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Poetry and Memory in Karaite Prayer

tudes sur
le Judasme Mdival

Fondes par
Georges Vajda

Diriges par
Paul B. Fenton

TOME LXI

The titles published in this series are listed at brill.com/ejm


Karaite Texts and Studies

Edited by
Meira Polliack
Michael G. Wechsler

VOLUME 6
Poetry and Memory
in Karaite Prayer
The Liturgical Poetry of the Karaite Poet
Moses ben Abraham Dar

By
Joachim J. M. S. Yeshaya

Leidenboston
2014
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Yeshaya, Joachim J. M. S.
Poetry and memory in Karaite prayer : the liturgical poetry of the Karaite poet Moses ben
Abraham Dari / by Joachim J. M. S. Yeshaya.
pages cm. (Etudes sur le judasme mdival, ISSN 0169-815X ; Tome 61) (Karaite texts
and studies ; volume 6)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-90-04-25991-1 (hardback)ISBN 978-90-04-26211-9 (e-book)1.Dari, Moses ben
Abraham, active 12th century-13th centuryCriticism and interpretation.
2.Hebrew poetry, MedievalEgyptHistory and criticism.I.Title.

PJ5050.D34Z95 2014
892.412dc23

2013030367

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ISSN 0169-815X
ISBN 978-90-04-25991-1 (hardback)
ISBN 978-90-04-26211-9 (e-book)

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To our forthcoming firstborn
Contents

Acknowledgements......................................................................................... xi
List of Abbreviations....................................................................................... xiii
Transliteration of Arabic............................................................................... xiv
Transliteration of Hebrew............................................................................. xvi

Introduction...................................................................................................... 1

1 Karaite Liturgy and Poetry....................................................................... 11


1.1 Karaite Prayer and Liturgy............................................................ 11
1.2 Karaite Liturgical Poetry before Aaron ben Joseph............... 14
1.3 Moses Dars Poems and the Pentateuch Portions............... 17

2 Language, Rhetoric, Prosody................................................................... 27


2.1 Hebrew Language, Style, and Rhetoric...................................... 27
2.2 Poetic Personae................................................................................. 32
2.2.1 God as Speaker.................................................................... 33
2.2.2 People of Israel.................................................................... 37
2.2.3 Poet-Precentor..................................................................... 38
2.3 Prosodic Features, Poetic Forms, Name Acrostics................. 41
2.4 Wazn Indications: Judah ha-Levi as Poetic Role-Model?..... 44

3 Thematic Elements..................................................................................... 55
3.1 Praise of God...................................................................................... 55
3.2 The Holiness of the Sabbath Day................................................ 58
3.3 The Covenant and the People of Israel..................................... 61
3.4 Moses, Mount Sinai, and the Giving of the Torah................. 63
3.5 Destruction and Rebuilding of Jerusalem and Temple........ 64
3.6 Suffering of Israel in Exile.............................................................. 67
3.7 The Others: Christians and Muslims.......................................... 71
3.8 Penitential Themes.......................................................................... 75
3.9 Longing for the Realization of Deliverance............................. 78
x contents

4 Edition............................................................................................................ 85
4.1 Genesis................................................................................................. 86
4.2 Exodus.................................................................................................. 152
4.3 Leviticus.............................................................................................. 184
4.4 Numbers.............................................................................................. 209
4.5 Deuteronomy..................................................................................... 249

Conclusion......................................................................................................... 281

Alphabetical List of Poems Nos. 196....................................................... 289


Alphabetical List of Biblical Names........................................................... 293
Variant Readings.............................................................................................. 295
Bibliography...................................................................................................... 307
Index of Names and Subjects....................................................................... 315
Plates.................................................................................................................... 319
Acknowledgements

The life of this book began when the author visited the Ms (Moses) Dar
synagogue in Cairo, Egypt, in March 2010, on the occasion of the partial
restoration of this Karaite synagogue located in the Abbsiyya quarter.
My sincere thanks go to Dr. Peter Verkinderen, Assistant Director at the
Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, and to the late Carmen Weinstein,
then President of the Jewish Community Council of Cairo, for enabling
me to visit Cairo on this occasion.1
On the appearance of this study I would like, first and foremost, to
wholeheartedly thank Professor Elisabeth Hollender; ever since I embarked
on my postdoctoral life in Germany in April 2010 (first in Bochum and
subsequently in Frankfurt am Main), she has been a great supervisor of the
DFG-funded research project, The Introduction of Liturgical Poetry into the
Karaite Prayer Book: From Moses ben Abraham Dar to Aaron ben Joseph.
Our train meetings between Cologne and Frankfurt have proven to be not
only very pleasant but also truly priceless for the successful completion
of this study. Heartfelt thanks are owed as well for the meticulous nasty
remarks on all parts of the book manuscript which she sent to me even
during her sabbatical leave at the Herbert D.Katz Centerfor Advanced
Judaic Studiesin Philadelphia.
I express my deepest gratitude to the series editors, Meira Polliack and
Michael Wechsler, and to Katelyn Chin and Jennifer Pavelko of Brill, for
also accepting my second book into the series Karaite Texts and Studies, as
well as to the production editor, Michael Mozina, for once more expertly
guiding me through the various stages of Brills book production process.
I was privileged to receive very positive reviews for my first book by Espe-
ranza Alfonso, Riikka Tuori, Ronny Vollandt, and Daniel Lasker. Catherine
Romanik deserves my full gratitude for having carefully corrected the

1For more information about this visit to Cairo and the Ms Dar synagogue, see
the introduction to this book. Dr. Peter Verkinderen is the author of the recent book The
Waterways of Iraq and Iran in the Early Islamic Period: The Changing Rivers and Land-
scapes of the Middle East (London-New York: I. B. Tauris, 2013). A biography of the late
Carmen Weinstein (19312013) by C. Maidhof can be found in the Encyclopedia of Jews in
the Islamic World, ed. N. Stillman et al., 4:607 (Leiden: Brill, 2010). See also: http://www
.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/world/middleeast/carmen-weinstein-a-leader-of-egypts-jewish-
community-dies-at-82.html.
xii acknowledgements

English text, as does Yechiel Kara for his indispensable help in realizing
the Hebrew edition. I am also deeply thankful to the German Research
Foundation (DFG) for their financial support of this publication.
I am grateful to all the participants of the sixth Medieval Hebrew Poetry
Colloquium, which took place in Bochum, Germany, from 1820 July 2011,
for making the organization an unforgettable experience. Special mention
should be made of Professor Wout Jac. van Bekkum, whom I would like to
thank for his advice and support throughout the various stages of research
and for our meetings in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.
During my research stay in Israel in February 2013, I was able to com-
plete a crucial step in the successful completion of this study. A visit to
the Institute for the Study of Poetry and Piyyut, established by the late
Professor Ezra Fleischer in Jerusalem, was very instrumental in facilitat-
ing the identification of manuscript sources for poems. I am grateful to
Dr. Sara Cohen for her tremendous helpfulness. Other scholars who should
be thanked for their assistance during my research stay funded by the
Minerva Foundation are the host of the research visit, Meira Polliack, as
well as Tova Beeri, Iris Blum, Miriam Goldstein, Peter Lehnardt, and Joseph
Yahalom. I am also grateful to Avi Shmidman for sharing with me his article
in Frankfurter Judaistische Beitrge 38 prior to its publication.
I would also like to thank my colleagues and students in Bochum and
Frankfurt am Main, particularly Valentina Wiedner who also made the
move from NRW to Hessen, for their support and their direct or indirect
contribution to my study.
Finally, I cannot thank my family enough for supporting me throughout
the writing process: my parents, Greet and David, for meeting about forty
years ago at a bus stop near Yellowstone National Park, as well as my stun-
ning sister Sarah, my dynamic grandparents Bobonne and Voke, and my
caring parents-in-law Danny and Christine.
Last but not least, Tinekemy beloved paranimph in my PhD disser-
tation, who became my beloved fiance in my first Brill book but whom I
can now, in the acknowledgements of this book, proudly call my beloved
wifedeserves my warmest thanks and gratitude for her constant advice
and encouragement, for our travels with our dearest companiona.k.a.
spookjeto spot green sea turtles in Ras al-Jinz or for our outings to
meet our black & orange Javan langur friends, for her ability to interpret
and change the skin color of her chameleon at dark moments of difficulty
and doubt, and for expecting our forthcoming firstbornin eager antici-
pation of whom this book is dedicated.
List of Abbreviations

Genesis Gen Nahum Nah


Exodus Exod Habakuk Hab
Leviticus Lev Zephaniah Zeph
Numbers Num Haggai Hagg
Deuteronomy Deut Zechariah Zech
Malachi Mal
Joshua Josh
Judges Judg Psalms Ps
Samuel Sam Proverbs Prov
Kings Kgs Job Job
Isaiah Isa Song of Songs Cant
Jeremiah Jer Ruth Ruth
Ezekiel Ezek Lamentations Lam
Hosea Hos Ecclesiastes Eccl
Joel Joel Esther Esth
Amos Amos Daniel Dan
Obadiah Obad Ezra Ezra
Jonah Jonah Nehemiah Neh
Micah Micah Chronicles Chr
Transliteration of Arabic

Consonants

/ //

/ b /
/

/ t
gh / th /
/

f j /
/

q /
/

k kh /
l / d /
m / dh /

n / r /
h / z /
w / s /
/ /

y sh
/


a/at / /

The sign is omitted when initial and followed by a vowel (i.e., without
wala; thus: iqtidr for , yet asaba qtidr for
) as well as
when final in plural verbs (i.e., when functioning as al-alif al-fila; thus:
yamal rather than yamal).

Vowels

a ( and maqra)

i ( and final ;yet non-final: iyy)

u ( and final ; yet non-final: uww)
transliteration of arabic xv

Before alif al-wal the vowels , ,

and are respectively represen-

ted by a, i, and u (thus: alayhuma l-salm for , fi l-kalm for

, and abu l-kadhib for
) .

Tanwn, though generally not indicated, is represented by un (for ),



an
(for , , , or, when denoting any of the previous, final ), or in
(for or, when denoting the previous, final ). The resolved diphthongs

) <( and ) <( are respectively represented by a and a.
Transliteration of Hebrew

l
m b
n
s g /
d /
p h
f v
z
q
r
y
sh k
t / kh

The sign is omitted when initial (e.g., sh for ).



Doubling with the article and biblical vayyiqtol forms is generally not
indicated (e.g., ha-kt, not hak-kt; va-ymer, not vay-ymer).

Vowels

/ (gdl) a (furtive: )
/
e /
(vocal)
i
/ o (qn/f)
u

The signs and are also generally used in cases of scriptio defectiva (e.g.,
n for ] =[ and qm for )] =[ .
Introduction

The life of this book began when the author visited the Ms (Moses) Dar
synagogue in Cairo, Egypt, in March 2010, on the occasion of the partial
restoration of this Karaite synagogue located in the Abbsiyya quarter.
Less than a year before the Arab Spring overthrew the then Egyptian pres-
ident Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, the orchestrated public relations
campaign that seems to have accompanied his regimes policy of syna-
gogue restorations1 culminated in the official inauguration of the reno-
vated Moses Maimonides synagogue in Cairos rat al-Yahd, or Jewish
Quarter. This celebration was marked by a three-day event (March 79,
2010) consisting of visits to other synagogues (among whichbesides the
Ms Dar synagoguewere the centrally located Shaar ha-Shmayim
synagogue2 and the famous Ben Ezra synagogue, the site of the Cairo
Genizah), scholarly lectures, musical interludes as well as festive dinners,
all of which were organized by the late Carmen Weinstein (19312013),
the president at that time of the Jewish Community Council of Cairo.3
That the Karaite synagogue, located in Sabl al-Khizindar in the
Abbsiyya quarter, was named after the Egyptian-Karaite poet and physi-
cian Moses Dar in 1943 attests to his status as the most important poet of
medieval Karaism. According to Joseph Algamil, it was the Karaite leader
Tuviah Simcha Levi Babovich who gave this synagogue its present name.4
Babovich was born in the Crimea in what is now Ukraine and served the
Karaite community of Egypt as khm akbar (Grand Rabbi) for more
than 20 years (19341956). The synagogue was built in the 1920s under

1The then Egyptian minister of culture, Farouk Hosny, who in September 2009 unex
pectedly lost the election to succeed Kochiro Matsuura as Director-General of UNESCO,
may have used the policy of synagogue restorations by the Egyptian Supreme Council of
Antiquities (SCA, then headed by Dr. Zahi Hawass) to distract attention from his May
2008 pledge to burn any Israeli books found in Egyptian libraries.
2On the architecture of the Shaar ha-Shmayim synagogue, see H. Taragan, The Gate
of Heaven (Shaar Hashamayim) Synagogue in Cairo (18981905): On the Contextualization
of Jewish Communal Architecture, Journal of Jewish Identities 2/1 (2009): 3153.
3A biography of Carmen Weinstein by C. Maidhof can be found in the Encyclopedia of
Jews in the Islamic World, ed. N. Stillman et al., 4:607 (Leiden: Brill, 2010). See also: http://
www.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/world/middleeast/carmen-weinstein-a-leader-of-egypts-
jewish-community-dies-at-82.html.
4J. Algamil, History of Karaite Jewry [in Hebrew] (Ramla: National Council of Karaite
Jews in Israel, 1979), 2:190201.
2 introduction

Babovichs predecessor as Grand Rabbi, Ibrhm Kohen of Istanbul. It


was intended for those Karaites who in the beginning of the twentieth
century had acquired some wealth and education and who had moved
out of rat al-Yahd to the middle-class neighborhoods of Abbsiyya,
al-Dhir, and Ghamra. This Karaite middle class consisted for the most
part of shopkeepers, government clerks, and representatives of the liberal
professions. In contrast to this middle class, the majority of the Karaite
community remained poor and continued to live in the Jewish quarter.
Slightly more than half of the community was literate and most resi-
dents were craftsmen, especially jewelers, goldsmiths, and silversmiths.
However, the community also included leading intellectual figures like
Murd Farag Lsha (18671956). He was a lawyer but also wrote numer-
ous books on a wide array of topics including religious law, theology, phi-
lology, and biblical exegesis. He also published highly acclaimed poetry in
Hebrew and Arabic, using classical Arabic meters.5
As early as 1900, funds were donated for the construction of a new
synagogue in Abbsiyya to serve the needs of those middle-class Karaites
who could no longer walk to services in the Jewish quarter. The syna-
gogue was completed in 1931 and twelve years later named after Ms
(Moses) Dar. At that point, there were between 5000 and 7000 Karaite
Jews in Egypt and the community maintained two synagogues: Rav Sima
in rat al-Yahd and the new one in the Abbsiyya quarter. The Ms
Dar synagogues structure is reminiscent of Ottoman mosques with its
dome supported on pillars covering the entire central prayer space. Some
of its decorative features are Art Deco (lotus flower columns) and Neo-
Pharaonic (two obelisks set in front of its faade). The marble hkhl,
or Ark of the Law, faces the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. There is also a
courtyard and a library (which used to be a Bt Dn, or communal court),
with a collection of about 4000 books and manuscripts, including the
communitys archives.6

5His poems were collected in Dwn Murd (consisting of four volumes, 19021935,
and a lost fifth volume). He also published Al-Qudsiyt, a collection of Hebrew and Arabic
poems addressed to the Palestinians, calling for peace with the newly established State
of Israel. See J. Beinin, The Karaites in Modern Egypt, in Karaite Judaism: A Guide to Its
History and Literary Sources, ed. M. Polliack, 42022 (Leiden: Brill, 2003); M. El-Kodsi,
Karaite Jews of Egypt 18821986 (New York: Wilprint, 1987; reprint 2007), 24457.
6See plates III and IV in the Plates section for pictures of the synagogue and the former
Bt Dn. Y. Meital offers a detailed description of the synagogue in Jewish Sites in Egypt
[in Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1995), 8186. For a survey of the Judeo-Arabic
documents preserved in the Karaite library, see D. S. Richards, Arabic documents from
introduction 3

My visit to the Ms (Moses) Dar synagogue in March 2010 whet my


appetite to start my postdoctoral study of the liturgical poems which
Dar composed in the mid-twelfth century as introductory poems for the
prsht, i.e., the cycle of Torah readings for each Sabbath. After com-
pleting my 2009 PhD dissertation on the secular poetry of Moses Dar
(published in 2011 as vol. 3 of the Brill series Karaite Texts and Studies),7
I was granted a scholarship, starting in April 2010 that allowed me to spend
the next three years immersed in Karaite liturgical poetry, as researcher
in the postdoctoral DFG-project (supervised by Elisabeth Hollender), The
Introduction of Liturgical Poetry into the Karaite Prayer Book: From Moses
ben Abraham Dar to Aaron ben Joseph.8
Using data extracted from his dwn and the maqma-style work
authored by the Karaite poet, my first book described Dar as a produc-
tive poet with Moroccan roots who lived in the Karaite community of
Egypt during late Fimid times, around the middle of the twelfth century.
Opinions on the dating of Dar had previously varied from the ninth to
the thirteenth centuries. However, the Hebrew colophon verses in manu-
script NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 135b (





Praised be the Lord who helped
me to complete the composition of all these poems in the year: [Then]
Moses and the Israelites sang (Exod 15:1) according to the Seleucid cal-
endar (1474); so may He also help me quickly to finish publishing the

the Karaite Community in Cairo, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
15 (1972): 10562.
7J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt: The Secular Poetry of the Karaite
Poet Moses ben Abraham Dar (Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2011) [reviewed by E. Alfonso in The
Medieval Review 11.11.09; R. Tuori in Studia Orientalia 111 (2011): 47576; R. Vollandt in
Revue des Etudes Juives 171/12 (2012): 223; D. Lasker in Journal of Jewish Studies 63/2
(2012): 37378 (377)]. The introduction to the edition attempted to recapitulate the cur
rent knowledge on Moses Dar, with a focus on historic, biographic and socio-cultural
considerations, in addition to providing observations on genre, motif and theme, Hebrew
language, and personal literary style. Another important aim was to lay bare the biased
nature of the history of research on the Karaite movement in general, and on Moses Dar
in particular, and to show that Moses Dar was in fact a unique and highly significant rep
resentative of the Eastern center of Hebrew poetry, whose poetry, despite its Andalusian
influences, should not be considered derivative or epigonic.
8This research project (HO 2513/2-1) funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
(German Research Foundation) aimed to unravel the liturgical setting of Karaite liturgical
poems both before and during the redaction of the Karaite prayer book (i.e., the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries).
4 introduction

second part) support dating the final version of the dwn in the year
1163 (or 1171) CE.9
Moses Dars two-volume compilation has preserved more than five
hundred poems. The first volume is a dwn to which he gave the Arabic
title Firdaws azhr al-qaid wa-l-ashr (The Garden of Flowers of
Qadas and Poems); the second, a supplement: Al-mulaq li-dwnihi
l-asbaq (Supplement to the Preceding Dwn). As my work on the man-
uscript tradition has shown, the earliest (fifteenth-century) copy of this
collection can be found in the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg,
manuscripts Evr. I 802803.10 The first editor, the late Leon Weinberger
(19262011), based his edition of Dars poetry upon nineteenth-century
manuscripts only; he also eliminated all Judeo-Arabic metatexts as well as
chose to disregard the poems original sequence in the manuscripts, rear-
ranging them thematically instead.11
As a result, the separate section of 100 liturgical poems on the weekly
Pentateuch portions in the earliest manuscript of the dwn, the fifteenth-
century manuscript Evr. I 802, is mixed up with poems from the sup-
plementary part of the collection (manuscript Evr. I 803, which contains
224 additional poems). In the process, Weinberger also eliminated the
hitherto unpublished Judeo-Arabic prose introduction to Dars liturgical
poems on the prsht in manuscript Evr. I 802 (fol. 75a):12
This is what I also achieved in composing a section on the basis of verses
from the portions of the Law [Heb. prshiyyt al-Tr]to make it great
and gloriousfrom its beginning until the end, every prsh will be treated

9For the original colophon verses, see also the edition below. One should take into
account all the Hebrew letters of



Moses and the Israelites
sang, unlike Pinsker, who based his calculation on the view that the first three letters bear
no supralinear dots in the manuscript. However, Pinsker does not seem to have paid atten
tion to the fact that the colophon at the beginning of MS Evr. I 802 (fol. 0b) includes the
same date 1163 CE, mentioned both explicitly and by way of gematria (on the basis of Exod
15:1). H. Bornstein (ha-Tqf 9: 254) suggested 1171 to include ( then) in the gematria
of the date. I follow aggai Ben-Shammai in accepting the trustworthiness of the Hebrew
colophon verses (see his article On a Torah Case with Ornaments and a Bar Mizva (?)
Ceremony in a Karaite Synagogue in Egypt in the 12th Century, [in Hebrew] Pmm 104
[2005]: 5, note 2); J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 27.
10J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 2130.
11 L. Weinberger, Jewish Poet in Muslim Egypt: Moses Dars Hebrew Collection (Leiden:
Brill, 2000). Weinbergers Brill book was reviewed by R. P. Scheindlin, L. Weinberger,
Jewish Poet in Muslim Egypt: Moses Dars Hebrew Collection, Hebrew Studies 41 (2000):
34347.
12For the original Judeo-Arabic prose introduction, see the edition below. For a discus
sion of the text, see also section 1.2 and the introduction to chapter 2.
introduction 5

on Sabbath eve prayers successively by eminent persons who are qualified


for the singing of liturgy [i.e., cantorship; Arab. iznt], surrounded by
poetical meters and attached to keeping the literal wordings; I ask God the
Giver [Arab. al-wahhb] to grant me the discernment to choose the proper
meter [Arab. wazn], theme [Arab. manan], and rhetoric [Arab. khib], so
that the perfection of this section might be to me a source of favor in the
eyes of those endowed with intelligence and understanding.
This passage, discussed in further detail in section 1.2, throws light on
the liturgical setting of these poems and how they were recited in the
synagogue.13 To our best knowledge, Moses Dars poems on the prsht
are the earliest known Karaite source connected to the liturgical cycle of
Torah readings according to the Babylonian annual cycle. They were com-
posed very close to the time when Maimonides (11381204) listed the rab-
binic prsht and hafrt. The facts that Dar was the first Karaite poet
to have his cycle of poems on the prsht transmitted by later genera-
tions and that it was recopied in manuscripts up to the nineteenth century
demonstrate the importance of these texts for research into the develop-
ment of Karaite liturgy. Although the possibility cannot be excluded that
Dar followed earliernow lostmodels, his cycle of liturgical poetry
was composed several generations before Aaron ben Joseph the Elder,
while living in Constantinople in the late thirteenth century, compiled
the Karaite siddr (prayer book) that supposedly introduced poetry into
Karaite liturgy.14 To study Dars poems on the prsht in their relation
to Karaite worshipwhich cannot be completely reconstructed for the
time when they were composedwe must recreate an edition that fol-
lows the oldest extant manuscript, that includes all metatexts including
the short Judeo-Arabic poem headings (since they indicate the respective
prsh and/or wazn), and that follows the order of the poems in the
manuscript.
The corpus of the present book, therefore, consists of this cycle of one-
hundred poems on the prsht by the twelfth-century Egyptian Karaite
poet Moses Dar. These poems, bound to the liturgical cycle of weekly
Pentateuch reading on the Sabbath, have been critically edited on the basis
of the fifteenth-century manuscript Evr. I 802 (St. Petersburg, National

13For more on the liturgical setting of Moses Dars liturgical poems on the prsht,
see introductory chapter 1 and the conclusion. How the Torah reading relates to the ser
mon, the role of the cantor/prayer leader or preacher, and the participation of the audi
ence will need further investigation.
14For more on Aaron ben Joseph ha-Rofe, see section 1.1.
6 introduction

Library of Russia [hereafter: NLR], 138 folios, 270 180 mm; Institute of
Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, Jerusalem, microfilm no. 51008). The
poems are preserved in a separate section in manuscript NLR Evr. I 802 on
fol. 75a135b, and prefaced with a short Judeo-Arabic prose introduction
(fol. 75a). In reality, only ninety-six poems are present in the manuscript,
even though the index of incipits (fol. 137b138a) mentions the titles of one-
hundred poems.15 Manuscript NLR Evr. I 802 is the earliest manuscript with
a complete copy of the collection; it is actually the only medieval manuscript,
since the other manuscripts are nineteenth-century copies. Manuscript
NLR Evr. I 802 transmits the full poetical collection in the order defined
by the poet. The present edition follows this original order and includes
all elements of the manuscript, that is, both the text of the poems and all
metatexts,16 the latter consisting of:
1. the Judeo-Arabic prose introduction (manuscript NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 75a)
to Dars liturgical poems on the prsht.
2. the short Judeo-Arabic poem headings, which indicate the respective
prsh and/or wazn of the poems, see e.g. the title to poem 1 (man-
uscript NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 75a): This is the first [poem] on prsh
B-rsht in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit] .

3. the Hebrew poetical metatexts incorporated in the manuscript NLR Evr.
I 802, both the short poems concluding all five books in the Pentateuch
(MS NLR Evr. I 802, fols. 96a, 106b, 113a113b, 125b, and 135b) and the
four additional poetical metatexts on fol. 135b (including the aforemen-
tioned colophon verses on the basis of which one may conclude that
the final compilation of the original dwn took place in the year 1163
[or 1171] CE).

15For the original Hebrew index of incipits, see plate I in the Plates section. Poem 52
in the manuscript is not included in the index. Poem 52 in the index corresponds to poem
53 in the manuscript because of this mistake in the numbering (continues to poem 95 in
the index = poem 96 in the manuscript). Altogether, 96 poems on the prsht are pres
ent in manuscript NLR Evr. I 802. Poems 96=97 and 97=98 in the index can be found in
the manuscript but are not liturgical poems on the prsht and are written in a reverse
orderfirst, the poem with the incipit: (To those who wish to grasp) and
then the poem with the incipit: ( Perceive how these poems). Poem 98=99
with the incipit: ( Pay attention, reviewers) can also be found in manu
script NLR Evr. I 802 but again is not a poem based on the weekly cycle of Torah readings.
Poems 99 and 100 in the index are not in the manuscript. Instead, the manuscript ends on
fol. 135b with the Hebrew colophon verses (not included in the index of incipits) with the
incipit
( Praise the Lord who helped me to complete), on the basis
of which one may conclude that the final compilation of the original dwn took place in
the year 1163 (or 1171) CE.
16For the Judeo-Arabic prose introduction in manuscript NLR Evr. I 802 (fol. 75a), see
section 1.2, and the introduction to chapter 2; for the Judeo-Arabic poem headings with
prsh and wazn indications, see the respective edited poems and sections 1.3 and 2.4.
The Hebrew poetical metatexts will be discussed ad hoc in the edition.
introduction 7

Dars liturgical poems on the Torahs weekly readings have been vocalized
and published in the original order attested in the generally unvocalized
manuscript NLR Evr. I 802. Every poem comes with a commentary section
consisting of English commentary essays and bilingual (Hebrew/English)
line-by-line annotations referencing biblical quotations.17 The English
essays, in first instance, connect each liturgical poem to the prsh for
which they were written, i.e., to their liturgical settings. The secondary
purpose of the essays is to provide English paraphrases or translations of
poetical fragments and/or references to noteworthy thematic elements,
speech situations, and prosodic elements.
By providing an English commentary in essays instead of in the more
traditional Hebrew annotations found in most editions of medieval
Hebrew poetry, this book intends to make the corpus of Dars liturgical
poems more accessible to an English readership encompassing special-
ists in medieval Hebrew poetry as well as scholars specializing in Karaite
Judaism, Jewish liturgy, and perhaps even scholars outside these immedi-
ately-connected fields of research, as well as to other interested persons.
This goal is consistent with changing publishing procedures as a conse-
quence of the growing internationalization of the research on medieval
Hebrew poetry.18
The internalization of this trend towards internationalizationnotice-
able in the different approaches taken in the following list of relevant
publicationshas led me quite naturally to choose in favor of com-
mentary sections consisting of English commentary essays and bilingual
(Hebrew/English) line-by-line annotations. For a comparable combina-
tion of English commentary essays and (in his case, monolingual English)

17Biblical quotations in the commentary section are taken from the standard Jewish
translation of the Hebrew Bible into English, the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh: The
Traditional Hebrew Text and the New JPS Translation, 2nd edition (Philadelphia: The Jewish
Publication Society, 2003).
18The international Medieval Hebrew Poetry Colloquium (MHPC), whose tradition
began in Oxford in 2000, has taken place five more times since the turn of the millennium
(Granada 2002, Aix-en-Provence 2004, Boston 2006, Groningen 2008, Bochum 2011; the
seventh edition of the MHPC is scheduled to take place in Paris at the EAJS conference
in July 2014). The Aix-en-Provence 2004 colloquium proceedings are collected in Studies
in Medieval Jewish Poetry: A Message upon the Garden, ed. A. Guetta and M. Itzhaki (Brill:
Leiden, 2009). For a report of the Bochum 2011 colloquium, see J. Yeshaya, Conference
Report: Sixth International Medieval Hebrew Poetry Colloquium (MHPC) under the aegis of
the EAJS, Ruhr-Universitt Bochum, Germany, 1820 July 2011, European Journal of Jewish
Studies 6/2 (2012): 31925. That the trend towards internationalization of the research on
medieval Hebrew poetry is unmistakable, is also clear from the different contributions to
the book edited by W. J. van Bekkum and N. Katsumata, Giving a Diamond: Essays in Honor
of Joseph Yahalom on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday (Leiden: Brill, 2011).
8 introduction

line-by-line annotations, I was inspired by Jacob Petuchowskis 1978 mono-


graph Theology and Poetry: Studies in the Medieval Piyyut,19 which also
includes English translations of the eleven Hebrew poems in his poetical
corpus. One of my primary models for further developing the bilingual
(Hebrew/English) line-by-line annotations was the edited poem in Tova
Beeris 2002 article A New Rahat by Saadia Gaon.20
Also in 2002, Naoya Katsumata published a critical edition of Nehemiah
Ben Shelomohs Hebrew liturgical poems from the Cairo Genizah. This
publication includes an English introduction. Other examples of this type
of edition, in which the text and commentary are provided in Hebrew but
the introduction appears in English, are Wout van Bekkums 2007 edition
of Eleazar ha-Bavlis secular poetry and my aforementioned 2011 edition
of Moses Dars secular poetry, both of which are primarily based on NLR
manuscripts.21
In 2005, Michael Swartz and Joseph Yahalom collaborated on an
anthology of Hebrew texts and English translations of some of the early
examples of the piyy genre known as Ad.22 Another recent collection
of Hebrew texts without critical apparatus but with English translations
(and also English commentary essays) is Laura Liebers 2010 Invitation
to Piyyut.23 Some of the most famous precursors of this type of bilingual
anthology with Hebrew texts and English translations include T. Carmis
1981 Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse and Raymond Scheindlins 1986
and 1991 collections of Andalusian-Hebrew poetry, which also contain

19London: Routledge, 1978.


20Zutot 2 (2002): 3440.
21It should be noted here that, as early as 1998, W. J. van Bekkum published a criti
cal edition of the Hebrew liturgical poems (from the Cairo Genizah) of Yehudah, which
also includes four short English introductory chapters: Hebrew Poetry from Late Antiquity:
Liturgical Poems of Yehudah (Leiden: Brill, 1998). Cf. N. Katsumata, The Liturgical Poetry
of Nehemiah Ben Shelomoh Ben Heiman Ha-Nasi: A Critical Edition (Leiden: Brill, 2002);
W. J. van Bekkum, The Secular Poetry of Elazar ben Yaaqov ha-Bavli: Baghdad, Thirteenth
Century, on the basis of manuscript Firkovich Heb. IIA, 210.1 (Leiden: Brill, 2007); J. Yeshaya,
Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt: The Secular Poetry of the Karaite Poet Moses ben
Abraham Dar (Leiden: Brill, 2011).
22M. Swartz and J. Yahalom, Avodah: An Anthology of Ancient Poetry for Yom Kippur
(University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005). See also Swartzs essay on
Translation and the Comprehensibility of Early Piyyut, in Giving a Diamond, 3950; cf.
A. Tanenbaum, On Translating Medieval Hebrew Poetry, in Hebrew Scholarship and the
Medieval World, ed. N. de Lange, 17185 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
23L. Lieber, Yannai on Genesis: An Invitation to Piyyut (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union
College Press, 2010).
introduction 9

English commentary essays.24 Other anthologies are monolingual, such


as David Goldsteins 1965 pioneering anthology of English translations of
Andalusian-Hebrew poetry or the recent English-language anthologies of
medieval Hebrew poetry by the highly esteemed translator Peter Cole.25
In 2009, Naoya Katsumata made a conscious effort to address a broader
community of English readers with a new form of bilingual publishing,
combining some of the features of the aforementioned types of poetical
collections in a critical edition consisting of original Hebrew text with
Katsumatas Hebrew commentary alongside English translations of all the
edited compositions besides a short English introduction.26
The present edition of Dars liturgical poems on the prsht offers
yet another form of bilingual editing, adapted to the essential nature of
our poetical corpus which totals almost one-hundred often lengthy and
sometimes repetitive poems. This corpus is indeed characterized by the
relative clarity of Dars Hebrew and the absence of the linguistic gym-
nastics, which so often characterizes medieval Hebrew poetry.27 Hence,
rather than opting for English translations of all the compositions in the
corpus, every Hebrew poem in the present edition comes with a commen-
tary section consisting of English essays (including in some instances the
poems paraphrase or English translations of poetical fragments28) and
bilingual (Hebrew/English) line-by-line annotations referring to biblical
quotations and allusions.

24T. Carmi, Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse (New York: Penguin Books, 2006); R. Scheindlin,
Wine, Women and Death: Medieval Hebrew Poems on the Good Life (Philadelphia: The
Jewish Publication Society, 1986); idem, The Gazelle: Medieval Hebrew Poems on God, Israel
and the Soul (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1991). Cf. Scheindlins more
recent The Song of the Distant Dove: Judah Halevis Pilgrimage (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2008).
25D. Goldstein, Hebrew Poems from Spain (Oxford: The Littman Library of Jewish
Civilization, 2007); P. Cole, Selected Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2001); idem, The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and
Christian Spain 9501492 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007); idem, The Poetry
of Kabbalah:Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition, co-edited and with an afterword by
A. Dykman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012).
26N. Katsumata, Seder Avodah for the Day of Atonement by Shelomoh Suleiman Al-Sinjari
(Tbingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009). Cf. E. Hollenders review of this book in Frankfurter
Judaistische Beitrge 35 (2009): 16870 and J. Kogels review in Revue des Etudes Juives
171/12 (2012): 21720.
27Cf. D. Laskers review of J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, in
Journal of Jewish Studies 63/2 (2012): 377.
28English translations of poetical fragments and some complete liturgical poems in our
poetical corpus are also provided in the introductory chapters 2 and 3.
10 introduction

Three English introductory chapters (on Karaite Liturgy and Poetry


[chap. 1], Language, Rhetoric, Prosody [chap. 2], and Thematic Elements
[chap. 3]) precede the bilingual Edition, followed by a Conclusion (deal-
ing with the introduction of poetry and memory into Karaite prayer),
Alphabetical Lists of Poems and of Biblical Names, an apparatus with
Variant Readings to Leon Weinbergers edition, a Bibliography, an Index
of Names and Subjects, and a Plates section.
Chapter one

Karaite Liturgy and Poetry

1.1Karaite Prayer and Liturgy

A paucity of manuscript sources makes the development of Karaite prayer


difficult to reconstruct. Karaite liturgy also carries the burden of modern
scholarships generally negative assessment. The following quote from
Abraham Z. Idelsohn (18821938) illustrates this:1
The Karaites discarded the structure of the rabbinic liturgy, but did not suc-
ceed in creating a structure of their own. In fact, their liturgy lacks all struc-
ture and form. It rather gives the impression of an accumulation of Biblical
paragraphs and verses. There seems to be no beginning, middle, or end, but
a formless mass of scriptural passages in which the main ideas of Praise,
Petition, Israel, Zion, Temple, Sin and Forgiveness are thrown together.
More recently, scholars have argued for a different approach and have
attempted to identify the structural, formal and thematic coherence of
the Karaite liturgy.2 P. Selvin Goldbergs 1957 study Karaite Liturgy and its
Relation to Synagogue Worship3 is a succinct yet unparalleled comparative
study of the Karaite prayer book and Rabbanite liturgy. The most state-of-
the-art overview of research in the field is presented by Daniel Frank in
his 2003 article Karaite Prayer and Liturgy.4
In its original form, Karaite liturgy seems to have rejected the innova-
tions of rabbinic prayer and consciously attempted to restore prayer to
its supposedly authentic or biblical origins. For example, in the first half
of the tenth century, the Karaite theologian Jacob al-Qirqisn established
the principle that mandatory prayer should be drawn exclusively from the

1A. Z. Idelsohn, Jewish Liturgy and Its Development (New York: Dover Publications,
1995; reprint of the original 1932 publication), 314.
2Cf. F. Eissler, Die karische Liturgie: strukturelle Fragen im Horizont von Polemik
und Anpassung, in Orient als Grenzbereich? Rabbinisches und auerrabbinisches Judentum,
ed. A. Kuyt and G. Necker, 6575 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2007).
3Manchester: Manchester University Press.
4In Karaite Judaism: A Guide to Its History and Literary Sources, ed. M. Polliack, 55989
(Leiden: Brill, 2003).
12 chapter one

Psalms and other biblical texts.5 As a result, extant Karaite prayer books
are composed primarily of Psalms, Lamentations, and other scriptural
passages. Despite the internal Karaite dispute over the permissibility of
including non-biblical textsnotably liturgical poetryinto their liturgy,
the pioneering community of the l iyyn (Mourners of Zion) com-
posed some early Karaite poems in tenth- and eleventh-century Jerusalem.
These Mourners of Zion pursued an ascetic life and were also devoted to
reciting dirges and laments during mourning rituals to express grief over
the destruction of the Temple and the peoples suffering in exile.6
Only later, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, did poetry under
the influence of Rabbanite custom gain in popularity among Karaite Jews,
albeit without ever assuming a central function in their liturgy.7 Some of
this poetry subsequently entered the Karaite prayer book compiled by the
leading scholar Aaron ben Joseph ha-Rofe (ca. 12501320). This doctor
was also called Aaron the Elder to distinguish him from his fourteenth-
century colleague Aaron ben Elijah of Nicomedia (called the Younger).
Aaron ben Joseph may have originated from or lived for a time in the
Crimea, but he worked mostly in Constantinople. He brought fresh ideas
to a number of fields, including exegesis, halkh, liturgy, and philoso-
phy, and undertook a far-reaching synthesis of earlier Karaite tradition
with newly available Andalusian Rabbanite writings.8 He is also noted for
giving a structure to Karaite liturgy and for shaping the present Karaite

5L. Nemoy, Studies in the History of the Early Karaite Liturgy: The Liturgy of
al-Qirqisn, in Studies in Jewish Bibliography, History and Literature in Honour of I. Edward
Kiev, ed. C. Berlin, 30532 (New York: Ktav 1971).
6. Ben-Shammai, Poetic Works and Lamentations of Qaraite Mourners of Zion
Structure and Contents, [in Hebrew] in Knesset Ezra: Literature and Life in the Synagogue,
Studies Presented to Ezra Fleischer, ed. S. Elizur et al., 191234 (Jerusalem, 1994); idem,
A Unique Lamentation on Jerusalem by the Karaite Author Yeshua ben Judah, [in
Hebrew] in Masat Moshe: Studies in Jewish and Islamic Culture Presented to Moshe Gil,
ed. E. Fleischer et al., 93102 (Jerusalem, 1998); see also D. Frank, The Shoshanim of
Tenth-Century Jerusalem: Karaite Exegesis, Prayer, and Communal Identity, in The Jews
of Medieval Islam, ed. D. Frank, 199245 (Leiden: Brill, 1992).
7On the negative reception of Karaite poetry in modern scholarship, see R. Tuori,
More Didactic than Lyrical: Modern Views on Karaite Hebrew Poetry, Studia Orientalia
111 (2011): 37192. L. Weinberger also drew attention to the scholarly neglect of Karaite
liturgical poetry. He is the only scholar to have edited and analyzed a substantial corpus of
Karaite poetry, with a special focus on Karaite piyym from South-Eastern Europe during
the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. See L. Weinberger, Rabbanite and Karaite Liturgical
Poetry in South-Eastern Europe (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1991), 36, and his
chapter on Karaite poets in Jewish Hymnography: A Literary History (London: The Littman
Library of Jewish Civilization, 1998), 40831.
8See D. Frank, Karaite Exegesis, in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: The History of its
Interpretation, ed. M. Saebo, 1:12628 (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2001); D. Lasker,
karaite liturgy and poetry 13

siddr. Aaron introduced liturgical poetry (piyy) as a regular element


of his order of prayer. This is considered a major innovation. In addition
to incorporating his own liturgical poemsincluding a complete cycle
of piyym for the weekly Pentateuch readingsinto the Karaite prayer
book, he also inserted poems by Rabbanite poets, among whom were the
Andalusians Solomon ibn Gabirol, Moses ibn Ezra, and Judah ha-Levi.9
In sum: Aaron ben Josephs prayer book was instrumental in intro-
ducing liturgical poetry into Karaite worship and has influenced Karaite
prayer ever since. There was, however, another Karaite siddr that circu-
lated in the Muslim East (mainly in Jerusalem and Damascus) during the
fifteenth to seventeenth centuries. This was the prayer book that Isaiah
ben Uzziah ha-Kohen al-Muallim al-Fil (The Devoted Teacher)
compiled. Samuel Poznaski noted that this siddr, which is preserved
in a considerable number of manuscripts in the NLR collections, was an
essential source for the Damascene Karaites liturgy. Like the Rabbanite
Aleppo siddr, it contains poetic insertions;10 yet for several reasons it is
difficult to use this siddr to reconstruct the time and manner in which
piyym were added to Karaite liturgy. One problem with this text is the
lack of scholarly attention devoted to it, though it is currently the sub-
ject of doctoral research.11 Another problem is that we do not know its
date of composition. A final problem is that the siddr ceased being used
when Aaron ben Josephs siddr replaced it. The latter assumed a place of

From Judah Hadassi to Elijah Bashyatchi: Studies in Late Medieval Karaite Philosophy (Leiden:
Brill, 2008), 6068.
9For Aarons poems, see L. Weinberger, Rabbanite and Karaite Liturgical Poetry in
South-Eastern Europe, 51261; and Siddr ha-Tfillt k-Minhg ha-Yhdm ha-Qrm,
1:26392. For Rabbanite poems adopted by the Karaites, see L. Zunz, Die Ritus des syna
gogalen Gottesdienstes (Berlin: Verlag von Julius Springer 1859), 16061.
10S. Poznaski, Der Karer al-Muallim (oder al-Melammed) Fil und seine Bearbeiter,
Monatsschriftfur die Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums29 (1921): 13150, 372;
G. Margoliouth, An Introduction to the Liturgy of the Damascene Karaites, Jewish Quarterly
Review 18 (1906): 50527; G. Vajda, Quelques mots propos du Siddr al-Muallim Fadil,
Jewish Quarterly Review 73/2 (1982): 203206. Cf. D. Franks adaption of Margoliouths
translation in Karaite Ritual, in Judaism in Practice: From the Middle Ages through the
Early Modern Period, ed. L. Fine, 24864 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001)
and S. Elizurs recent article on The Piyyutim in the Aleppo Prayer Book, in The Aleppo
Prayerbook, XXXVIILXXX (Jerusalem: Yad HaRav Nissim Publishing House, 2008).
11G. Tzipris (Tilburg University, the Netherlands) is undertaking PhD research on
The Siddur al-Muallim al-Fil: The Prayer Book of the Devoted Teacher. It intends to pro
duce an edition and analysis of the siddr and compare it to that of Aaron ben Joseph;
see http://www.tilburguniversity.edu/research/theology/phd/phdstudents/.
14 chapter one

central importance because it was the first Karaite book to be brought to


press and the only one to be reprinted with any frequency.12

1.2Karaite Liturgical Poetry before Aaron ben Joseph

Pre-Andalusian rabbinic liturgical poetry in the East consisted mainly of


voluminous compositions called qrv (pl. qrvt) poems, which were
embedded in the eighteen benedictions of the Amd prayer, and the
yr (pl. yrt) compositions, which embellished the blessings preced-
ing and following the Shma.13 However, the Karaites rejected the Amd
prayer and the benedictions before and after the Shma and therefore had
no qrv or yr compositions. Since the Karaites viewed the Sabbath
as a day for mourning the destruction of the Temple, they recited both
petitionary prayers as well as lamentations during Sabbath synagogue
services. As a result, the genres used most frequently in Karaite poeti-
cal compositions were the sl (petitionary prayer for the forgiveness of
sins) and the qn (lamentation).14
This being said, it seems that in combining the rhetoric of the sl
and the qn with the structure of the Pentateuch reading on the Sabbath,
Moses Dar created liturgical poetry that parallels the Rabbanites qrv

12D. Frank, Karaite Prayer and Liturgy, 567. Daniel Bomberg issued the first edition
in Venice (15281529). Karaite Jews in present-day Israel use the Vilna edition: Siddr
ha-Tfillt k-Minhg ha-Yhdm ha-Qrm, 4 vols., Vilna 1891 (repr. Ramle, 1978; repr.
Ashdod, 2010). For bibliographical details, see D. Frank, Karaite Prayer and Liturgy,
567 and B. Walfishs Bibliographia Karaitica: An Annotated Bibliography of Karaites and
Karaism (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 45257.
13I. Elbogen, Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History, transl. R. P. Scheindlin
(Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1993), 16873; L. Weinberger, Jewish
Hymnography, 4958. Cf. the classic study by E. Fleischer, Hebrew Liturgical Poetry in the
Middle Ages [in Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1975). For a general survey
of Fleischers research achievements and a full bibliography of his writings, see the contribu
tions by Shulamit Elizur and Tova Beeri to Ezra FleischerIn Memoriam, ed. M. A. Friedman,
936 and 4872 (Jerusalem: The Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 2010).
14As a result, many Karaite poems (including those by Dar, on which see chapter 3,
particularly sections 3.5 and 3.6) are devoted to recalling the destruction of the Temple
and the suffering of Israel in exile. Cf. the chapter on Karaite poetry by A. M. Habermann
in his History of Piyyu and Poetry [in Hebrew], 8495 (Ramat-Gan: Massada Press, 1970).
Note that some poems by the eleventh-century Rabbanite Eastern poet David Ha-Nasi
were inserted into the Karaite liturgy because they were singled out as slt and qnt
and contain an ascetic undertone; see T. Beeri, Le-David Mizmor: The Liturgical Poems of
David Ha-Nasi Son of Hezekiah the Exilarch [in Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Mekie Nirdamim,
2009), 16, 70; idem, Between Spain and the East: The Poetical Works of David ben ha-
Nassi, in Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, edited by J. Targarona Borrs
and A. Senz-Badillos, 1:37983 (Leiden: Brill, 1999).
karaite liturgy and poetry 15

or yr compositions. Rather than just composing paraliturgical poems


for family weddings or funerals, Dar wrote poetry for Karaite synagogue
services to be used alongside the framework of Karaite prayer. In other
words, Dars liturgical poetry on the prsht represents an initial step
towards introducing poetry into the Karaite service. His poems followed
the annual (Babylonian) liturgical cycle of weekly Pentateuch readings in
the synagogue. This was very close to the time when Maimonides listed
the rabbinic prsht and hafrt in his order of prayer for the entire
year, the Sder tfillt kol ha-shn.15
As mentioned above in the introduction to this book, Moses Dar
offered some explanation of his poems liturgical setting in the Judeo-
Arabic prose introduction to his liturgical poems on the prsht in man-
uscript NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 75a:16
This is what I also achieved in composing a section on the basis of verses
from the portions of the Law [Heb. prshiyyt al-Tr]to make it great
and gloriousfrom its beginning until the end, every prsh will be treated
on Sabbath eve prayers successively by eminent persons who are qualified
for the singing of liturgy [i.e., cantorship; Arab. iznt], surrounded by
poetical meters and attached to keeping the literal wordings.
This passage shows that professional cantors (azznm) recited Moses
Dars liturgical poems on the prsht in the synagogue during Sabbath
eve prayers, i.e., on Friday nights. Thus they heralded the reading from
the Torah which probably took place during the Sabbath morning ser-
vice on Saturday.17 Yet later Karaite poetry, including Aaron ben Josephs
poems on the prsht, was composed for the Sabbath morning service
and was recited immediately before the Torah reading.18 However unique

15D. Goldschmidt published a critical edition of Maimonides order of prayers in Studies


of the Research Institute for Hebrew Poetry 7 (1957/1958): 183213.
16For the original Judeo-Arabic prose introduction, see the edition below.
17Karaites consider prayer a substitute for daily offerings in the Temple. For this rea
son, Karaites usually pray only twice daily, in the morning and evening. See the chapters
by P. S. Goldberg in Karaite Liturgy and its Relation to Synagogue Worship on Times for
Prayer (15) and Reading of the Law (8995); Y. Erder, Daily Prayer Times in Karaite
Halkh in Light of the Times of Islamic Prayers, Revue des tudes juives 153, nos. 12
(1994): 527.
18See the Karaite prayer book, where the section with Aaron ben Josephs poems on
the prsht is printed right after the Sabbath Morning Prayer and just before the ritual of
the Reading from the Torah: Siddr ha-tfillt k-minhg ha-yhdm ha-qrm, 1:161318.
Cf. J. Yeshaya, The Biblical Story of Noah and the Flood in Karaite Poetry: Moses ben
Abraham Dar and Aaron ben Joseph ha-Rofe on Prsht Noah (Genesis 6:911:32),
Frankfurter Judaistische Beitrge 37 (2011/12): 11921.
16 chapter one

in the Karaite liturgy the place of Dars liturgical poems on the prsht
may be in their greater temporal distance from the Pentateuch readings
to which they obviously refer (as their Judeo-Arabic headings indicate),
it should be noted here that the practice of writing introductory poems
(rsht l-maar) for the Sabbath evening service on festivals and special
Sabbaths was common in Rabbanite poetry.19
In some of his liturgical poems Dar hints at typical practices or cus-
toms in Karaite synagogue ritual. For example, the first strophe in poem
13 illustrates how the sanctuary of the Karaite synagogue, called miqdsh
ma (little sanctuary) in the first line, was modeled on that of the
Temple. Like Rabbanite Jews, Karaites viewed their synagogues as min-
iature Temples. Many of the practices observed in the synagogue derive
from the custom of treating the synagogue like the Temple. The third stro-
phe in poem 13 mentions the central feature of the sanctuary: the Ark
of the Law (hkhl), the place where the Torah scrolls are held, and also
refers to some of the customary physical postures assumed during Karaite
prayer: bowing down (hishtaavy), kneeling down (kr), and falling
on the face ([nflat] appayim).20
We should mention here that Karaites prayed differently from the
Rabbanite Jews. They prayed mostly without chairs, remaining on the
floor where they used carpets for regular prostration like the Muslims.
They also washed their faces, feet, and hands, and removed their shoes
before entering the synagogue. Some of these typical customs of Karaite
synagogue worship were clearly inspired by the Islamic prayer ritual.21 Yet
other practices were notably similar to what we know from rabbinic tra-
dition, as can be inferred from the fact that one of Dars paraliturgical
poemsnot part of the corpus of the present bookincludes detailed
references to the ritual objects (especially the prkhet, or curtain, cov-
ering the Ark of the Law containing the Torah scrolls, and the ml, or
Torah mantle) to be found in Karaite synagogues of the time.22

19Such maart poems were intended to embellish the blessings preceding and fol
lowing the Shma; see I. Elbogen, Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History, 170.
20See Y. Yaron (ed.), An Introduction to Karaite Judaism: History, Theology, Practice and
Custom (New York: The al-Qirqisani Center for the Promotion of Karaite Studies, 2003),
13335. On prayer gestures and postures in the Rabbanite prayer ritual see U. Ehrlich,
The Non-Verbal Language of Prayer: A New Approach to Jewish Liturgy (Tbingen: Mohr
Siebeck, 2004).
21See D. Lasker, Islamic Influences on Karaite Origins, in Studies in Islamic Origins
and Judaic Traditions, ed. W. M. Brinner and S. D. Ricks, 2:2347 (Atlanta: Scholars Press,
1989).
22See lines 2427 in poem 176 (manuscript NLR Evr. I 802: fol. 38b) translated in
J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 53.
karaite liturgy and poetry 17

1.3Moses Dars Poems and the Pentateuch Portions

We noted above in section 1.2 that Dars liturgical poetry on the prsht
seems to represent an early stage of introducing poetry into the Karaite
service. Since there are only fifty-four prsht (weekly portions from the
Pentateuch) in the annual cycle of Pentateuch readings in the synagogue,
it seems that Dar deliberately wrote multiple poems for some prsht
to add up to a total of one-hundred poems.23 The chart below contains
the names of the prsht and the corresponding poems composed by
Moses Dar:

Prsh Chapter & Verse Poem (nr.)


B-rsht Gen 1:16:8 14
No Gen 6:911:32 5
Lekh lkh Gen 12:117:27 6
Va-yr Gen 18:122:24 79, 33
ayy r Gen 23:125:18 10
Tldt Gen 25:1928:9 11
Va-y Gen 28:1032:3 1213
Va-yishla Gen 32:436:43 1419
Va-yshev Gen 37:140:23 2022
Miqq Gen 41:144:17 2325
Va-yiggash Gen 44:1847:27 2630
Va-y Yaaqov Gen 47:2850:26 3132
Shmt Exod 1:16:1 34
Va-r Exod 6:29:35 35
Bo Exod 10:113:16 36
B-shalla Exod 13:1717:16 37
Yitr Exod 18:120:26 3839
Mishptm Exod 21:124:18 40
Trm Exod 25:127:19 41
Tavve Exod 27:2030:10 42
K tiss Exod 30:1134:35 4344
Va-yaqhl Exod 35:138:20 45
Pqd Exod 38:2140:38 4647
Va-yiqr Lev 1:15:26 48
av Lev 6:18:36 49
Shmn Lev 9:111:47 50

23The index of incipits in manuscript NLR Evr. I 802 (fol. 137b138a; see plate I in the
Plates section) which mentions the titles of 100 poems is quite clear about this number,
even though the MS in reality contains only 96 poems, cf. the introduction to this book.
18 chapter one

Table (cont.)
Tazr Lev 12:113:59 51
Mor Lev 14:115:33 52
Ar mt Lev 16:118:30 53
Qdshm Lev 19:120:27 54
mr Lev 21:124:23 5556
B-har Lev 25:126:2 57
B-uqqotay Lev 26:327:34 58
B-midbar Num 1:14:20 59
Nso Num 4:217:89 60
B-halotekha Num 8:112:16 6162
Shla-lkh Num 13:115:41 63, 80
Qora Num 16:118:32 6472
uqqat Num 19:122:1 73
Blq Num 22:225:9 7476
Pns Num 25:1030:1 77
Mattt Num 30:232:42 78?
Mas Num 33:136:13 79
Dvrm Deut 1:13:22 81
V-etannan Deut 3:237:11 82
qev Deut 7:1211:25 83
R Deut 11:2616:17 84
Shofm Deut 16:1821:9 85
K t Deut 21:1025:19 86
K tv Deut 26:129:8 87
Nim Deut 29:930:20 88
Va-ylekh Deut 31:130
Hazn Deut 32:152 8995
Zt ha-brkh Deut 33:134:12 96

This chart shows that about one third of the poems were composed for
the twelve prsht of the book of Genesis (33 poems for 12 prsht),
followed by Numbers (22 poems for 10 prsht), Deuteronomy (16 poems
for 11 prsht), Exodus (14 poems for 11 prsht), and Leviticus
(11 poems for 10 prsht). One prsh, Va-ylekh (Deut 31:130),
lacks a poem, which may be explained by the fact that in the annual
cycle of Torah reading this short portion is often read with the previous
prsh, Nim (Deut 29:930:20). In another instance (poem 78), the
attribution to prsh Mattt (Num 30:232:42) is deduced from the logi-
cal order of the prsht, but regrettably it is impossible to reconstruct
the refrain using extant manuscripts.
karaite liturgy and poetry 19

Dar composed only one poem each for 36 of the 54 prsht. He


composed two poems each for eight prsht. Three prsht (Va-yshev,
Miqq, and Blq) each have three corresponding poems, and two
prsht (B-rsht and Va-yr) each have four poems. Prsht for
which the poet apparently held a particular fascination are Va-yiggash (5
poems), Va-yishla (6 poems), Hazn (7 poems), and Qora (9 poems).
Prsh Va-yiggash (Gen 44:1847:27) may have particularly suited the
poet due to its setting in Egypt, which provided very useful refrains for
addressing (and comforting) the Karaite community in Egypt. In the mid-
dle of the twelfth century this community probably still had vivid memo-
ries, and even a few survivors, of the exile of Jews into Muslim Egypt after
the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099.24 Dar may have grasped the
poetic opportunities that prsh Va-yishla (Gen 32:436:43) offered
with its opposing characters Jacob (Israel) and Esau (referring to the
Christians). The Karaite poet may also have appreciated the literary qual-
ity of Moses words in prsh Hazn (Deut 32:152). Finally, prsh
Qora (Num 16:118:32) may have appealed to Dar because it stresses the
punishment of enemies and those who rebelled against Moses and God.
Many of these prsht do not deal with narratives or topics that fit
directly into the Karaite poetical scheme of mourning, sin, and salvation.
In fact, the topic of Dars poems is usually neither the narration of the
prsh nor the elaboration of mivt or precepts to be deducted from
the prsh. Rather, his poems evoke some of the texts known from the
Mourners of Zion in tenth- and eleventh-century Jerusalem. They empha-
sized mourning, exile, sin, repentance, and the need for divine mercy and
salvation.25 The fact that Dars liturgical poems on the prsht, unlike
those by Aaron ben Joseph, were recited on Friday night (as we have
noted above in section 1.2), and not immediately before the Torah read-
ing in the Sabbath morning service on Saturday, may explain their looser
connection to the narrative of the prsht.
Yet, since Moses Dar names the prsht in his Judeo-Arabic headings
in manuscript NLR Evr. I 802, and since the Karaite prsht are identi-
cal with the Rabbanite ones, we can easily identify the biblical texts and
compare them to the liturgical poems. It is likely that Dar sought kin-
dred content, since the reading from the Torah was the main focus of the
Sabbath prayer service. Despite his often using prophetic subtexts in his

24Cf. sections 3.6 and 3.9 and the conclusion to this book.
25Cf. section 1.1 as well as introductory chapter 3.
20 chapter one

poems, there is no evidence that Dar linked his poems to the Sabbath
readings from the Prophets, known as the hafrt.26
Dar used several methods to link his liturgical poems to the weekly
Torah readings, or prsht, for which they were written. We will provide
examples of these methods (and determine their respective frequency)
below. Besides the significant structural connection between the poems and
the prsht, i.e., when the refrain (pizmn) derives from the prshwe
find many instances in which the poet clearly refers to or paraphrases cer-
tain ideas from the prsh in the poetical text. In other instances that
are more difficult to locate, we can trace subtle linguistic parallels or allu-
sions in the poems to the prsht for which they were designated. While
the other method described below (quotations from prsht verses other
than in the pizmn) is less common, it is important to note that nearly all
the poems are linked to the prsht for which they were written, and that
often we find combinations of strategies within the same poem.
Such strategies of shibbm (intertextual appropriations) from
the Hebrew Bible, ranging from quotations to allusions, also dominate
Rabbanite poetry. What interests us at present is the link between Dars
liturgical poems and the prsht for which they were written.27

A.Structural Elements of Connection between the Poems and the Prsht:


The Pizmn
The first structural connection to the prsht can be found in nearly 90%
(84 out of 96) of the liturgical poems. It consists of strophes ending with
a refrain or pizmn taken from the prsh. In many of these cases (59
out of 84 poems), biblical quotations ending with similar words artfully
precede the refrain (pizmn). In one instance (poem 1, which, due to its

26Karaite prsht coincide with the Rabbanite ones, but the hafrt are not identical;
see P. S. Goldberg, Karaite Liturgy and its Relation to Synagogue Worship, 9195; I. Elbogen,
Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History, 14349.
27See section 2.1 for a comparison of Dars use of shibbm to that of Judah ha-Levi.
For more on this topic in classical piyy, Andalusian-Hebrew poetry, and early Askenazic
piyy; see W. J. van Bekkum, Zur Verwendung der Bibel im Klassischen Pijjut, in Bibel
in jdischer und christlicher Tradition: Festschrift fr Johann Maier zum 60. Geburtstag, ed.
H. Merklein et al., 22642 (Frankfurt: Anton Hain, 1993); S. Elizur, Hebrew Poetry in Spain
in the Middle Ages [in Hebrew] (Tel Aviv: The Open University of Israel, 2004), 349443;
E. Hollender, Zur Verwendung der Bibel im Frhen Askenasischen Pijjut, in Bibel in jdischer
und christlicher Tradition, 44154; E. Hollender and U. Berzbach, Einige Anmerkungen zu
biblischer Sprache und Motiven in Piyyutim aus der Kreuzzugszeit, Frankfurter Judaistische
Beitrge 25 (1998): 6374; A. Shmidman, Intertextual Supplications in the Liturgical Poetry
of Yehudah Halevi, Frankfurter Judaistische Beitrge 38 (2013/14, forthcoming).
karaite liturgy and poetry 21

position in the collection, may have been especially suitable as an excep-


tion to the rule), the refrain does not come from the expected prsh
but is rather a complete verse from the book of Psalms. In two other cases
(poems 70 and 72) the refrains are quotations from the book of Psalms.
These refer explicitly to the punishment of Qora and his accomplices in
prsh Qora (Num 16:118:32; see especially Num 16:3034). In another
unusual case (poem 48) the refrain is not a quotation, yet the first strophe
still references Gods words to Moses in prsh Va-yiqr (Lev 1:15:26).
Fewer than 10% of the poems (i.e., 8 out of 96 poemsnos. 16, 64, 66,
68, 71, 89, 92, 94) have no structural element linking them to the prsht
for which they were written. These mono-rhyme poems, written accord-
ing to the ha-mitpashsh metre (based on the Arabic al-bas metre), dif-
fer structurally from the majority of the liturgical poems that are strophic
and unmetered.28

B.Undisputed References to or Paraphrases from the Prsht


There are relatively frequent cases in which the Karaite poet refers in the
poetical text to ideas from the prsh. Unlike the quotations and allu-
sions discussed below, this category is not based primarily on a linguistic
connection to the prsht. Rather, the focus here is on paraphrases of
the biblical narratives original, poetical language or of ideas contained
in the prsht.
For example, the third strophe in poem 1 clearly reflects the content of
prsh B-rsht because it deals with the creation of heaven and earth
(the first day of creation; lines 1720), all other creatures (until the sixth
day, line 21), and the Sabbath (the seventh day; lines 2223, which Dar
summarizes as follows: On the seventh day, You installed my [day of]
rest, my holy Sabbath on which I cease from all my work).
Poem 41 is replete with obvious references to the contents of prsh
Trm, particularly to the construction of the Ark (Arn; line 12) and the
Tabernacle (mishkn; line 5) in Exod 2527. The poet refers to the altars
in the Tabernacle (line 10), the ark covered with pure gold (line 12), and
the cherubim who shield the cover and the tablets of the Covenant with
their wings (lines 1314). The next strophe mentions the screen facing
the entrance to the Tent and the cloths of fine twisted linen and goats
hair used to make the tent over the Tabernacle (line 16), the planks with

28Cf. section 2.3 for more information on these two poetic forms.
22 chapter one

golden rings and bars and silver sockets (lines 1718), and the one-hun-
dred loops of wool used to link the cloths to one another (lines 1920). In
the next strophe Dar refers to the coverings of ram and dolphin skin (line
22), the curtain hanging on posts of acacia wood and marking off the Holy
of Holies (line 2425), and the enclosure of the Tabernacle (lines 2526).
Finally, in the penultimate strophe, in line 29, the poet refers by name to
Bezalel and Oholiab, the skilled craftsmen who made the Tabernacle and
the Ark.
We have noted above that we often find combinations of different
strategies within the same poem. A good example is the first strophe in
poem 50; alongside the pizmn (you shall sanctify yourselves and be
holy, for I am holy; cf. Lev 11:44)29 it has more references to the con-
tents of prsh Shmn (Lev 9:111:47), particularly the laws of m
(impurity, uncleanness) and hor (purity) in Lev 11. The poet does
not quote verbatim the dietary laws and the need to refrain from eating
unclean foods to keep oneself from being defiled. Rather, Dar focuses
on the more general requirement to be a holy people and to refrain from
all sins:
O Holy people who became defiled in exile during the times of My anger,
you who in captivity drank a cup of poison and ate the bread of distress
(Deut 16:3),
as to the defilement of the sins you have committed: I will sprinkle clean
water on them,
as much as I want, and you shall be clean (Ezek 36:25), as I have promised
and revealed,
and you shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I am holy (Lev 11:44).
In this example the Karaite poet emphasizes that exile is one of the prin-
ciple causes of defilement, while at the same time Dar uses first-person
divine speech to highlight that divine power can purify.30

C.Quotations from Prsht Verses (Other Than in the Pizmn)


In some cases Dar chooses to cite verbatim from other prsh verses
than the pizmn. For example, in poem 18, like the refrain (until I come

29
For I the Lord am your God: you shall sanctify yourselves and
be holy, for I am holy. You shall not make yourselves unclean through any swarming thing
that moves upon the earth (Lev 11:44).
30Cf. sections 3.6 and 3.9. On the use of divine speech in the liturgical poetry of Dar
see section 2.2.1.
karaite liturgy and poetry 23

to my lord; Gen 33:14),31 the additional quotations in lines 11 (my lord is


too kind to me; Gen 33:15) and 14 (Let my lord go on ahead; Gen 33:14)
are taken from the dialogue between the brothers Jacob and Esau in
prsh Va-yishla (Gen 32:436:43). However, unlike the original text
of the refrain (and of these two other quotations) where ( my lord)
stands for Esau, in the liturgical poem it designates God. For rhetorical
effect the Karaite poet occasionally contrasts the original meaning of the
verse he employs as the pizmn with the new meaning supplied by the con-
text of his poem. We will discuss more examples of this in section 2.1.
Another good example of Dars use of different strategies within the
same poem are lines 912 in poem 39, the pizmn of which (that the fear of
Him may be ever with you, so that you do not go astray; cf. Exod 20:1732)
he took from prsh Yitr (Exod 18:120:23):
The Almighty wanted to let you hear His word with the help of His servant
(Moses) on the day that He appeared from [Mount] Paran (Hab 3:3) and
came to [Mount] Sinai in His glory, in fire and with horn blasts (Exod 19:18
19), because of which you fell back (Exod 20:15) in fear of Him, were it not
that the trusted leader (Moses) said to you: Be not afraid! (Exod 20:17).
In these lines we see clear references to the prshs contents, i.e., to
the covenant on Mount Sinai and the giving of the Torah to Moses. In
addition to the refrain there are also other quotations and allusions to
prsh Yitr.33

D.Subtle Allusions to the Prsht


In other cases, which are initially more difficult to locate, we can trace
subtle allusions based on linguistic parallels between the poems and
the prsht for which they were designated. For example, the verbs
expressing destruction in poem 7 ( ; line 14) replicate the
same verbs used for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in prsh

31
Let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I travel slowly,
at the pace of the cattle before me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord
in Seir (Gen 33:14).
32
Moses answered the people, Be not afraid; for God has come only
to test you, and so that the fear of Him may ever be with you, so that you do not go astray
(Exod 20:17).
33Cf. section 3.4 for these lines and more references to the theme of the covenant at
Mount Sinai and the giving of the Torah to Moses.
24 chapter one

Va-yr in Gen 19:25 ( )and 19:29 ( and ). In poem 8 (with


the refrain: God has brought me laughter; everyone who hears will laugh
with me; Gen 21:6),34 the poet connects Sarahs happiness upon the birth
of her son Isaac to the people of Israels happiness at Gods deliverance. In
line 6 (My God, renew my enjoyment and my youth like the eagles), the
hapax ( my enjoyment) evokes Gen 18:12: And Sarah laughed to
herself, saying: Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoymentwith my
husband so old? An additional link to prsh Va-yr (Gen 18:122:24)
can be found in the beginning of line 21, which once more refers to the
laughter of Sarah.
In poem 20, the word ( awake, wakeful) used in line 1 is also the
name of Judahs firstborn son, Er (see Gen 38:3,8 in prsh Va-yshev
Gen 37:140:23). The use of the verb in line 3 (your friends stand
upright while you are not standing) seems to form a subtle linguistic
parallel between the poem and the prsh, referring to Josephs upright
sheaf in his dream in Gen 37:7. Furthermore, the words
(You are imprisoned in a dungeon) in line 22 refer to the exiled people
of Israel, but also allude to the imprisoned Joseph in prsh Va-yshev
(Gen 40:15), which also employs the word ( dungeon): For in truth,
I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews; nor have I done anything
here that they should have put me in the dungeon.
In the second strophe in poem 34, in lines 78, the words
(the outcry of Your people) and ( its groaning) allude to Exod
2:2324 in prsh Shmt: A long time after that, the king of Egypt died.
The Israelites were groaning under the bondage and cried out; and their
cry for help from the bondage rose up to God; God heard their moaning,
and God remembered his covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.
By way of conclusion to this sub-chapter, we can say without doubt that
Moses Dar endeavored to identify content-related links so as to connect
his liturgical poems to the weekly Torah readings, or prsht, for which
they were written. Having given examples of the four main strategies, we
must still ask how familiar the poet expected his audience to be with the
contents of the prsht, especially when we bear in mind that Dars
poems on the prsht were recited on Friday nights, i.e., before the read-
ing from the Torah in the Sabbath morning service. What seems certain

34 Sarah said, God has brought me


laughter; everyone who hears will laugh with me (Gen 21:6).
karaite liturgy and poetry 25

is that by connecting his liturgical poems to the prsht, Dar wished


to strengthen the ties between the Friday night service and the Sabbath
morning service. Moreover, the Karaite poet unquestionably attempted to
express his ideas in the language of the Hebrew Bible, which functioned
as the primary source text for his liturgical poetry.35

35For more on Moses Dars preference for biblical language and his use of shibbm,
see section 2.1 below.
Chapter Two

Language, Rhetoric, Prosody

In his Judeo-Arabic prose introduction to his collection of liturgical poems


(fol. 75a in manuscript NLR Evr. I 802),1 Moses Dar asks God the Giver
[Arab. al-wahhb] to give me the discernment to choose the proper meter
[Arab. wazn], theme [Arab. manan] and rhetoric [Arab. khib], so that
the perfection of this section might be to me a source of favor in the eyes
of those endowed with intelligence and understanding. We will review
the major thematic elements (Arab. manin) in chapter 3. This chapter
will focus on poetic form and language and will examine the most impor-
tant linguistic, prosodic, rhetorical, and structural devices (including wazn
indications; section 2.4) in Dars liturgical poems on the prsht.2

2.1Hebrew Language, Style, and Rhetoric

Like his secular poetry, Dars liturgical poetry is characterized by bib-


lical language, with a few added rabbinic and medieval features.3 His
lexical repertoire ranges from rare biblical words (including Hebrew

1For the original Judeo-Arabic prose introduction, see the edition below. For a discussion
of the text, see the introduction to this book and section 1.2. Note that one of the four
Hebrew poetical metatexts on fol. 135b in manuscript NLR Evr. I 802, the poem with the
incipit: ( Perceive how these poems), contains additional hints at issues of
language, rhetoric, and prosody: Perceive how these poems that I composed on Gods
Law are cut and carved out of my heart: how I made them with strong contents and sound
meters, without irregularities, and from the Scriptures.
2We will only take into account the most typical elements of the Hebrew language and
style in his liturgical poetry; for more general issues also applicable to Moses Dars secular
poetry, see chapter 8 on Language and Style (particularly the sections on Hebrew Lexicon,
Grammar and Syntax, Style and Rhetoric, Poetical Form and Prosody, and Quotations) in
J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 11935.
3Cf. J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 119: Moses Dars compositions
show a preference for biblical language. Andalusian poets such as Solomon ibn Gabirol,
Moses ibn Ezra, and Judah ha-Levi strove to attain the ideal of pure, biblical language.
Dar may have found the return to the biblical layer of language plus a purist approach
that disqualified post-biblical Hebrew attractive for ideological reasons. Aharon Maman
has noted that in poetry and prose, Karaite style tends towards the biblical. However,
given that the Bible set the poetical standard for most Jews, the Karaites poetical language
differed but little from that of the Rabbanites. Cf. A. Maman, Karaite Hebrew, in Karaite
Judaism, ed. M. Polliack, 485503 (Leiden: Brill, 2003).
28 chapter two

hapax legomena like strength [Ps 22:20], place of repose


[Isa 28:12], interpretation [Eccl 8:1], enjoyment [Gen 18:12],
destruction [Jer 46:20], and Aramaic words like angel [Dan
4:10,14,20]), to rabbinic words (predominantly formed according to
the rabbinic nominal pattern ql, like travelling, though also
including verbal forms like I said as well as typical rabbinic terms
like Divine Presence) and medieval piyy terms (such as
heaven, soul, and the five senses).
Similarly, grammar and syntax in Dars liturgical poetry is very simi-
lar to that in his secular poetry. He intermixes various layers of Hebrew,
including Biblical Hebrew (e.g., the use of the infinitive absolute and the
infinitive construct with prepositions and pronominal suffixes), Rabbinic
Hebrew (e.g., combining the syntactical potential of the verb in prefix-
or suffix-conjugations with an active or passive participle), and Medieval
Hebrew (e.g., regularly employing nifal and hitpal participles and pas-
sive pual and hofal participles). On the whole, this corpus is distinguished
by the relative clarity of Dars Hebrew and the absence of the linguistic
gymnastics, which so often characterizes medieval Hebrew poetry.4
An important reason for the prevalence of Biblical Hebrew in this cor-
pus is that Dar interspersed his liturgical poems with both fragmentary
as well as whole quotations from the Hebrew Bible, some verbatim, others
with slight modifications. Extensive use of refrains (pizmnm) taken from
the prsht and strophes terminating with quotations that end with sim-
ilar words make the use of shibbm (intertextual appropriations) in his
liturgical poetry even more wide-ranging than in his secular poetry.5
Dars use of a range of strategies for incorporating shibbm from
the Bible mirrors that of his Andalusian Rabbanite poetic role-models,
particularly Judah ha-Levi. In a recent article Avi Shmidman discussed
four strategies in Judah ha-Levis intertextual pleas for deliverance.6
These strategies are similar to those Dar used for shibbm in which he
intended to highlight more than just the neutral or plain meaning of the
biblical words.

4Cf. D. Laskers review of Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, in Journal of Jewish
Studies 63/2 (2012): 377.
5Cf. J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 13135.
6According to Shmidman, the original biblical context (including speech situation) of
the shibbm may require a fundamental reinterpretation of the liturgical poems mes-
sage, see A. Shmidman, Intertextual Supplications in the Liturgical Poetry of Yehudah
Halevi, Frankfurter Judaistische Beitrge 38 (2013/14, forthcoming); cf. S. Elizur, Hebrew
Poetry in Spain in the Middle Ages [in Hebrew] (Tel Aviv: The Open University of Israel,
2004), 3:349443.
language, rhetoric, prosody 29

Shmidman calls the first strategy Keep thy Promise. For it Judah ha-
Levi used shibbm that originate as divine prophecies, generally from
the books of the Later Prophets. The poet appropriates these prophe-
cies, adapting them only slightly to transform them into second-person
requests. A good example of Dars use of this rhetorical strategy is poem
1, line 41:


Restore my Messiahs king-
dom and set up my ruins anew. The request in the second half of this
line is a shibb from Amos 9:11 in which God promises the restoration of
the kingdom of David: I will set up its ruins anew. In this
example, the poet preserves the basic phraseology of the biblical proph-
ecy, but he converts the first-person divine promise into a second-person
plea by changing the verbal form ( I will set up anew) to ( set
up anew!) and shifting the third-person pronominal suffix in to
a first person pronominal suffix in . While Dar here implicitly
highlights the prophetic nature of his plea for deliverance, in many other
instances he explicitly asks for the fulfillment of an earlier prophecy.
Dar uses these explicit cases more frequently than Judah ha-Levifor
example, by way of adding the word as You have declared (lit.
according to Your declaration) in poem 85, lines 2627: Establish Your
Temple so that all the nations might gaze upon it, as You have declared
(in Isa 2:23),7 and [so that] the many peoples might go and say: Come, let
us go up to the Mount of the Lord. Another example is poem 76, line 15:
Hasten Your promise, My King, for Fair Zion: For lo, I come (Zech 2:14).8
This last example shows another typical feature of Dars use of shibbm,
viz., first-person divine speech.9
Another example of this explicitness in combination with the use of
first-person divine speech is in lines 3435 in poem 79. Incidentally, we
find here an exceptional reference to ( the resurrection of
the dead) in Dars liturgical poems on the prsht: With the power of
My right hand I will cause the dead amongst My people to stand in line
with the words of valued prophets and righteous seers, for behold, I will
cause breath to enter you and you shall live again (Ezek 37:5).10

7Isa 2:23: In the days to come, the mount of the Lords house shall stand firm above
the mountains and tower above the hills; and all the nations shall gaze on it with joy / And
the many peoples shall go and say: Come, let us go up to the Mount of the Lord.
8Zech 2:14: Shout for joy, Fair Zion! For lo, I come.
9On the use of divine speech in Dars liturgical poetry, see section 2.2.1.
10Ezek 37:5: Thus said the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you
and you shall live again.
30 chapter two

Typical of Dars (and some of his Andalusian Rabbanite role-models)


style is what Shulamit Elizur calls a shibb mtm (adapted intertext).
In it the poet contrasts, for rhetorical effect, the original meaning of a
quotation with the new meaning in his poem.11 Let us take some of the
refrains in Dars liturgical poems as examples.
In poem 29 ( there) is applied to the promised land of Israel,
unlike in prsh Va-yiggash (Gen 44:1847:27) where it refers to Egypt
(I will make you there into a great nation, Gen 46:3).12 In poem 33 the
refrain (Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him,
Gen 22:12)13 is taken from the qd story (the attempted sacrifice of
Isaac) in prsh Va-yra (Gen 18:122:24), yet it is presented by Dar as
an address to the son of the slave woman (Ishmael), not Abraham: My
King (God), on behalf of Your beloved son (refers to Israel), say to the son
of the slave woman (refers to Ishmael, Muslims): Do not raise your hand
against the boy, or do anything to him. In poem 74, the refrain (perhaps
I can thus defeat them and drive them out, Num 22:6)14 is taken from
prsh Blq (Num 22:225:9), yet there it represents the words of Balak
to the diviner Balaam and desire to curse the Israelites so as to defeat
them and drive them out of the land; in the poem, however, the refrain is
adroitly applied to the driving out of ones sins: Shake sins of me, O Rock,
and remove them, so that perhaps I might thus defeat them and drive them
out (Num 22:6).
To be sure, the potential dramatic effect of rhetorical wordplay also plays
a role outside of the refrains. For example, in poem 14, line 8 ([Israel is]
locked up and imprisoned in its grave, it has desired a dunghill as seat),
we find a rhetorical wordplay with the quotation from Ps 132:13 (For the

11Cf. S. Elizur, Hebrew Poetry in Spain in the Middle Ages, 3:392400.


12 And He
said, I am God, the God of your father. Fear not to go down to Egypt, for I will make you
there into a great nation (Gen 46:3).
13
And he said, Do not raise your hand against the boy, or
do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your
son, your favored one, from Me (Gen 22:12).
14
Come then, put a curse upon this
people for me, since they are too numerous for me; perhaps I can thus defeat them and
drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed indeed, and he
whom you curse is cursed (Num 22:6).
language, rhetoric, prosody 31

Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His seat), in which Zion in
the biblical verse is replaced by a dunghill in Dars poem.
Many of Dars rhetorical devices are familiar from Andalusian and
Eastern Hebrew poetry. He also uses them regularly in his secular poetry.
Among them are for instance homonymy, repetition, parallelism, simile,
and metaphor.15 Repetition, in particular, plays a prominent role in Dars
liturgical poetry. According to Abraham Meir Habermann (19011980),
the tendency to repeat a word for emphasis is also typical of early Karaite
poetry.16
By repeating the word ( when?) at the end of line 7 in poem 16
(My God, will You forever forget me in the grave of my poverty? When
will You lead me to Your Temple; when?), the praying voice displays a
clear sense of desperation at the delay in deliverance for the exiled people
of Israel.17 Poems 81 (lines 2021: Oppressed, wounded, shocked, crushed,
scattered, dispersed to the ends of the earth) and 95 (lines 2627: Stand
up, people, uncomforted, forsaken, bereaved and barren, exiled and dis-
dained [Isa 49:21], stupefied and sterile) display remarkably repetitive
lists of adjectives (respectively ending with the masculine plural suffix
and the feminine singular suffix) that, together with the internal rhyme,
poetically convey the difficult circumstances in exile under Christian and
Muslim rule.
Finally, in poem 90, the word ( which is the final word of the
refrain and also of the quotations preceding the refrain in every strophe;
see also line 16: )
and derivatives of the same root (line 4: ;
line 7: ;
line 29: )
are central catchwords. There is also a note-
worthy transition in which the poet takes up the root of the last word in
the first strophe () , repeating it in the opening word ()
of the
second strophe. In lines 1617, the poet twice combines the word pair
( judgment) and ( justice), one instance of which is in his
quotation from Ps 94:15: Judgment shall again accord with justice.

15Cf. J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 12228. Unlike Moses Dars
secular poetry where we find no equivalent occurrences, in his liturgical poems the poet
occasionally uses true enjambment, in which a syntactically incomplete verse runs on into
the next verse; see e.g. the final strophe in poem 5.
16A. M. Habermann, History of Piyyu and Poetry [in Hebrew] (Ramat-Gan: Massada
Press, 1970), 91. Cf. R. Tuori, More Didactic than Lyrical: Modern Views on Karaite Hebrew
Poetry, Studia Orientalia 111 (2011): 37576.
17For other examples see poems 64:1; 71:1; and 89:4.
32 chapter two

2.2Poetic Personae

One of Dars most favored rhetorical devices is dramatizing his liturgi-


cal poems on the prsht, presenting them as dialogues between differ-
ent poetic personae. They alternate typically between God, the people of
Israel, and the poet-precentor.18 A good case in point is the use of speech
in poem 42 with the incipit
( From My high abode,
[I return] to the people of My congregation), which changes from first-
person divine speech in the first three strophes to the third-person poet-
precentor pleading with God on behalf of the Israelite people in the fourth
and sixth strophes, to the Israelite people speaking in the first person in
the fifth strophe:
[God] From My high abode I return to the people of My congregation who are
crying to me in yearning, with mercy and compassion, to bring good news
to the mournful who are bewildered because of My remoteness; be strong
and courageous, and be not afraid, lest you be tired and fearful; for you,
O sons, I set up the shining stars of gladness in the high heavens and I
returned to the House of My Glory that I chose from high above, and I will
abide among the Israelites, and I will be their God (Exod 29:45).
[God] I will install My Divine Presence and My Glory amongst you and I will
reveal My secret, with a Tabernacle and an Ark that are powerful and
valuable for those who repent of the anger and wrath of their sins; they
will be guarded and protected against each of their fears on all their jour-
neys, and fire and clouds from the heavens will move and settle with their
camps; I will fulfill several prophecies and counsels, and they will take
over the lands of all their enemies; they will be a treasured, allotted and
chosen [people] to Me and I will be their God (Jer 24:7).
[God] Behold, for the sake of the justice of My priest (Aaron) and the humility of
My messenger who is trusted in My house (Moses, cf. Num 12:7), and for
the sake of the covenant of My servant and the people of My mercy, and
Shimron,19 My child, and the word of My Torah, and the favor of prophets,
diviners, and seers who are exalted to My prophethood: in the time of My
anger I will remember a congregation caught and captured in the trap of
their slave (Muslims); and to enable them to survive their exile I will show
them My salvation; I will save them from hard distress and draw them out
to Moses, the man of God (Ps 90:1).

18Cf. L. Weinberger, Moses Dar, Karaite Poet and Physician, Jewish Quarterly Review
84/4 (1994): 481.
19Shimron was one of the Israelites who went to Egypt. His descendants, the
Shimronites, formed one of the families of Issachar, see Gen 46:8, 13; Num 26:23, 24;
1 Chr 7:1.
language, rhetoric, prosody 33

[Poet] God Most High, lift Your light upon Your people and forgive their sins
and wrongdoing; rehabilitate them from their exile and let them find
peace in their land; turn their attention to all their guilt and free them
from every enemy; take away their sorrow and do not punish them in
Your anger, but bring them the good news of their deliverance, and may
the news spread throughout all the land for the one who seems to be in
the yoke of the son of Dumah (Muslims), and show the wonders of Your
right hand to a broken heart who cries for You, O God (Ps 42:2).
[Israel] Raise the glory of my Messiah in my dwelling-places and let my strength
and power grow; let me forget the miseries of my captivity and poverty
and let my joy become stronger than my weeping; let me build my land
and my cities in spite of my adversaries and cause my enemies to do what
I want; may my rulers and all those who made me serve (them) become
servants themselves, forever, and may they tend my flock, whereas I will
rebuild the Temple and rest there before my King and Creator, and drive
out all my evil thoughts so that the Lord shall be my God (Gen 28:21).
[Poet] Have mercy upon Your people, remove Your anger at them as you have
promised your prophets; bring near the time when they will have peace
and repose, and come to Your Holy Temple; and as they bring offerings
to You day and night, bring back to life the dead who are lying in the
dust of their graves, and make miracles happen; rebuild Your Temple in
which they will raise their voice day and night in praise, and pay heed to
their cry for help and lead them all, if it be Your will, to Eden, the garden
of God (Ezek 28:13).
In this example Dars characteristic and effective use of imaginary
dialogues between different poetic personae (God, Israel, and the poet
addressing God as the spokesperson for Israel) is reminiscent of the usage
of earlier Andalusian poets like Judah ha-Levi or Solomon ibn Gabirol
whose poetical oeuvres he knew.20

2.2.1God as Speaker
The Karaite poet seems to have shared with Judah ha-Levi a fondness for
prophetic speech, presenting God in several instances as the first-person
speaker. In his analysis of a liturgical poem in which ha-Levi employs this

20See the study of poetic personae in Judah ha-Levis liturgical poetry in E. Hazan,
The Poetics of the Sephardi Piyyut: According to the Liturgical Poetry of Yehuda Halevi
(Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1986), 268314; and the recent study on Solomon ibn Gabirol
by A. Zinder, Is this thy voice? Rhetoric and Dialogue in Solomon Ibn Gabirols Liturgical
Poems of Redemption [in Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2012). On the speech situa-
tion in classical piyyt, see M. Z. Novick, Praying with the Bible: Speech Situation in the
Qedushtaot of Yannai and Bar Megas, in Masoret ha-Piyyut vol. 4, ed. B. Bar Tikva and
E. Hazan, 739 (Ramat Gan: Bar Ilan University Press, 2008).
34 chapter two

technique,21 Raymond Scheindlin shows that such divine speech is much


less common than Dars liturgical poems would have us believe:
The precentor in Jewish prayer ordinarily addresses God on behalf of the
congregation, but there are exceptions. Sometimes he addresses the congre-
gation as a prayer leader, exhorting its members to some liturgical activity.
In tokheot he takes the role of community elder, admonishing the congre-
gation. In poems composed as imaginary dialogues, he may even speak in
Gods name and also take the role of Israel as Gods interlocutor. But it is
most rare for the precentor to represent God directly to the congregation in
a poem with only one speaker who takes the role of neither precentor nor
admonisher, but of prophet.
A good example of the use of divine speech in Dars liturgical poems is
poem 58 with the incipit ( Receive good news, My people).
In it the poet portrays God acting directly for the people of Israel (or per-
haps his own Egyptian Karaite congregation) in seven strophes with only
one first-person speaker, God:
[God] Receive good news, My people, for Your Fighter will soon become angry;
I will be Your God and you shall be My people (Lev 26:12).
[God] From you and My Temple, I will suppress My anger and My fury, but upon
all your enemies
I will pour out My wrath in great anger; I will bless you by My heavens
and declare to those who curse you: After I have blessed My people, you
must not curse that people (Num 22:12)!
[God] I will repatriate a yearning people in exilewho, like strangers, wander in
a foreign land (Exod 2:22; 18:3), hungry and thirsty for My Word, but also
beaten, with festering sores (Isa 1:6)to their city which possesses a beauty
unparalleled by any other city or town, due to My splendor, the glory of the
King, and the assembly of the heads of the people (Deut 33:5).
[God] Receive good news, people of My inheritance, about your salvation and
deliverance, about the rebuilding of My city, where you can dwell as of
old, and My Temple, where you can perform your worship in service of
Me; and offer your offerings where Levites carry out burnt-offerings for
Me, as well as the priests or the people (Exod 19:24).
[God] The noise of pilgrims walking with the crowd (Ps 42:5) on the three
festivals,
the one bringing sheep and cows and the other flutes;
they comfort the poor and the rich, while singers raise their voice over
their instruments in order that the people may hear (Exod 19:9).

21See R. P. Scheindlin, The Gazelle, 8489, particularly pp. 87, and 24849. Cf. A. Komem,
Between Poetry and Prophecy: A Critical Examination of the Poetry of Yehuda Halevi,
Molad II 25 (1989): 67697.
language, rhetoric, prosody 35

[God] I will raise the fallen horn of the house of David and I will lift up its
banner,
I will cause his offspring to grow in a spirit of wisdom and under
standing;
may My mercy and My trust forever be with him, and may he rule in the
land over every province and every nation (Esth 1:22).
[God] I will draw out his sword upon his enemies and I will make them fear him;
the times of his people will be without trouble and they will dwell without
anguish; I will throw his enemies into a deep pit, whereas [the Messiah]
will sit on Davids throne in justice and in equity (Isa 9:6) and he will
champion the lowly among the people (Ps 72:4).
This poem vividly describes imminent deliverance and its results:
Jerusalem and the Temple rebuilt, sacrifice rituals reinstated, and the three
pilgrimage festivals once again celebrated. Furthermore, the concluding
two strophes refer to the Messiah and his Davidic lineage. Even though
God addresses Israel in many other liturgical poems, in some instances He
addresses Others (i.e., Israels Gentile adversaries) directly on behalf of His
people, as in the first strophe in poem 67 with the incipit
( Edom and Qedar, how did you triumph?):22
[God]Edom and Qedar, how did you triumph over My people and My commu-
nity, who in their exile called Me my Master, my Lord? About the two of
you one can find the following prophecies in My books: that the remnants
of Esau will be consumed by fire (Neh 2:3) and by the sword of My sons,
that the villages of Qedar will cry aloud (Isa 42:11), and how they will be
detected and destroyed before My eyes. Why then do you raise yourselves
above the Lords congregation (Num 16:3)?
These Others are usually never permitted to answer God. Indeed, the
poet never gives the floor to Christians or Muslims for more than a single
line, let alone a full strophe. As an illustration we would cite the follow-
ing three strophes of poem 28 (with the incipit
You
who await Me to deliver you; see particularly the last line) in which God
addresses the people of Israel:
[God]You who await Me to deliver you, from high above I have looked down
upon your poverty in exile with concerned and compassionate eyes
to save you; I shall arise as in the beginning and I shall carry out a decree
of destruction (Isa 10:23) against all your enemies, to save your lives in an
extraordinary deliverance (Gen 45:7).

22See on this poem and the thematic element of the Others: Christians and Muslims
also section 3.7.
36 chapter two

[God] Listen, O agitated sons, to the alarm and terror (Jer 15:8) that draws
near and will strike Mount Seir; the slave woman (Hagar) will serve her
mistress (Sarai), and the older (Esau) the younger (Jacob, Gen 25:23);23
be strong even if My enemies have taken the lead during the time of
your humiliation, when the abominationbecause of the destruction
of My citiesbecame a large city (Jonah 3:3).
[God] Make an end to the plans of Qedar and the false actions of deceitful
peoples; treat all those who eat pork and other forbidden food with
anger and fury. When faced with the threat of being consumed by fire,
the sons of Esau and the other nations who desecrate My perfect Law
will say to the house of Jacob:
[Others]Let us not die, for this fearsome fire will consume us (Deut 5:22).
By having God speak non-biblical, poetic words in the foregoing exam-
ples, as if He had addressed the people of Israel and/or Christians and
Muslims, Dar may have been attempting to comfort his Karaite congre-
gation with the message that they would soon be redeemed from their
exile in Egypt, as well as to stress the (divine) power of his liturgical
poems, which were recited in the synagogue as preparation for the read-
ing of the Torah (and Gods words contained therein). In other words,
the poet seems to blur the dividing line between prayer (human speech
addressed to God) and prophecy (divine speech addressed to humans).
This raises questions about how poetry relates to prophecy and the theme
of the poet-as-prophet who mediates divine promises and revelation to
the community.24 However, it is unclear whether the Karaite poet would
have claimed a certain degree of prophethood, as did the renowned tenth-
century Iraqi Arab poet al-Mutanabb ([He] who acts like a prophet)
who lived from 91565 CE and traveled to Syria, Egypt, and Iran in search
of patronage.25 Interestingly enough, Moritz Steinschneider (18161907)

23Here the poet projects the biblical relationship between Sarai and Hagar, and Jacob
and Esau, onto the contemporary relationship between Judaism and Islam/Christianity.
In other words, the primacy of the mistress Sarai over Hagar and that of Jacob over Esau
(predicted by God in Gen 25:23) foretells the eventual triumphat the time of the mes-
sianic redemptionof the exiled people of Israel over the Muslims and Christians. For
further examples see section 3.7.
24See W. J. van Bekkum, The Secular Poetry of Elazar ben Yaaqov ha-Bavli, 2831;
D. Pagis, The Poet as Prophet in Medieval Hebrew Literature, in Poetry and Prophecy:
The Beginnings of a Literary Tradition, ed. J. L. Kugel, 14050 (Ithaca and London: Cornell
University Press 1990)translated into Hebrew in D. Pagis, Poetry Aptly Explained, Studies
and Essays on Medieval Hebrew Poetry (Jerusalem 1993), 27785.
25See W. Heinrichs, The Meaning of Mutanabb, in Poetry and Prophecy: The Beginnings
of a Literary Tradition, ed. J. L. Kugel, 12039 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University
Press 1990). On the topic of patronage and poetry, see also my forthcoming article
language, rhetoric, prosody 37

identified the Karaite poet Moses Dar with a namesake and Rabbanite
scholar who briefly enjoyed the status of a prophet in the mid-1120s,
when he announced the coming of the Messiah to his followers in Fez.
Other scholars, however, considered this identification unwarranted and
unacceptable.26

2.2.2People of Israel
In addition to strophes in which the poet speaks in Gods name, Dar
also quite frequently portrays the people of Israel addressing God. As an
example, let us take the first strophe of poem 96 with the incipit
(My King and my Father), which has Christians and Muslims uttering
the refrain (O happy Israel! Who is like you, a people delivered by the
Lord, cf. Deut 33:29)27 from prsh Zt ha-berkh (Deut 33:134:12):
[Israel] My King and my Father, redeem me from the hand of my enemy by
virtue of the mighty patriarchs;
make every villain perish in sickness and may my eyes see the king in
all his beauty;
may every enemy who has misused and rejected me prostrate himself
before me;
and may my brother (Christians) and my slave (Muslims), when they
take notice of my wealth and the strength of my hand, tell me:
[Others]O happy Israel! Who is like you, a people delivered by the Lord (Deut
33:29)?
In many other cases, strophes in which the people of Israel address God
in the first person precede or follow strophes in which a third-person
speakerthe poet-precentor (see below)either addresses the people
or addresses God on behalf of the people; see poem 61 with the incipit
( From Yeshuruns exile):

Some Observations on Jewish Poets and Patrons in the Islamic East: Twelfth-Thirteenth
Centuries, in Author, Patron and Reader: Jewish Sacred Texts in the Medieval and Early
Modern Mediterranean, ed. E. Alfonso and J. Decter (Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2014).
26M. Steinschneider, Moshe b. Zedaka, Imran b. Sadaka und Moshe Dari, Jdische
Zeitschrift fr Wissenschaft und Leben 9 (1871): 17283); cf. A. J. Heschel, Prophetic
Inspiration after the Prophets: Maimonides and Other Medieval Authorities (New York: Ktav
Publishing House, 1996), 29 and 7576; J. H. Schorr, He-l 8 (1863): 127; J. Yeshaya,
Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 1415.
27
O happy Israel! Who is like you, a people delivered by the Lord, your
protecting Shield, your Sword triumphant! Your enemies shall come cringing before you,
and you shall tread on their backs (Deut 33:29).
38 chapter two

[Poet] From Yeshuruns exile, with the help of a redeemer, be gathered; rebuild
the city of the altars House and know that, despite Gods enemies, the
Lord has promised to be generous to Israel (Num 10:29).
[Poet] May serenity be in your strongholds and in your houses, and may secu-
rity be with your army during your wars, and peace in your dwelling-
places and your habitations; may the peaceable ruler (Isa 9:5), your
prince (Messiah), be in the house of Israel.
[Poet] Receive good news, people of the Glorious God, since all evil that has
happened to you in exile will be directed to Esau and Qedar, whereas it
will forever be well with Israel (Ps 125:5, 128:6).
[Israel]Bring me comfort, O Rock, from the yoke of my adversary and the oppres-
sion of all my enemies and opponents; redeem me, O Lord, and quickly
deliver Your people, the remnant of Israel (Jer 31:7).
[Israel] Bring near the time of my salvation and comfort; let me forget my trou-
bles and, despite my foes, witness the time when a star arises from Jacob
and a scepter comes forth from Israel (Num 24:17).
[Poet] Take pity on a people that has endured fire and water (Ps 66:12), seed
of the ruddy-cheeked and bright-eyed (David; 1 Sam 16:12): gather them,
look down from the heavens and bless Your people Israel (Deut 26:15).
A quotation ending with precedes the refrain (also ending with
Israel) in each strophe. In the fourth and fifth strophes Israel speaks in the
first person. In the third strophe (in which the third-person poet-precentor
addresses the people of Israel) Moses Dar uses the epithets Qedar to
refer to Muslims and Esau to refer to Christians.28

2.2.3Poet-Precentor
The precentor in Dars liturgical poems holds a place half-way between the
two previously discussed poetic personae: God and the people of Israel.
The poet-precentor frequently addresses God as the spokesperson for the
people of Israel (or the Karaite congregation) to plead for the end of
exile and speedy deliverance. In other cases, the poet-precentor listens to
the peoples anxiety and their cries for help, but then again begs them first
to repent and return to God. Sometimes the poet-precentor also addresses
the congregation as a prayer leader urging its members to participate
in liturgical activities. We see some of these functions in the first three
strophes of poem 19 with the incipit ( May the King
from His high abode listen):

28Cf. the thematic element of the Others: Christians and Muslims in section 3.7.
language, rhetoric, prosody 39

[Poet] May the King from His high abode listen to the cry for help of someone
who
is continually complaining about the oppression of Jetur (Muslims) and
Reuel (Christians),
so that He may fulfill his wishes and hasten [the coming of] the redeemer
for someone who
stays awake all night long to pour forth his plea before God (Ps 102:1),
whom he calls: El-Elohe-Yisrael (Gen 33:20).
[Poet] O Gods people, sing Gods praise and worship Him,
learn His Psalms by heart, at all times, and glorify Him;
sing continuously to Him, praise Him, and profess His unity;
take permanent notice of His deeds, and honor Him;
be in dread of Him all you offspring of Israel (Ps 22:24)!
[Poet] O God, hasten Your promise to a people who will be delivered by You;
bring near [the coming of] Your comforter and pay heed to his offering;
in Your mercy, forgive from Your heaven every sin and transgression
of one who, standing before Your Holy Temple, cries out:
O Lord, save your people, the remnant of Israel! (Jer 31:7)
Notably, in the three strophes that follow these, the people of Israel,
speaking in the first person, address God directly, i.e, without the poet-
precentors mediation:
[Israel] O Compassionate One, observe the many hardships that have befallen
me; O My King, done garments of jealousy to save me from my killer;
hasten the deliverance and the prophecies which strengthen my heart
and my knees; to those who insult me with the troubles of captivity, I
answer: Know that our Redeemerthe Lord of Hosts is His nameis
the Holy One of Israel (Isa 47:4).
[Israel]May my Eternal Father bring near the coming of the peaceable ruler and
the Tishbite; may He blot out my wickedness and support my heart with
His coming salvation; after I have lived in trembling and fear in the lands
of my enemies, may He make me dwell in His Holy City and be pleased
with me; may He also ensure that it be forever well with Israel (Ps 125:5,
128:6)!
[Israel] O Living [God] called Ehyeh and my Helper in Times of Trouble,
may my song please You and may You be satisfied with my prayer;
when will You revive and raise up my corpse (Isa 26:19)? For I count on
You to restore my joy and witness the time when Jacob will exult (and)
Israel will rejoice (Ps 14:7).
Once again a biblical quotation ending with precedes the refrain
(also ending with Israel) in each strophe. Israel, speaking in the first per-
son, addresses God in the final three strophes. While this is one of the rare
poems in which God does not speak, the speaker uses as extensive list of
40 chapter two

divine names reflecting His primary role as the savior of Israel who will
avenge the peoples suffering, just as He promises in many other liturgical
poems in this collection.29
Even more typical for Dar is the frequent use of divine speech and unex-
pected twists at the end of the poem. In illustration I would cite poem 77
with the incipit ( Angels, whom I have sanctified):
[God] O Angels, whom I have forever sanctified,
hurry and bring good news to a people overwhelmed by the enemy,
whose movement has been curbed by the bridle (Ps 32:9) of exile:
Behold, I grant him My pact of friendship (Num 25:12).
[God] I have observed a poor people exiled from their land;
I will bring them back to their country in joy and exultation;
for My own sake as of old, I will send them
peace and well-being every day (Jer 6:14).
[God] Receive good news, O son with a longing soul (Ps 107:9);
I will bare my sword in pursuit of your enemy
and I will rebuild My Holy City in righteousness,
for the work of righteousness shall be peace (Isa 32:17).
[God] O My People, keep far from crimes and stay away from sins,
and fear the Day of My sentence and My judgment;
throw away your transgression, observe the honest and note
the upright, for there is a future for the man of integrity (Ps 37:37).
[God] I have aroused My jealousy for Zion;
I will lift up her head, for I have compassion on her;
I will chose her by virtue of the man [Levi] with whom
I had a covenant of life and well-being (Mal 2:5).
[Poet] Remove the disgrace of Your people, as You have promised,
and gather those who have been scattered as a result of Your anger and
rage,
so that they may witness the rebuilding of Your Temples city
with the help of Elijah and the Peaceable Ruler (Messiah).
In this example, the Karaite poet distinctively employs divine speech
(addressed first to His angels and then to the people of Israel) in the first
five strophes, but then ends the poem rather unexpectedly with a third-
person speaker, the poet-precentor, addressing God on behalf of Israel.
By way of conclusion, we would point out that there are numerous other
variations and arrangements in dialogues between God, Israel, and/or the
poet-precentor by which Dar dramatizes his liturgical poems. Moreover,

29Cf. the list of divine names in this poem in section 3.1.


language, rhetoric, prosody 41

Dars use of poetic personae is reminiscent of the poetical oeuvres of


earlier Andalusian-Hebrew poets, particularly Judah ha-Levi, with whom
Dar seems to have shared a fondness for prophetic speech.

2.3Prosodic Features, Poetic Forms, Name Acrostics

Unlike Dars mono-rhyme and metered secular poetry, one can detect
in the form of his liturgical poetry on the prsht a clear preference (in
more than 90% [i.e., 88 out of 96] of these poems)30 for pizmnm with
strophes ending with a single line refrain or pizmn (in manuscript NLR
Evr. I 802 abbreviated as )taken from the prsh. In several cases
(59 of 88 poems), biblical quotations ending with similar words precede
the pizmn in most or all the strophes. The term pizmn may imply a musi-
cal element: the active participation of the congregation in the singing of
the refrain/pizmn. According to the musicologist Edwin Serroussi:31
The active role of the synagogue congregation in the chanting of strophic
poetry is clear from one of the earliest and most often quoted descrip-
tions of the muwashsha in Hebrew by the Egyptian philologist and exe-
gete Tanum Yerushalmi (13th century): The matla is called [in Hebrew]
pizmn because it is sung as a response [by the congregation] as the reciter
ends each stanza. In Fleischers opinion, since the beginning of the history
of the piyy, the term pizmn implied the musical section of the poem,
more precisely the sections that the congregation or the choir were asked
to sing according to melodies well known to them.
It is interesting to note that the Hebrew poetical metatexts written at the end
of his cycles on the books of Exodus (fol. 106b) and Leviticus (fol. 113a113b)
in manuscript NLR Evr. I 802 explicitly use the term piyym (liturgical

30In one instance (poem 1) the pizmn is not taken from the expected prsh but
consists of a verse from Psalms. In two other cases (poems 70 and 72) we find quotations
from Psalms as refrains, but these do refer to prsh Qora. In another case (poem 48),
the refrain is not a quotation but the first strophe refers to prsh Va-yiqr; cf. section 1.3.
31See E. Serroussi, Music in Medieval Ibero-Jewish Society, Hispania Judaica 5
(2007): 567, see particularly p. 22. Cf. E. Fleischer, Inquiries Concerning the Origin and
Etymology of Several Terms in Medieval Hebrew Poetry, [in Hebrew] Tarb 47 (1978):
18991; see also chapter 5 on The Piyyut as a Factor in the Development of Synagogal
Music in A. Shiloah, Jewish Musical Traditions (Detroit: Wayne State University Press,
1992), 11129, see esp. the quote on p. 118: From the standpoint of structure, content,
rhyme and meter, poems with refrains and other strophic forms undoubtedly lend them-
selves most readily to being sung. Cf. I. Elbogen, Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History,
166, 179, 182; as well as the glossary of poetic terms in J. Schirmann, The History of Hebrew
Poetry in Christian Spain and Southern France, edited, supplemented and annotated by
E. Fleischer, 696 (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1997).
42 chapter two

hymns). Dar used this term to describe his poems on the prsht in
the same way that Andalusian Rabbanite poets used it (i.e., for liturgical
poems, not for all poems with religious content). Apparently, the Karaite
poet expected his audience to accept his poetry as liturgical. We can also
infer that no cultural border between Karaites and Rabbanites prevented
Dar from using a Rabbanite feature (piyy) in Karaite prayer.
Again, unlike his metered secular poetry, Dars strophic (mostly
muwashsha-like) liturgical poems do not draw on Andalusian-Hebrew
patterns based on the classical Arabic quantitative meter (ar), but
rather they are scanned according to the grammatical-syllabic meter
known from Andalusian-Hebrew piyy, in which the shv and f
vowels are not counted as part of the meter.32 They also display a wide
variety of intricate (muwashsha-like) rhyme patterns, which generally
consist of distinct rhymes in each strophe coupled with a returning rhyme
(in the refrain) in the final verse in every strophe. This final verse shares
the strophes contents and the refrains rhyme. The refrain is an organic
part of the first strophe as its final verse. The first strophe is sometimes
fully rhymed and/or shorter than the rest and/or not included in the
poems name acrostic.33 Also noteworthy for Dars use of rhyme is his
extraordinary use (e.g., in poem 23:12) of the tetragrammaton in rhyme
position and his more widespread use (e.g., in poems 15, 59, 63, 69, 79,
8182, 87, and 96) of internal rhyme, which often gives these poems a
very fast rhythm.
Less than 10% of the poems (8 of 96 poemsnos. 16, 64, 66, 68, 71,
89, 92, 94) have no structural element connecting them to the prsht
for which they were written. These mono-rhyme poems with shortened
ha-mitpashsh meter (based on Arabic al-bas meter) structurally differ

32Although Andalusian Rabbanite poets sometimes used quantitative meter in their


liturgical compositions, they generally preferred the grammatical-syllabic meter. In the
fifteenth century, the intuitive phonetic-syllabic meter replaced this more cerebral
meter. Phonetic-syllabic meter counted all syllables (including shv and f vowels).
Sincere thanks to Prof. Tova Beeri for discussing these issues during my research trip to
Jerusalem in February 2013. In Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 69, I drew attention
to Judah ha-Levis ambivalent attitude toward the use of Arabic quantitative meters.
Moreover, in some secular strophic poems he blurs the formal delineations between litur-
gical and secular poetry by experimenting with syllabic meters. Cf. B. Harshav, The History
of Hebrew Versification: From the Bible to Modernism [in Hebrew] (Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan
University Press, 2008), 6585.
33Cf. the rhyme schemes indicated for all poems in L. Weinberger, Jewish Poet in
Muslim Egypt. On muwashsha-like rhyme patterns, see E. Fleischer, Hebrew Liturgical
Poetry in the Middle Ages [in Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1975), 34955;
cf. B. Harshav, The History of Hebrew Versification, 16779.
language, rhetoric, prosody 43

from the majority of strophic and unmetered liturgical poems.34 It is


worth noting in this respect that a longer, strophic unmetered poem with
the Judeo-Arabic heading: And I followed it up with this qia in the wazn
of [the poem with the incipit] always follows these eight short mono-
rhyme metered poems.35 The poet also uses the term qia in the headings
of two poems that were written out of their place (poems 33 and 80) and
in the headings to the poems opening the cycles on the books of Exodus
(poem 34), Leviticus (poem 48), Numbers (poem 59), and Deuteronomy
(poem 81). It is uncertain what exactly Dar meant by the term qia,
which in classical Arabic poetics usually designates a short monothematic
poem in quantitative metrics. The term qada, by contrast, refers to a
lengthy polythematic poem written in monorhyme with a single quan-
titative meter.36 Nevertheless, in light of their Judeo-Arabic headings, it
seems plausible that the short monorhyme and metered poems were to
be recited as introductory poems to the longer strophic and unmetered
poems called qia. Additional evidence is that the short monorhyme and
metered poems do not end with the usual Judeo-Arabic subscript (
kumilat) which marks the end of all the other poems in manuscript NLR
Evr. I 802.
Both types of poetical forms share one of the most salient formal fea-
tures in our corpus of liturgical poems on the prsht: Dars consistent
use of name acrostics. It is unusual, however, that he never gives his
fathers name or uses a patronymic.37 Sometimes these acrostics occupy
the entire poem and at others they start only in the second strophe or
end before the last strophe. We also find sundry (not always systematic)
combinations using only stanza beginnings and/or several lines in one
strophe and/or whole strophes, including half-strophes or smaller entities
such as beginnings of single words in the same line. We are unable to fully
reconstruct one acrostic (poem 76), though it begins with the name of
the poet, Moses. By far the most popular acrosticused in no less
than 67 out of 96 poems (which explains why a lot of these poems start

34On the shortened ha-mitpashsh metre, see S. Elizur, Hebrew Poetry in Spain in the
Middle Ages, 3:5455.
35See the headings to poems 17, 65, 67, 69, 72, 90, 93, and 95 in the edition.
36Arabic literary theoreticians disagreed, however, on the minimum number of verses
in a qada. S. Sperl and C. Shackle (eds.) studied this form exhaustively in Qada Poetry
in Islamic Asia and Africa (Leiden: Brill, 1996).
37Acrosticsincluding alphabetical and name acrosticsare a common device in
biblical and postbiblical poetry; see I. Elbogen, Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History,
22829.
44 chapter two

with the letter mm)is Moses, Karaite physician,


be strong. This acrostic consists of the poets name (Moses), his reli-
gious affiliation (Karaite)38 and professional designation (physician),
and ends with a blessing formula (be strong).
Three shorter acrostics, also starting with mm, differ from this pro-
totype by leaving aside either the religious affiliation ( ,
Moses, physician, be strong: 4 poems), the formula of blessing (
, Moses, Karaite physician: 3 poems), or both ( ,
Moses, physician: 8 poems). Sometimes we find extended formulas of
blessing: Moses, Karaite physician, be strong,
Amen (3 poems) and Moses, Karaite physician,
be strong and brave (1 poem [54]). Another type of name acrostic, which
is indicative of Andalusian influence, is the prefacing of the name of the
poet with I (variously predicated by religious affiliation, professional
designation, and/or one or more formulas of blessing): I am
Moses (2 poems); I am Moses, Karaite, be strong
(1 poem [52]); I am Moses, Karaite physician,
be strong (5 poems); I am Moses, Karaite
physician, be strong, Amen (1 poem [26]).

2.4Wazn Indications: Judah ha-Levi as Poetic Role-Model?

As noted above, the 88 strophic poems in our corpus do not draw on


the Andalusian-Hebrew patterns with Arabic quantitative meter (ar).39
Instead, 80 poems have wazn indications. The Arabic word wazn (pl.
awzn) means the act of weighing in numismatics, but also (poetic)
meter in prosody and noun or verb pattern in morphology. In Arabic

38That Moses Dar regularly professes his religious affiliation in his poems name
acrostics is an intentional confirmation of his Karaite identity; see J. Yeshaya, Medieval
Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 5152. Note that some scholars suggested that Dar
might not have been a born Karaite, but may have joined the movement in his youth; see
I. Davidson, The Maqma of Alexandria and Cairo, [in Hebrew] Madd ha-Yahdt 2
(1926): 296308; idem, Note on the Maqma of Alexandria and Cairo, [in Hebrew] Tarb
2 (1930): 11819. See also A. M. Habermann, Supplement to the Maqma of Alexandria
and Cairo of Moses Dar, [in Hebrew] Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish
Research 33 (1965): 3540.
39Cf. section 2.3 above. A clear distinction can be made between the term wazn and
ar, both of which can be translated by the term meter. The term wazn is usually
reserved for the metrical patterns of strophic poetry, whereas ar refers to the quantita-
tive meter in classical Arabic poetry. See O. Zwartjes, Love Songs from al-Andalus: History,
Structure and Meaning of the Kharja (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 131.
language, rhetoric, prosody 45

music, a wazn is a rhythmic pattern or cycle (also called arb, mzn,


or ul).40 Wazn, or poetic meter, is also one of the main pillars in the
Arabic conception of poetry as formally defined by the Arabic literary
critic Qudma ibn Jafar (d. 948 CE): [Poetry] is metrical, rhymed speech,
expressing a meaning (Innahu qawlun mawznun muqaffan yadullu al
manan).41
Ulf Haxen has convincingly argued that in strophic poetry the term
wazn (and also the more familiar term lan) refers to a rhythmic quality
or mode rather than to a succession of notes, a scale, or a melody.42 More
recently, Edwin Serroussi contended that while Haxens hypothesis may
be correct in the Islamic East until the tenth century, the term lan ulti-
mately came to refer to a melodys rhythmic and melodic aspects. It con-
tinued to be used in this sense in piyym superscriptions for hundreds
of years, as the role of music in the liturgy grew.43
Indeed, the practice of providing wazns and/or lans was wide-spread
in post-classical Eastern poetry (as may be inferred from Genizah sources)
and in Spanish-Hebrew poetry. It reached its musical apex only in the
sixteenth century in the work of the great poet, musician, and performer
Israel Najara (15551625). In some cases Najara chose Arabic and Turkish
songs as models for his own Hebrew poems.44 In twelfth-century Egypt,
the Karaite poet Moses Dar was not the only poet to provide wazns and/
or lans referring to the number of syllables in each line; the Rabbanites
Eleazar ben Chalfon and Aaron al-Ammn did the same.45

40See H. H. Touma, The Music of the Arabs, trans. L. Schwartz (Portland, Ore.: Amadeus
Press, 1996), 210.
41 Cf. J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 65.
42U. Haxen, The Captions f wazn and f lan in Strophic Poetry, Zutot: Perspectives
on Jewish Culture 1 (2001): 9196; idem, Saadya Gaon on Music: Melody or Rhythm?, in
Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, ed. J. Targarona Borrs and A. Senz-
Badillos, 40613 (Leiden: Brill, 1999).
43E. Serroussi, Music in Medieval Ibero-Jewish Society, Hispania Judaica 5 (2007):
567 (particularly pp. 1618).
44A. Tietze and J. Yahalom, Ottoman Melodies Hebrew Hymns: A 16th Century Cross-
Cultural Adventure (Budapest: Akedmiai Kiad, 1995). Tova Beeris ongoing research is
aimed at producing a critical edition of Israel Najaras Sheerit Yisrael (The Remnant of
Israel). For now, see T. Beeri, Music and Poetic Structure in XVIXVII c. Oriental Piyyut,
in Jewish Studies in a New Europe, ed. U. Haxen et al., 7581 (Copenhagen: C.A. Reitzel,
1998).
45Cf. S. Cohen, The Poetry of Aaron Al-Ammn: A Critical Edition [in Hebrew]
(Jerusalem: Mq Nirdmm, 2008), 12631; E. Fleischer, Additional Data Concerning
the Poetry of R. Elazar ben Chalfon, in Occident and Orient: A Tribute to the Memory of
Alexander Scheiber, ed. R. Dn, 13753 (Budapest: Akadmiai Kiad, 1988).
46 chapter two

These wazn indications, arguably the most distinctive prosodic feature


in our corpus, support the idea that several of Dars liturgical poems on
the prsht were fashioned using the metrical or rhythmic (and possi-
bly, thematic) prototype of other Hebrew poems. These would have been
mainly liturgical poems by the Andalusian poet Judah ha-Levi. Let us take
poem 11 with the incipit
([You who are] cast off in exiles
pit) as an example. Its refrain (I will increase your offspring for the sake
of My servant Abraham, cf. Gen 26:24)46 comes from prsh Tldt
(Gen 25:1928:9), which introduces the brothers Esau (also: Edom, Gen
26:30) and Jacob. A quotation ending with My servant precedes the
refrain (also ending with )
in each strophe:
On the prsh V-le tldt yiq, in the wazn [of the poem beginning with
the words] Yrshlayim hn
[You who are] cast off in exiles pit, I will bring near your salvation in My
great mercy; I will listen to your cry for help and put your tears and your
weeping into My flask (Ps 56:9); I will swear by My name never again to
remove and carry you into exile; I will bind up your pain and your wound
with Gileads balm, and with the help of the peaceable ruler, your shepherd,
you will see My splendor and My glory, and I will increase your offspring for
the sake of My servant Abraham (Gen 26:24).
Listen, O sons, and be led by the perfect and excellent teaching (Ps 19:8); do
not fear or be afraid of an enemy who has overpowered youall this is to
rebuke you, but I will not make an end of you (Jer 5:18); only be strong so as
to not depart from My path that is level (Jer 18:15), and investigate My laws
deeply and study forever and ever; and with the staff of ratio and under-
standing, remember the Torah of Moses My servant (Mal 3:22), and I will
increase your offspring for the sake of My servant Abraham (Gen 26:24).
Receive good news, O people of My inheritance; rejoice, O nobles of the
nations, who hold fast to My covenant (Isa 56:4,6) and to My excellent com-
mandments, who wait for the time of My salvation that is kept secret and
sealed (Dan 12:4); for I am pleased with you now and forevermore; out of
every city that I created, and (out of) all nations and peoples I have chosen
Zion as my residence and you, Israel, as My servant (Isa 41:8), and I will
increase your offspring for the sake of My servant Abraham (Gen 26:24).

46
That night the Lord appeared to him an said, I
am the God of your father Abraham. Fear not, for I am with you, and I will bless you and
increase your offspring for the sake of My servant Abraham (Gen 26:24).
language, rhetoric, prosody 47

Shout with joy, heavens and skies, and cry aloud, ends of the earths (Jer
16:19); rejoice, dwellers of islands amidst the seas, and inhabitants of Sela
and the mountains (Isa 42:1011): I will set My miracles against enemies
and adversaries, and in My anger they will perish; I will sanctify My names
amidst peoples and nations who acted faithlessly towards Me, and I will ruin
the wise men from Edom and the wild asss judges will become foolish; all
secrets and every mystery My servant shall understand (Isa 52:13), and I will
increase your offspring for the sake of My servant Abraham (Gen 26:24).
Bring near, O Rock, the appointed time when you will show Your mercy
to Your people; hurry and listen to the poor mans singing, and let him
not return empty-handed from Your presence; O God, bind up a suffering
and afflicted people, and cause them to return to Your covering; may they
dwell there and not be moved, and may they cease being oppressed in exile;
remove the enemy from within Your own house; and as for those who speak
badly about Your servant, rebuke them, saying: How then did you not shrink
from speaking against My servant (Num 12:8)! I will increase your offspring
for the sake of My servant Abraham (Gen 26:24).
This poems most obvious intertextual relation is to the Hebrew Bible. As
one would expect from a Karaite author, the poem is replete with biblical
quotations and allusions imbedded in the poetic text. Most of these come
from prophetic texts that describe God comforting His people.47 This poem
also has an intertextual relation to other liturgical poetry. According to
the Judeo-Arabic heading, the wazn of this poem is modeled on a Zionide
with the incipit
( O Jerusalem, lament) by the Andalusian
poet Judah ha-Levi:48
O Jerusalem, lament, and let your tears pour out, O Zion,
for your sons eyes weep incessantly in memory of you;
let my right hand forever wither, O glorious city, if I forget you (Ps 137:5);
let my tongue stick to my palate if I cease to think of you (Ps 137:6).

47For references, see the line-by-line commentary to this poem in the edition. The
choice of biblical, prophetic language confirms the more general finding that the poems
often do not intend to retell the prshs narrative, nor do they elaborate on particular
precepts deduced from the prsh; cf. sections 1.1, 1.3, and 2.1.
48H. Brody (ed.), Dwn des Abu-l-asn Jehuda ha-Levi [in Hebrew], 4 vols. (Berlin:
Mq Nirdmm, 18941930), 3:18788; D. Yarden, (ed.), The Liturgical Poetry of Rabbi
Judah ha-Levi [in Hebrew], 4 vols. (Jerusalem, 19781986), 2:61213. F. Rosenzweig trans-
lated this poem into German, see Yehuda Halevi: Fnfundneunzig Hymnen und Gedichte
Deutsch und Hebrisch (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1983), 21112. Rosenzweigs
version appeared in English in Ninety-Two Poems and Hymns of Yehuda Halevi, ed. R. A.
Cohen, transl. T. Kovach, E. Jospe, and G. Gerda Schmidt (Albany: State University of New
York Press, 2000), 22830.
48 chapter two

Behold, my sins have driven me from the chamber of her who conceived
me (Cant 3:4),
my Father has resolved to destroy me because of my guilt (Esth 7:7), and
my brother (Christians)
and the son of my slave woman (Muslims) have taken away my birthright
(Gen 27:36);
therefore, I pour out my heart to the Rock in supplication (1 Sam 1:15).
So offer your cheeks to those who tear out your hair, and hide not your face
from (their) spittle (Isa 50:6), perhaps due to the heaviness of distress, the
transgressions will be lightened;
become a brother to jackals and a companion to ostriches (Job 30:29);
make your heart like the night, wear blackness and walk about subdued
(1 Kgs 21:27).
Wait quietly for God (Ps 62:6) because the needy shall not always be ignored
(Ps 9:19),
for due only to His mercy, He does pays no heed [to your sins] so as not to
make an end of you (Jer 30:11), until the time will come for Israel when He
will bring their deliverance from Zion (Ps 14:7) and pull you out of the pit
of exile with cords of love (Hos 11:4).
O God, be not implacably angry and do not remember iniquity forever (Isa
64:8);
be impassioned for Zion (Zech 8:2) and never again sell the remnant of Your
people (Ps 44:13);
speak tenderly to Your inheritance and may the enemy never again trouble
her;
at dawn may there be shouts of joy even if weeping should linger for the
night (Ps 30:6).
A wazn indication may be called a paratext which instructs readers on
how to read, recite, or sing the text properly. Grard Genette believes
there are two kinds of paratexts: autographic (by the author) and allo-
graphic (by someone other than the author). It may be argued, in other
words, that neither Moses Dar nor the dwns editor or copyist wrote the
indications of wazn, but rather that they were added by the manuscripts
later owners.49
All that we can infer then from this wazn indication is that whoever
wrote it was unquestionably familiar with Judah ha-Levis poem, and that

49Cf. G. Genette, Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge


University Press, 1997). U. Simon argued that in Spain the manuscripts editors or copy-
ists usually determined the indications of wazn or lan rather than the poets; see Four
Approaches to the Book of Psalms: From Saadiah Gaon to Abraham Ibn Ezra (New York:
State University of New York Press, 1991), 228ff., 251.
language, rhetoric, prosody 49

its meter, melody, rhythm, and/or structure was similar to that of Moses
Dars poem.
Alternatively, we know that Dar compiled his own poetical collec-
tion and supplied it with a Judeo-Arabic introduction, as well as that
he composed secular and liturgical poetry close to the time of ha-Levis
visit to Egypt. There is also evidence (to be precise, a formal imitation
[Arab. muraa] of one of ha-Levis poems)50 that Dar was familiar
with ha-Levis oeuvre. This makes it likely that he also knew the Zionide
O Jerusalem, lament, and used it as model or prototype for his own
poem.51
The indication of a wazn meter (rather than a lan melody) in this
example shows that ha-Levis and Dars poems are both scanned with
grammatical-syllabic meter, known from Andalusian-Hebrew piyy, in
which the shv and f vowels are disregarded.52 As such, both poems
contain verses consisting of 14 syllables/rhythm segments, which may
explain their shared wazn/rhythmic quality, or meter. See, for instance,
line 1 in each poemDar: / ,

vs. ha-Levi: /
. Each poem mentions its
authors name in an acrostic ( Judah and Moses,
Karaite physician) and consists of five strophes (not identical in length)
with a muwashsha-like rhyme pattern. This means that both poems
had different rhymes in each strophe and that these were coupled with
a returning rhyme in the final verse in every strophe. Dars poem has
internal rhyme and a refrain that serves as final verse and is an organic
part of the first strophe.
The speech situation differs: Dars poem has his typical use of divine
speech in the first four strophes before a strophe in which the poet-
precentor addresses God on behalf of Israel. In ha-Levis poem the
poet-precentor alternately addresses Jerusalem and God on behalf of
Israel (who speaks in the second strophe). Nonetheless, their content and

50See R. P. Scheindlin, On the Poem O Lord, all my Desire is before You by Judah
ha-Levi [in Hebrew] in Studies in Hebrew Poetry and Jewish Heritage in Memory of Aharon
Mirsky, ed. E. Hazan and J. Yahalom, 22737 (Ramat-Gan: University of Bar-Ilan Publishing,
2006); J. Yahalom, Yehuda Halevi: Poetry and Pilgrimage (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2009),
17677. Cf. J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 7072.
51Thirteenth-century and later Ashkenazic poets also used ha-Levis poems as models
for their own poetry. For a comprehensive analysis of one such poem, an elegy by Samuel
b. Isaac, modeled on ha-Levis poem ( Zion, will you not ask?); see
E. Hollender, : An Ashkenazic Qina in Sephardic Garb, in Sefer Yovel
Benjamin Bar Tikwa, ed. A. Shmidman, E. Hazan (2014, forthcoming).
52Cf. section 2.3.
50 chapter two

(biblical) language is quite similar. Both poems include pleas for Israels
deliverance (both Dar and ha-Levi use the words ysha or ysh; lines 1
and 17 in Dars poem) and a return to Zion (line 20 in Dars poem) from
the oppression Israel experienced in exile (glt; lines 1 and 32 in Dars
poem). Other parallels include the exiled people of Israels weeping (line 2
in Dars poem) and inimical references to Christians and Muslims.53
The list of wazn indications presented below shows that fifteen other
poems have exactly the same wazn indication to the poem with the
incipit
, and that we have wazn indications alluding to nine
other poems by ha-Levi as well as to other poems, including one popular
muwashsha-like poem (also dealing with Israel in exile) by Abraham ibn
Ezra with the incipit ,54
a widely imitated poem by Judah
ben Samuel ibn Abbs with the incipit ,55
and sev-
eral unidentifiable ones by unknown Andalusian or Eastern poets:56

53In line 26, Dar uses the epithet Edom to refer to Christians and wild ass to refer
to Muslims, whereas ha-Levi in line 7 calls them my brother (Esau) and son of the slave
woman (Hagar); cf. section 3.7.
54The wazn of poem 88; see I. Levin, Religious Poetry of Abraham Ibn Ezra, 2 vols.
(Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 19751982), 2:7578; translated
by L. Weinberger in Twilight of the Golden Age: Selected Poems of Abraham Ibn Ezra
(Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1997), 198201. Note that a later poem in the
zmrt section of the Karaite prayer book was also inspired by Abraham ibn Ezras sl,
see Siddr ha-Tfillt k-Minhg ha-Yhdm ha-Qrm, 4 vols., Vilna 1891 (repr. Ramle,
1971/72; repr. Ashdod, 2010), 4:223, poem 229 (by Aaron Pampolof ben Moses). One poem
by Abraham ibn Ezra (with the incipit): , was also included in the Karaite
prayer book, see Siddr ha-Tfillt k-Minhg ha-Yhdm ha-Qrm, 4:103, poem 9; see
I. Levin, Religious Poetry of Abraham Ibn Ezra, 2:14951.
55The wazn of poem 20; see I. Davidson, Thesaurus of Medieval Hebrew Poetry [in
Hebrew], 4 vols. (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 19251933; repr.
New York: Ktav 1970), 3:296. Note that this was also the model for an Aaron al-Ammn
poem; see S. Cohen, The Poetry of Aaron Al-Ammn, 12931, 26062; and many others;
see J. Schirmann, The History of Hebrew Poetry in Christian Spain and Southern France,
edited, supplemented and annotated by E. Fleischer (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1997), 281,
note 8.
56The wazn of poem 26 () is comparable to the poems (with the
incipits): and

, the latter of which might be by Solomon ibn Gabirol; see I. Davidson, Thesaurus
of Medieval Hebrew Poetry, 1:169. The wazn of poem 41 ( ) could be another
version of the incipit of the fifth strophe in Judah ha-Levis piyy
; see H. Brody (ed.), Dwn des Abu-l-asn Jehuda ha-Levi, 3:13840;
I. Davidson, Thesaurus of Medieval Hebrew Poetry, 2:1883. The wazns of poem 44 and 52
( ) may allude to a poem by Judah ibn Ghiyyat with the incipit: ; see
I. Davidson, Thesaurus of Medieval Hebrew Poetry, 2:300. The wazn of poem 48 (
) may be composed by a poet named Samuel; see I. Davidson, Thesaurus of Medieval
Hebrew Poetry, 2:168.
language, rhetoric, prosody 51

)Poem (nr. Incipit Wazn Poet


1 ?Eleazar
2 Judah ha-Levi
3
4
5 Judah ha-Levi
6
7
8 Judah ha-Levi
9
Judah ha-Levi
10

11
Judah ha-Levi
12
13 Judah ha-Levi
14 [ ]
15

16
17

18 Judah ha-Levi
19
20 Judah ben Samuel
ibn Abbs
21
Judah ha-Levi
22
23

24
Judah ha-Levi
25
26 Solomon ibn
?Gabirol
27 Judah ha-Levi
28

29 Judah ha-Levi
30 [ ]
31
32
Judah ha-Levi
33
34 Judah ha-Levi
35
36
37 ] [
38
39 Judah ha-Levi
40
41 ?Judah ha-Levi
42 ] [
43 []
52 chapter two

)Table (cont.
)Poem (nr. Incipit Wazn Poet
44 ?Judah ibn Ghiyyat
45 Judah ha-Levi
46
[]
47 Judah ha-Levi
48
?Samuel
49
50 Judah ha-Levi
51 [] Judah ha-Levi
52 ?Judah ibn Ghiyyat
53 [ ] Judah ha-Levi
54
55 Judah ha-Levi
56 Judah ha-Levi
57 [ ] Judah ha-Levi
58
Judah ha-Levi
59
60 Judah ha-Levi
61
62 [ ] Judah ha-Levi
63 Judah ha-Levi
64
65
Judah ha-Levi
66
67 []
68
69

70 Judah ha-Levi
71
72 Judah ha-Levi
73
[ ] Judah ha-Levi
74

75 Judah ha-Levi
76
77
78
79 []
80
81
82 []
83 [ ]
84
85 [ ] Judah ha-Levi
86
language, rhetoric, prosody 53

Table (cont.)
Poem (nr.) Incipit Wazn Poet
87
88 Abraham ibn Ezra
89
90

91 [ ]
Judah ha-Levi
92

93 ][
94

95
Judah ha-Levi
96 ] [

The following chart lists ha-Levis poems (with bibliographical reference


to the editions of Brody and Yarden)57 and the poems of Dar that appear
to have been modeled thereon:

Judah ha-Levi poems Ed. Brody and/or Yarden Moses Dar poems
Brody, 3:34 nr. 2, 5, 8, 13, 29, 45
Yarden, 3:64143

Brody, 3:18788 nr. 9, 11, 21, 24, 34, 39, 47, 50,
Yarden, 2:612613 55, 56, 60, 65, 70, 72, 75, 95
Brody, 4:14446 nr. 18, 27
Yarden, 1:14244

Yarden, 2:58288 nr. 32
][ Yarden, 1:8183 nr. 51

Brody, 3:15556 nr. 53, 57, 73, 85, 91
] [ Yarden, 1:21011

Brody, 3:11011 nr. 58
Yarden, 2:48890
[ ]
Brody, 4:56 nr. 62
Yarden, 3:64546
Brody, 4:211 nr. 63
Yarden, 3:74951

57H. Brody (ed.), Dwn des Abu-l-asn Jehuda ha-Levi [in Hebrew], 4 vols. (Berlin:
Mq Nirdmm, 18941930); D. Yarden, (ed.), The Liturgical Poetry of Rabbi Judah ha-
Levi [in Hebrew], 4 vols (Jerusalem, 19781986).
54 chapter two

This chart shows that at least 34 of 96 poemsi.e., more than one-third of


all the poems in our corpuswere in one way or another (metrical, rhyth-
mic, or even thematic) fashioned after the prototype of ha-Levis popular
liturgical poems. Ha-Levis poem has by far the most wazn
indications (16), followed by ( 6) and ] [

(5). Other popular (more than 2 indications) but unidentifiable poems in
the previous list of wazn indications include ][ ( 9 indica-
tions: poems 10, 14, 30, 38, 49, 54, 61, 83, 93), ( 8: poems
12, 37, 42, 43, 46, 79, 82, 96), ( 6: poems 15, 23, 28, 76,
84, 90), and ( 3: poems 22, 80, 86). That three of these poems
start with the Hebrew letter yd may point to a name acrostic starting
with the name Judah, which Dar may have therefore have intended as
implicit wazn attributions to ha-Levi. In the same way, the Karaite poet
may have attributed the poem ][ , which starts with the
Hebrew letter shn, to Solomon ibn Gabirol.58
Be that as this may, this chart provides considerable evidence for regard-
ing ha-Levi as a genuine poetic role-model for Dar, who wrote poetry
near the time that ha-Levi visited Egypt (between 1140 and 1141) and who
was among the first Eastern poets to adopt the Andalusian-Hebrew stan-
dards of poetry and poetics.59 Likewise, this chart furnishes significant
proof for the swift dissemination of ha-Levis poems in Egypt.

58Unfortunately, the database of the Institute for the Study of Poetry and Piyyut,
established by the late Professor Ezra Fleischer in Jerusalem, houses no data for these pop-
ular but unidentifiable wazn indications. The database does house the following data for
the wazn indications: ( the wazn of poem 1 by a poet named Eleazar4
Genizah manuscripts: NS.129/16; H.15/95; ENA.2873/3; AS.117/51, ed. D. Yarden in Sefun
Shira: Mediaeval Liturgical and Secular Poetry [Jerusalem, 1967], 6162);
(the wazn of poem 41 with 1 non-Genizah manuscript, namely London 724/13);
(the wazn of poems 44 and 52 by a poet named Judah3 Genizah manuscripts [MC.
VIII/37; NS.149/44; 8H.17/12] and 2 non-Genizah manuscripts [London 728/127; Oxford
1105]); and
( the wazn of poem 483 non-Genizah manuscripts: London
726/4; London 729/4; Paris 663/116). A study of these wazn indications is beyond the scope
of the current research. Additional research on the 34 poems modeled on their ha-Levi
prototypes may lead to a separate publication.
59See J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 47, 7072.
Chapter three

Thematic Elements

More than his secular poems with their particular focus on rhetorical
figuration,1 the contents of Moses Dars liturgical poems on the prsht
are aligned with Karaite perspectives, such as viewing the Sabbath as a day
for mourning the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. Accordingly,
Dar devoted many of his poems less to the narration of the prsh than
to recalling and lamenting the destruction of Zion and Israels suffering in
exile. With their stress on typically Karaite themes, such as exile and deliv-
erance, human sin, atonement, and divine mercy, Dars liturgical poems
on the prsht bring to mind the admittedly more primitive dirges and
laments known from the Karaite Mourners of Zion in tenth- and eleventh-
century Jerusalem.2
Every single one of the poems in the present edition incorporates one
or more combinations (or content patterns) of the thematic elements
dealt with in the list of topics below. For example, a poem containing a
lament on Israels current situation in exile (possibly in combination with
hostile references to Christians and Muslims) will often follow such with
an expression of hope for salvation and realization of the divine promise
concerning the land of Israel. In this chapter, it should be noted, we treat
only the most important and frequently used thematic elements in Dars
liturgical poetry on the prsht. We will succinctly describe and provide
examples of the main themes in the poets repertoire. Other minor themes
will be mentioned ad hoc in the English commentary essays following
each liturgical poem in the edition.

3.1Praise of God

This first thematic element corresponds to one of the basic objectives of


all (i.e., Karaite and Rabbanite) Jewish hymnographythe praise of God.3

1 J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 12228.


2Cf. introductory chapter 1, particularly sections 1.1 and 1.3.
3Cf. the following passage in L. Weinberger, Jewish Hymnography: A Literary History,
430: Karaite genres include the sheva, described by Aaron ben Elijah as adulation of
56 chapter three

Let us take the first two strophes of poem 1 with the incipit
(my eulogy and my praise) as an example:
I sing my eulogy and my praise to the Lord of Lords:
all the time and with all my might, though His glorious deeds are beyond
comparison;
my love for Him still resides and dwells in my inner self;
I indulge my soul in [this love for God] instead of any earthly love or
friendship,
and because of [this love for God] my hearts delight grew and my sadness
fled away;
and when my worries returned, I simply cried out:
Hasten to my aid, O Lord, my deliverance! (Ps 38:23)

O Blessed One who dwells in the heavens, I confide exclusively in You:


no one compares to You, for You are my true Rock;
when standing before Your Temple, I prostrate myself only before You,
for You possess never-ending and eternal glory and majesty
and everyone undeniably acknowledges Your greatness;
my Strength and my Might (Ps 118:14), please forgive my sins,
for this is what I ask of you, my Strength (Ps 22:20):
Hasten to my aid, O Lord, my deliverance! (Ps 38:23)
In this example Dar combines the customary praise of God (among
whose designations are the Lord of Lords, my
true Rock, my strength and my might [Ps 118:14]) with a
plea for divine help and the forgiveness of sins. The hapax ( my
strength, Ps 22:20: My strength, hasten to my aid) used in the final
line of the second strophe yields a smooth transition to the refrain from
Ps 38:23: Hasten to my aid, O Lord, my deliverance!
The entire corpus of our present edition shows that the Karaite poet
makes ample use of the different names/designations of God. The manu-
script contracts the tetragrammaton YHWH either to ( predominantly
in biblical quotations) or ( outside biblical quotations).4 However, the
spelling also appears in poetic language outside biblical quotations.
One instance (23:12) where it is used in a rhyme positionthe other

God in sumptuous praises and thanksgiving for His abundant kindness in presenting us
with the world and directing it with loving kindness. Related in theme to the sheva is
the zemer, a popular genre with eleventh- and twelfth-century Karaite poets. The sheva
hymns and their companion, the hallel, at the beginning of the morning service, are com
parable to the Rabbanite Introductory Hymns and Psalms (pesuqey de-zimrah).
4In the present edition, I have chosen to keep the spelling of the divine name as it
appears in the manuscript.
thematic elements 57

rhyme words in the strophe being and reveals that the tetra-
grammaton was pronounced as adony (My Lord), in accordance
with the Jewish prohibition against uttering the divine name outside the
Temple in Jerusalem.
Several designations come directly from the Hebrew Bible, as in poem
1:4647: My crag, my fortress (Ps 18:3), my
anticipation and my hope (Ps 71:5), O God of my praise
(Ps 109:1). The origin of yet other divine names (such as the
One who knows Secrets; poem 2, line 7) is less straightforward.
Some poems stand out for their abundant use of divine names with dif-
ferent connotations. They bring to mind Jewish or Islamic uses of numer-
ous attributes to highlight aspects of the divine. Like the Kabbalistic
72 names of God or the Islamic 99 names of God, the names of God
in the Hebrew Bible or the Dead Sea Scrolls have been a source of debate
among scholars.5
Poem 12 with the incipit ( My King and my God,
accept my eulogy) contains the following extensive catalogue of names
of God: my King (line 1); my God (line 1, 15, 21); my
Creator (line 2, 26); my Father (line 2, 26, 32); Warrior
(line 10); the Most High (line 13); Rock (line 21, 25);
God of all Gods (line 27); He who supports
drop-outs (line 27); my Rock (line 28); He who resides
in the Temple (line 31); He who dwells in the heavens (line
35); and Glorious One (line 35).
The list of sacred names in poem 19 with the incipit
(O King, from His high heavens) includes: King (line 1); God
(line 4, 7, 13);
El-Elohe-Yisrael (line 5); Lord (line 17);
Compassionate One (line 19); Our Redeemer,
Lord of Hosts, Holy One of Israel (line 23); Eternal

5See K. van der Toorn et al., Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden:
Brill, 1999); E. Tov, Scribal Practices and Approaches Reflected in the Texts found in the
Judean Desert (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 21821, 23846; D. Green, Divine Names: Rabbinic
and Qumran Scribal Techniques, in The Dead Sea Scrolls. Fifty Years after Their Discovery,
ed. L. H. Schiffman et al., 497511 ( Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society in cooperation
with The Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, 2000); M. Idel, Defining Kabbalah: The
Kabbalah of the Divine Names, in Mystics of the Book: Themes, Topics, and Typologies,
ed. R. A. Herrera, 97122 (New York: P. Lang, 1993); D. Gimaret, Les noms divins en islam:
exgse lexicogrqphique et thologique (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1998). See also the trans
lation of a work by the Persian Muslim polymath al-Ghazl (c. 10581111), The Ninety-
nine Beautiful Names of God, transl. D. B. Burrell and N. Daher (Cambridge: Islamic Texts
Society, 1995).
58 chapter three

Father (line 25); Living [God], Ehyeh (line 31, see Exod 3:14);
and My Helper in Times of Trouble (line 31).
The choice of particular epithets, such as

Creator of mountains who is girded with might (see poem 15:36 and cf.
Ps 65:7),

the Compassionate
One, who dwells in the High Heavens and who walks on the back of
clouds (see poem 21:14 and cf. Isa 14:14) or Ehyeh-Asher-
Eyheh (see poem 24:1 and cf. Exod 3:14), may indicate that Dar wanted
to emphasize particular attributes of God. In these examples that would
be His creative power, His compassion and transcendence, or His incom-
prehensibility to the mere mortals.
Also noteworthy is Dars preference for the first-person pronominal
suffix in divine names. See, for example, the first line of poem 16, which
contains no fewer than six attributes of God. Dar constructs all of them
with a first-person pronominal suffix: my King, my God,
my Strength, the Rock of my Power, my Helper, and
][
my Savior from all my fears. This preference may
indicate the Karaite poets focus on a personal relationship with the pri-
mary object of his praise: God.

3.2The Holiness of the Sabbath Day

In relatively few instances, Dar refers to the holiness of the Sabbath day
(at the beginning of whichit is important to keep in mindhis liturgi-
cal poems on the prsht were recited) and its being the most ancient
of all holidays, originating in creation itself.6 In lines 2223 of his first
poem on prsh B-rsht with the incipit ( my eulogy and
my praise), the poet summarizes the seventh day of creation as follows:
On the seventh day You established my [day of] rest, my holy Sabbath
on which I cease from all my work. A similar stress on the Sabbath day
as the culmination of the process of creation can be found in lines 45 of

6On the Karaite Sabbath see Y. Yaron, An Introduction to Karaite Judaism, 16272.
Note that the Karaite siddr contains a section of many so-called zmirt, i.e., Sabbath
songs; see Siddr ha-tfillt k-minhg ha-yhdm ha-qrm, 4:96230. This corpus of
poetry includes much later material, such as poems composed by seventeenth-century and
eighteenth-century Polish-Lithuanian Karaites, which form the basis of the PhD research
by Riikka Tuori (University of Helsinki, 2013); see also her forthcoming article Polish-
Lithuanian Karaite Hebrew Zemirot: Imitation Only? A Review on a Marginal Genre.
thematic elements 59

poem 36 with the incipit ( The virtues of the Sabbath


Day): From the beginning of the creation of the world it was called out
to be a blessed day, when the Rock ceased from all His activities and com-
pleted his work. This poem further emphasizes that the observance of the
holy Sabbath is one of the most significant commandments (lines 68):
The splendor and radiance of all weekdays is like darkness compared to
that of [the Sabbath]; He left His holy day as an everlasting inheritance for
a people who seeks His will; when they observe [the Sabbath], His sons
are protected from every defiled enemy.
Interestingly, lines 1014 in the same poem claim that observance of
the Sabbath is an exclusive Jewish privilege: When the sons of Qedar
(Muslims) and the sons of Edom (Christians) saw this, they wanted to
establish for themselves a similar holy day; but their judges stumble in
judgment and the power of their customs is not worth mentioning; how
could the inheritance of the offspring of the righteous ones (Jews) be cop-
ied by Adbeel (Muslims), or how could the portion of chosen sons (Jews)
be given to Magdiel (Christians)? According to Dar, the Sabbath day
is a confirmation of Israels identity as a holy people. By observing the
Sabbath one is reminded that God, who sanctified the Sabbath, also sanc-
tifies those who observe it (line 16): [The Sabbath] is holy and sanctified,
and all who observe it will forever be sanctified. Ultimately, all enemies,
including Christians and Muslims (the offspring of Massa and Reuel;
lines 1920), will have to recognize that the Sabbath is the inheritance
of the Hebrews.7
By way of conclusion and illustration of this thematic element, we here
translate poem 45 with the incipit ( Be mindful of
the Teaching of Moses), the refrain of which (you shall have a Sabbath
of complete rest, holy to the Lord; cf. Exod 35:2)8 is taken from prsh
Va-yaqhl (Exod 35:138:20):
My sons, be mindful of the Teaching of My servant Moses (Mal 3:22) and
of My Holy Day,
you shall have a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord (Exod 35:2).

7On these and other polemical references to the Christians and the Muslims see sec
tion 3.7 below.
8
On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a
Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to
death (Exod 35:2).
60 chapter three

You shall have complete rest on this day, O holy nation and chosen
people;
the Lord has blessed [the Sabbath] and favored it, since on it He finished
all his work.
On the day He made His voice heard on [Mount] Sinai to the community,
He said: Remember the Sabbath Day (Exod 20:8) as in the days of old;
for how beautiful and how good is a day on which your status grows, a day
about which
the Rock stated from the beginning: Such is the lot of the servants of the
Lord (Isa 54:17).

Edom and Arabia behave foolishly by establishing weekdays as their own


holy day;
they can be compared to a heat wave that prevails over the river of Eden.
How can tin be compared to gold? How can straw be compared to grain?
(Jer 23:28)
Why is a precious stone superior to a broken potsherd? The favor of all the
other nations is like a wilted flower set in the scorched places of the wil-
derness (Jer 17:6), whereas those who observe the Sabbath are forever true
because the Lord has chosen them (Deut 21:5 and 1 Chr 15:2).

The Supreme One elevated the status of every seventh [time span] because
of His day of rest; He put the law of remission of debts (Deut 15:1) in His
Torah, and that of the sheaf (Lev 23:1016) and the jubilee (Lev 25:810); to
give me rest, He glorified me in His great affection on the day that He saved
me from my labor; and by observing His commandment I found repose and
rest from my work on a holy day whose sanctification is the joy and delight
of my heart;
a day with important parts, for the Lord has chosen it (Deut 18:5).

My Rock, bind up the wounds of Your people with Your balsam and Your
healing;
hasten the Time of Your salvation and Your compassion for Your
inheritance,
and bring near the construction of Your Temple, and Your return to Your
resting place;
speed up for them Your good tidings, the prophecy: Let Your dead revive!
(Isa 26:19)
Destroy the enemies and gather Your vineyard Israel, Your chosen ones; and
may the redeemed and the ransomed of the Lord go up to the House of
Prayer (Isa 35:910; 51:1011).
In this poem Dar once more stresses that observance of the Sabbath is
one of the most significant commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai
and that it is an exclusive Jewish privilege. In his view the Muslim Friday
and the Christian Sunday cannot compare to it. The lack of anti-Rabbanite
thematic elements 61

(in contrast to anti-Christian and anti-Muslim) hostility in this poem


seems to reflect the general atmosphere of cooperation between Karaite
and Rabbanite Jews in Fimid Egypt.9 The references to the Sabbath year
(shm, i.e., the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle men-
tioned in the Torah) and the Jubilee year (yel, i.e., the year at the end of
seven cyles of shm) in the penultimate strophe are not part of prsh
Va-yaqhl (Exod 35:138:20), but are related to time and more particularly
to the number seven. As such they are a logical extension of the idea of
the Sabbath (i.e., the seventh day of the week). The Counting of the Omer
mentioned in the same strophe also belongs to this category, since it is a
seven-week (or forty-nine-day) period between Passover and Shavuot that
symbolizes the anticipation surrounding the giving of the Torah on Mount
Sinai, which is traditionally believed to have happened at the same time
as Shavuot.

3.3The Covenant and the People of Israel

The covenants God made with the people of Israel are an essential the-
matic element in Dars liturgical poetry. We will list and illustrate these
below. In poem 5 with the incipit
( You who are happy with
Me), the refrain (And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and
with your seed after you; cf. Gen 9:9)10 refers to Gods covenant (brt)11
established after the Flood, in the first instance with Noah and his off-
spring, but more generally with all living creatures, i.e., every beast and

9Cf. section 3.7 and note that the Sabbath was usually one of the core issues of the
Karaite-Rabbanite diatribe since Karaites, unlike Rabbanites, celebrated the Sabbath in
total darkness, prohibited the preparation of hot food and forbade sexual relations during
the Sabbath. Cf. D. Frank, Karaite Ritual, in Judaism in Practice: From the Middle Ages
Though the Early Modern Period, ed. L. Fine, 24864 (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
2001); L. Nemoy, Karaite Anthology: Excerpts from the Early Literature (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1952), 1718, 11520; and Y. Yaron, An Introduction to Karaite Judaism,
16272.
10 And I, behold, I establish my
covenant with you, and with your seed after you (Gen 9:9). Cf. the analysis of this poem in
J. Yeshaya, The Biblical Story of Noah and the Flood in Karaite Poetry: Moses ben Abraham
Dar and Aaron ben Joseph ha-Rofe on Prsht Noah (Genesis 6:911:32), Frankfurter
Judaistische Beitrge 37 (2011/12): 10921.
11On this particular Hebrew word in the Flood narrative see the article by S. van den
Eynde, The Missing LinkBerit in the Flood Narrative: Meaning and Peculiarities of a
Hebrew Key Word, in Studies in the Book of Genesis: Literature, Redaction and History, ed.
A. Wnin, 46778 (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2001).
62 chapter three

bird that had come out of the ark. God promised that he would never
again curse the earth because of man, nor would he ever again destroy all
living creatures. The poem deals more specifically with the theme of Gods
covenant with the people of Israel (described as The people
whom You have chosen), the divine promise of the land of Israel, and
the need for divine mercy and salvation from the oppression experienced
by Israel while in exile.12
The following passage (lines 1520) from poem 11 with the incipit

([You who are] cast off in exiles pit) and the refrain
from prsh Tldt (I will increase your offspring for the sake of My
servant Abraham; cf. Gen 26:24)13 employs divine speech to reaffirm the
covenant with the people of Israel:
Receive good news, O people of My inheritance, and rejoice, O nobles of
the nations,
who hold fast to My covenant (Isa 56:4,6) and to My excellent command
ments,
who wait for the time of My salvation that is kept secret and sealed (Dan 12:4);
for I am pleased with you now and forevermore;
for out of every city that I created, and (out of) all nations and peoples
I have chosen Zion as My residence and you, Israel, as My servant (Isa 41:8).
In poem 34 with the incipit
([O God] who restores the lonely
[to their homes] [Ps 68:7]), the poet refers to another covenant, the
one God made with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (line 32):
Remember the covenant with the three Mighty Ancients and the day of
the revelation at Sinai. It was the covenant with the patriarchs that God
remembered when He decided to free the people of Israel from slavery in
Egypt; see lines 1415 in poem 39 with the incipit ( O sons of
the Living God), where Dar mentions the Exodus from Egypt and the
encampment in the wilderness of Sinai: The One who saved His people
from the ruthlessness of Egypt (Exod 1:13) and the Red Sea (Exod 14), and
who set them with a demoralized heart in [the wilderness of] Sinai, both
the natives and the strangers. This covenant in turn led to the covenant

12Cf. sections 3.6 and 3.9; for earlier references to these themes in medieval Hebrew
poetry see J. Tobi, The Land of Israel and the National Theme in Hebrew Poetry from
Saadia Gaon to Shemuel ha-Nagid, in Between Hebrew and Arabic Poetry: Studies in
Spanish Medieval Hebrew Poetry, 5392 (Leiden: Brill, 2010).
13
That night the Lord appeared to him and said, I am
the God of your father Abraham. Fear not, for I am with you, and I will bless you and
increase your offspring for the sake of My servant Abraham (Gen 26:24).
thematic elements 63

at Sinai between God and the people of Israel, to which the poet refers
in the rhetorical questions posed in poem 56 with the incipit
( Out of every nation and people that was created), lines 911:
Does there exist amongst the idolatrous nations a people which the Rock
called His first-born son? (Exod 4:22) And to whom He proclaimed His
covenant on Mount Sinai in affectionate words? Whom He established in
the fairest of all lands (Israel; Ezek 20:6), on a mountain (Zion) that He
had chosen in ancient days?

3.4Moses, Mount Sinai, and the Giving of the Torah

In sections 3.2 and 3.3 we drew attention to Dars references to the cov-
enant and the revelation at Mount Sinai. Lines 912 of poem 3914 with the
incipit ( O sons of the Living God) contains a more comprehen-
sive description of the giving of the Torah to Gods servant, Moses (also
known as the trusted leader):
The Almighty wanted to let you hear His word with the help of His ser-
vant (Moses) on the day that He appeared from [Mount] Paran (Hab 3:3)
and came to [Mount] Sinai in His glory, in fire and with horn blasts (Exod
19:1819), because of which you fell back (Exod 20:15) in fear of Him, were it
not that the trusted leader (Moses) said to you: Be not afraid! (Exod 20:17).
Karaite Jews rejected the rabbinic concept of the Oral Torah and regarded
the written Torah as perfect and complete. Dar used Ps 19:8 (The teach-
ing of the Lord is perfect) in several poems (8:25, 11:8, 28:15, 41:14, 86:5)
to emphasize the perfection of the written Torah. The second strophe in
poem 6, which has the incipit
[( You who are] stupe-
fied because of the humiliation), and which was written for prsh Lekh
lkh (Gen 12:117:27) even though it alludes to and quotes from prsh
Yitr (Exod 18:120:23), contains this idea, as well as that of the need to
observe the Torahs commandments:
Listen, O people of My inheritance whom I chose from amongst all nations,
whom I have called Treasured (Deut 7:6) and a Kingdom of Priests (Exod
19:6), to whom My presence was revealed on [Mount] Sinai in the cloud, and
whose status is elevated on account of their trusted forefatherskeep the
beautiful Torah that is free from any disgrace so that you may long endure
in the land (Exod 20:12).

14Cf. section 1.3 for these lines.


64 chapter three

The first strophe in poem 46 with the incipit



(Who are the people for whom God set up commandments and laws?)
also deals with the giving of the Torah to Moses/Yequtiel and stresses the
Torahs perfection vs. the worthlessness of Christian and Muslim law:
Who are the people for whom God set up commandments and laws, whom
He chose from the high heavens with a perfect and faultless Law and a
Torah given to Yequtiel (Moses)? They are like the sons who wanted to do
their Fathers will with the help of Oholiab and Bezalel, and who did not
pay attention to the false law assigned to the prince of Mibsam (Muslims;
Gen 25:13) and to the chief of Reuel (Christians; Gen 36:10); and they wished
to dowith all their mightthe will of the Rock and serve Him: just as
the Lord had commanded Moses, so the Israelites had done all the work
(Exod 39:42).
This last example refers to Bezalel and Oholiab by name, a clear connec-
tion to the construction of the Tabernacle and the Ark in prsh Pqd
(Exod 38:2140:38). In the penultimate strophe of poem 41 (where we
can find in line 2 another epithet for Moses: the son of Amram; cf.
Exod 6:20) with the incipit ( The banner of Israel
was forcefully lifted) the poet also refers by name to Bezalel and Oholiab.
As in the previous example, these names refer to the skilled craftsmen
who constructed the Ark (Arn) and the Tabernacle (mishkn) accord-
ing to the specifications that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai in
prsh Term (Exod 25:127:19).15

3.5Destruction and Rebuilding of Jerusalem and Temple

Beyond these and other clear references to the contents of prsh


Trm (Exod 25:127:19), specifically to the construction of the Ark and
the Tabernacle in Exod 2527, poem 41 is particularly noteworthy for its
final strophe. The poem ends, quite smoothly, with a plea to build a Third
Templearchitectural plans for which can be found in chapters 4047 of
the book of Ezekielon the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the First
and Second Temples once stood. The poet expects this Third Temple to
surpass even the First (Solomons) in glory. He singles out the contribu-
tion of King Hiram of Tyre (who provided quality resources and skilled
craftsmen in exchange for food) to the construction of the First Temple
(which superseded Moses Tabernacle as Gods dwelling place among the

15Cf. Exod 2527 and the commentary essays to poem 41 and 46.
thematic elements 65

Israelites). The plea for rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem in poem 41 is


by no means the only reference to this particular theme in Dars poems
on the prsht.
In some cases the Karaite poet named Israels sins as the principal
cause for the divine decree of Jerusalems destruction; see poem 46 with
the incipit
( Who are the people for whom God
set up commandments and laws?), lines 1520:
Hasten Your will for the city of Your Temple that in Your anger You have
laid to waste;
annihilate her enemy and the foe that destroyed her, and plead for her
against her enemy;
rebuild her ruins and may Your glory, as of old, return to the Temple.
May its splendor return to the Sanctuary and may the dust be turned into
flower beds;
may the good news come quickly that the punishment for her sins has been
taken away, and that she again wears the crown of glory.
Despite your [i.e., Israels] enemy, may it come to be that when you return
[to Jerusalem], the Holy One of Israel will be great in your midst (Isa 12:6)!
Among the most illustrative and successful examples of references to the
rebuilding of Jerusalem and its Temple is poem 51 with the incipit

( My King, comfort an unhappy and storm-tossed
city), the first two strophes of which are addressed to God:
My King, comfort an unhappy and storm-tossed city (Jerusalem, see
Isa 54:11), which once was great and a princess among nations (Lam 1:1),
and hasten [the coming of] your Messiah to quickly rebuild her, and he will
make expiation on her behalf, and she shall be clean (Lev 12:8).

Make her gates of precious stones (Isa 54:12), her foundation of sapphires
(Isa 54:11), and restore her to her former glory; sanctify her Temple forever
with the Sanctuary and the Court.
The following three strophes in this liturgical poem contain additional
prophetic subtexts, particularly from Isaiah, although here God speaks in
the first person:16
Can a woman forget her baby? (Isa 49:15) Or a maiden her jewels? (Jer 2:32)
That I should forget her (Jerusalem), who is sorrowful and mournful, whose
enemies have plenty of sons while she is bereaved and barren, exiled and
disdained (Isa 49:21).

16On the use of divine speech and dialogues in Moses Dars liturgical poetry see
section 2.2.
66 chapter three

Yet with all My strength I will bring back the festive crowd, who will declare
in her ears: My place is too crowded for me (Isa 49:20)! You will perceive
My deeds and recount to her (Jerusalem) My prophecy: Shout, O barren
one (Isa 54:1)!

I will be zealous for My chosen city, and fight against all her foes and ene-
mies; her inhabitants will live carefree and one will be able to find there the
sound of thanksgiving and music (Isa 51:3).
In several other instances the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its Temple is
connected to the reinstallation of the Temple ritual, as in poem 10:17:
In the near future reinstall the altar of Ariel, that I may perform there
my offering and my libation; poem 14:17: May He rebuild His Temple
as of old, and in the Temples courts let us raise a shout for Him in song!
(Ps 95:2);17 and poem 75:2627: May it happen soon that our eyes wit-
ness a bull being offered on Your altar and that we will blow the horn on
the new moon, for our feast day on the full moon (Ps 81:4).18
Unlike these and many other allusions to deliverance and its results
namely, the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the reinstalla-
tion of the priestly ritualsa smaller number of poems in our collection
instead envision a post-Temple form of Judaism and its attendant replace-
ment of animal sacrifices with corresponding prayers.19 Poem 48 contains
a clear reinterpretation of Leviticus 1ff., declaring that, instead of present-
ing God with animal sacrifices to be burnt on the altar, Jews now offer
their sacrifices in the form of prayer, with the fruit of their lips (line 4;
cf. Hos 14:3: instead of bulls we will pay [the offering of] our lips). The
second strophe further expresses this redefinition of sacrifice as prayer, in
lines 68: He will slaughter the goat of his desire; he will forcefully offer
up in smoke his fat portions on the fire of his thoughts, and his blood in
continual prayers; in great fear he will bring the tribute of confessions
to the door of his Rock. In the fourth strophe we find conventional ref-
erences to the neoplatonic polarity between the material world of the

17This quotation from Psalms may refer to the Karaite festival of the Day of Shouting
(Ym Tr), which, like the rabbinic New Year, introduces the Ten Days of Repentance
leading to the Day of Atonement; see Lev 23:2324 and Num 29:1; cf. Y. Yaron, An
Introduction to Karaite Judaism, 19293.
18This quotation from Psalms may refer to the Karaite custom known as Rsh odesh
(New Moon); cf. the chapter on the Calendar: Rosh Hodesh and Aviv in Y. Yaron, An
Introduction to Karaite Judaism, 14860.
19The Karaites still consider prayer to be a substitute for the daily offerings in the
Temple. For this reason Karaites usually practice prayer only twice dailymorning and
evening; cf. section 1.2.
thematic elements 67

body (whichonce more adopting the language of Temple sacrifice


must be cut up into sections as well as torn to pieces; cf. Lev 1:12, 17)
and the spiritual world of the soul.20 The fifth strophe continues peniten-
tial themes addressed in the third strophe.21 The sixth and final strophe
(lines 3032) returns to the spiritualization of the prayer ritual: Bring
near and present the offering of poetry to your God, walk in Gods right
path and keep the Law and commandments(and) perhaps He will soon
redeem you and bring near future events.22

3.6Suffering of Israel in Exile

The theme of Israels situation in exile (Heb. glt) is ubiquitous in Dars


poems on the prsht, just as it is in earlier, Andalusian poetry composed
for liturgical service.23 As mentioned above, this theme often appears in
conjunction with other thematic elements, such as the destruction and
rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple (section 3.5), inimical references
to Christians and Muslims as the people of Israels enemies (3.7), the long-
ing for Israels deliverance (Heb. gull), and the divine promise of their
salvation (Heb. ysha, ysh; 3.9). Let us take the final two strophes of
poem 2 with the incipit
( Know for sure) as a first example
of this thematic pattern:
Give heed, O Rock, to the outcry of Your people, and restore their fortunes
as You have promised (Jer 30:3); long enough have they undergone Your

20This is a recurring motif in Dars secular poetry and earlier Andalusian poetry, nota
bly in Solomon Ibn Gabirols Keter malkht Kingdoms Crown, see J. Yeshaya, Medieval
Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 10912. For later Karaite poems referring to this motif
see L. Weinberger, Jewish Hymnography, 41521. Cf. R. P. Scheindlin, The Gazelle, 13948;
A. Tanenbaum, The Contemplative Soul: Hebrew Poetry and Philosophical Theory in Medieval
Spain (Leiden: Brill, 2002).
21Cf. section 3.8, where one can find the translation of this third strophe in poem 48,
and an analysis of poem 49.
22For other examples dealing with the imminent redemption cf. sections 2.2 and 3.9.
23See E. Alfonso, Islamic Culture through Jewish Eyes (New York: Routledge, 2008),
5282. See also Alfonsos articles: Constructions of Exile in Medieval Hebrew Literature:
Between Text and Context, [in Hebrew] Mikan: Journal for Hebrew Literary Studies 1
(2000): 8596; The Uses of Exile in the Poetic Discourse: Some Examples from Medieval
Hebrew Literature, in Renewing the Past, Reconfiguring Jewish Culture: From al-Andalus to
the Haskalah, ed. R. Brann and A. Sutcliffe, 3149 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania
Press, 2003). Cf. M. R. Cohen, Sociability and the Concept of Galut in Jewish-Muslim
Relations in the Middle Ages, in Judaism and Islam: Boundaries, Communication and
Interaction, Essays in Honor of William M. Brinner, ed. B. Hary, J. Hayes and F. Astren, 3751
(Brill: Leiden, 2000).
68 chapter three

anger amidst Your adversaries, as ceaseless wanderers (Gen 4:12), poor and
needy, mourning for the destruction of Your Temple, yearning to see the
light of Your kindness return, as of old, to Your abode, and the priest offering
Your bread in a robe and a fringed tunic (Exod 28:4).

Have compassion, O Rock, on a people scattered in all directions in a foreign


land,
pouring out their tears with the sound of sorrow and sighing (Isa 29:2);
redeem them from the hands of their adversaries and restore them to for-
mer glory; confiscate the lands of our enemies, and as to the storm-tossed
and unhappy city (Jerusalem): make her foundations of sapphires and lay
carbuncles as her building stones (Isa 54:11).
In these two strophes Dar depicts a sorrowful people exiled in a foreign
land (possibly referring to the poets home country, Egypt), mourning
the Temples destruction and yearning for the time when Jerusalem and
the Temple will be restored to their former glory. Another example of this
content pattern, with more elaborate hostile references to Christians and
Muslims, is poem 55 with the incipit

( When, after hav-
ing been defiled?). Its refrain (They shall be holy to their God and not
profane the name of their God; cf. Lev 21:6)24 comes from the Holiness
Code in prsh Emr (Lev 21:124:23). Although biblical regulations gov-
erning the ways in which to manifest holiness in the world apply only to
the priests, the poet extends them to the rest of Israel, to the sons of the
Living God who have been defiled in exile:
When will the sons of the Living God, after having been defiled, be holy to
their God in their homes and not profane the name of their God (Lev 21:6)?

They are in captivity and dispersed over the earth, under the yoke of their
enemies and the impost of their oppressors; the sun of their salvation is
darkened and the stars of their strength are vanished, whilst the children of
the brother (Christians) and the sons of the slave-woman (Muslims) behave
arrogantly and haughtily against them: the one says: My Kingdom arises,
and the other: My armies are like the sand of the seas. They have inherited
the fairest of all lands (Israel; Ezek 20:6), they and their children and their
childrens children (Ezek 37:25).
After this description of Israels difficult circumstances while living in exile
under the authority of Christians and Muslims, strophes three through

24
They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God; for they offer
the Lords offerings by fire, the food of their God, and so must be holy (Lev 21:6).
thematic elements 69

five contain a plea addressed to God for Israels deliverance and for the
enemies destruction. In addition, the fourth strophe alludes to festivals
dealt with in Lev 23:
Have mercy, O Lord, on sons who in their captivity have come through fire
and water, and who have escaped the grave of their poverty as in the time
of the Exodus from Egypt; may they appear three times a year in Jerusalem
(Exod 23:17) and bring offerings to Your Temple, O Dweller in Heaven; may
they experience the collapse of their foes and become captors of their cap-
tors (Isa 14:2).
In the final strophe, however, God suddenly speaks in the first person. The
poem reverts once again to Dars almost obligatory topic of deliverance
from exile, confirmed, this time, by divine speech:25
In My great mercy I will surely reinforce the bars of My chosen city, and
with all My strength I will pour out my wrath against the foreigners castle
and their fortified city; I will hasten the coming of Yinnn (Messiah) and the
Gileadite (Elijah) for an exiled and disdained people (Isa 49:21), and I will
adorn their sons with kingship and rule; they will again inherit My land and
My servant David shall be king over them (Ezek 37:24).
Yet another good example of this content pattern is the metered and
monorhyme poem 66 with the incipit ( O King,
who wears glory as garment), which presents another plea for Israels
deliverance from the oppression experienced in exile:
O King, who wears glory and splendor as garments, in Your anger annihi-
late the enemy who today dwells in my land, who lives a quiet life in my
city (Jerusalem), while I am wandering, missing and absent; [the enemys]
darkness is like the morning sun, while my light has been darkened like the
night; his resting place and dwelling-place have been built, and his castle has
been fortified, while my Temple lays in ruins and is unguarded; those who
remain of me are weakened and feeble, while the vast army of my enemy is
strong and mighty; show them the wonders of Your right hand so that, on
account of Your great anger, they will hide themselves in rooms and cham-
bers; O God, take away the oppression of Babylon and Chaldea (Isa 48:20)
and avenge the bloodshed of Edom (Christians) and Qedar (Muslims)!
These and many other examples may all be taken as indications that
the poet felt his time was a time of collective-national exile for Israel.
Dar may have also felt compelled to respond to the perceived need of

25On the use of divine speech and dialogues in the liturgical poetry of Moses Dar see
section 2.2.
70 chapter three

comforting the Cairo Karaite community. In the middle of the twelfth


century they likely still had vivid memories, and even survivors, of the
Karaite Jews exiled into Muslim Egypt following the Crusaders conquest
of Jerusalem in 1099.26 Seen in this light, the refrain of poem 30 ([I Myself
will go down with you to Egypt] and I Myself will also bring you back;
cf. Gen 46:4)27 with the incipit ( My people,
[whose feet are trapped] in the snare of captivity) assumes additional
meaning, which is reinforced by the use of divine speech in the first two
strophes in this poem; see lines 12: O My people, whose feet are trapped
in the snare of captivity and who cannot find anyone to save them, on
account of your sins I have set you in the dark grave [of exile in Egypt], but
I Myself will also bring you back (Gen 46:4). In other words, it may be the
case that Dar, when citing this biblical passage, not only regarded it as
a divine promise intended for the people of Israel in exile, but also found
therein appropriate parallels and fitting references to the present situa-
tion in exile of his own Egyptian Karaite community.28

26See J. Olszowy-Schlanger, Karaite Marriage Documents from the Cairo Geniza: Legal
Tradition and Community Life in Medieval Egypt and Palestine (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 5455.
Olszowy-Schlanger stresses that the account in which Christians burned alive all the
Rabbanites and Karaites in their synagogues was an exaggeration. Some escaped to find
refuge in Ashkelon and Egypt; many others were taken captive and later their coreligion
ists in Egypt redeemed them. Many manuscripts belonging to Jerusalemite Karaites were
also saved from destruction and transferred to the Karaite community in Egypt. Other
Karaites had left Jerusalem prior to the Crusaders destruction of the Jewish community
in 1099. Among those native Jerusalemites who may have immigrated to Egypt was Al b.
Sulaymn al-Muqaddas, a Karaite exegete of the late eleventh/early twelfth century; see
M. Wechsler in Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, 1:16062 (Leiden: Brill, 2010).
According to Mann, it is to be assumed that many residents returned to their lands where
they continued to live the ascetic mode of life of the l iyyn. Such an ascetic was the
Karaite Solomon ha-Kohen (probably a former resident of Jerusalem before 1099) who
wandered about in 1121 proclaiming himself as the Messiah; see J. Mann, Texts and Studies
in Jewish History and Literature, vol. 2: Karaitica (Cincinatti: Hebrew Union College Press,
1935; reprint New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1972), 4143.
27 I Myself will go
down with you to Egypt, and I myself will also bring you back; and Josephs hand shall close
your eyes (Gen 46:4).
28Cf. D. Frank, Karaite Prayer and Liturgy, 563. Frank stresses the prognostic read
ing of the Psalms by the Mourners of Zion, who regarded the Psalms as prophetic prayers
whose primary message was intended for the people of Israel in exile, and who as such
found numerous references to themselves in the biblical text. For more on the Karaite
approach to exile in general, and that of the Mourners of Zion in particular, see Y. Erder,
The Negation of the Exile in the Messianic Doctrine of the Karaite Mourners of Zion,
Hebrew Union College Annual 68 (1997): 10940; also published in Hebrew in Masat
Moshe. Studies in Jewish and Islamic Culture Presented to Moshe Gil, ed. E. Fleischer et al.,
5681 (Jerusalem, 1998). The Karaite active messianism and their call for return to the
Land of Israel, which aspired to what Erder calls the negation of the exile, situated them
thematic elements 71

3.7The Others: Christians and Muslims

In reading through Dars collection of liturgical poetry on the prsht,


one might well wonder at the numerous pleas for Israels deliverance
from exile as well as the persistent hostility directed towards Others. On
the whole, Christians and Muslims, not Rabbanite Jews, represented the
Other to our poet.29 Time and again Dar used the epithets Ishmael or
Qedar to refer to Muslims, and Edom or Esau to refer to Christians; they
had a clearly negative connotation. We can safely surmise that these inim-
ical remarks about Christians and Muslims and the pleas for Israels deliv-
erance reflect Crusader times and the alternating control of the Temple
Mount in Jerusalem by either Christians or Muslims.30
The list of Dars epithets for Crusaders/Christians include typical bibli-
cal types such as Edom/Esau (often called brother or my brother) and
their offspring (including Amalek, Reuel, and Magdiel), but also more
elaborate and graphic characterizations such as worshippers of idols,
unclean, uncircumcised people, pork-eaters, or boar of the forest.
Similarly, Ishmael (also called a wild ass on the basis of Gen 16:12) and
his descendants (including Nebaioth, Qedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Dumah,
Massa, and Jetur) take up a large part of the list of epithets used for Arabs/
Muslims. In many cases the poet refers to Ishmaels birth from the slave
woman Hagar (in epithets such as slave or son of the slave woman).

in strong opposition to the Rabbanites and their diasporically committed leaders, notably
Seadya Gaon (882942 CE). Cf. F. Astren, Karaite Judaism and Historical Understanding
(Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2004), 6672; M. Wechsler, Saadias Seven
Guidelines for Conviviality in Exile (from His Commentary on Esther), Intellectual History
of the Islamicate World 1 (2013): 20333.
29On the way in which cultural boundaries and Jewish group identity are forged in
relation to or by opposition to others, see the essays in The Other in Jewish Thought and
History: Constructions of Jewish Culture and Identity, ed R. L. Cohn and L. J. Silberstein (New
York: New York University Press, 1994).
30The portrayal of Christians and Muslims as Israels enemies is a central thematic
element also frequently encountered in Andalusian poetry; see E. Alfonso, Islamic Culture
through Jewish Eyes, 5282; N. Roth, Polemic in Hebrew Religious Poetry of Mediaeval
Spain, Journal of Semitic Studies 34/1 (1989): 15377. For an overview of the study of
Jewish-Christian polemical literature see D. Lasker, Jewish Philosophical Polemics against
Christianity in the Middle Ages (Oxford: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2007),
xiiixxxiv; cf. S. Stroumsa, Jewish Polemics against Islam and Christianity in the light of
Judaeo-Arabic Texts, in Judaeo-Arabic Studies, ed. N. Golb, 24150 (Amsterdam: Harwood
Academic Publishers, 1997).
72 chapter three

This was a major polemic that the Shubiyya movement used in its
attempts to denigrate Arabs.31
In poem 4 with the incipit ( My King, put Your strong
hand) the poet refers to Israels fear of death while living in exile under
the authority of Christians and Muslims. This fear of death is most clearly
expressed in the final two strophes:
I am in great mourning due to the tax and the yoke that my slave (= Muslims)
imposes on me, while [my] brother (= Christians) raises his voice and curses
me, yet my heart is too fearful to answer his cursing for, should he hear of
it, he would kill me (1 Sam 16:2).

My mind is in a rage (Ps 39:4) and my eyes are faint; I am agitated from liv-
ing so long a time in a narrow place; I say to myself: There is no fear of God
in this place, and they will kill me (Gen 20:11)!
In the first line in this example, as in many other instances, Dar may be
alluding to the jizya or poll tax that Egypt imposed on Jews (both Karaites
and Rabbanites, as members of a tolerated scriptural religion) by dictate
of the Pact of Umar in exchange for protected dhimm status.32
In other instances the poet describes exile under the authority of
Muslims and/or Christians in terms of Sarahs/Isaacs/Jacobs unnatural
subjection to Hagar/Ishmael/Esau; see poem 50:13: Will the son of the
mistress (= Sarah, the mother of Isaac) be forever enslaved in the power
of the son of the Egyptian slave woman (= Hagar, the mother of Ishmael)?
This state of affairs will only be corrected at the time of messianic deliver-
ance, when the slave woman (Hagar) will serve her mistress (Sarah), and
the older (Esau) the younger (Jacob) [see poem 28:9]. In other words,
the primacy of Sarah over Hagar, and that of Jacob over Esau (which God
foretold in Gen 25:23), prefigures exiled Israels ultimate triumph over
Muslims and Christians at the time of final deliverance. Andalusian poets
also projected the biblical relationship between Sarah/Isaac/Jacob and

31H. Norris, Shubiyya in Arabic literature, in Abbasid Belles-Lettres (The Cambridge


History of Arabic Literature), ed. J. Ashtiany et al., 4243 (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1990).
32See N. Stillman, Subordinance and Dominance: Non-Muslim Minorities and the
Traditional Islamic State as Perceived from Above and Below, in A Way Prepared: Essays
on Islamic Culture in Honor of Richard Bayly Winder, ed. F. Kazemi and R. McChesney,
13241 (New York: New York University Press, 1988), and the literature cited therein.
thematic elements 73

Hagar/Ishmael/Esau onto the relationship between Judaism and Islam/


Christianity in their own times.33
The following example (poem 94 with the incipit

[O King, whose heavenly stars], lines 47) mixes animal epithets with
some of the aforementioned generic references to Christians and Muslims
when characterizing the people of Israel and the Other:
Have mercy and pity on a people captured in exiles trap: Qedar (= Muslims)
oppresses and afflicts them every day, and Edom (= Christians) persecutes
them incessantly and constantly devises pretexts to harm them; they break
the walls of the Holy City and lie down there, the wild ass (= Muslims) in
place of the gazelle (= Israel) and the boar (= Christians) in place of the
sheep (= Israel); so destroy Edom (= Christians) and Jetur (= Muslims), and
enslave and subjugate them under the yoke of Your son (= Israel).
According to Esperanza Alfonso, the use of such animal metaphors to
characterize the Other is commonly found in polemical literature and
medieval poetry of the three communities, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim.
This strategy could not be more effective in associating that Other with
an image of persecution and cruelty, at the same time emphasizing the
destitution and helplessness of the community with which the poet iden-
tifies himself.34
The Muslims desecration of the Holy City of Jerusalem, marked by the
Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqs Mosque built on the Temple Mount, is
another recurring theme in Dars poems, as it was in the writings of the
tenth- and eleventh-century Jerusalemite Karaites. They also felt deeply
affronted at the Muslim presence on the Temple Mount.35 See, e.g., poem 7
with the incipit
( King of the World, do not be angry),
lines 1314: O Lord, remove from my house the defilement that one finds
there today, and stretch out Your hand to the abomination of the son of
my slave woman, to ruin and destroy it. Expressions used elsewhere, such
as the abomination of your castle (poem 9:12), the foreigners castle

33See E. Alfonso, Islamic Culture through Jewish Eyes, 5758. Cf. poem 24, in which the
poet alludes to the time when the Jews will again prevail over the Christians in Jerusalem,
using the following quotations: the older (Esau) shall serve the younger (Jacob) (Gen 25:23);
[A victor issues from Jacob] to wipe out what is left of Ir [the city, to be exact: Jerusalem]
(Num 24:19); Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau [in the land of Seir, the country
of Edom] (Gen 32:4).
34See E. Alfonso, Islamic Culture through Jewish Eyes, 57; cf. N. Roth, Polemic in
Hebrew Religious Poetry, 16870; R. P. Scheindlin, The Gazelle, 104107.
35See Y. Erder, The Mourners of Zion, 22529; D. Frank, The Shoshanim of Tenth-
Century Jerusalem, 21920.
74 chapter three

(poem 17:12; 26:12; 55:29), and the detestable castle of the son of your
slave woman (poem 60:11) may all refer to the Dome of the Rock and/
or the al-Aqs Mosque. This shows again that Dar seems to remember
Israel and Jerusalem, if not personally, then through his congregation.
Occasionally, he viewed life in exile under Christian and Muslim
authority through the prophetic prism of the Bible.36 See, e.g., the first
two strophes of poem 67 with the incipit ( Edom and
Qedar, how did you triumph?):
Edom and Qedar, how did you triumph over My people and My community,
who in their exile called Me my master, my Lord? About the two of you
one can find the following prophecies in My books: that the remnants of
Esau will be consumed by fire (Neh 2:3) and by the sword of My sons, that
the villages of Qedar will cry aloud (Isa 42:11), and how they will be detected
and destroyed before My eyes. Why then do you raise yourselves above the
Lords congregation (Num 16:3)?

The peoples of Esau and Ishmael came down from their kingdoms, the
nations who revolted and who acted in vain: the one (= Christians) kneels
down before wood and the other (= Muslims) is sinful and acts faithlessly.
When will they be annihilated in anger like Sisera at the hands of Jael
(Judg 4:21)? May they become agitated and afraid, and may God feel disgust
for them and may the word come true: So may all Your enemies perish,
O Lord (Judg 5:31)!
In the first strophe of this example, divine speech addressed to the Others
reinforces the repeated plea for deliverance from the oppression experi-
enced by the people of Israel in exile. As in the other poems composed
for prsh Qora, the second strophe contains more hostile references
to Christians and Muslims. We surmise that the kneeling down before
wood in this fragment refers to the Christian prayer ritual, kneeling before
a wooden cross or any other wooden statue, or even an icon painted on
wood. It is noteworthy, in this respect, that medieval Egypt was famed
for its carved wooden panels, and that Coptic artists were accustomed to
working with wood.37

36We have noted this prognostic quality, that is to say, the way in which prophecies are
related not so much to their biblical context but rather to contemporary events, in n. 28
above; see further D. Frank, The Shoshanim of Tenth-Century Jerusalem, 200. On poem 67
and its use of divine speech see also section 2.2.1.
37Cf. R. S. Nelson, An Icon at Mt. Sinai and Christian Painting in Muslim Egypt dur
ing the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, in Late Antique and Medieval Art of the
Mediterranean World, ed. E. R. Hoffman, 24269 [particularly p. 248] (Oxford: Blackwell
Publishing, 2007).
thematic elements 75

3.8Penitential Themes

In addition to poems calling for the destruction of enemies and the trans-
formation of Israels present exile into deliverance, other liturgical poems
plead for purification and repentance as the primary means by which
to procure atonement for ones sins and, ultimately, deliverance.38 The
refrain of poem 2 (If you do right, there is uplift; but if you do not right,
sin couches at the door; cf. Gen 4:7)39 with the incipit ( Know
for sure) is taken from prsh B-rsht (Gen 1:16:8) and repeats Gods
advice to Cain just before he killed his brother Abel. Similarly, in the first
two strophes in this poem, the Karaite poet opens with the exhortation
to repent and abstain from sins, for God (the One who knows Secrets;
line 7) will track them down and take them into account on Judgment
Day. Line 14 compares evildoers to sheep that eat bad grass in the morn-
ing and lie dead by evening to depict the punishment that awaits sinners.
Another reference to this themeand a clear link to the prshare
the words in line 18, which refer to Gods decree that Cain would
become a restless wanderer as punishment for his sin (Gen 4:1014).
This contrasts with the forgiveness of sin requested of God in the poems
final two strophes.40 This forgiveness is connected to the theme of Israels
difficult circumstances in exile.
Two poetical fragments that clearly stress the link between repen-
tance and deliverance are poem 32 with the incipit
(Listen to Me, O pursuers of justice), lines 1719: Wash and purify your-
selves, remove all bad deeds and walk all your days before the Rock on
the best paths, that soon you may witness your own deliverance and,
being redeemed, visit the House of God three times a year, and even your
children may go with you (Exod 10:24); and poem 48 with the incipit
( When He called to the wise souls), lines 1014:
Abstain fully from sins lest they come to your mind; choose to return to
your God, and blessed be he who repents; take off the garment of arro-
gance and remember that man is a resident alien (Gen 23:4); get your

38The Karaite Mourners of Zion also believed that there would be no redemption with
out repentance, see Y. Erder, The Mourners of Zion, 21415; Y. Yaron, An Introduction to
Karaite Judaism, 24345.
39
Surely, if you do right, there is uplift. But if you do not do right sin couches at the door; its
urge is toward you, yet you can be its master (Gen 4:7).
40See the translation of these two final strophes in section 3.6.
76 chapter three

provisions ready (Josh 1:11): praise and acts of worship for the Day of Awe,
and good deeds for the bitter and long road.
Lines 112 of poem 53 with the incipit ( My soul and my
heart), the refrain of which (to cleanse you of all your sins before the
Lord; Lev 16:30)41 is taken from the atonement ritual on Yom Kippur
(the Day of Atonement; detailed in prsh Ar mt, Lev 16:118:30),
stress another important aspect of repentancethey draw attention to
the confession of sin as a path to atonement and forgiveness:
May my soul and my heart be purified every moment with the tears in my
eyes,
to cleanse you of all your sins before the Lord (Lev 16:30).

How can I plead? All my days I have followed my heart and my eyes in my
lustful urge (Num 15:39); I have had wicked thoughts and immoral plans,
and my evil inclination has seized me like a lion from my youth (Gen 8:21),
and therefore I am drenched in my tears (Ps 6:7), just as the sea before the
terror of the Lord (Isa 2:10).

I have borne in mind the whims of other people, but forgotten my own;
I have uncovered the faults of my fellow-man, but covered my own sins and
defects,
until my mindwhose reprimands I underwentrebuked me: Will your
sin that you hide from your fellow-man be too wondrous for the Lord?
(Gen 18:12).
Unlike the third strophe, which appears more personal, the confession in
the two opening strophes resembles somewhat the confession of the High
Priest in the Temple based on Lev 16. We find this confession described in
detail in m. Ym (chaps. 17; particularly 3:8, 4:2, and 6:2) and repeated
in the piyy genre known as Ad, which poetically recounts the sac-
rificial ritual in the Temple on the Day of Atonement.42 Moreover, the
striking use of the words soul, heart, eyes, and tears in this example
is similar to that in poem 49 with the incipit ( Wake up from
[your] sleep). Here again we note the neoplatonic polarity between the
material world of the body and the spiritual world of the soul:43

41 For on this day


atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you of all your sins; you shall be clean before
the Lord (Lev 16:30).
42Cf. M. Swartz and J. Yahalom, Avodah: An Anthology of Ancient Poetry for Yom Kippur
(University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005).
43See the discussion on poem 48 in section 3.5; cf. J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry
in Muslim Egypt, 10912; and A. Tanenbaum, The Contemplative Soul: Hebrew Poetry and
Philosophical Theory in Medieval Spain (Leiden: Brill, 2002).
thematic elements 77

Wake up from [your sleep], my heart and my eyes; come at midnight to


Gods House,
and stand before me, to guard the Temple and keep the Lords charge
(Lev 8:35).

Stay away from sleepiness, arise and hasten to escape the laziness of your
body, and take counsel how to be saved from judgment, and take care to do
whatever the Lord desires (Ps 135:6).

My soul, leave aside the command of the body, and turn to the wise com-
mand of the One who understands you, until you will be called an honor-
able angel amidst the celestial army and amongst those who stand in the
house of the Lord (Ps 134:1).

Do your Creators will and leave that of your inclination; prepare to leave
your imprisonment;
may you appease God and be blessed, and carry on the praise: My soul is
for the Lord! (Ps 130:6)

Purify my heart and cleanse my thoughts; accept my prayer and my petition;


my heart will rejoice and my happiness will grow when I will know: O Lord,
You will favor [Your land] (Ps 85:2).

Strengthen the bars of Your chosen city, and set old men and women in her
streets; rebuild Your Temple and enable me to sit inside of it; let me hear
what God, the Lord, will say (Ps 85:9).
The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (keeping the Lords charge;
cf. Lev 8:35)44 comes from the end of prsh av (Lev 6:18:36), which
deals with the rituals for animal sacrifice, purity issues, and the conse-
cration of the priests who are allowed to eat the meat of the sacrifices.
Viewed together with the preceding poem 48 (discussed above in sec-
tion 3.5) composed for prsh Va-yiqr (Lev 1:15:26), which explicitly
replaces sacrifice with prayer (and which also refers to the neoplatonic
polarity between the material and spiritual worlds), this turning from the
physical to the spiritual in poem 49 reinforces Dars spiritualization of
worship rituals in prsh av.
As final example of the thematic pattern discussed here, we would
cite the last strophe of poem 69, which addresses Israel and suggests

44
You shall remain at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven
days, keeping the Lords chargethat you may not diefor so I have been commanded
(Lev 8:35).
78 chapter three

additional measures to bring about deliverance even if Israels


sins are acknowledged. It suggests the offering of lips, i.e., prayer
(Hos 14:3), confession of sins, bending down in worship of God, and
the recitation of honorable songs, praise and thanksgivings in pleasant
words. This last might well refer to reciting liturgical poetry.

3.9Longing for the Realization of Deliverance

This is probably the most essential thematic element in Dars collection


of liturgical poems on the prsht, which contains numerous pleas for
Israels deliverance from exile. For example, a deep yearning to return to
Jerusalem and hasten the time of Israels deliverance permeates poem 13
with the incipit ( Little sanctuary). The final two strophes
address God:
Give heed, O Rock, to the words of my reason, and perceive how I have
become an object of loathing; lift up my head for a second time by bringing
me back to the City of the Valley of Vision (Jerusalem), that I might dwell
there after having lived in exile like heat in the desert (Isa 25:5). My King
and my Creator, in Your might restore the day when all who hate Zion will
be like grass on the roofs (Ps 129:6), while I will be like a thriving olive tree
in Gods house (Ps 52:10).

Merciful God, remove Your anger and destroy the enemy who oppresses me;
make ready to change the time of exile in which my cup was filled with gall
and wormwood, and let me have the joy of drinking good wine from Your
cup. Raise Your banner in my cities and let me rejoice throughout the year
in my Festivals, and let me walk with the crowd, moving with them, the fes-
tive throng, to the House of God (Ps 42:5).
Other poems display a clear sense of desperation at the delay of exiled
Israels deliverance. See, e.g., monorhyme poem 16 with the incipit
( My King and my God). This poem again addresses God. The
first verse presents a series of six divine attributes, all constructed with
the first-person pronominal suffix (one of whichmy Godis repeated
in the poems final verse):
My King and my God, my Strength, the Rock of my Power, my Helper and
my Savior from all my fears, in the morning and in the evening Your glory is
on my mind, whereas my heart and my inward parts are longing: show Your
strength to those who keep Your Law and in Your anger pursue my enemies
and those who silence me; see how my ruler and my accuser oppress me and
how my miracles and my signs are delayed; how Edom (= Christians) grows
and blossoms like a bush, and how he succeeds in whatever he undertakes,
thematic elements 79

whereas I am beset by many troubles; how the wild ass (= Muslims) quietly
ate the fruit of his vanity, whereas I fell innocently in my great distress. My
God, will You forever forget me in the grave of my poverty? When will You
lead me to Your Temple, when?
By repeating the word ( When?) at the end of this poem, the praying
voice emphasizes the urgency of the plea for deliverance from exile.45 In
some cases the Egyptian setting in which Dar composed his poems may
have enhanced the sense of desperation, longing, and urgency surround-
ing the delay of final deliverance. As an example let us take poem 73 with
the incipit ( From the day of our strength). Its refrain (You
know all the hardships that have befallen us; cf. Num 20:14)46 comes
from Moses unsuccessful request to the king of Edom to let the Israelites
cross his territory in prsh uqqat (Num 19:122:1). These hardships are
listed in Numbers 20:15: that our ancestors went down to Egypt, that we
dwelt in Egypt for a long time, and that the Egyptians dealt harshly with
us and our ancestors. The first, second, and fourth strophes all have the
people of Israel speaking in the first-person plural. The continuous use of
forms ending with the pronominal suffix - our is a strong indication
that the poet intended his Egyptian Karaite congregation to identify with
the biblical community that sought to leave Egypt. The third, fifth, and
sixth strophes address God and use many second person forms. In line 12,
Dar uses a quotation from Exod 19:4: (You have seen what I did to the
Egyptians, how I bore you on eagles wings) to implore his and his Karaite
congregations deliverance from Egypt: Where is Your power that can
bear us on eagles wings? We find another, similar plea for deliverance
in lines 2627: Now, hasten for us our salvation like the salvation which
came to pass in Egypt.
Even though the date of final salvation is traditionally thought to be
hidden from human knowledge, it seems to be presented by Dar, at
times, as imminentas in the first two strophes of poem 86, which refer
to the perfect teaching of the One who dwells in the heavens (line 6) and
to the faithful God (line 9, Deut 32:4) who will reveal the time of the end
this year (line 10) and commence the ingathering of the exiled people of
Yeshurun, a deuteronomic epithet for Israel. Another example is poem 95,

45Cf. section 2.1.


46
From Kadesh, Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom: Thus
says your brother Israel: You know all the hardships that have befallen us (Num 20:14).
80 chapter three

line 25: The glory of your salvation fills the earth and the imminent year
of the end has come.
Illness and healing are also frequent motifs in Dars liturgical poetry.
They are often associated with the broader themes of the Israelites suffer-
ing in exile and the divine promise of their deliverance. This is certainly
no surprise given that the Karaite poet was also a trained physician. The
name acrostics in many of his liturgical poems (e.g., poem 37: Moses,
Karaite physician, be strong; Amen) leave no doubt that he was a phy-
sician. In addition to its refrain (I will not bring upon you any of the
diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; cf. Exod 15:26),47 poem 37
(with the incipit High and lofty) contains other examples
of Dars use of medical metaphors in line 4 (Please take away sick-
ness and speed up healing to the one who utters his prayer to You) and
lines 4345 (My God and Rock, bind up my fracture, stir up my hope,
fulfill my wishes; bring my help, my salvation, my light, the balm for my
wound, and my healing; take notice of my disease, my sickness, my pov-
erty, my experiences in exile, and my sufferings).
Poem 59 with the incipit ( Who are the people loved
by the Rock), lines 1923, also evinces this content pattern. It ends with a
quote from Ps 90:1 in which Dar may well have intended a paronomasia
based on his shared name with the biblical Moses:
Cure the pain of a people troubled in captivity and whose glory grew dim
because of Your anger, and deliver them from the grave of their suffering
and their exile, O Rock, with Your strength.
My Father, hasten their deliverance and bring the Tishbite (Elijah) down
from Your heavens;
cause the heart of every grieving son to return to his Father, and in Your
mercy be pleased with the poem of a mourner, like a withering leaf from
Aaron, and accept it as a prayer of Moses (Ps 90:1).
The name Tishbite in this passage is by no means the only reference to
Elijah the Prophet in Dars liturgical poetry. His poems are replete with
conventional, eschatological allusions to the return of Elijah the Prophet
(also called the Gileadite in poem 55:30; cf. 1 Kgs 17:1) as a harbinger of
Messiah (frequently called Peaceable Ruler on the basis of Isa 9:5, or

47
He said, If you will
heed the Lord your God diligently, doing what is upright in His sight, giving ear to His
commandments and keeping all His laws, then I will not bring upon you any of the diseases
that I brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord your healer (Exod 15:26).
thematic elements 81

Yinnn on the basis of Ps 72:17)48 and of ultimate deliverance. See, e.g.,


poem 51 with the incipit ( My King, comfort an
unhappy and storm-tossed city), lines 1617: Grant me the right to see
the Peaceable Ruler and the Tishbite, and extinguish the glimmers and
the flames in my heart; bring near the time when You will hurriedly and
hastily convey good tidings to me.
Several poems in which God speaks in the first person stress that these
good tidings may actually be imminentin other words, that the time of
deliverance from exile may really be about to arrive.49 See, e.g., poem 44
with the incipit
( From my high abode with my
compassionate eye), lines 911:
Receive good tidingsO My people whose salvation seems far awaywho
are terrified and troubled because of the enemys oppression: this time, I will
open the floodgates of the sky for you, My Chosen People, and I will pour
down blessings on you (Mal 3:10).
Divine speech is used again in the first strophe of poem 11 with the incipit

([You who are] cast off in exiles pit).50 This poem
merges the divine promise of deliverance with that of an offspring, adding
motifs of illness and healing along with a reference to the Messiah:
[You who are] cast off in exiles pit, I will bring near your salvation in My
great mercy; I will listen to your cry for help and put your tears and your
weeping into My flask (Ps 56:9); I will swear by My name never again to
remove and carry you into exile; I will bind up your pain and your wound
with Gileads balm, and with the help of the peaceable ruler (= the Messiah),
your shepherd, you will see My splendor and My glory, and I will increase
your offspring for the sake of My servant Abraham (Gen 26:24).

48See F. Eissler, Knigspsalmen und karische Messiaserwartung: Jefet ben Elis Auslegung
von Ps 2.72.89.110.132 im Vergleich mit Saadja Gaons Deutung (Tbingen: Mohr Siebeck,
2002) for excerpts (with German translations) from Yefet ben Elis commentary on Psalms.
Yefets interpretation of the Royal Psalms (2, 72, 89, 110, and 132) sheds new light on Karaite
Bible exegetes messianic expectations in tenth- and eleventh-century Jerusalem. See also
Eisslers Maskilim und Messias: Endzeiterwartung bei den frhen Karern: Ein Beitrag
zur mittelalterlichen jdischen Bibelauslegung, Judaica 59 (2003): 16481; 24255. Cf.
M. Wechsler, Messianic movements in the Medieval period, in Encyclopedia of Jews in the
Islamic World, 3:395405 (Leiden: Brill, 2010).
49Note that the book of Daniel was the basis for much messianic speculation. See
poem 43, lines 3435: Speed up future events and uncover secrets of which the precious
man (Daniel, see Dan 10:11,19) knows the end (Dan 12:4), forgive their unfaithfulness by
making appear the prince who stands beside the sons of your people (Michael, Dan 12:1).
The question nonetheless remains whether Dar in this poem sees this prince as Michael,
as in the Book of Daniel, or as the Messiah.
50Cf. section 2.4.
82 chapter three

As final example of the use of divine speech, we turn to the first strophe
in poem 35 with the incipit ( The injury you have suffered).
It combines the divine promise of deliverance with that of restoration to
the land of Israel. Again it speaks in terms of illness and healing, yet this
time with a reference to Elijah the Prophet. We may reasonably surmise
that Dar and his public, which must have included exiles from Jerusalem,
felt a close personal connection to the refrain of this poem (I will redeem
you with an outstretched arm; cf. Exod 6:6),51 in which God promises
Moses that He will deliver the Israelites from Egypt and bring them (back)
to Jerusalem:
My sons in exile, I will heal the injury that you have suffered by bringing you
up to My rebuilt city (Jerusalem) and by hastening your deliverance with
the help of Elijah; I will redeem you with an outstretched arm (Exod 6:6).
A quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in ) in
each strophe of poem 35. Even stronger, the word before is always
either
arm or hand, which produces an additional semantic
rhyme that reinforces the picture of divine deliverance in action. The first
strophe is the only one with divine speech. The people of Israel speak in
the first person in the fourth strophe, whereas in all the other strophes
(23; 56) the Karaite poet addresses God on behalf of Israel (or his own
congregation). He describes the people/congregation conventionally as a
beloved maiden taken captive by her enemies (in the second strophe) and
as a forsaken son in the hands of killers (in the final strophe).
These descriptions bring us to another, more exceptional image of deliv-
erance. Poem 90 with the incipit
( Chastised due to anger),
lines 3135, takes up the innovative depiction in Andalusian-Hebrew
poetry of deliverance as a reunion between the abandoned bride Israel
and God:52
O Lord, favour a bride who was driven out of Your dwelling-place like an
unloved woman;
bring near the time when she will return to You as a wife and enter Your
house,

51
Say, therefore, to the Israelite people: I am the
Lord. I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bond
age. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements
(Exod 6:6).
52See R. P. Scheindlin, The Gazelle, 3351; 9095; compare M. Gutmann-Grn, Zion
als Frau: Das Frauenbild Zions in der Poesie von al-Andalus auf dem Hintergrund des
thematic elements 83

and sanctify Your name on all sides until the heavens rejoice and the earth
exults (Ps 96:11);
for You will rule and justice shall abide in the wilderness (Isa 32:16).
The combination of heaven and earth in the biblical quote from Ps 96:11
may form a subtle reference to prsh Hazn for which this poem was
written and which begins with Deut 32:1: Give ear, O heavens, let me
speak; let the earth hear the words I utter!
Finally, lines 2627 in the final strophe in poem 85 feature another
image of deliverance: Your Temple shall be exalted and all nations shall
gaze on it, as You have said [in Isa 2:23]: and the many peoples shall go
and say: Come, let us go up to the Mount of the Lord. This poem addresses
God, described in the first line as the King who is exalted over all other
gods and who appeared on Mount Sinai (sections 3.1 and 3.4).
The poem is typical in that it combines several thematic elements
from the list in this chapter, including penitential themes (cf. section 3.8),
hostile references to Christians and Muslims (cf. section 3.7), the prom-
ise of deliverance (cf. section 3.9), and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and
the Temple (cf. section 3.5). Line 24 in the final strophe of poem 85 con-
tains a striking reference to Jerusalem as a city inhabited and defiled
by uncircumcised people. This would appear to refer to the dominion
of the first (Christian) Kingdom of Jerusalem which extended from the
Crusaders siege of Jerusalem in 1099 to Saladins (Muslim) takeover in
1187. This again hints at Dars frequent references to the situation of his
own Egyptian Karaite congregation in exile in the middle of the twelfth
century. The image of deliverance, however, in which all other nations
will ultimately participate in the truth of Jewish devotion to God (devel-
oped in lines 2627 on the basis of Isa 2:23), is unusual for Dar who,
in most of his other poems, stresses the punishment that will befall the
Othersi.e., Christians and Muslims.

klassischen Piyyuts (Bern: Peter Lang, 2008) to the custom in Italian and Ashkenazic
poetry of depicting the exodus as God taking his bride (back) from Egypt, in M. Schmelzer,
A New Askenazic piyyut on the Redemption of the Captive Woman from Egypt, [in
Hebrew] in Atara lHaim: Studies in Talmudic and Medieval Rabbinic Literature in Honor
of Professor Haim Zalman Dimitrovsky, ed. D. Boyarin et al., 491500 (Jerusalem: Magnes
Press, 2000).
Chapter Four

Edition

MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 75a:













This is what I also achieved in composing a section on the basis of verses
from the portions of the Law [Heb. prshiyyt al-Tr]to make it great
and gloriousfrom its beginning until the end, every prsh will be treated
on Sabbath eve prayers successively by eminent persons who are qualified
for the singing of liturgy [i.e., cantorship; Arab. iznt], surrounded by
poetical meters and attached to keeping the literal wordings; I ask God the
Giver [Arab. al-wahhb] to grant me the discernment to choose the proper
meter [Arab. wazn], theme [Arab. manan], and rhetoric [Arab. khib], so
that the perfection of this section might be to me a source of favor in the
eyes of those endowed with intelligence and understanding.
This Judeo-Arabic prose introduction sheds light on the liturgical setting of
the poems contained in the present edition and on how they were recited
in the synagogue. It indicates that Dars liturgical poems on the prsht
were recited in the synagogue by professional cantors (azznm) during
Sabbath eve prayersi.e., on Friday nightsthus preceding the read-
ing from the Pentateuch, which probably took place during the Sabbath
morning service on Saturday.1

1For a discussion of this hitherto unpublished Judeo-Arabic prose introduction to


Dars liturgical poems on the prsht in manuscript NLR Evr. I 802 (fol. 75a), see the
introduction to this book, section 1.2 and the beginning of chapter 2.
86 chapter four

4.1Genesis

. Poem 1: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 75a76a. Acrostic:


Title: This is the first [poem] on prsh B-rsht in the wazn of [the
. ]poem with the incipit




/
/
/

/
[ ] / 5
/

/

/

/ 10
/

[] /
[ ] /
[]
/

/ 15


/
/
/
{ }
/ 20
/-


/-


/


/ 25
/

/


/
/

/ 30
[]...


/
/


edition 87


/ 35
/
{}
/

/

/


40

/

/
/

/

/ 45
/
/

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem is not taken from prsh
B-rsht (Gen 1:16:8), as one would have imagined; rather, it consists
of a complete verse from Psalms (Ps 38:23 Hasten to my aid, O Lord,
my deliverance).2 Consistent with Karaite custom,3 many other words
and passages are taken from Psalms and other biblical books (for refer-
ences, see the line-by-line commentary below). This poem, addressed to
God, begins in the first two strophes with the customary praise of God
(among the designations used are the Lord of Lords in line 1 and my
strength and my might [Ps 118:14] in line 14).4 These strophes also include
a petition for divine help and for the forgiveness of sins. The third strophe
(lines 1724), drawing heavily on Genesis, Jeremiah, and Job, reflects the
content of prsh B-rsht and deals with the creation of heaven and
earth (the first day of creation; lines 1720), of all other creatures (until
the sixth day; line 21), and of the Sabbath (the seventh day; lines 2223,
which Dar summarizes as follows: On the seventh day You installed my
[day of] rest, my holy Sabbath, on which I cease from all my work).

2 Hasten to my aid, O Lord, my deliverance (Ps 38:23).


3Karaite prayer booksat least those still extantare comprised primarily of Psalms
and other scriptural passages; cf. section 1.1.
4For more on the praise of God as a thematic element and Dars variegated use of
names for God, see section 3.1, which also includes a translation of the first two strophes
of poem 1.
88 chapter four

The fourth strophe focuses on the bitter end (see especially lines 2728
with a quotation from Isa 66:24) that awaits those who oppose the God of
Israelmore specifically, Christians and Muslims. In line 29 the poet uses
the epithet brother (i.e., Esau) to refer to Christians and slave woman
(referring to the fact that Ishmael was born to Hagar) to designate Muslims.
The final two strophes contain additional polemical remarks and stress
the need for divine mercy and deliverance from the oppression that Israel
has experienced in the exile. The poem ends in lines 4647 with a list of
names for God, several of which are taken from the book of Psalms and
all of which are constructed with the first-person pronominal suffix. The
latter emphasizes the sense of a personal relationship with the divine: My
crag, my fortress (Ps 18:3), my helper in trouble, my anticipation and my
hope (Ps 71:5), O God of my praise (Ps 109:1).

4. : my Only One, referring to the soul (see Ps 22:21; 35:17); on the exe-
getical interpretation of this term by Seadya Gaon and Abraham ibn Ezra see
R. Scheindlin, The Gazelle: Medieval Hebrew Poems on God, Israel and the Soul
(Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1991), 243, n. 20.
7. ...: Ps 38:23: Hasten to my aid, O Lord, my deliverance!
14. : Ps 118:14: The Lord is my strength and might.
15. : hapax, see Ps 22:20: My strength, hasten to my
aid, with an adept transition to the refrain.
17. ...: cf. Jer 51:15: He made the earth by His might, established the
world by His wisdom, and by His understanding stretched out the skies.
19. : cf. Job 26:7: He it is who stretched out Zaphon over chaos,
who suspended earth over emptiness.
20. ...: Gen 1:15.
21. ...: Gen 1:2431.
2223. ...: Gen 2:13.
2728. : cf. Isa 66:24: They shall go out and gaze on the corpses of the men
who rebelled against Me: Their worms shall not die, nor their fire be quenched;
They shall be a horror to all flesh.
29. : my brother and my slave woman, referring to Christians and
Muslims.
35. : Ps 145:6: Men shall talk of the might of Your awesome deeds.
36. : Ps 107:30: He brought them to the port they desired.
41. : Amos 9:11: I will set up its ruins anew.
42. : my slave and my brother, referring to Muslims and Christians.
46. : God, see Ps 18:3: O Lord, my crag, my fortress.
47. : God, see Ps 71:5: For You are my hope, O Lord God. : Ps
109:1: O God of my praise.
edition 89

. Title: Poem 2: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 76a76b. Acrostic:


]On the same prsh in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit
.5




/


/

/
/ 5
/

/

/

/ 10
/
/-

/

/
15
]
[
/
[] [] /

/
/
[]
/ 20

/
/

/
/ 25
/

[ ]

;The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (If you do right, there is uplift
but if you do not do right, sin couches at the door; cf. Gen 4:7)6 is taken

5According to the Judeo-Arabic heading, this poems wazn (rhythmic quality or


; see Brody, meter) is modeled on a poem by Judah ha-Levi (with the incipit):
3:34; Yarden, 3:64143; cf. section 2.4.
6
Surely, if you do right, there is uplift. But if you do not do right sin couches at the door; its
urge is toward you, yet you can be its master (Gen 4:7).
90 chapter four

from prsh B-rsht (Gen 1:16:8) and repeats Gods words of exhorta-
tion to Cain just before he killed his brother Abel. Similarly, in the first
two strophes, the Karaite poet opens with the exhortation to repent and
abstain from sinsall of which God (called the One who knows Secrets
in line 7) sees and will take into account on the Day of Judgment. Line
14 of the third strophe compares evildoers to sheep that eat bad grass in
the morning and lie dead by the evening to show the punishment that
awaits sinners. This themeand a clear link to the prshappears
again in the words ( line 18, fourth strophe) which refer to Gods
punishment for Cains sin (Gen 4:1014), i.e., that he would become a
restless wanderer on earth.
This contrasts with the forgiveness of sins that the last two strophes
request of God and which is connected to the theme of Israels difficult
circumstances in exile.7 Here the poet depicts a sorrowful people (lines 16,
23) exiled in a foreign land (line 22, possibly referring to his home coun-
try, Egypt), mourning for the destruction of Zion (line 18), and yearning
to experience the time when Jerusalem and the Temple will be restored
to their former glory (lines 1920, 2526). Dars contrast of this strong
plea for Israels deliverance with the requested punishment of Israels
enemies (lines 2425) may reflect his perception of the need to comfort
the Karaite Jewish community of Egypt. Even in the middle of the twelfth
century this community may still have had vivid memories, and possibly
also survivors, of the Jews exile into Muslim Egypt after the Crusaders
conquest of Jerusalem in 1099.

1. : note this typical feature of Dars biblical style: the paronomastic use
of the infinitive absolute; cf. Gen 15:13 and section 2.1.
2. ...: Gen 4:7: If you do right, there is uplift. But if you do not right, sin
couches at the door.
4. ...: Lam 3:39: Of what shall a living man complain? Each of his own
sins!
5. ...: Gen 44:16: What can we say to my lord? How can we plead, how
can we prove our innocence?
7. : God, the One who knows Secrets.
11. : hapax, see Isa 28:12: the place of repose.
13. : referring to the worms and maggots in Sheol; cf. Isa 14:11 and
Job 25:6.
14. ...: a similesinners are like sheep that eat bad grass in the morn-
ing and will lie down in Sheol in the evening.

7See the translation of these two final strophes in section 3.6.


edition 91

16. : cf. Jer 30:3: For days are comingdeclared the Lordwhen I will
restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah, said the Lord; and I will bring
them back to the land that I gave their fathers, and they shall possess it.
18. : Gen 4:12,14: A restless wanderer.
20. : Exod 28:4, referring to the sacral clothes worn for priestly
service in the Temple.
22. : Exod 2:22; 18:3: I have been a stranger in a foreign land.
23. : Isa 29:2 and Lam 2:5: Sorrow and sighing.
2526. ...: Isa 54:11: Unhappy, storm-tossed one, uncomforted! I will
lay carbuncles as your building stones and make your foundations of sapphires.

Poem 3: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 76b77a. Acrostic: .


Title: On the same prsh.



}{
/

/




/

] [/


5


/
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/ 1 0
/ ]
[] [

/
]
[

/

15
/
/

The refrain (pizmn) of this poem (and become a restless wanderer on


earth; cf. Gen 4:14)8 is taken from prsh B-rsht (Gen 1:16:8) and
refers to the way God punished Cain by making him a restless wanderer.
In each strophe a biblical quotation ending with precedes the refrain

8
Since you have banished me this day from the soil, and I must avoid Your presence and
become a restless wanderer on earthanyone who meets me may kill me! (Gen 4:14).
92 chapter four

(also ending with ) .


As in the previous poem, the poet uses biblical
subtexts (in this case, from prophetic texts and Lamentations) to deal
with the destruction of Jerusalem, the punishment for and forgiveness of
sins, Israels miserable condition in exile, and the need for repentance.
The third strophe describes Israel as a vine with roots in the Mountain of
God that was plucked up in a fury (Ezek 19:12) and exiled (or effaced;
Exod 9:15) from their land. The sixth and final strophe ends with a quota-
tion from the Egypt pronouncement in Isaiah 19 and alludes to the time
prophesied therein when Assyrians would join Egyptians in serving the
God of Israel.

1. : hapax, see Jer 46:20.


2. : in Jerusalem. ...: Gen 4:14: Since you have banished
me this day from the soil, and I must avoid Your presence and become a restless
wanderer on earthanyone who meets me may kill me!
5. ...: Jer 15:7: I will scatter them as with a winnowing fork through
the settlements of the earth.
7. : Israel, see Hos 10:1: Israel is a ravaged vine.
8. ...: cf. Ezek 19:12: But plucked up in a fury, she was hurled to
the ground. ...: Exod 9:15: and you would have been effaced from
the earth.
10. ...: Lam 2:20: See, O Lord, behold, to whom you have done this!
11. : Lam 2:10: Silent sit on the ground the elders of Fair Zion.
14. ...: Deut 32:22: For a fire has flared in My wrath and burned to the
bottom of Sheol, has consumed the earth and its increase, eaten down to the base
of the hills.
16. ...: Jer 31:20: Truly, Ephraim is a dear son to Me.
17. ...: cf. Isa 19:24: Israel shall be a third partner with Egypt and
Assyria as a blessing on earth.

Poem 4: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 77a. Acrostic: . Title:


On the same prsh and in the same wazn.



/

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/ 5


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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (anyone who meets me may
kill me!; cf. Gen 4:14)9 is taken from prsh B-rsht (Gen 1:16:8)
and refers to Cains fear of death when God sentenced him to a life of
wandering (and ostensibly exile). Similarly, Dar refers to Israels fear of
death while living in exile under the authority of Christians and Muslims.10
Biblical quotations ending with similar words precede the refrain in every
strophe, so that the fear of death truly permeates every part of this poem,
which addresses God with a petition for the forgiveness of sins and for
the speedy deliverance of Israel. The addressee, God, is successively des-
ignated My King (line 1), He who forever dwells and the Creator of all
Creatures (line 4), and My God (line 7). The epithet in line 4,

Creator of all Creatures provides an additional connection to
prsh B-rsht, which begins with creation.

1. ...: cf. Ps 119:133: do not let iniquity dominate me.


2. ...: Gen 4:14: anyone who meets me may kill me!
3. : God, see Isa 57:15: He who forever dwells.
5. ...: Num 11:15: If you would deal thus with me, kill me!
8. : 1 Kgs 18:12: when he does not find you, he will kill me.
10. : the tax of my slave, perhaps referring to the jizya, or poll tax,
that the Jews of Egypt were required to pay to the state in exchange for their
protected dhimm status as regulated by the Pact of Umar. : brother, refer-
ring to Christians.
11. : cf. 1 Sam 16:2: If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.

9
Since you have banished me this day from the soil, and I must avoid Your presence
and become a restless wanderer on earthanyone who meets me may kill me! (Gen 4:14).
Cf. the refrain in poem 3 from the same verse, which apparently has the same wazn
(including internal rhyme) and is also addressed to God (My King) in the first strophe.
10This fear of death is most clearly expressed in the final two strophes (cf. the transla
tion in section 3.7): I am in great mourning due to the tax and the yoke which my slave
(Muslims) imposes on me, my brother (Christians) raises his voice and curses me, but my
heart is too fearful to answer his cursing for if he would hear of it, he would kill me (1 Sam
16:2) / My mind is in a rage (Ps 39:4) and my eyes are faint, I am agitated from living a
considerable period in a narrow place, I say to myself: there is no fear of God in this place,
and they will kill me (Gen 20:11).
94 chapter four

: Ps 39:4: My mind was in a rage. 13.


: Gen 20:11: I thought, said Abraham, surely there is no fear of... 14.
God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.

. Poem 5: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 77a77b. Acrostic:


Title: On prsh leh tldt No, in the wazn of [the poem with the
.11 ]incipit





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10

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (And I, behold, I establish


my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; cf. Gen 9:9)12 is
taken from prsh No (Gen 6:911:32). A biblical quotation ending

11 According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn (rhythmic quality or


; see Brody, meter) is modeled on a poem by Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
3:34; Yarden, 3:64143; cf. section 2.4.
And I, behold, I establish my 12
covenant with you, and with your seed after you (Gen 9:9).
edition 95

with ( your seed) precedes the refrain (also ending with )


in every strophe. The word zera (seed, offspring; see verse 2, 7, 12,
17, and 22) consequently functions as a central catchword in this poem.
The refrain refers to Gods covenant (Heb. brt)13 established after the
flood, in the first place with Noah and his offspring, but more generally
with all living creaturesin other words, every beast and bird that had
come out of the ark, and all their descendants; God promised that He
would never again inundate the earth, nor would He ever again destroy all
living creatures. The poem focuses on Gods covenant with Israel (called
Your chosen people) versus the Others, i.e., Christians (brother) and
Muslims (slave). The poem lays particular stress on the divine promise
of the land of Israel and of offspring, and the need for divine mercy and
salvation (the time of the coming of My will; see lines 1920 and the
Hebrew word ysha in line 21) from the oppression experienced by Israel
while in exile. The poem relies on the power of biblical language and is
replete with many other biblical appropriations and allusions imbedded
in the text besides the refrain from prsh No. These subtexts are
quoted from the Pentateuch, the book of Psalms and from the prophets
(particularly Isaiah, but not from the hafr portionIsaiah 54linked
to prsh No) that describe God comforting his people. The use of
divine speech in the poems opening strophe and in two additional stro-
phes (3 + 5) reinforces this comforting aspect. In the other strophes the
poet addresses God (2) and Israel (4).14

2. ...: Gen 9:9: And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and
with your seed after you.
4. ...: cf. Num 10:29: for the Lord has promised to be generous to
Israel.
5. : slave, referring to Muslims. : brother, referring to Christians.
7. : Gen 16:10, 22:17.
10. ...: cf. Isa 49:22: Thus said the Lord God: I will raise My hand
to nations and lift up my ensign to peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their
bosoms, and carry your daughters on their backs.

13On this particular Hebrew word see S. van den Eynde, The Missing LinkBerit in
the Flood Narrative: Meaning and Peculiarities of a Hebrew Key Word, in Studies in the
Book of Genesis: Literature, Redaction and History, ed. A. Wnin, 46778 (Leuven: Leuven
University Press, 2001).
14For a translation of this poem, including a more detailed analysis and comparison to
a poem on prsh No by the late-thirteenth-century Byzantine Karaite poet Aaron ben
Joseph, see J. Yeshaya, The Biblical Story of Noah and the Flood in Karaite Poetry: Moses
ben Abraham Dar and Aaron ben Joseph ha-Rofe on Prsht Noah (Genesis 6:911:32),
Frankfurter Judaistische Beitrge 37 (2011/12): 10921.
96 chapter four

: cf. Isa 66:20: And out of all the nations, said the Lord,... 11.
they shall bring all your brothers on horses, in chariots and drays, on mules and
dromedaries, to Jerusalem My holy mountain as an offering to the Lordjust as
the Israelites bring an offering in a pure vessel to the House of the Lord.
: Isa 66:22: So shall your seed and your name endure. 12.
: Ps 20:7: with the mighty victories of His right arm. 14.
: cf. Isa 42:13: The Lord goes forth like a warrior, like a fighter He... 15.
whips up His rage. He yells, He roars aloud, He charges upon His enemies.
: Lev 22:3.... 17.
: note the use of enjambment. 1920.
: cf. Dan 12:13. : hapax, see Eccl 8:1. 20.
: note the use of enjambment. 2021.
: note the use of enjambment. 2122.
: Exod 32:13: I will give to your offspring this whole land of which... 22.
I spoke, to possess forever.

. Title: Poem 6: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 77b78b. Acrostic:


On prsh Lekh lkh.


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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (And in you all the families
of the earth shall be blessed; cf. Gen 12:3)15 is taken from prsh Lekh
lkh (Gen 12:117:27), the prsh that introduces Abram/Abraham, his
wife Sarai/Sarah, his concubine Hagar the Egyptian, and his son Ishmael.
A biblical quotation ending with precedes the refrain (also end-
ing with )
in every strophe. As such, the word dm (land; see
lines 7, 14, 21, 26, and 28, and cf. the prsh which contains the promise
of a land to Abraham) is employed as a central catchword in this poem,
a plea for deliverance (ysha; see lines 4 and 17) and return to Zion from
the oppression experienced while in exile (glt; see lines 4, 5, and 20).
The first strophe of the poem opens with the poet invoking Gods
power to deliver the exiled people of Israel. From line 5 (to the end of the
poem) God is presented as the first-person speaker. This is a characteristic
of Dars liturgical poetry. In the second stanza the poet draws attention
to the perfection of the (written) Torah as given on Mount Sinai as well
as the need to observe the Torahs commandments.16
The poem is addressed to all the people of Israel, although the poet
may well have felt a special need to comfort the exiled Karaite commu-
nity of Egypt. The poem contains many caustic references to the Muslim
rulers of Egypt. Dar refers to the fact that Ishmael was born to the slave
woman Hagar (lines 2 and 5), and in lines 2021 he gives voice to the
divine promise that Muslims will no longer be ( Exod 1:11, refer-
ring to the overseers of forced labor in Egypt in biblical times, or, perhaps,
in the context of the poem, to collectors of the jizya tax imposed on the
Jews in Islamic Egypt), but will become laborers (or, in the Egyptian con-
text, falln),
(Isa 30:24, where the phrase refers to the cat-
tle and the asses that till the soil; see the line-by-line annotations below).
In the last stanza God (or the poet/prophet) pleads for a return to Zion

15 I will bless those who


bless you and curse him that curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be
blessed (Gen 12:3).
16For a translation of this second strophe see section 3.4; for more on the use of divine
speech see section 2.2.1.
98 chapter four

(line 2526) and ends with a promise of fertility and rain (line 2728) and
a biblical quotation from Deuteronomy (line 28). The promise of fertility
clearly fits with prsh Lekh lkh, in which Abram is made exceedingly
fertile and is therefore named Abraham, the father of a multitude. The
promise of rain is also consistent with the Torahs lectionary cycle, since
prsh Lekh lkh is read during that part of the year when Israel typi-
cally receives rain.

2. : referring to Muslims; see Gen 21:10: for the son of that slave shall not
share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.
3. : hapax; see Ps 22:20: My strength, hasten to my aid.
5. : the son of your slave woman, referring to Muslims, see also verse 2.
7. ...: Gen 12:3: And all the families of the earth shall bless them-
selves by you.
10. : Exod 19:6: a kingdom of priests.
14. ...: Exod 20:12: that you may long endure on the land.
17. : Isa 42:9: See, the things once predicted have come.
19. : cf. Num 24:17: A star rises from Jacob, may refer to
Messiah.
20. : Exod 1:11: So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them, cf.
the refrain of poem 34.
21. : Isa 30:24: as for the cattle and the asses that till the soil.
28. ...: Deut 11:21: to the end that you and your children may endure,
in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers. : see e.g. Gen 32:13: I will
deal bountifully with you and make your offspring as the sands of the sea.

Poem 7: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 78b79a. Acrostic: .


Title: On prsh Va-yr, in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit]
.


/-
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edition 99

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (They replied, do as you have
said; cf. Gen 18:5)17 is taken from prsh Va-yr (Gen 18:122:24), the
prsh in which Abraham sends away Hagar and Ishmael. A biblical
quotation ending with precedes the refrain (also ending with )
in every strophe. The poem includes recurring pleas for Israels deliver-
ance from exile, persistent calls to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, and
frequent hostile comments against Muslims. This hostility may have been
inspired by the unknown poem (with the incipit:
Ishmael, how will you overcome?) which Dar here took as his model.
There is a link to prsh Va-yr in lines 2 and 14: the phrase son of
the slave woman (Gen 21:10) refers to the biblical datum that Ishmael
was born to the slave woman Hagar. Lines 1314 may refer to Muslims

17
And let me fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves; then
go onseeing that you have come your servants way. They replied, Do as you have said
(Gen 18:5).
100 chapter four

having control over the Temple Mount: O Lord, remove from my house
(i.e., the Temple) the defilement that one finds there today; and stretch
out Your hand to the abomination of the son of my slave woman, to ruin
and destroy it. The terms defilement and abomination may refer to
the Muslims desecration of Jerusalem by erecting the Dome of the Rock
and the al-Aqs Mosque on the Temple Mount.18 The verbs expressing
destruction ( ; line 14) replicate those used for the destruc-
tion of Sodom and Gomorrah in prsh Va-yr; see Gen 19, lines 25
( )and 29 ( and ). The final strophe petitions God to deliver
the exiles of Ariel and return them to Jerusalem, which for the moment
is forsaken but soon will be espoused (see line 33 and Isa 62:4; cf. the
line-by-line annotations).

1. : God; see Jer 10:10: The everlasting king.


2. : the son of the slave woman, referring to Muslims, see Gen 21:10.
5. ...: Gen 18:5: They replied, do as you have said.
10. : Jerusalem.
11. ...: 2 Sam 7:29: For You, O Lord God, have spoken.
15. : cf. Ps 102:1: A prayer of the lowly man when he is faint and
pours forth his plea before the Lord.
16. : Ps 22:20; 38:23; 40:14; 70:2; 71:12: Hasten to my aid.
1617. ...: Gen 27:19: And Jacob said to his father, I am Esau your
firstborn; I have done according to what you told me, and note the use of
enjambment.
19. : God, see e.g. Exod 34:6.
22. ...: 1 Sam 28:21: and I have put my life in my hand.
23. ...: 1 Sam 28:21: and have listened to your words which you
spoke to me.
27. : cf. Num 14:9: their protection has departed from them. :
possibly refers to the Islamic prayer ritual on the Temple Mount.
2829. ...: 2 Sam 7:25: And now, O Lord God, the word that you
have spoken concerning your servant, and concerning his house, establish it for-
ever, and do as you have said.
31. : God, see e.g. Ps 111:4. : Ariel, one of the names for Jerusalem and
the Temple, see Isa 29:18.
33. ...: cf. Isa 62:4: Nevermore shall you be called Forsaken, nor shall
your land be called Desolate; but you shall be called I delight in her and
your land espoused. For the Lord takes delight in you, and your land shall be
espoused.
3435. ...: 2 Chr 6:17: Now, therefore, O God of Israel, let the prom-
ise that You made to Your servant, my father David, be confirmed.

18Cf. section 3.7.


edition 101

. Poem 8: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 79a80a. Acrostic:


]Title: On the same prsh in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit
.19




/


/


/


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5

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/-

19According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn (rhythmic quality or


; see Brody, meter) is modeled on a poem by Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
3:34; Yarden, 3:64143; cf. section 2.4.
102 chapter four

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (God has brought me laugh-
ter; everyone who hears will laugh with me; cf. Gen 21:6)20 is taken
from prsh Va-yr (Gen 18:122:24). A biblical quotation ending with
precedes the refrain (also ending with ) in each strophe. The poet
links Sarahs happiness upon the birth of her son Isaac with the people
of Israels happiness when being delivered by God. In line 6 the hapax
( Renew, my God, my enjoyment) brings to mind Gen 18:12: And
Sarah laughed to herself, saying: Now that I am withered, am I to have
enjoymentwith my husband so old? The start of line 21 contains an
additional link to the prsh, which once more refers to Sarahs laughter.
In the final strophe we find another call to God to renew Israels happiness
by bringing deliverance to the dispersed exiles and leading them back to
the Holy Land. In several strophes Dar refers to Israels enemies and the
exiles current difficult situation. When describing the enemies as roaring
lions in line 11, the poet may have been drawing upon a motif from Arabic
war poetry.21 He also uses epithets such as slave (line 20) or Dumah
(line 26) to refer to Muslims, and brother (line 20) or Edom (line 26) to
refer to Christians, with a clearly negative connotation.

2. ...: Gen 21:6: God has brought me laughter; everyone who hears will
laugh with me.
6. ...: Ps 103:5: your youth is renewed like the eagles. :
Gen 18:12: And Sarah laughed to herself, saying: Now that I am withered, am I to
have enjoymentwith my husband so old?
7. ...: Isa 27:5: He makes Me his friend.
12. ...: Gen 31:42: Had not the God of my father, the God of Abraham and
the Fear of Isaac, been with me, you would have sent me away empty-handed.
19. : Ps 17:7: Display Your faithfulness in wondrous deeds.
20. : my slave, referring to Muslims. : my brother, referring to
Christians.
22. ...: 2 Sam 22:45: Aliens have cringed before me.
26. : the people of Dumah, Gen 25:14, referring to Muslims. : Edom,
referring to Christians. : may refer to Christian idolatry.
27. ...: Cant 6:3: I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine.
30. : Gen 37:7: when suddenly my sheaf stood up and remained
upright.
32. : Gen 27:7: Bring me some game and prepare a dish for me to eat.

20 Sarah said, God has brought me


laughter; everyone who hears will laugh with me (Gen 21:6).
21 A. Schippers, Spanish Hebrew Poetry and the Arab Literary Tradition: Arabic Themes
in Hebrew Andalusian Poetry (Leiden: Brill, 1994), 22930.
edition 103

. Poem 9: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 80a80b. Acrostic:


]Title: On the same [prsh] in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit

.22



/-



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30

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (You have done to me things
that ought not to be done; cf. Gen 20:9)23 is taken from prsh Va-yr

22According to the heading, this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by Judah ha-Levi
with the incipit
; see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213; cf. section 2.4.
23
Then Abimelech summoned Abraham and
104 chapter four

(Gen 18:122:24). A quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also


ending in )
in each strophe. Ishmael is the addressee of the first three
strophes. In lines 3 and 7 the poet refers to Ishmaels being born to the
slave woman Hagar. Ishmael is called a slave (line 3) whose mother
Hagar ran away from slavery (line 7; cf. Gen 16:6 in prsh Lekh lkh).
In line 12 the phrase the abomination of your castle may again refer to
the Muslims desecration of Jerusalem by erecting the Dome of the Rock
on Temple Mount (see also poem 7). From the fourth strophe (to the end
of the poem) God is the addressee: Will the Rock (God) forever expel
His people from His land? And will the offspring of Esau (Christians) and
Ishmael (Muslims) dwell in that treasured place? When will He whip up
His rage (Isa 42:13) and shout at them in his anger: Depart from here (cf.
Isa 52:11) since you are but strangers resident with Me (Lev 25:23)! The
final two strophes include recurring pleas to God for Israels deliverance
and for the expulsion of their enemies.

3. : my slave, referring to Muslims.


4. ...: Gen 20:9: You have done to me things that ought not to be
done.
7. : Hagar, the mother of Ishmael; see Gen 16:15. : Gen 16:6:
and she ran way from her.
9. ...: Deut 32:34: Lo, I have it all put away, sealed up in My
storehouses.
13. : cf. Isa 29:22: No more shall Jacob be shamed, no longer his face
grow pale.
14. : Gen 31:7: God, however, would not let him do me harm.
17. : the offspring of Esau and Ishmael, referring to Christians
and Muslims.
18. : Isa 42:13: Like a fighter He whips up His rage.
19. : Isa 52:11: depart from there. ...: Lev 25:23: you are but
strangers resident with Me.
21. : God; see, e.g., Exod 34:6. : Deut 26:15: Look down from
Your holy abode.
24. ...: Deut 5:28: But you remain here with Me.
29. ...: 1 Sam 22:23: It will be my care to guard you.

said to him, What have you done to us? What wrong have I done that you should bring
so great a guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done to me things that ought not to
be done (Gen 20:9).
edition 105

Poem 10: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 80b81a. Acrostic: .


Title: On prsh Va-yihy ayy Sr in the wazn of [the poem with
the incipit]
.




/

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[


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[


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[
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[

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (now that the Lord has made
my errand successful; cf. Gen 24:56)24 repeats the words of Abrahams
senior servantnot named in the text, but assumed to be Dammesek
Eliezer (cf. 15:2)to Laban and Bethuel in prsh ayy Sr (Gen 23:1
25:18) after having successfully completed his mission to find a wife for
Isaac. This poem, a plea for Israels deliverance, addresses the coming of
the prophet Elijah and the Messiah (indicated with the symbolic name
Yinnn; cf. Ps 72:17) and the rebuilding of the Temple (as well as the altar
in the Temple, the Altar of Ariel; line 17) in Jerusalem. The motif of the
first two strophes is light versus darkness; see line 2 (Elijah and Yinnn
light up my darkness) and lines 45 (The star of my salvation will shine
like a light, for my commandment is a lamp and my Torah is a light, and

24 He said to them,
Do not delay me, now that the Lord has made my errand successful. Give me leave that I
may go to my master (Gen 24:56).
106 chapter four

the Lord lights up my darkness [2 Sam 22:29]). Although in the adja-


cent strophes (four and six) a third-person poet-precentor addresses God
and pleads for Israels speedy deliverance, in the fifth strophe God is sud-
denly the first-person speaker: My holiness, My majesty, My glory, and
My mercy will cause them to return to My House and to My Temple, after
having made a covenant with My city that I will not destroy it nor do
violence to My tabernacle.

: Gen 24:56: now that the Lord has made my errand 2.


successful.
: 2 Sam 22:29: You, O Lord, are my lamp; the Lord lights up my... 5.
darkness.
: cf. Isa 50:6: I offered my back to the floggers.... 8.
: cf. Zeph 3:8: But wait for Me, says the Lord, for the day when I... 11.
arise as an accuser.

. Poem 11: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 81a81b. Acrostic:


Title: On prsh V-le tldt Yiq in the wazn of [the poem with the
]incipit
.


[]


/

/
/



/

/ 5
/



/

/
/ 10

/

/

/
] [

/ 15


/
[]
/

/
/
/ 20

edition 107

/

/

/
/
25
/
/


/

/
30
/

/

/

/

35

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (I will increase your offspring
for the sake of My servant Abraham; cf. Gen 26:24)25 is taken from
prsh Tldt (Gen 25:1928:9), the prsh in which Esau and Jacob
first appear. In many of Dars poems the strained relationship between
the twin brothers, struggling against each other from birth, is emblem-
atic of the later conflict between their descendants, Christians and Jews.
A biblical quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in
)
in each strophe. The poems most obvious intertextual relation is to
the Hebrew Bible. The poem is replete with biblical appropriations and
allusions embedded in the poetic text, most of which appear to be taken
from the prophets who describe God comforting his people (for refer-
ences see the line-by-line annotations below).
Another of the poems intertextual relations is to other (Rabbanite)
liturgical poetry. According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems
wazn (rhythmic quality or meter) is modeled on a Zionide by Judah
ha-Levi (with the incipit):
O Jerusalem, lament.26 Even
though the speech situation of the two poems differs,27 their content and

25
That night the Lord appeared to him an said,
I am the God of your father Abraham. Fear not, for I am with you, and I will bless you
and increase your offspring for the sake of My servant Abraham (Gen 26:24).
26Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213. For a translation of Dars poem and the one by
ha-Levi that served as its prototype, including a more detailed analysis of the function and
meaning of the wazn indication, see section 2.4.
27In Dars poem we see his typical use of a divine speech in the first four strophes
followed by a final strophe in which the poet-precentor addresses God on behalf of Israel.
108 chapter four

(biblical) language is quite similar. Both plead for Israels deliverance from
the oppression of exile and for their return to Zion. Additional parallels
include the weeping of the exiled people of Israel and antagonistic refer-
ences to Christians and Muslims.

2. ...: Ps 56:9: You keep count of my wanderings; put my tears into


Your flask, into Your record.
5. : referring to the Messiah; see Isa 9:5: a peaceable ruler.
6. ...: Gen 26:24: I will increase your offspring for the sake of My
servant Abraham.
8. : cf. Ps 19:8: The teaching of the Lord is perfect.
9. : Lam 1:15.
10. ...: Jer 5:18: I will not make an end of you.
11. ...: cf. Jer 18:15: to walk instead on byways, on a road not
built up.
13. : Mal 3:22: the Teaching of My servant Moses.
16. : Isa 56:4;6: and who hold fast to My covenant.
17. : cf. Dan 12:4: But you, Daniel, keep the words secret, and seal
the book until the time of the end.
20. : Isa 41:8: But you, Israel, My servant.
23. : Isa 42:11: Let Selas inhabitants shout.
26. : Edom, referring to Christians. : referring to Muslims; see Gen 16:12:
[Ishmael] shall be a wild ass of a man.
27. : Isa 52:13: Indeed, my servant shall prosper.
34. ...: Num 12:8: How then did you not shrink from speaking
against My servant Moses!

Poem 12: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 81b82b. Acrostic: .


Title: On prsh Va-y Yaaqov in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit]
.



/ / /

/ / /
/ / /

/ /
/
/ /-
/ 5


/ / /

/
/ /

In ha-Levis poem the poet-precentor alternately addresses Jerusalem and God on behalf
of Israel (who are also made to speak in the second strophe); cf. section 2.2.
edition 109

/

/ /
/
/ / 10
/ /
/
[ ]

/ / /
/ /
/

/ / / 15

/ / /
/ /
/
[ ]

/ / /
/ { }
/ / 20

/ / /
/ / /
/- / /
[ ]

/ / / 25
/ / /
[] / / /

/ / /
/ / /
[ ]
30
/ / /

/ / /
/ / /
/ }{ / /
/ / / 35
[ ]

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (I will not leave you until
I have done what I have promised you; cf. Gen 28:15)28 is taken from
prsh Va-y (Gen 28:1032:3), the prsh in which Jacob travels
from Beer-Sheba to Haran to find a wife. A biblical quotation ending in
) precedes the refrain (also ending in
in each strophe. This poem
addressed to God does not develop the biblical narrative, but rather
focuses on penitential themes combined with the customary themes of
Israels suffering in exile and the divine promise of salvation. The poem

28
Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever
you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have
promised you (Gen 28:15).
110 chapter four

includes motifs of illness and healing (line 25) as well as hostile references
to Christians (line 8) and Muslims (lines 1011; 35), though it is particu-
larly distinguished by its extensive catalogue of names/designations for
God.29 The list includes my King (line 1), my God (line 1, 15, 21), my
Creator (line 2, 26), my Father (line 2, 26, 32), Warrior (line 10), the
Most High (line 13), Rock (line 21, 25), God of all Gods (line 27), He
who supports drop-outs (line 27), my Rock (line 28); He who resides in
the Temple (line 31), He who dwells in the heavens (line 35), Glorious
One (line 35).

5. ...: Gen 28:15: I will not leave you until I have done what I have prom-
ised you.
8. : my brother, referring to Christians.
10. : God, see Exod 15:3: The Lord, the warrior. : Hagar, the
Egyptian slave woman, referring to Muslims.
11. : Gen 21:17: What troubles you, Hagar?
17. ...: Ps 66:4: all the earth bows to You, and sings hymns to You.
23. : Ps 54:8: Then I will offer You a freewill sacrifice.
29. : Jer 3:22: Here we are, we come to You.
31. : referring to the people of Israel.
35. ...: Isa 60:7: All the flocks of Kedar shall be assembled for you.

Poem 13: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 82b83a. Acrostic: .


Title: On the same prsh in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit]
.30




/
][
/
][
/


/

] [/ 5


] [ /
] [/
][ /
][ / 10

29Cf. section 3.1.


30According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by
Judah ha-Levi (with the incipit): ; see Brody, 3:34; Yarden, 3:64143; cf.
section 2.4.
edition 111

/ []
]
[
/
/


/ 15

/
/

]
[
/

/
20

/


/

/


/ 25

/
] / [
[] /
] /
[

30

[] /

] / [
/

[]
] /
[

] / [ 35

!The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (How awesome is this place
This is none other than the abode of God; cf. Gen 28:17)31 is taken from
the beginning of prsh Va-y (Gen 28:1032:3) and recounts Jacobs
bewilderment after his stairway-to-heaven dream-vision at Bethel dur-
ing his flight from Esau. Interestingly, Dar used part of the same quota-
tion in his maqma-style work entitled the Maqma of Alexandria and
Cairo, published by Israel Davidson in 1926.32 On the basis of evidence

Shaken, 31
he said, How awesome is this place! This is none other than the abode of God, and that is the
gateway to heaven (Gen 28:17).
32See I. Davidson, The Maqma of Alexandria and Cairo, Madd ha-Yahdt 2
(1926): 296308; idem, Note on the Maqma of Alexandria and Cairo, [in Hebrew] Tarb
2 (1930): 11819. See also A. M. Habermann, Supplement to the Maqma of Alexandria
and Cairo of Moses Dar, [in Hebrew], Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish
Research 33 (1965): 3540.
112 chapter four

from this maqma Davidson suggested that Dar was probably not born
a Karaite, but joined the movement in his youth after travelling from his
place of birth, Alexandria, to Cairo, the foremost center of Karaism of that
time. When the local Karaite community took the young poet to see their
synagogue, Dar said: Afterwards, in their fondness and esteem towards
me, the people took me to see their splendid synagogue, in which day
and night they hold prayers to God; it is a small sanctuary and awesome
due to its divine splendor [...] and my eyes were amazed from this great
vision, and I said: This is none other than the abode of God (Gen 28:17).33
This passage from the maqma is comparable to lines 35 in the first
strophe of the liturgical poem: When I saw there the Divine Presence
and the lights rising up to the heavens, and while I was pouring out my
tears in [the synagogue] and complaining (Ps 55:3), I said: How awesome is
this place! This is none other than the abode of God (Gen 28:17). A biblical
quotation ending in artfully precedes the refrain (also ending
in
)
in each strophe. The first strophe illustrates how the sanc-
tity of the Karaite synagogue (miqdsh ma little sanctuary in line 1)
was modeled on that of the Temple (Bt Elohm or the house of God in
the pizmn). Like Rabbanite Jews, the Karaites viewed their synagogues
as miniature Temples, and many of the practices observed in the syna-
gogue derive from the custom of treating the synagogue like the Temple.
The third strophe mentions the most important feature of the sanctuary,
the Ark of the Law (hkhl), the place where the Torah scrolls are held.
It also refers to some of the customary physical postures assumed dur-
ing Karaite prayer: bowing down (hishtaavy; line 14), kneeling down
(kr; line 13) and falling on ones face ([nflat] appayim; line 13). The
first two strophes contain other features of the Karaite prayer ritual: cry-
ing out (q; line 1) and calling out (qr; line 9).34
The entire poem is permeated by a deep yearning to return to Jerusalem
and bring near the time of deliverance for the exiled people of Israel. The
final two strophes are addressed to God:
Give heed, O Rock, to the words of my reason, and perceive how I have
become an object of loathing; lift up my head for a second time by bringing
me back to the City of the Valley of Vision (Jerusalem), that I might dwell
there after having lived in exile like heat in the desert (Isa 25:5). My King

33See I. Davidson, The Maqma of Alexandria and Cairo, 303.


34See Y. Yaron, An Introduction to Karaite Judaism, 13335. On prayer gestures and
postures in the Rabbinic prayer ritual, see U. Ehrlich, The Non-Verbal Language of Prayer:
A New Approach to Jewish Liturgy (Tbingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004); cf. section 1.2.
edition 113

and my Creator, in Your might restore the day when all who hate Zion will
be like grass on the roofs (Ps 129:6), while I will be like a thriving olive tree in
Gods house (Ps 52:10).

Merciful God, remove Your anger and destroy the enemy who oppresses me;
make ready to change the time of exile in which my cup was filled with gall
and wormwood, and let me have the joy of drinking good wine from Your
cup. Raise Your banner in my cities and let me rejoice throughout the year
in my Festivals, and let me walk with the crowd, moving with them, the festive
throng, to the House of God (Ps 42:5).35

4. : cf. Ps 55:3: I am tossed about, complaining and moaning.


5. ...: Gen 28:17: How awesome is this place! This is none other than
the abode of God.
7. ...: Ps 89:8: [God] greatly dreaded in the council of holy beings.
9. : cf. Ps 126:4: Restore our fortunes, O Lord!
11. ...: Ps 55:15: sweet was our fellowship; we walked together in
Gods house.
17. : 1 Chr 9:27: They spent the night near the House of God.
22. : Ps 112:3: Wealth and riches.
23. ...: Eccl 4:17: Be not overeager to go to the House of God.
26. : the City of the Valley of Vision, i.e., Jerusalem.
27. : Isa 25:5: like heat in the desert.
28. : Ps 129:5: All who hate Zion.
29. : Ps 129:6: like grass on roofs. ...: Ps 52:10: But I am
like a thriving olive tree in Gods house.
35. ...: Ps 42:5: how I walked with the crowd, moved with them, the festive
throng, to the House of God with joyous shouts of praise.

Poem 14: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 83b. Acrostic: .


Title: On prsh Va-yishla Yaaqov in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit] ][

.

][


}{
/
/


/
/ 5

35Cf. section 3.9 for this translation and for other poetical fragments dealing with simi
lar thematic elements.
114 chapter four


/

/ }{




/

1 0
/


/


/
] [ 15

/
/

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (Jacob was greatly fright-
ened; cf. Gen 32:8)36 is taken from prsh Va-yishla (Gen 32:436:43).
In this poem Jacobs fear of his potentially murderous twin brother Esau
is equated with Israels fear of Christians and Muslims; see the first stro-
phe: May the King of Heaven (God) look down on the people of His own
allotment (i.e., Israel; Deut 32:9): how his slave Ishmael (i.e., Muslims)
became his ruler, how Edom (i.e., Christians) had rest and invaded his
country, and how Jacob [whose name is changed to Israel in this prsh
in Gen 35:10] was greatly frightened (Gen 32:8). This poem addressed to
God emphasizes the difficult circumstances in which the impoverished
Israelites live in exile; see particularly line 8: [Israel is] locked up and
imprisoned in their grave, it has desired a dunghill as its seat. At the
end of this line we find a rhetorical play on the quotation from Ps 132:13
(For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His seat), replacing
Zion in the biblical quote with a dunghill in the framework of the poem.
In other words, it is Israel instead of God who is in this case expressing
desire, whereas the replacement of Zion by a dunghill may be a refer-
ence to the contemporary situation in which Christians and Muslims rule
over Zion.37 A quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in
)in each strophe. The final strophe ends with another quotation from
the book of Psalms ending with ( let us raise a shout for Him in song!;

36
Jacob was greatly frightened; in his anxiety, he divided the people with him, and
the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps (Gen 32:8).
37The word dunghill may also evoke the image of Job sitting on a dunghill with his
wife in Job 2:810.
edition 115

Ps 95:2): May the Gracious One (God) save us from the troubles of the
time of bitter exile, and with mighty deeds may He rebuild His Temple
as of old; and in the Temples courtyards let us raise a shout for Him in
song! Even though there is no liturgical connection between prsh
Va-yishla and that time of the year, this quotation possibly refers to the
Karaite Festival known as the Day of Shouting (Ym Tr),38 which, like
the Rabbinic New Year, introduces the Ten Days of Repentance leading
to the Day of Atonement.

1. : King of Heaven, God. : the people of Israel; see


Deut 32:9: For the Lords portion is His people, Jacob His own allotment.
: Ishmael, his slave, referring to the Muslims.
2. : Edom, referring to Christians. ...: Gen 32:8: Jacob was greatly
frightened.
4. : cf. Exod 32:25: so that they were a menace to any who might
oppose them.
5. ...: Deut 15:8: sufficient for whatever he needs.
8. : Ps 132:13: For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for
His seat.
11. : Exod 1:10: Let us deal shrewdly with them.
14. ...: God, see Isa 49:5: He who formed me in the womb to be His
servant.
16. : Ps 95:2: let us raise a shout for Him in song!

Poem 15: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 83b84b. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same [prsh] in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit] .



/


/
/

/

/ 5
/


/

/

/
10

38See Lev 23:2324 and Num 29:1; cf. Y. Yaron, An Introduction to Karaite Judaism,
19293.
116 chapter four


/-

/

/-


/- 15
/
/
/-


/
/- 20

/

/
/
/ 25
/
/-

/

/ 30

/
/

/
/
35

/

/
/
/

/ 40
/
[ ]

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (Please accept my present


which has been brought to you; cf. Gen 33:11)39 is taken from prsh
Va-yishla (Gen 32:436:43) and refers to Jacobs gift to Esau on his return

Please 39
accept my present which has been brought to you, for God has favored me and I have plenty.
And when he urged him, he accepted (Gen 33:11).
edition 117

from Haran. In this poem, which addresses such issues as the rebuilding of
the Temple and the coming of the prophet Elijah and the Messiah, this gift
takes the form of Israels prayers and benedictions to God. A biblical quota-
tion ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in )
in nearly every
strophe. Note the use of internal rhyme which gives this poem a rhythm of
its own; the penultimate strophe stands out because its internal rhyme is
identical with the end rhyme. Although the refrain refers to Jacobs pres-
ent to Esau, the final strophe in the liturgical poem is directed to Muslims,
not Christians: Creator of mountains who is girded with might (God,
see Ps 65:7), strengthen the arms of [your] sons who live in fear amidst
their enemies; assemble them from all sides to build the Chosen House
(Temple). Will the Rock (God) forever raise a slave (Ishmael) over the son
of a mistress (Isaac)? In Your anger cry out at the people of the Hagarites
(the Muslims): the same evil wherewith youin your fury and arrogance
have treated my first-born sons (Israel), so will it be done to you.

6. ...: Gen 33:11: Please accept my present which has been brought to
you.
13. : 1 Sam 20:9: Dont talk like that!
1920. ...: cf. Ps 91:34: He will save you from the fowlers trap, from
the destructive plague; He will cover you with His pinions.
25. : Ps 72:17, referring to Messiah.
27. ...: Gen 15:1: Fear not, Abram, I am a shield to you.
34. ...: Ps 91:11: For He will order His angels to guard you wherever
you go.
36. ...: God, cf. Ps 65:7: who by His power fixed the mountains
firmly, who is girded with might.
39. : slave, referring to the Muslims. : referring to the Jews, sons of
the mistress Sarai; see Gen 16:8.

Poem 16: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 84b85a. Acrostic: . Title:


On the same prsh.



][
/
/ /
][
/ / /
]
[
/ / /

][

/ / /

][
/
/ /
5
][
/ / /
/ / /
118 chapter four

This metered (ha-mitpashsh, based on the Arabic al-bas meter), mono-


rhyme poem differs structurally from the majority of strophic poems in
the section of liturgical poems on the prsht. According to the Judeo-
Arabic heading it was written for prsh Va-yishla (Gen 32:436:43),
even though it contains neither a refrain nor other quotations from that
prsh. Given the heading of the next poem, and given the fact that the
usual Judeo-Arabic subscript which marks the end of all other poems
( kumilat) cannot be found here, it seems plausible that this poem
was to be recited as an introduction to poem 17.40 The poem addresses
God, and the first verse contains a series of six divine attributes, all with a
first-person pronominal suffixmy King, my God, my Strength, the
Rock of my Strength, my Helper, and my Savior from all my terrors
(Ps 34:5). In lines 2 and 3 the praying voice implores God to reward the
faithfulness of those who keep Your Law and to pursue my enemies
and those who would destroy me. Lines 46 refer to Israels difficult cir-
cumstances while living in exile under the authority of Christians and
Muslims. By repeating the word ( when?) at the end of the poem
in line 7,41 the praying voice displays a clear sense of desperation at the
delayed deliverance of the exiled people of Israel.

1. : see e.g. Isa 49:5: My God has been my strength. : cf. Hab 3:19:
My Lord God is my strength. : cf. Ps 34:5: He saved me from
all my terrors.
3. : cf. Ps 69:5: Many are those who would destroy me, my treacher-
ous enemies.
5. : Edom, referring to Christians.
6. : wild ass, referring to Muslims; see Gen 16:12: [Ishmael] shall be a wild
ass of a man.

40Less than 10% of the poems (8 out of 96 poemsnos. 16, 64, 66, 68, 71, 89, 92,
94) in the collection have no structural element linking them to the prsht for which
they were written. It is worth noting that a longer strophic and unmetered poem with
the Judeo-Arabic heading And I followed it up with this qia in the wazn of [the poem
with the incipit...] follows each of these eight short monorhyme, metered poems; see the
headings to poems 17, 65, 67, 69, 72, 90, 93, 95; cf. section 2.3.
41 When will You lead me to Your Temple, when? Cf. section 2.1 and the translation
of the full poem in section 3.9.
edition 119

. Poem 17: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 85a85b. Acrostic:


Title: And I followed it up with this qia in the wazn of [the poem with
]the incipit
.





/

/


/


/ 5
/

/


/

/- 10
/

/
/

/

15

/
/
/

/
/ 20


/

/

/
/ 25
/


/

/
/ 30

/
/

120 chapter four

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (for God has favored me; cf.
Gen 33:11)42 is taken from prsh Va-yishla (Gen 32:436:43). A biblical
quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in
)
in
each strophe. The poem opens with a plea for deliverance: When will
the One who dwells in the Heavens (God) send me the Peaceable Ruler
(Messiah) and the Tishbite (Elijah), that my enemies and my opponents
may know that God has favored me (Gen 33:11)? These enemies are speci-
fied in the rest of the poem with the epithets my brother (Christians)
and my slave (Muslims) in line 18, and Edom (Christians) and Qedar
(Muslims) in line 30. In the third strophe we find a typical combination of
the thematic elements of rebuilding Jerusalem and longing for deliverance
mixed with the motifs illness and healing, as well as a possible reference
to the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount (cf. poems 7:1314 and
9:12)called the castle of the foreigner in line 12: Show us, O Lord, Your
mercy and hasten Your salvation; send Your healing balm for my wound
and my disease, and hear me in my distress; rebuild my city and my land,
and angrily destroy the castle of the foreigner. As to my light, my King and
my Father, make it shine in the heavens of Your strength, andfor Your
sakedeliver me, O God (Ps 69:2), from all my fears. Consistent with
Karaite custom, the poet includes many other words and passages taken
from the book of Psalms and other biblical books (see the line-by-line
annotations below).

1. : referring to Messiah; see Isa 9:5: a peaceable ruler. : the


prophet Elijah. : God.
2. : Gen 33:11: for God has favored me.
5. ...: cf. 1 Kgs 9:7: Israel shall become a proverb and a byword among
all peoples.
8. ...: Ps 42:3: O when will I come to appear before God!
14. : Ps 69:2: Deliver me, O God.
17. ...: cf. Cant 5:1: I have come to my garden [...] I have plucked my
myrrh and spice.
18. : my brother and my slave, referring to Christians and Muslims.
20. ...: Ps 61:8: May he dwell in Gods presence forever.
24. : Ps 55:3: I am tossed about, complaining and moaning.
26. ...: cf. Ps 55:15: sweet was our fellowship; we walked together
in Gods house.
28. : Isa 54:11: Unhappy, storm-tossed one, uncomforted! I will lay
carbuncles as your building stones and make your foundations of sapphires.

42 Please
accept my present which has been brought to you, for God has favored me and I have
plenty. And when he urged him, he accepted (Gen 33:11).
edition 121

30. : Qedar, referring to Muslims. : Edom, referring to Christians.


32. ...: Ps 42:5: how I walked with the crowd, moved with them,
the festive throng, to the House of God.

Poem 18: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 85b86a. Acrostic: .


Title: On the same prsh in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit]
.43



/

/ }{


/

/ 5
][

/


/
][
/ 1 0
/



/
/


][ 15
/
/
][

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (until I come to my lord; cf.
Gen 33:14)44 is taken from prsh Va-yishla (Gen 32:436:43). A quo-
tation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in )
in each
strophe. Like the refrain, the biblical quotations in lines 11 (my lord is
too kind to me; Gen 33:15) and 14 (let my lord go on ahead; Gen 33:14)

43According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn (rhythmic quality or


meter) is modeled on a poem by Judah ha-Levi with the incipit ; see
Brody, 4:14446; Yarden, 1:142144; cf. section 2.4, Ps 103:1 (Bless the Lord, O my soul)
and the wazn of poem 27 below.
44
Let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I travel slowly,
at the pace of the cattle before me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord
in Seir (Gen 33:14).
122 chapter four

are also taken from the dialogue between Jacob and Esau in the prsh.
However, in contrast to the original text of the refrain (and of the other
quotations), where ( my lord) stands for Esau, in the context of the
poem it designates God. One exception is the third strophe, where at first
glance it seems to refer to the Muslims: God, take pity and spare an hon-
orable daughter (Israel) with an unveiled face, like a slave woman who is
doomed to ruin, whose slave (Muslims) has become king while she stands
before him and says: May my lord live (1 Kgs 1:31)! This being said, even
though a situation between servant (Israel) and worldly master (Muslim
king) is depicted, the word ( my lord) may in the end still refer to
the living GodIsraels real Lordand confirm Israels devotion to God
even when standing in attendance to her Muslim ruler.

2. ...: Gen 33:14: until I come to my lord.


5. ...: Gen 47:18: nothing is left at my lords disposal.
8. : referring to the Muslims. : 1 Kgs 1:31: and she said: May
my lord King David live forever!
11. ...: Gen 33:15: my lord is too kind to me.
14. : Gen 33:14: Let my lord go on ahead.
17. : 1 Kgs 1:27: Can this decision have come from my lord
the king.

Poem 19: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 86a86b. Acrostic: .


Title: On the same [prsh] in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit]
.



/

/

/
/

/ 5

/
/
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/ 10
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] [

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15

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edition 123

/
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20

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/ 25

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/- 35

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (and he called it El-Elohe-


Yisrael; cf. Gen 33:20)45 is taken from prsh Va-yishla (Gen 32:4
36:43). A quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in
) in each strophe. The poem is noteworthy for the different names/
designations applied to its addressee, God: King (line 1); God (line 4,
7, 13); El-Elohe-Yisrael (line 5); Lord (line 17); Compassionate One
(line 19); Our Redeemer, Lord of Hosts, Holy One of Israel (line 23);
Eternal Father (line 25); Living [God], Ehyeh, and My Helper in
Times of Trouble (line 31).46

2. : Jetur, one of the sons of Ishmael; see Gen 25:15, referring to Muslims.
: Reuel, one of the sons of Esau (see Gen 36:4), referring to Christians.
4. ...: cf. Ps 102:1: he pours forth his plea before the Lord.
5. ...: Gen 33:20: and he called it El-elohe-yisrael.
1011. ...: Ps 22:24: honor Him, be in dread of Him, all you off-
spring of Israel!

45 He set up an altar there, and called it


El-elohe-yisrael (Gen 33:20).
46Cf. section 3.1. For an analysis of the poetic personae in this poem, including a full
translation, see section 2.2.3.
124 chapter four

1617. ...: Jer 31:7: Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of
Israel.
23. ...: Isa 47:4: Our RedeemerLord of Hosts is His nameis
the Holy One of Israel.
25. : referring to the Messiah, see Isa 9:5: a peaceable ruler. :
Tishbite, the prophet Elijah.
29. : Ps 125:5, 128:6: May it be well with Israel!
31. : God; see Exod 3:14.
33. ...: cf. Isa 26:19: Oh, let your dead revive! Let corpses arise!
35. ...: Ps 14:7: Jacob will exult, Israel will rejoice.

Poem 20: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 87a87b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Va-yshev Yaaqov in the wazn of [the poem with
the incipit] .47



/


/

/


/ 5

/



/


/ 10




/

/
15


/


/


20

47According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a famous


and widely-imitated poem by Judah ben Samuel ibn Abbs with the incipit
; see I. Davidson, Thesaurus of Medieval Hebrew Poetry, 3:296. Note that this
was also the model for an Aaron al-Ammn poem; see S. Cohen, The Poetry of Aaron
Al-Ammn, 12931, 26062; cf. section 2.4 and J. Schirmann, The History of Hebrew
Poetry in Christian Spain and Southern France, edited, supplemented and annotated by
E. Fleischer (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1997), 281, note 8.
edition 125

}{

/

} { /


/ 25
/


The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (What is this dream you have
dreamed?; cf. Gen 37:10)48 is taken from prsh Va-yshev (Gen 37:1
40:23), repeating Jacobs question about the dreams of his favorite son
Joseph. The first six strophes in this poem are addressed to the sleeping
people of Israel whose pain wakes.49 In the first strophe Israel is asked
when it will wake up from its sleep and prepare for the day that is at hand
and that burns [like an oven; see Mal 3:19]i.e., the Day of Reckoning.
The use of the verb ( your friends stand upright while you are not
standing) in line 3 seems to form a subtle linguistic parallel between the
poem and prsh Va-yshev, referring to the upright/standing sheaf of
Joseph in his dream in Gen 37:7. The second and third strophes refer to
the prominent motif of the personified World (Heb. tvl; lines 5 and 9)
whose earthly pleasures are like wilted flowers (line 9; see Isa 28:1). In
strophes four, five, and six the exiled people of Israel are implored to repent
from all evil, to sing the praises of God, and to suppress their desires. The
phrase ( you are imprisoned in a dungeon) in line 22
refers to the exiled people of Israel (compare Zech 9:11 with its promise to
release Your prisoners from the dry pit), but also seems to allude to the
imprisoned person of Joseph in prsh Va-yshev; see Gen 40:15, which
also employs the word : For in truth, I was kidnapped from the land
of the Hebrews; nor have I done anything here that they should have put
me in the dungeon. The seventh and final strophe is not addressed to
Israel, but rather to God, imploring Him to gather back the exiled people
of Israel as well as to avenge them by destroying their enemies.

48
And when he told it to his fathers and brothers, his
father berated him. What, he said to him, is this dream you have dreamed? Are we to come,
I and your mother and your brothers, and bow low to you to the ground? (Gen 37:10).
49See line 1 and note that the word awake, wakeful is also the name of Judahs first
son, Er; see Gen 38:3,8 in the same Prsh Va-Yshev; cf. section 1.3.
126 chapter four

1. : cf. Isa 52:2: Arise, shake off the dust, sit [on your throne], Jerusalem!
2. ...: cf. Mal 3:19: For lo! That day is at hand, burning like an oven.
3. ...: Gen 37:10: What is this dream you have dreamed?
6. ...: cf. Jer 6:16: Which is the road to happiness? Travel it, and find
tranquility for yourselves.
9. : Isa 28:1: whose glorious beauty is but wilted flowers.
11. ...: cf. Isa 33:15: who stops his ears against listening to infamy.
13. : Deut 33:16: the favor of the Presence in the Bush.
18. ...: cf. Hos 14:3: Instead of bulls we will pay [the offering of]
our lips.
22. : cf. Gen 40:15: For in truth, I was kidnapped from the land of the
Hebrews; nor have I done anything here that they should have put me in the
dungeon and Zech 9:11: You, for your part, have released Your prisoners from
the dry pit.

Poem 21: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 87b88a. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same [prsh] in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit]
.50



/
/


/
/
5
/
/

/-

/-
10

/-
/


/


/ 15

/-
/-

50According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
;see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213; cf.
section 2.4.
edition 127

/


/ 20

/-

/

/
/ 25
/


/

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (The Rock [God; cf. Gen 40:13:
Pharaoh] will pardon you and restore you to your post; cf. Gen 40:13)51 is
taken from prsh Va-yshev (Gen 37:140:23), though in the framework
of Dars poem the pardoning Pharaoh of the biblical verse is replaced by
the merciful God! The opening strophe depicts a people in exile, mourn-
ing for the destruction of the Temple; God will soon forgive these people
and call them back to Jerusalem. The next two strophes each end with
quotations from Psalm 91 to reassure the readers/hearers that no harm
will befall the people of Israel and that all their enemies will be destroyed.
The next three strophes are addressed to God, called the Compassionate
One, who dwells in the High Heavens and walks on the back of clouds
(line 14; cf. Isa 14:14). These strophes contain recurring pleas for Israels
deliverance and the destruction of their enemies.

2. ...: Gen 40:13: Pharaoh will pardon you and restore you to your
post.
7. ...: Ps 91:7: A thousand may fell at your left side, ten thousand
at your right.
12. ...: Ps 91:9: Because you took the Lord, my refuge, the Most High,
as your haven.
14. ...: cf. Isa 14:14: I will mount the back of a cloud.
17. : Deut 7:13: the calving of your herd and the lambing
of your flock.
22. : Exod 17:6: I will be standing there before you.
27. ...: Exod 33:19: I will make all My goodness pass before you.

51
In three days Pharaoh will pardon you and restore you to your
post; you will place Pharaohs cup in his hand, as was your custom formerly when you were
his cup-bearer (Gen 40:13).
128 chapter four

Poem 22: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 88a88b. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same prsh in the wazn of [the poem with the
. ]incipit



/

/
/
/
5
/
/

/
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[ ] 10

/

/

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[ ] 15

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20
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/-

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[ ] 25
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[ ] 30

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (and do me the kindness; cf.
Gen 40:14)52 is taken from prsh Va-yshev (Gen 37:140:23). A biblical

52
But think of me when all is well with you again, and do me the kindness of
mentioning me to Pharaoh, so as to free me from this place (Gen 40:14).
edition 129

quotation ending in and praising or requesting Gods mercy towards


Israel precedes the refrain (also ending in )
in each strophe. The poet
uses Josephs request to Pharaohs imprisoned chief cupbearer to ask God
for kindness instead: O Lofty One who dwells in heaven and who by His
strength founded the earth (cf. Prov 3:19), who set up the unintelligent
body with a wise soul; O faithful God (Deut 32:4), protect me from behav-
ing badly or disgracefully, and do me this kindness (Gen 40:14). Line 2
in this fragment reflects the neoplatonic polarity between the material
world of the body and the spiritual world of the soul, which is a recurring
motif in Dars secular poetry.53 In lines 3 and 4 the poet uses the hom-
onymic word with its different meanings of disgrace (Lev 20:17) and
kindness. The remainder of the poem is primarily devoted to penitential
themes and stresses divine mercy as a decisive factor in Gods pardoning
His people and delivering them from their suffering in exile, even though
their sins deserve punishment. As in many of his liturgical poems, this
poem includes a passing reference to the Messiah (cf. line 23).

1. ...: cf. Prov 3:19: The Lord founded the earth by wisdom.
3. : Deut 32:4: a faithful God.
4. ...: Gen 40:14: and do me the kindness.
89. ...: Ps 145:8: The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger
and abounding in kindness.
12. : Lev 26:36: I will cast a faintness into their hearts. ...:
cf. Ps 137:6: let my tongue stick to my palate.
14. ...: Exod 34:6: a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger,
abounding in kindness.
1819. ...: Ps 130:7: O Israel, wait for the Lord, for with the Lord is
steadfast love and great power to redeem.
2324. ...: Ps 18:51: He accords great victories to His king, keeps faith
with his anointed.
29. : Ps 23:6: only goodness and steadfast love.

Poem 23: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 88b89b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Va-yh miqq in the wazn of [the poem with
the incipit] .


/-

/-

/-

53See section 3.8; cf. J. Yeshaya, Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 10912.
130 chapter four

/-
5

/-


/

/
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][
10

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/

][
15
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][ 20
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/-
][ 25
/-


/
/-

/-
][ 30

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (That is why this dis-
tress has come upon us; cf. Gen 42:21)54 is taken from prsh Miqq
(Gen 41:144:17), the prsh where Josephformerly an imprisoned
slave, but empowered by his ability to interpret dreams and now the vizier
of Egyptis reunited with his brothers, who had sold him into slavery. A
biblical quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in )
in each strophe. The first strophe explains why Israel is in exile: Due to
our sins and our servitude, our eyes shed blood and our legs are trapped all
day in the snare of captivity; when the hard years of exile arrive on account
of our sins, we say: That is why this distress has come upon us (Gen 42:21).

54
They said to one another, Alas, we are being pun
ished on account of our brother, because we looked on at his anguish, yet paid no heed as
he pleaded with us. That is why this distress has come upon us (Gen 42:21).
edition 131

In the next two strophes, the people of Israel are requested to repent of all
evil so as not to delay their future deliverance as described in the fourth
strophe, particularly lines 1819: Once they are delivered, the people will
go up to Zion and they will be joyful, and as for their enemies, well, were
they wise, they would think upon this (Deut 32:29). The next strophe refers
to these enemies and more specifically to the control of Jerusalem by, alter-
nately, Christians and Muslims, called Edom, Moab, and Qedar in line 23.
The final strophe, addressed to God, appeals for the ingathering of the
exiled people of Israel, by bringing them back to Zion and helping them to
establish themselves in lands currently controlled by their enemies.

2. ...: cf. Eccl 9:12: trapped in a snare.


4. ...: Gen 42:21: That is why this distress has come upon us.
9. : Mal 1:9: This is what you have done.
14. : Deut 32:6: Do you thus requite the Lord?
19. ...: Deut 32:29: Were they wise, they would think upon this.
23. : Edom, Moab, and Qedar, referring to Christians and
Muslims.
24. ...: Num 17:10: Remove yourselves from this community.
29. : Lev 26:44: Yet, even then, when they are in the lands of their
enemies, I will not reject them or spurn them so as to destroy them.

Poem 24: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 89b90a. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same prsh in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit]
.55




/
/

/

/

/- 5

/

/

/
/
10
/

55According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem


by Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
;see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213;
cf. section 2.4.
132 chapter four

/
/
/ 15
/

/
][

/
/
20
/
/
/-


/-
25
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/
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][
30
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/ 35
][

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (Their hearts sank; and, trem-
bling, they turned to one another; cf. Gen 42:28)56 is taken from prsh
Miqq (Gen 41:144:17). A quotation ending in precedes the refrain
(also ending in )
in each strophe. This liturgical poem includes per-
sistent pleas to God (Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh in line 1; Exod 3:14) for Israels
deliverance from exile and numerous hostile references to Christians
and Muslims. Dar uses the epithets brother (lines 3 and 22, referring
to Esau) and Seir (line 32) to refer to Christians and slave (lines 3 and
20) and wild ass (line 32; cf. Gen 16:12) to refer to Muslims. In the final
three lines he alludes to the time when the Jews will again prevail over
Christians in Jerusalem, using the following quotations: the older [Esau]
shall serve the younger [Jacob] (Gen 25:23); [A victor issues from Jacob] to

56
And he said to his brothers, My money has been returned! It is here
in my bag! Their hearts sank; and, trembling, they turned to one another, saying, What is
this that God has done to us? (Gen 42:28).
edition 133

wipe out what is left of Ir [the city, to be exact: Jerusalem] (Num 24:19);
Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau [in the land of Seir, the
country of Edom] (Gen 32:4). Here the poet projects the biblical relation-
ship between Jacob and Esau onto the contemporary relationship between
Judaism and Christianity. In other words, the supremacy of the younger
(Jacob) over the older (Esau), predicted by God in Gen 25:23, foretells
the eventual triumph of the exiled people of Israel over the Christians in
Jerusalem at the time of final deliverance.57

1. : Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, God; see Exod 3:14. : orphan, refer-


ring to the people of Israel.
3. : slave, referring to Muslims. : brother, referring to Christians.
4. : Micah 2:4: and utter a bitter lament. : cf. Josh 14:8: While
my companions who went up with me took the heart out of the people.
5. ...: Gen 42:28: Their hearts sank; trembling, they turned to one
another.
11. ...: Gen 13:11: Thus they parted from each other.
17. : Lev 26:37: They shall stumble over one another.
20. : slave, referring to Muslims. : cf. Ps 5:10: their tongue
slippery.
22. : brother, referring to Christians.
23. : Deut 19:19: as he schemed to do to his fellow.
2829. ...: cf. Micah 4:4: But every man shall sit under his grape-
vine or fig tree.
29. : Deut 25:11: If two men get into a fight with each other.
31. : in Aramaic language; see Dan 4:10: a holy Watcher.
32. : perhaps referring to the jizya or poll tax that the Jews of Egypt were
required to pay to the Islamic state in exchange for their protected dhimm status.
: wild ass, referring to Muslims; see Gen 16:12: [Ishmael] shall be a wild ass
of a man. : Seir, referring to Christians.
33. : Gen 25:23: and the older shall serve the younger.
34. ...: Num 24:19: A victor issues from Jacob to wipe out what is
left of Ir.
35. ...: Gen 32:4: Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in
the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

57Andalusian Jewish poets also used such projection of the biblical relationship
between Sarah/Isaac/Jacob and Hagar/Ishmael/Esau onto the contemporary relationship
between Judaism and Islam/Christianity; see E. Alfonso, Islamic Culture through Jewish
Eyes, 5758; cf. section 3.7.
134 chapter four

. Poem 25: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 90a91a. Acrostic:


]Title: On the same [prsh] in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit
.


/
/-





/
/ 5

/
/


/


/ 10
/

/


/


/ 15

/
/-





/
/ 20

/
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/
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25

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/ 30
/
/


edition 135

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (What can we say to my lord
[i.e., Joseph]? How can we plead?; cf. Gen 44:16)58 is taken from prsh
Miqq (Gen 41:144:17). In the framework of Dars poem, the refrain
which represents Judahs words when accused with his brothers, particu-
larly Benjamin, of stealing Josephs silver gobletis directed to God and
not to the unrecognized Joseph as in the prsh.
The first four strophes in the poem essentially comprise a confession
of sins, on account of which God made my well-being like a passing
shadow (Ps 144:4) (line 12). The poet thus applies the situation of the
biblical refrain to his own community, which, like Judah, has no excuses,
but must plead for divine forgiveness with empty hands. These first four
strophes correspond to the forgiveness of sins and deliverance requested
from God in the final three strophes. These are connected to Israels dif-
ficult circumstances in exile under the authority of Christians (Edom) and
Muslims (Jetur), who, according to line 22, will eventually be broken like
an earthen vessel (Lev 6:21).

2. ...: Gen 44:16: What can we say to my lord? How can we plead?
12. : cf. Ps 144:4: Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
22. : Edom (see Gen 25:30), referring to Christians. : Jetur, one of
Ishmaels sons (see Gen 25:15), referring to Muslims. : cf. Lev 6:21:
an earthen vessel in which it was boiled shall be broken.
24. : cf. Dan 12:13: But you, go on to the end; you shall rest, and arise
to your destiny at the end of the days.

Poem 26: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 91a91b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Va-yiggash in the wazn of [the poem with
the incipit] .



/
]
[


/

/

] [ 5

58
Judah replied, What can we say to my
lord? How can we plead, how can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered the crime
of your servants. Here we are, then, slaves of my lord, the rest of us as much as he in whose
possession the goblet was found (Gen 44:16).
136 chapter four


/
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]
[
/
/ 10
]
[
/

/
]
[


/ 15
/

]
[
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/

]
[ 20
/
/-


] [

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (that I may set eyes on him;
cf. Gen 44:21)59 is taken from prsh Va-yiggash (Gen 44:1847:27).
The poet transfers Josephs words about the need to see Benjamin, his
only full-brother and Jacobs youngest son, to the framework of the first
strophe in which the poetic personae are God and the people of Israel:
God says: I will take My son back to his tents, that I may set eyes on him
(Gen 44:21). A biblical quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also
ending in )
in each strophe. This poem is noteworthy for the vocal-
ization (exceptionally) found in manuscript NLR Evr. I 802, and for the
use of a lengthy name-acrostic (I am Moses, Karaite physician, be strong,
Amen) in which the first name of the poet is prefaced with the Hebrew
word I and followed by his religious affiliation, professional designa-
tion, and blessing formula.60 The poem contains the usual petition for
the end of Muslim rule, the return to Jerusalemcalled city of the house
of prayer, identifying the Temple not by sacrifice but by contemporary
modes of service (see line 18)and the coming of the Messiah who will
be preceded by the prophet Elijah (lines 2122).

59 Then you said to your servants, Bring


him down to me, that I may set eyes on him (Gen 44:21).
60On Dars use of name acrostics see section 2.3.
edition 137

1. ...: cf. Gen 24:5: What if the woman does not consent to follow me
to this land, shall I then take your son back to the land from which you came?
: Gen 44:21: Then you said to your servants, Bring him down to
me, that I may set eyes on him.
3. ...: cf. Gen 12:3, 18:18, and 28:14: and all the families of the earth
shall bless themselves by you.
4. : his brother, referring to Christians. ...: cf. Lev 16:10: desig-
nated by lot.
6. : his slave, referring to Muslims.
7. : Num 19:17.
10. : Gen 12:20.
12. : the castle of a foreigner, perhaps again referring to the Dome of
the Rock on the Temple Mount; cf. poems 7:1314 ; 9:12 ; 17 :12. : Gen 1:2:
unformed and void.
13. : Lev 5:16.
15. : Ishmael, referring to Muslims.
16. : Exod 30:9: You shall not offer alien incense on it.
18. : cf. Ps 147:13: For He made the bars of your gates strong.
: the city of the house of prayer (Temple), i.e., Jerusalem.
19. : Ps 21:6: You have endowed him with splendor and
majesty.
22. : referring to the Messiah. ...: Isa 16:5: And a throne shall be
established in goodness in the tent of David, and on it shall sit in faithfulness a
ruler devoted to justice and zealous for equity.

Poem 27: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 91b92a. Acrostic: .


Title: On the same prsh in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit]
.61



}
{
/
/

] [


/
5

/



61 According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn (rhythmic quality or


meter) is modeled on a poem by Judah ha-Levi with the incipit Bless
the Lord, O my soul; see Brody, 4:14446; Yarden, 1:14244; cf. section 2.4, Ps 103:1 (Bless
the Lord, O my soul) and the wazn of poem 18 above.
138 chapter four

][

/

/ 10


][
} { /
-
/ ] [

15
] [

/
/


] [ 20

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (His sobs were so loud; cf.
Gen 45:2)62 is taken from prsh Va-yiggash (Gen 44:1847:27) and refers
to Josephs tears after the dramatic disclosure of his identity to his broth-
ers. A quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in )

in each strophe. The poet uses various prophetic subtexts to deal with
the woeful condition of Israel (the son of the mistress / female master
[Sarai]; line 2) in exile under Muslim (his slave woman [Hagar]; line 2)
rule, the punishment for and forgiveness of sins, and the link between
repentance and deliverance.

1. : cf. Ps 143:4: my mind was numbed with horror.


2. : the son of the mistress, i.e., Isaac, referring to the people of Israel
in the framework of the poem, cf. Gen 16:8: I am running away from my mistress
Sarai. : his slave woman, referring to Muslims; cf. Gen 16:8: Hagar, slave
of Sarai.
3. ...: Gen 45:2: His sobs were so loud.
5. ...: Jer 10:20: My tents are ravaged, all my tent cords are broken.
67. ...: Isa 22:12: My Lord God of Hosts summoned on that day to
weeping and lamenting.
1011. ...: Joel 2:12: Turn back to Me with all your hearts, and with
fasting, weeping, and lamenting.
13. : Isa 44:22: I wipe away your sins like a cloud.
1415. : cf. Jer 31:9: They shall come with weeping, and with
compassion will I guide them.
18. : to Your Holy City, i.e., to Jerusalem.
1819. ...: Jer 31:16: Thus said the Lord: Restrain your voice from
weeping.

62 His sobs were so loud that the


Egyptians could hear, and so the news reached Pharaohs palace (Gen 45:2).
edition 139

Poem 28: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 92a92b. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same [prsh] in the wazn of [the poem with the
. ]incipit


/

/
/
/

/ 5


/-
/
/-


/- 10

/-


/
/ [ ]

/
{ } 15
/

/-



/

] / [ 20
/

/
/



/ 25
/
/

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30
/


/
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/- 35


140 chapter four

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (to save your lives in an extraor-
dinary deliverance; cf. Gen 45:7)63 is taken from prsh Va-yiggash
(Gen 44:1847:27). A biblical quotation ending in precedes the
refrain (also ending in
)in each strophe. The poems first three
strophes are particularly noteworthy for their use of divine speech and
their antagonistic references to Christians and Muslims:64
You who await Me to deliver you, from high above I have looked down upon
your poverty in exile with concerned and compassionate eyes to save you;
I shall arise as in the beginning and I shall carry out a decree of destruction
(Isa 10:23) against all your enemies, to save your lives in an extraordinary
deliverance (Gen 45:7).

Listen, O agitated sons, to the alarm and terror (Jer 15:8) that draws
near and will strike Mount Seir; the slave woman (i.e., Hagar, referring to
Muslims) will serve her mistress (i.e., Sarai, referring to Israel), and the older
(i.e., Esau, referring to Christians) the younger (i.e., Jacob, referring to Israel;
Gen 25:23);65 be strong even if My enemies have taken the lead during the
time of your humiliation, when the abominationbecause of the destruc-
tion of My citiesbecame a large city (Jonah 3:3).

Make an end to the plans of Qedar (referring to Muslims) and the false
actions of deceitful peoples; treat all those who eat pork and other forbidden
food (referring to Christians) with anger and fury. When faced with the threat
of being consumed by fire, the sons of Esau (referring to Christians) and the
other nations who desecrate My perfect Law will say to the house of Jacob:
Let us not die, for this fearsome fire will consume us (Deut 5:22).
This fragment in which God speaks to Israel shows how the poet never
enables the Others to speak for more than a single line. Furthermore, by
having God speak non-biblical words to Israel, Dar may have intended to
comfort his Karaite congregation and assure them that they would soon
be delivered from their own exile in Egypt.66

63 God has
sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival on earth, and to save your lives in an extraor-
dinary deliverance (Gen 45:7).
64Note that (exceptionally) the first two strophes are vocalized in manuscript NLR
Evr. I 802.
65Here the poet projects the biblical relationship between Sarai and Hagar, and Jacob
and Esau, onto the contemporary relationship between Judaism and Islam/Christianity.
In other words, the primacy of the mistress Sarai over Hagar and that of Jacob over Esau
(predicted by God in Gen 25:23) foretells the eventual triumphat the time of the mes-
sianic redemptionof the exiled people of Israel over the Muslims and Christians. For
further examples see section 3.7.
66Cf. section 2.2.1.
edition 141

4. : cf. Isa 10:23: a decree of destruction.


5. ...: Gen 45:7: and to save your lives in an extraordinary
deliverance.
7. : cf. Jer 15:8: alarm and terror.
8. : Mount Seir, referring to Christian territory.
9. : the slave woman, referring to Muslims in the framework of the poem;
see Gen 16:35. : her mistress, i.e., Sarai, referring here to Israel.
: Gen 25:23: And the older [Esau] shall serve the younger [Jacob].
11. : Jonah 3:3: Nineveh was a large city of God.
14. ...: all those who eat pork meat and other forbidden food, referring
to Christians.
1617. ...: Deut 5:22: Let us not die, then, for this fearsome fire will
consume us.
20. : Ps 129:5: All who hate Zion.
22. : Jerusalem; see Gen 14:18. : Isa 22:1: the Valley of Vision.
23. : Gen 10:12: that is the great city.
27. : cf. Jer 3:19: I gave you a desirable landthe fairest heritage of all
the nations.
29. : see Ezek 38:2. : Exod 14:31: the wondrous power.
35. ...: Num 22:18: I could not do anything, big or little.

Poem 29: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 92b93b. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same prsh in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit] .67




/-
][

/

}{
/
/ 5
] [
/
/

/


/ 10

/

67According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn (rhythmic quality or


meter) is modeled on a poem by Judah ha-Levi with the incipit ; see Brody,
3:34; Yarden, 3:64143; cf. section 2.4. The margin of fol. 92b in manuscript NLR Evr.
I 802 contains the following alternative reading of lines 12 in poem 29:
/ ] / ]
[/
[

][ .
142 chapter four


/


/
/
][ 15
/
/

/

/
/- 20
][
/ []
/

/
/ 25
/-
][

/-


/

/ 30
/
/-

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem ([Go up to the Holy Land,] for
I will make you there into a great nation; cf. Gen 46:3)68 is taken from
prsh Va-yiggash (Gen 44:1847:27) and repeats Gods promise of an
offspring to Jacob/Israel. However, in contrast to the biblical text where
( there) corresponds to Egypt, in the context of the poemwhich
contains a significant number of geographical terms and metaphorsit
stands for the promised land of Israel (the Holy Land, line 2; see Zech
2:16). A biblical quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending
in )
in each strophe. While God is the first-person speaker in the first
strophe (My people, whom I have sanctified and whose destroyer has
been accused, hurry and go up to the Holy Land, for I will make you there
into a great nation), in the remainder of the poem a third-person speaker
addresses God on behalf of the people of Israel: Bring near Your deliver-
ance and advance the time of Your salvation and Your deliverance; purify

68 And He
said, I am God, the God of your father. Fear not to go down to Egypt, for I will make you
there into a great nation (Gen 46:3).
edition 143

Your city and sanctify it and observe how only strangers and foreigners
live in Your house, none of the household being there inside (Gen 39:11).

: Gen 46:3: for I will make... : Zech 2:16: the Holy Land. 2.
you there into a great nation.
: Isa 57:15: He who high aloft forever dwells, whose name is 4.
holy.
: Gen 44:14: and he was still there. 8.
: Gen 39:11: none of the household being there inside.... 14.
: Exod 15:1: He has triumphed gloriously. 17.
: Gen 24:5: to the land from which you came.... 20.
: Lam 1:3: in the narrow places. 24.
: Gen 32:30: And he took leave of him there. 26.
: Deut 13:13: of one of the towns that the Lord your God is... 3132.
giving you to dwell in.

Poem 30: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 93b94a. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same [prsh] in the wazn of [the poem with the
[ ] ]incipit

.

[ ]


/
/

[]}
/ {
/
5

[ ] /
/
[ ]

/ 10
/-

[ ]

/
[]
/
[ ]
15

/

/

[ ]
/
/ 20
[ ]

144 chapter four

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem ([I Myself will go down with
you to Egypt] and I Myself will also bring you back; cf. Gen 46:4)69 is
taken from prsh Va-yiggash (Gen 44:1847:27). This refrain is very
cogent as addressed to the Karaite community of Cairo, considering that,
in the middle of the twelfth century, many people probably still had
vivid memories ofand perhaps some had even personally survived
the Karaite Jews flight into Egypt following the Crusaders conquest of
Jerusalem in 1099. The fact that God is presented as the speaker in the
first two strophes enhances this impression:
My people, whose feet are trapped in the snare of captivity, and who do not
find anyone to save them, on account of your sins I have set you in the dark
grave [of exile in Egypt], and I Myself will also bring you back (Gen 46:4).

From My heavens I have looked down on My people with a compassionate


eye, since their enemies have provoked My anger; I have remembered to
help them in their troubles and I have kept in mind My good news, that
I have come down to rescue them [from the Egyptians] (Exod 3:8).
Throughout the rest of the poem a third-person speaker (strophes 3, 5,
and 7) alternates with the voice of the exiled people of Israel (strophes 4
and 6) in addressing God, pleading to have Israels enemies punished and
imploring their deliverance. A biblical quotation from the Song of the Sea
in line 13 (He has triumphed gloriously; Exod 15:1) reinforces the con-
nection to the current situation in exile, for salvation will entail another
Exodus from Egypt. Choosing the term Shiloh (usually a biblical place
name) for Messiah in line 20 stresses again the local aspect of the return
to the promised land.

2. ...: Gen 46:4: I Myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I myself
will also bring you back; and Josephs hand shall close your eyes.
5. : Exod 3:8: I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians.
7. : cf. Zeph 1:14: It is bitter: there a warrior shrieks!
8. : perhaps again referring to the jizya or poll tax that the Jews of
Egypt were required to pay to the Islamic state. : Ps 105:18: His feet
were subjected to fetters.
11. ...: Ps 35:10: You save the poor from one stronger than he, the
poor and needy from his despoiler.
13. : Exod 15:1: He has triumphed gloriously.

69 I Myself will go
down with you to Egypt, and I myself will also bring you back; and Josephs hand shall close
your eyes (Gen 46:4).
edition 145

: Ps 119:135: Show favor to Your servant. 14.


: my slave, referring to Muslims. : my brother, referring to Christians. 17.
: Gen 27:40: You shall break his yoke from your neck.
: cf. Isa 30:26: when the Lord binds up His peoples wounds. 19.
: Gen 49:10: Until he comes to Shiloh.... 20.

. Poem 31: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 94a94b. Acrostic:


Title: On prsh Va-y Yaaqov in the wazn of [the poem with the
. ]incipit



/
/-

/- -
/-
5
[ ]


/

/
[ ]

/ 10
/

[ ]


/
/-
[ ]
15
/

/
-

[ ]



/
/
20
[ ]

/-


/-

[ ]

/ 25
/-
[ ]



/
/
[ ]


146 chapter four

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (as a pledge of your steadfast
loyalty; cf. Gen 47:29)70 is taken from prsh Va-y (Gen 47:2850:26).
A quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in )
in each strophe. This is even more impressive than in the other poems
since the strophes are very short. Furthermore, besides in the refrain, we
find the combination in three other strophes (3, 4, and 5). From
the use of in this poem it is clear that Dar views truth as a divine
attribute which will ultimately contribute to Israels salvation. Note that
the Declaration of Faith contained in the Karaite siddr in the liturgy
of the high holidays consists of a series of statements (about some of the
central tenets of Karaism such as the perfect nature of the Torah, which
requires no additions or supplements) read aloud by the professional
cantor, to which the congregation responds by shouting out exactly this
Hebrew word Truth!71 As in the previous poem, Dar chooses a
refrain that the Karaite community of Cairo would find very touching.
It refers to Josephs pledge not to bury his father Jacob/Israel in Egypt, but
rather in the family grave in Machpelah in the land of Canaan. This poem
has no fewer than ten strophes, in all of them either Israel (first person,
strophes 1, 910) or a third person speaking on Israels behalf (strophes
28) addresses God. The poem contains the following thematic elements:
the anticipation of the defeat of Christians and Muslims, the suffering of
the people of Israel in exile, the need for divine forgiveness, and the yearn-
ing for the restoration of Israel to her former glory.

1. : the brothers son, i.e., Christians. : the slave womans son,


i.e., Muslims.
2. ...: Gen 47:29: as a pledge of your steadfast loyalty.
5. ...: Neh 9:13: right rules and true teachings.
8. ...: Ps 85:11: Faithfulness and truth meet.
11. ...: Prov 16:6: Iniquity is expiated by loyalty and faithfulness.
14. ...: Ps 25:10: All the Lords paths are steadfast love.
17. ...: Ps 132:11: The Lord swore to David a firm oath.

70
And when the time approached
for Israel to die, he summoned his son Joseph and said to him, Do me this favor, place
your hand under my thigh as a pledge of your steadfast loyalty: please do not bury me in
Egypt (Gen 47:29).
71See Siddr ha-tfillt k-minhg ha-yhdm ha-qrm, 4 vols., Vilna 1891 (reprinted
in Ramle, 1971/72; reprinted in Ashdod, 2010), 2:208209.
edition 147

: Isa 16:5: And a throne... : Ps 72:17, referring to the Messiah. 20.


shall be established in goodness in the tenth of David, and on it shall sit in faithful-
ness a ruler devoted to justice and zealous for equity.
: Ps 19:10: The judgments of the Lord are true. 23.
: Gen 24:48: who led me on the right way.... 26.
: Gen 32:11: I am unworthy of all the kindness that you... 2829.
have so steadfastly shown Your servant.

Poem 32: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 94b95a. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same prsh in the wazn of [the poem with the
]incipit
.72




/


[]} {

[]
/


[]
{ } / 5
[]
/

] [

[]} {

/


/ 10

] [
}
{

/


/

15
] [


/

/


20


/



/


72According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn (rhythmic quality or


meter) is modeled on a poem by Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
; see
Yarden, 2:58288; cf. section 2.4.
148 chapter four


]
[

/
25

/


] [

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (but God will be with you;
cf. Gen 48:21)73 is taken from prsh Va-y (Gen 47:2850:26). A bibli-
cal quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in )

in each strophe. As in the previous two poems, the poet again picks a
very suitable refrain when addressing his Karaite congregation, repeat-
ing Jacobs/Israels dying words to Joseph in Egypt: I am about to die;
but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers
(Gen 48:21). This poem addresses penitential themes, and the fifth stro-
phe stresses the link between repentance and deliverance: Wash and
purify yourselves, remove all bad deeds and walk all your days before the
Rock on the best paths, that soon you may witness your own deliverance
and, being redeemed, visit the House of God (Temple) three times a year,
and even your children may go with you (Exod 10:24). Even in this context,
however, Dar addresses the contemporary situation in exile, when he
declares in the last strophe that Israel, when redeemed, will do to their
adversaries what their adversaries did to Israel in exile.

1. ...: Isa 51:1: Listen to Me, you who pursue justice, you who seek the
Lord: look to the rock you were hewn from.
2. ...: cf. Deut 5:26: to follow all My commandments, that it may
go well with them and with their children forever.
3. : Gen 48:21: but God will be with you.
7. : Hos 14:3: Take words with you.
11. : Zech 8:23: and say: Let us go with you.
15. ...: Gen 42:38: My son must not go down with you.
18. : Num 22:32: these three times.
19. ...: Exod 10:24: even your children may go with you.
23. ...: Exod 10:10: The Lord be with you.
25. : Ps 103:5: so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.
27. ...: Gen 31:29: I have it in my power to do you harm.

73
Then Israel said to Joseph, I am about to die; but God will be with you and bring you back
to the land of your fathers (Gen 48:21).
edition 149

Poem 33: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 95a96a. Acrostic:


. Title: I [i.e., Moses Dar or the copyist of the manuscript] forgot
to write this qia in its place [that is, with the other poems dealing with
prsh Va-yra], so I write it here.74



]
/- [


/- []

[ ]

/

[ ]

/ 5
/

/

/

/ 10
/
-
/
[] /

/ 15
/-


/
/

/
20
/

/

[ ] /

[ ] /

/ [ ] 25


[ ] /
/
[ ]
/-

/ 30

74It may not be by chance that this poem was forgotten and inserted exactly here,
since, apart from the refrain, it does not really refer to the qd story in prsh Va-yra
(Gen 18:122:24). Rather, it seems more akin to some of the motifs (being in the wrong
place [of exile in Egypt]) in the poems just preceding it.
150 chapter four



/-



][

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (Do not raise your hand
against the boy, or do anything to him; cf. Gen 22:12)75 is taken from
the qd story, the story of the attempted sacrifice of Isaac, in prsh
Va-yra (Gen 18:122:24). In the framework of the poem the refrain is not
directed to Abraham, but to the son of the slave woman (Ishmael): My
King (God), on behalf of Your beloved son (referring to Israel), say to the
son of the slave woman (referring to Ishmael, the Muslims): Do not raise
your hand against the boy, or do anything to him! A biblical quotation
ending in
precedes the refrain (also ending in
) in each stro-
phe; for example, Dar cites the words of imprisoned Joseph to Pharaohs
chief cupbearer in lines 1819: The mourning in my heart is strong, for
in truth, I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews; nor have I done
anything here [that they should have put me in the dungeon, i.e., the exile
in Egypt] (Gen 40:15).

1. : Your beloved son, referring to Israel. : the son of the


slave woman, i.e., Ishmael, referring to Muslims.
2. ...: Gen 22:12: Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do any-
thing to him.
7. ...: Gen 39:6: with him there, he paid attention to nothing.
9. : Jer 17:9: Most devious is the heart.
10. : cf. Lev 25:43: You shall not rule over him ruthlessly.
11. : Ezek 37:11: Our hope is gone.
13. ...: Gen 30:31: And Jacob said: Pay me nothing.
1819. ...: Gen 40:15: For in truth, I was kidnapped from the land of
the Hebrews; nor have I done anything here that they should have put me in the
dungeon; cf. poem 20:22.
25. ...: Gen 39:9: he has withheld nothing from me.
31. ...: Eccl 9:5: But the dead know nothing.

75
And he said, Do not raise your hand against the boy, or
do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your
son, your favored one, from Me (Gen 22:12).
edition 151

MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 96a:








/

/


/-
The Book of Genesis is completed with
the Help of the One (God) who brought His people from slavery to freedom
and peace;
The book is completed by a humble poet who ought not
to open his mouth in front of other poets;
The Rock of the World (God) helped him (the poet)
and He renewed his strength and spirit;
So that everyone who sees his poems, says:
Blessed be He (God) who gives power to the weary!
In addition to the vital Judeo-Arabic metatexts manuscript NLR Evr. I 802
is interspersed with interesting Hebrew poetical metatexts that serve as
a framework for Dars collection of poems and provide us with impor-
tant clues as to how to assess it. At the end of his cycle of poems on all
five books of the Torah we find a short Hebrew poem that is not part of
the collection of liturgical poems that Dar wrote for the weekly cycle of
Torah reading. This poem, written after the cycle of poems on the book of
Genesis, first and foremost praises God for leading His people out of slav-
ery to freedom. The poet also resorts to the conventional humility topos,76
in which he portrays himself as unworthy or incapable of doing justice
to his task of composing poems on the prsht. In using this formula he
emphasizes not only his own unworthiness or incapability, but also his
gratitude to God who empowered the Karaite poet to complete his poems
on the prsht of the Book of Genesis.

76Cf. E. Alfonso, Islamic Culture through Jewish Eyes, 55: Following genre conventions,
the poet portrays himself as inadequate to address God, and yet resolute in his intention to
do so. On the traditional humility topos as a common rhetorical strategy in Christian writ
ings, see E. R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, translated from the
German [= Curtiuss 1948 major study Europische Literatur und Lateinisches Mittelalter
(Bern: A. Francke)] by W. R. Trask with a new afterword by P. Godman (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1990), 8385, 40713.
152 chapter four

4.2Exodus

Poem 34: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 96a97a. Acrostic:


. Title: And this qia opens the Book of Exodus, [prsh] V-le
]shmt in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit
.77





/
/

/

/
/ 5

/
/

/

/ 10
/


/


/

/ 15

/
/



/
/ 20

/
/
/

/
25
/
/
/
/
30

77According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem


by Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
;; see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213
cf.section 2.4.
edition 153

/

/
/-
/
/ 35

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (So they set taskmasters over
them to oppress them; cf. Exod 1:11)78 is taken from prsh Shmt
(Exod 1:16:1) and refers to the oppression that the people of Israel experi-
enced in Egypt, both in biblical times before the Exodus and in the Middle
Ages during the Crusades. In the context of the poem, the construct
( taskmasters or overseers of forced labor) may refer to collectors
of the jizya, or poll tax, imposed on the Jews living in Islamic Egypt. This
poem abounds with pleas for Israels deliverance and is addressed entirely
to God; see for example the first two strophes:
[O God] who restores the lonely [to their homes] (Ps 68:7) and who binds
up broken hearts with His healing (Ps 147:3); bind up the fracture of a peo-
ple (i.e., Israel) oppressed by their enemies and imprisoned on account of
their sins; their slave (referring to Muslims) and their brother (referring to
Christians) speak ill of the people and their religion; they make their yoke
heavy, keep track of them when going out and coming back, they set task-
masters over them to oppress them (Exod 1:11).

O Rock, hear the outcry of Your people and take away the distress of their
suffering, and may their moaning and their cry for help reach Your heavens;
may You send a deliverer, as You have promised, to deliver them and fight
for them; may You appoint Your well-being for them (Isa 26:12) and remove
illness from among them; in Your great mercy may You hurl their sins into
the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).
These strophes show how Dar often associated illness and healing with
the broader themes of Israels suffering in exile and the divine promise
of deliverance.79 One can also detect subtle linguistic parallels between
the poem and prsh Shmt. In the second strophe, in lines 78, the
Hebrew words ( the outcry of Your people), ( their

78
So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor; and they built garrison
cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Raamses (Exod 1:11).
79Cf. section 3.9; see also line 23 in this poem:
/
, Isa 30:26: when the Lord binds up His peoples wounds and heals the injuries it
has suffered.
154 chapter four

moaning), and ( their cry for help) recall the following passage in
Exod 2:2324: A long time after that, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites
were groaning under the bondage and cried out; and their cry for help from
the bondage rose up to God; God heard their moaning, and God remem-
bered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These verses refer to
the harsh new reality faced by the Israelites in Egypt after Exod 1:8, when
a new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph. Also, in line 32
(Remember the covenant with the three Mighty Ancients and the day of
the revelation at Sinai), the poet refers to the covenant that God made
with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Exod 2:24.

1. : Ps 68:7: God restores the lonely to their homes. ...:


Ps 147:3: He heals their broken hearts, and binds up their wounds.
3. : their slave and their brother, referring to Muslims and Christians.
5. ...: Exod 1:11: So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with
forced labor; and they built garrison cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Raamses.
78. ...: Exod 2:2324: A long time after that, the king of Egypt
died. The Israelites were groaning under the bondage and cried out; and their cry
for help from the bondage rose up to God; God heard their moaning, and God
remembered his covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.
10. : cf. Isa 26:12: O Lord! May you appoint well-being
for us.
11. ...: Micah 7:19: You will hurl all our sins into the depths of
the sea.
13. : referring here to the people of Israel; see Jer 31:20: Truly, Ephraim is
a dear son to Me.
14. : cf. Isa 53:4: plagued, smitted and afflicted by God and
Ps 73:14: seeing that I have been constantly afflicted.
15. ...: Ps 107:27: they reeled and staggered like a drunken man.
17. : Exod 12:48: then he shall be admitted to offer it.
19. : Ps 69:16: Let the floodwaters not sweep me away.
23. ...: Isa 30:26: when the Lord binds up His peoples wounds and
heals the injuries it has suffered.
26. : brother, referring to Christians. : his slave, referring to Muslims.
29. ...: Ps 91:34: that he will save you from the fowlers trap, from
the destructive plague; He will cover you with His pinions.
32. : the covenant with the three Mighty Ancients, a title
given to the three Patiarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
35. ...: Ps 98:12: His right hand, His holy arm, has won Him vic-
tory; the Lord has manifested His victory, has displayed His triumph in the sight
of the nations.
edition 155

. Poem 35: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 97a. Acrostic:


]Title: On prsh Va-r in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit
.


/
/ /

/ / /



/

/ 5
/



/


/

/ 10
/
/

/
/ 15
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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (I will deliver you with an out-
stretched arm; cf. Exod 6:6)80 is taken from prsh Va-r (Exod 6:29:35).

80
Say, therefore, to the Israelite people: I am the
Lord. I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage.
156 chapter four

A biblical quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in


) in each strophe. Even more so, the word before is always
either arm or hand, which functions like an additional semantic
rhyme that reinforces the concept of divine deliverance. Dars Egyptian
Karaite public may have felt a close personal connection to the refrain
in which God promises Moses to deliver the Israelite people from Egypt
and bring them back to the Promised Land. The use of divine speech only
strengthens this idea in the first strophe: My sons in exile, I will heal the
injury that you have suffered by bringing you up to My rebuilt city and
by hastening your deliverance with the help of Elijah: I will redeem you
with an outstretched arm (Exod 6:6). The remainder of the poem has a
different first-person speaker, the people of Israel. In the fourth strophe
(and in the rest of strophes 23, 56), the poet addresses God on behalf
of the Israelite people (or his own congregation). In the second strophe he
describes the people/congregation, conventionally, as a beloved maiden
captured by her enemies. In the final strophe he describes them as a for-
saken son in the hands of killers.

1. ...: Isa 30:26. : to My rebuilt city, i.e., to Jerusalem.


2. ...: Exod 6:6: I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.
7. ...: Deut 4:34: by a mighty and an outstretched arm.
1112. ...: Isa 14:26: That is the plan that is planned for all the earth;
that is why an arm is poised over all the nations.
17. : Isa 14:27: Is it His arm that is poised?
21. : cf. Ezek 1:15.
2122. ...: Deut 9:29 and Jer 32:17: with Your great might and Your
outstretched arm.
2627. ...: Jer 32:21: You freed Your people Israel from the land of
Egypt with signs and marvels, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.

Poem 36: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 97b98a. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Bo l parh in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit] .



/
/

I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements
(Exod 6:6).
edition 157

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (That same [night] is the
Lords, one of vigil for all the children of Israel; cf. Exod 12:42)81 is
taken from prsh Bo (Exod 10:113:16) and refers to the night in which
God killed all the Egyptian first-born and thus freed the Israelite people
from Egypt. In the context of the poem, however, it refers to observ-
ing the Sabbath day.82 Lines 45 refer to Sabbath as the most ancient

81
; That was for the Lord a night of vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt
that same night is the Lords, one of vigil for all the children of Israel throughout the ages
(Exod 12:42).
82Cf. section 3.2.
158 chapter four

of holidays, originating in creation itself: From the beginning of the cre-


ation of the world, it was called out to be a blessed day, when the Rock
ceased from all His activities and completed his work. Lines 68 stress the
fact that the observance of the Sabbath day is one of the most significant
commandments: The splendor and radiance of all weekdays is like dark-
ness compared to that of [the Sabbath Day]; He left His Holy Day as an
everlasting inheritance for a people who seeks His will; when they observe
[the Sabbath], His sons are protected from every defiled enemy. The next
strophe (lines 1014) is particularly noteworthy in view of its claim that
the observance of the Sabbath is an exclusive Jewish privilege: When the
sons of Qedar (Muslims) and the sons of Edom (Christians) saw this, they
wanted to establish for themselves a similar holy day; but their judges
stumble in judgment and the power of their customs is not worth men-
tioning; how would the inheritance of the offspring of the righteous ones
(Jews) be copied by Adbeel (Muslims) or how would the portion of chosen
sons (Jews) be given to Magdiel (Christians)? According to the Karaite
poet the Sabbath Day is a confirmation of Israels identity as a Holy People.
In observing the Sabbath Israel is reminded that God, who sanctified the
Sabbath, also sanctifies those who observe it (line 16): [The Sabbath] is
holy and sanctified, and all who observe it will forever be sanctified. And
eventually (see lines 1920) all enemies, including Christians and Muslims
(called the offspring of Massa and Reuel), will recognize that the Sabbath
is the inheritance of the Hebrews. The last strophe, in which Gods peo-
ple (Israel, line 22) are exhorted to observe the commandments and fight
against your brother and your slave (line 23) with the help of the great
prince, Michael (line 26), contains additional references to Christians and
Muslims. The final strophe, exceptionally vocalized in manuscript NLR Evr.
I 802, addresses God and pleads for the arrival of the prophet named the
Tishbite and Your Messiah, the peaceable ruler (line 30), who will usher
in deliverance and the return to Jerusalem, where Israel will once again
sacrifice animals on the altar of Ariel (line 3132).83

2. ...: Exod 12:42: That same night is the Lords, one of vigil for all
the children of Israel.
45. ...: Gen 2:23.

83The first line of the poem may also contain a reference to Temple ritual. The word
( ascents, steps) recalls the superscription given to each of Pss 120134: A song of
ascents. According to Rabbinic descriptions of the Temple (see m. Middt 2:5), the Levites
played music and sang on the 15 Temple steps leading up to the Court of the Israelites
from the Womens Court.
edition 159

: the sons of : the sons of Qedar, referring to Muslims. 10.


Edom, referring to Christians.
: Isa 28:7: They stumble in judgment. 12.
: : the offspring of the righteous ones, i.e, Israel. 13.
Adbeel, referring to Muslims; see Gen 25:13.
;: Magdiel, referring to Christians : chosen sons, i.e, Jews. 14.
see Gen 36:43.
: the offspring of Massa and Reuel, i.e., Muslims (Gen 25:14) and 19.
Christians (Gen 36:4).
: against your brother and your slave, referring to Christians 23.
and Muslims.
: Dan 12:1: At that time, the great prince, Michael, who stand... 26.
behind the sons of your people, will appear.
: cf. 2 Chr 33:7: I will establish My name forever. 28.
: Isa 9:5: a peaceable ruler. 30.
: see Ezek 43:1516. 32.

Poem 37: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 98a99a. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Va-yh b-shalla in the wazn of [the poem with
] ]the incipit
[
.

]
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160 chapter four

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (I will not bring upon you any
of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; cf. Exod 15:26)84 is taken
from prsh B-shalla (Exod 13:1717:16). A biblical quotation ending in
) precedes the refrain (also ending in
in each strophe. Illness and
healing are frequent thematic elements in Dars liturgical poetry, which is
no surprise considering that the Karaite poet was also a trained physician.
Indeed, this poems name-acrostic (Moses, Karaite physician, be strong,
Amen) leaves no doubt that the poet also was a physician. Besides the
refrain, which uses a medical metaphor and describes God as the healer
of His people, line 4 (Please take away sickness and speed up healing to

84
He said, If you will
heed the Lord your God diligently, doing what is upright in His sight, giving ear to His
commandments and keeping all His laws, then I will not bring upon you any of the diseases
that I brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord your healer (Exod 15:26).
edition 161

the one who utters his prayer to You) and lines 4345 (My God and My
Rock, bind up my fracture and stir up my hope, fulfill my wishes; bring me
my help, my salvation, my light, the balm for my wound, my healing; take
notice of my disease, my sickness, my poverty, my experiences in exile,
and my sufferings) also display signs of interest in medical matters. These
last lines show how the poet often associated motifs of illness and healing
with broader themes dealing with Israels suffering in exile and the divine
promise of deliverance.85

1. : Ps 66:5: Come and see the works of God, who is held in


awe by men for His acts.
2. : Ps 17:5: My feet have held to Your paths.
5. : Gen 23:4: a resident alien.
6. ...: Exod 15:26: I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I
brought upon the Egyptians.
9. : Isa 22:1: The Valley of Vision.
11. : Jer 17:6: It is set in the scorched places of the wilderness.
: Isa 25:5: like heat in the desert.
13. : Exod 33:22: and shield you with My hand.
17. : his brother and his slave, referring to Christians and Muslims.
: Num 33:55: thorns in your sides.
20. : Zech 3:4: See, I have removed your guilt from you.
23. : their slave, referring to Muslims.
25. : Qedar, referring to Muslims.
27. : Exod 33:5: leave off your finery.
30. : your slave woman, referring to Muslims, see Gen 21:10.
32. : Exod 15:1: for He has triumphed gloriously.
41. : Deut 28:61: The Lord will bring upon you.
48. : Ps 16:2: I have no good but in You.

Poem 38: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 99a99b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Va-yishma Yitr in the wazn of [the poem with
the incipit]
.




/


/


85Cf. sections 3.6 and 3.9. Surprisingly, the poet does not use the Song of the Sea in
Exodus 15 which is part of prsh B-shalla and which includes much poetic language
about deliverance.
162 chapter four


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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (The God of my father was
my help; cf. Exod 18:4)86 is taken from prsh Yitr (Exod 18:120:23).
The three first strophes in this comparatively short poem seem to address
Muslims directly:
To those who rule over me, vigorously tyrannize me, and convincingly take
pride in my misfortune: know that if you want to kill me and uproot me, the
God of my father is my help (Exod 18:4).

My imprisonment and my exile in strange lands have caused me to be


trampled upon by every passer-by, but I still hope and turn my eyes to the
mountains: from where will my help come? (Ps 121:1)

My slave (i.e., Muslims), you have tired me with your burden and your yoke
has become heavy on my neck; do you not know that the Rock will be angry
with you because you acquired a Hebrew slave (Exod 21:2)?
This last quotation comes from the beginning of the following prsh,
Mishptm. Yet the next strophe clearly allude to prsh Yitr, i.e., to the
Ten Commandments in Exod 20: The Rock elevated me over all other
nations and prepared me to listen to His commandments; He glorified me
with the Torah and called me: My beloved, My servant, and My first-born

86 and the other was named


Eliezer, meaning, The God of my father was my help, and He delivered me from the sword
of Pharaoh (Exod 18:4).
edition 163

son (Exod 4:22). In the penultimate strophe, in line 14, the Karaite poet
also harks back to the previous prsh, B-shalla with his reference to
the parting of the Red Sea.

2. : Exod 18:4: The God of my father was my help.


5. ...: Ps 121:12: I turn my eyes to the mountains; from where will my
help come? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.
8. : Exod 21:2: when you acquire a Hebrew slave.
11. : Exod 4:22: Israel is My first-born son.
14. : Ps 84:3: my body and soul shout for joy to the living
God.
16. : cf. Lev 25:35: If your kinsman, being in straits, comes under your
authority.
17. : Isa 60:1: Arise, shine.

Poem 39: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 99b100a. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same prsh in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit]
.87





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87According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
;see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213; cf.
section 2.4.
164 chapter four

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (that the fear of Him may
be ever with you, so that you do not go astray; cf. Exod 20:17)88 is taken
from prsh Yitr (Exod 18:120:23). We can again find clear references
to the prsh for which this poem was written, particularly to the cov-
enant at Mount Sinai and the giving of the Torah to Moses in lines 912:
The Almighty wanted to let you hear His words with the help of His ser-
vant (Moses) on the day that He appeared from [Mount] Paran (Hab 3:3)
and came to [Mount] Sinai in His glory, in fire and with horn blasts (cf.
Exod 19:1819) because of which you fell back (Exod 20:15) in fear of
Him, were it not that the trusted leader (Moses; Num 12:7) said to you:
Be not afraid (Exod 20:17)! In the next strophe (lines 1415), the poet
mentions the Exodus from Egypt and the encampment in the wilderness
of Sinai: The One who saved His people from the ruthlessness of Egypt
(cf. Exod 1:13) and from the Red Sea (Exod 14), and who set them with a
demoralized heart in Sinai, both the natives and the strangers.
The poem also takes up the usual topic, deliverance, but it speaks less
of Israels sins and its suffering in exile. This may well be because the
giving of the Torah is a more prominent topic in prsh Yitr and is not
linked to suffering. Moreover, this poem does not mention the Others, i.e,
Christians and Muslims, who usually appear in Dars liturgical poems.

88
Moses answered the people, Be not afraid; for God has come only
in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may every be with you, so that you do
not go astray (Exod 20:17).
edition 165

: Exod 20:17: that the fear of Him may be ever with you, so... 2.
that you do not go astray.
: Ps 19:9: The precepts of the Lord are just. 6.
: Hab 3:3: God is coming from Teman, the Holy One from 10.
Mount Paran.
: cf. Exod 19:1819: Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke, for 11.
the Lord had come down upon it in fire [...] the blare of the horn grew louder
: Exod 20:15: and when the people saw it, they fell back and louder.
and stood at a distance.
: Moses, see Num 12:7: Not so with My servant Moses; he is 12.
: Exod 20:17: Moses answered the trusted throughout My household.
!people, be not afraid
: cf. Exod 1:13: The Egyptians ruthlessly imposed upon the 14.
: see Exod 14. Israelites.
: cf. Num 11:4: the riffraff in their midst. 15.
: Isa 25:6: a banquet of rich viands. 22.
: Exod 23:17: Three times a year all your males shall appear... 3132.
before the Sovereign, the Lord.

Poem 40: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 100a100b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh V-le ha-mishptm in the wazn of [the poem
. [] ]with the incipit

[]

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166 chapter four


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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (I am sending an angel before


you to guard you; cf. Exod 23:20)89 is taken from prsh Mishptm
(Exod 21:124:18). This prsh contains mostly commandments and is
therefore hardly suitable for composing liturgical poetry, but the refrain
the beginning of Gods promise to protect his people and to drive out
the nations from the Promised Landis the one part of the prsh that
could be the subject of a poem. This poem employs (in manuscript NLR
Evr. I 802, partly vocalized) divine speech in the first strophe: From My
high and holy abode, in great mercy I have looked down on the poverty
of My people living amidst adversaries, and I have declared the good news:
My son, never stop hoping even if your troubles are great, for I am sending an
angel before you to guard you (Exod 23:20). In the remainder of the poem,
in which a third-person speaker addresses God on behalf of the people of
Israel (except for strophe 4 and the end of strophe 6 where we find Israel as
a first-person speaker addressing God), we find a number of scathing refer-
ences to Christians and Muslims; see especially the final two strophes:
Bring near the deliverance for a son (Israel) oppressed by the son of the
slave-woman (Ishmael, the Muslims), repair his apostasy and speed up his
ingathering to the house of Your prayer, and let him there witness Your
kindness and be treated in Your Temple; cause the sun of his salvation to
shine, for he is waiting for You and for Your word.

Strengthen the bars of the gates of the storm-tossed city (Jerusalem) in which
the whoredom of Edom (Christians) and Arabia (Muslims) has grown; sanc-
tify the court of Your Temple and do not bring back those who eat forbidden
meat (Muslims) or those who eat pork (Christians), that there I may burst
into song before You and I eternally praise You.
It should be noted that prsh Mishptm does not contain any dietary
rules of kashrt, apart from the prohibition against cooking a mixture
of milk and meat, based on Exod 23:19: You shall not boil a kid in its
mothers milk.90

89 I am
sending an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that
I have made ready (Exod 23:20).
90 Cf. Exod 34:26 and Deut 12:21.
edition 167

: Exod 23:20: I am sending an angel before you to guard you.... 3.


: Isa 42:13: He yells, He roars aloud, He charges upon His... 7.
enemies.
?: Isa 63:17: and turn our hearts away from revering you... 11.
: Isa 44:22: I wipe away your sins like a cloud....[] 14.
: the son of the slave woman, referring to Muslims. 17.
: Edom and : Jerusalem, see Isa 54:11: Storm-tossed one. 21.
Arabia, referring to Christians and Muslims.
: those who eat forbidden meat, those who eat pork, referring...[] 22.
to Muslims and Christians.

Poem 41: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 101a101b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh V-yiq l trm in the wazn of [the poem with
.91 ]the incipit




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, may be another version of )91The poem (with the incipit


which is the incipit of the fifth strophe in Judah ha-Levis piyy
; see H. Brody (ed.), Dwn des Abu-l-asn Jehuda ha-Levi, 3:13840; I. Davidson,
Thesaurus of Medieval Hebrew Poetry, 2:1883; cf. section 2.4.
168 chapter four

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (The Lord spoke to Moses,
saying: Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; cf. Exod 25:12)92 is
taken from prsh Trm (Exod 25:127:19), but, unlike the biblical text
of the refrain which calls Moses by name, the poet uses only epithets for
Moses, e.g. the son of Amram (Exod 6:20) in line 2. The poem is unusual
in that it does not contain any of the typical Karaite topics of repentance,
suffering, or salvation, but rather is replete with allusions to prsh
Trm, particularly to the construction of the Ark (Arn, line 12) and the
Tabernacle (mishkn, line 5) in Exod 2527. The poet refers to the altars
in the Tabernacle (line 10), to the ark covered with pure gold (line 12), and
to the cherubim shielding the cover and the tablets of the Covenant with
their wings (lines 1314). The next strophe mentions the screen facing the
entrance of the Tent and the cloth of fine twisted linen and goats hair
used for making the tent over the Tabernacle (line 16), the planks with
golden rings and bars and silver sockets (lines 1718), and the one-hundred
loops of wool used to hold the pieces of cloth together (lines 1920).
In the next strophe, the poet refers to the coverings of ram and dolphin
skins (line 22), to the curtain hanging on posts of acacia wood that sets

92 /
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Tell the Israelite people to
bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him
(Exod 25:12).
edition 169

off the Holy of Holies (line 2425), and to the enclosure of the Tabernacle
(lines 2526). In the penultimate strophe, in line 29, Dar refers by name
to Bezalel and Oholiab, the skilled craftsmen who made the Tabernacle
and the Ark of the Covenant.
The poem ends quite organically in the final strophe with a plea to
build a Third TempleEzekiel 4047 contains the architectural plans
on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the First and Second Temples
that were destroyed by the Babylonians and the Romans once stood. The
poet expects this Third Temple to surpass even the First (Solomons) in
glory (lines 3638), and stresses the contribution of King Hiram of Tyre
(who provided quality resources and skilled craftsmen in exchange for
food) to the construction of the First Temple (which superseded Moses
Tabernacle as Gods dwelling-place among the Israelites).

2. : the son of Amram, referring to Moses; see Exod 6:20: Amram


took to wife his fathers sister Jochebed, and she bore him Aaron and Moses.
...: Exod 25:12: The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Tell the Israelite
people to bring Me gifts.
5. : see Exodus 2627.
6. : Gen 6:9: Noah was a righteous man, though here it seems to
refer to Moses.
1026. Various references to prsh Term; see the commentary essay above.
14. : cf. Exod 34:29: So Moses came down from Mount Sinai. And
as Moses came down from the mountain bearing the two tablets of the Pact,
Moses was not aware that skin of his face was radiant, since he had spoken with
Him. : Ps 19:8: The teaching of the Lord is perfect.
23. : Exod 38:8: He made the laver of copper and its stand
of copper, from the mirrors of the women who performed tasks at the entrance of
the Tent of Meeting.
29. ...: see Exod 36:1: Let, then, Bezalel and Oholiab and all the
skilled persons whom the Lord had endowed with skill and ability to perform
expertly all the tasks connected with the service of the sanctuary carry out all
that the Lord has commanded.
36. : see Ezek 4047.
38. : referrings to the First (Solomons) Temple, which was
constructed with the help of King Hiram of Tyre; see 1 Kgs 5:1525.

Poem 42: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 101b102b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh V-att tavve in the wazn of [the poem with
the incipit] .


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] [/
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170 chapter four

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edition 171

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (I will abide among the
Israelites, and I will be their God; cf. Exod 29:45)93 is taken from prsh
Tavve (Exod 27:2030:10). A biblical quotation ending in pre-
cedes the refrain (also ending in ) in each strophe. The speech situ-
ation in this poem is striking. It changes from first-person divine speech
in the first three strophes to a third-person speaker pleading to God on
behalf of the people of Israel in the fourth and the sixth strophe, and then
to the people of Israel speaking in the first person in the fifth strophe.94 In
line 9 the poet refers to the Ark (arn) and the Tabernacle (mishkn) as
he did in the previous poem. Priesthood is the link between the poems
third strophe (lines 1520) and its prsh:
Behold, for the sake of the justice of My priest (Aaron) and the humility of
My messenger who is trusted in My house (Moses, cf. Num 12:7), and for
the sake of the covenant of My servant and the people of My mercy, and
Shimron,95 My child, and the word of My Torah, and the favor of prophets,
diviners, and seers who are exalted to My prophethood: in the time of My
anger I will remember a congregation caught and captured in the trap of
their slave (Muslims); and to enable them to survive their exile I will show
them My salvation; I will save them from hard distress and draw them out
to Moses, the man of God (Ps 90:1).
The comforting message of deliverance, returning to Jerusalem and
rebuilding the Temple rings throughout this poem. However, it is remark-
able that in the fifth strophe Israel declares that they will rebuild the city
and Temple and will dwell there.

6. ...: Exod 29:45: I will abide among the Israelites, and I will be
their God.
13. : Jer 24:7: and I will be their God.
15. : Moses; see Num 12:7: Not so with My servant Moses; he is trusted
throughout My household.
16. : Shimron was one of the Israelites who went to Egypt. His descen-
dants, the Shimronites, formed one of the families of Issachar; see Gen 46:8, 13;
Num 26:23, 24; 1 Chr 7:1.

93 I will abide among the Israelites, and


I will be their God (Exod 29:45).
94For an analysis of the poetic personae in this poem, including a full translation, see
section 2.2.
95Shimron was one of the Israelites who went to Egypt. His descendants, the
Shimronites, formed one of the families of Issachar, see Gen 46:8, 13; Num 26:23, 24;
1 Chr 7:1.
172 chapter four

: slave, referring to Muslims. 18.


: Exod 2:10: She named him Moses, explaining: I drew him out of 20.
: Ps 90:1: [A prayer] of Moses, the man of God. the water.
: the son of Dumah, referring to the Muslims, see Gen 25:14. 26.
: cf. Ps 42:2: my soul cries for You, O God.... 27.
: Gen 28:21: The Lord shall be my God.... 34.
: Ezek 28:13: You were in Eden, the garden of God. 41.

Poem 43: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 102b103b. Acrostic:


]. Title: On prsh K tiss in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit
.


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edition 173

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (Turn from Your blazing anger,
and renounce the plan to punish Your people; cf. Exod 32:12)96 is taken
from prsh K tiss (Exod 30:1134:35) and refers to the words with
which Moses implored God not to punish the Israelite people for having
fashioned the Golden Calf. A biblical quotation ending in precedes
the refrain (also ending in )
in nearly every strophe. In line 1, this
poema plea for the forgiveness of sinsis addressed to God, the King
of Kings, Guide of the Perplexed, and the One who enlightens the dark-
ness with the light of His word. The third strophe contains inimical ref-
erences to Christians (brother, people of Edom) and Muslims (slave,
Nebaioth), under whose oppression Israel suffers. The following strophe
(lines 2123) clearly reaches back to the topic of prsh K tiss, i.e., to
the fashioning of the Golden Calf and the resulting discussion between
God and His messenger Moses about His plan to punish the Israelites for
this wrongdoing. The fifth strophe states that Israel repented and pleads
that this repentance be accepted as a sufficient reason for deliverance.
The poem ends with allusions to the book of Daniel: Speed up future
events and uncover secrets of which the precious man (Daniel) knows
the end (Dan 12:4); forgive their unfaithfulness by causing the prince who
stands beside the sons of your people to appear (Dan 12:1). The question
remains whether this prince is Michael, as in the Book of Daniel, or the
Messiah in the context of this poem.

5. ...: Exod 32:12: Turn from your blazing anger, and renounce the
plan to punish Your people.
11. : Exod 32:11: Let not your anger, O Lord, blaze forth
against your people.

96
Let not the Egyptians say, It was with evil intent
that He delivered them, only to kill them off in the mountains and annihilate them from
the face of the earth. Turn from Your blazing anger, and renounce the plan to punish Your
people (Exod 32:12).
174 chapter four

: his brother and his slave, referring to Christians and Muslims. 14.
: Num 33:55: thorns in your sides.
: Nebaioth, referring : people of Edom, referring to Christians. 15.
to Muslims; Gen 25:13.
: referring to to the making of the Golden Calf in Exod 32. 21.
: His messenger, referring to Moses. 22.
: Exod 5:23: and still You have not delivered Your 29.
people.
: Dan 12:4: But : referring to Daniel; see Dan 10:11,19.[] 34.
you, Daniel, keep the words secret, and seal the book until the time of the end.
: cf. Dan 12:1: At that time, the great prince, Michael, who stands... 35.
beside the sons of your people, will appear.

Poem 44: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 103b104a. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same prsh in the wazn of [the poem with the
. ]incipit



/ / /


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edition 175

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (that He may bestow a bless-
ing upon you today; cf. Exod 32:29)97 is taken from prsh K tiss
(Exod 30:1134:35). A biblical quotation ending in precedes the
refrain (also ending in )
in each strophe. Dar employs divine speech
in the first five strophes, but unexpectedly ends the poem with a third-
person speaker who addresses Israel (Be strong, Israel, and keep your
faith, line 21) in the sixth strophe and with Israel who addresses God
in the first person in the seventh and final strophe, where they ask Him
to command a blessing to fall upon the land of Israel. The strophes with
divine speech are particularly noteworthy for their promise of deliverance
from exile; see for instance the third strophe: Receive good tidingsO My
people whose salvation seems far awaywho are terrified and troubled
because of the enemys oppression: this time, I will open the floodgates of
the sky for you, My Chosen People, and I will pour down blessings on you
(Mal 3:10). In the fifth strophe we find hostile references to Christians
and Muslims: The curse of My opponents against the congregation of
My people has risen to My heaven and been disclosed to My ears; how
then will Jetur curse them before My eyes, and how will the deceitful Esau
supplant Jacob over the blessing (cf. Gen 27:36)? Here the poet uses the
epithet Jetur (a son of Ishmael; Gen 25:15) to refer to Muslims and Esau
to refer to Christians. He also toys with the Hebrew root ( aqav) in
the adjective ( deceitful) and the third-person verbal form ( sup-
plant) alongside the name ( Jacob).

3. : Exod 32:29: that He may bestow a blessing upon you


today.
7. : Zech 8:13: you shall become a blessing.
10. ...: cf. Gen 7:11: the floodgates of the sky broke open.
11. : Mal 3:10: I will pour down blessings on you.
15. : Gen 12:2: and you shall be a blessing.

97 And
Moses said: Dedicate yourselves to the Lord this dayfor each of you has been against
son and brotherthat He may bestow a blessing upon you today (Exod 32:29).
176 chapter four

: Esau, referring to : Jetur, referring to Muslims, see Gen 25:15. 18.


Christians.
: see Gen 27:36: [Esau] said: Was he, then, named Jacob that... 19.
he might supplant me these two times? First he took away my birthright and now
!he has taken away my blessing
: Deut 28:8: The Lord will ordain blessings for you.... 23.
: Ps 133:3: There the Lord ordained blessing.... 27.

. Poem 45: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 104a104b. Acrostic:


]Title: On prsh Va-yaqhl in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit
.98


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98According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn (rhythmic quality or


; see Brody, meter) is modeled on a poem by Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
3:34; Yarden, 3:64143; cf. section 2.4.
edition 177


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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (you shall have a Sabbath of
complete rest, holy to the Lord; cf. Exod 35:2)99 is taken from prsh
Va-yaqhl (Exod 35:138:20). A biblical quotation ending in precedes
the refrain (also ending in )in each strophe. In this poem, with the short
name-acrostic Moses, physician, be strong, Dar uses divine speech to
refer to the holiness of the Sabbath day (at the beginning of which his
poems were recited) and to the fact that the observance of the Sabbath is
one of the most important commandments as well as being an exclusive
Jewish privilege that Christians and Muslims cannot adopt:100
My sons, be mindful of the Teaching of My servant Moses (Mal 3:22) and
of My Holy Day,
you shall have a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord (Exod 35:2).

You shall have complete rest on this day, O holy nation and chosen people;
the Lord has blessed [the Sabbath] and favored it, since on it He finished
all his work.
On the day He made His voice heard on [Mount] Sinai to the community,
He said: Remember the Sabbath Day (Exod 20:8) as in the days of old;
for how beautiful and how good is a day on which your status grows, a day
about which the Rock stated from the beginning: Such is the lot of the ser-
vants of the Lord (Isa 54:17).

Edom and Arabia behave foolishly by establishing weekdays as their own


holy day;
they can be compared to a heat wave that prevails over the river of Eden.
How can tin be compared to gold? How can straw be compared to grain?
(Jer 23:28)
Why is a precious stone superior to a broken potsherd? The favor of all the
other nations is like a wilted flower set in the scorched places of the wilderness

99
On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a sab
bath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death
(Exod 35:2).
100 For a translation of the full poem see section 3.2.
178 chapter four

(Jer 17:6), whereas those who observe the Sabbath are forever true because
the Lord has chosen them (Deut 21:5 and 1 Chr 15:2).

The Supreme One elevated the status of every seventh [time span] because
of His day of rest; He put the law of remission of debts (Deut 15:1) in His
Torah, and that of the sheaf (Lev 23:1016) and the jubilee (Lev 25:810); to
give me rest, He glorified me in His great affection on the day that He saved
me from my labor; and by observing His commandment I found repose and
rest from my work on a holy day whose sanctification is the joy and delight
of my heart;
a day with important parts, for the Lord has chosen it (Deut 18:5).

1. : Mal 3:22: Be mindful of the Teaching of My servant


Moses.
2. ...: Exod 35:2: you shall have a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the
Lord.
7. : Exod 20:8: Remember the sabbath day.
9. : Isa 54:17: Such is the lot of the servants of the Lord.
11. : Edom and Arabia, referring to Christians and Muslims.
13. ...: Jer 23:28: How can straw be compared to grain?
15. : Jer 17:6: It is set in the scorched places of the
wilderness.
16. ...: Deut 21:5 and 1 Chr 15:2: for the Lord your God has chosen them.
19. : see Deut 15:1. : see Lev 23:10. : see Lev 25:1011; cf.
section 3.2.
23. ...: Deut 18:5: For the the Lord your God has chosen him.
30. : Isa 35:910; 51:1011: the redeemed and the ransomed of the
Lord.

Poem 46: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 104b105b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh le pqd in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit] .



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edition 179

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (Just as the Lord had com-
manded Moses, so the Israelites had done all the work; cf. Exod 39:42)101
is taken from prsh Pqd (Exod 38:2140:38) and refers to the

Just as the Lord had com 101


manded Moses, so the Israelites had done all the work (Exod 39:42). For translations of
fragments in this poem, see sections 3.4 and 3.5.
180 chapter four

construction of the Tabernacle and the Ark. A biblical quotation ending


in precedes the refrain (also ending in ) in nearly every stro-
phe. The first strophe refers by name to Bezalel and Oholiab, the skilled
craftsmen who made the Tabernacle and the Arka clear link to prsh
Pqd. This first strophe also deals with Gods giving the Torah to Moses
and stresses the Torahs perfection when compared to the worthless laws
of the Christians and Muslims:
Who are the people for whom God set up commandments and laws, whom
He chose from the high heavens with a perfect and faultless Law and a
Torah given to Yequtiel (Moses)? They are like the sons who wanted to do
their Fathers will with the help of Oholiab and Bezalel, and who did not
pay attention to the false law assigned to the prince of Mibsam (Muslims;
Gen 25:13) and to the chief of Reuel (Christians; Gen 36:10); and they
wished to dowith all their mightthe will of the Rock and serve Him:
just as the Lord had commanded Moses, so the Israelites had done all the
work (Exod 39:42).
Most of the poem is taken up by the request for deliverance so charac-
teristic of Moses Dars liturgical poetry. The final strophe (lines 3941)
contains additional antagonistic references to Christians and Muslims:
Build all my cities despite of my enemies and wipe out my adversaries,
O magnificent God, and treat Edoms cities like the upheaval of Sodom
(Deut 29:22) and destroy the community of Qedar like the creatures of the
field (Ps 50:11); they will be frightened, turned back and weakened, whereas
Israel will prevail (Exod 17:11).

2. : referring to Moses; for the same epithet see poem 76:3.


4. : the prince of Mibsam, referring to Muslims; Gen 25:13.
: the chief of Reuel, referring to Christians; Gen 36:10.
6. ...: Exod 39:42: Just as the Lord had commanded Moses, so the
Israelites had done all the work.
11. : Exod 19:6: a kingdom of priests.
20. ...: Isa 12:6: For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
23. : cf. Josephs dream in Gen 37:7: There we were bind-
ing sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf stood up and remained upright;
then your sheaves gathered around and bowed low to my sheaf.
34. ...: 1 Kgs 18:36: that you are God in Israel.
40. : Edom, referring to Christians. : like the upheaval of
Sodom; cf. Deut 29:22. : Ps 50:11: the creatures of the field. : Qedar,
referring to Muslims.
41. : cf. Ps 44:19: Our hearts have not gone astray. :
Exod 17:11: Then, whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed.
edition 181

Poem 47: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 105b106a. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same prsh in the wazn of [the poem with the
]incipit
.102





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/-

102According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
; see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213; cf.
section 2.4.
182 chapter four

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (as the Lord had commanded,
so they had done, [Moses] blessed them; cf. Exod 39:43)103 is taken from
prsh Pqd (Exod 38:2140:38). A biblical quotation ending in
precedes the refrain (also ending in )
in each strophe. The third stro-
phe (lines 1011) recalls a prophetic subtext from Isa 11:6: Will your sons,
O Rock (God), have no sons? For strangers have taken possession of their
land; wolves and leopards lie down with Your sheep in Your land, and on
account of Your anger they have been scattered amongst serpents and
beasts of prey; they are destroyed and provoked before Your eyes, and they
shall be enslaved and oppressed (Gen 15:13). The sixth and final strophe
ends with divine speech and a quotation from Ezek 36:37: Hurry, My con-
gregation, from your narrow confinement; break your chains and go out!
The sun of Your salvation is shining forever, so fear evil no more; behold,
I will destroy your opponents, and I will fulfill the words (of Ezek 36:37):
In this I will respond to the House of Israel and act for their sake: I will mul-
tiply their people [like sheep].

2. ...: Exod 39:43: And when Moses saw that they had performed
all the tasksas the Lord had commanded, so they had doneMoses blessed
them.
7. ...: Gen 49:28: addressing to each a parting word appropriate
to him.
1011. cf. Isa 11:6: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard lie down with
the kid; the calf, the beast of prey, and the fatling together, with a little boy to
herd them.
12. : Gen 15:13: and they shall be enslaved and oppressed.
17. : Num 25:17: and defeat them.
22. : Deut 11:18: and bind them.
2627. ...: Ezek 36:37: in this I will respond to the House of Israel and
act for their sake: I will multiply their people like sheep.

103 And
when Moses saw that they had performed all the tasksas the Lord had commanded, so
they had doneMoses blessed them (Exod 39:43).
edition 183

MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 106b:






/

/
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/

The poems on the portions of the Book of Exodus are completed by the
grace of the One (God) who surrounds His enemies with the anger that remains,
while His friends have access forever to the pleasures in His right hand;
The second book of poetry is completed
by a servant who desires only wisdom,
to gather beautiful piyym/liturgical hymns;
every day he keeps on thinking and devising
until everyone who sees [the result of] his contemplation
poetry that shines like the sun from the East
says: Blessed be He who gives power to the weary
and strength to the powerless!
In this poem, written upon reaching the end of the book of Exodus, the
term piyym is used explicitly to indicate Dars liturgical poems on the
prsht. Thematically, the poem supplies, alongside the customary praise
of God, an unusual hint at the poets own achievements. This conflicts
with the humility topos found in most other Hebrew poetical metatexts,
such as the poem written upon the completion of the book of Genesis.
There seems to be some ambiguity at play here. With due awareness of
the need to avoid over-interpretation, the blessing formula Blessed be
He who gives power to the weary and strength to the powerless! could,
in this case, be directed to the poet as well as to God. The poet sought
above all to revitalize the liturgy with his poems and he may also have
attempted to empower his audiencei.e., to strengthen and encourage
his Karaite congregation living in exile in Egypt.104

104The term empowerment (which is often loaded with feminist or theological


associations, see A. Pratt, Dancing with Goddesses: Archetypes, Poetry, and Empowerment
[Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994] and V. Rabens, The Holy Spirit and Ethics in
Paul. Transformation and Empowering for Religious Ethical Life [Tbingen: Mohr Siebeck,
2010]) is used here in its most basic meaning: to give somebody/be given the power or
authority to act.
184 chapter four

4.3Leviticus

Poem 48: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 106b107a. Acrostic:


. Title: And this qia is [written] for the first prsh of the
]book of Leviticus in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit


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edition 185

Even though, contrary to custom, the refrain (pizmn) of this strophic


poem does not consist of a quotation, the first strophe still alludes to
Gods words to Moses from the Tent of Meeting in prsh Va-yiqr
(Lev 1:15:26)i.e., the description of Temple sacrifice, especially sin
offerings.105 This poem is also conspicuous for citing other biblical verses
from prsh Va-yiqr (lines 4, 1617; see the line-by-line annotations
below) despite its not featuring a pizmn from the prsh. The poem
clearly reinterprets Leviticus 1ff., saying that instead of presenting animal
sacrifices to God to be burnt on the altar, Jews now bring their sacrifices
in the form of prayers with the fruit of their lips (see line 4; cf. Hos 14:3:
instead of bulls we will pay [the offering of] our lips). The second stro-
phe contains more evidence of this redefinition of sacrifice as prayer in
lines 68: He will slaughter the goat of his desire; he will forcefully offer
up in smoke his fat portions on the fire of his thoughts, and his blood in
continual prayers; in great fear he will bring the tribute of confessions
to the door of his Rock. The third strophe sets the tone for the rest of
this poem with its clear penitential themes: Abstain fully from sins lest
they come to your mind; choose to return to your God, and blessed be
he who repents; take off the garment of arrogance and remember that
man is a resident alien (Gen 23:4); get provisions ready (Josh 1:11): praise
and acts of worship for the Day of Awe, and good deeds for the bitter and
long road.
In the fourth strophe we find conventional references to the neoplatonic
polarity between the material world of the body (which, in the language
of the description of Temple sacrifice, needs to be cut up into sections as
well as torn to pieces; cf. Lev. 1:12,17) and the spiritual world of the soul.
The fifth strophe continues with penitential themes until the sixth and
final strophe (lines 3032) returns to the spiritualization of prayer: Bring
near and present the offering of poetry to your God, and walk in Gods
right path and keep the Law and the commandments, so that, perhaps, He
may soon deliver you and bring near future events.
This clear reference to deliverance highlights the significance of this
poem, which, unlike the other poems in our collection (such as poem
41), does not envision the building of a Third Temple and reinstate-
ment of Temple ritual. Rather, it embraces post-Temple Judaism and its

105Cf. Lev 1:1: The Lord called to Moses


and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying [...].
186 chapter four

renunciation of animal sacrifices in favor of prayers which were instituted


to correspond to the daily Temple offerings.106

1. : Lev 1:1: The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the
tent of Meeting.
4. ...: Lev 1:2: When any of you presents an offering of cattle to
the Lord. : Hos 14:3: instead of bulls we will pay [the offering of]
our lips.
8. : cf. Isa 18:7: In that time, tribute shall be brought to the Lord of Hosts
and Ps 76:12: all who are around Him shall bring tribute to the Awesome One.
12. : Gen 23:4: I am a resident alien among you.
1314. ...: Josh 1:11: Get provisions ready.
16. : Lev 1:12: when it has been cut up into sections.
17. : cf. Lev 1:17: The priest shall tear it open by its wings.
26. : cf. Jer 10:15: In their hour of doom, they shall perish.
32. : cf. Deut 32:35: destiny rushes upon them.

Poem 49: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 107a107b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh av in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit]

.



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/ 5

/


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106The Karaites still consider prayer to be a substitute for the daily offerings in the
Temple. For this reason, Karaites usually practice prayer only twice dailymorning and
evening; cf. section 1.2.
edition 187


/
/


The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (keeping the Lords charge;
cf. Lev 8:35)107 is taken from the end of prsh av (Lev 6:18:36), which
deals with a variety of animal sacrifice rituals, purity issues, and the con-
secration of the priests who are allowed to eat sacrificial meat. A biblical
quotation (mainly from the book of Psalms; see the line-by-line annota-
tions below) ending in the name of God precedes the refrain (ending in
)in each strophe. In the first four strophes of this comparatively short
poem, Dar alludes to the neoplatonic polarity between the material
world of the body and the spiritual world of the soul:108
Wake up from [your sleep], my heart and my eyes; come at midnight to
Gods House, and stand before me, to guard the Temple and keep the Lords
charge (Lev 8:35).

Stay away from sleepiness, arise and hasten to escape the laziness of your
body, and take counsel how to be saved from judgment, and take care to do
whatever the Lord desires (Ps 135:6).

My soul, leave aside the command of the body and turn to the wise com-
mand of the One who understands you (God) until you will be called an
honorable angel amidst the celestial army and amongst those who stand in
the house of the Lord (Ps 134:1).

Do your Creators will and leave that of your inclination; prepare to leave
your imprisonment; may you appease God and be blessed, and carry on the
praise: My soul is for the Lord! (Ps 130:6)
If we consider this liturgical poem together with the preceding one, where
prayer explicitly replaces sacrifice, we see that this poems turning away
from the physical and toward the spiritual is another way of highlighting
the spiritualization of the worship rituals described in prsh av.

107
You shall remain at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven
days, keeping the Lords chargethat you may not diefor so I have been commanded
(Lev 8:35).
108For a translation of the complete poem, including the final two strophes, see
section 3.8.
188 chapter four

: Lev 8:35: keeping the Lords charge. 2.


: Ps 135:6: whatever the Lord desires. 5.
: Jer 28:5 and Ps 134:1: who stand in the house of the Lord. 8.
: Ps 130:6: I am more eager for the Lord. 11.
: Ps 85:2: O Lord, You will favour Your land. 14.
: Ps 85:9: Let me hear what God, the Lord, will 17.
speak.

Poem 50: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 107b108b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Va-yh ba-ym ha-shmn in the wazn of [the
]poem with the incipit
.109



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109According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem


by Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
; see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213; cf.
section 2.4 and note the exceptional use of vocalization on fol. 108a.
edition 189


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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (you shall sanctify yourselves
and be holy, for I am holy; cf. Lev 11:44)110 is taken from prsh Shmn
(Lev 9:111:47). A quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending
in )
in each strophe. The first strophe contains a clear link to prsh
Shmn, i.e., to the laws of m (impurity, uncleanness) and hor
(purity) in Leviticus 11. Admittedly, the poet does not refer verbatim
to the dietary laws and the need to abstain from unclean foods to avoid
being defiled. Rather, he focuses on the general requirement to be a holy
people and to refrain from all sins. While Dar stresses exile (glt, line 1)
as a principle cause of defilement, he uses divine speech and prophetic
subtexts to emphasize Gods power to purify: O Holy people who became
defiled in exile during the times of My anger, you who in captivity drank
a cup of poison and ate the bread of distress (Deut 16:3), as to the defile-
ment of the sins you have committed: I will sprinkle clean water on them
as much as I want, and you shall be clean (Ezek 36:25) as I have promised
and revealed, and you shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I am holy
(Lev 11:44). This divine speech continues to strophe three, in which the
poet describes Israels exile under Muslims as Isaacs unnatural subjection
to Ishmael: Will the son of the mistress (= Sarah, the mother of Isaac)
be forever enslaved in the power of the son of the Egyptian slave woman
(= Hagar, the mother of Ishmael)? Your kingdom gone, and sustaining
open wounds (Isa 1:6) every day, I will wipe away your tears that are spilled

110
For I the Lord am your God: you shall sanctify yourselves and
be holy, for I am holy. You shall not make yourselves unclean through any swarming thing
that moves upon the earth (Lev 11:44).
190 chapter four

like a sea in a foreign land; my barren House will be transformed into a


fruitful vine (Ps 128:3), and whenever you call upon Me from your distress,
I will answer: Here am I (Ezek 34:11,20).
The remainder of the poem, addressed to God, focuses on the need
for divine mercy and salvation, as highlighted by the final strophe with
additional prophetic subtexts: Renew the light of the sun of Your people
sevenfold (Isa 30:26), O Lord, for the time comes when the wide sea will
thunder (Ps 96:11; 98:7) and the dry land will exult; draw near the time
when eyes will perceive the gladness of the desert and the joy of the wilder-
ness (Isa 35:1), and let the rivers clap their hands at the presence of the Lord
for He is coming (Ps 98:89); and when the heavens will rejoice (Ps 96:11),
my mind, too, will be gladdened (Prov 23:15).

2. : Deut 16:3: bread of distress.


34. ...: cf. Ezek 36:25: I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and
you shall be clean: I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your
fetishes.
5. ...: Lev 11:44: you shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, for
I am holy.
11. : Exod 19:6: a kingdom of priests. : Mal 1:14: For
I am a great King.
13. : the son of a mistress,referring to Israel. : the son of
an Egyptian slave-woman, referring to Ishmael.
14. : Isa 1:6: festering sores.
16. : Ps 128:3: like a fruitful vine.
17. : Ezek 34:11, 20: Here am I.
23. : Num 14:21: nevertheless, as I live.
28. : Deut 32:35: destiny rushes upon them.
29. : Jer 17:18: and let not me be shamed.
31. ...: cf. Isa 30:26: And the light of the moon shall become like the
light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall become sevenfold, like the light
of the seven days, when the Lord binds up His peoples wounds and heals the
injuries it has suffered.
32. : Ps 104:25: The sea, vast and wide. : Ps 96:11, 98:7: Let the
sea and all within it thunder.
33. ...: Isa 35:1: The arid desert shall be glad, the wilderness shall
rejoice.
34. ...: Ps 98:89: let the rivers clap their hands, the mountains sing
joyously together at the presence of the Lord for He is coming to rule the
earth.
35. : Ps 96:11: Let the heavens rejoice. ...: Prov 23:15: My
mind, too, will be gladdened.
edition 191

Poem 51: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 108b109a. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Ishsh k tazr in the wazn of [the poem with
the incipit] ][
.111

][


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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem ([The priest] shall make expi-
ation on her behalf, and she shall be clean; Lev 12:8)112 is taken from
prsh Tazr (Lev 12:113:59). The first two strophes are addressed to
God and treat the rebuilding of Jerusalem as well as the Temple:
My King, comfort an unhappy and storm-tossed city (Jerusalem, see Isa 54:11),
which once was great and a princess among nations (Lam 1:1), and hasten
[the coming of] your Messiah to quickly rebuild her, and he will make expia-
tion on her behalf, and she shall be clean (Lev 12:8).

111According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit ; see Yarden, 1:8183; cf. section 2.4.
112
If, however, her means do not suffice for a sheep, she shall take
two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering.
The priest shall make expiation on her behalf, and she shall be clean (Lev 12:8).
192 chapter four

Make her gates of precious stones (Isa 54:12), her foundation of sapphires
(Isa 54:11), and restore her to her former glory; sanctify her Temple forever
with the Sanctuary and the Court.
The three following strophes contain more prophetic subtexts, mainly
from Isaiah, but here God speaks in the first person:113
Can a woman forget her baby? (Isa 49:15) or a maiden her jewels? (Jer 2:32)
That I should forget her (Jerusalem), who is sorrowful and mournful, whose
enemies have plenty of sons while she is bereaved and barren, exiled and
disdained (Isa 49:21).

Yet with all My strength I will bring back the festive crowd, who will declare
in her ears: My place is too crowded for me (Isa 49:20)! You will perceive
My deeds and recount to her (Jerusalem) My prophecy: Shout, O barren one
(Isa 54:1)!

I will be zealous for My chosen city, and fight against all her foes and ene-
mies; her inhabitants will live carefree and one will be able to find there the
sound of thanksgiving and music (Isa 51:3).
While it is not easy to find here a direct connection to prsh Tazr,
one might consider the language of defilement used for Jerusalem to be
comparable to the physical impurities treated in Leviticus 13; and, cer-
tainly, the quote from Isa 54:1 contains a very special promise if read in
the context of Leviticus 12, which contains the rules by which a woman
is purified after childbirth. The many references to children can also be
read as very subtle, terminological allusions to the prsh. In the final
strophe the speaker changes again into a third person who addresses God
and pleads for speedy salvation:114
Grant me the right to see the Peaceable Ruler and the Tishbite, and extin-
guish the glimmers and the flames in my heart; bring near the time when
You will hurriedly and hastily convey good tidings to me.
1. : Isa 54:11: Unhappy, storm-tossed one. : Lam 1:1:
Lonely sits the city one great with people! She that was great among nations is
become like a widow; the princess among states is become a thrall.
2. : Lev 12:8: The priest shall make expiation on her behalf, and
she shall be clean.
4. : Isa 54:12: your gates of precious stones. : Isa 54:11:
I will make your foundations of sapphires.

113See the translation of the first five strophes in section 3.5.


114See the translation of the sixth and final strophe in section 3.9.
edition 193

7. : Isa 49:15: Can a woman forget her baby? :


Jer 2:32: Can a maiden forget her jewels?
8. : Isa 49:21: When I was bereaved and barren,
exiled and disdained.
10. : cf. Ps 42:5: the festive throng. : Isa 49:20: The
place is too crowded for me.
11. : Isa 54:1: Shout, O barren one!
14. : cf. Isa 51:3: thanksgiving and the sound of music.
16. : the peaceable ruler, referring to Messiah, see Isa 9:5. : the
Tishbite, referring to Elijah.

Poem 52: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 109a. Acrostic: .


Title: On prsh Zt tihye in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit]
.


/ /
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/ / /
5
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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (Thus he shall make expiation
for the house, and it shall be clean; cf. Lev 14:53)115 is taken from prsh
Mor (Lev 14:115:33). Dar manages to squeeze a fairly long acrostic
(I am Moses, Karaite, be strong) into this short poem, utilizing only the

115 he shall set


the live bird free outside the city in the open country. Thus he shall make expiation for the
house, and it shall be clean (Lev 14:53).
194 chapter four

first letters for most strophes, except for the final strophe. The poem refers
to the laws of human m (impurity, uncleanness) and hor (purity)
discussed in the prsh. In addition to the pizmn, the poet refers to
Lev 14:11 and the difference between the ( line 1, the one who per-
forms the cleansing) and the ( line 4, the man to be cleansed). The
Karaite poet presents a smooth transition from the topic of purification
to that of repentance and deliverance, choosing terminology that unites
these topics. Line 8 contains a plea to warn the people of Israel about
all kinds of sins and different sorts of defilements. The poem ends with
additional penitential themes and a plea for divine salvation.

1. : Lev 14:11: the priest who performs the cleansing.


2. ...: Lev 14:53: Thus he shall make expiation for the house, and it
shall be clean.
4. : Lev 14:11: the man to be cleansed.
12. : cf. Isa 60:5: As you behold, you will glow.
14. : cf. Nah 3:2: galloping steed.

Poem 53: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 109a110a. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Ar mt in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit] ] [
.116

] [

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/-

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/-

116According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit ] [
;see Brody, 3:15556; Yarden, 1:21011;
cf. section 2.4.
edition 195

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (to cleanse you of all your sins
before the Lord; cf. Lev 16:30)117 is taken from the ritual of atonement on
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, detailed in prsh Ar mt (Lev
16:118:30). A biblical quotation (mainly from Prophets and Psalms) that
ends with Gods name precedes the refrain (ending in )in each stro-
phe. In the opening strophes the first-person speaker confesses his sins to
receive atonement and forgiveness:
May my soul and my heart be purified every moment with the tears in
my eyes,
to cleanse you of all your sins before the Lord (Lev 16:30).

How can I plead? All my days I have followed my heart and my eyes in my
lustful urge (Num 15:39); I have had wicked thoughts and immoral plans,
and my evil inclination has seized me like a lion from my youth (Gen 8:21),
and therefore I am drenched in my tears (Ps 6:7), just as the sea before the
terror of the Lord (Isa 2:10).

117 For on this day


atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you of all your sins; you shall be clean before
the Lord (Lev 16:30).
196 chapter four

This confession to some extent resembles the confession of the High Priest
in the Temple based on Leviticus 16 and described in detail in m. Ym
(chaps. 17, particularly 3:8, 4:2, and 6:2) and repeated in the piyy genre
known as Ad, which recounts poetically the sacrificial ritual in the
Temple on the Day of Atonement.118 In the third strophe the first-person
speaker continues his confession in a more personal way:
I have borne in mind the whims of other people, but forgotten my own;
I have uncovered the faults of my fellow-man, but covered my own sins and
defects, until my mindwhose reprimands I underwentrebuked me: Will
your sin that you hide from your fellow-man be too wondrous for the Lord?
(Gen 18:12).
The remaining four strophes in the poem include the customary plea for
deliverance and a plea to God to forgive the sins of the people of Israel,
called Your servant in lines 14/26, Your divorce119 in line 19, Your
people in lines 29/31, and Your wanderers and Your exiles in line 32.

1. : cf. Num 19:12: He shall cleanse himself with it.


2. ...: Lev 16:30: to cleanse you of all your sins before the Lord.
45. ...: Num 15:39: so that you do not follow your heart and eyes
in your lustful urge.
6. ...: cf. Gen 8:21: the devisings of mans mind are evil from his
youth.
7. : Ps 6:7: every night I drench my bed, I melt my couch in tears.
: Isa 2:10: before the terror of the Lord.
12. : Gen 18:14: Is anything too wondrous for the Lord?
17. : Ps 25:11: As befits Your name, O Lord.
22. : Jer 31:12: over the bounty of the Lord.
27. : Ps 9:14: Have mercy on me, O Lord.
30. : Isa 10:23: For My Lord God of Hosts is carrying out a
decree of destruction upon all the land.
31. : Ps 31:20: How abundant is the good that You have in store for
those who fear You.
32. : Ps 85:8: Show us, O Lord.

Poem 54: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 110a110b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Qdshm in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit]
.

118Cf. M. Swartz and J. Yahalom, Avodah: An Anthology of Ancient Poetry for Yom Kippur
(University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005).
119 Cf. M. Gutmann-Grn, Zion als Frau: Das Frauenbild Zions in der Poesie von al-
Andalus auf dem Hintergrund des klassischen Piyyuts (Bern: Peter Lang, 2008).
edition 197




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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (You shall sanctify yourselves
and be holy; cf. Lev 20:7)120 is taken from prsh Qdshm (Lev 19:1
20:27), which contains a list of guidelines for holiness in all of ones daily
behavior. A biblical quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also
ending in )
in nearly every strophe. The first strophe alludes to the
covenant at Mount Sinai and the giving of the commandments to Gods
trusted messenger (Num 12:7), Moses. The next strophe continues with
the divine speech in the first strophe and ends with an additional quota-
tion from prsh Qdshm: Return to me, My sons, and keep My word
and know that you are My people; wash and purify yourselves, and be
cleansed from impurity so that you shall be holy to Me (Lev 20:26). The
speaker in the third strophe changes to the third person and addresses
God on behalf of Israel. The fourth and fifth strophes contain hostile refer-
ences to Christians and Muslims:

120 You shall sanctify yourselves and be holy,


for I the Lord am your God (Lev 20:7).
198 chapter four

My King (God), wash a people who has been defiled in exile and bring near its
deliverance from the hands of Jeuz (Christians) and Qedmah (Muslims); rain
down from the heavens, O God, pure water and sacral water (Num 5:17).

Sanctify Your land from an enemy who defiles himself; may trembling and
fear grip Qedar (Muslims) and Magdiel (Christians). O God, may Your people
Israel govern, and may Gods people, the people of holy ones (Dan 8:24), rule.
The final two strophes in this poem, which contain prophetic subtexts
from Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel (see the line-by-line annotations),
change speaker yet again to the first person. Here the people of Israel ask
God to grant salvation:
O Gracious One (God), bare Your arm to deliver me, and show me the time
of Your salvation as on that day in the Sea of Reeds; raise the horn of my
faith, whilst the faith of those who sanctify and purify themselves (Isa 66:17)
will come to an end.

Destroy Your Messiahs enemy and drive his opponent out of my cities and
expel the stranger, and as to sheep that were lost (Jer 50:6) on account of
Your anger, multiply them like sheep, like sacrificial sheep (Ezek 36:3738).

1. : Moses; see Num 12:7: Not so with My servant Moses; he is trusted


throughout My household.
2. : Lev 11:44; 20:7: You shall sanctify yourselves and
be holy.
5. : Lev 20:26: You shall be holy to Me.
8. ...: Num 16:3: For all the community are holy.
10. : Jeuz, referring to Christians; see 1 Chr 8:10. : Kedmah, referring to
Muslims; see Gen 25:15.
11. : Num 5:17: sacral water.
13. : Qedar and Magdiel, referring to Muslims and Christians; see
Gen 25:13 and 36:43.
14. : Dan 8:24: the people of holy ones.
17. : Isa 66:17: Those who sanctify and purify themselves.
20. : Jer 50:6: My people were lost sheep. ...: Ezek
36:3738: I will multiply their people like sheep; like sacrificial sheep.

Poem 55: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 110b111a. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh mr in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit]

.121

121According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
;see Brody, 3:187188; Yarden, 2:61213; cf.
section 2.4.
edition 199


[]


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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (They shall be holy to their
God and not profane the name of their God; cf. Lev 21:6)122 is taken from
the Holiness Code in prsh mr (Lev 21:124:23). Dars here extends
to the rest of Israel the regulations on making holiness manifest in the

122
They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God; for they offer
the Lords offerings by fire, the food of their God, and so must be holy (Lev 21:6).
200 chapter four

world, even though the prsh only applies them to kohnm, priests. He
calls Israel the sons of the Living God who are defiled in exile:
When will the sons of the Living God, after having been defiled, be holy to
their God in their homes and not profane the name of their God (Lev 21:6)?

They are in captivity and dispersed over the earth, under the yoke of their
enemies and the impost of their oppressors; the sun of their salvation is
darkened and the stars of their strength are vanished, whilst the children of
the brother (Christians) and the sons of the slave-woman (Muslims) behave
arrogantly and haughtily against them: the one says: My Kingdom arises,
and the other: My armies are like the sand of the seas. They have inherited
the fairest of all lands (Israel; Ezek 20:6), they and their children and their
childrens children (Ezek 37:25).
From the third to the fifth strophe the poem addresses God. The fourth
strophe alludes to the festivals dealt with in Leviticus 23:
Have mercy, O Lord, on sons who in their captivity have come through fire
and water, and who have escaped the grave of their poverty as in the time
of the Exodus from Egypt; may they appear three times a year in Jerusalem
(Exod 23:17) and bring offerings to Your Temple, O Dweller in Heaven; may
they experience the collapse of their foes and become captors of their cap-
tors (Isa 14:2).
In the final strophe, however, God suddenly becomes the first-person
speaker. His words deal with Dars almost obligatory subject, deliver-
ance. Attributing these words to God increases their impact:
In My great mercy I will surely reinforce the bars of My chosen city, and
with all My strength I will pour out my wrath against the foreigners castle
and their fortified city; I will hasten the coming of Yinnn (Messiah) and the
Gileadite (Elijah) for an exiled and disdained people (Isa 49:21), and I will
adorn their sons with kingship and rule; they will again inherit My land and
My servant David shall be king over them (Ezek 37:24).123

2. ...: Lev 21:6: They shall be holy to their God and not profane
the name of their God.
6. : the children of the brother, referring to Christians. : the
sons of the slave-woman, referring to Muslims.
8. : Ezek 20:6: the fairest of all lands. ...: Ezek 37:25: they
and their children and their childrens children.

123See also the translation of the poem in section 3.6. There are a few other instances
in the poem mentioning the land (Israel) and the city (Jerusalem) that are holy in them
selves. These references are subtle allusions to the prsh.
edition 201

: Gen 15:13: in a land not theirs. 14.


: cf. Exod 23:17: Three times a year all your males shall... 18.
appear before the Sovereign, the Lord.
: Isa 14:2: they shall be captors of their captors. 20.
: cf. Isa 44:5: Another shall mark his arm of the Lord.... 25.
: Isa 65:23: But they shall be a people blessed by the Lord,... 26.
and their offspring shall remain with them.
: the castle of the foreigner, perhaps referring to the Dome of the 29.
Rock on the Temple Mount.
: Yinnn and the Gileadite, referring to the Messiah (Ps 72:17) and 30.
: Isa 49:21: exiled and disdained. Elijah the Prophet (1 Kgs 17:1).
: Ezek 37:24: My servant David shall be king over them.... 32.

Poem 56: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 111a111b. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same prsh and in the same wazn.124



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124According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
; see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213; cf.
section 2.4.
202 chapter four


/


/
/ 25

/

/

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (that I may be sanctified in the
midst of the Israelite peopleI the Lord who sanctify you; cf. Lev 22:32)125
is again taken from the Holiness Code in prsh mr (Lev 21:124:23).
The first three strophes of this poem stress Israels prominent status as
Chosen People:
Out of every nation and people that was created, I chose you, Yeshurun
(Isa 44:2), so that I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite peopleI
the Lord who sanctifies you (Lev 22:32).

You who keep the commandments, the laws, the precepts, the rules and the
decrees, you who without changing or disobeying them, believe and keep
them; you who keep far away from any foreign God or sins and cling to
the Lord, your status is prominent and elevated with God and your divine
reward is double.

Does there exist amongst the idolatrous nations a people whom the Rock
has called His first-born son (Exod 4:22)? To whom He proclaimed His cov-
enant on Mount Sinai in affectionate words? Whom he established in the
fairest of all lands (Israel; Ezek 20:6), on a mountain (Zion) that He had
chosen in ancient days? Whose prophets he sent as an ornament as much
as He did for you (Deut 4:34)?
In the final three strophes, quotations from the Minor Prophets (and in
part divine speech) focus on Israels difficult circumstances in exile and
the taking a vengeance on her oppressors. These quotations come from
Joel (4:4; Quick as a flash, I will pay you back) and Malachi (3:23; Lo,
I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome,
fearful day of the Lord).

125 You shall not


profane My holy name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite peopleI the
Lord who sanctify you (Lev 22:32).
edition 203

1. : Isa 44:2: Yeshurun whom I have chosen.


2. ...: Lev 22:32: that I may be sanctified in the midst of the
Israelite peopleI the Lord who sanctify you.
9. ...: Exod 4:22: Thus says the Lord: Israel is My first-born son.
11. : Ezek 20:6: the fairest of all lands.
12. ...: Deut 4:34: as the Lord your God did for you.
17. ...: cf. Exod 18:8: all the hardships that had befallen them.
: Deut 31:29: misfortune will befall you.
19. ...: Ps 68:26: First come singers, then musicians, amidst maid-
ens playing timbrels.
22. ...: Joel 4:4: Quick as a flash, I will pay you back.
27. ...: Mal 3:23: Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the
coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord.

Poem 57: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 112a112b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh B-har Snay in the wazn [of the poem with the
incipit] ] [
.126

] [

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126According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit ] [
;see Brody, 3:15556; Yarden, 1:21011;
cf. section 2.4.
204 chapter four


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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (each of you shall return to his
holding and each of you shall return to his family; cf. Lev 25:10)127 is taken
from prsh B-har (Lev 25:126:2). The refrain (see lines 12) highlights
Dars customary themes of exile and deliverance: Receive good news,
O people whose exile has become lengthy, for the years of freedom are
nearing when each of you shall return to his holding and each of you shall
return to his family (cf. Lev 25:10). A biblical quotation ending in
precedes the refrain (ending in )
in each strophe, but does not
always signal returning to the land of Israel (as in strophes 1, 5, and 7). It
also signals tshv repentance (strophe 2, 4, and 6) and returning to
dust (death) (strophe 3). This poem does not develop the laws regarding
shmitt (the seventh year of release) and the jubilee year (the fiftieth
year) in prsh B-har. Instead it focuses on penitential themes, pos-
sibly inspired by the reference to the Day of Atonement in the prsh of
Lev25:9 immediately preceding the refrain. The poem stresses repentance
as the primary means by which to achieve atonement for ones sins and,
ultimately, deliverance. God speaks in the last strophe, promising deliver-
ance. He assures the people of Israel that He will be a God of deliverance

127
and you shall hallow the fiftieth year.
You shall proclaim release throughout the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee
for you: each of you shall return to his holding and each of you shall return to his family
(Lev 25:10).
edition 205

(line 30; cf. Ps 68:21) and charges them to return to their land with great
wealth (line 32; cf. Josh 22:8).

2. ...: Lev 25:10: each of you shall return to his holding and each
of you shall return to his family.
67. ...: Ezek 33:11: As I livedeclares the Lord Godit is not My desire
that the wicked shall die, but that the wicked turn from his [evil] ways and live.
Turn back, turn back from your evil ways, that you may not die, O House of
Israel!
12. ...: Ps 90:3: You return man to dust, you decreed: Return you
mortals!
17. ...: Hos 14:3: Take words with you and return to the Lord.
22. ...: Zech 10:9: They shall escape with their children and shall
return.
27. ...: Isa 21:12: If you would inquire, inquire. Come back again.
30. : Ps 68:21: God is for us a God of deliverance.
32. : Josh 22:8: Return to your homes with great wealth.

Poem 58: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 112b113a. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh m b-uqqotay in the wazn [of the poem with
the incipit]
.128



/-

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] [

128According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
; see Brody, 3:11011; Yarden, 2:48890;
cf. section 2.4.
206 chapter four


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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (I will be your God, and you
shall be My people; cf. Lev 26:12)129 is taken from prsh B-uqqotay
(Lev 26:327:34), which features a series of blessings and curses based on
the premise that if one observes Gods commandments, one will receive
these blessings, and if not, the curses. A biblical quotation ending in
precedes the refrain (also ending in ) in each strophe. The liturgical
poem is noteworthy for use of divine speech in every strophe, possibly as
a way to reassure the Karaite congregation that they would soon be deliv-
ered from their exile in Egypt.130 The poem vividly describes deliverance
and the results, i.e., rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple, and reinstalling
the sacrifice rituals and the three pilgrimage festivals:
Receive good news, people of My inheritance, about your salvation and
deliverance, about the rebuilding of My city, where you can dwell as of old,
and My Temple, where you can perform your worship in service of Me; and

129 I will be ever present in


your midst: I will be your God, and you shall be My people (Lev 26:12).
130For an analysis of the use of divine speech in this poem, including a full translation,
see section 2.2.1.
edition 207

offer your offerings where Levites carry out burnt-offerings for Me, as well
as the priests or the people (Exod 19:24).

The noise of pilgrims walking with the crowd (Ps 42:5) on the three festivals,
the one bringing sheep and cows and the other flutes; they comfort the poor
and the rich, while singers raise their voice over their instruments in order
that the people may hear (Exod 19:9).
The final two strophes contain the following references to the Messiah
and his Davidic lineageline 24: I will raise the fallen horn of the house
of David and I will lift up its banner; lines 3032: the times of [the
Messiahs] people will be without trouble and they will dwell without
anguish; and I will throw his enemies in a deep pit, whereas [the Messiah]
will sit on Davids throne in justice and in equity (Isa 9:6) and he will cham-
pion the lowly among the people (Ps 72:4).

2. ...: Lev 26:12: I will be your God, and you shall be My people.
7. ...: Num 22:12: You must not curse that people, for they are
blessed.
9. : Exod 2:22; 18:3: I have been a stranger in a foreign land.
10. : Isa 1:6: festering sores.
12. : Deut 33:5: when the heads of the people assembled.
17. : Exod 19:24: the priests or the people.
19. ...: Ps 42:5: how I walked with the crowd...the festive throng, to
the House of God with joyous shouts of praise. : Exod 23:14: Three
times a year you shall hold a festival for Me.
22. : Exod 19:9: in order that the people may hear.
27. ...: Esth 1:22: to every province...and to every nation.
3132. ...: cf. Isa 9:6: in token of abundant authority and of peace
without limit upon Davids throne and kingdom, that it may be firmly established
in justice and in equity now and evermore.
32. : Ps 72:4: Let him champion the lowly among the people.
208 chapter four

MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 113a113b:







/-

/

/

The poems on the portions of the Book of Leviticus are completed
by the grace of the One who is formidable and dreadful (God),
and who is a haven for His people in times of trouble (Ps 9:10);
When the piyym for the Book of Leviticus are completed,
the humble man who shoots the arrow of these poems says:
The mercies of God have become abundant towards me,
like sand and like the multitude of locusts;
It is He (God) who gives power to the weary
and multiplies strength to the powerless.
As in the previous Hebrew poetical metatext at the end of the cycle on
Exodus, this poem written upon the completion of the cycle on Leviticus
explicitly uses the term piyym to describe Dars liturgical poems on
the prsht. Thematically, the Karaite poet returns to the topos of humil-
ity. He stresses that the omnipotent God, and none other, empowers the
powerless and enabled the poet to complete his poems on the prsht
of the third book of the Pentateuch. The poets task, sustained by divinely
given ability to compose powerful poetry, is to transmit this divine power
to his Karaite congregation in his liturgical poetry.
edition 209

4.4Numbers

Poem 59: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 113b114a. Acrostic:


. Title: And this qia is [written] for the first prsh of the book of
Numbers.

[]

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[ ]
210 chapter four

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (The Israelites did accord-
ingly; just as the Lord had commanded Moses; cf. Num 1:54)131 is taken
from prsh B-midbar (Num 1:14:20). A biblical quotation ending in
precedes the refrain (also ending in ) in each strophe. This
draws attention to Moses. The rhyme pattern is made up of various end-
and inner-rhymes in each strophe of the poem coupled with a returning
rhyme (of the refrain ending with ) in the final verse in every strophe.
While from a content perspective the final verse is part of the strophe,
its rhyme makes it part of the refrain, which serves as the final verse of
the first strophe. The poem opens with a rhetorical question somewhat
similar to the opening of Dars riddle poems: Who are the people loved
by the Rock (God) and chosen by Him? This people is then specified
as His Chosen People (line 3), the Israelites (line 5), the daughter of
Zion (line 8), and people of captives (line 8). The fourth strophe ends
with references to Aaron and Moses, which form a connection to prsh
B-midbar as they are the leading figures of the census in the wilderness
and the arrangement of the Israelite encampment therein:
Cure the pain of a people troubled in captivity and whose glory grew dim
because of Your anger, and deliver them from the grave of their suffering
and their exile, O Rock, with Your strength.

My Father, hasten their deliverance and bring the Tishbite (Elijah) down
from Your heavens; cause the heart of every grieving son to return to
his Father (Mal 3:24), and in Your mercy be pleased with the poem of a
mourner, like a withering leaf (Isa 34:4) from Aaron, and accept it as a prayer
of Moses (Ps 90:1).132
2. ...: cf. Hos 14:3: Instead of bulls we will pay [the offering of] our
lips.
5. ...: Num 1:54: The Israelites did accordingly; just as the Lord had
commanded Moses.
11. : Exod 33:8: and gaze after Moses.
17. : Num 13:16: Those were the names of the men whom Moses sent
to scout the land.
21. : the Tishbite, referring to Elijah.
22. ...: Mal 3:24: He shall reconcile parents with children and chil-
dren with their parents.

131 The Israelites did accordingly; just


as the Lord had commanded Moses, so they did (Num 1:54).
132The poet often associates motifs of illness and healing with the broader themes of
the suffering of the people of Israel in exile and the divine promise of deliverance. For this
and further examples see section 3.9.
edition 211

: cf. Isa 34:4: like a leaf withering on the vine and Jer 8:13: the 23.
: Ps 90:1: A prayer of Moses. leaves all withered.
: Num 12:3: Now Moses was a very humble man. 29.
: Deut 33:4: When Moses charged us with the Teaching.... 35.

Poem 60: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 114a114b. Acrostic:


]. Title: On prsh Nso in the wazn [of the poem with the incipit

.133




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133According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
; see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213; cf.
section 2.4.
212 chapter four

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (The Lord bestow His favor
upon you and grant you peace!; cf. Num 6:26)134 is taken from the
end of Birkat kohnm,135 the Priestly Blessing at the heart of prsh
Nso (Num 4:217:89). A biblical quotation ending in precedes
the refrain (also ending in )
in each strophe. As the core text, the
Priestly Blessing contains the promise of divine intervention for Israel
i.e., of deliverancewhereas the choice to repeat the word at the
end of each strophe makes it obvious that deliverance means peace for
Israel. This poem is noteworthy for its venomous epithets for Christians
and Muslims. It may be assumed that the beginning of line 5 (Despise
the idol of Esaus house) refers to a visible marker of Christian religious
identity on a church, possibly a cross. In line 11, the poet may be referring
to the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount: The detestable castle of
the son of your slave-woman (Ishmael = Muslims) and your enemies will
be destroyed. Moreover, in line 21 there are references to Christians and
Muslims: Sinful Edom (Christians) and blasphemous Qedar (Muslims)
will perish. These expectations contrast sharply with the favors (laughter,
peace, wellbeing, ingathering of exiles) to be bestowed on the people of
Israel. This poems image of deliverance, which seems to be a down-to-
earth business of gathering the exiles and bringing them into a real-world
Israel, is very much adjusted to the reality of the poet and his Egyptian
Karaite congregation.

2. ...: Num 6:26: The Lord bestow His favor upon you and grant you
peace!
7. ...: Exod 18:23: and all these people too will go home unwearied.
11. : the son of your slave-woman, referring to Muslims.
12. ...: 1 Sam 25:6: Greetings to you, your household and to all that
is yours!
17. : Ps 48:13: go through its citadels. ...: Isa 32:18:
Then my people shall dwell in peaceful homes.
19. ...: Isa 60:1: Arise, shine, for your light has dawned.
21. : Edom, referring to Christians. : Qedar, referring to Muslims. :
Job 2:9: Blaspheme God.
22. ...: Ps 29:11: may the Lord bestow on His people wellbeing.

134 The Lord bestow His favor upon you and grant
you peace! (Num 6:26).
135The Lord spoke to Moses: Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the
people of Israel. Say to them: The Lord bless you and protect you! The Lord deal kindly
and graciously with you! The Lord bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace!
(Num 6:2426).
edition 213

: Ps 65:6: Answer us with victory through awesome deeds, 24.


O God.
: Exod 18:23; cf. line 7. 27.

. Poem 61: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 115a. Acrostic:


Title: On prsh B-halotekha in the wazn [of the poem with the
]incipit
.




/

/

}
{
/


/


5

/
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/
1 0
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15
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/

The refrain (pizmn) of this short strophic poem (for the Lord has prom-
ised to be generous to Israel; cf. Num 10:29)136 is taken from prsh
B-halotekha (Num 8:112:16), the first half of which gives instructions to
Moses, Aaron, and the Israelite people, and the latter half of which depicts
a series of incidents in which the people in the wilderness complain

136
Moses said to Hobab son
of Reuel the Midianite, Moses father-in-law, We are setting out for the place of which
;the Lord has said, I will give it to you. Come with us and we will be generous with you
for the Lord has promised to be generous to Israel (Num 10:29).
214 chapter four

against God. A quotation ending with Israel precedes the refrain (also
ending with ) in each strophe. The second strophe is a poetic tour
de force. Every line starts with or a synonym for it: May serenity be
in your strongholds and in your houses, and may security be with your
army during your wars, and peace in your dwelling-places and your habi-
tations; may the peaceable ruler, your prince (Messiah), be in the house of
Israel. In the third strophe, Dar uses the epithet Qedar for Muslims and
Esau for Christians: Receive good news, people of the Glorious God, since
all the evil that has happened to you in exile will be directed to Esau and
Qedar, whereas it will forever be well with Israel (Ps 125:5, 128:6). In the
following two strophes, the people of Israel speak in the first person:
Bring me comfort, O Rock, from the yoke of my adversary and the oppres-
sion of all my enemies and opponents; redeem me, O Lord, and quickly
deliver Your people, the remnant of Israel (Jer 31:7).

Bring near the time of my salvation and comfort; let me forget my troubles,
and, despite my foes, witness the time when a star arises from Jacob and a
scepter comes forth from Israel (Num 24:17).
In the final strophe, the poetic persona again changes into the poet-
precentor addressing God on behalf of Israel: Take pity on a people
that has endured fire and water (Ps 66:12), seed of the ruddy-cheeked and
bright-eyed (David; 1 Sam 16:12); gather them, look down from the heavens
and bless Your people Israel (Deut 26:15).137

1. : Israel, see Isa 44:2: Yeshurun whom I have chosen.


2. ...: Num 10:29: for the Lord has promised to be generous to
Israel.
5. : the peaceable ruler, referring to Messiah, see Isa 9:5.
8. : Esau, referring to Christians. : Qedar, referring to Muslims.
: Ps 125:5, 128:6: May it be well with Israel!
11. ...: Jer 31:7: Your people, the remnant of Israel.
14. ...: Num 24:17: A star rises from Jacob, a scepter comes forth
from Israel.
16. ...: Ps 66:12: We have endured fire and water. :
referring to David, see 1 Sam 16:12: He was ruddy-cheeked, bright-eyed, and
handsome.
17. ...: Deut 26:15: and bless Your people Israel.

137Cf. section 2.2.2.


edition 215

Poem 62: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 115a115b. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same prsh in the wazn [of the poem with the
[ ] ]incipit
.138

[ ]




/
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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (Would that they improve their
deeds, that the Lord put his spirit upon them!; cf. Num 11:29)139 is once
again taken from prsh B-halotekha (Num 8:112:16). A biblical quo-
tation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in
)
in each
strophe. As in the previous poem, the Karaite poet uses hostile epithets,
in this case slave (line 7), to refer to Muslims, and brother (line 7) and

138According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


[ ] Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
; see Brody, 4:56; Yarden, 3:64546; cf. sec
tion 2.4. For more on this poems fairly long acrostic Moses, Karaite physician, be strong,
Amen, see section 2.3.
But 139
Moses said to him, Are you wrought up on my account? Would that all the Lords people
were prophets, that the Lord put his spirit upon them! (Num 11:29).
216 chapter four

Esau (line 16) to refer to Christians. We also find two references to the
Messiah; see the symbolic name Yinnn in lines 1 and 14. The poem ends
with divine speech based on Ps 85:12, combined with the gazelle motif
from secular poetry to refer to Gods beloved.140 In the context of this
liturgical poem, this is the people of Israel: I will let truth sprout from the
earth and I will bring down justice from heaven (cf. Ps 85:12) for a gazelle
who is my beloved; her sons will be protected against all distress, for My
mercy is great and deployed against them (Gen 14:15).

1. : Yinnn, referring to Messiah. : the Tishbite, referring to Elijah.


2. ...: cf. Num 11:29: Would that all the Lords people were prophets,
that the Lord put his spirit upon them!
5. ...: Isa 63:19: We have become as a people You never ruled, to
which Your name was never attached.
7. : my brother, referring to Christians. : my slave, referring to
Muslims.
8. ...: Exod 18:11: by the result of their very schemes against [the
people].
11. : Isa 14:1: and strangers shall join them.
14. : referring to Messiah; cf. line 1.
17. ...: Num 16:29: if their lot be the common fate of all
mankind.
19. ...: cf. Ps 85:12: Truth springs from the earth; justice looks down
from heaven.
20. : Gen 14:15: he deployed against them.

Poem 63: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 115b116b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Shla-lkh in the wazn [of the poem with the
incipit] .141



/ /

/
/

/
/

140Following a common practice in Arabic and Hebrew poetry, Dar occasionally uses
animal epithets like gazelle to refer to the beloved in his secular poetry; see J. Yeshaya,
Medieval Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Egypt, 114. In Hebrew liturgical poetry the epithet
gazelle usually refers to God, Israel, or the Messiah (R. P. Scheindlin, The Gazelle, 3641),
but in this particular example Dar clearly alludes to the people of Israel.
141According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem
by Judah ha-Levi with the incipit ; see Brody, 4:211; Yarden, 3:74951; cf.
section 2.4.
edition 217

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218 chapter four

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (their protection has departed
from them, but the Lord is with us; cf. Num 14:9)142 is taken from
prsh Shla-lkh (Num 13:115:41). A biblical quotation ending in
precedes the refrain (also ending in )
in each strophe of this
poem. The exhortation not to fear enemies in line 4 clearly reflects the
contents of prsh Shla-lkh, bringing to mind the fear felt by most
of the scouts who spied out the land of Canaan and their despair at the
Israelite chances of overcoming the Canaanite nations. This poems fast
and strong internal rhyme fosters this sense of fear and despair. Although
the poem speaks of deliverance as return to Zion, it does not take the
opportunity the prsh affords to develop the image of the fertile land,
flowing with milk and honey. Notably, the three occurrences of the word
( foreigner) in lines 5, 27, and 41, which bring to mind the Amalekites,
Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, and Canaanites in the prsh, are here
applied to Christians and Muslims. The poet repeats the epithets for
Muslims (slave; see line 19) and Christians (brother; see line 20) used
in the previous poem. We also find a reference to Messiah, but this time
described as peaceable ruler (see line 18) as in Isa 9:5.

5. ...: Jer 5:28: They have become fat and sleek.


6. ...: Num 14:9: their protection has departed from them, but the Lord
is with us.
13. : Gen 34:21: These people are our friends.
18. : the Tishbite, referring to Elijah. : the peaceable ruler,
referring to Messiah; see Isa 9:5.
19. : our slave, referring to Muslims.
20. : our brother, referring to Christians. : Gen 43:4: If you will
let our brother go with us.
27. : Deut 5:3: It was not with our father that the Lord made this
convenant, but with us.
34. : Num 10:29: Come with us.
41. : 1 Kgs 3:18: there was no one else with us in the house.

142
only you must not rebel against the Lord. Have no fear then of the people of
the country, for they are our prey: their protection has departed from them, but the Lord is
with us. Have no fear of them! (Num 14:9).
edition 219

Poem 64: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 116b. Acrostic: . Title:


On prsh Va-yiqqa Qora.


}{ /
/
/
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/ 5
/

/-
] [ /

This metered (ha-mitpashsh, based on the Arabic al-bas meter), mono-


rhyme poem differs structurally from the majority of Dars strophic
poems on the prsht. According to the heading, it was written for
prsh Qora (Num 16:118:32), even though it contains neither a refrain
nor other quotations from that prsh. Given the next poems heading,
and given the fact that the usual Judeo-Arabic subscript which marks the
end of all other poems ( kumilat) cannot be found here, it seems
plausible that this poem was intended to be recited as an introduction to
poem 65.143 With nine poems dedicated to it, prsh Qora surpasses all
other prsht. Dar may have been attracted to it because of its stress on
the punishment of Israels enemies and those who rebelled against Moses
and God. While in the prsh these rebels are Qora, the son of Yihr,
and his 250 accomplices, in the poem they are Christians and Muslims.
The poem addresses God. By starting off with the word ( When?) the
praying voice emphasizes the urgency of the poems plea for deliverance
from the oppression experienced in the exile of the Diaspora.

143Less than 10% of the poems (8 out of 96 poemsnos. 16, 64, 66, 68, 71, 89, 92,
94) in the collection have no structural element linking them to the prsht for which
they were written. It is worth noting that a longer strophic and unmetered poem with
the Judeo-Arabic heading: And I followed it up with this qia in the wazn of [the poem
with the incipit...] follows each of these eight short monorhyme, metered poems; see the
headings to poems 17, 65, 67, 69, 72, 90, 93, 95; cf. section 2.3.
220 chapter four

: see Ps 80:14: : wild ass, referring to the Muslims, see Gen 16:12. 6.
: wild : Edom, referring to the Christians. creatures of the field.
: Gen 3:1: the shrewdest of all the wild beasts. boar; see Ps 80:14.

Poem 65: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 117a117b. Acrostic:


. Title: And I followed it with this qia in the wazn of [the poem with
]the incipit
.144




/

/


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144According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
; see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213; cf.
section 2.4.
edition 221

/
30

/


/-


][

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (For all the community are
holy, all of them, and the Lord is in their midst; cf. Num 16:3)145 is taken
from Qoras exaggerated claim that all of the people are (innately) holy
in prsh Qora (Num 16:118:32). As in poem 55in which the regula-
tions on how to make holiness manifest in the world (which in prsh
mr are related only to the kohnm, the priests) are extended to the
rest of Israelthe poet again seems to accept the claim that all of Israel
is holy, shifting the meaning away from the biblical context, as the open-
ing lines show: King of the Universe, declare from above on behalf of
Your community to all the enemies that all the community are holy, all
of them, and the Lord is in their midst (Num 16:3). Phrases such as

( first-born sons: line 4, Exod 4:22), ( you who held


fast to the Lord: line 8, Deut 4:4), ( a people consecrated to
the Lord: lines 14 and 20, Deut 7:6; 14:2, 21), and ( children
of the Lord: line 26, Deut 14:1) further point to Israel as the chosen
people, the holy people. Note that a biblical quotation ending with Gods
name precedes the refrain (also ending in )in each strophe. This poem
continues the previous poems plea for deliverance from the oppression
experienced while in exile, and stresses the need to gather the exiles into
the city of my joy and my happiness (Jerusalem: line 29, Ps 48:3) and
into the fairest of all lands (Israel: line 31; Ezek 20:6).

2. ...: Num 16:3: For all the community are holy, all of them, and the Lord
is in their midst.
4. : see Exod 4:22: Israel is My first-born son.
8. : Jer 16:19: things that are futile and worthless. :
Deut 4:4: you who held fast to the Lord.
14. ...: Deut 7:6; 14:2, 21: For you are a people consecrated to the Lord.
19. : a peaceable ruler, referring to Messiah, see Isa 9:5.
20. : cf. line 14.
26. : Deut 14:1: You are children of the Lord.

145
They combined against Moses and Aaron and said to them, You
have gone too far! For all the community are holy, all of them, and the Lord is in their midst.
Why then do you raise yourselves above the Lords congregation? (Num 16:3).
222 chapter four

29. : referring to Jerusalem, cf. Ps 48:3: joy of all the earth,


Mount Zion.
31. : Israel; see Ezek 20:6: the fairest of all lands.
32. : Ps 27:4: to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.

Poem 66: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 117b. Acrostic: . Title:


On the same [prsh].


}{ /


/

/
/
} { / 5
/
/

In this metered (ha-mitpashsh, based on the Arabic al-bas meter),


monorhyme poem on prsh Qora (Num 16:118:32)which contains
neither a refrain nor other quotations from the prsh and which, given
the heading of the next poem, and given the absence of the usual Judeo-
Arabic subscript which marks the end of all other poems ( kumilat)
was probably recited as an introduction to poem 67146we find another
plea for deliverance from the oppression that Israel experienced in exile,
as well as more hostile references to Christians and Muslims:
O King, who wears glory and splendor as garments, in Your anger annihi-
late the enemy who today dwells in my land, who lives a quiet life in my
city (Jerusalem), while I am wandering, missing and absent; [the enemys]
darkness is like the morning sun, while my light has been darkened like the
night; his resting place and dwelling-place have been built, and his castle has
been fortified, while my Temple lays in ruins and is unguarded; those who
remain of me are weakened and feeble, while the vast army of my enemy is
strong and mighty; show them the wonders of Your right hand so that, on
account of Your great anger, they will hide themselves in rooms and cham-

146Less than 10% of the poems (8 out of 96 poemsnos. 16, 64, 66, 68, 71, 89, 92, 94)
in the collection have no structural element linking them to the prsht for which they
were written. It is interesting to note that a longer strophic and unmetered poem with
the Judeo-Arabic heading: And I followed it up with this qia in the wazn of [the poem
with the incipit...] follows each of these eight short monorhyme, metered poems, see the
headings to poems 17, 65, 67, 69, 72, 90, 93, 95; cf. section 2.3.
edition 223

)bers; O God, take away the oppression of Babylon and Chaldea (Isa 48:20
!)and avenge the bloodshed of Edom (Christians) and Qedar (Muslims
!: cf. Isa 48:20: Go forth from Babylon, flee from Chaldea 7.
: Edom and Qedar, referring to Christians and Muslims.

Poem 67: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 117b118b. Acrostic:


. Title: And I followed it with this qia in the wazn of [the poem with
. [] ]the incipit

[]
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224 chapter four


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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (Why then do you raise your-
selves above the Lords congregation?; cf. Num 16:3)147 is again taken
from Qoras revolt against the leadership of Moses and Aaron in prsh
Qora (Num 16:118:32) and is here addressed to the Others, i.e., Muslims
and Christians. A biblical quotation ending in Gods name precedes the
refrain (also ending in )in nearly every strophe. In this poem the divine
speech in the first strophe (lines 16) reinforces the repeated plea for
deliverance from the oppression Israel experienced in exile: Edom and
Qedar, how did you triumph over My people and My community, who
in their exile called Me: my master, my Lord? About the two of you one
can find the following prophecies in My books: that the remnants of Esau
will be consumed by fire (Neh 2:3) and by the sword of My sons, that the
villages of Qedar will cry aloud (Isa 42:11), and how they will be detected
and destroyed before My eyes. Why then do you raise yourselves above the
Lords congregation (Num 16:3)?
As in the previous poems on prsh Qora, we find more inimical
references to Christians and Muslims in the next strophe (lines 813):
The peoples of Esau and Ishmael both came down from their kingdoms,

147
They combined against Moses and Aaron and said to them, You
have gone too far! For all the community are holy, all of them, and the Lord is in their
midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above the Lords congregation? (Num 16:3).
edition 225

the nations who revolted and who acted in vain: the one (i.e., Christians)
kneels down before wood while the other (i.e., Muslims) is sinful and acts
faithlessly; when will they be annihilated in anger like Sisera in the hands
of Yael (Judg 4:21)? May they become agitated and afraid, may God feel
disgust for them and may the word come true: So may all Your enemies
perish, O Lord (Judg 5:31)! One may surmise that kneeling down in front
of wood in this fragment refers to Christian prayer ritual, kneeling down
in front of a wooden cross or any other wooden statue, or even an icon
painted on wood. It is noteworthy in this respect that medieval Egypt was
famed for its carved wooden panels and that Coptic artists were accus-
tomed to working with wood.148 Lines 16 and 30 contain additional, more
conventional epithets for Christians (brother) and Muslims (slave).

1. : Edom and Qedar, referring to Christians and Muslims.


4. : the remnants of Esau, referring to Christians. : cf.
Neh 2:3: consumed by fire.
5. : cf. Isa 42:11: Let the desert and its towns cry aloud, the vil-
lages where Kedar dwells.
6. ...: Num 16:3: Why then do you raise yourselves above the Lords
congregation?
8. : the peoples of Esau and Ishmael, referring to Christians and
Muslims.
11. ...: see Judg 4:1721.
13. ...: Judg 5:31: So may all Your enemies perish, O Lord!
16. : slave, referring to Muslims.
27. : Ps 25:6: O Lord, be mindful of Your compassion.
30. : brother, referring to Christians. : Gen 49:27: In the morn-
ing he consumes the foe. : slave, referring to Muslims.
34. ...: Ps 94:3: How long shall the wicked, O Lord.
39. : Num 14:9: their protections has departed from them.
41. : Ps 94:1: God of retribution, Lord.
4748. ...: Jer 31:12: They shall come and shout on the heights of Zion,
radiant over the bounty of the Lord.

Poem 68: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 119a. Acrostic: . Title: On


the same [prsh].

148Cf. R. S. Nelson, An Icon at Mt. Sinai and Christian Painting in Muslim Egypt dur
ing the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, in Late Antique and Medieval Art of the
Mediterranean World, ed. E. R. Hoffman, 24269 [particularly p. 248] (Oxford: Blackwell
Publishing, 2007).
226 chapter four


/
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In this metered (ha-mitpashsh, based on the Arabic al-bas meter) and


monorhyme poem to prsh Qora (Num 16:118:32)which contains
neither a refrain nor other quotations from the prsh and which, given
the heading of the next poem as well as the absence of the usual Judeo-
Arabic subscript which marks the end of all other poems (i.e.,
kumilat), was probably recited as an introduction to poem 69149we
find yet another plea for deliverance from the oppression Israel experi-
enced in exile, and more caustic references to Christians (my brother,
Shammah) and Muslims (my slave, Qedar, the son of my slave).
See the first three lines: My God, when will You with Your strong hand
make my hand dominant and exalted over my brother and my slave? For
Shammah has laid my land waste and destroyed my Temple, and because
of Qedar my glory has become very dark; but although today the son of my
slave enslaves me, tomorrow every ruler and king will bow down before
me. The poem addresses God, and by starting off with the word
(When?) the praying voice emphasizes the urgency of the poems plea
for deliverance from exile, even though at the end the poet is rather confi-
dent that deliverance will come. Linguistically noteworthy is Dars word-
play in line 2: shamm l-shamm sm ar [...] u-mi-qdr qdar md
hd Shammah has laid my land in waste [...] and because of Qedar my
glory has become very dark.

149Less than 10% of the poems (8 out of 96 poemsnos. 16, 64, 66, 68, 71, 89, 92, 94)
in the collection have no structural element linking them to the prsht for which they
were written. It is interesting to note that a longer strophic and unmetered poem with
the Judeo-Arabic heading: And I followed it up with this qia in the wazn of [the poem
with the incipit...] follows each of these eight short monorhyme, metered poems, see the
headings to poems 17, 65, 67, 69, 72, 90, 93, 95; cf. section 2.3.
edition 227

: my slave, referring to : my brother, referring to Christians. 1.


Muslims.
: Shammah, one of the grandchildren of Esau, referring to Christians; see 2.
: Qedar, referring to Muslims. Gen 36:13.
: the son of my slave, referring to Muslims. 3.
: Job 16:15: I sewed sackcloth over my skin. 4.

Poem 69: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 119a120a. Acrostic:


. Title: And I followed it with this qia in the wazn of [the poem with
. ]the incipit


/ /
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228 chapter four

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (Come morning, the Lord
will make known who he is and who is holy, and will grant him access to
Himself; cf. Num 16:5)150 comes from prsh Qora (Num 16:118:32). A
biblical quotation ending in precedes the refrain (also ending in )

in each strophe of this poem with internal rhyme. The poem has thematic
elements similar to those in the previous five poems on this prsh. See
the first strophe addressed to God: You who understand my secret, my
Savior and my Redeemer, repay my slave (Muslims) according to his evil
deeds and protect my life from the hands of my brother (Christians) and
put him and his soldiers to shame; help me in my obscurity and my dark-
ness to find words (to respond) to the one who insults me and raises his
voice; and declare to the enemy who thinks that God has forsaken His
people [into the hand of] their killers: even if the Rock banishes His peo-
ple at night and spreads the wing of darkness upon themcome morning,
the Lord will make known who He is and who is holy, and will grant Him
access to Himself (Num 16:5). The last strophe addresses Israel and sug-
gests means by which to bring about deliverance, even if Israels sins are
acknowledgedthe offering of lips, i.e., prayer (line 36; cf. Hos 14:3),
confession of sins and bending down in worship of God (line 40), and

150
Then he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, Come
morning, the Lord will make known who he is and who is holy, and will grant him access to
Himself; He will grant access to the one He has chosen (Num 16:5).
edition 229

the recitation of honorable songs, praise, and thanksgivings in pleasant


words (line 41), the last of which quite plausibly refers to the recitation
of liturgical poetry.

1. : my slave, referring to Muslims.


2. : my brother, referring to Christians.
6. ...: Num 16:5: Come morning, the Lord will make known who he is
and who is holy, and will grant him access to Himself.
8. : Listen, sons of Israel. : in Christian and Muslim lands,
since Esau is a son of Isaac and Ishmael a son of Abraham.
12. : perhaps referring to the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.
13. ...: Num 16:5: He will grant access to the one He has chosen.
20. : referring to Abraham. : Gen 18:1: The Lord appeared to him.
27. : 1 Kgs 8:58: May He incline our hearts to Him.
29. : Dan 12:4: But you, Daniel, keep the words secret, seal the book
until the time of the end.
32. : Israel; see Isa 44:2: Yeshurun whom I have chosen.
36. ...: cf. Hos 14:3: instead of bulls, we will pay [the offering of]
our lips.
38. : Isa 10:23: a decree of destruction.

Poem 70: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 120a120b. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same Psalm in the wazn of [the poem with the incipit]

.151




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151According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
;see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213; cf.
section 2.4.
230 chapter four


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Contrary to custom, the refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (may they
go down alive into Sheol! For where they dwell, there evil is; cf. Ps 55:16)152
is not taken from the prsh. However, the Psalm does refer to the pun-
ishment of Qora and his accomplices in prsh Qora (Num 16:118:32;
see especially Num 16:3034). Yet in the poem it is not Qora and his fol-
lowers, but the oppressors of Israel whom the poet wants to see descend
to Sheol. This poem, which ends with divine speech in the final three
strophes, refers to Christians (Edom, brother) and Muslims (Qedar,
slave) in the same manner as the previous poems on this prsh.
However, unlike the other four strophic and unmetered poems written
for prsh Qora, this one is placed before and not after a short mono-
rhyme and metered poem.

2. ...: Ps 55:16: may they go down alive in Sheol! For where they
dwell, there evil is.
5. : Edom, referring to Christians. : Qedar, referring to Muslims.
7. : Ps 37:15: Their swords shall pierce their own hearts.
9. : Micah 7:10: she shall be for trampling like mud in the
streets.
10. : cf. Isa 10:23: a decree of destruction.
11. : the daughter of the brother and the slave, referring to Christians
and Muslims.

152 Let Him incite death against


them; may they go down alive into Sheol! For where they dwell, there evil is (Ps 55:16).
edition 231

12. ...: Deut 32:23: I will sweep misfortunes on them, use up My arrows
on them.
1617. ...: Deut 32:24: Wasting famine, ravaging plague, deadly pesti-
lence, and fanged beasts will I let loose against them.
22. : Jer 17:1: engraved on the tablet of their hearts.
2627. ...: Jer 31:33: after these daysdeclares the Lord: I will put
My Teaching into their inmost being.

Poem 71: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 120b. Acrostic: . Title:


On the same Psalm.



} { /

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5

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This metered, monorhyme poem on prsh Qora (Num 16:118:32)


which does not contain a refrain from the prsh and which, given the
headings of the preceding and following poems, was probably recited as
a follow-up to poem 70 and an introduction to poem 72153addresses
God. The poem again starts off with the word ( When?), which is
convenient for Dar given that the name acrostic starts with mm. It is
nonetheless noteworthy that the Karaite poet started two other metered,
monorhyme poems to prsh Qora (64 and 68) with exactly the same
word. In doing so he seems to emphasize the urgency of the poems plea
for deliverance from exile. Line 2 clearly refers to the prshs subject
matter, i.e., to the punishment of Qora and his accomplices (see the
heading to and refrain in poem 70, which is taken from Ps 55:16: may
they go down alive in Sheol! For where they dwell, there evil is).

153Less than 10% of the poems (8 out of 96 poemsnos. 16, 64, 66, 68, 71, 89, 92, 94)
in the collection have no structural element linking them to the prsht for which they
were written. It is interesting to note that a longer strophic and unmetered poem with
the Judeo-Arabic heading: And I followed it up with this qia in the wazn of [the poem
with the incipit...] follows each of these eight short monorhyme, metered poems, see the
headings to poems 17, 65, 67, 69, 72, 90, 93, 95; cf. section 2.3.
232 chapter four

: Ps 55:16: may they go down alive in Sheol! For where they... 2.


dwell, there evil is.
: cf. Ps 42:5: how I walked with the crowd, moved with 6.
them.

Poem 72: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 120b121b. Acrostic:


. Title: And I followed it with this qia in the wazn of [the poem with
]the incipit
.154



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154According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
; see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213; cf.
section 2.4.
edition 233

/

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (For You, O God, will bring
them down to the nethermost Pitthose murderous men; cf. Ps 55:24)155
refers once again to the divine punishment of Qora and his accom-
plices in prsh Qora (Num 16:118:32; see especially Num 16:3034).
However, in the context of the poem, Israels enemieswho are speci-
fied in inimical references as Christians (brother, (blood-thirsty) Edom,
Magdiel, those who eat pork) and Muslims (Qedar, slave, Adbeel,
Ishmael who loves violence)are the ones who will be punished like
Qora and his followers. The use of the word Sheol in line 19 also points
to the theme of the prsh. A quotation ending in precedes the
refrain (also ending in ) in each strophe. This makes this poem a
rather blood-spattered affair. Quite the reverse happens when the poet
compares deliverance to a wedding by using Jer 7:34: the sound of mirth
and gladness, [the voice of bridegroom and bride] (line 22).

2. ...: Ps 55:24: For You, O God, will bring them down to the neth-
ermost Pitthose murderous, treacherous men.
4. : my brother and my slave woman, referring to Christians and
Muslims.
5. : cf. Ps 56:9: put my tears unto Your flask.
7. : Edom, referring to Christians. : Qedar, referring to Muslims.
8. ...: 2 Sam 16:7: Get out, get out, you criminal.
10. : Magdiel, the name of a son of Esau; see Gen 36:43.
11. : Adbeel, the name of a son of Ishmael; see Gen 25:13.
14. : Deut 19:10: bringing bloodguilt upon you.
18. : Ps 85:9: may they not turn to folly.
20. ...: cf. Isa 59:7: Their feet run after evil, they hasten to shed
the blood of the innocent and Prov 1:16: For their feet run to evil; they hurry to
shed blood.
22. ...: Jer 7:34: the sound of mirth and gladness, the voice of bride-
groom and bride.
23. : those who eat pork, referring to Christians.

155 For
You, O God, will bring them down to the nethermost Pitthose murderous, treacherous men;
they shall not live out half of their days; but I trust in You (Ps 55:24).
234 chapter four

: cf. Isa 10:23: a decree of destruction. 25.


: Edom, referring to Christians. : Ishmael, referring to Muslims. 26.
: Ps 9:13: He who requites bloodshed is mindful of them.
: 1 Sam 25:26, 25:33: from seeking redress by blood. 32.

Poem 73: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 121b122a. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Zt uqqat ha-tr in the wazn of [the poem with
]the incipit
.156




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156According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on the poem
by Judah ha-Levi (with the incipit):
;; see Brody, 3:15556; Yarden, 1:21011
cf. section 2.4.
edition 235

The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (You know all the hardships
that have befallen us; cf. Num 20:14)157 is taken from Moses unfulfilled
request to the king of Edom to allow the Israelites to cross their territory
in prsh uqqat (Num 19:122:1). Num 20:15 specifies the hardships
Moses mentioned: that our ancestors went down to Egypt, that we dwelt
in Egypt a long time, and that the Egyptians dealt harshly with us and
our ancestors. The people of Israel speak in the first-person plural in the
first, second, and fourth strophes. The continuous use of forms with the
pronominal suffix - our is a strong indication that the poet intended
his Egyptian Karaite congregation to identify with the biblical community
that sought to leave Egypt. The third, fifth, and sixth strophes address God
and use many second-person forms. In line 12 Dar quotes Exod 19:4 to
request his and his congregations deliverance from Egypt: Where is Your
power which can bear us on eagles wings? The final lines (2627) make
a similar request : Now hasten for us our salvation like the salvation that
came to pass for us in Egypt.

2. ...: Num 20:14: You know all the hardships that have befallen us.
6. : our brother, referring to Christians.
7. : our slave-woman, referring to Muslims.
10. : Your sons, referring to Israel.
12. ...: Exod 19:4: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, how
I bore you on eagles wings.
20. : cf. Ezek 21:11: with bitter grief.
27. ...: cf. Ps 106:21: They forgot God who saved them, who per-
formed great deeds in Egypt.

Poem 74: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 122a122b. Acrostic:


. Title: On prsh Va-yar Blq in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit]
.

157
From Kadesh, Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom: Thus says
your brother Israel: You know all the hardships that have befallen us (Num 20:14). Note
that Edom is one of the epithets used by Dar to the Christians, and we find another such
epithet in line 6: (the yoke of) our brother. However, despite the contents of Prsh
uqqat, Dar does not delve deeply into the topic of the oppression by Edom, but actu
ally refrains from his usual level of sharp polemic against Christians and/or Muslims; cf.
sections 3.7 and 3.9.
236 chapter four



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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (perhaps I can thus defeat
them and drive them out; cf. Num 22:6)158 is taken from prsh Blq

158
Come then, put a curse upon this
people for me, since they are too numerous for me; perhaps I can thus defeat them and
drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed indeed, and he
whom you curse is cursed (Num 22:6).
edition 237

(Num 22:225:9). There it refers to the words of Balak, the king of Moab,
to the diviner Balaam, and his request to curse the Israelites so that he
might defeat them and drive them out of the land. However, given this
poems penitential themes, the refrain is adeptly applied to driving out
ones sins: Shake out sins from me, O Rock, and remove them, so that per-
haps I might thus defeat them and drive them out (Num 22:6). The Karaite
poet does not refer to any of the blessings that Balaam (involuntarily)
pronounces upon Israel. Penitential themes run through most of the
poem to the exclusion of Dars favorite topic of vengeance for Christian
and Muslim oppression. The praying voice is well aware of human weak-
ness and asks God for His mercy and help in defeating his own sinfulness.
The last two stanzas are devoted to the obligatory topic of deliverance,
namely, the return to Jerusalem and the coming of the Messiah (Yinnn),
with only a short reference to the enemys defeat.

2. ...: Num 22:6: perhaps I can thus defeat them and drive them
out.
8. : Ps 55:13: it is not my foe who vaunts himself against
meI could hide from him.
14. : Ps 37:36: Suddenly he vanished and was gone.
17. : Ps 48:7: like a woman in the throes of labor.
20. ...: Job 31:14: When He calls me to account, what should I answer
him?
26. : Num 14:12: I will strike them with pestilence and disown
them.
28. : Yinnn, referring to Messiah, see Ps 72:17.
31. : Ps 118:22: the chief cornerstone.
32. ...: Ps 89:23: no vile man afflict him.

Poem 75: MS NLR Evr. I 802, fol. 123a123b. Acrostic:


. Title: On the same [prsh] in the wazn of [the poem with the
incipit]
.159




/

/

159According to the Judeo-Arabic heading this poems wazn is modeled on a poem by


Judah ha-Levi with the incipit
;see Brody, 3:18788; Yarden, 2:61213; cf.
section 2.4.
238 chapter four

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The refrain (pizmn) of this strophic poem (I will reward you richly and
I will do anything you ask of me; cf. Num 22:17)160 is once more taken
from Balaks words to Balaam in Prsh Blq (Num 22:225:9), but in
the poem the praying voice addresses these words to God, whom line 4
describes as dwelling in my heart and mind and whom line 12 praises
for being a refuge (Ps 61:4). This poem continues some of the thematic
elements of the previous poem, i.e., acknowledging that man is sinful
and that he needs help to overcome his own evil inclination. In this case,
Dar also deals with his preferred topics of exiled Israels suffering from
the oppression of their enemies and how they are in need of divine heal-
ing and deliverance. The final strophe is particularly interesting with its
various biblical quotations, its reference to the unbroken covenant, and

160 I will
reward you richly and I will do anything you ask of me. Only come and damn this people
for me (Num 22:17).
edition 239

its allusions to the Temple offering rituals and the Karaite Rsh odesh
(New Moon),161 i.e., the observation of the new moon to determine accu-
rately the dates of the Jewish holidays: Strengthen my hand and raise
me from the dust, O God, and from the dunghill (1 Sam 2:8), a