakkai, and a cousin of Samuel I of Mosul. He owned fields and vineyards and collected taxes from Mosul’s Jews. David used his clout to defend the sage and academy head Samuel ben Ali of Bagdad, the leading opponent of Moses ben Maimon in the East. After the death of Daniel I, David was appointed exilarch in Mosul while Samuel was appointed exilarch in Bagdad. In 1216/1217, he was visited in Mosul by the poet Judah al-Harizi.
  53. Samuel I of Mosul (1174–1195 CE) – A descendant of Josiah ben Zakkai, and a cousin of David ben Zakkai II. He owned fields and vineyards and collected taxes from Mosul’s Jews. After the death of Daniel I, Samuel was appointed exilarch in Bagdad, while David was appointed exilarch in Mosul. Samuel established an academy in Bagdad, and corresponded with Moses ben Maimon.
  54. David VI (c. 1195–1240 CE) – Son of Samuel I of Mosul. He served in Bagdad and assumed his office in spite of the efforts of Samuel ben Ali, head of the Pride of Jacob academy in Bagdad, to abolish the exilarchate. Samuel also opposed David personally on the basis that the latter was unlearned, though this position was apparently contested by Moses ben Maimon. In an epistle he appointed a father and son duo as beadles in the Ezra the Scribe synagogue in Bagdad.
  55. Daniel II (c. 1216–1270 CE) – Son of David ben Zakkai II. He served in Mosul.
  56. Samuel II (c. 1240–1270 CE) – Son of David VI (or Azariah). His wealth was confiscated by Caliph al-Mustasim in order to pay for soldiers to defend against the advancing columns of Mongol forces under Hulagu Khan; these soldiers were then quartered in Jewish homes. In 1258, the Mongols conquered Bagdad and slaughtered the Muslims while sparing the Jews.
  57. David ben Daniel (II) (c. 1270–1290 CE) – Son of Daniel II. He served in Mosul. In 1288, he threatened to excommunicate Solomon ben Samuel Petit of France, who upon arriving in Akko began denouncing the works of Moses ben Maimon. As many as 11 rabbis signed David’s edict.
  58. Yishai ben Hezekiah (c. 1275–1295 CE) – Perhaps a descendant of Josiah ben Zakkai. He served in Damascus as exilarch of “all the diasporas of Israel”. Like his contemporary David ben Daniel, Yishai defended Moses ben Maimon’s work, especially Moreh Nevukhim (Guide for the Perplexed), against the slander of Solomon ben Samuel Petit, leader of the kabbalists in Akko. In 1286, after Solomon disregarded a warning against vilifying Moses ben Maimon, Yishai issued an excommunication letter signed by 12 rabbis.
  59. Sar Shalom (c. 1341 CE) – Son of Pinhas, and a descendant of Josiah ben Zakkai. A poem was composed in his honor, lauding him as “a king who ascended the steps of dignity”.

The exilarchate in Babylonia historically exceeded the patriarchate in the Land of Israel by almost a millennium. Despite the impoverished primary sources, it is discernible that the dignity of the exilarch waxed and waned in terms of authority and influence, largely according to the attitude of the imperial rulers and the character of the incumbents. The fact that in its later centuries the exilarchate branched out first to Bagdad and Mosul, Iraq, then to Cairo, Egypt and Damascus, Syria, evinces that the office was riven by disputants to the extent that it was gradually and steadily attenuated. Documents from the Cairo Genizah indicate that the exilarchate endured in limited fashion possibly until 1401, when it finally became extinct during the reign of the Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur (Tamerlane).

The Aramaic prayer “Yekum Purkan”, formerly recited in Babylonia while blessing the exilarchs and other community leaders, is still recited in most Ashkenazi synagogues.

About the Author
Brandon Marlon is a Canadian-Israeli author whose writing has appeared in 300+ publications in 30 countries. His script The Bleeding Season won the 2007 Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and he is the author of two poetry volumes, Inspirations of Israel: Poetry for a Land and People, and Judean Dreams. www.brandonmarlon.com
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