Sephardic Tid-Bits: The Radhanites

The birth of Muhammad was good for the Jews. He was born in 570 and died 62 years later in 632. In those 62 years, he established the Muslim religion of Islam and united Arabia which had a powerful army. Islam became antagonistic to the Christians and they were in continual wars with one another. As a result of these wars it was not possible for them to trade with one another.

Business-wise the Jews got along with each of them and became middle-men in business between them. The Jewish merchants of those times created an informal trade group which for some reason was called “The Radhanites.” Their success came from the fact that they did business with their co-religionists all over the world. They were also multi-lingual being able to communicate in Hebrew, Arabic, Latin, Persian, Greek, French, Spanish and Slavic.

While the Jews traded all over the world, in Spain with the Christians controlling the north and the Moslems controlling the south the “Radhanites” were very powerful and a great influence on the life of the Jews of Spain and Portugal. The Jewish “Radhanites” continued to exist for 500 years from 500 to 1000.