Joseph Rabban

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Joseph Rabban (Old Malayalam[1]: Issuppu Irappan) was a prominent Jewish merchant in Kodungallur (Muyirikkode) on the Malabar Coast, India in early 11th century CE.[2]

Jewish copper plates (c. 1000 CE)

According to the Cochin Jewish copper plates (c. 1000 CE), a charter issued by the Chera/Kulasekhara king of Kodungallur, Rabban was granted the rights of merchant guild Anjuvannam along with several other rights and privileges. He was exempted from all payments made by other settlers in the city of Muyirikkode (at the same time extending to him all the rights of the other settlers). These rights and privileges were given perpetuity to all his descendants.[3] Anjuvannam was a south Indian merchant guild organised by Jewish, Christian, and Islamic merchants from West Asian countries.[4]

Rabban's descendants continued to have prominence over other Jews of the Malabar coast for centuries. A conflict broke out between descendants, Joseph Azar, and his brother in the 1340s. The ensuing strife led to intervention by neighbouring potentates and the eradication of Jewish autonomy in southern India.[5][6]


  1. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala: Brahmin Oligarchy and Ritual Monarchy: Political and Social Conditions of Kerala Under the Cēra Perumāḷs of Makōtai (c. AD 800 - AD 1124). Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 451-52.
  2. ^ MGS Narayanan. Cultural Symbiosis in Kerala: The Jewish Copper Plates of Cochin. Kerala Historical Society, Trivandrum. pp 79-82.
  3. ^ Burnell, The Indian Antiquary, iii. 333-334
  4. ^ Noburu Karashmia (ed.), A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014. 136, 144.
  5. ^ Nathan Katz (2000), Who Are the Jews of India?, p. 15, "Joseph Azar was the last in the line of Joseph Rabban"
  6. ^ Sidney Mendelssohn (1920), The Jews of Asia, p. 109
  • Blady, Ken. Jewish Communities in Exotic Places. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc., 2000. pp. 115–130.

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