Gikatilla (Chiquatilla/Chiquitilla), Moses ben Samuel Ha-Kohen

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GIKATILLA (Chiquatilla/Chiquitilla ), MOSES BEN SAMUEL HA-KOHEN (11th century), Spanish Jewish liturgical poet, Hebrew translator, and grammarian. Born in Córdoba of good family, he lived principally in Saragossa and, it seems, traveled extensively. One of a group of youths favored and supported by *Samuel ha-Nagid, Gikatilla wrote poems of praise dedicated to his benefactor and to the latter's son Joseph. Most of his works in the fields of grammar, Bible exegesis, and other subjects have been lost except for quotations in the works of others, and are now known only through laudatory or critical references to them. Abraham *Ibn Ezra refers to him as the "greatest of the grammarians." From the quotations ascribed to him, it can be deduced that he wrote commentaries in Arabic to most of the books of the Bible. He mentions, always with a note of criticism, *Saadiah Gaon, Hayyuj, Samuel ha-Nagid, Ibn Janaḥ, Yeshu'ah, the Oriental paytanim, Midrashim, Christian translations of Psalms, and others. He made extensive use of the Targum. His Arabic commentary on Psalms still remains in manuscript; the only incomplete copy has the commentaries on Psalms 12, 42, 44, 69, 74, 78, 104, 109, 119, 141, and 144 (in fragmentary versions); the commentaries on Psalms 43, 70–73, 79–103, 110–118, and 145–150 are lost. The text of this copy is the work of Ibn Gikatilla, as is shown by his own quotations in his treatise on masculine and feminine Hebrew gender. Ibn Gikatilla says explicitly that he had written earlier commentaries on Job, Isaiah, and possibly on Jeremiah and Amos. The passages in this unique copy demonstrate that Ibn Gikatilla's commentary has four levels, paying attention to semantics, morphology, syntax, and exegesis. Although the two first levels continue the line of the Andalusian Hebrew grammarians from the 10th century, especially of the Kitab al-Nutaf by Ḥayyuj, they combine the oldest rabbinical tradition with the intellectual trends of his time. The original exegetic method developed by Ibn Gikatilla was very critical, of high intellectual quality, and had a profound influence on other Andalusian authors. According to Ibn Gikatilla, the Psalms are prayers and songs. He usually adopted the literal meaning (haqiqa) of the text and used the figurative meaning (majaz) for unusual texts like Psalm 26:7: "Gates, raise yours heads." Ibn Gikatilla usually rejects miracles; he is probably the most rationalistic of all medieval commentators. Ibn Bilam accused him of "agnosticism." Other extant fragments of his exegetical writings suggest also that he was a bold and original commentator. He was among the few who explained the aspirations of the prophets as applying to their own times and not to those of the Messiah. He was the first exegete to attribute the chapters from Isaiah 40 onward to a prophet other than Isaiah. On Isaiah 41, the following is reported in his name: "These first consolations, from the middle of the book onward, refer to the Second Temple" (i.e., not to the messianic age). Concerning Psalm 106:47 he said, "This psalmist was in Babylon." Similar comments on other chapters are also cited in his name. He wrote a Sefer Dikduk ("Book of Grammar"): The Book on the Masculine and Feminine (Kitab al-Tadkir wal-Ta'nit). This monographic lexicographical work, probably inspired in the Muslim book by Anbary from Basra, became quite famous, and it is quoted in other Andalusian works as "small but tasty." Gikatilla also translated from Arabic into Hebrew the work of Hayyuj on weak and geminate Hebrew verbs for non-Arabic-speaking Jews from North Spain, and possibly also some works of Samuel ha-Nagid. As a translator, he innovated and fixed the Hebrew terminology for Hayyuj's theories, which is still used today. He added hundreds of glosses to the original Arabic version, sometimes reducing and sometimes extending the text, and also included some explicit criticism on Hayyuj. In that way Gikatilla offered an updated version of the original Arabic work.

The scanning excerpts of Gikatilla's commentaries were collected by S. Poznański. Of his Hebrew hymns and poems, only ten have been published. Moses *Ibn Ezra said of him: "He was among the greatest of the exalted rhetoricians and poets in both languages, but he had a soft spot that damaged his privileged position" (Kitab al-Muhadara wal-Mudhakara, ed. A. Halkin (1975), 36a). His poems, which are rhymed and stylistically characteristic of his time, include religious compositions, friendship and love poems, and drinking songs; they were published by Brody (1937). His commentary on Psalms has been preserved in the manuscript Firk i-3583 (Finkel edited and translated three of them into Hebrew). His Hebrew translation of Hayyuj's grammatical works was edited by Nutt. The fragments belonging to his Treatise on Hebrew Gender were translated into Hebrew and published by Allony. Bacher edited an Arabic Targum commentary on Job that may also be his work.


N. Allony, in: Sinai, 24 (1949), 34–67, 138–47; Brody, in: ymḤsi, 3 (1937), 64–90; S. Poznański, Moses b. Samuel ha-Kohen Chiquitilla nebst den Fragmenten seiner Schriften (1895). add. bibliography: Eldar, in: Ben Ever le-Arav (1998), 95–111; Finkel, in: Horeb, 3 (1936–7), 153–62; M. Haran, in: Hebrew Bible – Old Testament: The History of its Interpretation, 1–2: The Middle Ages (2000), 261–81; M. Delgado, in: meah, 51 (2002), 119–57; idem, in: meah, 52 (2003), 201–41; Nutt, Two Treatises on Verbs Containing Feeble and Double Letters by R. Yehuda Hayug of Fez, Translated into Hebrew from the original Arabic by R. Moses Gikatilia of Cordova (1870); Schirmann, Sefarad (1956), 294–7; S. Poznański, in: zfavg (1912), 38–60; U. Simon, Four Approaches to the Book of Psalms: From Saadiah Gaon to Abraham Ibn Ezra (1991); A. Watad, Mishnato ha-Leshonit shel R. Hayyuj: mi Be'ad le-Munaḥab bi-Mekoram ha-Aravi u-be-Tirgumam ha-Ivrit (1984); del Valle, in: Judaísmo hispano, 1 (2002), 81–88.

[Abraham Meir Habermann /

José Martínez (2nd ed.)]

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Gikatilla (Chiquatilla/Chiquitilla), Moses ben Samuel Ha-Kohen

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