NETHANEL BEN MOSES HA-LEVI (12th century), gaon and rosh yeshivah in *Cairo. Nethanel inherited his position from his father Moses and according to documents of the Cairo *Genizah, he held this position from 1160 to 1170. At that time, the role and the authority of the Cairo rosh yeshivah increased to a considerable extent because, after the death of *Samuel b. Hananiah, the position of the *nagid was weakened as a result of the activities of *Zuta. Nethanel appointed judges and other religious officials in all the communities of Egypt and he headed the great bet din. He received a letter of ordination from R. *Daniel b. Ḥasdai, the exilarch in *Baghdad, who thus sought to impose his authority on Egyptian Jewry; on the other hand, *Samuel b. Eli, the head of the yeshivah of Baghdad, supported the geonim of *Damascus. *Benjamin of Tudela, the 12th-century traveler, relates that Nethanel was in royal service. In 1171 Nethanel was succeeded by *Maimonides as head of the Jews. For some unknown reason Maimonides was compelled to give way to *Sar Shalom ha-Levi, the brother of Nethanel.
Mann, Egypt, 1 (1920), 234–5, 237; 2 (1922), 292ff.; Mann, Texts, 1 (1931), 230–1, 257–62; Assaf, in: Tarbiz, 1:3 (1929/30), 68; idem, Be-Oholei Ya'akov (1943), 91; Goitein, in: Tarbiz, 33 (1963/64), 184.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.