Tanna of the second generation (first century). In the Talmud (Ta'an. 21a; Yer. Sheḳ. v. 15) he is called "ish gam zu" (the man of "gam zu"); and this name is explained as referring to Nahum's motto. It is said that on every occasion, no matter how unpleasant the circumstance, he exclaimed" Gam zu le-ṭobah" (This, too, will be for the best). The correct reading in the passages in question, however, is "ish Gimzo" (the man of Gimzo), the error being due to a confusion of the place-name with the motto. In another Talmudic passage (Pes. 22b; comp. Ḳid. 57a), owing to a confusion of ג and ע, he is called "Nehemiah the 'Imsoni" (= "Gimsoni"; comp. Grätz in "Monatsschrift," 1870, p. 527).

Nahum was the teacher of Akiba, and taught him the exegetical principles of inclusion and exclusion ("ribbui u-mi'uṭ"). Only one halakah of his has been preserved (Ber. 22a); but it is known that he interpreted the whole Torah according to the rule of "ribbui u-mi'uṭ" (Shebu. 26a). He used to explain the accusative particle by saying that it implied the inclusion in the object of something besides that which is explicitly mentioned. In the sentence "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God" (Deut. x. 20), however, he did not explain the word before (= "the Lord"), since he did not wish to cause any one to share in the reverence due to God; and he justified his inconsistency with the explanation that the omission in this passage was as virtuous as was the interpretation in all the other passages (Pes. 22b).

It is related that in later years Nahum's hands and feet became paralyzed, and he was afflicted with other bodily ailments. He bore his troubles patiently, however, and even rejoiced over them. In answer to a question of his pupils as to why, since he was such a perfectly just man, he had to endure so many ills, he declared that he had brought them on himself because once when he was on the way to his father-in-law's and was carrying many things to eat and drink, he met a poor man who asked him for food. As he was about to open the bundle the man died before his eyes. In deepest grief, and reproaching himself with having perhaps caused by his delay the man's death, he cursed himself and wished himself all the troubles to which his pupils referred (Ta'an. 21a). Various other stories are told of miracles that happened to him (ib.).

  • J. Brüll, Einleitung in die Mischna, i. 94-95;
  • Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 61-64.
W. B. J. Z. L.
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