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JOTABAH , an island in the Gulf of Elath (Aila) inhabited by a colony of Jewish merchants. In the second half of the fifth century c.e., it was seized by a Persian adventurer called Amorkesos, who controlled the Red Sea trade from there and levied customs. The emperor Leo confirmed the position of Amorkesos in 474, but in 498 Anastasius sent an expedition under the general Aratus against him and the fortress was stormed. The community remained unmolested till the time of Justinian (527–65), who expelled the Jews. Procopius located the island 1000 stadia from Alia, a position which corresponds to that of the island of Tiran at the mouth of the gulf. A Hebrew University expedition to Tiran in 1956, however, found no evidence of a Byzantine settlement. Recently, Jezīrat el-Farʿūn, 7½ mi. (12 km.) south of Elath, which has remains of Byzantine fortifications, has been proposed as an identification.


Abel, in: rb, 47 (1938), 511ff.; J. Aharoni and B. Rothenberg, God's Wilderness (1961); M. Avi-Yonah, Geschichte der Juden im Zeitalter des Talmud … (1962), 237.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]