Questions tagged [historical-figures]

questions pertaining to Jewish historical figures

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6
votes
5answers
645 views

Mordechai - Religious Leader or Political figure?

I'm looking to gather some more background, context, sources and opinions, regarding Mordechai's religiousness, or lack thereof. This was the topic of a recent comment thread on Was Darius Jewish?,...
6
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3answers
584 views

List of people in Tanach

Can I find anywhere a comprehensive list of every single person that is mentioned in Tanach. Including somewhat "biographical" information, who they were, family, what they did, how they fit into ...
6
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3answers
448 views

Source of appellation “Shimshon HaGibor”

I've heard it claimed that the expression "Shimshon HaGibor" (Samson the Mighty) [as a descriptive of Shimshon in Tanach] was invented by the Zionists, to promote their "strong Jew" narrative. Is this ...
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1answer
1k views

When did people living for 900 years start to look old?

In the early days of the world, the standard age of living was well into the hundreds, with many people living until they were 800 or 900. Being that people lived so long, when did they start to "look ...
6
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2answers
442 views

Was Rav Hai Gaon a kabbalist?

In a recent conversation a friend indicated that Rav Hai Gaon was a well known kabbalist, while another friend pointed to his teshuva [teshuvas ha'geonim 115] to indicate that he was not [and ...
6
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2answers
340 views

Did Shlomo Molcho actually declare himself a messiah? [closed]

I know this is widely claimed, but is there a historical source that can confirm that Shlomo Molcho considered himself a messiah (as opposed to merely predicting a keitz and generating a messianic ...
6
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1answer
510 views

Was Pharoh's daughter named Basya or Bisya?

Was Pharoh's daughter named Basya or Bisya? Sources please!
6
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1answer
439 views

Was Marcus Jastrow an apikores?

During Yeshiva I remember some bochrim made a point of not putting the Jastrow dictionary on top of sefarim, and would often talk about how it does not have kedusha because it was written by an ...
6
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1answer
2k views

How did the Ten Martyrs actually die?

On Yom Kippur and Tisha B'av we read about the Ten Martyrs who were gathered and killed by Emperor Hadrian to atone for the Sale of Yosef HaTzadik. In addition to the idea that the Ten Martyrs didn't ...
6
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1answer
524 views

Was Ruth beautiful?

The Tanach seems to make a big deal out of the beauty of certain women, including Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Esther, but no mention of is made regarding Ruth's appearance. This seems particularly odd ...
6
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2answers
319 views

Ben Drosai - what was his Zechus?

Gemara Shabbos 20a and in other locations mentions כמאכל בן דרוסאי Rashi explains that Ben Drosai was a thief who ate his food when it was only cooked 1/3. Did Ben Drosai have some sort of Zechus ...
6
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3answers
314 views

Pronunciation of חשמונאי

A friend today told me that the word חשמונאי traditionally pronounced "Chashmonai" should really be pronounced "Chashmunai" with the vav being read as a shuruk vowel instead of a cholom. Is this true?...
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1answer
99 views

When the רא״ש refers to “הגאון”, who is he referring to?

A friend posted on Facebook the following question, and I couldn't solve it based on any context, so I thought I'd bring it here. When the רא״ש refers to "הגאון", who is he referring to? Is there ...
6
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2answers
506 views

Does anyone (other than those in Chabad) believe that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe is the mashiach?

Are there any sects or significant Rabbanim, other than those in Chabad, who hold that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe (now that he has passed away) is mashiach? If there are those that do believe him to ...
6
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1answer
322 views

Who Exactly Threatened to Excommunicate Ramchal?

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, known as Ramchal, was a controversial and prolific Italian philosopher and Mekubal. According to the linked Wikipedia article, after disseminating Kabbalah in Italy, "...
6
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3answers
587 views

Was Caleb a foreigner (Non-Isralite)?

Was Caleb a foreigner, even though he represented the tribe of Judah (Numbers 13:6) and was one of the first judges of Israel (Judges 1)? In Numbers 32:12 and Joshua 14:14 we read that Caleb is the ...
6
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1answer
3k views

Is the book of Enoch part of judaism?

The book (or books) of Enoch is a collection of works purportedly made by Enoch, the great grandfather of Noach, before the flood. I read that they are not part of the Tanach, even though it contains ...
6
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1answer
243 views

How common was polygamy in Biblical times?

How prevalent was polygamy among Jews in Biblical times? I can only think of five Jews in Tanach who had multiple wives: Avraham, Yaakov, Elkanah, David, and Shlomo (although I probably missed a few)....
6
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1answer
110 views

halachic status of the Nasi in the talmud

I would like to understand the status of the Nasi in the times of the talmud. It seems that this was both an inherited position as well as something that could be lost/taken away and given to another ...
6
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1answer
101 views

Are there any rishonim buried in England and france

Do we know of any of the burial places of rishonim around France (and England). I know rabbi Yisrael Meir gabbai has found some but are there any tools to source ancient jewish cemeteries e.g. a map.
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2answers
1k views

How many prophets were there and who were they?

How many prophets are recognized by Judaism, and what were their names? I found a website that claims the number of prophets is 124000. Is this true? Are all of their speeches or writings ...
5
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1answer
595 views

Hammurabi in the Book of Genesis

In the additional notes to the Book of Exodus in the Hertz Chumash, Rabbi Hertz writes: For nearly a century there has been continuous archæological rediscovery of ancient civilizations that had ...
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1answer
1k views

What was the ultimate fate of Rabbi Elisha ben Abuyah (Acher)?

Unsong is a work of online serial fiction by Scott Alexander which is based heavily on Judaism. (I highly recommend it to Jews and Gentiles alike.) In this chapter of Unsong, the archangel Uriel ...
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1answer
65 views

Identity of “the Greek rabbi” in the Raavad's gloss (Tum'at Met 17:3)

In the Raavad's gloss on Hilkhot Tum'at Met 17:3, he mentions a scholar who (like the Rambam) also erred in his definition of בטח - as found in the Mishna, Ohalot 12:3. Where the Rambam thinks that a ...
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3answers
189 views

Great People Not Mentioned in the Torah

It has been said that the Torah is not a history book and her words are succinct. In addition to the "obvious" people and stories/events discussed in scripture, there are many others mentioned if only ...
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3answers
5k views

When in history did Purim happen?

When in history did Purim happen? I understand that there are several opinions that this is based on (who אחשורוש was, whether this was before or after the end of the exile), but I've been unable to ...
5
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1answer
155 views

Who was R' Jacob Pidanki?

Every once in a while the Judaica Press English translations (such as this one) will quote R' Jacob Pidanki in their commentary anthology. Who was R' Jacob Pidanki? Where did he live? What books/...
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1answer
471 views

How would first century Jews in Judea have reacted to the Jesus Movement's messianic claims?

My understanding is that first century Jews in Judea, Jerusalem, etc, would have known that Jesus could not possibly be the messiah, because the messiah was expected to be triumphant in life, and no ...
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1answer
135 views

Is Pinchas of Balak/Pinchas same Pinchas as Shoftim?

Is the Pinchas from the generation that left Egypt the same as the Pinchas mentioned in Shoftim 20? Pinchas's zealotry earns him an eternal priesthood because of going above the letter of the law ...
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1answer
160 views

Who is Queen Cleopatra in Sanhedrin 90b?

The Gemara in Sanhedrin 90b relates: (Source from Sefaria.org) (Partial Quote) .....שאלה קליאופטרא מלכתא את ר"מ Queen Cleopatra asked Rabbi Meir..... My Question: What Queen Cleopatra was ...
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1answer
138 views

When ended Beth Shammai?

I am looking for a way to recognize members of the Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel when I learn the gemara and mishna. I need to know when the Beth Shammai ended (as well as the Beth Hillel) to find out ...
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2answers
221 views

Why is the Or Hachayim's yahrzeit in Luach Colel Chabad?

The Luach Colel Chabad is a calendar published annually by Colel Chabad. It includes instructions for special prayers and Torah readings according to the Chabad custom. It also mentions red-letter ...
5
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3answers
781 views

Understanding Shabsai Tzvi

Who was Shabsai Tzvi and why was he considered evil?
5
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1answer
1k views

What was the pillar of stone of Seth's children mentioned by Josephus?

According to Josephus (Book 1, Chapter 2, 68-71), the family of Seth, the third son of Adam, was noted for constructing a particularly long-lasting edifice or monument. ...Now this Seth...did ...
5
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2answers
214 views

Why is the name of Eliezer often missing?

Very often in the torah Eliezer's proper name is omitted when he is discussed. Examples include the story of finding a wife for Yitzhak where he is referred to as Eved or Ish, his accompanying Avraham ...
5
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2answers
606 views

What became of Moshe's sons and their descendants?

After Yisro brings Tzipora and Moshe's sons back to him at Exodus 18:2-5, they are not mentioned by name again in the Torah. Divrei Hayamim (Chronicles I 23:14 et seq.) lists their male descendants ...
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0answers
99 views

Heros of the Rabbanan Holidays and Ultimately losing out

Why is it that both Purim and Chanukah the heroes of their stories ended up losing out? That is Esther had no Jewish descendants as she married a non Jew (though her son was Jewish according to ...
5
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0answers
309 views

What is the lineage of Yona ben Amitai?

The gemarah (Yerushalmi succa 5:1) and midrash (yalkut shimoni Yona, remez 550) indicate that the prophet Yona ben Amitai descended from Zevulun (father) and Asher (mother). However other sources ...
4
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6answers
291 views

Which Biblical and Talmudic personalities visited Heaven and returned to earth?

In the Haftorah to Parashas Yisro, Isaiah 6:1 - 7:6, we read of Isaiah's prophetic vision where he visited Heaven. What Biblical and Talmudic personalities are said to have visited heaven and ...
4
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2answers
216 views

Who were members of Beth Shammai?

I know Rav Eliezer was one, but do we know other members of Beth Shammai?
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2answers
59 views

Who is “הנגד” that the Ramban is referring to?

The Ramban in Sefer Bereishis, Perek 17, Passuk 1, ד״ה א-ל שקי quotes Rebbi Avraham (the Ibn Ezra) who says something in the name of ״הנגד״ . The words of the Ramban are: ״ורבי אברהם יפרשו בשם הנגד ...
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4answers
262 views

Is Absalom considered a “ben sorrer umoreh”?

Is Absalom considered a ben sorrer umoreh (devarim 21:18, bal haturim) for his rebellion? I thought there where never any cases of ben sorrer umoreh.
4
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1answer
226 views

What was Rav's relationship to R' Hiyyah?

In Mo'ed Katan (Bab. 20a) the Gemara relates a story about how Rav learned of the death of his parents from a conversation with R' Hiyyah. The Gemara tells us their relationship, and it's pretty ...
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1answer
157 views

Who was the King of Cheshbon (in the Torah)?

Who was the king of Cheshbon, mentioned in Bamidbar?
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1answer
463 views

The Longest Pesach

There is a famous tape by Rabbi Shmuel Kunda entitled "The longest pesach" about a time when the Noda Beyehuda added on an extra day to Pesach in order to uncover a plot to poison the Jews of Prague. ...
4
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1answer
79 views

Who was ר"מ in Sefer Kol Bo?

Nobody knows for certain who authored Sefer Kol Bo (ספר כל-בו), and various theories exist as to who, and when, it might have been. (For a brief example of such theories, see here). Likely it was in ...
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2answers
303 views

How could Yochanan Kohen Gadol abolish the wakers?

The mishnah (Maaser Sheni end of 5:15 and Sotah 48a) lists 5 edicts of Yochanan Kohen Gadol including the abolishing of the "wakers" - the singing by the Levi'im in the Beit HaMikdash of Psalm 44:24 - ...
4
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1answer
172 views

What happened to Balak?

What ever happened to Balak after the Bil'am affair? Bil'am is referred to often as Bil'am HaRasha' (the wicked), and he is blamed for the entire encounter as well as the Ba'al Pe'or incident. But ...
4
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1answer
99 views

Source that indicates which Sefira corresponds to which persona

The Ten Sefiros can be correlated to people in Tanach. For example, Avraham is Chesed, Yitzchok is Gevurah, Moshe is Netzach, etc. I'm looking for an early source which lays out these correlations. ...
4
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2answers
201 views

What does “He is the Ahasuerus” mean?

Why in the first pasuk of Megillas Esther is it written that Ahasuerus is the Ahasuerus that ruled from India to kush? Where there other Ahasuerus's that were important enough that in our bible we ...