Nahum of Gimso

Nahum Of Gimso (the present Jimzu, near Lydda), a rabbi noted for his great exegetical knowledge, was a disciple of Jochanan ben-Zachai (q.v.), and one of the most prominent Tanaite teachers. He had a school of his own, and is reported as the hero of many wonderful adventures, and even the name of his native place was haguadically interpreted as having been his usual exclamation: "This also intends to benefit" (garn-su l'-toba). He was severely tried, and, with rabbinical resignation, he viewed his trials as so many consequences of his own hardness and unkindness. Many stories regarding his personal history are afloat. Thius the following extravagant story is told of him: On one occasion he carried to the house of his father- in-law some valuable presents. A poor person asked him for assistance while he was engaged unloading the beasts which had carried the rich burden. Nahulm bade him wait; but before he was at leisure to attend to him, the person who asked his help had sunk down from want and exhaustion. In grief for an unkindness which had caused the poor man's death, he invoked blindness upon his eyes, and paralysis upon his hands and feet. These imprecations were soon verified, and Nahum gladly suffered in order to expiate, as he thought, his sin. Accordingly, when his pupils, at the sight of his sufferings, exclaimed, "Alas! that we see thee in such suffering," he replied, "Nay, rather, alas! if ye did not see me so suffering." In theology, Nahum was distinguished as an original thinker, and followed Hillel's (q.v.) method of Biblical interpretation. The latter had laid down a number of rules, the so-called ז מדות (seven rules), according to which the meaning of the text was to be ascertained. To these exegetical principles Nahum added another canon, important in the development of Rabbinism, called "the rule of extension and restriction" (Ribbuj u-mi'ut), according to which certain articles and prepositions in the text were now stated to serve not only a grammatical purpose, but also to indicate that the obvious meaning of the text required either to be enlarged or else restricted. This rule, which, as will be readily conceived, opened a wide door to fanciful interpretation, was generally adopted, but found also opponents, especially in Nechuajah ben Ha-Kanah (q.v.). See Gratz,

Gesch. d. Juden (Leipsic, 1866), 4:21 sq.; Jost, Gesch. d. Juden. u.s. Sektesl, 2:26-89; Edersheim, History of the Jews (Edinburgh, 1857), page 157 sq.; Frankel, Hodegetica in Mishnam (Leipsic, 1859), page 99. (B.P.).

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