By: Meyer Kayserling
Name of one of the more ancient Jewish families in Spain. The tradition among its members was that they were descended from Baruch, the friend and companion of the prophet Jeremiah, or, according to more numerous and also more plausible accounts, from a noble family of Judea, one of whose members, Baruch, was sent by the emperor Titus to Merida at the request of the Roman proconsul, in order to establish silk-culture there. The family at a very early period settled in Cordova.
The name Albalia may be the Arabic al-Bali ("Jew. Quart. Rev." x. 137). A Solomon Albala is mentioned in a Barcelona document (Jacobs. "Sources," p. 20). Kaufmann ("Jew. Quart. Rev." viii. 222) suggests that there may be some connection between the names Albalia and Abrabalia. A Joseph and a David Albali are probably meant in Schiller-Szinessy's "Catalogue of Hebr. MSS. in the University Library of Cambridge" (No. 19, p. 30), where the spelling is . The following two members of the family were conspicuous:Baruch ben Isaac Albalia:
Talmudist, born at Seville in 1077; died in 1126. After the death of his father, and by his advice, he, being then only seventeen years old, went to Isaac Alfasi, who conducted a large rabbinical school at Lucena. Alfasi had long been hostile to Isaac Albalia; but he received his son Baruch with the utmost friendliness and promised to be a father to him. Baruch was not averse to the secular sciences. He was a fellow pupil of Joseph ibn Migash; and, like the latter, became the head of a celebrated rabbinical school.Isaac ben Baruch Albalia:
Mathematician, astronomer, and Talmudist; born at Cordova, 1035; died in Granada, 1094; father of Baruch ben Isaac Albalia.
He was educated by a Jew from Perigord. His favorite subjects were Talmudic literature, mathematics, and astronomy. When barely thirty years old Isaac began to write ("The Store of the Merchant"), a commentary on the most difficult passages of the Talmud. He was devoted to the study of mathematics and astronomy. Among his patrons were Samuel ibn Nagdilah and his son Joseph Nagdilah, to whom in 1065 he dedicated his astronomical work "'Ibbur," on the principles of the Jewish calendar. After the death of Joseph Nagdilah, Albalia settled at Cordova, where he became acquainted with Mohammed Abu-al-ḳasim al-Mu'tamid, the Arab ruler, who appointed him astrologer at his court in Seville and made him nasi of all the Jewish congregations of his realm. Isaac also acted as rabbi of the Jewish congregations of Seville; and, with the books that he acquired from his patron Joseph as a nucleus, accumulated a large library, thus making Seville a center of Jewish learning.