AMEMAR (= Ami Mar):

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A compound word, of which the first element is the prenomen, the second a title often found among the Jewish sages in Babylonia, and meaning "master" (compare the dictionary 'Aruk under the word "Abaye"). There are two Babylonian teachers always quoted by that name alone.

Amemar I.:

An amora of the third generation (fourth century), junior contemporary of R. Judah b. Ezekiel ('Ab. Zarah, 48a) and of Rab Sheshet (Ḥul. 107a). With the study of the Halakah he combined the study of the Scriptures, passages from which he often adduced to support either a legal enactment or a saying of the rabbis. Thus to the aphorism, by Abdimi of Haifa, that with the destruction of the first Temple the gift of prophecy was taken from the prophets and bestowed upon the sages. Amemar appends, "And the wise man is superior to the prophet, for thus the Bible says (Ps. xc. 12), 'and the prophet is a wise heart'; and as in all definitions the lesser is defined by the greater, this proves that the wise man ranks higher than the prophet" (B. B. 12a).

This singular translation of the word "nabi" as a noun, in opposition to the ordinary conception of it as a verb, is also found in the Targum in Ibn Ezra on the passage, in the name of Moses ibn Gikatella, and also in Maimonides' "Moreh," ii. chap. 38, end, and has recently been adopted by Grätz in his "Kritischer Commentar zu den Psalmen," ad loc.

Amemar II.:

A senior contemporary and friend of Rab Ashi, the projector of the Babylonian Talmud, with whom he frequently discussed important halakot (B. M. 68a; Ber. 12a; Bez. 22a; Ket. 21b; Ḳid. 72b; B. K. 79a; Ḥul. 53b, 58a). Amemar reestablished the college at Nehardea, and restored it to its original reputable position—it having been destroyed over a century before by Odenathus (Bar Naẓar, Ket. 51b, Yer. Ter. viii. 46b; Grätz, 2d ed., iv., note 28)—and was its rector for more than thirtyyears (390-422). In addition to that office he was the president of the court at Nehardea and introduced several changes in the ritual (R. H. 31b, Suk. 55a, B. B. 31a); and on royal festivals he, together with Rab Ashi and Mar Zuṭra, officially represented the Jews at the court of Yezdigerd II. (Ket. 61a). On one of these occasions, Huna bar Nathan was among the assembled dignitaries, and the king, happening to notice that Huna's girdle was deranged, adjusted it, remarking, "It is written of you (Ex. xix. 6), 'Ye shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,' and you must therefore wear the girdle as priests do." When Amemar heard of this, he said to Huna, "On thee has been realized the prophetic promise (Isa. xlix. 23), 'Kings shall be thy attendants'" (Zeb. 19a). Amemar's erudition was continued in his son Mar, who often quoted him to Rab Ashi (Pes. 74b; Suk. 32b, 41b; B. M. 68a; B. B. 174a); and some of his homiletic observations have found their way into the Babylonian Talmud (Soṭah, 9a; B. B. 45a).

  • Bacher, Ag. Bab. Am. p. 146.
S. M.
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