Joseph ben Phinehas
JOSEPH BEN PHINEHAS
JOSEPH BEN PHINEHAS (d. before 928), *Baghdad businessman and banker. By 877 he was already engaged in large and far-flung business transactions, with *Aaron b. Amram as his partner. In 908 the two had financial dealings with the vizier Ibn al-Furāt, and in 911/12 they were appointed court bankers to the caliph al-Muqtadir – this was regarded as the most important post under the *Abbasid regime. There are records of their activities as court bankers until 924, and it appears that Joseph b. Phinehas retained his post until his death. He knew how to use his high office to further the cause of Babylonian Jewry in government circles. A report by R. *Nathan ha-Bavli refers to a bitter controversy between the exilarch *Ukba and the Gaon*Kohen Ẓedek (according to Mann, the exilarch's controversy was with R. Judah Gaon, the grandfather of R. *Sherira Gaon, and not with Kohen Ẓedek) about revenues from Khorasan for the academy of *Pumbedita. Joseph b. Phinehas and his son-in-law *Netira, who also held a high position in the administration, gave their support to the gaon and twice succeeded in having the exilarch Ukba removed from his post. Joseph's position at court was inherited by his grandsons, the sons of his son-in-law Natira who died in 916.
Neubauer, Chronicles, 2 (1895), 78–79; W.J. Fischel, in: jras (1933), 339–52, 569–603; Fischel, Islam, index; Mann, in: Tarbiz, 5 (1933/34), 148–54, 156f.; Baron, Social, 3 (1957), 152f.; 5 (1957), 10; add. bibliography: M. Gil, Be-Malkhut Ishma'el, 1:651–56; M. Ben-Sasson, in: Tarbut ve-Ḥevrah be-Toledot Yisrael bi-Ymei ha-Benayim, dedicated to the memory of H.H. Ben-Sasson (1989), 182.