Zuta

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ZUTA

ZUTA (also known as Yaḥya and Abu-Zikri ; 12th century), *nagid in Egypt. He was also the head of a yeshivah and gave himself the title Sar Shalom ("Prince of Peace"), but in reality he acted with great ruthlessness toward the members of his community after he had been appointed nagid of Egyptian Jewry in succession to *Samuel b. Hananiah. He secured his position by bribing the caliph al-Fā ʾ iz (1154–1160). As a result of the complaints brought against him by the Jewish community concerning his criminal conduct, he was removed from his position which he had held for 66 days and Samuel was reinstated. After the death of Samuel (shortly after 1159), Zuta made a new effort to secure the position of the nagid but failed. During the reign of Saladin (1138–1193), he succeeded in regaining the position in exchange for a yearly payment of 200 dinars, and he held it for about four years from the beginning of the 1160s. As a result of the efforts of Maimonides and R. Isaac b. Sasson, a member of Maimonides' bet din, Zuta was excommunicated and ousted from his position, but he succeeded a third time to become the political leader of Egyptian Jewry. However, he served as a nagid for 24 years, from 1172 to 1196. Zuta was known to the members of his faction as messiah and Gaon. His adherents were accused of being no better than idolaters. To commemorate the ousting of Zuta, in 1196 the poet *Abraham b. Hillel wrote the Megillat Zuta, which was published by A. Neubauer, A.E. Harkavy, and D. Kahana. It contains a description of Zuta's activities and his removal.

bibliography:

Neubauer, in: JQR, 8 (1895/96), 541–51; 9 (1896/97), 721; A.E. Harkavy, Ḥadashim Gam Yeshanim (1970), 15–17; Kahana, in: Ha-Shilo'aḥ, 15 (1905), 175–84; Mann, Egypt, 1 (1920), 234–7; Mann, Texts, 1 (1931), 416–8; Ashtor, Toledot, 1 (1944), 41–42; idem, in: huca, 27 (1956), 313–15; Goitein, in: Tarbiz, 32 (1962/63), 192. add. bibliography: M. Ben-Sasson, "Maimonides in Egypt: The First Stage," in: Maimonidean Studies, 2 (1991), 3–30; M.A. Friedman, "Ha-Rambam, Zuta ve-ha-Muqaddamim – Sippuram shel Sheloshah Haramot," in: Zion, 70 (2005), 473–527.

[Abraham David (2nd ed.)]

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