Tobias, Moses

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TOBIAS, MOSES (1694–1769), merchant of *Surat, India. A native of Cochin, Tobias was appointed in 1728 director of the Surat Portuguese factory by the Portuguese viceroy and undertook many important negotiations with the neighboring native rulers as accredited "agent of the Portuguese nation." The Portuguese archives in Goa have preserved many documents attesting to his diplomatic role in Surat, in which he was succeeded by his son Isaac and other members of his family throughout the 18th century. Moses Tobias conducted commercial transactions on a large scale and was a shipowner whose vessels sailed the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Dutch records of the day frequently register the movements of the "Jew's ships of Surat" under the command of presumably Jewish captains such as Jacob Moses and Moses Alexander. Tobias' tombstone inscription, in which he is styled "nasi," i.e., president, of the Surat Jewish community, is one of the few preserved in the old Jewish cemetery in Surat.


W.J. Fischel, Ha-Yehudim be-Hodu (1960), 39–46; idem, in: jqr, 47 (1956–57), 37–57.

[Walter Joseph Fischel]