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A NOTE ON R. HAI'S LITURGIC FRAGMENT 

In his interesting "Studies in Gaonic History and Literature," 
Prof. Alexander Marx published a fragment of a piyyut by R. Hai 
Gaon on circumcision.* Like all other poems by that Gaon, this 
frag;ment is written in an easy and fluent style. Two words, 
however, occur in it which form an exception : nn?3 (line 7) and 
nnina(line 8) are not readily understood. The latter occurs only 
once in the Bible (Job 41, 21), and probably denotes javelins, while 
the former may be derived from nnn?D (II Kings 10, 22), which 
again is a hapax legomenon. One is at first sight inclined to 
suggest that, as nnnPD — whatever its derivation — denotes a wardrobe, 
R. Hai coined the word TWO which he intended to signify a garment 
= 1J3. The meaning of this line would then be he put fringets on 
the garment. The second word, which yields no sense when a 
is retained, may perhaps be emended to nnina like javelins. The 
allusion would probably be to R. Eliezer ha-Gadol's implied state- 
ment that the phylacteries inspire the Gentiles with awe and terror.' 

It must, however, be admitted that, although we are not infre- 
quently driven to adopt forced explanations in liturgic poetry, the 
above interpretation is not very convincing. Through the courtesy 
and kindness of Prof. Schechter I have had easy access to that 
portion of the Cambridge Genizah which is now in the library of 
the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. The original of the 
poem under investigation is a fragment of two leaves. Some leaves 
are missing in the middle, as leaf 2 is no continuation of leaf I. 
The fragment evidently formed part of a collection of liturgic 
poems, the difficult words of which were now and again explained. 
Thus leaf la bears the following superscription: 

' JQR., New Series, I, p. 103, Text 2. 

= iTj?i'?N "1 x'ini laa i«im t'?j? «ip3 'n uv 'a p«n 'op Ss i«ii 

B'KiaB' I'Ven lS« -lOIX h-mn (quoted in b. Beralcot 6a and other places). 

545 



546 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

y i 
.... innry p nnsx Sa id 

An exposition of some words of (the piyyut) nailJJ HX by Bzekiel 
b. 'AH ha-Kohen; taken from the writing of Bphraim 6. 'Azaryahu; 
i. e. Ephraim annotated Ezekiel's piyyut. Among the words ex- 
plained are ni3"in ''D13 (specified as biblical), {IT'DIJ (specified as 
targumic), DaaiC? (specified as mishnic). These notes break off at 
the end of lb. On 2a another piyyUt is written which is completed 
on top of 2b. Then follows R. Hai's fragment. On the margin of 
the latter opposite the word nro2 there is the following note written 
by the same hand : ?|33 HiPDT JD 'S, which shows that the commen- 
tator took this word to be a cryptograph disguising the word f\33 
a corner. Now by this note we only obtain 3 from n . But what 
about the other two letters? The 3 from 7 at once suggests itself 
by Atbash. (comp. ItJ'tJ' = ^33, Jer. 25, 26), and we may obtain 3 
from n by the same system by including the final letters. This is, 
however, unlikely, as we should require a different system for 
each letter. Then nnin which is more difficult would still remain 
unexplained. It therefore may not be hazardous to suggest that 
both nn? and nnin are here cryptographs, from which ?|33 and K'KI 
JDT , respectively, are reproduced by calculating the numerical values 
of these words by the system known as Jt3p "ISDD, in which no 
letter is allowed to have a value greater than one digit. Accordingly 

( nnb = 3 + 4 -f- 8 = IS. 

1 5)33 = 2 -i- S + 8 = IS. 
Similarly 

f nnin = 4 + 6-1-44-8 = 22. 

I int cxn = 2 + I +3 + 7 + 2 4-7 = 22. 

Thus R. Hai obtained rhymes for nnS by a device customary 
in Hebrew literature. 

Dropsie College B. HalpER 

' This evidently =tat«BSN. In the Genizah fragments which I exatnined 
S sometimes stands for B, as iJtnsO = IBDiO. 

* This word is not quite clear, but it obviously is part of the piyyUf.