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Samuel Of Nehardea

SAMUEL OF NEHARDEA, usually called MAR SAMUEL or YARHINAI (c. i(>$-c. 257), Babylonian Rabbi, was born in Nahardea in Babylonia and died there c. 257. He is associated with the fame of his great contemporary Rab (Abba Araka q.v.). Besides his mastery in the traditional Law, which added much to the growing reputation of the Rabbinic Academy of his native town, Samuel was famed for his scientific attainments. In particular his knowledge of astronomy was profound, and he was one of the first to compile a Calendar of the Jewish year, thus preparing the way for the fixation of the festivals by means of scientific calculations. But Samuel's fame rests on the service which he rendered in adapting the life of the Jews of the diaspora to the law of the land. " The law of the State is binding law," was the principle which Samuel enunciated, here carrying to its logical outcome the admonition of Jeremiah. When the king of Persia, Shapur, captured Mazaca-Caesarea, the Cappadocian capital, Samuel refused to mourn for the 12,000 Jews who lost their lives in its defence. As Graetz says: " To Jeremiah and Mar Samuel Judaism owes the possibility of existence in a foreign country."

See Graetz, History of the Jews (English translation), vol. ii. ch. xix. (I. A.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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