The Meaning of Names – Afia, Aboulafia, El Afia

The meaning of names among Mediterranean Jews

Marc Eliany ?

Afia, Aboulafia, El Afia, among other possible variations depending on the country and language of the person.

The root of the name is: ‘af’ ‘afia’

Prefixes attached to the root name such as (aben, iben, abi, avi, ben, bin, abou) denotes usually a relation to a person, i.e., the father of or the son of X, a place, i.e., a person from X, an occupation, i.e., a person who practices a specific occupation.

In the Arab tradition, the prefix ‘Abu’ means usually ‘the father of’, a man is given the prefix ‘abu’ to identify him as the father of X. ‘Abu’ may also indicate a tribal affiliation. The root ‘afia’ in Arabic refers usually to ‘fire’ but it means also ‘energy’ ‘force’ ‘power’ ‘authority.’ Thus when the root ‘afia’ is part of a name, it may indicate a family relationship to a person who may have worked with ‘fire’ or possessed ‘energy,’ ‘force,’ ‘power,’ or ‘authority.’ Some people of priesthood descent (Cohen) adopted the name ‘Aboulafia,’ lending credence to the possibility that ‘Aboulafia’ denotes; a person with authority. It may have been a specific group of priests who handled the eternal fire in the Jerusalem Temple.

In the Hebrew tradition, the prefix ‘Avi ‘ denotes patrilineal ancestry, i.e., father of ‘afia’ or the son of ‘afia’. The root ‘afia’ in Hebrew means has no meaning.

AFIA Aaron (XVIes.). Turkey. Doctor. Philosopher. Linguist. Author of: Opiniones sacadas de los mas autenticos y antiguos fil?sofos que sobre la alma escribieron y sus definiciones (Opinions on the soul and its definitions)

ABOULAFIA Todros ben Y?houdah Hal?vi (1247-1306?). Spain. Poet. Author of Gan Ham?chalim v?hahidot (The garden of proverbs and enigmas)
ABOULAFIA Abraham ben Ch?mou?l (1240-1291?). Spain. Rabbi. Poet. Prolific author. Author of Or has?khel (The light of the intelligence).
ABOULAFIA Ha?m ben David (1700?-1775?). Turkey. Rabbi. Author of Nichmat hay?m ( The soul of life).
ABOULAFIA Ha?m ben Moch? (Hazaken) (1660-1744). Palestine. Rabbi. Author of Mikra? kod?ch (Holy lectures).
ABOULAFIA Ha?m ben Yah?acov (1580-1668). Palestine. Rabbi. Member of the review committee of Nathan of Gaza prophecies.
ABOULAFIA Ha?m Nissim ben Itshak (1775-1861). Palestine. Rabbi. Author.
ABOULAFIA Issakhar Ha?m (1726-1781). Turkey. Rabbi. Author.
ABOULAFIA Itshak ben Moch? (1824-1910). Palestine. Rabbi. Author of P?n? Itshak (Isaak’s face).
ABOULAFIA M?ir ben Todros Hal?vi (RAMAH) (1165?-1244). Spain. Rabbi. Poet. Author of S?f?r Igu?rot (the Book of lettres).
ABOULAFIA Todros ben Yossef Hal?vi (1220-1298). Spain. Rabbi. Advisor to King Alphonse X. Author of Otsar hakavod (His honor’s treasure).
ABOULAFIA Yah?acov (XVIe-XVIIes.). Palestine. Chief rabbi of Damascus. Director of a yechiva.
ABOULAFIA Yah?acov ben Ch?lomo (1550-1622). Syria. Rabbi of the Spanish congregation in Damascus.


Azoulay, Hayim Yossef Shem Hagdolim (the names of the great)

AZOULAY Ha?m Yossef David (Hida) (1724-1807) Ch?m hagu?dolim va?ad lahakhamim (The names of the Great Council of Sages).

Toledano, J. 1983        La saga des familles, Les juifs du Maroc et leurs noms, Editions Stavit, Tel Aviv

Levi, J et. al. 2000        Dictionnaire biographique du monde Juif Sepharade et Mediteranean, Editions Elysee, Montreal.

Laredo A. 1978           Les noms des juifs au Maroc (Madrid 1978),

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