Skip to main content

Full text of "Recent Jewish Literature"

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 by JSTOR. 

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 


Sepher Maphteah Skelomo (Book of the Key of Solomon). An 
exact facsimile of an original Book of Magic in Hebrew with 
illustrations. Now produced for the first time by Hermann 
Gollancz. Oxford: University Press, 1914. pp. xxiii+72 
+ 7 double pages of Hebrew text, 4to. 

In 1903 Prof. Hermann Gollancz published a brochure under 
the title Clavicula Sa/omom's, &c, Frankfurt a. M., in which he 
gave a description of a Hebrew manuscript in his possession 
dealing with magic and practical Kabbalah, and ascribed to no 
less a personage than King Solomon. The editing of the manu- 
script was then deferred for a later time. In the present volume 
Dr. Gollancz offers to the reader an exact facsimile of the entire 
manuscript, which with its numerous magical and kabbalistical 
diagrams and illustrations, fills 158 pages in quarto size. The 
bulky text so reproduced is preceded by a short introduction in 
which the editor summarizes briefly the conclusions at which he 
had arrived in the afore-mentioned brochure. ' In order to serve 
as examples of the contents of this work, and also as a guide 
in deciphering the Hebrew cursive script of an Italo-Spanish 
character, in which this copy is written,' he also gives transcripts 
in square Hebrew character of several passages (twenty in number) 
selected from various parts of the work, all of which, except the 
introductory passage, are accompanied by a literal English transla- 
tion. On the title-page of the manuscript we read that the latter 
represents the first copy ()1tWl pnj?n) of an old work which had 
been hidden in a cave in Babylonia (IWC J*1X3, a favourite place 
for spurious Hebrew works ; see e. g. the title-page of the work 
iTD1N"l, Constantinople, 1566), and was brought to Holland by the 
desire of a prince in the entourage of ' Kaiser Carlos ' (probably 
referring to Charles VI of Austria). The copy is dated Amsterdam, 



1722 (Dion [fp). In view of this explicit statement, it may be 
remarked in passing, there was no need for the editor (Introduction, 
p. v) to search for internal evidence in order to prove that we 
have before us a copy from an older manuscript. 

The work is a compilation of the superstitions rampant at all 
times, in all countries, among people of different creeds and 
nationalities. There is no trace of any attempt on the part of 
the compiler or compilers to differentiate between Hindoo, Arabic, 
Greek, or any other elements. It is a mosaic of international 
nonsense made Jewish by the Hebrew language, in which it is 
garbed, and by a strong admixture of kabbalistical material 
taken from the Book Raziel, and similar sources. Hosts of angels 
and seraphim with the most fantastic names and titles, ginns and 
devils, and all sorts of evil-doers in heaven and hell, running 
easily into the thousands, fill the pages of this curious hand-book 
of occultism and sorcery. Fervent prayers and incantations, 
magical formulae and prescriptions for the sure performance of 
miracles, specifics for various maladies accompanied by magic 
circles and curious illustrations, conjurations of demons and 
angels, who are to be forced into our service — all this surges 
indiscriminately upon our mind, claiming recognition as a per- 
fectly safe and legitimate means for our overruling the destinies 
of earthly life and setting aside the laws of nature. We are 
taught how to secure the love of a woman, how to discover a 
thief, how to fly through the air on a cloud, how to make our- 
selves invisible, how to make a light burn in the midst of water, 
how to escape from prison, and a great variety of other performances 
of no less importance. In numerous instances we are assured by 
the writer that the recipes here given have been tried either by 
himself or by others, and were found to be absolutely reliable. 
On fol. 25 b we are told in the name of DU'ta (i. e. Apollonius 
of Tyana; comp. Steinschneider, Pseudepigraphische Literatur, 
p. 32 ; Hebraische Uebersetzungen, p. 845, n. 6) that a certain 
experiment purporting to stop slander has been tried on Saracens 
and Jews (DnifTTil wnBTi) and proved successful ! 

The editor, who is known as an author of several works on 


scholarly subjects, promises a complete translation of the text into 
English (Introduction, p. iy). Whether this work deserves a 
translation or not, I leave to the judgement of those interested in 
magic and occult sciences to decide. The folk-lorist and the 
antiquarian, whose interest the editor invites, may find therein 
some material which will prove useful in their studies of kindred 
literature. Moreover, as the compiler has made use of other 
branches of knowledge, such as astronomy and astrology, medicine 
and physiognomy, &c, an English translation may recommend 
itself also from a general point of view. However, the examples 
of deciphering and translation Dr. Gollancz has given in his 
Introduction do not encourage one to believe that he is sufficiently 
prepared to carry out properly such an undertaking. Although he 
has occupied himself considerably with the study of the manuscript, 
he often fails to read it correctly, and, naturally, wherever the text 
is misread it is also mistranslated. Here are some examples : 
Fol. 1 b, Prayer 2, the text reads DWOD ^3 V:sb nt?X t^iy t6n 
D^N-O warn, God of the Universe, before whom are all the visible 
and invisible beings. Dr. Gollancz (p. vi, line 1) reads D'WDJn 
DWaj TOani and translates ' before whom are all the created 
ones and the uncreated '. Two lines further the text reads : iiD'art 

~\znp run ivzh >i?i-\ nnn wui inn oy nanjn -pay *?$ nvn nj 

•pina nnrb "i&pm *Mn, look, I beseech Thee, this day unto Thy 
servant, who is crushed in spirit and body under Thy feet; for 
the sake of Thy holy spirit be gracious unto me and preserve me 
that I may behold Thy Majesty. Dr. Gollancz reads wan (sk) 
for HD'an, and, construing the sentences in a wrong way, translates 
against all sense : ' Endow me, Thy servant, this day with under- 
standing, lowly pressed as I am both in body and spirit beneath 
Thy feet, for the sake of Thy Holy Spirit. Be gracious unto me,' 
&c. ! Fol. 2 a, line 1, the word HD'Oni is again misread as fUJ»3rn 
(sic) and translated (p. vii, Prayer 6) ' make us understand '. 
Fol. 3 a, line 15, the manuscript has OW 'j mynn, fast three days. 
The editor reads (p. viii) nJDnn, and translates 'count three 
days ', a meaning which, by the way, the form rUDnn never has. 
As the editor's mistranslations in these instances are due 


chiefly to his mistakes in deciphering the manuscript, they might 
eventually be overlooked, but Dr. Gollancz often misunderstands 
the text in a surprising manner even when he has the correct 
reading. Thus the passage (p. vi) *wyD ba by DlVl irona KJ jn 
■jnVPpB dVpl is translated, 'grant unto my actions this day Thy 
blessing and the confirmation of Thy watchfulness'' (the italics are 
mine). The latter phrase in this translation is, of course, senseless, 
but DVp is a synonym to ncj>0, and the author means to say, 
' grant Thy blessing unto my actions and my performance of Thy 
commands'. Prayer 5 (p. vii) reads: TNxb fnUl nmcn IX 
JVm Dm in? 5>31 rnoinm D' ptfl DW3 -W», Compassionate 
Father, who triest the hearts, who takest delight in heaven and in 
earth, in the sea and the depths, and in all that is in them. 
Dr. Gollancz translates, 'Compassionate Father, who triest the 
hearts which are in heaven and on earth, the sea and the depths, 
and all that is in them ; they unto whom Thou hast granted 
favour '(!). Prayer 6, on the same page, reads: i>3 Wl JPBtPOn 
n"JlX"in rvaion bs jrwi niK'SJn . God is here described as causing 
to emanate from Him, and thus creating all souls (a very common 
conception in philosophy and Kabbalah), and as bestowing upon 
the world all the good created by His grace. Dr. Gollancz makes 
of this passage, ' who formest all souls in abundance, and givest 
all the good things that are favourable ' (!). The words jypB* 7N 
Di>1jn iWJWfl bo by ^lBW nun bz (p. viii) form a separate sentence: 
' God silences all evil, and rules over all that is done in the world.' 
As the sentence is preceded by the words dbs nijnn "VFft (i. e. 
the magic practice, as prescribed in the passage before us, will 
loosen, undo all evil), Dr. Gollancz, disregarding the word ?tf, 
and referring the whole to the magical procedure, is embarrassed 
by the seeming repetition, hence translates, 'It loosens every 
form of evil, so much so that it will lay all evil, and have power 
over everything that is done in the world'. P. xv, 1. 4 from 
bottom, a certain disease of the eye is adjured that whatever it be, 
a film or blemish ' or any thing whatsoever, it should be blotted 
out and depart out of the eyes ' (|D pn 1^1 nnc HO "\21 nt'N IN 
DTJin), not as is here rendered, 'or as regards any other thing 


that can be blotted out, that it go forth out of these eyes.' P. xvii 
we are taught a kabbalistic trick by which a high personage can 
be hypnotized, and in this state made to promise that ' he will 
come during the day to seek me, with the express purpose of 
doing my will ' (W\ JVWvb 'T3 Npn, WpJ? DV3 ST1). This is 
translated, 'and come to seek me out literally, so as to do my 
will '. What is ' seek out literally ' ? 

As may be expected, the author of the book uses certain 
technical words peculiar to this class of literature, e.g. ~Wpb, to 
prevent something from happening by a magical stratagem, 
literally to tie up (an Arabism, comp. Steinschneider, Hebraische 
Uebersetzungen, 540, 848); D^nni?, to inspire one with a dream 
(see below), "O? as an adjective in the sense of ins and TIT = 
unique, and i"PpD as a synonym to r6ws (see p. vi, ''PjfSl vyD !), 
practice, operation, designating the whole process of performing 
magical tricks, as designed in this work. The executor of such 
holy tasks is therefore styled rpyan bv^ (see fol. 5 b, 11. 3, 4, 22). 
On p. ix we thus read : TIT foil Kin "iriK t6k 5JBB>3 no!>B> ION 

Mi: nrvhib tnnn im -ib>x rbynn -ab nns hjidx = ' Said 
Solomon by Divine inspiration, God is one, unique, the religion 
is one, and one is the magical practice, which the Creator has 
deigned to reveal to mankind.' Dr. Gollancz, not familiar with 
the terminology, translates ' God alone is one, and there is one 
Faith only — the exalted one which the Creator desired to be 
revealed unto mankind', thus taking if^yon, &c. quite conve- 
niently, but against all grammar, as an adjectival description of 
roiDK (Faith). But what about the parallel passage forming the 
first few lines of the author's Introduction, where we read : 1DN 
ruiDNn 12b rfcjwn 12b Tnir ban ins 12b n"y nob® = ' Said 
Solomon, peace with him, unique, one is God, blessed be He, 
unique the (magical) practice, unique the Faith ' ? Dr. Gollancz 
reproduces also this passage (p. v), but it is the only one which 
he wisely left untranslated. On what etymology is the verb 
D^nn (p. xvii f.) translated four times by overpower, overwhelm, 
and coerce! Isa. 38. 16 does not warrant this meaning. I sus- 
pect the editor had in mind the Talmudic phrase (Rosh-ha- 


Shanah, 28 a) ntsit? DTim D^n DTiD, but the context of our 
passage makes it clear enough that it means to cause one to dream 
(comp. Jer, 29. 8). 

I do not follow up in detail all the other mistakes made by 
the editor in the reproduction of the text. I shall simply register 
them along with the correct readings of the manuscript given in 
brackets. P. iv, Tvabw *5o \j\zbw 'sd]. P. v, 1. 2, rpn n^>nnn3 
[NTi n^nnnn]; the words rDKi>03 and D^NID, ibid., 11. 3 and 9, 
are misprints for rosi>e3 and D^KIK ; 1. 15 D3n3' 1 [Darin'!]. 
P. vi, 1. 3, omission of 1E>X after D73. On what ground is here 
assumed that JIJIO means ' O Witness ! ' ? It is quite improbable 
that either the author, or the editor, have here thought of the 
Haggadic interpretation of the biblical 'manon' (Prov. 29. 21) as 
witness ; s. b. Sukkah 52 b. P. viii, 1. 4, IDKn, read ICNTi ; 

1. 7, u» [njj] ; 1. 9, koi [c?3Wi]. P. x, 1. 1, nw [mye>D]; 1. 2, 

3in, read 3in. P. xii, 1. 2, Q»1313 [DH3in] ; 1. 6, the manuscript 
clearly has ITODTt, but the editor reads TJOTl, and to emphasize 
the mistake he adds sic in parentheses; 1. 19, iye>V [wv] (see 
p. xxiii). P. xiv, 1. 4, 1WM3D [l"SVD1D] ; 1. 5, Tim [lTITn]. P. xv, 
1. 2, D^IUJ/D [0*131)13]. The whole Hebrew passage is here mis- 
placed, as it belongs after the next two English lines. P. xvi, 1. 1, 
plini (so in the manuscript) should have been corrected into pllfl ; 
1. 5 from below, irwmi [inisini] j last line, TiltOpi', read TiNlpi'. 

In view of the fact that all these mistakes in reading and 
translation occur in a text which, taken all in all, covers but about 
four pages, and which the editor has deliberately selected for the 
reader to serve as a key to the ' Key ', it seems to me that if an 
English translation of this book is to be given, it should be 
undertaken by someone who would apply himself with more care 
and circumspection than are displayed in this Introduction. 

After all this criticism it gives one genuine satisfaction to 
note that the work as a whole is splendidly got up, and that 
it is a great merit of Dr, Gollancz to have been instrumental in 
making this unique manuscript accessible to the Hebrew literary 
world by what is described as the collotype process, which alone 
made it possible to reproduce exactly also the perplexing drawings 


and diagrams that cover its pages. So far as I know there are only 
three other Hebrew books that have ever been published in such 
a luxurious fashion. 

Jewish Mysticism. By J. Abelson. London, 1913. pp. viii + 
184 (third volume of the Quest Series edited by G. R. S. 

The border line between rationalism and mysticism cannot 
always be definitely established. Whether a given conception 
is assigned to the one class or the other depends often upon the 
discretion of the individual thinker. For what appears to the one 
as a mystification, or a thought without reality, may look to the 
other as clear as daylight, as an established fact that needs no 
proof. The writer of a history of mysticism, who wishes to satisfy 
all readers, therefore, is confronted by a somewhat difficult task. 
He must make sure that what he treats as mysticism will be 
recognized as such also by those who are inclined to consider 
some religious abstractions as absolute certainties, and would not 
agree to seeing them classed with mystical conceptions. More- 
over, in order 'to write profitably on Jewish mysticism, it is 
necessary to have, not only a discriminating sympathy with the 
mystical standpoint, but also a first-hand knowledge of Jewish 
religious literature, the peculiar genius of which, perhaps, no one 
but a member of the race that has produced it can adequately 
appreciate and interpret ' (G. R. S. Mead in his Editor's Preface). 

Dr. Abelson, the author of the present work, fully comes up 
to the requirements here pointed out. With a sound literary 
taste and critical judgement he well succeeds in keeping himself 
beyond the danger line, avoiding on the one side a philosophic 
rationalization of purely mystical ideas, and on the other elimi- 
nating from his presentation all those elements of mysticism 
which by their nature are apt to confuse the modern reader rather 
than to enlighten him. Of course, this procedure necessarily 
renders the author's presentation incomplete, but, as he states 
VOL. VII. R r 


in his preface, the little volume is ' designed to give the reader 
a bird's-eye view of the salient features in Jewish mysticism rather 
than a solid presentation of the subject as a whole '. As such the 
book admirably suits the purpose. Following upon a general 
Introduction (pp. 1-15) some of the earlier essential elements of 
mysticism (e. g. the Merkabah = Chariot idea, Angels, Wisdom, 
Shekinah, Kingdom of Heaven, &c), as represented in Talmud 
and Midrash, in Jewish-Hellenistic and early Christian literature, 
are interestingly discussed (16-97). Special chapters are then 
devoted to the elucidation of the mystic theories of the Book 
Yesirah, the Zohar, the Sefirot doctrine, and other conceptions 
of the mediaeval Kabbalah. A spirit of genuine sympathy with 
the mystic aspect of Jewish thought is noticeable throughout the 
pages of the book, while the abundant quotations from the 
literature prove the author's familiarity with the sources. 

On several occasions Dr. Abelson unnecessarily symbolizes 
Haggadic passages, seeing in them: certain mystic thoughts which 
must have been foreign to the Talmudic authorities ; see e. g. 
pp. 41 ff. the interpretation of the passages relating to Jonathan 
b. 'Uziel, Johanan b. Zakkai, &c. P. 81, 11. 24-5, the words 
'before" and 'behind' must exchange places in order to give 
sense. The quotation from Nahmanides (p. 87) might better 
have been left out, as the idea is quite unclear even in the 
Hebrew text, and is irrelevant. The author's deduction from 
certain Talmudic passages that in the mind of the Rabbis 'the 
Jew fills no higher a place in the Divine favour than do the good 
and worthy of all men and races' (p. 96), involves a great 
exaggeration and betrays an undesirable apologetic tendency. 
The assertion that the doctrine of the primordial substances 
(water, fire, and air) being represented by certain Hebrew letters 
came into Greek philosophy from ancient Hebrew theosophy 
(p. 102) seems to me without any historical basis. The passage 
regarding the two attributes of God, Justice and Mercy (p. 150), 
is mistranslated, the names Jahweh and Elohim being inverted. 

Somewhat irritating are the ungrammatical transliterations of 
Hebrew words as ruhniim, galgdlim, sichlim (64) for ruhaniyyim, 


galgallim (or galgillim, Isa. 5. 28), sekalim ; geyvehah (85) for 
gawweka; hivra (147) for hiwwara. 

In the Bibliography one misses D. Joel's Die Religions- 
philosophie des Sohar. 

These things do not detract, however, in any way from the 
essential value of the book, which is to be recommended to every 
one who wishes to get a general idea of Jewish mysticism. 

The Cabala. Its influence on Judaism and Christianity. By 
Bernhard Pick. Chicago : Open Court Publishing Co., 
1913. pp. 109, small 8vo. 
Christian theologians, especially those concerned in the con- 
version of the Jews, always showed much interest in the Jewish 
Kabbalah. Certain passages in the 2x>har, the text-book of 
Jewish mysticism, which seemed to bear out the doctrine of 
the Trinity and other church dogmas, were claimed by these 
theologians and zealous missionaries as unmistakable evidence of 
the truth of the Christian religion. The author of the present 
booklet, likewise a missionary, does not make any attempt to 
Christianize the Kabbalah, but merely wishes to provide the 
English reader with a book on the subject, because 'it is sur- 
prising how scanty the English literature is on the Cabala '. The 
importance of the latter for the present generation he bases on 
' the interest taken in it by men like Raymond Lully ' (thirteenth 
century), Picus de Mirandula, Reuchlin, and other mediaeval 
Christian worthies. We have no quarrel with the author for 
having been prompted by the circumstances so described to 
enrich English literature by a book on the Kabbalah. We have 
a right to expect, however, that he would first provide himself 
with some knowledge on the subject drawn from the original 
Hebrew sources. What we find instead is a cheap compilation 
from the works of Jellinek, Graetz, and others, without a trace 
of literary skill or any penetration into the subject. Entire pages 
are copied literally without the slightest hint as to the source 
(see e.g. pp. 39-44, and Graetz, History, IV, 3-1 1). A reference 

R r 2 


to the Jewish Encyclopedia, from which the description of the 
Zohar is taken, in part verbally (comp. pp. 46-9, and/E., XII, 
6oi, col. 2), is likewise suppressed. Instead, we are constantly 
referred by the author to his own 'articles' in McClintock and 
Strong's Cyclopedia, a publication which need not be consulted 
on the literature under consideration. In the so-called Biblio- 
graphy, too, the best and most popular Jewish works on the 
Kabbalah (Landauer, Franck, Jellinek, Joel, Karppe, &c.) are, 
of course, omitted, but the compiler has the effrontery to remark 
at the end of the list: 'We have purposely refrained from 
referring to the historical handbooks of D. Cassel, S. Back, 
G. Karpeles, &c, because they offer nothing from a critical point 
of view; and for obvious reasons (!) we make no mention of 
articles on the Cabala in English Cyclopaedias.' No commentary 
is here necessary. That the author cannot read correctly a line 
of unpointed Hebrew is obvious from his transliterations of 
Hebrew words j see e. g. p. 45 the transliterated title of the 
Zohar. 'English literature on the Cabala' would, therefore, be 
much better off if authors like Dr. Pick would leave it as 
' scanty ' as they suppose it to be. 

Nuevo hallazgo de una inscripcibn sepulcral hebraica en Toledo 
(reprint from the Boletin de la Real Academia de la Historic!,, 
vol. LXVII). Por el Doctor A. S. Yahuda. Madrid, 1915. 

Hallazgo de pergaminos en Solsona, un capitulo sobre la poesia 
hebraica religiosa de Espana (reprint from the Boletin, &c, 
vol. LXVII). Por el Doctor A. S. Yahuda. Madrid, 1915. 
pp. 8 + 41. 

ContribuciSn al estudio del Judeo-Espaiiol (reprint from the Revista 
de Filologia Espanola, vol. II). Por el Doctor A. S. Yahuda. 
Madrid, 1915. .pp. 32. 

After a period of unbroken silence lasting over four centuries 
we hear again the voice of a Jewish scholar addressing itself to 
the scholarly world in the Spanish language from the chair of 


a Spanish university. Dr. Yahuda, who about two years ago 
was appointed Professor of Jewish history and literature at the 
University of Madrid, is endeavouring to make accessible to 
the scholarly world everything of Judaeo-Spanish origin that may 
still be found in the possession of the Spanish people and may 
throw new light on the history of the Jews in the Iberian 
Peninsula. Students of Jewish literature, burdened as it is with 
too many languages, have for years past considered the study of 
Spanish as something of a hors-d'muvre, but may in future have to 
take it up again as part of the regular course of their linguistic 
studies — if, indeed, they care to come in touch with what promises 
to develop into a new phase of Jewish learning in Spain. 

Dr. Yahuda's first publication deals with a sepulchral Hebrew 
inscription, counting only twelve lines, which was recently dis- 
covered on a granite block in the court-yard of Dr. Francisco 
L6pez Fando of Toledo. The latter, a reputable physician and 
a man of letters, had noticed for some time the graphic characters 
on the surface of the stone, and invited Prof. Yahuda for an 
examination and eventual deciphering of the content. It was 
then found by the examiner that the block in question was 
originally one of the tombstones of the Jewish cemetery of 
Toledo, which, towards the end of the sixteenth century, was 
plundered by the Christian inhabitants of the city, its monuments 
being carried to various places, where they were made to serve 
all kinds of domestic needs. Fortunately some anonymous 
scholar of the sixteenth century had copied seventy-six epitaphs 
from the stones of that cemetery prior to its destruction. By some 
unknown circumstances the copies became the possession of the 
Royal Library of Turin, Italy, and were later published by the 
famous S. D. Luzzatto in his \TO) S 32H, Prague, 1841. It so 
happens that the inscription deciphered by Dr. Yahuda is identical 
with no. 70 in Luzzatto's edition. It is the epitaph of a certain 
R. Jacob b. Isaac JDKplKDPK, who fell a victim of the Black 
Death on the twenty-seventh of June, 1349, while performing 
his duty as a physician. Dr. Yahuda republished the text with 
a Spanish translation and notes. A new feature in this publica- 


tion is the special page on which we are shown for the first time 
the peculiar arrangement of the intertwined lines as they were 
engraved on the stone. The copyist of the sixteenth century did 
not reproduce the diagram form of the inscription, hence it is 
lacking also in the edition of Luzzatto. Line 6 offers an essen- 
tially better reading than is given in the latter. The find is of 
value also for the student of Hebrew palaeography. 

The second study of Prof. Yahuda belongs to the field of 
liturgy. As he informs us at the beginning of the essay, two 
parchment leaves covered by Hebrew script were recently found 
to have been pasted into the cover of a manuscript codex in the 
Library of the Academy of Solsona. They were removed and 
sent to the University of Madrid for examination. Here the 
author identified the content as representing fragments of the 
following six liturgical productions : i. Prologue (men) of David 
b. Eleazar Ibn Bakuda (twelfth century) to Solomon Ibn Gabirol's 
Exhortations (WinTK) ; 2. A hymn of Judah Halewi of the class 
called 'Ahabah (nans) ; 3. A poem on the Ten Commandments 
by an anonymous author ; 4. Ibn Gabirol's 'Azharot; 5. A hymn 
on the revelation of the Law showing the acrostic Joseph (see 
p. 7, n. 2); 6. A poetic Introduction to the prayer 'Nishmat' 
for Pentecost by Judah Ibn Gayyat (eleventh century). 

None of these pieces is complete, and with the exception of 
no. 6 they have all been repeatedly printed in complete form 
in the various Orders of Prayer for the Jewish festivals. In so 
far the liturgical material here recovered, without denying the 
interest attaching to the discovery of it and to the attending 
circumstances, cannot be said to be of any particular importance. 
Dr. Yahuda, however, in his desire to present to the learned 
Spanish public, which for reasons well known is entirely unfamiliar 
with matters Jewish, something of the spirit and ethical worth 
of the famous Hebrew poets, who once sang on the banks of the 
Ebro and the Tajo, took occasion to prepare an elaborate study 
on the subject. By a happy coincidence three of the poetical 
compositions represented in part by the fragments in question 
(namely, nos. 1, 2, and 4) are fair specimens of Hebrew poetry 


in Spain, and are therefore well adapted for the author's purpose. 
The usual description of the MS., of which a facsimile is given, 
is followed by a general characterization of that species of 
synagogal poetry which is known under the name of 'Azharot 
(Exhortations). The influence of the biblical language on the 
style and phraseology of the mediaeval Hebrew poets is then 
very interestingly described. The fragmentary texts of Ibn 
Bakflda's Prologue and Judah Halewi's 'Ahabah are completed 
from the printed editions and given in full, while of Ibn Gabirol's 
'Azharot (part II) only the fourteen introductory lines are given 
as example. For Ibn Gayyat's poem which, as noted before, is 
here published for the first time, the author made use of a copy 
from a Bodleian MS., but even so the poem, as the acrostic 
shows, still lacks, at least three more strophes at the end. As 
a piece of poetry this poem does not possess any special merit. 
The style is artificial and clumsy. The text of all four pieces is 
accompanied by copious explanatory notes and references. 

It could hardly be expected that a plain, though scientifically 
satisfactory, interpretation of the contents of mediaeval Hebrew 
poetry would appeal to the Spanish reading public or arouse its 
admiration for the Hebrew poets. Dr. Yahuda, who is of a 
poetic turn of mind — he has published some Hebrew poetry of 
his own composition — in a chapter called ' Analysis and Transla- 
tion ' (pp. 26-41), therefore, gives a highly poetical reproduction 
in metrical verse of the three poems (Bakfldah, Gabirol, and 
Halewi). The most interesting parts, however, are the introduc- 
tory comments, which are inserted between the various strophes, 
and in which the author tries to acquaint the Spanish reader with 
the religious spirit that pervaded the poets in question while 
describing the grandeur of the Divine revelation on Mount Sinai, 
or the glory of the Holy Land and the Sanctuary as the seat 
of God, the loftiness and sublimity of the Mosaic Law, &c. The 
whole rhetorical exposition with the interposed verse cannot fail 
to make a deep impression upon the readers for whom it was 

A few corrections of mistakes may here be added. The 


phrase DD3 1DJJ7 ffW nffilTK, which forms the beginning of 
the oldest known 'Azharot, cannot be translated ' en los primeros 
tiempos diste exhortaciones a tu pueblo ' (p. 8). The word 1WK"I 
is a symbolic name for the Torah (see the references in Theodor's 
Bereschit Rabba, p. 7, n. 3), and the meaning is ' Exhortations of 
the Torah Thou hast given to Thy people'. Ibid., n. 2, for 
Hasafrut read Hasefarim; n. 4, for Hagueonim read Gueonim 
Kadmonim; p. 21, 1. 17, read Deuteronomio, 6, 4-9 y n ; p. 22, 
1. 16, the author corrects the word 733 into ?13J = boundary, and 
in a note tries to justify his correction. He overlooks Ps. 83. 
7-8, where Gebal is mentioned as one of the tribes inimical to 
Israel. This Gebal has nothing to do with the town of that name 
(Ezek. 27. 9), which is referred to by the author. The whole 
note is to be cancelled. P. 24, n. 1, read SWD \2por ibn Gayat; 
p. 26, 1. 17, reference should have been made to Ps. 62. 12, as 
well as to the Talmudic interpretation of that verse (Sanh. 34 a), 
to which Ibn Gayyat, no doubt, here makes allusion. P. 35, 
n. 1, the reference to Shir Hashirim Rabba is to be completed 
by ch. 1, ver. 2, letter 2. 

The Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna has recently 
published an important study entitled Beitrage zur Kenntnis des 
Judenspanischen von Konstantinopel, by L. M. Wagner (Vienna, 
-1914, 4to, pp. xxii+186), forming part of the philological section 
in the 'Schriften der Balkan-Kommission '. The special object 
of this work is to show the relations between the Judaeo-Spanish 
idiom and the old Spanish language, as also to investigate to 
what extent the former was influenced by other European and 
Oriental languages. Dr. Yahuda takes the work of Wagner as 
a starting-point for a highly interesting study on the subject, in 
which he gives his own observations among the Sefardic Jews 
of the different communities in Italy and Turkey, as well as the 
Balkan provinces which have formerly been part of the Turkish 
empire (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and Greece, especially in 
the large Jewish community of Salonica). By virtue of his extra- 
ordinary familiarity with the leading languages of the Orient 
and Europe he is able to trace a large number of hitherto un- 


explained phrases and expressions in the Judaeo-Spanish dialect 
to their Persian, Arabic, or Turkish origin, or to some archaic 
element in the Romance languages, particularly old Spanish and 
Portuguese. Very often it is the author's intimate knowledge of 
the social and religious life of the Sefardic Jews in question that 
enables him to ascertain the meaning of some obscure words 
used by the latter. Thus, to quote a single instance, the word 
compedron used by Oriental Jews as a noun denoting the buttock, 
podex, is explained as a corruption of the phrase con perdbn 
(=with your leave, I beg pardon), a phrase used before expressing 
a word which is considered obscene or repugnant. Many Jews, 
however, who knew the meaning but not the etymology of 
compedron, naturally regarded its use as an obscenity, and in 
order to avoid it used instead the word mehila, which, Yahuda 
shows, is the Hebrew n^TlD, and likewise means pardon ! It 
should be added that the Polish Jews, too, use a whole phrase 
as a noun in precisely the same sense : Der Seid' s-mir-mochel = 
the ' I-beg-your-pardon ', which corresponds exactly to compedron. 
Students of Romance languages will find in this essay of 
Yahuda rich material gathered from fields which are usually 
inaccessible to them and which will, no doubt, prove very 

w d"d Toy prw i"y -iinI> t«n nnsa ■a-ijn tmnwi w vtjd »na 
.p"sb i"jnn p-iv 

The present world war has brought one more language to 
the shores of this continent. To Judaeo-German and Judaeo- 
Spanish is now added Judaeo- Arabic, and the booklet under the 
above title is the first literary production in this idiom printed 
on American soil. It is this fact that lends it some importance 
and recommends it for registration in this Review. The little 
volume contains the translation of Canticles into vernacular 
Arabic as it is spoken by the Jews in some parts of the Orient. 
The author adheres to the plain sense of the biblical text without 
making any use of Midrashic ideas, which are so commonly 
employed in the interpretation of this book in particular. The 


only liberty he takes is that he tries to render each verse in 
rhymed prose, which is a much-favoured form with Oriental 
writers. For the sake of obtaining the desired rhyme the author 
is, of course, often compelled to insert words for which there 
is no equivalent in the Hebrew text. In his Hebrew preface 
Mr. 'Abud informs us that he had prepared this translation more 
than twenty years ago, having used it in his instruction of the 
school children in Aleppo, but did not care to have it published. 
He was urged, however, to do so by friends in this country. 

It would require too much space to give a description of the 
style and manner of spelling used by the author. Two verses 
from the first and last chapters will suffice as illustration, and in 
order to show the deviations from correct Arabic I place the 
latter in parentheses : 

(Cant. i. 5.) 

(or rPbn) nftn ph kjk kiod) dndd in mbn ?2t6) ma n-idd 

bkS'dI'n int ntoa w bk!>d bit itn ntm «'• 

.(JND^D ppBO 3-IJ^X DN'O:) .fND'hD pttpw 'o my bn 0*0:3 13 

(Mid., 8, 11.) 
|lDn ilO 'B JKO^Db |M3 D13) [1DH J1D ''S fND^ID^ JK3 DH3 

Qnoyjw pidnj^ dia^N my pfiDjotsi fvotu bb D13 Kb* 1 * NDy 
^ riifl nyop «£« n , >i , > ^1 b »a nxia nwp *|i>N ay* pan S>13 
.(Dmoji .pmon 

' The reader should excuse me ', the author pleads in his 

preface, 'for having often placed the vowel letters ('•"inx) where 

they may not belong and for having used promiscuously the 

letters D and X, &c, as no correct method of spelling Arabic in 

Hebrew characters has as yet been established (!). I did the 

best I could, may the Lord forgive me ! ' We hope his wish will 

be granted, though we do not agree with the reasons he advances 


Henry Malter. 
Dropsie College.