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Shemariah ben Elhanan

SHEMARIAH BEN ELHANAN

SHEMARIAH BEN ELHANAN (d. 1011), scholar in *Egypt. According to the legend of Abraham ibn Daud (G.D. Cohen (ed.), The Book of Tradition (1967), 64), Shemariah was one of *Four Captives who were taken prisoner in c. 970 while on a journey to collect contributions for the Babylonian academies, each of whom later established a school in a different country. Documents found in the Cairo *Genizah, apparently originating from Babylon, state that he studied during the gaonate of *Sherira, with whom and with whose son and successor, *Hai Gaon, he corresponded, after he himself had become the head of the yeshivah at El Fostat. He was head of the local bet din and was famous as a preacher. He is referred to as "the av bet din of all Israel," possibly the title accorded the highest religious authority in the country. Shemariah wrote a commentary on the Song of Songs, which he dedicated to Judah b. Joseph Alluf of *Kairouan. He was in contact with the prominent rabbis of his day, such as Ḥushi'el of Kairouan and *Dunash ibn Labrat, in *Spain, who composed a laudatory poem in his honor. His son-in-law was *Sahlan b. Abraham, head of the Babylonian community at the beginning of the 11th century.

bibliography:

Mann, Egypt, 1 (1920), 26–28, and index s.v.; Mann, Texts, 1 (1931), 86–89, 111 n. 5, 199–200 and index s.v.; S. Schechter, Saadyana (1903), 121–7; idem, in: jqr, 11 (1898/99), 643–50; Goitein, in: Tarbiz, 32 (1962/63), 266–72; Abramson, Merkazim, 156–73; idem, in: Tarbiz, 31 (1961/62), 195f.

[Eliyahu Ashtor]

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