THE GLOSSARY ŠARḤ AL-ʾALFĀẒ BY ABŪ AL-FARAJ HĀRŪN: DAVID BEN ABRAHAM ALFĀSĪ’S DICTIONARY JĀMIʿ AL-ʾALFĀẒ AS A RESOURCE

Nasir Basal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to prove that David Ben Abraham Alfāsī’s Dictionary Jāmiʿ al-alfāẓ, which is hardly mentioned in the mediaeval Hebrew linguistic literature, Karaite and Rabbanite alike, was one of the sources for the interpretations of biblical entries in Abū al-Faraj Hārūn’s glossary Šarḥ al-alfāẓ al-ṣaʿba fī al-Miqraʾ. This conclusion emerges and is presented here for the first time, following an analysis of Hārūn’s interpretations of the Biblical entries in the book of Isaiah in his work and their comparison with the interpretations of both Karaite and Rabbanite senior Biblical commentators of his time, such as Yefet Ben ʿAli (Abū al-Faraj’s main source of interpretation in Šarḥ al-alfāẓ), Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf Ibn Nūḥ (Abū al-Faraj’s teacher), Rabbi Sa‘adia Gaon and others, who used their commentaries to interpret the entries in his essay. Our conclusion is based on the fact that the interpretations found in Abū al-Faraj’s work are similar, in fact almost identical, only to David Ben Abraham’s interpretations in his Biblical dictionary Jāmiʿ al-alfāẓ and can be determined with almost certainty that it was his source. This is not surprising, as Abū al-Faraj Hārūn mentions David Ben Abraham’s dictionary (Agron) and its abridgment (muxtaṣar) twice in his al-Kitāb al-muštamil. In it he criticizes David Ben Abraham’s method in analyzing the Hebrew root (basic letters) and the work discussed here leans on his interpretations of the Bible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-376
Number of pages40
JournalJerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam
Volume2021
Issue number51
StatePublished - 2021

Funding

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation

    Keywords

    • Biblical Hebrew philology and lexicography
    • mediaeval Karaite glossaries

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