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In the Rabbinic tradition each of the more famous biblical characters is given a title suitable to his or her life's work. The patriarchs are known as the ‘fathers’ and the matriarchs as the ‘mothers’, for example: ‘Abraham our father’, ‘Sarah our mother’. Moses (except for one reference in the Mishnah) is always called ‘Moshe Rabbenu’ (‘Moses our Teacher’), although, obviously under the influence of Islam, the medieval thinkers sometimes refer to Moses as ‘the Prophet’. Joseph is usually called ‘Joseph the Righteous’ because he resisted the advances of the wife of Potiphar (Genesis 39). Miriam is known as ‘Miriam the Prophetess’ (Ha-Neviah), after Exodus 15: 20; David is ‘David Ha-Melekh’ (King David) and his descendant, the Messiah, is ‘Ha-Melekh Ha-Mashiah’. The High Priest is naturally given this title to distinguish him from the ordinary priests. The Vice-High Priest was called ‘the Segan’ (‘Deputy’). The President of the Sanhedrin is known as the Nasi (‘Prince’) and the Vice-President of this body as ‘Av Bet Din’ (‘Father of the Court’). The head of the Jewish community in the land of Israel is also known as the Nasi, as in Judah the Prince. The bearer of this office is also called ‘the Parnas’ (literally: ‘the Sustainer’, in the sense of the person responsible for the government of the community).

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.


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