Elijah ha-Levi, born in the late 1730s or early 1740s, belonged to a distinguished Moroccan family of merchants, scholars and court Jews, and he himself was one of the most powerful Jewish retainers (Ar.
aṣḥāb al-sulṭān) of the Alawid sultan Sīdī Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh (r. 1757–1790). His father, Judah, was a prosperous merchant in Rabat-Salé and
shaykh (nagid) of its Jewish community. Like his father, Elijah was one of the so-called sultan's merchants (Ar.
al-sulṭān), not only conducting business on the ruler’s behalf, but also acting as an intermediary with foreign consuls…