Skip to main content

Davidson, Israel

DAVIDSON, ISRAEL

DAVIDSON, ISRAEL (1870–1939), scholar of medieval Hebrew literature. Davidson was born in Yonava, Lithuania; at a young age he became an orphan and went to live with his uncle in Grodno, Lithuania. In 1888, after a few years' study at Slobodka yeshivah, he immigrated to the United States. There he earned a living as a street vendor, then as a shop assistant and Hebrew teacher; at night he studied English and other subjects to meet college-entrance requirements. After completing his studies at Columbia University, he was director of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and chaplain at the Sing Sing prison. In 1905 he began teaching Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, and in 1915 was appointed professor of medieval Hebrew literature.

Davidson's first major scholarly publication in English was Parody in Jewish Literature (1907, repr., 1967). Thereafter, he wrote and edited articles and books in both English and Hebrew. Among the most important works are his editions of Joseph *Ibn Zabara's Sefer Sha'ashu'im with an English introduction (1914; 19252 with Hebrew introduction); Saadia's Polemic against Hīwī al-Balkhī (1915); Maḥzor Yannai (1919), published from Greek palimpsests, Davidson recognizing *Yannai's piyyut in the superimposed writing; Mahberet mi-Shirei ha-Kodesh asher li-Shelomo ibn Gabirol (1923), Ibn *Gabirol's sacred poetry with English translations by Israel Zangwill; Ginzei Schechter (vol. 3, 1928), poems and piyyutim from the Cairo Genizah; and Sefer Milhamot ha-Shem (1934), the arguments of the Karaite *Salmon b. Yeroham against Saadiah Gaon. He was also responsible for preparing the critical edition of piyyutim for Siddur R. Sa'adyah Ga'on (with S. Assaf, 1941). His Oẓar ha-Meshalim ve-ha-Pitgamim, a treasury of medieval Jewish parables and maxims, on which Davidson had worked for many years, was published posthumously (1957).

Davidson's magnum opus is the Ozar ha-Shirah ve-ha-Piyyut (Thesaurus of Medieval Hebrew Poetry, 4 vols. and supplement, 1925–38). In this gigantic work Davidson recorded in alphabetical order the initial words of more than 35,000 poems and prayers from post-biblical times to the beginning of the Haskalah period. Each entry contains information relating to the type and structure of the poem, its author, and all available information on its publication as well as the literature about it. An author index, containing over 2,800 names, and a subject index are included. In 1936 Davidson received the first Bialik Prize for this monumental work. Davidson's Thesaurus has remained an indispensable work of reference for scholars.

bibliography:

A.M. Habermann, in: Gilyonot, 24 (1936/37), 109–12; 29 (1939), 180–81; Spiegel, in: Hadoar (May 16, 1930); Finkelstein, in: ajyb (1939), 35–56; O. Davidson, Out of Endless Yearnings (1946); S. Spiegel, in: Menorah Journal, 22 (1934), 69–72; S. Assaf (ed.), Siddur Rav Sa'adyah Ga'on (1941), 10–16.

[Abraham Meir Habermann]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Davidson, Israel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Davidson, Israel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/davidson-israel

"Davidson, Israel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved August 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/davidson-israel

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.