The meaning of names among Mediterranean Jews

Marc Eliany ©


among other possible variations depending on the country and language of the person.

AbouDraham is represented here mostly by Moroccan and Spanish involved in commerce and finance as well as rabbinic leadership. The name was widespread in Morocco.

The name
consists of a complex prefix made of two elements abou = father which implies lineage and the root 'draham' = an ancient Roman currency known as 'drahma' in Hebrew writings or 'dirham' in some Arab countries, including Morocco. It may refer to a person who dealt with finance and money exchange. The occupation may have been passed on from father to son. The Aboudrahams were well known in the domain of finance in Spain and in Morocco, after the expulsion. The family was known also for its rabbinical leadership.

Prefixes attached to the root name such as (aben, iben, abe, abi, abou, avi, am, ben, bin, abou, a, aj, al, bel, even, ha, i, la, lel, me, m, o, wi, vi, ) denotes usually a relation to a person, i.e., the father of or the son of X, a place, i.e., a person from X, an occupation, i.e., a person who practices a specific occupation, a characteristic of a person, i.e., beautiful... The prefixes al, el are equivalent to 'the' in English or the article 'le' in French. In the Moroccan Berbers tradition, prefixes such as 'wi' 'vi' 'i' means usually a family relationship to X, the equivalent of Abu in Arabic, i.e., 'the father of', 'son of' a man, a tribal affiliation and so forth.In the Hebrew tradition, the prefix ‘M ‘ is an abbreviation of the word 'from.'

Complex prefixes such as 'Ab e' in the name Ab E Rgel consist of two elements Ab=father and E=the.
Complex prefixes such as 'BarHa' in the name BarHaNess consist of two elements Bar=son and Ha=the.

Suffixes such as 'an' or 'in' denote affiliation or a characteristic in Aramaec.
Suffixes such as 'a' characterize ancient Hebrew names, i.e., AviHatsir'a'
Suffixes such as oulah, oulay, ilah, ily, el, eli are used in Hebrew and Arabic to associate a name with God' blessing.
Suffixes such as 'i' or 'ri' 'ti' refer to an association with a person or a location, for example: arditi= from ardou or ard.
Suffixes such as 'illo' 'ano' 'ino' 'nino' are used in Spain and Italy to indicate descendence or association with an attribute.
Suffixes such as 'yah', 'yahu' 'hu' are used in Hebrew to denote God's benediction, for example: aviyah, aviyahu, avihu...
Suffixws such as 'oun' 'on' 'yout' 'out' characterize adjectives in Hebrew, for example: Hayoun, hayout...

ABOUDARHAM Moché (Eltétouani) (XVIIIes.). Morocco. One of the King Merchant (tajer asultan) appointed along with Shemouel Sunbal by sultan Sidi Moulay Abdallah to conduct foreign trade from Mogador (Essaouira) (1766).
AbouDraham Shelomo. Morocco (Tetouan) (XVI-XVII). Chief rabbi of Tetouan. Poet. Author of Piske din (rabbinical rulings) and Hazouzim (Poems).
AbouDraham David (Don, El Viejo). Treasurer of Castillia (13th century). Community leader of Toledo. Founded a synagogue in Toledo.
ABOUDARHAM David ben Yossef (1341-?). Spain (Sévillia). Rabbi. Author of Séfér Aboudarham (The book of Aboudarham), Pérouch habérakhot véhatéfilot (The meaning of benedictions and prayers).
ABOUDARHAM Yah’acov (XIXes.). Morocco (Salé). Morocco. Séfér Kohélét Yah’acov (Jacob's Ecclésiasties).


ABEHSSERA Chalom Séfér youhassin (Genealogy Registers).

Azoulay, Hayim Yossef Shem Hagdolim (the names of the great)

AZOULAY Haïm Yossef David (Hida) (1724-1807) Chém haguédolim va’ad lahakhamim (The names of the Great Council of Sages).

Levi, J et. al. 2000        Dictionnaire biographique du monde Juif Sepharade et Mediteranean, Editions Elysee, Montreal.

Toledano, J. 1983        La saga des familles, Les juifs du Maroc et leurs noms, Editions Stavit, Tel Aviv

Laredo A. 1978           Les noms des juifs au Maroc (Madrid, 1978)