KAʿB BEN ASAD (d. 627), chief of the Jewish tribe of Qurayẓa\>\> in Medina. When Kaʿb saw the tragic fate awaiting his tribe as a result of their defeat by Muhammad's forces and their betrayal by their Arab allies, he offered three suggestions to his council: conversion to Islam; that the men kill their wives and children to save them from slavery and dishonor, but that they continue to fight; and that they unexpectedly attack Muhammad's forces on the Sabbath, thus desecrating the holy day. Each suggestion was rejected. He was put to death along with the rest of his tribe in 627, after refusing to accept Islam. Kaʿb is the subject of Tchernichowsky's poem "Ha-Aḥaron li-Venei Kurayta" ("The Last of the Banu Qurayẓa"). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: H.Z. Hirschberg, Yisrael be-Arav (1946), 145f.; M. Ibn Ishaq, Life of Muhammad, tr. by A. Guillaume (1955), 461, 464f.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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