Abu Zakariya Yehuda ben Moshe haKohen Alfaquin, haRoffe

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Abu Zakariya Yehuda ben Moshe haKohen Alfaquin, haRoffe

Also Known As: "Don Yhuda Mosca", "Yhuda Mosca "el Menor"", "Yhuda fi de Mose fi de Mosca", "and Yhuda el Cohen", "Coheneso Alfaquin"
Birthplace: Toledo, Toledo, Castile-La Mancha, Spain
Immediate Family:

Son of Moshe HaKohen and Parise
Brother of Don Avraham HaKohen, haRoffe Al-Hakim of Toledo

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Immediate Family

About Abu Zakariya Yehuda ben Moshe haKohen Alfaquin, haRoffe

Judah ben Moses ha-Kohen, called in Christian sources Don Yhuda Mosca, Yhuda Mosca el Menor, Yhuda fi de Mose fi de Mosca, and Yhuda el Cohen (or Coheneso) Alfaquin, was one of the foremost translators working in the court of Alfonso X ("the Learned") of Castile (ca. 1243-1272). He was probably born in Toledo, probably into the well-known Ibn Matqa family, and was rabbi of the Toledo synagogue. In addition to Hebrew, he was literate in Arabic, Castilian, and Latin, and was learned in astronomy and astrology, the disciplines in which he worked as a translator under the patronage of Alfonso X; he was also a royal physician.

In most cases, the Alphonsine translations were not individual affairs but team efforts in which a Jew translated the original Arabic text into Castilian, and a Christian reworked the Castilian version or translated it into Latin. The process was somewhat different in the case of Judah ben Moses, who seems to have been a master of all the relevant languages. His known translations into Latin included Azarchiel's Tratado de la açafeha (1231, with Guillelmus Anglicus); his translations into Castilian, L apidario (1250, with Garci Pérez), Ibn Abī-l-Rigāl's Libro complido en los iudizios de las estrellas (1254), Libro de la ochava espera (1256, with Guillen Arremon d'Aspa, not extant), Libro de las cruzes (1259, with Juan d'Aspa), Qusṭā ibn Lūqā's Libro de la alcora (1259, with Juan d'Aspa), and Ptolemy's Tetrabiblon or Quatripartito (1271-1275, not extant).

In addition to translating, Judah participated in the compilation of the astronomical tables of Alphonse X (1277), which surpassed the classic Toledan tables of Azarchiel and had a long history in medieval and Renaissance astronomy (Copernicus annotated them). In the last years of his life, he focused on ordering and revising previous translations. We do not know the place or date of his death.

Josefina Rodríguez Arribas


Bossong, Georg. Probleme der Übersetzung wissenschaftlicher Werke aus dem Arabischen in das Altspanische zur Zeit Alfons des Weisen (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1979).

Gil, José S. La escuela de traductores de Toledo y los colaboradores judíos (Toledo: Instituto provincial de investigaciones y estudios toledanos, 1985).

Hilty, Gerold. Aly Aben Ragel El libro conplido en los iudizios de las estrellas, pts. 6 and 8 (Saragossa: Instituto de estudios islámicos y del Oriente Próximo, 2005).

Millás Vallicrosa, Jose María. Las traducciones orientales en los manuscritos de la Biblioteca Catedral de Toledo (Madrid: CSIC-Insituto Arias Montano, 1942).

Romano, David. La ciencia hispanojudía (Madrid: Mapfre, 1992).

Roth, Norman. "Jewish Collaborators in Alfonso's Scientific Work," in Emperor of Culture: Alfonso X the Learned of Castile and His Thirteenth Century Renaissance, ed. Robert I. Burns (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990), pp. 59-71.

Cite this page

Josefina Rodríguez Arribas. "Judah ben Moses ha-Kohen." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online, 2013. <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-jews-...>

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