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Davidic Lineage of Ibn Yahya

The Ibn Yahya family were descended from the hereditary heads of the Sanhedrin in Tiberias, thence through the Exilarchs back to King David.

Ibn Yahya elite family history is virtually a capsule version of the Sephardic Jews in Spain and Portugal. Treasurers for various kings of Portugal and Spain, authors of biblical commentaries, poets, mathematicians, astrologers, and physicians, almost every generation of this family produced individuals of outstanding capabilities.

The pedigree is unbroken from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries, when members of the family were to be found in Amsterdam, Italy, and Constantinople.

The aim of this project to join different branches of Yachia descendants from Spain, Portugal, Amsterdam, Italy, Constantinople, and the Poland Charlaps'

Yahia is Arabic for Chiya, which is Aramaic for Chaim. The Ibn-Yahia family derived the name from Chiya al-Daudi. “Ibn Yahia” means “descendant of Yahia” (or Chiya); “al-Daudi” means “the Davidic” (descendant). We recall that Chiya al-Daudi, who died in Castile in 1154, was a descendant of the Babylonian-Persian-Iraqi Exilarchs.

In Jüdische Familien-Forschung (Jewish Family Research) (Berlin, 1924–1938), the early journal of Jewish genealogy in Germany, there are several articles that discuss descent of this family from King David (pages 261–4, 441–2, 457–462, 486–497 and 538).

The most interesting part is a list of generations entitled “The Yahia Document.”

  • It starts with King David, goes to Berachya (450 BCE), and then there is a gap from 450 to 320 BCE.
  • Then it resumes from Chisdia (300 BCE) and continues to David ben Zakkai, the exilarch in Iraq who died in 940 CE. Then there is a big gap with a few uncertain generations.
  • The list then continues from Chiya al-Daudi (1090–1154) in Spain. The “Ibn Yahia” is changed to “Don Yahia”— this part of Spain is now under Christian rule. The “Dons” continue to Don David (born in 1580) in Turkey, the last of the Yahia line on this list.
  • About 1550, a Polish branch appears with Eliezer Charlap. “Charlap” is an acronym with several versions. According to one, it derives from “Chiya Rosh Le-Goley Portugal” (Chiya, head of the exiles from Portugal).
  • Another one is “Chiya Rosh Le-Goley Polin” (Chiya, head of exiles to Poland, or Chiya, the first of the emigrants to Poland).
  • Still another is “Chiya Rosh Le-Galil Polin” (Chiya, the head of the region of Poland).

There are explanations for each of the versions, but since proof of descent is the issue at hand, these interpretations are omitted.

The story goes that a Chiya came from Iraq to Poland about 1020 after the martyrdom of his father. The above list shows a gap of about 500 years until the reported appearance of the first Charlap, Eliezer ben David (born 1550). The last Charlap on this list is R. Eliezer Zvi Charlap (born about 1780–90).

  • As we can see, the Charlaps are not descendants of the Yahias, but of an early Babylonian-Iraqi branch.

- Some of that is reported by Gedaliah ibn Yahia (1515–1587) in Shalshelet Ha-Kabbalah (The Chain of Tradition) (Venice, 1587)

- And by Eliakim Carmoly in Divrei Ha-Yamim li-Bnei Yahia (History of the Yahia Family) (Frankfurt am Main, 1850).

Gedaliah ibn Yahia goes back to about 1055 CE to Yahia ibn Yaish, apparently the founder of the family. Carmoly does not go earlier than about 1200, the time of Nassi Don Yahia. Some of the later descendants changed their name from Don Yahia to Donkhin.

In one of the above articles, Rabbi Benzion Don Yahia Donkhin (ca.1927) reports that he saw two genealogical tables.

Table (1)

  • One was in Migdanot Eliezer (Eliezer's Gifts) (Warsaw, 1890)
  • And in Hod Tehilla (The Glory of Praise) (Warsaw, 1899),

Both of the above by Rabbi Eliezer Tzvi Charlap of Mezerich (died 1849).

Table (2)

  • The other table was in a Hebrew journal, Knesset Hagdolah (Warsaw, 1899), in which was printed a copy of an old manuscript signed by Rabbi David, son of Gedaliah ibn Yahia, author of Shalshelet Ha-Kabbalah.

Both lists had a succession of names going back to King David.

A large part of each list included names from the Babylonian-Persian-Iraqi period, discussed in the genealogy of the family of Judah Loew the Elder.

While we can accept these lists as authentic, we cannot consider the questionable parts as satisfactory proof of Davidic descent. Indeed, the authors of the articles discuss a number of contradictions and inconsistencies in dates and relationships.

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  1. Yahya ibn Ya'ish
  2. Joseph ibn Yahya ha-Zaken
  3. Solomon ibn Yahya ha-Zaken
  4. Gedaliah ibn Yahya ha-Zaken ben Solomon
  5. Joseph ibn Yahya ben Solomon
  6. David bin Yahya Negro ben Gedaliah (h-Rab shel Sefarad)
  7. judah ibn Yahya Negro ben David
  8. Gedailiah ibn Yahya ben Solomon (Mestre Guedelha Fysico e Astrologo)
  9. Solomon ibn Yahya ben David
  10. Joseph ibn Yahya ben David
  11. Dinah Yahya
  12. Gedaliah ibn Yahya ben David
  13. David ibn Yahya ben Solomon
  14. David ibn Yahya ben Joseph
  15. Solomon ibn yahya ben Joseph
  16. Meir ibn Yahya ben Joseph
  17. Joseph ibn Yahya ben David
  18. Judah ibn Yahya ben Joseph
  19. David ibn Yahya ben Joseph
  20. Gedaliah ibn Yahya ben Joseph
  21. Jacob Tam ibn Yahya ben David
  22. Joseph ibn Yahya bar Jacob Tam
  23. Gedaliah ibn Yahya ben Jacob Tam
  24. Tam ibn Yahya ben Gedaliah
  25. Moses ibn Yahya ben Gedaliah
  26. Gedaliah ibn Yahya ben Moses
  27. Bonsenior bin Yahya (called also Maestro bin Yahya)
  28. Judah ibn Yahya ben Gedaliah
  29. Reuben ibn Yahya ben Solomon Hezekiah
  30. Samuel ibn Yahya
  31. Solomon ibn Yahya
  32. Zerahiah ibn Yahya

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The Ibn Yahya/Yachia/Yahia/Jachia Family

A prophecy and insight from ibn Yahya.

Ibn Yachya’s prophetic words can be found in the book of Daniel (8:14) in the Orim Gedolim edition of Mikraot Gedolot. Scholars of the Ibn Yachya’s stature, Yosef Karo personally handled his burial, did not utter words lightly.

The prophecy of Daniel, by the Ibn Yachya:

He writes: “The pekida [a glimpse of how the final Redemption will unfold, based on God's assessment of whether a generation merits it] in the days of King Koresh [on whose orders the Second Temple was built] was incomplete, and it was in accordance with their not being ready to accept it.

[It was incomplete] because the gedolim [the elite, the leaders] did not want to leave the exile. Only the reikim [those devoid of Torah, the uneducated, the uncommitted] went up with Ezra to Eretz Yisrael.” (Only 42,360 Jews followed Ezra to Eretz Yisrael, according to Nehemiah 7:66.). Source