PROVENÇAL, JACOB BEN DAVID (15th century), scholar of France and Italy. It is probable that Jacob was the ancestor of the Provençal (Provenzale) family that settled in Mantua in the 16th century. He resided first in Marseilles, where he engaged in maritime trade, but subsequently went to Naples, where he is mentioned in c. 1480 as one of its rabbis.
It was from Naples that he wrote a letter to Messer David b. Judah *Leon of Mantua, in which he expressed his opinion on the value of secular studies, particularly medicine (see Divrei Ḥakhamim (1849) edited by Eliezer Ashkenazi). He gave an approbation for the Agur of Jacob Baruch b. Judah *Landau which appears in the Rimini edition of 1526. He also seems to have written a commentary on the *Song of Songs which was published together with the commentaries of *Saadiah Gaon and Joseph ibn *Kaspi in about 1577.
Ghirondi-Neppi, 215; Gross, Gal Jud, 383f.; M.A. Shulvass, Ḥayyei ha-Yehudim be-Italyah bi-Tekufat ha-Renaissance (1955), 75, 142, 238; C. Roth, Jews in the Renaissance (1959), 43n.