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13. Seal of Chalafta Son of David


Chalafta Son of David, That His Memory Be For a Blessing

Dimensions: 24 mm. Matrix.

Location: Lorraine Historical Museum, Nancy, Wiener Collection, 31.

Bibliography: Bedos, 1980b, 2, 23 (11).

This seal bears an astonishing resemblance to that of Meyer son of Judah; it is exactly the same size, has a similar lion rampant with a forked tail, and bears a Hebrew inscription in precisely the same form. It is apparent that both seals were products of a common cultural milieu. We do not know its origianl provenance from the Wiener records. As the device of a lion on the seal of Meyer probably stood for Judah, this device stands for the name of David (from King David, of the House of Judah). Chalafta’s father we know is dead from the pious phrase used by his son. The resemblance of these two seals is so close that looking back to the seal of Meyer son of Judah (whose impression is less clear) where two blurred spots after the name of the father can be seen, we might guess that they represent a similar pious phrase. It seems apparent that the lion motif was frequently employed in this part of Europe in the earliest period of seal use among Jews.

The dedicatory stone of the synagogue at Beziers in Languedoc, which was dated 1144, lists a Chalafta; this may be the same R. Solomon Chalafta to whom Benjamin of Tudela, when passing through the city around 1165, refers as a head of the Beziers congregation. In three extant letters from the Jewish communities of Languedoc dated from very early in the fourteenth century with forty-four signatures, four Chalaftas are among the signatories.

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