Elijah ben Solomon ha-Kohen, Gaon of Palestine Yeshiva of Tyre

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Elijah ben Solomon ha-Kohen (ben Azariah ben Israel Gaon ha-Kohen), Gaon of Palestine Yeshiva of Tyre

Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Solomon ben Azariah Gaon ha-Kohen
Husband of Reyna bat Hizkiya "Zuṭṭa"
Father of Sitt al-Sittat "Gevira", al-Bayt Elijah hoKohen al-Yerushalayim; Abiathar ben Elijah haKohen, Final Gaon of Palestine Yeshiva of Tyre and Solomon ben Elijah ha-Kohen, Gaon of Palestine Yeshiva of Damascus
Brother of Yosef ben Solomon haKohen, haDayyan of Palestine Yeshiva of Tyre

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About Elijah ben Solomon ha-Kohen, Gaon of Palestine Yeshiva of Tyre

Elijah ben Solomon ha-Kohen was gaon of the Palestinian yeshiva from 1062 till his death in 1083. His father, Solomon, had served as gaon for barely one year, in 1025, and Elijah’s elder brother, Joseph, was av beit din of the yeshiva during the gaonate of Daniel ben Azariah . After Joseph’s death in 1053, Elijah took over as av bet din, and he succeeded to the gaonate on the death of Daniel ben Azariah in 1062.

The period during which Elijah held office was a time of severe crisis in Palestine. Between 1071 and 1073 the Seljuks wrested the country from the Fatimids, remaining in control until 1089. Elijah and the entire yeshiva (most of them members of his family) were forced to leave Jerusalem. They decided to move to Tyre because it had a large, well-organized Jewish community and, according to some rabbinic opinions, was within the boundaries of the Land of Israel. Tyre had other advantages as well: it was a port city, which facilitated communications with Jewish communities along the Mediterranean coast, especially in Egypt, and the local government was tolerant toward Jews.

Documents from the Cairo Geniza are almost completely silent about Elijah's activities in Tyre, and consequently very little is known about them. Two years before his death, Elijah convened an assembly of representatives from all the Jewish communities, to be held, as was customary, on Hoshana Rabba, but in Tyre rather than Jerusalem, a deviation from tradition. At the convocation he announced that his son Abiathar would inherit the gaonate, and that his other son, Solomon, would become av bet din. One year later, on the same date, he convened an assembly on the territory of the Holy Land proper, in Haifa, where he renewed the appointments and declared all-out war against his Egyptian-based political rival, David ben Daniel ben Azariah , who aspired to take the gaonate away from him. Elijah died in 1083 and was buried in Dalton in the Upper Galilee.

Elinoar Bareket


Cohen, Mark R. Jewish Self-Government in Medieval Egypt (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980).

Gil, Moshe. A History of Palestine, 638–1099 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

Mann, Jacob. The Jews in Egypt and in Palestine under the Fātimid Caliphs, 2 vols. in one (London, 1920 and 1922; repr. New York: Ktav, 1970).

Citation Elinoar Bareket. " Elijah ben Solomon ha-Kohen." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online , 2012. Reference. Jim Harlow. 11 July 2012 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-jews-in-the-islamic-world/elijah-ben-solomon-ha-kohen-SIM_0007270>

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