- Obituary

  • Joseph ibn Naghrela

    Joseph ibn Naghrela, or Joseph ha-Nagid (15 September 1035 – 30 December 1066), was a vizier to the Berber king,Badis al Muzaffar of Granadaa, during the Moorisj rule of Andalusia and the leader of the Jewish community there.

    Joseph was born in Granada, the eldest son of Rabbi and famous poet and warrior  Sh'muel ha - Nagid.

    Some information about his childhood and upbringing is preserved in the collection of his father's Hebrew Poetry, in which Joseph writes  that he began copying at the age of eight and a half. For example, he tells how once (aged nine and a half, in the spring of 1045) he accompanied his father to battlefield, only to suffer from severe homesickness, about which he wrote a short poem.

    His primary school teacher was his father. On the basis of a letter to Rabbi Nissim Gaon attributed to him  in which Joseph refers to himself as R' Nissim's disciple, it is possible to infer that he also studied under R' Nissim at Kairrouan  In 1049 , Joseph married R' Nissim's daughter


    On R' Shmuel's death, Joseph succeeded him as vizier and rabbi, directing at the same time an important yeshiva . Among his students were Rabbi Isaac Ben Baruch ibn Albalia and Rabbi Isaac ibn Ghayyat

    Rabbi Abraham ibn Daud describes Joseph in highly laudatory terms, saying that he lacked none of his father's good qualities, except that he was not quite as humble, having been brought up in luxury.

     Arabic chroniclers relate that he believed neither in the faith of his fathers nor in any other faith. It may also be doubted that he openly declared the principles of Islam to be absurd  Arabic poets also praised his liberality.

    The Jewish Encyclopedia also reports that Joseph "controlled" the King and "surrounded him with spies."

    He was also accused of several acts of violence, which drew upon him the hatred of the Berbers, who were the ruling majority at Granada. The most bitter among his many enemies was Abu Ishak of Elvira, who hoped to obtain an office at court and wrote a malicious poem against Joseph and his coreligionists. This poem made little impression upon the king, who trusted Joseph implicitly, but it created a great sensation among the Berbers. A rumor spread to the effect that Joseph intended to kill Badis, deliver the realm into the hands of A; Mutasim of Almeria with whom the king was at war, then to kill Al-Mutasim and seize the throne himself