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A contribution to the history of the gaonate in the eighth century : An elegy for the head of the academy in Palestine
Une contribution à l'histoire des geonim au huitième siècle: une élégie pour le chef de l'académie en Palestine
Sparse information exists on the Palestinian geonim prior to the middle of the ninth century. The extant material consists essentially of a list in Seder Olam Zuta relating all the geonim to Mar Zutra (and thereby to the Davidic dynasty). In this article a new document is published, based on a Geniza fragment preserved in the Antonin Collection in St. Petersburg, demonstrating that the information found in this list is unreliable. This fragment indicates that a person of priestly descent (kohen) headed the Palestinian academy in Tiberias in the middle of the eighth century. Written in an admixture of Hebrew and Aramaic, the document is a long poetic eulogy of which the greater part is dedicated to the Palestinian Gaon. Although Tiberias is mentioned explicitly under the epithet '(priestly) Division of Ma'azia', the elegist himself was not from Tiberias as he relates that the news of the Gaon's death reached him from afar. Yet, on the basis of a philological analysis of the text, and in particular, of its Aramaic dialect, it is evident that the text was written in Palestine. The document may be dated to the middle of the eighth century as the elegist mentions an additional calamity that transpired shortly before the death of the Gaon: the great earthquake in the month of Shevat. This took place around the year 749 C.E., The elegist describes the deceased Gaon not only as 'from among the priests who bless', but also as an expert in Scripture, Talmud and Aggada, in calendrical c
Historical Society of Israel
ISSN : 0044-4758
Siyywn A. 1999, vol. 64, n° 3, pp. 311-348 [XXI [39 p.]]
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