Hezekiah ben David

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HEZEKIAH BEN DAVID (d. c. 1058), exilarch and gaon. His grandfather Hezekiah b. Judah, a grandson of *David b. Zakkai, is also referred to as exilarch, although there is some doubt whether he actually held the position. Hezekiah b. David became exilarch after Azariah b. Solomon, a descendant of David b. Zakkai's brother Josiah. The date of his appointment is uncertain but in 1021 he is mentioned as exilarch in one of his letters. On the death of *Hai Gaon in 1038 Hezekiah was asked to succeed him, the exilarchate and gaonate thus being temporarily combined. The official title of gaon, however, was apparently not conferred on him. Some years later, after being denounced to the authorities by informers, he was arrested, put in chains, and tortured. Two of his sons escaped to Spain where they were helped by *Joseph, son and successor of *Samuel ha-Nagid, who had addressed a poem to Hezekiah in 1055. Only three of Hezekiah's letters and one of his responsa (quoted by Judah b. Barzillai in Sefer ha-Shetarot) are known. According to Ibn Daud the gaonate and exilarchate ended with the death of Hezekiah. In fact, scholars continued to be appointed to the former position. The exilarchate also continued nominally, the office being held by Hezekiah's descendants: his son David, his grandson Hezekiah b. David, and the latter's son David down to the early 12th century.


Abraham ibn Daud, Sefer ha-QabbalahThe Book of Tradition, ed. and tr. by G.D. Cohen (1967), index; S. Poznański, Babylonische Geonim im nachgaonaeischen Zeitalter (1914), index; Kamenetsky, in: rej, 55 (1908), 51–53; Mann, Texts, index; Mann, Egypt, index; idem, in: Sefer Zikkaron… S. Poznański (1927), 21–23; Assaf, Ge'onim, 36, 285–8; idem, in: Tarbiz, 11 (1939/40), 152–5.

[Abraham David]