By: Louis Ginzberg
A leader among the Babylonian Jews of the second century, perhaps a resh galuta (exilarch). He was the chief ally of Hananiah, the nephew of Joshua ben Hananiah, in his endeavor to emancipate the Jews of Babylonia from the intellectual domination of those of Palestine. The following words of the messengers sent by the Palestinian patriarch Simon ben Gamaliel from Palestine to Babylon, to dissuade the leaders there from their intention of introducing a calendar independent of that of Palestine, refer to this activity of Ahijah: "If ye persist in your intention, seek for yourselves another hill, where Ahijah can build you another temple, where Hananiah can play the harp for you [he was of the Levites who were the musicians of the Temple], and confess openly that ye have no more share in Israel's God" (Ber. 63a). Since Ahijah figures here as the sarcastically proposed builder of an illegal temple, and Hananiah as the priest in the same, it would seem that the former was considered as representing political rather than spiritual power. Geiger's suggestion ("Urschrift," p. 154), based upon Yer. Ned. vi. 40a, and Yer. Sanh. i. 19a, where the name is read Nehunian, that this is a reference to Onias, the builder of the well-known temple bearing his name, does not seem to be well founded (see Hananiah, nephew of Joshua). A. Krochmal's suggestion ("Scholia," p. 8, Lemberg, 1881), that this Ahijah was the father of the celebrated tanna R. Nathan, also lacks foundation.
- Geiger, Urschrift, pp. 154 et seq.;
- Grätz, Gesch. d. Juden, iv. 202, 478;
- Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 390.