By: Meyer Kayserling
Ḥakam of London; born 1630; died Sept. 12, 1695. He was the oldest son of Joseph Abendana, and attended the rabbinical academy De los Pintos in Rotterdam. In 1655 he accepted a call as ḥakam to Amsterdam. In the same year, on May 3, he delivered a memorial address in honor of the Maranos Nuñez and Almeyda Bernal, who had suffered martyrdom at the stake in Cordova. A few years later he published, in connection with his brother Isaac, the Bible commentary "Miklal Yofi" of Solomon ben Melek, together with his own additions known as "Leḳeṭ Shikḥah" (Gleanings). The work was published by subscription at Amsterdam in 1660, and a second edition in 1685.
The Abendanas were the first Jewish authors to compel approbation from contemporary Christian scholars, such as Johann Buxtorf in Basel, Johann Coccejus and Jacob Golius in Leyden, and others. In Leyden, whither Jacob Abendana had gone to obtain subscribers, he met Professor Anton Hulsius, whom he assisted very materially in his Oriental studies, and who endeavored to convert Jacob to Christianity. They maintained an epistolary dispute concerning the meaning of Haggai, ii. 9, which correspondence lasted from Sept. 24, 1659, to June 16, 1660, and was published by Hulsius in 1669. The attempt to convert him induced Abendana to translate the "Cuzari" of Judah ha-Levi into Spanish. This translation is highly prized for the care with which it was made. In 1675 Jacob delivered an address at the dedication of the great new synagogue at Amsterdam. He was called to London to succeed Ḥakam Joshua da Silva in 1680, and there he is said to have completed the translation of the Mishnah into Spanish. He died without issue in London, Sept. 12, 1695, and was interred in the Portuguese burial-ground at Mile End. His published works are: "Cuzari, Libro de Grande Sciencia y Mucha Doctrina. . . . Traduzido, . . . del Ebrayco en Español, Comentado por el H. H. R. Yahacob Abendana" (Cuzari, a Book of Great Wisdom and Plentiful Doctrine, Translated from the Hebrew into Spanish, and Explained by the Ḥakam Jacob Abendana), Amsterdam, 1663; "Sermon en Memoria di Abraham Nuñ. Bernal in Elogios que Zelosos Dedicaron en d . . . la Memoria. . . ."
- Rose, Biographical Dict. i. 49;
- Chalmers, Biographical Dict. s.v.;
- Didot's Biographie Générale, s.v.;
- Jewish World, Dec. 5, 12, and 26, 1879;
- Monatsschrift, ix. 30 et seq.;
- Rev. Ét. Juives, xiii. 272 et seq.;
- Kayserling, Bibl. Esp.-Port. Jud. pp. 1, 2 et seq.