David ben Boaz

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DAVID BEN BOAZ (also called David ha-Nasi or Abu Sa ʿīd David ben Boaz ; 10th–11th centuries), Karaite scholar. According to Karaite tradition, David was a fifth generation removed from *Anan b. David b. Boaz. It is reported that his father died a martyr. One tradition relates that David and his brother Josiah took part in the polemic between *Saadiah Gaon and *David b. Zakkai (930–37). However another source places his activity half a century later. Possibly the reports are not contradictory, David living to a very old age. He was the head of the Karaites in Jerusalem, a position which he inherited from his father and grandfather and bequeathed to his son Solomon (who is known to have been living in 1016). His works, written in Arabic, include (1) a translation of the Pentateuch with a commentary of which only portions on Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy have been preserved (British Museum, Ms. Or. 2403, 2561, et al.; Ms. Leningrad); in this commentary David opposes certain opinions of Saadiah Gaon, but in a restrained manner; he also appends citations from the Talmud, explanatory notes to the biblical translations, and grammatical glosses; (2) a commentary on Ecclesiastes (British Museum, Ms. Or. 2552). A work on the tenets of faith (Kitāb-al-Uṣūl), no longer extant, has been attributed to David. His opinions and information about him are noted by many Karaite scholars. David is said to have been the first to reject the so-called catenary theory of forbidden marriages (rikkub) advocated by all his predecessors. He is thus the originator of the reform in this law which was effected by *Jeshua b. Judah in the 11th century.


S. Pinsker, Likkutei Kadmoniyyot, 2 vols. (1860), index; S. Poznański, Karaite Literary Opponents of Saadiah Gaon (1908), 18–20; Mann, Egypt, index; Mann, Texts, index; L. Nemoy (ed.), Karaite Anthology (1952), 123, 231, 374; Z. Ankori, Karaites in Byzantium (1959), index.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]