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Eldad ha-Dani

(394 words)

Author(s): David J. Wasserstein
Eldad ha-Dani (Eldad the Danite) was a quasi-messianic adventurer who turned up in Qayrawān, Ifrīqiya (present-day Tunisia), apparently in 883, claiming to belong to the ancient Israelite tribe of Dan (hence “ha-Dani”). The name Eldad is scarcely found at this time; tribal identities had disappeared a thousand years earlier; and Dan was in any case one of the so-called Ten Lost Tribes taken away in the eighth century B.C.E. and disappearing from history. Thus, both name and affiliation can safely be regarded as inventions. So too the assertions that he …

Ibn Jaw, Jacob

(377 words)

Author(s): David J. Wasserstein
Jacob ibn Jaw lived in Cordova in the second half of the tenth century. He and his brother Joseph became rich in the silk trade and had government contracts that brought them into contact with the country’s rulers. According to our principal source, the Sefer ha-Qabbala (Book of Tradition) of Abraham Ibn Da’ud, the ḥājib (vizier) al-Manṣūr Ibn Abī ʿᾹmir (r. 976–1002) appointed Jacob civil head (Heb. nasi) of the Jews in the Cordovan state, “from Sijilmasa to the river Duero,” with administrative, judicial, and taxation powers, entitlement to public honors, and …

Lévi-Provençal, Evariste

(528 words)

Author(s): David J. Wasserstein
Evariste Lévi-Provençal (né Maklouf Evariste Lévi) was a distinguished and highly assimilated French-Jewish orientalist who was  born in Algeria in 1894, and taught in Morocco, Algeria, and France. Deprived of his teaching post under the Vichy regime, he spent the war years in Toulouse and then in Cairo, but returned to France and a chair at the Sorbonne after the Allied victory in 1945.Lévi-Provençal was one of the most productive and influential French Islamists of his day, founding or editing several scholarly journals and serving as an editor of the second edition of the Encyclopaedi…


(259 words)

Author(s): David J. Wasserstein
Several traditions preserved in Arabic sources mention a Jew named Sumayr as one of the minters who produced the earliest Islamic silver coins (dirhams) during the reign of the Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān (r. 685–705). The coins were known as “Sumayris” because of Sumayr’s involvement in their production. One late source gives his home as Taymā’, an oasis in Arabia that had a considerable Jewish population before the advent of Islam. The sources relate the story of Sumayr along with others, involving Muslims, in ways which are atomized and…