BAYHAN (Bayḥān), county and its central city, Bayḥān al-Kaṣab, in South Arabia. This was a desert area with shifting sands on the ancient Perfume Road. In the Roman period the area flourished because of the perfume trade, but it deteriorated when Christianity became widespread. In Nūr al-Ẓalām by Rabbi *Nethanel ben Isaiah , Bayhan was referred to as Diklah (Gen. 10:27). At the end of the 15th century a Jewish false messiah orated in the area, but after he had been seized and killed by the authorities the area was evacuated of all Jews. In the 19th century the Jews suffered from the struggle between the Turkish and the British. Jews lived in Bayhan and in four villages in the area: Aylan, Shirka, Aliya, and Rawna, which were controlled by the Sheikh Husayn ibn Aḥmad. There were approximately 30 houses belonging to Jews in the town and about 20 families in the nearby villages. Most Jews were blacksmiths and weavers but some were merchants. A number of families had land in the neighboring city of Ḥarib. Jews and Muslims lived side by side and had good relations. There was one synagogue in Bayhan, established by R. Sa'id Kasha of Ṣan'a. Another rabbi from San'a was Salim Joseph Ṣan'ani. The cemetery was located in the western part of the city. One synagogue was situated in Aylan and was used by all Jews in the village area. The rabbibical court was staffed by the Mori and Menasheh families, which, according to their testimony, had lived in Bayhan for many generations, coming there from Bayda, Ḥabban, Rada', Suwadi, San'a, and other places. Jewish professions in the last generation included: blacksmithing, weaving, retail commerce, and some farming. The 88 Jews of Ḥabban were brought to Aden by a British air force flight in 1949 and from there immigrated to the State of Israel on December 4, 1949. They settled in the abandoned village of Ajur.
R.B Serjeant, "Materials for South Arabian History," in BSOAS 13 (1950), 294; L.D. Loeb, "Jewish-Muslim Socio-Political Relations in Twentieth Century South Yemen," in: E. Isaac and Y. Tobi (eds.), Judaeo-Yemenite Studies: Proceedings of the Second International Congress, 71–99; R. Meissner, Die suedjemenitischen Juden: Versuch einer Rekonstruktion ihrer traditionallen Kultur vor dem Exodus, (1999), 47–51; Y. Kafiḥ, Sefunot 2 (1958), 249; Sh. Lahav, Kehillat Yehudei Bayhan (1996); Y. Tobi, in: Pe'amim 64 (1995), 28–31.
[Yosef Tobi (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.