Benzamero

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BENZAMERO

BENZAMERO , Spanish-Moroccan family. Its best-known members in Spain lived chiefly in Seville. judah ben ephraim (1245–1330); moses (i) and his son ephraim, were 14th-century financiers; and solomon (i) and meir (i), 14th-century physicians. isaac (i) settled in Badajoz, Spain, where shortly before the 1492 expulsion Ferdinand and Isabella intervened to ensure that the large sums he had advanced them for the war against Granada would be repaid. He was probably the same Isaac Benzamero who after 1496 settled in Safi (Morocco). He became the treasurer of the Portuguese governors there, exercising important political influence, and was entrusted with many diplomatic missions, both to the king in Lisbon and to the Moroccan leaders. With his relative ishmael he led 200 Jewish soldiers who took part in the defense of Safi when it was besieged by the sharif of Marrakesh in 1510.

Isaac's brother abraham ben meir (d. c. 1530), paytan, physician and diplomat, lived in Granada and Malaga, and then in Tlemcen and Oran. In 1493 in Oran he wrote philosophic poems, quoted by Abraham *Gavison in his Omer ha-Shikhḥah. Later he settled in Safi, and there, in 1510, by decree of King Emmanuel I, was appointed chief rabbi with wide powers. Abraham b. Meir's political role in Portuguese affairs in Morocco was preeminent. He was highly regarded both by his coreligionists and the Muslims. He was also esteemed by King John iii of Portugal, who received him at his court, and by the sultans of Fez and the sharifs of Marrakesh. David *Reuveni made his acquaintance in Lisbon.

In the 16th century judah and sliman held eminent positions in commerce. A letter is extant from their nephews samuel and his brothers, which mentions the existence of independent Jewish warrior tribes in the western Sahara, a fact which is confirmed in other sources. aaron (16th century) was deputy governor of Agadir (Morocco), where he built a synagogue that received the former Marranos from the Canary Islands. abraham, who was official interpreter in Mazagan (1527), was evacuated to Arzila when the Portuguese lost their southern Morocco territories (after 1541).

The Benzameros then settled in Fez. Even before 1560 solomon (ii) had undertaken official functions, for which he received secretly large sums of money from Jeanne d'Autriche. moses (ii) converted at the Escorial (the Spanish royal palace), took the name Pablo de Santa-Maria, and became a royal councillor. This caused a great scandal but the family continued to hold a leading position in Moroccan Jewish affairs. isaac (ii), rabbi and dayyan, signed takkanot of Fez, when david was nagid (1600–05). joseph published Divrei David by *David b. Solomon ibn Abi Zimra at Leghorn in 1828, when his own work Hon Yosef appeared also. In Safi the family burial vaults, called the "Seven Zamero sons," were until recent years the site of frequent pilgrimages.

bibliography:

I. Loeb, in: rej, 22 (1891), 104; Baer, Urkunden, 1 pt. 1 (1929), 182, 404; 1 pt. 2 (1936), 127, 162, 384–9; J. Caro Baroja, Los judíos en la España moderna, 1 (1962), 80; Suárez Fernández, Documentos, 401; J.M. Toledano, Ner ha-Ma'arav (1911), 88–89; J. Ben-Naim, Malkhei Rabbanan (1931), 25, 31–32, 72; sihm, Portugal, 1–5 (1934–53), passim; sihm, Espagne, 3 (1961), 11–13; Hirschberg, Afrikah, 1 (1965), 319–21; Corcos, in: Sefunot, 10 (1966), 57, 59–69.

[David Corcos]