The meaning of names among Mediterranean Jews

Marc Eliany ©

ABRAVANEL AbRabanEl (see also Abraham)

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

Abravanel is one of the most representative names of the Golden Age of the Spanish/Portuguese Jewry. The name may be related to Abraham but it may stand alone, as a composite of three Hebrew elements: ab = father, raban = rabbi/teacher and el = God. The name is especially meaningful as it may be related to the early split between Judaism and Christianity, a period when followers of Jesus adopted names to reflect their affiliation with a 'father/teacher/god.'

Prefixes attached to the root name such as (aben, iben, abe, abi, abou, aboul, 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...
Suffixes such as 'oun' 'on' 'yout' 'out' characterize adjectives in Hebrew, for example: Hayoun, hayout...

ABRAVANEL Benvenida (XVIes.). Spain. Daughter-in-law of Don Itshak Abravanel. Businesswoman. Philanthrop. Liberated Jewish hostages. Assisted the royal family in Naples.
ABRAVANEL Chémouèl (1473-1551). Portugal (Lisbon). Son of Don Itshak Abravanel. Found refuge in Naples after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Treasurer of Don Pédro of Naples.
ABRAVANEL David (Manuel Martinez) (XVIIes.). Spain. Marrano. Treasurer of Andalousia. Arrested by the Inquisition but escaped to Bordeaux. He returned to Judaism in Amsterdam. Conducted international trade in London and Brasil. Founded the first synagogue in Brasil.
ABRAVANEL Lévy (XIXes.). Morocco. Descendant of Don Itshak Abravanel. Wealthy merchant in Marrakech, executed by Moulay Abderrahman.
ABRAVANEL Yéhoudah (XIIIes.). Spain. Treasurer of Ferdinand IV, king of Castillia.
ABRAVANEL Yéhoudah (XIXes.). Morocco. Son of Lévy Abravanel. Merchant. Executed along with his father by Moulay Abderrahman.
ABRAVANEL Yéhoudah (Léon l’Hébreu) (1465-1535). Portugal (Lisbon). Son of Don Itshak Abravanel. Doctor. Philosopher. Found refuge in Naples after the expulsion. Author of Dialoghi di Amore (Love dialogues), influenced Michel-Ange, Le Tasse, Giordano Bruno and Spinoza.
ABRAVANEL Yona (?-1667). Netherlands. Poet. Author of famous eulogies on Itshak de Castro Tartas and Bernal.
ABRAVANEL David Lindo (1772-1852). England. Rabbi. Opposed the reform movement.
ABRAVANEL DE SOUZA Isaac (XVIIIes.). Netherlands. Rabbi in Bayonne and Bordeaux.
ABRAVANEL Itshak (1437-1508). Portugal (Lisbon). Rabbi. Philosopher. Treasurer of Portugal (accused of conspiracy) and Castillia. Contributed to the financing of Colombus voyage to America. Found refuge in Italy after the Expulsion from Spain. Treasurer of Naples. Died in Venise. Author of Ma’yané Hayechoua'
(Sources of salvation); Yéchouo't Méshiho (Messianic salvations); Machmia’ yéchoua' (The anouncer of redemption); A'téret zékénim (Wisdom of our forfathers); Nifla’ot Élokim (Divine marvels); Mirkévét hamishné (The other chariot); Chamayïm hadachim (New Heavens); Nahalat Avot (Ancestral heritage); Tsédék h’olamim (Eternal justice); Yémot hao'lam (Days of the world).


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)