BARCHILON (BARCILON, EL BARCHILLON, HABARQUELONI, BARCHILO,
BARCHILLO, BARGELONI, BARCHILONE).
These Jewish family names come from the Hebrew transcript of "BARCHINONE",
the ancient Latin name for the city of Barcelona, Spain (Barchelouna in Arabic),
Mediterranean port in Catalonia, North-East Spain, Seat of one of the oldest Jewish
communities in the country.
The earliest records of this name dates from the 11th century, when documents reveal
the name of Isaac ABEN RUBEN HA-BARQELONI (ALBARQELONI/
ALBARCELONI) who was also known as Isaac of FES (Rabbi Itzhak ALFASSI),
born in 1043, in Barcelona, and Judah BEN BARZILAI AL-BARCELONI HA-NACI,
Rabbi of Barcelona in the 11th to 12th century. In the beginning of the 12th century,
the "SEFER HA-SHETAROT" of Judah BEN BARZILAI AL-BARGELONI was
Spanish family names beautifully illustrate the history of the Jews in the Iberian Peninsula.
The first Jews, arriving in Spain during the times of the Roman Empire, bore Greek,
Latin and Hebrew names. In the early eighth century, when Spain was conquered by the
Arabs and came under Islamic Rule, she became the shelter for many more Jews where
they enjoyed religious freedom and were greatly involved in the Government and
Administration. During this period, many Jews adopted Arabic names, as well as
retained their Hebrew names, leaving a legacy of fascinating combination of Arabic
Even after the tenth century, when Spain was reconquered by the Christians, these same
Arabic and Hebrew names were still being used by the Spanish Jews. It was not until the
sixteenth century Inquisition that Jews changed their names, when many were forcibly
converted and baptised and took Spanish-Christian names, becoming the "New Christians"
or "Marranos" of Spain. Yet the same conservatism and love of Tradition can be seen
amongst the Marranos, who retained their Spanish-Christian names when much later
they were able to "Re-convert" to Judaism, just as those who fled the country tended to
keep there Spanish names wherever they moved to.
This trend amongst Sephardi Jews to retain their Family names intact has enabled us today
to trace closely their Histories. Especially interesting is the fact that a large proportion
of Spanish names are derived from Place names, many of them in their original forms
from Ancient times and no longer existing today.
BENAQUIN (Gaby BENZAKEIN, son voyage en Israel).
Reću le 1.10.97 (Lettre du 22.9.97 de Liliane BARUCHEL Y COHEN, Fontenay, France).
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