Nahum of Gimzo

Rabbinical Eras

Nachum of Gamzu (Hebrew: נחום איש גמזו) was a Tanna of the 2nd generation (1st century). In the Talmud[1] he is called "Ish Gam Zu" (the man of "gam zu"), and this name is explained as referring to Nahum's motto: on every occasion, no matter how unpleasant the circumstance, he exclaimed "gam zu le-tovah" (this, too, will be for the best). There are also Talmudic references to a Nechemiah ha`Imsoni,[2] who may perhaps be the same person.[3]

Nachum was the teacher of Rabbi Akiva, and taught him the exegetical principles of inclusion and exclusion ("ribbui u-mi'uṭ"). Only one halakah of his has been preserved;[4] but it is known that he interpreted the whole Torah according to the rule of "ribbui u-mi'uṭ".[5] He used to explain the accusative particle "et" by saying that it implied the inclusion in the object of something besides that which is explicitly mentioned. However, in the sentence "You shall fear [et] the Lord your God",[6] he did not explain the particle "et" before "the Lord," since he did not wish to cause any one else to share in the reverence due to God; he justified his inconsistency with the explanation that the omission in this passage was as virtuous as was his resort to interpretation in all the other passages.[7]

It is related that in later years Nahum's hands and feet became paralyzed, and he was afflicted with other bodily ailments. He bore his troubles patiently, however, and even rejoiced over them. In answer to a question of his pupils as to why, since he was such a perfectly just man, he had to endure so many ills, he declared that he had brought them on himself because once when he was on the way to his father-in-law's and was carrying many things to eat and drink, he met a poor man who asked him for food. As he was about to open the bundle the man died before his eyes. In deepest grief, and reproaching himself with having perhaps caused by his delay the man's death, he cursed himself and wished himself all the troubles to which his pupils referred. Various other stories are told of miracles that happened to him.[8]

Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography

  • J. Brüll, Einleitung in die Mischna, i. 94-95;
  • W. Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 61-64.

External links


  1. ^ Ta'an. 21a; Yer. Sheḳ. v. 15
  2. ^ Pes. 22b; Ḳid. 57a)
  3. ^ H. Grätz in Monatsschrift, 1870, p. 527
  4. ^ Ber. 22a
  5. ^ Shebu. 26a
  6. ^ Deut. x. 20
  7. ^ Pes. 22b
  8. ^ Ta'an. 21a

This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.

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