Aramaic noun meaning "lord." Daniel addresses the king as "Mari" (= "my lord"; Dan. iv. 16 [A. V. 19]; comp. Hebr. "Adoni," used in speaking to the king). In the Palestinian schools "Mari" and "Rabbi" were customarily employed in addressing the sages. It is said of King Jehoshaphat that on seeing a scholar he rose from his throne, and saluted him with the words, "Abi, abi; rabbi, rabbi; mari, mari" (Ket. 103b; Mak. 24a). Jesus was addressed by his disciples both as "Mari" and as "Rabbi" (comp. Dalman, "Die Worte Jesu," i. 269 et seq.). In conversation, "Mari" was used as a respectful form of address in Palestine (comp. Yer. Pes. 21b, lines 48-49: ); "Mar," in Babylonia (comp. Yoma 20b: ). In the latter country "Mar" became also a title preceding the name, and it was sometimes customary to call scholars "Mar" and not "Rab," particularly in the case of the two great contemporaries of Rab (Abba Arika)—Mar Samuel and Mar 'Uḳba. When Abaye was speaking of his uncle and teacher Rabbah bar Naḥmani, he merely said "Mar," without adding any name (Pes. 101a). When Tabyomi, R. Ashi's son, cited in a lecture sentences by his father, he did not refer to him by name, but said "Abba Mari" (= "my father, my lord").Title and Name.
Tabyomi's contemporaries never referred to him by name, but called him "Mar"; in the Talmud he is, therefore, designated only as "Mar bar Rab Ashi." "Mar" and "Rab" (= "lord" and "master") together became a customary title of the Babylonian scholar in the geonic period. Sherira Gaon is the first one to use this combination, in the letter in which he refers to the first geonim—Mar Rab Hanan at Pumbedita and Mar Rab Mar at Sura (where "Mar" is already a proper name; see
The title "Mar" was not customary in the West, so that Abraham ibn Daud, in his "Sefer ha-Ḳabbalah," refers to the Geonim merely as "Rab." Menahem Meïri distinguishes only the scholarly and noble Todros and his son Levi of Narbonne by the title "Marana we-Rabbana" (Neubauer, l.c. ii. 229). Isaac Lattes (ib. ii. 238) likewise designates certain scholars of Narbonne by the title "Maran" ( = ), which also means "our lord." This is the title subsequently applied as a mark of respect to Joseph Caro, the author of the Shulḥan 'Aruk (comp. Azulai, "Shem ha-Gedolim," i. 82). One of Lattes' manuscripts has "Morenu" () instead of "Maran." The title "Morenu," which originated in the fourteenth century, is developed from the older form "Marana" (Güdemann, "Gesch." iii. 31). The Hebrew form "Morenu" instead of "Marana" occurs sporadically even in the geonic period (comp. Harkavy, l.c. pp. 275 and 276, where the gaon Saadia is entitled "Morenu we-Rabbenu"). There are other indications, also, which show that the two words were regarded as synonymous (comp. Targ. to Prov. v. 13, where is translated by = "my lords, my masters"; Sanh. 98, where is to be read instead of ; and Dalman, l.c. p. 268). Thus the old Hebrew title "Marana" was changed to "Morenu," with the meaning "doctor noster," perhaps under the influence of the custom which had become prevalent among Christian scholars of addressing one another with the title "doctor." As shown in the examples given above, itself designated the teacher and sage.