MAḤOZA


MAḤOZA, town on the River Tigris (Ber. 59b), on the bank of the Nahar Malka (Fluvius Regum), one of the canals connecting the Euphrates with the Tigris. Maḥoza was a suburb of Be-Ardashir, situated on the left bank of the Tigris, and of the town of Ctesiphon, situated on its right bank (Er. 57b). Ctesiphon, established by Seleucus Nicator, the founder of the Seleucid dynasty about 300 B.C.E., was destroyed by the Roman commander Avidus Cassius in 165 C.E. On its ruins Ardashir I (226–240 C.E.) erected a new city after his name, the Be-Ardashir mentioned occasionally in the Talmud. Both cities served as the capital. Maḥoza's importance derived also from the fact that it was situated on a central trading route through which caravans passed, as well as considerable merchandise which passed on the rivers. The Jews of Maḥoza took a very active part in the commercial life, both within the town (BB 29b) and beyond it (Git. 6a). The merchants were very successful. They ate well (Shab. 109a), drank much wine (Ta'an. 26a), and were hedonists (RH 17a). Of the women of Maḥoza it is related that they were lazy (Shab. 32b) and wore many ornaments (BK 119a). Among the Jews of Maḥoza were also successful farmers. Some of them possessed fields and orchards, irrigating their fields from the waters of the Tigris (Ber. 59b; Ket. 67a). They reared cattle (Er. 26a; BB 36a, Rashbam ad loc.) and also traded in grain (Git. 73a). A Jewish settlement in Seleucus and Ctesiphon during the first century C.E. is mentioned by Josephus (Ant., 18:310ff.).

Maḥoza is mentioned for the first time as a center of study after the destruction of the academy of *Nehardea in 259 (Iggeret R. Sherira Gaon, ed. by B.M. Lewin (1921), 82). Maḥoza attained the height of its fame after the death of *Abbaye in 338 when the academy of Pumbedita together with its scholars moved to Maḥoza, where Rava, who headed the academy for 14 years from 338–352, dwelt (ibid., 88f.). During this period Maḥoza had a considerable Jewish population. They constituted the majority of its inhabitants and Abbaye was surprised that there was no *mezuzah on the city gate (Yoma 11a). It also contained many proselytes (Kid. 73a). Because of Maḥoza's proximity to Be-Ardashir, Rava had close relations with the government (see *Shapur II). When the emperor Julian invaded Babylon in 363, Maḥoza was destroyed. However, on his death and the withdrawal of the Romans, it was rebuilt. Maḥoza declined as a Jewish settlement in the second half of the fifth century as a result of the uprising of the Nestorian Christians.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Neubauer, Géogr, 356f.; A. Berliner, in: Jahres-Bericht des Rabbiner-Seminars zu Berlin (1882–83), 39–43; J. Obermeyer, Die Landschaft Babylonien (1929), 161–78. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: B. Eshel, Jewish Settlements in Babylonia during Talmudic Times (1979), 141–44.

[Moshe Beer]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.