Ibn Barun, Abu Ibrahim Isaac ben Joseph Ibn Benveniste

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IBN BARUN, ABU IBRAHIM ISAAC BEN JOSEPH IBN BENVENISTE (c. 1100), Hebrew grammarian and lexicographer. He lived in Saragossa and Málaga and associated with Moses *Ibn Ezra and *Judah Halevi, who dedicated poems to him; the former called him nasi and gevir "prince." Ibn Barun wrote poems in Hebrew and in Arabic which are not extant. He was a pupil of the Hebrew poet and grammarian Levi *Ibn Altabban, and in his Kitāb al-Muwāzana bayn al-Lugha al-ʿIbrāniyya wa-al-ʿArabiyya ("The Book of Comparison between the Hebrew and Arabic Language"), he developed the comparative linguistic studies begun by *Ibn Quraysh, *Dunash ibn Tamim, and Jonah *Ibn Janaḥ. The book (fragments of which are extant) consists of two parts, the shorter one dealing with grammar and the longer one, called "The Book of Roots," a lexical work. Ibn Barun knew Arabic literature well and often quotes the Koran, and Khalīl ibn Aḥmad's Kitāb al-ʿAyn (the first Arabic lexicon), among others. According to Moses ibn Ezra who mentions Ibn Barun in his poetics (Shirat Yisrael, ed. by B. Halper 54, 76), Ibn Barun (like Ibn Quraysh) assumed a non-Semitic origin for some Hebrew words (in which assumption he was wrong, according to Ibn Ezra). Despite the excellent quality of Ibn Barun's work, it did not exert influence on other medieval authors and philologists. Joseph *Kimḥi is one of the few authorities who quote him. It was only in the 19th century that Jewish scholars discovered the importance of Ibn Barun for the development of Hebrew linguistics. Kokowzoff edited the fragments of Ibn Barun's Kitāb al-Muwāzana with a detailed Russian introduction (see bibliography). P. Wechter published a complete translation with a detailed introduction in English based on Kokowzoff, rendering this important work accessible to the English-speaking world.


Bacher, in: zaw, 14(1894), 223–49; Eppenstein, in: rej, 41(1900), 233–49; 42(1901), 76–102; P. Kokowzoff, K istorii srednevekovoy yevreyskoy filologii i yevreysko-arabskoy literaturi, 1 (1893); 2 (1916), 155–172; Ashtor, Korot, 1 (19662), 203; P. Wechter, Ibn Barun's Arabic Works on Hebrew Grammar and Lexicography (1964). For the spelling of Barun see Stern, in jqr, 40 (1949–50), 189–91.

[Joshua Blau and

Abraham Solomon Halkin]

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Ibn Barun, Abu Ibrahim Isaac ben Joseph Ibn Benveniste

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