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Almeria

(784 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
Almería (Ar. al-Mariyya) is a port city in southeastern Spain on a bay of the Mediterranean. The town was founded in 922 by the Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III over a small settlement of fishermen and merchants known as Mariyyat Bajjāna because it was built near the preexisting village of Pechina (Ar. Bajjāna) about 10 kilometers (6 miles) to the north, on the left bank of the Andarax River. Almería became a center of the trade between al-Andalus and North Africa and from 922 was the arsenal of the caliph’s navy. During the period of the taifa kingdoms (Ar. mulūk al-ṭawā'if - "the party king…

Ibn Hajar, David (ben ha-Ger)

(342 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
Very little is known about the life of David ibn Hagar (ben Hagar, ben ha-Ger) except that he lived in Granada in the eleventh century and quite possibly was born and died there. He held the office of   dayyan in the era of Granadan Jewry’s apogee and was under the protection and patronage of Samuel ha-Nagid ibn Naghrella. Ibn Hajar belonged to a circle of intellectuals and scholars that developed different facets of Jewish legal and synagogal culture. In his capacity as a halakhist, he wrote an Arabic summary of the divorce laws, Mukhtaṣar al- Ṭalāq (Abridged Compendium of Divorce), which…

David ben Eleazar ibn Paquda

(299 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
David ben Eleazar ibn Paquda was a liturgical poet who lived in Saragossa in the late eleventh and first half of the twelfth centuries. There are no concrete details about his life or death. He was probably a cousin of the famous ethical philosopher and pietist Baḥya ibn Paquda, as he is identified with Abū Sulaymān, “the son of his paternal uncle” (Ar. ben ʿammih), mentioned together with Baḥya by Moses ibn Ezra in his treatise on the ars poetica, Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wa 'l-Mudhākara (ed. Abumalham, p. 41r). David ibn Paquda was a contemporary of Levi ibn al-Tabbān, and there are a number o…

Seville

(1,172 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
Seville (Ar. Ishbīliya) is the principal city of Andalusia in southwestern Spain. Jewish tradition holds that Jews first settled there at the time of the destruction of the First Temple (586 b.c.e.), but there is no evidence of a Jewish community until the Visigothic period. In the seventh century, Isidore of Seville, who authored polemics against the Jews, presided over the Third Council of Toledo, which enacted a series of anti-Jewish laws. In 712 Seville was conquered by Mūsā ibn Nuṣayr, and according to the anonymous Arab chronicle Akhbār Majmūʿa (p. 16) , he organized a  Jewish guard …

Santarem

(472 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
Santarém (Ar. Shantarīn) is a city in Portugal to the northeast of Lisbon. It had an important Jewish community throughout the Middle Ages, but there are no details about its Jews during the Islamic period. The first reliable information about a Jewish presence dates from 1140, when King Afonso Henriques (Alfonso I)conquered Santarém and found a noteworthy number of Jews and a synagogue considered to be the oldest in Portugal. He was the first Portuguese king to issue legislation on the relationships between Jews and Christians. In 1265,  Dinis (Denis) ascended the Portuguese thron…

Ibn Khalfūn (Ibn Ḥalfon), Isaac (Abū Ibrāhīm)

(976 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
Isaac (Abū Ibrāhīm) ibn Khalfūn (Ibn Ḥalfon) was one of the first Hebrew poets in al-Andalus and also the first of them to make his living exclusively from poetry. He apparently was born in Iberia, perhaps in Cordova, around 970, but his father had only recently arrived from North Africa. Toward the end of his life he apparently moved to the city of Toledo, where he may have died sometime after 1020. Although he did not rank among the greatest Andalusian Hebrew poets like Ibn Naghrella, Ibn Gabirol, Ha-Levi, or Moses ibn Ezra, Ibn Khalfūn was talented, enjoyed great…

Hanoch ben Moses

(426 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
Hanoch ben Moses (d. 1014) was a rabbi and talmudist in early eleventh-century al-Andalus. He was the son of Moses ben Hanoch, who came to Iberia probably from southern Italy and was one of the scholars mentioned in the story of the Four Captives related by Abraham ibn Daʾud in his Book of Tradition. Benefiting from the patronage of the nasi of the Jewish community in Cordova and  court physician of ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān III (r. 912–961), Ḥasday ibn Shapruṭ, Hanoch’s father became the city’s rabbi and dayyan. When his father died sometime around 965, Hanoch succeeded him as rabbi and dayyan despite …

Ibn al-Tabbān, Levi (Abu 'l-Fahm) ben Jacob

(673 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
Levi (Abu ʿl-Fahm) ben Jacob ibn al-Tabbān was a poet and grammarian who was active in Saragossa under the taifa dynasty of the Banū Hūd in the latter part of the eleventh century. Very little is known about his life, but at this time Saragossa, the capital of the Upper March of al-Andalus, was one of the most important cultural centers on the Iberian Peninsula. During his lifetime Ibn al-Tabbān enjoyed a considerable reputation as a poet. He specialized in religious and synagogal poetry. Moses ibn Ezra, in his ars poetica, Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wa 'l-Mudhākara, refers to him as “a famous te…

Ibn Gabirol, Solomon

(2,269 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
1. Life Solomon ben Judah (Abū Ayyūb Sulaymān ibn Yaḥyā) ibn Gabirol was an outstanding philosopher and one of the greatest Hebrew poets of all times. According to Moses ibn Ezra he was born in Malaga, probably around 1020 or 1021, and he died at the age of only thirty years old, which would put his death around 1052. The Arab historian Ṣāʿid al‑Andalusī places the date of his death later, in 1057/58. Judah al‑Ḥarīzī notes that he lived twenty-nine years. Abraham Zacuto and Gedaliah ibn Yaḥyā date his death in the year 1070. Ibn Gabirol’s family had fled from Cordova to Mala…

Ḥasday ibn Shaprūṭ

(1,340 words)

Author(s): M.J. Cano
Ḥasday ben Isaac ibn Shaprūṭ (ca. 905–ca. 975) was a scholar, physician, and trusted adviser at the court of the Umayyad caliphs ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III and al-Ḥakam II in Cordova. As patron of the first Jewish intellectuals and poets in al-Andalus, he played a decisive role in fostering a brilliant Jewish cultural effloresence that assimilated many elements of Arabic high culture. 1. Courtier Ḥasday was a scion of a rich and influential family. His father, Isaac, had moved the family from its home in Jaen to Cordova, the caliphal capital, and there founded a synagogue. As secretary Isaac hired Me…