David ben Daniel

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DAVID BEN DANIEL (11th century), aspirant to Palestinian gaonate; son of the gaon*Daniel b. Azariah. In about 1078 David immigrated to Egypt, arriving there without any financial means. Maẓli'aḥ b. Japheth, a Damascus Jew living in Damira, supported him until he left for the Egyptian capital about a year later. In Cairo the community leaders, including the nagid Mevorakh, supported him, but the kindness was not appreciated. David's ambition to become exilarch of the Egyptian community led him to plot against Mevorakh. This resulted in the nagid's temporary deposition and expulsion from Cairo. David then became leader of the Egyptian Jews and also exerted authority over those communities of the coastal towns of Palestine and Syria that were still under the rule of the Fatimids. His request to be recognized as exilarch, as well as his struggle with the rabbis of the Palestinian yeshivah (transferred to Tyre in 1071), caused a great dispute. David attempted to succeed his father as gaon in Palestine, but his opponent Elijah b. Solomon ha-Kohen finally became gaon. All these disputes are described in the letters of both sides and preserved in the Genizah (Megillat Evyatar (Abiathar)). In 1094 David was deposed by his opponents. According to Mann, he wrote piyyutim (Mann, Egypt, 2 (1922), 224–5).


S. Schechter (ed.), Saadyana (1903), 80–113; S. Poznański, Babylonische Geonim (1914), index; Mann, Egypt, 2 (1922), index; Mann, Texts, 2 (1935), index; idem, in: Sefer Zikkaron … S.A. Pozńanski (1927), 27–29.

[Tovia Preschel /

Eliyahu Ashtor]