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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

Messianism

(9,438 words)

Author(s): Bat-Zion Eraqi Klorman | Michael G. Wechsler
1. Messianic movements in the Medieval period By the advent of Islam in the early seventh century, the messianic idea was already firmly established as a central tenet of Judaism in its broadest (i.e., pan-sectarian) sense—as famously dogmatized and concisely expressed in Maimonides’s Thirteen Principles (or Fundamentals) ( thalātha ʿashrata qāʿida) of faith, the twelfth of which is “Believing and affirming the coming of [the Messiah], and not [thinking] that he is tardy—but rather, ‘should he tarry, you shall wait for him expectantly’ (Habbaku…
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

Aghmāṭī, Zechariah ben Judah al-

(700 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
As indicated by his nisba (Ar. gentilic), Zechariah ben Judah (al-)Aghmāṭī was either born or reared in the town of Aghmat, in southern Morocco. He is known from his single extant work—an exegetical compendium arranged primarily around the Halakhot Rabbati of Isaac ben Jacob al-Fāsī. The extant portions of this massive work are contained primarily in British Library MSS Or. 11361 (on BT Berakhot, Shabbat, and ʿEruvin ) and Or. 10013 (on BT Bava Qamma, Bava Meṣiʿa, and Bava Batra ). Also surviving is a small portion on Moʿed Qaṭan. Whether he proceeded beyond Bava Batra and complete…

Nathan ben Hananiah

(495 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Nathan ben Hananiah (also attested as ben Ḥanina) flourished in Qayrawan between 820 and 870, during all or most of which period he and Judah ben Saul served as the heads ( rabbanan) of the bet midrash there and as dayyanim for the Jewish community of North Africa generally. Nathan corresponded with the Jewish authorities in Iraq in connection both with halakhic matters and the collection of donations (Heb. ḥoq or rashut) for the Babylonian yeshivot (see Yeshivot in Babylonia/Iraq). The period of Nathan’s gaonic correspondence was approximately forty years, as indi…
Date: 2015-09-03

Aaron ben Amram

(760 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Aaron ben Amram—or, as his name is given in Arabic sources, Hārūn ibn ʿImrān—lived in the second half of the ninth century and the first quarter of the tenth. He apparently began his career as a trader, as in one Arabic source he and his partner, Joseph ben Phinehas , are referred to as al-tujjār (the merchants). Eventually he became a jahbadh (banker). In this capacity, with responsibility for administering, remitting, and supplying funds, Aaron, together with the jahbadh Joseph ben Phinehas (Yūsuf ibn Fīnḥās), played a key role in the financial administration of the ʿAbbasid empire. The b…
Date: 2015-09-03

Japheth (Abū ‘Alī Ḥasan) ben Eli

(1,608 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Japheth ben Eli ha-Levi, known also by his Arabic name as Abū ʿAlī Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī ʾl-Lāwī ʾl-Baṣrī, was apparently of eastern origin, as were many of the Jerusalem Karaites of his day. As suggested by his nisba (relational suffix), he may have been from the city of Basra in southeastern Iraq. It is possible that his full first name was Saʿīd Japheth, because that is how he is once referred to by his son Levi (Abū Saʿīd) ben Japheth. Together with the Karaite littérateurs Abū ʾl-Surrī ibn Zūṭā, Sahl ben Maṣliaḥ, Salmon ben Jeroham, and Joseph ibn Nūḥ, Japheth was an importa…
Date: 2015-09-03

13–17.1.4.5 Esther

(3,165 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
13–17 Five Scrolls 13–17.1 Primary Translations  13–17.1.4 Peshitta 13–17.1.4.5.1 Background Translated by the end of the second century C.E., the original text of the Peshiṭta version of Esther (S-Esth)—as far as such can be retrieved—represents a clear and close (though not slavish) rendering of the Hebrew text as represented by MT (17.2.2). In only a handful of instances, after allowing for the possibility of scribal corruption in the Syriac transmission process, does the extant text of S-Esth reason…
Date: 2016-11-09
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