Anan ben Daniel ben Saul, Rabbinic Ananite

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Anan ben Daniel ben Saul, Rabbinic Ananite

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Son of Daniel ben Saul ben Anan, Rabbinic Ananite and unknown bat Shemaiah ben Ruzbihan

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About Anan ben Daniel ben Saul, Rabbinic Ananite

The Muslim historian al-Bīrūnī (d. after 1050) states that Daniel ben Saul’s son, whose name was Anan, was the person who founded the Ananite movement in about 890. According to Gil, the exilarchic branch of the House of Anan only joined the Karaites and became their leaders in the second half of the ninth century, the period when Daniel and his son Anan (Anan II) were active. In Gil’s opinion, the fact that both Daniel and Ṣemaḥ held leadership positions in the Rabbanite establishment demonstrates that it was only in a later period that Anan ben David could have been credited with establishing the Ananite movement. André Paul assumed, even before Gil, that the Rabbanite source recounting that Anan ben David managed to get out of prison during his struggle over the exilarchate with his brother, the exilarch Ḥananiah, by claiming that he was not rebelling against him but rather establishing a new Jewish sect, fits the period of al-Ma'mūn, during whose reign Daniel was trying to attain the exilarchate. Thus the story should not be attributed to the era of al-Manṣūr’s caliphate, when Anan ben David was active.

In summary, the sources indicate that Daniel, Anan’s grandson, was the person who engaged in a struggle over the office of exilarch around the year 825. The outcome was significant for all the dhimmī communities in the Abbasid caliphate. The support Daniel received from factions in the Rabbanite establishment and the fact that his nephew Ṣemaḥ served as the head of the Palestinian yeshiva have posed difficult questions about the origins of the Karaite movement. A final verdict is not yet possible. As for Anan II, Daniel’s son, there is only uncorroborated evidence from a single Muslim source that credits him with founding the Ananite movement. His descendants, if there were any, disappeared from the historical arena.

Abramson, Sheraga. In the Centers and in the Diaspora (Jerusalem, 1965), pp. 9–20 [Hebrew].

Gil, Moshe. Jews in Islamic Countries in the Middle Ages (Leiden: Brill, 2004), pp. 105–111, 221-223.

Mann, Jacob. Texts and Studies, vol. 2 (New York: Ktav, 1972), pp. 128–131.

Paul, André. Ecrits de Qumran et sectes juives aux premiers siècles de lʿIslam (Paris: Letouzey & Ané, 1969), pp. 15-24.

Yoram Erder. " Daniel ben Saul ben Anan." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online , 2012. Reference. Jim Harlow. 09 July 2012 <>

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