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Ḥushiel ben Elḥanan

(1,045 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
According to the well-known and compelling account by Abraham ibn Daʾūd in his Sefer ha-Qabbala (sec. 7, beg.), Ḥushiel ben Elḥanan was one of the “four great scholars” (Heb. ḥakhamim gedolim) taken captive by the Andalusi Umayyad commander Ibn Rumāḥiṣ (under ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III) while en route by sea from Bari in southern Italy to Sfax (per Gil, sec. 122; not “Sefastin”). The four (Ḥushiel, Moses ben Ḥanokh, Shemarya ben Elḥanan, and an unnamed companion) were eventually ransomed by Jewish communities in different Mediterran…
Date: 2015-09-03

Ibn al-Shuwaykh, Isaac ben Israel

(666 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Isaac ben Israel, whose full name in Arabic is given by the Baghdadi Arab historian Ibn al-Fuwaṭī (1334–1405) as Fakhr al-Dawla Abū ʾl-Fatḥ Isḥāq ibn Abū ʾl-Ḥasan ibn Abū ʾl-Barakāt ibn al-Shuwaykh, succeeded Isaac ha-Kohen ibn al-Awānī as gaon of the main Babylonian yeshiva in Baghdad (following the decline of the yeshivot in Pumbedita and Sura). He was already gaon by 1221, in which year a copy of Abū ’l-Barakāt Hibat Allāh’s commentary on Ecclesiastes was completed on his behalf in which he is described as “the head of the scholars’ yeshiva geʾon Yaʿaqov.” In addition to his halakhic…
Date: 2015-09-03

Bar Saṭya, Joseph ben Jacob

(504 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
In the famous Epistle of Sherira Gaon (Heb. Iggeret Rav Sherira Ga’on), Joseph ben Jacob is described as “a son of geonim, grandson of the officiants, the priests,” from which it has now been established that Joseph’s father was Jacob ha-Kohen ben Naṭronay (not Jacob ben Mordechai, as per Ibn Da'ud in his Book of Tradition), the gaon of Sura from around 911 to 924. Joseph was appointed gaon of Sura in 930 by the exilarch David ben Zakkay I in apparent retaliation against the presiding gaon, Saʿadya ben Joseph, for his support of the a…
Date: 2015-09-03

Daniel ben Eleazar ibn Hibat Allāh

(472 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Daniel ben Eleazar ibn Hibat Allāh, who elsewhere refers to himself as Daniel b. Eleazar he-Ḥasid, succeeded Eleazar b. Hillel b. Fahd as gaon of the main Babylonian yeshiva in Baghdad (following the decline of the ones in Pumbedita and Sura). Daniel’s gaonate began no later than April–May 1201, which is when the earliest of his letters affirming his incumbency is dated. He is mentioned by the Arab historian and native of Baghdad Ibn al-Sāʿī (1197–1276) in the extant portion of his History ( al-Jāmi ʿal-mukhtaṣar), in which he transcribes the writ of Daniel’s appointment to the …
Date: 2015-09-03

Salmon ben Jeroham (Sulaym ibn Ruḥaym)

(1,285 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Salmon ben Jeroham (Yerūḥam),—known in Arabic as Sulaym, or Sulaymān, ibn Ruḥaym, flourished in Jerusalem around the middle of the tenth century alongside such important Karaite littérateurs as Abu ʾl-Surri ibn Zūṭṭā, David ben Abraham al-Fāsī, Ḥasan ben Mashiaḥ, Sahl ben Maṣliah, Japheth (Yefet) ben ʿEli, and Joseph ibn Nūḥ. According to the chronicle of Ibn al-Hītī he died in Aleppo. His patronymic should probably be spelled Yerūḥam, as implied by the rhyme with yenūḥam in ( inter alia) the proem to his commentary on Esther (Ms. RNL Yevr.-Arab. I 4467, fol. 1v), though …
Date: 2015-09-03

Ibn al-Barqūlī Family

(472 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Members of two generations of the Ibn al-Barqūlī family are mentioned in several letters from the Cairo Geniza (all composed during the first decade of the thirteenth century), as well as in the poetry of Eleazar ben Jacob ha-Bavli and Judah al-Ḥarīzī. From what is said in these sources, it is apparent that the Ibn al-Barqūlī family played a central role in the communal and spiritual life of the Jewish communities in Baghdad and Wāsiṭ (in central Iraq) and also contr…
Date: 2015-09-03

Ibn Sughmār Family

(1,356 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
The Ibn Sughmārs were a prominent Maghrebi family of merchants and scholars whose activities from the 1040s to the 1090s are attested by several letters preserved in the Cairo Geniza. The members of the family whose existence is known from this source (each attested with the patronym Ibn/Ben Sughmār) are listed below. Note that the family name is rendered here per the plene spelling with vav, rather than “Sighmār,” as rendered by Goitein and an earlier generation of scholars. (Abū Zikrī) Judah (Yaḥyā) ben Moses, the most frequently mentioned member of the family, was a mer…
Date: 2015-09-03

Ḥananel ben Samuel

(838 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Ḥananel ben Samuel, the most prominent member of the Ibn al-Amshāṭī family of Egypt during the Middle Ages, was a halakhic scholar, jurist ( dayyan), merchant, and, apparently for a short time, nagid of Egyptian Jewry who lived from the last quarter of the twelfth century (he is referred to as a “distinguished scholar” (Heb. ḥakham nehdar) in a letter written in 1211) to the mid-thirteenth century (see below). A native of Fustat , Ḥananel made his living there as a perfumer (like his father) and merchant. His role as a dayyan—and perhaps even av bet din (chief judge) under the nagid Abraha…
Date: 2015-09-03

Kohen Ṣedeq ben Joseph Gaon

(798 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Kohen Ṣedeq ben Joseph—not to be confused with Kohen Ṣedeq Bar Ivomay, gaon of Sura from 832 to 843)—served as gaon of Pumbedita from February of 917 to 935 (see Yeshivot in Babylonia/Iraq). His gaonate was marked from the beginning by a series of heated and sometimes overlapping controversies, in all of which he played some part. The first of these concerned his own accession to the gaonate. Kohen Ṣedeq was appointed to succeed Judah ben Samuel by the exilarchDavid ben Zakkay I, but most (or at…
Date: 2015-09-03

David ben Boaz

(655 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
David ben Boaz, known in Arabic as Abū Saʿīd, was a fifth-generation descendant of Anan ben David, and is thus rarely mentioned without the title ha-Nasi (and sometimes by that alone) or its Arabic equivalent, al-ra’īs. Hs lived in Jerusalem and, together with his brother Josiah ha-Nasi, is supposed to have supported Saʿadya Gaon in his conflict (ca. 930–937) with the Babylonian exilarch David ben Zakkay I, perhaps due to the strong enmity between the Karaite nesiʾim and the Palestinian geonim of the Ben Me’ir fami…
Date: 2015-09-03

Ben Berechiah Family

(591 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
The activity of the Ben Berechiah family is represented during the period of the Cairo Geniza primarily by the sons of Berechiah, Joseph—whose kunya was Abū Yaʿqūb—and Nissim. The brothers were merchants based in Qayrawān , and apparently constituted one of the more prominent Maghrebi merchant “firms” in the first third of the eleventh century. They were related by marriage to the prominent Tāhirtī merchant family (one of the brothers was married to a daughter of Barhūn ben Mūsā al-Tāhirtī), and through …
Date: 2015-09-03

Wahb b. Yaʿīsh al-Raqqī

(964 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Wahb b. Yaʿīsh al-Raqqī, apparently called Nathan ben Ḥayyim in Hebrew, was a Jewish religious thinker during the second half of the tenth century. As indicated by his nisba (cognomen), he hailed from the city of (al-)Raqqa on the mid-Euphrates in present-day Syria. At that time, Raqqa was an important center of Jewish culture, and seems also to have been the locus of interfaith philosophical and religious dialogue between Jews (Rabbanite as well as Karaite/Ananite), Muslims, Christians, Sabaeans, and Zoroastrians. Indeed …
Date: 2015-09-03

Judah ben Joseph of Qayrawan

(674 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Judah ben Joseph b. Simḥa was perhaps the most important figure in the Jewish community of Qayrawān toward the end of the tenth century and the beginning of the eleventh. Known in Arabic as Abū Zikrī/Zakarīyāʾ (the usual kunya for the name Judah), he was one of the wealthiest merchants in Qayrawān and was on very good terms with the Zirid sultan of Tunisia, al-Muʿizz ibn Bādīs (r. 1016–1062), and especially with the young sultan’s influential aunt Umm Mallāl, who, if indeed “the illustrious mistress” (Ar. al-sayyida al-jalīla) mentioned by Judah in a letter written toward the end …
Date: 2015-09-03

Elḥanan ben Ḥushiel

(11 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
see Ḥananel ben Ḥushiel Michael G. Wechsler

Aaron Ḥakīmān

(523 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Aaron ben Abraham Ḥakīmān, who lived toward the middle of the fourteenth century in Iraq, is known to us from his unique and unfortunately lacunal dīwān (poetry collection), containing 115 folios, in the Russian National Library (St. Petersburg), identified by Schirmann as MS 72 of the second Firkovitch collection (= no. 47406 in the JTS Schocken Institute online catalogue). From the variety of poetic compositions (including maqāmāt and muwashshaḥāt) in this dīwān, it is clear that Aaron was well acquainted with classical Arabic poetry, both Jewish and Muslim, and …

Ḥananel ben Ḥushiel

(1,192 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Ḥananel ben Ḥushiel was resh be rabbanan and dayyan in Qayrawān in the first half of the eleventh century. Other than the statement of Abraham Ibn Da’ud in his Sefer ha-Qabbala (sec. 7, beg.) that Ḥananel was born in Qayrawān sometime after his father was redeemed from captivity, having been captured at sea by the Umayyad commander Ibn Rumāḥiṣ, there is no definitive information about the place and date of his birth. On the other hand, insofar as Ḥananel and Ḥushiel’s son Elhanan are taken to be the same person (on which see below), it is clear that Ḥananel was already at least thirty years old …
Date: 2015-09-03

Judah ben Eli (‘Allān)

(1,317 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Judah ben Eli, whose patronymic is usually attested as ben ʿAllān (the diminutive (?) of ʿAlī, the Ar. equivalent of Eli) and accompanied by the gentilic “the Tiberian,” was apparently one of the earliest Karaite scholars of Jerusalem, active at the end of the ninth century and during the first three decades of the tenth. Primary evidence for this chronological, geographical (Tiberias-Jerusalem), and sectarian placement of Judah is to be found in the portion of a muqaddama on parashat Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22) published by Pinsker (sec. 2, p. 64), written by Levi (Abū…
Date: 2015-09-03

Ibn Jāmiʿ, Samuel ben Jacob

(795 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Samuel ben Jacob, a scion of the Ibn Jāmiʿ family of Gabes, in Ifrīqiyā (Tunisia), was a jurist (Heb. dayyan) like his father and grandfather, both of whom received responsa from Hay Gaon, as well as a grammarian, lexicographer, and poet. His lifetime seems to have spanned almost the entirety of the twelfth century. Almost always referred to by his family name Ibn Jāmiʿ—but sometimes simply as Jāmiʿ or its Hebrew equivalent, Agur—Samuel was a close friend of Abraham ibn Ezra, whom he apparently met during the latt…
Date: 2015-09-03

13–17.2.4.5 Esther

(306 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Part of 13–17 Five Scrolls - 13–17.2 Secondary Translations - 13–17.2.4 Late Syriac Translations With the exception of forty single-word citations (in a couple of instances two words) in Andreas Masius’ Syrorum Peculium,1 the Syro-Hexaplaric text of Esther is, unfortunately, non-extant. The lost manuscript of Masius from which the citations were drawn, and which apparently contained the entire book of Esther, was proven by Rahlfs2 to be closely related in character and age to the late-eighth-/early-ninth-century c.e. Milan manuscript (i.e., c. 313 Inf. of the Ambrosian Libr…
Date: 2017-03-01

13–17.2.4.1 Ruth

(1,321 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Part of 13–17 Five Scrolls - 13–17.2 Secondary Translations - 13–17.2.4 Late Syriac Translations 13–17.2.4.1.1 Text The complete Syro-Hexaplaric text of the book of Ruth is extant in a unique eighth-century c.e. manuscript,1 i.e., Add. 17.103 of the British Library (London), containing both Judges (folios 4r–61v) and Ruth (folios 62v–70r), the text of which was edited by Rørdam in 1861,2 and then again by de Lagarde in 1892.3 Undoubtedly, there are also citations from Syh-Ruth remaining to be found in pre-modern Syriac literature (21.9), though we have found …
Date: 2017-03-01
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