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Elijah ben Abraham

ELIJAH BEN ABRAHAM

ELIJAH BEN ABRAHAM (first half of 12th century), Karaite scholar who may have lived in EreẒ Israel. He wrote a polemical tract Ḥilluk ha-Kara'im ve-ha-Rabbanim ("The Controversy between the Karaites and the Rabbanites"). In this Elijah lists 14 Jewish sects of which there remained in his time only four: the *Rabbanites, the *Karaites, the Tiflisites, and the followers of the faith (i.e., sect) of *Meshwi al-Ukbari. Following *Kirkisānī and other Karaite writers, Elijah considers that the breach between Karaism and Rabbanite Judaism is traceable as early as the time of *Jeroboam i. Elijah was the first Karaite author to relate the questionable Karaite tradition according to which *Anan b. David and other Karaites were the first Avelei Zion ("Mourners of Zion") in Jerusalem. The list of Karaite sages in Elijah's work includes authors not known from other sources and also Rabbanite scholars such as *Judah b. Eli of Tiberias and Judah ibn Quraysh. The author states in conclusion that "although the Rabbanim go astray in most of the mitzvot, they are our brothers and our coreligionists. And our soul grieves for their errors."

bibliography:

S. Pinsker, Likkutei Kadmoniyyot (1860), 19, 225 (first pagination); S. Poznański, Karaite Literary Opponents of Saadiah Gaon (1908), 72–74; Mann, Texts, 2 (1935), index; L. Nemoy, Karaite Anthology (1952), 4–8; Z. Ankori, Karaites in Byzantium (1959), index.

[Simha Katz]

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