Palestinian amora of the third century; contemporary of R. Johanan (Shab. 147b). Like his father, Ḥanina b. Ḥama, he directed a school at Sepphoris (Yer. Sanh. x. 28a), and was well known in the circles of the halakists (comp. Shab. l.c.; Yer. Shab. v. 7c; Yer. Suk. ii. 52d; Yer. Meg. iii. 74b). He was distinguished as a haggadist, in which field he occupied a high position, haggadists like Levi frequently quoting him (comp. Pesiḳ. iv. 37a, vii. 67b, xvii. 132a, xxiii. 153a, b, xxxi. 195a). Who his teachers were is nowhere stated. Possibly R. Ḥiyya the Great was one of them (see Sanh. 29a: Ḥiyya's patronymic is doubtless a mistake).

In his homilies Ḥama sought to convey practical lessons. Thus, commenting on the Scriptural command, "Ye shall walk after the Lord your God" (Deut. xiii. 5[A. V. 4]), he asks, "How can man walk after God, of whom it is written, 'The Lord thy God is a consuming fire'?" (ib. iv. 23 [A. V. 24]). But, he explains, the Bible means to teach that man should follow in God's ways. "As He clothes the naked (Gen. iii. 21) so do thou clothe the naked" (Soṭah 14a). According to Ḥama death was inflicted upon Adam not so much because of his sin as to prevent wicked men in the future from proclaiming themselves immortal gods (Gen. R. ix. 5). Ḥama's ancestors were wealthy, and built many synagogues. On one occasion, while visiting, with his colleague Hoshaiah II., the synagogues at Lydda, he proudly exclaimed, "What vast treasures have my ancestors sunk in these walls!" To this Hoshaiah responded, "How many lives have thy ancestors sunk here! Were there no needy scholars whom that treasure would have enabled to devote themselves entirely to the study of the Law?" (Yer. Peah viii. 21b).

  • Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor. i. 447 et seq.;
  • Frankel, Mebo, 85b;
  • Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ed. Maskileison, ii. 138b;
  • Weiss, Dor, iii. 91.
E. C. S. M.
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