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ZARZAL, ABRAHAM IBN (called Zarzar by Arabic chroniclers):

Spanish physician and astronomer; flourished in the first half of the fourteenth century at the court of the Nasserites in Granada, where a certain Pharez ben Abraham ibn Zarzal, who may have been his father, was physician in ordinary ("Monatsschrift," xxxiii. 479; Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 272); died after 1369. Fearing that he might become involved in the murder of the minister Reduan, he retired to Castile, where his medical and astrological fame, as well as the recommendation of Mohammed IV. of Granada, who was in friendly relations with the King of Castile, won him the appointment of astrologer and physician in ordinary to Pedro the Cruel. Abraham, who gained the favor of the king and was constantly near him, took every opportunity of smoothing over the difficulties between Castile and Granada. It is said that he, like other astrologers, prophesied to Pedro that the horoscope of his nativity destined him to become the mightiest king of Castile, to conquer the Moors everywhere, and to capture Jerusalem. At Seville, a few weeks before his death, Pedro summoned Zarzal and said: "Abraham, why have the events of my life been opposite to all that you and other astrologers have prophesied to me? I bid you tell me the entire truth of all that I ask, concealing nothing." Abraham replied: "Your Majesty, if I tell the whole truth, may I be certain that you will not be offended thereby?" Having been reassured on this point, he continued: "Will one perspire who takes a very hot bath on a very cold day in January?" "Certainly," replied the king. "Such a result would be contrary to the governing constellation," said Abraham; "and it is the same with the horoscope of your nativity: your sins and your government have brought about the direct opposite."

Abraham was actively interested in the religious and philosophic movements of the time; and he endeavored to gain recognition for Judaism.

Bibliography:
  • Juan Rodriguez de Cuenca, Sumario de los Reyes de España, p. 75, Madrid, 1781;
  • Rios, Hist. ii. 232 et seq., 255 et seq.;
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., vii. 356;
  • Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya, Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah, 83b (ed. Amsterdam);
  • Jeschurun, ed. Kobak, vi. 201 et seq.;
  • Monatsschrift, xxxiii. 477 et seq.
S. M. K.
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