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The Zugot (/ˌzˈɡɒt/; Hebrew: הַזּוּגוֹת, romanizedhaz-zuḡoṯ, lit.'the Pairs'), also called Zugoth /ˈzɡɒθ/ or Zugos /ˌzˈɡɒs/ in the Ashkenazi pronunciation, refers both to the two hundred year period (c. 170 BCE – 30 CE, Hebrew: תְּקוּפַת הַזּוּגוֹת, romanized: Təqufaṯ haz-Zuḡoṯ, lit.'Era of the Pairs') during the later Second Temple period, in which the spiritual leadership of the Jews was in the hands of five successions of "pairs" of religious teachers, and to each of these pairs themselves.[1]



In Hebrew, the word zuḡoṯ indicates pairs; it is the plural of zuḡ, one half of a pair. Like Arabic: زوج, romanizedzawj, it was borrowed from Koinē Greek: ζυγόν, romanized: zugón, lit.'yoke' via Imperial Aramaic: זוגא, romanized: zoḡā and was commonly used to refer to a spouse (cf Yiddish: זוגותי, romanizedzugósi, lit.'my wife').


The zugot were five pairs of scholars who ruled a supreme court of the Jews as nasi (נָשִׂיא or "prince", i.e. president) and Av Beit Din (אָב בֵּית דִּין‎, "chief of the beth din"), respectively. After this period, the positions nasi and av bet din remained, but they were not zugot. The title of av beit din existed before the period of the zugot. His purpose was to oversee the Sanhedrin. The rank of nasi was a new institution began during this period.

List of zugot

There were five pairs of these teachers:

  1. Jose ben Joezer and Jose ben Jochanan, who flourished at the time of the Maccabean revolt
  2. Joshua ben Perachiah and Nittai of Arbela, at the time of John Hyrcanus
  3. Judah ben Tabbai and Simeon ben Shetach, at the time of Alexander Jannaeus and Salome Alexandra
  4. Shmaya and Abtalion, at the time of Hyrcanus II
  5. Hillel the Elder and Shammai, at the time of King Herod the Great

Other uses of term zugot

Zugot refers to pairs generally. The Babylonian Talmud contains an extensive discussion of the dangers of pairs and of performing various activities in pairs.[2] The discussants expressed belief in a demonology and in practices of sorcery from which protection was needed by avoiding certain activities. The demonology included a discussion of Ashmidai (Asmodai or Asmodeus), referred to as the king of the shedim "demons".

However, later generations did not make efforts to avoid harm from pairings, and their rabbis suggest various reasons why this is the case. The Tosafot ruled that the rules regarding pairs need not be followed as the shedim are no longer prevalent.[3] The Arba'ah Turim included the rules about pairings in Orach Haim 170, but the Beit Yosef disputed this based on the Tosafot. The Shulchan Aruch and Mishneh Torah do not mention concern for pairs. Most recent poskim, including Yosef Hayyim, do not require concern for pairs.


  1. ^ "Zugot |". Archived from the original on 2021-05-08. Retrieved 2022-08-17.
  2. ^ Pesachim 109b–112a
  3. ^ Tosafot to Yoma 77b, Hullin 107b