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Hebrew Poems from Spain$
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David Goldstein

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113669

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113669.001.0001

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Joseph Ibn Abithur

Joseph Ibn Abithur

(p.19) Joseph Ibn Abithur
Hebrew Poems from Spain

David Goldstein

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the poetry of Joseph Ibn Abithur. Joseph was born in the middle of the tenth century in Merida and lived in Cordoba, which was the centre of Muslim and Jewish civilisation in Spain at this time. There is a tradition, preserved by Abraham ibn Daoud, that he gave an Arabic explanation of the Talmud to the Caliph al-Hakim II. Joseph was surrounded by controversy. He was forced to leave Spain after making an unsuccessful bid for the intellectual leadership of the Jewish community, and he spent the latter part of his life journeying in the lands of the Middle East. He is known as a poet mainly for his liturgical work, much of which was adopted into the prayer-books of the Provencal, Catalonian, and North African Jews. Ultimately, his poetry is more akin to that of the piyyutim of Eastern Mediterranean Jewry than to the ‘new’ poetry beginning to flourish in Spain. The chapter then looks at three of his poems: Sanctification, A Song for the New Year, and Lament on the Devastation of the Land of Israel (1012).

Keywords:   Joseph Ibn Abithur, Jewish civilisation, Talmud, intellectual leadership, Jewish community, liturgical work, prayer-books, piyyutim, Jewish poet, Jewish poetry

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