Anan ben David and his Descendants (and the mysterious Karaites from Al-Hit), Part II
מתוך ספרו של פירקוביץ "מסה ומריבה"
Notice the interesting characters who provided funding for Firkovich's work.
Elgamil mentions that the Karaite Jews of Al-Hit were traditionally descended from Anan ben David himself.
More on Hit later.
Here is some additional information on some Anan ben David's immediate descendants from Brill:
David ben Boaz (421 words)
In his writings, notably but certainly not atypically among Karaites of the Karaite “Golden Age” (9th–11th centuries), David cites both tannaitic and amoraic sources. He was well regarded as a scholar and was often cited as an authority by both contemporary and later Karaite writers. According to his son Solomon, moreover, he was the first Karaite to oppose his sect’s rikkuv, or catenary, theory of forbidden marriages.
Among David’s known and more or less extant works are fragments of Arabic commentaries (tafāsīr), with translation (tarājim), on the Pentateuch (Mss. Brit. Lib. Or. 2403 [§304], 2494 [§318], fols. 1r–30v, 2495 [§306], 2561 [§305], fols. 1r–74v, 2562 [§307]; JTSA 8916; RNL Yevr.-Arab. I 4803; T-S Ar.21.133), Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations (both in Ms. Brit. Lib. Or. 2552 [§299], fols. 90r–141v). Not extant are an Arabic commentary, probably with translation, on Psalms (an abridgement by ʿAlī ben Sulaymān is extant in fragments) and, according to Ibn al-Hītī, a work entitled Kitāb al-Uṣūl (The Book of Roots/Fundamentals), the topic of which is unclear.
Michael G. Wechsler
Pinsker, Simcha. Liqquṭe qadmoniyyot (Zur Geschichte des Karaismus und der karäischen Literatur) (Vienna: Adalbert della Torre, 1860).
Polliack, Meira (ed.). Karaite Judaism: A Guide to Its History and Literary Sources, Handbuch der Orientalistik, Erste Abteilung, Nahe und der Mittlere Osten 73 ( Leiden: Brill, 2003).
Poznański, Samuel. The Karaite Literary Opponents of Saadiah Gaon (London: Luzac,1908; repr. from Jewish Quarterly Review, o.s. 18 : 209–250; 19 : 59–83; 20 : 74–85, 216–231.
Steinschneider, Moritz. Die arabische Literatur der Juden (Frankfurt a.M.: J. Kauffmann, 1902; repr., Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1986).
Cite this pageMichael G. Wechsler. "David ben Boaz." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. National Library of Israel. 10 October 2013 <http://www.brillonline.nl/
Daniel ben Saul ben Anan (1,029 words)
Sherira Gaon was interested in the struggle over the exilarchate because it caused a split in the Pumbedita yeshiva. By his account, the conflict broke out during Abraham ben Sherira’s incumbency as gaon of Pumbedita (816–828). A competitor for the exilarchate appointed theav bet din (chief judge) of the academy to the post of gaon as a quid pro quo for the av bet din’s support; this gave rise to a situation in which two geonim were serving simultaneously. Sherira failed to mention who it was that the av bet din had backed. As for the rival candidates for the exilarchate, Sherira merely gave the name Daniel (without patronymic) as the rival ofDavid ben Judah. The responsa of the gaon of Sura, Naṭronay bar Hilay (853–861), preserved in the siddur (prayerbook) of Rav Amram Gaon (861–872), note that Anan ben David had a grandson named Daniel.
That a grandson of Anan ben David could have received support from one of the gaonic academies in a contest for the exilarchate caused scholars to question the identity of David benJudah’s rival. Jacob Mann claimed that this Daniel could not have been the grandson of the man who according to early Karaite sources had founded the Ananite movement. He found it inconceivable that a member of this family would have had supporters in the bastion of the Babylonian Rabbanite establishment. With respect to the assertion of Bar Hebraeus, Mann maintained that he had conflated two notables who were both active at that time, one of them being Daniel the exilarch, a Rabbanite, and therefore supported by members of the Rabbanite camp, and the other Daniel ben Saul, the grandson of Anan, who was obviously in the Karaite camp.
A recently discovered document from the Cairo Geniza indicates that the Daniel who was striving to become exilarch was indeed the grandson of Anan and was supported by a faction in the Sura yeshiva. No less surprising, another Geniza document, dealing with the history of the Palestinian gaonate, reveals that Anan’s great-grandson, Ṣemaḥ ben Josiah ben Saul benAnan ben David (the son of Daniel’s brother), served as head of the Palestinian yeshiva for thirty-one years, till about 893. Ṣemaḥ was apparently not the only gaon from the House ofAnan in the Palestinian yeshiva. According to Moshe Gil, an anonymous letter written by a Babylonian exilarch indicates that there was an alliance between the Palestinian yeshiva headed by the House of Anan and Daniel the exilarch. This letter, which Gil ascribes to Daniel, deals with the calendrical arrangements for the year 835, and in it the exilarch declares that the sages of Palestine support him on issues related to the calendar. It should be noted that scholars are still divided about the identity of this exilarch.
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 Davidcould 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.
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.
Cite this pageYoram Erder. "Daniel ben Saul ben Anan." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. National Library of Israel. 10 October 2013 <http://www.brillonline.nl/
The Mysterious Community in Al-Hit
We know very little about the community there. Here are some sources I have come across.
Jewish Virtual Library: