Llibre de comptes de Jucef Zabara, col·lector del clavari de la comunitat jueva de Girona (1443)


  • Eduard Feliu


Although the years from 1420 to 1445 saw a wave of relative prosperity and calm, the first half of the 15th century was also a period of major decline for the Jewish community of Gerona. The slight general increase in prosperity must have brought about a degree of revival in the Jewish community, because in 1445 the perimeters of the Jewish quarter had to be extended, as “the said Jewish quarter is plainly no longer big enough to accommodate the Jewish community.” In 1449, there were around two-hundred Jews living in the Call.

The ordinances issued by the members of Gerons's city council in the year 1445 reveal what everyday life must have been like in the years immediately preceding that time. At the request of the Church, the city council stated in the ordinances of 28th April, 1445, that excessive familiarity and contact had come about between Christians and Jews, a state of affairs that must be prevented, since many Jewish practices were considered to pose a threat to the souls of Christians.  The city council issued various measures and prohibitions with a view to separating Jews and Christians in their daily lives. Needless to say, the ban prohibited things which, until that time, had been perfectly normal, particularly with regard to the contact between Jews and Christians, as can be seen from some of the entries in Jucef Zabara's accounts book.

Various regests of documents relating to this Gerona family have been published, including two dating from 1438 and 1440, which make direct and explicit reference to Jucef Zabara, a tax collector and treasurer of the Jewish community of Gerona, who converted to Christianity on 22nd January, 1453, receiving the baptismal name of Joan-Narcis Sarriera. Despite the Romance form it takes in some transcriptions (Sa-Barra, Çabarra, etc.), Zabara is Semitic in origin. It is most likely related to the Arabic, even more probable when we take into account that the name Zabara has existed in the Arab world from ancient times, where it has been associated with major cultural, political and religious figures, particularly in the Yemen (the reader will recall that there were Jews in the Yemen as early as the early Middle Ages).

The article includes the transcription, translation and facsimile edition of the Llibre de comptes de Jucef Zabara (AHG, Notarial Gi 2,212),which recently came to light among a number of notarial protocols dating from 1445.

Appendix 1, written by Joan Ferrer i Costa, includes a number of philological observations as well as various morphological and semantic considerations regarding Catalan words used in the document.

Appendix II contains palaeographical notes on the origin of the Hebrew script used by Jucef ben Zabara, as well as on certain specific features.