DAVID, JACOB (b. Seyr village, 15 November 1873; d. Chicago, 26 May 1967), Assyrian pastor and relief worker. After completing his primary education in his home village, west of Urmia, he entered Qalla, the American Presbyterian missionary boarding school for boys in Urmia. Following completion of secondary school, he traveled to the United States in 1893, enrolled at Brown University and graduated in the class of 1899. Two years later he completed courses at Newton Theological Seminary (later Andover-Newton Theological Seminary) and was ordained a pastor.

He returned to Urmia where, from 1904 to 1918, he assisted Dr. William Shedd (1865-1918; Figure 1) in teaching and administering Maʿrefat, an American school for boys from all ethnic groups. The family fled to Tabriz when the Ottoman army broke through to Urmia and the elimination of Christians escalated. From 1918 to 1921 Jacob David served as superintendent of the refugee schools and the Near East Relief Orphanage in Tabriz.

Following immigration to the United States in 1921, he became a national speaker for the American Committee for Near East Relief. In Chicago, where a large Assyrian community from Iran began to grow with the arrival of more refugees during the 1920s, Rabi (teacher) David worked for twenty years (1929-49) at the Chicago Tract Society engaged in missionary work in the Midwestern part of the United States.  His wife, Judat Moorhatch David (q.v.), wrote an important account of the war years in Urmia and Tabriz where she engaged in caring for orphans.


 Anon., “The Unforgettable Shepherd,”Assyrian Star, May-June 1967, p. 10.

Jacob David, letter regarding the massacre in Urmia, excerpt in “Affairs in Persia,” Woman’s Work. A Foreign Missions Magazine 34/12, December 1919, pp. 254-55.

 Judith Moorhatch David, The Life of Judith Moorhatch David, a large unpublished manuscript held originally by her younger son, Dr. Charles David and now by his children.

(Eden Naby)

Originally Published: December 3, 2010

Last Updated: April 7, 2015