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The Malka family is an ancient family that can be traced back to 14 Century Morocco and earlier according to some. There was a Malka who was Gaon of the Talmudic Academy of Sura and another Malka who was the Gaon of the Talmudic Academy of Pumbadita in the 7th century Babylon. Both of them and many others can be found in the Encyclopedia Judaica and many other sources.
We are all familiar with Malka as a common Jewish first name which means "queen" in Hebrew. This Malka is a Hebrew word spelled with a "heh" at the end. The Malka family name, however, is not Hebrew. It was originally spelled with an "aleph" at the end because it is an Aramaic word which means "king". Recently however, and especially in Israel, it has become common to see the surname spelt with a heh at the end to conform with the hebrew spelling of the word.
There are two schools of thought about the origin of the Malka Sephardic surname.
The first and most likely is that it is the name of a family of Jews that came from Malaga. Like many other Spanish coastal towns, Malaga was originally settled by Punic speaking Phoenicians. Punic is a language closely related to aramaic. For example the word for priest/priests in Punic is Cohen/Cohanim. The Phoenicians named their town Malaka or, more correctly (since, like Aramaic and Hebrew, Punic has no vowels) MLK. There being no "K" in Spanish, Malaka became Spanish Malaga. The Malka (Malki, Malqui, etc.) name has the identical vowels as Malaka (MLK) and means "from Malaka", like Toledano means from Toledo. In fact, though Malka is today a very large family in Morocco, the name appears for the first time in Morocco only in the 14th century when many Jews left Andalusia and especially Malaga.
Another, less likely and unprovable origin is that the name is much more ancient and originated in Babylonia. The experts say that after the Babylon captivity period, many Jews in Babylon followed the fashion of the time and changed their names to the Aramaic version of their name. This is bolstered by the Aramaic spelling of the name ("Aleph" ending) and the names of two Babylonian Malka geonim.
Many variants of the Malka name are known and include:
Ben Malka, Ibn Malka, Abenmalca, Malca, Shahin in Persia, etc.
Here is a partial listing of some Malkas from the past.
yr: 771-775 Rab Malka bar Mar Aha "Gaon" of the Pumbaditta Rabinical Academy in 771/775 SOURCES: JE;Sepher Yohacin;.Laredo yr: 885 Mar Rab Malka "Gaon" of Sura around 885 SOURCES: Ozar;.Laredo yr: 1282 Jaffia Avimelca Inhabitant of Lleida, Catalonia Recaudador (tax farmer) for the parish of San Juan, Lleida SOURCES: Romano, David. Judios al servicio de Pedro el Grande de Aragon (1276-1285) Reg 46, fols 85v-2, 85 v-3 (ambos del 28-4-1292) yr: Feb 18, 1317 Ines Melcha Inhabitant of Monzon, Aragon SOURCES: Cathedral Archive of Lleida yr: 1336 Haym Melqua Inhabitant of Viana, Navarra SOURCES: Arch General de Navarra: List of "Heads of Families who lived in Viana, Navarra in 1316" yr: 1392 Haym Malka (same as above) Inhabitant of Viana, Navarra "excommunicated and fined 50 florins" SOURCES: Arch Nav R.C. vol 216, fol 10), Beatrice Leroy: "Jews of navarre in the late Middle Ages" yr: 1397 Juce Melca Inhabitant of Monzon, Aragon SOURCES: List of Jews of Monzon in 1397 (Pita Merce, Rodrigo) Lascorz-Arcas, F.A. La Aljama Judia de Monzon ?la Recordada? yr: Feb 14, 1414 Davi Melca Inhabitant of Alcolea, Aragon SOURCES: A.C.A., C, Reg 2368, fol. 63v. Latin. Hispania Judaica. Sources for the History of the Jews of Spain -6: Tortosa Disputation Regesta of Documents from the Archivo de la Corona de Aragon yr: Nov 27, 1414 Salomon Avimelqua (son) and Saul Avimelqua (father) Inhabitants of Alcolea de Cinca, Aragon SOURCES: A.C.A., C, reg 2445, Fols. 232r-v, Latin yr: Dec 2, 1414 Salomon Avimelqua (son) and Saul Avimelqua (father) In Alcega, Catalonia SOURCES: ACA Canc. 2386 f.79 v ACA Canc. 2386 f.80 r Sources for the History of the Jews of Spain -6: The Tortosa Disputation Regesta of Documents from the Archivo de la Corona de Aragon. yr: 1478 Salamo Avimelcha Inhabitant Monzon, Aragon SOURCES: F Asensio 1478 7r-v, Latin yr: 1478 Mosse Melqua Inhabitant Monzon, Aragon SOURCES: F Asensio 1478 58, Latin yr: 1479 Salamo Melcha & Jeffuda Melcha Inhabitant Monzon, Aragon SOURCES: F Asensio 1478 53v, Latin yr: Don Meir Malka and nephew Almoxarife of King Alfonso the Just of Aragon. SOURCES:(Edmond):from A. Bernaldez: Cronica de los Reyes Catolico in the lib of Casa de Cultura in Malaga. Could not verify. yr: XIV Nissim Malka Well known Cabalist Rabi of Fez in XIV century. Author of "Sepher Zenif Melukhah" and "Imre Melukhah" about Cabala SOURCES: NM 41;MR;.Laredo r: 1365 Judah Malka [son of Nissim (3)], Cabalist Rabbi and philosopher of Fez in XV centur Plato he composed an important 3 vol Philosophical work finished in 136 1 "Uns Al Gharib" (intro to Sepher Yezirah) 2 "Tafsir Yezirah" (commentaries on Sepher Yezirah) 3 "Tafsir Pirque Rabbi Eliezer" (treatise on R Eliezer) Also wrote "Al Miptah" and "Tafsir ESalawat" SOURCES: JE;N.M.;.Laredo,JE VI 536; NM 41 r: 1465-1475 Salomon Avinmelcha (Ben Malka) of Monzon, Spain. Francisco Asencio, notary of the town of Moncon in the years 1465-1475. SOURCES: Laredo, 830 Cabezudo r: XV Aharon ben Salomon Malka Rabbi originally from Dra'a in Fes, XV century. Left his home to go to P Tlemcen SOURCES: N.M.47;.Laredo yr: XVI-XVII Salem Malka Rabbi of Fes XVI-XVII SOURCES: MR;.Laredo yr: XVII David Malka Rabbi of Fez XVII SOURCES: MR;.Laredo yr: XVII Moshe Malka Rabbi in Fez XVII SOURCES: MR;.Laredo yr: XVII-XVIII Khalifa Malka Rabbi in Agadir XVII-XVIII. EMMigrated to Jerusalem where he died aroun of 86 yrs. Author of "Kaf va-Naqui" about prayer rituel in 5 vols; "RaK ve Tob" about the Shulhan Arukh and other works in manuscript form. SOURCES: N.M.162;.Laredo yr: XVII-XVIII Isaac Malka Rabbi in Morocco, XVII-XVIII SOURCES: MR;.Laredo yr: XVII-XVIII Mimon Malka Rabbi in Fez, XVII-XVIII SOURCES: MR;.Laredo yr: 1700-1771 Jacob Malka Rabbi,"dayyan" of Fez, fleeing the famine he went to Tetouan where he wa of the Rabbinical Tribunal of the Talmudic Academy of that town. There synagogue that carries his name. Became very famous and considered one o rabbis of his period. Authored numerous "Pessaquim" in manuscript form. work:"Ner ha-Ma'arabi" in Jerusalem 1932. Died in Tetouan at a very adva SOURCES: MR;N.M. 138;.Laredo yr: 1772 Mosheh Malka Rabbi, member of "Beth Din" of Tetouan in 1772 SOURCES: Ben Malca 61;.Laredo yr: XVIII Mordekhay Malka Rabbi in Meknes during XVIII SOURCES: MR;.Laredo yr: 1761 Samuel ben Jacob Malka Rabbi in Meknes who died in 1761 following a beating inflicted by order the Sultan's Khalifa. SOURCES: MR;.Laredo yr: XVIII Samuel Malka Posthumous son of Samuel ; Rabbi in Tetouan during the XVIII century SOURCES: MR;.Laredo yr: XVIII Joseph ben Salim Malka Rabbi in Fez during the XVIII century. SOURCES: MR;.Laredo yr: XVIII-XIX Mimon Malka Rabbi in Marrakesh during XVIII-XIX centuries. SOURCES: MR;.Laredo yr: XIX Salem ben Isaac Malka Rabbi in Fez during the XIX century. SOURCES: MR;.Laredo yr: XIX Samuel Malka Rabbi in Meknes during the XIX century. SOURCES: MR;.Laredo yr: 1826 Moshe Malka Rabbi in Agourrai, assasinated near Meknes in 1826. SOURCES: N.M.180;.Laredo yr: 1877 Moshe Malka Rabbi originally from Morocco, member of the Jerusalem Rabbinate, signat Malka # 23) of an introduction to "vayomer Yishag" of Isaac Bengualid in SOURCES: VY;.Laredo yr: 1877 Solomon Malka Rabbi originally from Morocco, member of the Jerusalem Rabbinate, signat Malka # 22) of an introduction to "vayomer Yishag" of Isaac Bengualid in SOURCES: VY;.Laredo yr: 1899 Yocef Bekhor Malka Author of "Sephat Emet" in 1899. Rabbinical Professor at "Talmud Torah" of "Ma'arabim" in Jerusalem. SOURCES: Gaon II,435;.Laredo yr: XIX Yahya Malka One of Directors of Charitable works of Jerusalem's "Ma'arabim" comunity SOURCES: Gaon II,435;.Laredo yr: 1939-53 Elie Malka Author of numerous works incl. "Proverbes Judeo-Arabes de Fes" with Loui (Hesperis,1937), "Textes Judeo-Arabes de Fes" with Louis Brunot (Rabat 1 Judeo Arabe de Fes" with Louis Brunot (Rabat 1940) etc.,etc. Diplomate Superieures Marocaines", Principal interpreter of Affaires Cherifiennes SOURCES: .Laredo yr: XX Mosheh Hayyim Ben Malka Born in Jerusalem, prof of Hebrew at the Rabbinical Seminary of Tangier Jerusalem in 1954. SOURCES: .LaredoBen Malca Ya'acob Ben Malca "Sepher Ner ha-Ma'arabi" 2 vols Jerusalem 1935 EJ Encyclopedia Judaica IL Isaac Laredo: "Memorias de un viejo tangerino", Madrid 1935 JE Jewish Encyclopedia,12 vols,Ny and london 1906. Laredo Abraham I. Laredo, "Les Noms des Juifs du Maroc", Consejo Superior de investigationes cientificas, Instituto B Arias Montano, Madrid MB Michaux Bellaire, Les Habous de Tanger (Archives Marrocaines vol XIII, 1914. MR Joseph ben Naim "Sepher Malkhe Rabbanan ve Sepher Kebod Melakhim, Jerusalem 5691 NM Ya'aqob Mosheh Toledano, "Sepher Ner Ma'arab", Jerusalem 5671 VY Isaac Bengualid, "Vayomer Yizhap", 2 vols, Livourne, 1876 Yohacin Sepher Yohacin Y Abraham Ya'ari:"Sheluhe Erez Yisrael Toledot ha-shelihut me ha arez la-Golah, me horban Bayit Sheni Ad ha-Meah ha-Tesha Asarah". Jerusalem 5711
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