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Update: 2017.10.29

Prior to the 5th century CE, Rav was used as the title specifying a particular Diaspora (Babylonian Reform) Âmor•â (e.g., "One day, Rav went…," or "a servant in Rav's house…" and the like), Rav refers to the leading Babylonian Reform Âmor•â, a tal•mid who received sᵊmikh•âh from Yᵊhud•âh ha-Nâ•si in Yᵊhud•âh, founder of the academy at Sura (c 220 CE), and credited with being a co-founder in the compilation of the Tal•mud Ba•vᵊl•i: ‭ ‬ (175-247 CE).

In its 5th century CE mishnaic (i.e., Talmudic) Hebrew sense, Rav was an exclusively Diaspora (Babylonian Reform) title recognizing one's "greater" (more popularly expressed in American English as "one's better"), from which it has popularly, but inaccurately, been rendered as "master."

While most rabbis encourage the historically anachronistic misassumption that rabbis were present with Mosh•ëh at Har Sin•ai, the historical reality is that there were no rabbis until the formation of the Pᵊrush•im party, which splintered off from the Tzᵊdoq•im between B.C.E. 134-104 under the rule of Yokhâ•nân Hyrcanus (nephew of Yᵊhudâh Ma•kab•i (b. B.C.E. 164, Ko•hein ha-Jâ•dol B.C.E. 134, d. B.C.E. 104).

Rav is the title of a post-135 C.E. Pᵊrush•i Tor•âh interpreter and expounder of Tor•âh and Ha•lâkh•âh – the "Sage," who invariably earned his living from a non-religious occupation like everyone else and who had met the required standards and obtained legitimate recognition of receiving sᵊmikh•âh.

"In [Yᵊhud•âh], the custom [that] had been instituted during the [period of the Tanâ•im], of according the title [Ribi] to scholars ordained by the Nâ•si and [Beit-Din ha-Jâ•dol], continued [though, after 135 CE, conferring only the lesser title of Rav] during the period of the Âmor•âyim" ("Amoraim," EJ, 2:873).

As the title of Rav (corrupted in modern Hebrew to "Rabbi") became more widely known after 135 C.E., the distinction from, and even awareness of, the title of Ribi was lost to all but a few of the most historically knowledgeable Jews.

Rabi ("Rabbi", by contrast, is anachronistic relative to Yᵊhud•âh in the first century C.E.. The following is excerpted from note 23.7.1 of The Nᵊtzâr•im Reconstruction of Hebrew Ma•ti•tᵊyâhu (NHM, in English).

The term for 1st century and earlier Pᵊrush•im Kha•khâm•im like Hi•leil, Sham•ai and Ja•mᵊl•iy•eil, is Ribi ("Titles," Ency. Jud., 15:1163-4). This group includes the most famous Ribi of all time, upon whom Ja•mᵊl•iy•eil himself conferred sᵊmikh•âhRibi Yᵊho•shua Bën-Dâ•wid, ha-Mâ•shiakh.

Though anachronistic in the 1st century CE, by the 3rd century CE, the terms Rabi and Rav had, in that order, both come into popular, including Hellenist, usage and the distinction between them was, by then, becoming increasingly, blurred.

In Tal•mud

In its 5th century C.E. mishnaic (i.e., Talmudic) Hebrew sense, Rav is exclusively a Diaspora (Babylonian) title recognizing one's "greater" (more popularly expressed in American English as "one's better"), from which it has popularly, but inaccurately, been rendered as "master."

In Tal•mud, both Rabi and Rav are sometimes used alone to refer to two specific Kha•khâm•im. Prior to > century CE, Rav was used as the title specifying a particular Diaspora (Babylonian) Âmor•â (e.g., "One day, Rav went…," or "a servant in Rav's house…" and the like), Rav refers to the leading Babylonian Âmor•â, a tal•mid who received sᵊmikh•âh from Yᵊhud•âh ha-Nâ•si in Yᵊhud•âh, founder of the academy at Sura (ca. 220 CE), and credited with being a co-founder in the compilation of the Tal•mud Ba•vᵊl•i: ‭ ‬ (175-247 CE).

Rav must be distinguished from Rabi (Anglicized to "Rabbi"), which refers to Yᵊhud•âh ha quasi-Nâ•si (135-220 CE.) Notice, too, that, by 135 CE, even sᵊmikh•âh conferred in Yᵊhud•âh, and by the quasi-Nâ•si, merits only the lesser title of Rav (in contrast to the pre-70 CE title of Ribi).

, is used of --, most popularly in the phrase (Rib•on•o shël o•lâm; Sovereign-Great of the world-age). See also a•don•i and mori.

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