One question I have been researching is on the Jewish attitude towards secular occupations to complement Torah learning. There is even a statement in the Talmud about how it is preferable to flay carcasses in the marketplace, indicating that having a job, any job, is condoned by halacha (BB 110a). Is there any list of the various people mentioned in the talmud with their occupations? (That will help me understand if talmudic occupations informed the development of Jewish law or if they provided any context for talmudic statements.) I know that there is this paragraph

The sages of the Talmud worked at many diverse occupations. For instance, Hillel was a woodchopper before he became the Nasi (President of the Sanhedrin) and Shammai the Elder was a builder. Abba Chilkiyah was a field laborer; Rabbi Yochanan b. Zakkai was a businessman for forty years; Abba Shaul was a gravedigger; Abba Chilkiyah was a field worker; Abba Oshiya was a launderer; Rabbi Shimon P’kuli was a cotton dealer; Rabbi Shmuel b. Shilas was a school teacher, Rabbi Meir and Rabi Chananel were scribes; Rabbi Yosi b. Chalafta was a tanner; Rabbi Yochanan Hasandlar was a shoemaker; Rabbi Yehoshua b. Chananiah was a blacksmith; Rabbi Safra and Rabbi Dimi of Nehardea were merchants; Rabbi Abba b. Zavina was a tailor; Rabbi Yosef b. Chiya and Rabbi Yannai owned vineyards; Rabbi Huna was a farmer and raised cattle; Rabbi Chisda and Rabbi Papa were beer brewers; Karna was a wine smeller (he determined which wine could be stored and which had to be sold immediately); Rabbi Chiya b. Yosef was in the salt business; Abba Bar Abba, (father of Mar Shmuel) was a silk merchant; and (Mar) Shmuel was a doctor.

But I don't know if it is an exhaustive list and if it is limited to "jobs" or includes (or doesn't include) other hobbies/areas of expertise.

  • Is this on topic? Seems like Jews not Judaism. – mevaqesh Sep 29 '16 at 1:10
  • @mevaqesh edited to provide motivation as on topic – rosends Sep 29 '16 at 1:37
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    But still, while the question might be prompted by a sugya about the permissibility of working instead of learning (see Berachos 35b and the last Mishnah of Kiddushin for more on that), the question itself is still one about Jews not Judaism. If the question was "Were these personages in line with Halacha?" I could hear that being a different question. But the question itself is still "Name me every Tanna/Amora who had a job." @mevaqesh – DonielF Sep 29 '16 at 1:41
  • @DonielF don't I have to know their jobs before I can ask a question about their jobs? – rosends Sep 29 '16 at 1:46
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    This question is explicitly about how the Amoraim practiced Judaism - the requirement for derech eretz qua that requirement. It is thus explicitly about the history of Judaism. – Isaac Moses Sep 30 '16 at 14:50

I have not done my own detailed analysis by compiling an exhaustive and definitive review of the various rabbis mentioned in the Talmud and their respective vocations although a good reference is the responsum of the rishon, R. Shimon b. Zemah (Tashbatz, Vol. 1 §147) who provides quite a lengthy list.

Another useful sketch, not so exhaustive in content but further supplies information on certain families (guilds) of the Talmudic era, is provided in Mark Wischnitzer’s article in HUCA Vol. 22 Part 2, 245ff. (viewable here).


Who's who in the Talmud by Shulamis Frieman is the book you are looking for . It's quite pricey ,but was done very well ,you probably can get it at a library.



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