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Gikatilla

GIKATILLA

GIKATILLA (Chiquitilla ; Heb. גיקטיליא), ISAAC IBN (fl. second half of 10th century), Spanish Hebrew poet and grammarian. A student of *Menahem b. Jacob ibn Saruq, he took part in the controversy on grammar between him and *Dunash b. Labrat. Moses *Ibn Ezra in his Kitab al-Muhadara wal-Mudhakara (published by A. Halkin (1975), 31a) states that Isaac ibn Gikatilla and his contemporary the poet R. Isaac Mar Saul surpassed their immediate predecessors – Dunash b. Labrat, Menahem ibn Saruk, and other contemporary poets in nobility and eloquence, and that "both came from Lucena and had similar skills, but Ibn Gikatilla was superior because of his greater knowledge of Arabic culture." Moses ibn *Tibbon in his commentary (still in manuscript) to the azharot of Solomon ibn *Gabirol mentions that Isaac ibn Gikatilla had also written some azharot. Only in 1950, however, were four manuscripts containing the majority of these azharot published by M. Zulay. The influence of *Saadiah Gaon is strongly marked in these poems. This type of azharah is the first of its kind to be written in Spain, and at the end of each the name "Isaac" appears. Besides this work, Moses ibn Ezra ascribed another verse to Gikatilla. This ascription has been authenticated by a number of scholars.

Isaac ibn Gikatilla, together with Judah ibn Daud (Ḥayyuj?) and Isaac ibn Kapron, who were also students of Menahem ibn Saruk, actively defended their teacher against the attacks of Dunash b. Labrat. In their reply (ed. together with Yehudi ben Sheshet's reply by S.G. Stern and by S. Benavente, see bibl.), they praise the grammatical works of Menahem, enumerate some of Dunash's errors, and try to invalidate his system of comparison between Hebrew and other Semitic languages, Arabic and Aramaic. In their criticism of the new metrical system introduced by Dunash adapting the Arabic basic elements, they accuse Dunash of having corrupted the Hebrew language by adapting it to the Arabic meter. *Yehudi b. Sheshet, the pupil of Dunash, replied and from his words "Behold, the greatest among you, ben Gikatilla" (Stern, pt. 2, p. 17) it can be deduced that Gikatilla was presumably the most outstanding scholar among his colleagues. Yehudi b. Sheshet's enumeration of the errors of Gikatilla makes it possible to estimate the extent of the latter's contribution to the jointly written reply of Menahem's disciples. Gikatilla was a teacher of the grammarian Jonah *Ibn Janaḥ whom he encouraged in the study of the Arabic language. Ibn Janaḥ, in many of his own works, cites Gikatilla without, however, mentioning the source. Other grammarians of the Middle Ages, such as Judah *Ibn Bal'am, also quote him.

bibliography:

S. Pinsker (ed.), Likkutei Kadmoniyyot (1860), in: Supplements 159, 161, 165; S.G. Stern (ed.), Sefer Teshuvot Talmidei Menaḥem ve-Talmidei Dunash … (1870), lxxv (introd.); Jonah ibn Janaḥ, Sefer ha-Shorashim, ed. by W. Bacher (1896), x (introd.); D. Yellin, Toledot Hitpatteḥut ha-Dikduk ha-Ivri (1945), 94–106; Zulay, in: Tarbiz, 20 (1949/50), 161–76; Schirmann, Sefarad, 2 (1956), 702, s.v.Azharot. add. bibliography: E. Ashtor, The Jews of Moslem Spain, I (1973), 259, 393–4; S. Benavente and A. Sáenz-Badillos (eds),. Tĕšubot de los Discípulos de Mĕnaḥem contra Dunaš ben Labraṭ (1986); A. Sáenz-Badillos, in: Sefarad, 46 (1986), 421–31.

[Nissan Netzer]

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