Darʿī, Moses ben Abraham

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DARʿĪ, MOSES BEN ABRAHAM (late 12th–early 13th century), Karaite poet. The assertion that Darʿī was writing poetry as early as 843 is based on a forged date in the *Firkovich manuscript. The similarity between his poems and those of the Spanish school from Ibn Gabirol to Abraham Ibn Ezra can only be explained by his dependence upon them; Darʿī, then, must have lived after Abraham Ibn Ezra. According to A. Neubauer, he lived at the end of the 13th century, because in his poems he prays for the deliverance of Jerusalem from the Muslims and the Christians, which points to a time when both sides were desperately contending for the city. The exact period of his life depends upon the correct identification of the poet's friends mentioned in his divan (a collection of poetry); it can, however, be stated that he must have been active about the year 1200. It is known that his parents had emigrated from Spain to Darʿa (in Morocco), which accounts for the family name "Darʿī." He himself was born in Alexandria, where he spent his youth. Steinschneider and Davidson assume that he was originally a Rabbanite and only later became a Karaite. In any case, his poems contain both violent outbursts against "the people of the distorted Mishnah" and tolerant utterances. He wrote his divan in Egypt; he is also known to have stayed in Damascus and to have undertaken a journey to Jerusalem. By profession he was a physician, as is evident from numerous acrostics in his poems. Two of Darʿī's sons died during his lifetime. His poems have been preserved in a manuscript divan that originated in Jerusalem (Firkovich Collection, Leningrad). It consists of two parts: Firdaws Azhār al-Qaṣaʿid wa al-Ashʿar ("Flower Garden of Qasidas and Songs"); and a "Supplement" (Al-Mulḥaq li Dīwānihi al-Asbaq), containing – both together – a collection of 544 poems. Another manuscript of the divan with 561 poems became known in 1837 (see Geiger, in: wzjt, 3 (1837), 443, no. 9–10). More recent copies of the divan (of the 19th–20th centuries) have been preserved in a manuscript acquired by I. Davidson as well as in the Asiatic Museum of Leningrad. Moreover, various religious poems of Darʿī are preserved in manuscripts of song collections of Egypt and Damascus. Pinsker published more than 100 poems from the Firkovich manuscript in Likkutei Kadmoniyyot (1860), and also individual poems in the journal Kokhevei Yiẓḥak (26 (1861), 22ff; 27 (1862), 24–27; 28 (1862), 20–24); one poem was published by A. Neubauer (Melekhet ha-Shir (1865), 64). Davidson intended to publish the entire divan but only the first part appeared in Horeb, 3 (1936), 28–42. Both parts of the divan contain almost every poetical genre cultivated by the Spanish-Hebrew poets. To the secular poems belong epistles to friends, epithalamia, elegies, enigmas, epigrams, love lyrics, satires, etc. The religious poems are frequently arranged according to the sequence of the Sabbath reading of the Torah. Most of the poems are written in Hebrew and approximately ten are written in Arabic. Darʿī signs most of the Hebrew poems "Moshe Rofe Kara'i, Ḥazak." A special group comprises poems in both languages. A so-called maqāma (an address, sermon, or story, told in public and written in assonant prose), named the Maqāma of Alexandria (Maḥberet No-Amon Miẓrayim, ed. 1927 by I. Davidson), has been attributed to Darʿī without any substantial reason. In general, Darʿī's technical dexterity surpassed his poetical gifts. While the language and structure of his poems are in the best tradition of the Spanish school, the contents often betray a lack of individuality.


S. Pinsker, Likkutei Kadmoniyyot (1860), 46–105, addenda 113–21; Schorr, in: He-Ḥalutz, 6 (1861), 57–59; Geiger, in: zdmg, 15 (1861), 813–9; 16 (1862), 290; A. Neubauer, Aus der Petersburger Bibliothek (1866), 21–23, 115–7; Steinschneider, in: jzwl, 9 (1871), 172–83; idem, in: hb, 4 (1861), 6, 47, 144; idem, Polemische und apologetische Literatur… (1877), 287, 292, 331; idem, in: jqr, 10 (1897–98), 520–1; Frankl, in: J.S. Ersch and J.G. Gruber, Allgemeine Encyklopaedie, 33 (1883), 17; I. Sinani, Istoriya vozniknoveniya i razvitiya karaimizma, 2 (1889), 29–42; Kahana, in: Oẓar ha-Sifrut, 5 (1896), 90–95; idem, in: Ha-Shilo'aḥ, 13 (1904), 435–42; Kohen, in: Ha-Ẓefirah, 25 (1898), 490, 518–9; M. Wiener, Lyrik der Kabbalah (1920), 154, 178; Davidson, in: Madda'ei ha-Yahadut, 2 (1926–27), 297–308; idem, in: Tarbiz, 2 (1930), 118–9; Habermann, in: paajr, 33 (1965), 35–40 (Heb. sect.); Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 445–7, s.v.Moshe Dari; L. Nemoy (ed.), Karaite Anthology (1952), 133–46, 354–5.

[Jefim (Hayyim) Schirmann]