The Arabic Commentary of Yefet Ben Ali the Karaite oon the Book of Hosea, Edited from Eight Manuscripts and Provided with Critical Ntes and an Introduction

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Birnbaum, Philip

This work is intended as an illustration of the ramified influence of Yefet ben ‘Ali as Bible translator and exegete. By means of parallel passages an effort is made in the pages which follow to elucidate the extent to which Yefet borrowed ideas from his older contemporary Sa’adyah Gaon, on the one hand, and the overwhelming influence which he in turn exerted on his successors, including Abraham Ibn Ezra and David Kimhi, on the other. Indeed, one is almost tempted to believe that there would be little left of Ibn Ezra and Kimhi if we were to discard from their respective commentaries what was earlier uttered by their eminent forerunner, the now relatively obscure and forgotten Yefet. Through tracing the sources employed by Yefet it is likely made evident that, though a Karaite, he frequently resorted to the Talmud and the midrashic literature, in addition to his steady dependence on the Targum as a primary source. Emphasis has been placed upon various abridgments in Hebrew, notably that by Jacob ben Reuben. These have been shown to be derived from Yefet’s comprehensive biblical commentary. Surprisingly enough they penetrated Rabbanite circles in many lands, owing perhaps to the prevailing ignorance of their Karaite authorship. Another important factor contributing to the popularity of Yefet’s exegesis is to be seen in the fact that already in the 11th century there existed a word for word Hebrew translation of his writings. This made it possible for large numbers of Jews in non-Arabic speaking countries to make free us of Yefet’s biblical interpretation. On the basis of a close analysis of the present edition of Yefet’s Commentary on Hosea, the writer believes to have proved conclusively that the Anonymous Arabic Translation of the Latter Prophets I on the whole extracted out of Yefet’s Commentary.

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Library at the Katz Center - Stacks BS1565 .J36 1942
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