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 filósofos que sobre la alma escribieron y sus definiciones (Opinions on the soul and its definitions)

ABOULAFIA Todros ben Yéhoudah Halévi (1247-1306?). Spain. Poet. Author of Gan Haméchalim véhahidot (The garden of proverbs and enigmas)
ABOULAFIA Abraham ben Chémouèl (1240-1291?). Spain. Rabbi. Poet. Prolific author. Author of Or hasékhel (The light of the intelligence).
ABOULAFIA Haïm ben David (1700?-1775?). Turkey. Rabbi. Author of Nichmat hayïm ( The soul of life).
ABOULAFIA Haïm ben Moché (Hazaken) (1660-1744). Palestine. Rabbi. Author of Mikraé kodèch (Holy lectures).
ABOULAFIA Haïm ben Yah’acov (1580-1668). Palestine. Rabbi. Member of the review committee of Nathan of Gaza prophecies.
ABOULAFIA Haïm Nissim ben Itshak (1775-1861). Palestine. Rabbi. Author.
ABOULAFIA Issakhar Haïm (1726-1781). Turkey. Rabbi. Author.
ABOULAFIA Itshak ben Moché (1824-1910). Palestine. Rabbi. Author of Péné Itshak (Isaak's face).
ABOULAFIA Méir ben Todros Halévi (RAMAH) (1165?-1244). Spain. Rabbi. Poet. Author of Séfér Iguérot (the Book of lettres).
ABOULAFIA Todros ben Yossef Halévi (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 Chélomo (1550-1622). Syria. Rabbi of the Spanish congregation in Damascus.


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).

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),