Skip to main content

Full text of "The Egyptian Nagid"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world byJSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 



The remarkable fragment relating to the dignity of Nagid in 
Egypt, which was edited by Mr. E. N. Adler in the Jewish Quaktebly 
Review, IX, 717 sq., is not the original, but must have been a portion 
of a book which contained a collection of this and similar letters and 
reports. This I noticed when I was kindly allowed to inspect the 
fragment. Only two leaves of the whole have been preserved, and 
several other leaves, two at the very least, must have been lost 
between them. The leaf, commencing on page 718, 1. 3, must, 
perhaps, be considered as the first. Anyhow, we have here a report 
in which an Egyptian Nagid notifies his appointment and solemn 
instalment to the congregations under his charge. 

Before determining the historical importance of this find, it will 
be necessary to correct the printed text and its translation after 
the MS. The beginning of the piece naion %17i< T'3 is correct. 
The new Nagid presents himself as an old acquaintance who had 
already, during the ofBce of his predecessor, shown himself as the 
proper representative and successor of the Nagid by his Synagogal 
addresses at certain festivals and by his decisions on points of the 
ritual. "ICN 'JSPD : "fii ?]n means : and to my Nagid, before whom, 
in whose presence =^3? "It^N. Mr. Adler read "'JSi'D, my teacher, 
but thus the construction of the whole sentence is destroyed. L. 2 
we read VISS. On 1. 5 the allegation from Is. xl. 4 is indicated 
as a Biblical verse by the point placed over the word. We know 
now, moreover, from the text published in the Jewish Quarterly 
Review, IX, 687, that the Gaonim used also in private letters to 
denote quotations from Scripture, which ought really to have been 
written on lines, by points placed over the Biblical words. Our copy 
of the report of the Nagid is no exception to this rule. L. 6 ought 
to read ""pIS n*lD IJHJ " know ye, in what measure I was favoured." 
1p^i{="ln1^^ That which is said here about the favour of the Caliph 
becomes unintelligible by the words '•"iriN in 1. 7, and "'DJ>3 in 1. 8. 
The Caliph cannot consider the Nagid as his successor, or as the 
ruler of his people among the Arabs. The MS. shows Vint* and 
■"OB'S. The Caliph says thus even during the lifetime of the previous 


Nagid : "This one shall rule after him, and he appoints the successor 
as Nagid in his, the Nagid's, name." In 1. Q, before *N*tDn about two 
words are missing. In 1. 10 read ^U1K'^{^^ npE'DDn T\iC2 "W instead of 
nriNn ^D 1J>, and since the verse Micah iv. 8 is differently applied 
here, the points over the words are wanting. In 1. 11, instead of the 
meaningless DB> r? DICJ?^, the sense requires DtS' v DlCy?, and in 
1. 12 correctly ^tOpI instead of "'JN"lp, which is without connexion. 
L. 18 and 1. 19 have the usual points over the words, being respec- 
tively citations from Ps. xl. 3 and Ps. xxxvii. 37. The last line, in 
which IB'l^n npn? must be read, concludes with words from Ps. Ixxii. 8, 
which also has points. On p. 718, 1. 3, read rfDID instead of D''D1D. 
L. 7, instead of IDoi'O nnn correct IDtt^D ba. In 1. 9, only the 
three words from Is. Ixvi. 23 1E'^^3 E'ln ''ID, inserted with the 
citation from 2 Kings xxv. 30, are provided with points. L. 10 is 
marked by the points as a Biblical verse (Zech. xi. 11), equally 1. 12 
as a citation from liii. 12. In 1. 15 113 '•JStSSni must, according 
to the MS., be read, instead of "'^^ ^JVONflV L. 18 read 
'<bob''H^. IX. 19 '^''rV> p is without doubt against the MS., which 
is illegible in this place, but shows no traces of TTf. L. 22, being 
a quotation from Is. xxviii. 29, is pointed. 

That the new Nagid was the son of his predecessor, as Mr. Adler's 
translation has it, is not mentioned in the text with a word. The 
silence on this point rather shows the opposite, that these two men 
were in no way related. The circumstance that the Nagid is repre- 
sented here, like the Gaonim, as preacher and teacher of his congre- 
gation, is important. He is installed with great honours, which form 
a spectacle that attracts many spectators. His dignity is a political 
one, being conferred by the Caliph, from whom the dignitary draws 
also a salary. 

The information afforded by the fragment, according to which, at 
the time of this Nagid at least, the consent of the Babylonian 
Exilarch, and — which is more remarkable still — that of the Gaon 
of Palestine was required, is very instructive. Indeed, Palestine's 
vote appears at that time to have had so much weight in the religious 
questions of the Egyptian Jews, that the appointment of the Egyptian 
Nagid depended more on the consent of the Nagid of Jerusalem 
than on the Egyptian Caliph, who was invested with the political 

The expression, "Crown of the princes," which the Exilarch 
bestowed upon the representative of the Nagid during the lifetime 
of the latter, makes him as it were the Dauphin of the dignity of 
Nagid, with which the title of " Prince of princes " was connected. 
It is a hitherto unknown feature in the history of Jewish titles, 



many of which sink into empty exaggerations, being formerly the 
standing attributes of certain dignities and ofSces. The Nagid appears 
here clearly also as the authority that mediated between the govern- 
ment and the Jewish community. On p. 718, 1. 16, Mr. Adler's 
reading Yio?, which is already confuted by the following plural, 
must be rejected also on this ground. Since two words are missing, 
the reading is perhaps Dyn ''3BD. The Nagid had to represent the 
Jews before the Caliph in all their desires and affairs. 

David Katjfmann.