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NOTES ON THE POEM OF ELHANAN BEN 
SHEMARYAH 

This poem from the Genizah, which was published by Davidson 
in the JQR., New Series, IV, 53-60, is of especial interest be- 
cause, though we possess Gaonic Responsa addressed to Elhanan, 
nothing was known in print until now of his own literary pro- 
ductions. For it is hardly subject to doubt that the writer of 
this poem is identical with the correspondent of the last Geonim. 
The meagre data which we possess of Elhanan have been col- 
lected by me in my |Kn»p HWN, pp. 13-14 (comp. also id., p. 47), 
among them being the fact that in a poem by Solomon Ibn 
Gabirol to Nissim ben Jacob (in Brody-Albrecht, "VETl *|JJE', 
p. 37) it is stated in-Jri prbvb M Dli'n, and I ventured the 
suggestion that this reference is perhaps to our Elhanan. But 
at the same time I pointed out that this identification is impaired 
by the consideration that Elhanan was older than Nissim, for 
while the former was still ordained by Sherira, with whom he 
stood in mutual correspondence, the latter's relations were 
restricted to Hai alone. Davidson would like to reverse this 
relation between Nissim and Elhanan, and construing "pn in the 
sense of teacher declare Nissim a pupil of Elhanan. To prove 
his point he refers to the variant reading in Mo'ed Katan 25 b, 
non nax ma^n njn, instead of m *nK inwn nvx But this 
variant is certainly corrupt as proved by the continuation Ip'DK 
iTW !>J? P n n ^> a P art from tr >e fact that the form "]^n does 
not occur elsewhere in the talmudic literature, 1 and that ro^n 
usually denotes surname (comp. Levy, s.v.). Besides, at another 
place in the same poem Solomon Ibn Gabirol employs the word 

* Jastrow, to whom Davidson refers, is inaccessible to me. 
481 



482 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

fin in the sense of pupil (ver. 6 : 13\jfiD 1313 W np*l ; comp. 
furthermore my JKll'p ''tWX, p. 43). Moreover, Elhanan seems 
to have been a pupil in Kairowan 2 and not the head of an 
academy. It is therefore most probable that the allusion in 
Ibn Gabirol's poem is to another Elhanan. 8 

The contents of the poem are sketched briefly by Davidson, 
pp. 54-5. However, that Elhanan refers to certain contem- 
poraneous events cannot be gathered with certainty from the 
contents, although it is not impossible, and notwithstanding the 
fact that Elhanan sojourned in all the lands which suffered at 
the hands of Hakim.* 

Elhanan's poem, like many others of this type, is written in 
the musive style, and Davidson has noted down the corresponding 
verses of the Bible. But Elhanan also paraphrases talmudic- 
midrashic expressions, to which likewise Davidson should have paid 
attention. Thus, 1. 12, neither "OJJD nor 3TJJD is in place, but "O^o, 
and 1. 13 read tCfBTI instead of NSlon, for Elhanan had in mind 
the saying of R. Johanan who interprets Deut. 30. 12-13 as follows 
(Erubin 55 a) : NM wb 13W3 i6\ (Til '•WO NSDn t6 K'fl DW3 itb 
Cmra ab) D1J1PID3 NX»n ttb.— 11. 15-16 we have again a para- 
phrase of an assertion by Raba ('Abodah zarah 19 a) : t?N13 S'TD 
■jn "by tjioah dwid twos rbrva yn '•by stdi D^ona— To 
1. 22 comp. Lev. r. ch. 19 beginning (see also Midrash Samuel, 
ch. 5, ed. Buber, p. 57; Cant. r. 5. 11): . , . D^niri vmxip 
mmn pans min nsi »dk is $>kiob> 'i idn . . . 3nw nnw 
'131 roiprn (this" verse accordingly refers to the Law), and to 
1. 24 comp. the well-known maxim of R. Eliezer b. Azariah 
(Hagigah 3 b and parallel passages) : \tH? nim 'IS! )bW)3 , . . 
ppwjn msiDN msiDN pew ffosn iTtbn )bx maiDx £jn . . . 

a This I derive from Hai's Responsum (Harkavy, Stud, u. Mitt., IV, 2) : 

nuN iim mix iTidb* i"d j3 pniw Yd W jj'j W3n }iw "oeai 
'131 jan^s vn&» onn^m pioa i"» p spy Yd. 

8 Neither can Elhanan b. Hushiel, Hananel's brother, be meant here, 
since he was already advanced in years when he came to Kairowan (see my 
iSIT'p HP3K; p. 13) and was likewise older than Nissim. 

4 Comp. R&J., XLVIII, 146, and the passages cited there. 



POEM OF ELHANAN BEN SHEMARYAH — POZNAISTSKI 483 

'131 rnina. — 1. 33 read perhaps ^ instead of W: Elhanan 
reproaches here those who ' teach without understanding anything 
themselves' (comp. Sotah 22a: t6t? rfn n? rV?'an D^n d'ai »a 
miOl rwiin? yan), and this will agree well with the continuation, 
1. 34 : ' when they are asked concerning many things in the 
Torah they become stupid (l^KU , comp. hereon Berakot 63 b : 
u!>nu isw nnn s>t\s\ btx\n ton yra d^bddp k$>k iw ab)) 

and are considered as strangers (to the Law) '. — 1. 43 bears an 
allusion to the fate of Hananiah b. Teradyon ("Abodah zarah 18 a) : 
linn m jna wvm nmot ^ana vn&pm n'oa lniaiai wwan.— 

1. 58 we should probably read Q^BS instead of B'lBf and comp. 
it to p. Taanit II, 1 (fol. 65 a, 1. 41) : foo prw bv 11BK pan 
naton "aj h» "lias (comp. also Ber. r., ed. Theodor, p. 513). 

Samuel PoznMski. 
Warsaw. 



VOL. IV. L 1