Natronai Ibn Habibai, Exilarch of Pumbeditha & Almeria

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Natronai Ibn Habibai, Exilarch of Pumbeditha & Almeria

Also Known As: "Hananiah", "Zabinai", "Zavinay", "Naṭronay ben Ḥavivay", "Naṭronay ben Ḥabibai"
Birthdate: (74)
Birthplace: Baghdad, Baghdād, Iraq
Death: circa 773 (66-82)
Narbonne, Aude, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Yehudai 'Habibai' ben Natronai, Exilarch of Pumbeditha & Carcassonne and unknown bat Nathan ben Hisdai Shahrijar
Husband of unknown bat Eleazar Kalir
Father of "Isaac the Jew", Charlemagne's Diplomat and Makhir ibn Habibi al-Narboni, Nasi
Brother of ʿĀnān "ben David" ibn Habibi, Founder of ʿĀnāniyya - Karaism and Asher haZaken haSofer al-Pembeditha

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About Natronai Ibn Habibai, Exilarch of Pumbeditha & Almeria

Naṭronay bar Ḥabibai, whose patronymic is also recorded as Zabinai/Zavinay in some texts of the Epistle (Heb. Iggeret) of Sherira Gaon, was Exilarch in Babylonia from 771 to 773. He was named to this post by Malka, the gaon of Pumbedita, during a dispute with the incumbent exilarch, Zakkay ben Aḥunay, possibly related to Zakkay’s genealogy.

The Pumbedita and Sura academies, however, supported Zakkay, and upon Malka’s death in 773, Naṭronay was exiled to “the West”.

There Naṭronay is reported to have dictated the Talmud from memory, leading to the recording of the earliest-known written copies of the Talmud; this laid the foundation for a tradition of independent talmudic learning in Almeria, Spain.

Gaonic sources state that Naṭronay’s journey to Spain was fast; in light of this, Ginzberg identifies Naṭronay as the protagonist of a legend in the Kitāb al-Fiṣal fī al-Milal wa-al-Ahwāʾ wa-al-Niḥal (Ar. The Detailed Critical Examination of Religions, Heresies, and Sects) of Ibn Ḥazmin which a Jewish sage travels from Baghdad to Cordova in a single day in order to rescue the Jewish community there from an enemy.

Brody, Robert. The Geonim of Babylonia and the Shaping of Medieval Jewish Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

Ginzberg, Louis. Geonica, vol. 1 (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1909), pp. 17–20.

Lewin, Benjamin. Epistle of Sherira Gaon (Haifa: n.p., 1921) [Hebrew].

Weiss, Isaac Hirsch. Dor Dor ve-Dorshav, vol. 4 (New York: Platt & Minkus, 1923), p. 26.

Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman. " Naṭronay bar Ḥavivay." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online , 2012. Reference. Jim Harlow. 03 July 2012 <>

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Natronai Ibn Habibai, Exilarch of Pumbeditha & Almeria's Timeline

Baghdad, Baghdād, Iraq
Age 26
Baghdad, Baghdād, Iraq
Age 50
Narbonne, Aude, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Age 74
Narbonne, Aude, Languedoc-Roussillon, France