The meaning of names among Mediterranean Jews

Marc Eliany ©

ABENAÉS (Naeh, BarHaNess, Baal HaNess, Baranes, Ness, aNass, Nouss)

among other possible variations depending on the country and language of the person.

Abenaes is represented here by a Portugues Marrano knight. The name is rare in our inventory. The name may be read in a variety of ways. It typifies possible transformations due foreign influences on Jewish names. The name consist of the prefix avi (abe) which implies fatherhood or lineage and the root 'naes' = miracle in Hebrew. It may be associated with the Hebrew name 'BarHaNess' =miracle maker, i.e., Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess). It may mean naeh = 'nice' or 'good looking.' One may read the name as 'aben' = son of and 'aes' or 'ish' in Hebrew. The name has several meanings in Arabic: Nass = person, Nouss = Half, Barani or Baranes = foreigner(s).

Prefixes attached to the root name such as (aben, iben, abe, abi, abou, avi, am, ben, bin, abou, a, aj, al, bel, ha, i, la, lel, me, m, o, wi, vi, ) 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, a characteristic of a person, i.e., beautiful... The prefixes al, el are equivalent to 'the' in English or the article 'le' in French. In the Moroccan Berbers tradition, prefixes such as 'wi' 'vi' 'i' means usually a family relationship to X, the equivalent of Abu in Arabic, i.e., 'the father of', 'son of' a man, a tribal affiliation and so forth.In the Hebrew tradition, the prefix ‘M ‘ is an abbreviation of the word 'from.'

Complex prefixes such as BarHa in the name BarHaNess consist of two elements Bar=son and Ha=the.

Suffixes such as 'a' characterize ancient Hebrew names, i.e., AviHatsir'a'
Suffixes such as oulah, oulay, ilah, ily, el, eli are used in Hebrew and Arabic to associate a name with God' blessing.
Suffixes such as 'i' or 'ri' 'ti' refer to an association with a person or a location, for example: arditi= from ardou or ard.
Suffixes such as 'illo' 'ano' 'ino' 'nino' are used in Spain and Italy to indicate descendence or association with an attribute.
Suffixes such as 'yah', 'yahu' 'hu' are used in Hebrew to denote God's benediction, for example: aviyah, aviyahu, avihu...
Suffixws such as 'oun' 'on' 'yout' 'out' characterize adjectives in Hebrew, for example: Hayoun, hayout...

ABENAÉS Chélomo (Alvaro Mendés) (1520?-1603). Portugal (Tavira). The Duke of Mytilene. Marrano who returned to Judaism in Istanbul. Diplomat. International businessman. Took over the position of Yossef Nasi as advisor to the Trukish Emperor. Supported the establishment of a Jewish autonomy in Palestine. Tiberias benefited from his support.. Knighted by the Queen of England as well as by the Turkish Emperor.


ABEHSSERA Chalom Séfér youhassin (Genealogy Registers).

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

AZOULAY Haïm Yossef David (Hida) (1724-1807) Chém haguédolim va’ad lahakhamim (The names of the Great Council of Sages).

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

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

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