Gedaliah ben Yosef ibn Yahya

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Gedaliah ben Yosef ibn Yahya

Birthdate: (72)
Birthplace: Imola, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Death: 1587 (71)
Alexandria Governorate, Alexandria, Egypt
Immediate Family:

Son of Yosef ibn Yahya
Husband of . ibn Yahya
Father of Moshe ben Gedaliah ibn Yachya; Yosef ben Gedaliah ibn Yachya; David ben Gedaliah ibn Yachya and Yehuda ben Gedaliah ibn Yahya, [Charlap progenitor]
Brother of David ibn Yachya and Don Yehuda ibn Yahya

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About Gedaliah ben Yosef ibn Yahya

Gedaliah ben Yosef ibn Yahya who was born 1515 CE in Imola, Italy. He studied in the yeshibah at Ferrara under Jacob Finzi and Abraham Rovigo and Israel Rovigo. In 1549 he settled in Rovigo, where he remained until 1562, in which year the burning of the Talmud took place in Italy. He then went to Codiniola, and three years later to Salonica, whence he returned in 1567 to his native town. Expelled with other Jews by Pope Pius V, and suffering a loss of 10,000 gold pieces, he went to Pesaro, and thence to Ferrara, where he remained till 1575. During the ensuing eight years he led a wandering life, and finally settled in Alexandria, which is probably where he died in 1587.

Gedaliah ben Yosef ibn Yahya's chief work was the Sefer Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah, called also Sefer Yaḥya, on which he labored for more than forty years. This work has defects, having suffered either by reason of the author's itinerant mode of life or through faulty copying of the original manuscript. Its contents are as follows:

  • History and genealogy of the Jews from the time of Moses until that of Moses Norzi (1587)
  • Account of the heavenly bodies, Creation, the soul, magic, and evil spirits
  • History of the peoples among which the Jews have dwelt, and a description of the unhappy fate of the author's coreligionists up to his time.

Some scholars argue that the value of this work is diminished by the facts that the writer has included many oral narratives which he gathered partly in his home, partly in Salonica and Alexandria., and that, at times, he fails to provide proofs and evidence. For these reasons the book has been called "The Chain of Lies"; but Loeb has proved that it is more accurate than many have supposed it to be. The Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah was published at Venice, 1587; Cracow, 1596; Amsterdam, 1697; Zolkiev, 1802, 1804; Polonnoye, 1814; and Lemberg, 1862. Members of the Charlap family descend from Gedaliah, and through him, to the Exilarchs of Babylonia who descend from King David.

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Gedaliah ben Yosef ibn Yahya's Timeline

December 1515
Imola, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Age 16
Age 19
Age 24
Age 24
Salonika, Central Macedonia, Greece
Age 71
Alexandria, Egypt