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exilarch


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Head of the Jewish community in Babylon. The origins of the office are obscure but there is clear evidence that the exilarchs, traditionally descended from King David, functioned virtually as Jewish kings under the Persian rulers in Babylon in Talmudic times and under the Islamic rulers in the period of the Geonim. The exilarch had his own police force and prisons. He regulated the economic life of the Jewish community by imposing strict market controls. Throughout the period of the exilarchs there was often rivalry between the holders of the office and the Rabbinic scholars, though it was not unknown for an exilarch to be himself a distinguished scholar.

Subjects: Religion


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