A common title of distinction
during the time of Jesus was the term "Rabbi." In Hebrew it
was "Ravi," pronounced (Rahbee). The Greek was "Hrabbi" and
they both mean the same thing "My Master" or "My Teacher."
It was actually a new term
that had developed sometime either during or after the
schism which arose between the schools of Hillel and
Shammai. Actually the first person we know of in history to
have been honoroed with this title was Gamaliel I sometime
around 30 AD. The title that Jesus had rebuked so often was
actually very popular and very new.
There were actually three
forms of the title, each given with elaborate ceremony:
"Rab" meaning "Master" was
apparently, according to early Babylonian works, a
Babylonian title given to certain learned men who had
received the laying-on of hands in the rabbinic
schools. This was the lowest title among the three.
"Rabbi" meaning "My Master"
was a Palestinian designation, where a man was bestowed the
title from the laying-on of hands by the Sanhedrin. The
ceremony was interesting. The man was placed on a "high"
chair which was raised above the assembly and he was given a
key and a scroll when the new title was spoken by a certain
person. The key symbolized power and authority to teach
others, and the scroll symbolized that he was familiar and
devoted to his studies. He would wear the key as a token of
greatness and it was buried with him. According to the Aruch
(Talmudical lexicon) a "Rabbi" was one who has disciples,
and whose disciples were prepared to raise up new disciples.
This was the second greatest title among the three.
"Rabbon" which meant "Great
Master" or "Rabboni" meaning "My Great Master" was the
greatest designation of all. It is properly pronounced
(Rahbonee). Once the teacher had seen two generations of
disciples he was referred to with this title, and also
called by his own name so that he would not be forgotten.
It is interesting to note
that men who had earned these titles were very highly
respected, and Jesus was called by both.
Mary, a woman who had been
scorned much of her life, by both men and women, and even
somewhat by the disciples, was received by Jesus and raised
to a place of special greatness, to the extent that it was
she, a woman, who had been the first to behold Jesus after
His resurrection, and speak the word "Rabboni" in a ceremony
that was unseen by men, as He was raised from death, above