Baba Rabbah

(Baba the Great)
(4th century)
   Samaritan high priest. Baba’s rule marked a golden age for the Samaritans. He fought for Samaritan freedom against the Roman forces and on several occasions succeeded in driving them out of his territory. He kept a standing army of some three thousand men and organized the country into twelve districts. He built new synagogues and reopened others that had been closed by the Romans, and encouraged literature. All the ancient books of the Samaritans were gathered together for preservation and copying. It is in this period of religious and cultural revival that the Defter, the Samaritan prayer book, was begun. Baba organized a council of four laymen and three priests who toured the country to ensure the education of the people in the Torah, as well as to decide difficult halachic questions. Legend relates how after forty years of rule the Byzantine emperor summoned him to Constantinople to conclude a peace treaty. Once there, he was treated with all honour, but not allowed to return.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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