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JACOB BEN JEKUTHIEL:

French Talmudic scholar; born at Rouen; died at Arras in 1023. Jacob became known by the fact that he was the bearer of a petition to Pope John XVII. praying him to stop the persecution of the Jews in Lorraine (1007). These persecutions, organized by King Robert of France, are described in a Hebrew pamphlet published in Berliner's "Magazin" (iii. 46-48, Hebrew part, reproducing Parma [De Rossi] MS. No. 563, 23; see also Jew. Encyc. v. 447, s.v. France). They were so terrible that many women, in order to escape the fury of the mob, jumped into the river and were drowned. Jacob undertook the journey to Rome, but was imprisoned with his wife and four sons by Duke Richard (doubtless Richard the Fearless of Normandy), and escaped death only by a miracle. He left his eldest son, Judah, as a hostage with Richard while he with his wife and three remaining sons went to Rome. He made a present of seven gold marks and two hundred pounds to the pope, who thereupon sent a special envoy to King Robert ordering him to stop the persecutions.

Jacob stayed in Rome till the return of the envoy, a space of four years, during which time he made the acquaintance of the three members of the Roman rabbinate, Moses Nasi, Abraham, and Shabbethai. He then went to Lorraine and remained there twelve years. In 1023, being invited by Count Baldwin of Flanders to settle in his territory, he went with thirty of his friends to Arras with the intention of so doing. Jacob, however, died three months after his arrival; and, as there was no Jewish cemetery in the place, he was buried at Reims.

Bibliography:
  • Besides the Hebrew text mentioned above, Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 71 et seq.;
  • Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, i. 212.
S. S. M. Sel.
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