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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,
Date: 2015-09-03

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…
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

Dunash (Abū Sahl) ben Tamīm

(1,170 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Dunash (from Ber.-Ar. dhū nās, master of men, trans. by Heb. adonim) ben Tamim ibn Ya‘qūb al-Isrā’īlī, also known by the kunya Abū Sahl and the nisba  "al-Shaflajī", flourished in the first half of the tenth century as one of the preeminent scholars and jurists ( dayyanim), in Qayrawān (Tunisia). The earliest attested date-point for Dunash’s life is ca. 895, as deduced from his statement in the introduction to his commentary on

Daniel ben Samuel ibn Abī ʾl-Rabīʿ ha-Kohen

(507 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Daniel ben Samuel ibn Abī ʾl-Rabīʿ ha-Kohen succeeded Isaac ben Israel in 1248 as gaon of the main Babylonian yeshiva in Baghdad and continued in office until his death in 1250/51. The Arabic historian Ibn al-Fuwaṭī (p. 218) reports that when Daniel, accompanied by “a throng of Jews and a group of devotees of the dīwān,” was returning to the yeshiva “on foot” after being appointed by the chief qāḍī ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, he was met by “a group of the common people [who] interposed with the intent to stone him, yet they were rebuffed in their endeavor and prevented.” Wh…
Date: 2015-09-03

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 Geniza, as mediated through the research of S. D. Goitein and M. A. Friedman, afford us a fascinating glimpse into the lives of four generations of the Ben Yijū family, encompassing (albeit with abundant lacunae) approximately 150 years, from 1132 (a deed of manumission by Abraham Ben Yijū) to 1286 (a writ of excommunication signed by Peraḥya ben Nissīm). The most amply attested and, by far, the most colorful and intriguing member of this family was Abraham Ben Yijū, w…

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
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

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

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

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

Baradānī, Nahum al-

(689 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Nahum al-Baradānī flourished in the second half of the tenth century and the first decade of the eleventh as the third (at least) in a line of poets and cantors. As indicated by his name, the family must once have been based in the Baghdad suburb of Baradān, but this would have been before the time of Nahum’s father, Joseph, who served as the “Great Cantor” in Baghdad’s central synagogue. Although his main occupation seems to have been as a merchant—and a quite wealthy one, at that—Nahum is know…
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

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

Tanḥum ben Joseph ha-Yerushalmi

(1,327 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Tanḥum ben Joseph ha-Yerushalmi was unknown to Western scholars until the latter half of the seventeenth century, when the English orientalist Edward Pococke(1604–1691) brought several manuscript copies of Tanḥum’s writings to Europe from the Near East and published extracts from them in several of his own works. Tanḥum’s works make frequent eulogistic references to a host of medieval authorities, from Saʿadya Gaon (d. 942) down to Joseph Ibn ʿAqnīn (d. ca. 1220), and the attested date of the ol…
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

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

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

Elḥanan ben Ḥushiel

(11 words)

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