Yitzhak Ẓemaḥ ben Palṭoi Kohen Ṣedeq, Gaon of Pumbeditha

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Yitzhak Ẓemaḥ ben Palṭoi Kohen Ṣedeq (Yosef Ibomai), Gaon of Pumbeditha

Also Known As: "Ẓemaḥ Gaon", "Zemach Gaon"
Birthdate: (42)
Death: circa 890 (34-50)
Immediate Family:

Son of Paltoi Yishai bar Abaye Kohen Ṣedeq, Gaon of Pumbeditha and unknown bar Abaye Kohen Ṣedeq
Husband of 1st wife of Zemah
Father of Judith bat Ẓemaḥ ben Palṭoi Kohen Ṣedeq Gaon of Pumbeditha; Palṭoi ben Ẓemaḥ Kohen Ṣedeq; Tov ben ben Zemah ben Palṭoi Kohen Ṣedeq, haDayyan of Pumbeditha and Mar Samuel ben Zemah ben Palṭoi Kohen Ṣedeq, Rosh haSeder b'Pumbeditha

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About Yitzhak Ẓemaḥ ben Palṭoi Kohen Ṣedeq, Gaon of Pumbeditha

Ṣemaḥ Ṣedeq ben Isaacserved as gaon of Sura from sometime after 987 until before 999. He was the first gaon of the Sura academy after the four-decade closure that began in 942. A grandson of Ṣemaḥ ben Palṭoy, gaon of Pumbedita from 872 to 890, Ṣemaḥ Ṣedeq corresponded with Elhanan ben Shemariah, whom he knew as a student of Sherira and Hay Gaon in Pumbedita, and he made efforts to strengthen ties between Sura and Fustat. In letters he wrote to Elhanan preserved in the Cairo Geniza, Semaḥ explained his position on theological topics such as God's unity and attributes. He probably also had strong connections to Qayrawan, especially if Gil is correct that Sura reopened because of the success of Ibrāhīm ibn ʿAṭāʾ, the court physician of the Zirid rulers of Ifrīqiya, in raising funds from Maghrebi merchants. Ṣemaḥ Ṣedeq was predeceased by his only son, Palṭoy, who was chief judge of the court (av bet din) of Sura during his father’s gaonate. He was succeeded by Samuel ben Hophni.

Marina Rustow


Abramson, Shraga. Ba-Merkazim u-ve-Tfu ṣ ot bi-Tqufat ha-Geʾonim (Jerusalem: Mosad Harav Kook, 1965), pp. 113, 136.

Brody, Robert. The Geonim of Babylonia and the Shaping of Medieval Jewish Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

Gil, Moshe. Jews in Islamic Countries in the Middle Ages, trans. David Strassler (Leiden: Brill, 2004), § 214 et passim.

Citation Marina Rustow. " Ṣemaḥ Ṣedeq ben Isaac." 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/semah-sedeq-ben-isaac-SIM_0019570>