Abu Suleiman David ibn Yaʿīs̲h̲ ben Yehuda Ibn Ya Ish ben Zakai II ben Zakai II, Nasi, Qāḍī, haDayyan of Toledo

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Abu Suleiman David ibn Yaʿīs̲h̲ ben Yehuda Ibn Ya Ish ben Zakai II ben Zakai II, Nasi, Qāḍī, haDayyan of Toledo

Also Known As: "Ya'ish", "qāḍī", "Ya`īs", "Abun of Granada", "Dawid Sheshnan", "Abu Suleiman Da'ud Sheshna"
Birthplace: Granada, Andalucía, España (Spain)
Death: 1057 (42-51)
Cartaya, Huelva, Andalusia, Spain
Immediate Family:

Son of Yehudah "Zakhai" Natan ben Avraham al-Andalusi Nasi, Qadi de Sidonia ben Avraham al-Andalusī, Nasi, Qaḍī of Sidonia and Hija de Bat David ben Zakkai
Husband of UNDOCUMENTED? Shoshana
Father of Sisnando ben David Davidiz Davidiz, Vizier of Castile, Emir of Toledo, Comtes de Quimbra; Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī "Hiyya al-Daudi", Qaḍī of Cordoba & Toledo; Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Yaʿīs̲h̲ al-Asadī, Nasi,Qadi,Vizier-Sevilla and Private

Occupation: Exilarch, Rosh Golah of Judah, Nasi Qadi haDayyan de Toledo
Managed by: Private User
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About Abu Suleiman David ibn Yaʿīs̲h̲ ben Yehuda Ibn Ya Ish ben Zakai II ben Zakai II, Nasi, Qāḍī, haDayyan of Toledo

David ben Zakai traveled back to Jerusalem around 1064 to live however he left shortly after arriving in Jerusalem and returned to Fez. His departure coincides with the poisoning of Buluggin ibn Badis Sayf al-Dawla by Yosef HaNagid.

David, and other prominent Almeria Families, had backed Habbus instead of Badis in the struggle for control of Granada. This "civil war among Jews" resulted in the ascent of Samuel HaNagid to a position of Prominence and compelled this progenitor of the ibn Yahya family to seek refuge elsewhere.

With the defeat of Zuhair, of Almeria, Granada becomes the headquarters of rule...and forces his descendants to take up residence in Toledo.

Massacres in Cordoba in 1066 prevented him returning to his place of birth; later moving to Cordoba where he died.

David ben Zakai had at least two sons,

1) Hiyya (Chiya a/k/a Yehudah) and,

2) unknown.

David ben Zakai is not to be confused with David ben Zakkai the Exilarch of Babylon who had long-standing disputes with Saadiah Gaon at Sura. David ben Zakai marries a cousin, the daughter of Hai ben Sheriera Gaon; She is, in turn, the result of the marriage of Hai Gaon of Pumbeditha and the daughter of Samuel ben Chofni Gaon.

HE is also identified with "Abun of Granada"

Lack of information and the existence of several writers of the same name make it difficult to identify Abun of Granada. None of his works has been preserved. He does not seem to be the tenth-century Abun cited by al-Ḥarīzī in the Taḥkemoni (chap. 3) or the Abun ben Sherara, a resident of Granada in the second half of the eleventh century, mentioned in the Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wa ʾl-Mudhākara (ed. Halkin, p. 66).

Based on the poems that Moses Ibn Ezra dedicated to him in his dīwān, Abun of Granada was probably a judge, connected by birth or residence to the city of Granada, and a member of the poet’s circle. Several of the poems (nos. 9, 74, 205, 224, 235) extol Abun’s personal qualities, express friendship and affection for him, and allude to the pain of Ibn Ezra’s separation from him. It is likely that Abun was one of the friends with whom Ibn Ezra maintained ties during his exile in the lands of Castile. In this respect, it is significant that in a letter to R. Ḥananel from his exile (p. 286), Ibn Ezra mentions “Rabbana’ Abun” in highly favorable terms as a friend and teacher who comforts him and guides his writing.

The two elegies by Ibn Ezra on the occasion of Abun’s death emphasize his standing as a wise scholar of the law (no. 88) and offer consolation to their anonymous recipient, a distinguished Jew in Granada (no. 71). The verses were accompanied by a brief funeral lament (no. 8) that may have been intended for Abun’s gravestone.

The mention of Abun together with Joseph ben Mayanῑn in a poem (no. 74) has raised the question whether they may have been members of the same family, but no other information supports this thesis. Neither can it be confirmed that he was the author of the liturgical poem with the acrostic Abun edited by Schirmann (Ha-Shira, p. 341).

Aurora Salvatierra Ossorio


Al-Ḥarizi, Judah. Ta ḥ kemoni, ed. Israel Toporowsky (Tel Aviv: Maḥberot le-Sifrut and Mosad Harav Kook, 1952).

Ibn Ezra, Moses. Shire ha- Ḥ ol, ed. Ḥayyim Brody (Berlin: Shocken, 1934/35–77).

Sáenz-Badillos, Ángel, and Judit Targarona Borrás. Diccionario de autores judíos (Sefarad. Siglos X–XV) (Cordova: El Almendro, 1988).

Schirmann, Ḥayyim. Ha-Shira ha-ʿIvrit bi-Sfarad uve-Provans (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1954–56).

Citation Aurora Salvatierra Ossorio. " Abun (of Granada)." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online , 2013. Reference. Jim Harlow. 24 January 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-jews-...>

Short Historical note: Karaite uprisings were occurring in Palestine at the time. It seems to have been caused, in part, by access rights to the Aleppo Codex. A long and detailed dedicatory inscription, which was in the last part of the Aleppo Codex, the inscription from which the names of the scribe and Masorete are known, shows that it was dedicated to the Karaite synagogue in Jerusalem. It states that Yisrael Ben Simha of Basra dedicated the Aleppo Codex to the Karaite community of Jerusalem and placed it under the guardianship of two Karaite leaders, Yoshiahu and Yehezqiyahu. The codex was used for public readings and for study on three occasions: Passover, Pentecost, and the holiday of Tabernacles. Aside from that, arrangements were made so that every believing Jew, Karaite or Rabbinical, could examine the codex in order to resolve questions related to the text of the Bible in accordance with it, questions such as plen? or defective spelling, or open and closed portions.

The dedication does not explain under what circumstances the Aleppo Codex passed from the possession of Aharon Ben Asher, of Tiberias, to Yisrael Ben Simha of Basra. From documents found in the Cairo Geniza, we know that Yehezqiyahu Nasi was alive in 1064. Hence, it is possible that the Aleppo Codex was in Tiberias for more than a hundred years – in the possession of Aharon Ben Asher and perhaps of his heirs or disciples – and then one of the wealthy Karaites of Babylonia purchased it and dedicated it to the Karaite community of Jerusalem. Perhaps the possibility given to rabbinical Jews to examine the Keter was a condition made by the Sages of Tiberias when they sold it.

“The Authenticity of the Aleppo Codex,” Studies in the Aleppo Codex, Publications of the Hebrew University Bible Project I, Jerusalem, 1960, pp. 10-37 (Hebrew). J. S. Penkower,

"Maimonides and the Aleppo Codex," Textus 9 (1981), pp. 39-128. Yosef Ofer,

“The Aleppo Codex in the Light of the Notes made by M. D. Cassuto,” Sefunot 68, 4 (19), 1989, pp. 325-330 (Hebrew).



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. 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, and the list 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.


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Abu Suleiman David ibn Yaʿīs̲h̲ ben Yehuda Ibn Ya Ish ben Zakai II ben Zakai II, Nasi, Qāḍī, haDayyan of Toledo's Timeline

Granada, Andalucía, España
Toledo, España
Almería, Almería, Andalucia, España
Almería, Almería, Andalusia, Spain
Age 47
Cartaya, Huelva, Andalusia, Spain