Obtained from the
Family History Center in Tel Aviv, Israel:
This is an ancient Spanish-Jewish
name which is probably derived from the Arabic for "Father Benefactor"
The first Jews who arrived in Spain
during the times of the Roman Empire bore Greek, Latin, and Hebrew
names. In the early Eight Century, when Spain was conquered by the
Arabs, many Jews adopted Arabic names, while also retaining their
Hebrew names. This left a legacy of combinations of Arabic and Hebrew.
After the Tenth Century, when Spain was
re-conquered by the Christians, these Arabic and Hebrew names were
still used by Spanish Jews. It was not until the Sixteenth Century
Inquisition that Jews changed their names, when many were forcibly
converted and baptized, and took Spanish-Christian names.
The fact that we find so many spellings of the
name today is mostly due to the name's translation into other
languages. As an example, my family's name used to be spelled Abouaf.
However, my great-grandfather Michael met some men from Safed who told
him that it should actually be spelled with a "v" at the end - Abouav.
They told him that the spelling Abouaf came from the spelling in
Turkish, as the old Turkish alphabet did not have a symbol for the
sound "v". According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the name Aboaf also
gained popularity in Italy.
Some forms that
the Aboab name takes on today.