RABBA BEN MATNAH (late fourth–early fifth century), Babylonian amora. The Talmud relates that he was a pupil of *Rabbah and *Sheshet and a colleague of * Abbaye b. Avin and Ḥanina (Pes. 34a). On the death of R. Joseph he was a candidate, together with Abbaye, Rava, and Zera II, for the post of head of the Pumbedita academy. They decided on a contest to see which of them could make a statement that the others could not refute. Abbaye succeeded and was appointed. The rabbis, in discussing the relative merits of the intellectual characteristics of Zera and Rabba ben Matnah, described the former as "keen witted, and sharp intellectually," whereas Rabba ben Matnah was "slow in deliberation, and so able to arrive at firm conclusions" in deciding a law (Hor. ad fin). Strangely enough, though he was apparently a very great scholar, none of his teaching has survived. However if he is to be identified with R. Abba II much of his wisdom has been recorded under the latter name.
Halevy, Dorot, 2 (1923), 460–1; Hyman, Toledot, S.V.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.