David II ben Hizkiya II, 39th & 44th Exilarch, Gaon (c.1001 - c.1090) MP

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Nicknames: "David ben Yaḥyā", "David ibn Yaḥyā", "David ben Yaḥyā Sar Shalom"
Birthplace: Baghdad, Baghdād, Iraq
Death: Died
Occupation: 39th & 44th Exilarch, 36ʻ, Exilarque
Managed by: Justin Swanström
Last Updated:

About David II ben Hizkiya II, 39th & 44th Exilarch, Gaon

David ben Hezekiah, who died sometime before 1090, was the son of the Babylonian exilarch Hezekiah II (r. ca. 1000–ca. 1060).

Very little is known about David’s life. He was active in communal affairs in Palestine from the 1030s until about 1055 and is often referred to in Geniza documents (see Cairo Geniza) as nasi, “nasi of the Diasporas of all Israel” (Heb. nesi galuyot kol Yisra’el), and “nagid of the people of the Lord” (Heb. negid ʿam Adonay). Samual HaNagid refers to David ben Hizkiya as visiting al-Andalus for a short while after leaving Palestine.

He obtained the support of the Palestinian gaon Solomon ben Judah, but apparently undermined the yeshiva’s av bet din, Zadok ha-Levi ben Levi, and attempted to usurp his place in the “market” (i.e., ritual slaughtering activities) of Ramle. David may have done all this in order to promote the interests of Elijah ha-Kohen ben Solomon Gaon, who sought to become av bet din himself, with the aim of being appointed gaon afterwards (which is what eventually happened).

As a result of these activities, which aroused the disapproval of many of the yeshiva’s members, David was forced to leave Palestine. He may have returned to Babylonia, perhaps after a brief stay in Egypt. Jacob Mann held that he succeeded his father as exilarch, but Moshe Gil argues that he is not referred to as exilarch in any Geniza document, and therefore did not serve in this capacity. On the basis of Ibn al-Bannā', a Muslim Arab source, this may have been because of a disagreement between the wealthy Baghdad Jews who selected the appointees for senior positions.

David was a talented and prolific liturgical poet, and many of his piyyuṭim have been found in the Geniza. In one poem, apparently written by Eli ben Amram, a prominent figure in Egypt during the second half of the eleventh century, he underscores David ben Hezekia's Davidic lineage as well as his senior positions and his activities as a maḥzir bi-teshuva (Heb. one who encourages penitence). David’s son, Hezekiah III, is mentioned as exilarch in a letter dated 1091.

Elinoar Bareket

Bibliography

Beeri, Tova (ed.). Le-David Mizmor: The Liturgical Poems of David ha-Nasi Son of Hezekiah the Exilarch (Jerusalem: Mekize Nirdamim, 2009).

Gil, Moshe. Jews in Islamic Countries in the Middle Ages (Leiden: Brill, 2004), pp. 433–434.

Mann, Jacob. “Misrat Rosh ha-Gola be-Bavel ve-Histaʿfuta be-Sof Tequfat ha-Ge’onim,” in Poznański Memorial Volume (Warsaw: Ha-Vaʿad shel Bet ha-Keneset ha-Gadol, 1927; repr. Jerusalem 1967/68), Heb. vol., pp. 22–23.

Citation Elinoar Bareket. " David ben Hezekiah." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online , 2012. Reference. Jim Harlow. 10 July 2012 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-jews-in-the-islamic-world/david-ben-hezekiah-SIM_0006380> --------------------