The Babylonian Jews were practically independent, and the exilarch (reshgalutha) or prince of the captivity was an official who ruled the community as a vassal of the Persian throne.
The exilarch claimed, like the Palestinian patriarch, descent from the royal house of David, and exercised most of the functions of [[[Dispersion To Modern Times]] government.
EXILARCH, in Jewish history, "Chief or Prince of the Captivity."
Hence the head of the Babylonian Jews was the exilarch (in Aramaic Resh Galutha) .
Some traditions regarded the last king of Davidic descent (Jehoiachin) as the first exilarch, and all the later holders of the dignity claimed to be scions of the royal house of Judah.
In the 6th century an attempt was made to secure by force political autonomy for the Jews, but the exilarch who led the movement (Mar Zutra) was executed.
The last exilarch of importance was David, son of Zakkai, whose contest with Seadiah had momentous consequences.
Hezekiah (c. 1040) was the last Babylonian exilarch, though the title left its traces in later ages.
Benjamin of Tudela (Itinerary, p. 61) names an exilarch Daniel b.
In the age succeeding the Mahommedan conquest the exilarch was noted for the stately retinue that accompanied him, the luxurious banquets given at his abode, and the courtly etiquette that prevailed there.
The exilarch then delivered a discourse, and in the benediction or doxology (Qaddish) his name was inserted.
The exilarch could excommunicate, and no doubt had considerable jurisdiction over the Jews.
A spirited description of the glories of the exilarch is given in D'Israeli's novel Alroy.
The Jewish chief priest may be said to be the successor of the exilarch or resh galutha of the earlier period.
The seat of the exilarch or resh galutha was transferred from Pumbedita(Pumbeditha or Pombeditha) inBabylonia to Bagdad, which thus became the capital of oriental Judaism; from then to the present day the Jews have played no mean part in Bagdad.
Nasi, prince, chief) was given to the head of the sanhedrim in Palestine, and is sometimes, though wrongly, applied to the " exilarch," a head of the Jewish college at Babylon.