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HANAN OF ISKIYA (ASIKIA):

Rector of the Talmudical academy at Pumbedita. Hormizd IV. having disgraced the latter years of his reign by cruel persecutions of the Christians and the Jews, the Talmudical academies of Sura and Pumbedita were closed, their masters removing to Firuz-Shabur, in the neighborhood of Nehardea. The accession of Hormizd's general, Bahram Chobin, relieved the Jews from persecution; the oppressive enactments of Hormizd were repealed, and Hanan returned to Pumbedita, reopened the academy, and assumed the rectorate, which he held for nineteen years (589-608).

Thus far almost all historians agree, but not in regard to Hanan's inauguration of the era of the Geonim. Some, believing that the line of the Saboraim covered several generations—from the death of Rabina bar Ḥuna (499) to the middle of the seventh century—include Hanan in the list of the Saboraim. Others, however (see Halevy, "Dorot ha-Rishonim"), following the tradition that Giza ('Ena, Gada) and Simuna were the last of the Saboraim (see "Seder Tanna'im we-Amora'im"), and that Hanan of Iskiya sat at the feet of the disciples of these masters, begin the geonic period with the restoration of the Pumbedita academy, and to its promoter they ascribe the origination of the title "Gaon" (see Gaon). Be this as it may, Hanan of Iskiya is remembered as the restorer of the Pumbedita Talmudical academy, and as the head of a line of teachers covering over four hundred years (589-1038)—to the death of Hai Gaon and the end of the geonic period.

Bibliography:
  • Grätz, Gesch. 2d ed., v. 10 et seq., 382 et seq.;
  • Halevy, Dorot ha-Rishonim, iii. 166 et seq.;
  • Jost, Gesch. der Juden und Seiner Sekten, ii. 252;
  • Zacuto, Yuḥasin, ed. Filipowski, p. 204.
E. C. S. M.
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