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JACOB BEN ISRAEL HA-LEVI:

Rabbi of Zante; died on that island in 1634. He was a native of Morea, Greece, and passed the earlier part of his life at Salonica, where he studied under the direction of Aaron Ḥaṣun. Later he was called to the rabbinate of Zante, a position which he held until his death.

Jacob combined great Talmudical learning with extensive secular knowledge, and was highly esteemed by his contemporaries. He was the author of the following works: "She'elot u-Teshubot Rabbi Ya'aḳob le-Bet Lewi" (2 vols., Venice, 1614; with additions, 1632), responsa; "Derushim," sermons arranged in the order of the Sabbatical sections, no longer extant; a translation of the Koran from the Latin into Hebrew, with an essay on the history of Mohammed and his religion. This translation is still in manuscript (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 2207). A funeral oration on Jacob pronounced by Azariah Figo is inserted in "Binah le-'Ittim" (No. 73).

Bibliography:
  • Conforte, Ḳore ha-Dorot, p. 47a;
  • Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, s.v.;
  • Michael, in Orient, Lit. ii. 606;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 1221;
  • Fuenn, Keneset Yisrael, p. 552.
S. S. I. Br.
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