Neḥemiah ben Yakob Kohen Ṣedeq, Gaon of Pumbeditha

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Neḥemiah ben Yakob Kohen Ṣedeq, Gaon of Pumbeditha

Also Known As: "Yom Ṭov ha-Kohen"
Birthdate: (66)
Birthplace: Balad, Balad, Salah Al-Din, Iraq
Death: circa 968 (58-74)
Baghdad, Baghdād, Iraq
Immediate Family:

Son of Kohen Ṣedeq II "Yakob" ben Yosef, Gaon of Sura & Pumbeditha and 1st wife daughter of Exilarch Family
Father of Hananel "Elhanan" ben Nechemya and Yosef ben Nehemiah Kohen Ṣedeq al-Pumbeditha
Brother of Ḥophni "Hakhnochi" Yosef ben Yakob haKohen Bar Saṭya, ABD, Gaon of Sura & Jaen al-Andalus and Shmuel ben Ya'akob Hananya, Gaon of Jaen al-Andalus
Half brother of David ben Kohen Sedeq and Ephraim bar Saṭya HaDayyān al-Mosul

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About Neḥemiah ben Yakob Kohen Ṣedeq, Gaon of Pumbeditha

Nehemiah bar Kohen Ṣedeq Gaon

Nehemiah bar Kohen Ṣedeq Gaon served as gaon of the academy of Pumbedita from 960 to 968. He was apparently of priestly descent. Nehemiah led an emerging faction against Aaron Sarjado after the latter, a member of the merchant class rather than the scion of a gaonic family, was appointed gaon of the academy of Pumbedita in 943. The immediate cause of Nehemiah’s secession was Aaron’s decision to appoint Sherira ben Hananiah and not Nehemiah to the post of av bet din ("president of the court" -- the second-highest rank in the yeshiva hierarchy) following the death of the incumbent av bet din, Amram ben Mishoi. Although his faction opened a new academy with its own student body and av bet din, Nehemiah was unable to maintain a rival gaonate in the long term. Several of his surviving letters describe the controversy. In them he seeks funding for his school and support that would influence the ‛Abbāsid court. After the death of Aaron in 959, Nehemiah was appointed gaon of Pumbedita, but Sherira refused to recognize his authority. In 962, with the death of Sherira’s brother Hophni ben Ḥananiah, who had served as Nehemiah’s av bet din, Sherira may have assumed the mantle of av bet din; on Nehemiah's death in 968, Sherira was appointed gaon of Pumbedita.

Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman


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

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

Mann, Jacob. “Responsa of the Babylonian Geonim as a Source of Jewish History”. Jewish Quarterly Review, n.s. 8:3 (January 1918), pp.341–347.

———. Texts and Studies in Jewish History and Literature, vol. 1: repr. ed. (New York: Ktav, 1972), pp. 75–78.

Citation Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman. " Nehemiah bar Kohen Ṣedeq Gaon." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online , 2013. Reference. Jim Harlow. 29 January 2013 <>

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Neḥemiah ben Yakob Kohen Ṣedeq, Gaon of Pumbeditha's Timeline

Balad, Balad, Salah Al-Din, Iraq
Age 18
Lucena, Córdoba, Andalusia, Spain
Age 43
Age 66
Baghdad, Baghdād, Iraq