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Ben Yijū Family

(1,773 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
The Ben Yijū family of traders and scholars is known from documents in the Cairo Geniza. Its most colorful member was Abraham Ben Yijū in the twelfth century, whose enterprises took him as far as India. The family originated in Tunisia; over the next few generations members lived in Sicily and Egypt. The family name Ben Yijū is of Berber origin. The founder of the family was probably under the protection of the Aït Īshū (part of the Izaïn and Aït Sgugu tribes), and the name continued in use among Maghrebi Jews into modern times as Bénichou (see Bénichou Family). The documents of the Cairo Geni…

Ibn Bundār, Ḥasan , Abū ‘Alī (Japheth)

(662 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Abū ‘Alī Ḥasan (Japheth) ibn Bundār, in the second half of the eleventh century and the beginning of the twelfth, was the “representative/trustee of the merchants” (Heb. peqid ha-soḥerim; Ar. wakīl al-tujjār) in Aden and “head of the [Jewish] communities” (Heb. roshar ha-qehillot; Ar. rayyis) in southern Yemen. The name Bundār (Pers. established, intelligent, rich) indicates that either he or his predecessors came to Yemen from Iran—the former scenario being more likely, because Ḥasan is the first member of the Bundār family in Yemen attested in the extant records (Goitein, Yemenit…
Date: 2015-09-03

Eleazar ben Ḥalfon ha-Kohen

(547 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Eleazar (Elʿazar) ben Ḥalfon ha-Kohen came to the attention of modern scholars as a poet separate and distinct from other poets named Elʿazar ha-Kohen only with the publication in 1954 of five of his poems discovered by Alexander Scheiber among the leaves and fragments of the Kaufmann Geniza Collection (see Cairo Geniza). Since then a total of twenty-two poems by Eleazar, most of them complete, have been discovered and published by Scheiber,  Jefim (Ḥayyim) Schirmann, and Ezra Fleisher from the remnants of four MSS: (1) Kaufmann MS…

Shabīb ben Jacob

(416 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Shabīb ben Jacob was a resident of Qayrawān, Ifrīqiya (Tunisia), in the latter half of the ninth century, and is one of five named individuals attested by documents from the Cairo Geniza as spiritual-halakhic authorities (i.e., bearers of the title rav and rabbana) of Qayrawān’s Jewish community in that century (the others being Nathan ben Ḥananiah/Ḥanina, Judah ben Saul, Ḥonay, and Samuel). Shabīb is mentioned by Sherira Gaon as the recipient of a responsum written in 870 by Amram ben Sheshna Gaon (Lewin, p. 70, l. 1) and is also the a…
Date: 2015-09-03

Daniel ben Ḥasday

(594 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Daniel ben Ḥasday (Ḥisday) served as exilarch in Baghdad after the death of his father, Ḥasday ben David b. Hezekiah. The date of Daniel’s accession is uncertain. It was no earlier than 1113, because Ḥasday ben David is mentioned as exilarch in a bill of sale written that year. It was no later than 1120, because Daniel is mentioned in a Purim-style story in the Cairo Geniza concerning an edict issued that year against the Jews of Baghdad and their eventual deliverance (for the lat…
Date: 2015-09-03

ʿAlī ibn Sulaymān

(1,483 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
‘Alī ibn Sulaymān, whose full Arabic name is attested as Abu ʾl-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn Sulaymān al-Muqaddasī—or, as otherwise attested in Hebrew (cf. Skoss, Commentary, p. 34; Mann, p. 41; Ibn al-Hītī, p. 435, l. 21), ‘Eli ben Shelomo (i.e., Eli ben Solomon)—was a Karaite grammarian-lexicographer and Bible exegete who flourished toward the end of the eleventh century and the beginning of the twelfth. As suggested by his nisba, he was a native of Jerusalem, but he clearly must have departed before the Crusader destruction of the Jewish community there in 1099. According…
Date: 2015-09-03

Levi (Abū Saʿīd) ben Japheth

(903 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Levi ha-Levi ben Japheth (Yefet), also known as Abū Saʿīd, flourished in the first half of the eleventh century. He was the younger of the two known sons of Japheth ben Eli , the Karaite Bible exegete par excellence (his brother being ʿAlī Saʿīd, or Saʿadya, ha-Levi). Like his father, Levi apparently resided in Jerusalem, where, according to Ibn al-Hītī , he counted Jeshua ben Judah (Abū ’l-Faraj Furqān ibn Asad) among his pupils. Later Karaite writers sometimes incorrectly refer to Levi as Saʿīd (not Abū Saʿīd) or Saʿ…
Date: 2015-09-03

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

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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