Ibn Kapron, Isaac

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IBN KAPRON, ISAAC (10th century), poet and grammarian. In Latin and Spanish, the meaning of Isaac's name ("Cabron, Capron") is related to "goat"; he was called by this name, and others like it, in ridicule by his opponents. The Ibn Kapron family was an old and honorable one in Córdoba, the place where Isaac lived at the middle of the century, under the Caliphate of Abdarraḥman the iii. He was a pupil of *Menahem b. Saruq. In a book of responsa written with Isaac ibn *Gikatilla and Judah ben Daud, disciples of Menahem, he defended his teacher against *Dunash ben Labrat, whom he attacked for introducing Arabic meter into Hebrew poetry without respecting the particular nature of the Hebrew language. In his opinion, for maintaining Arabic meter in Hebrew verses it was necessary to change the vocalization and the pronunciation of many Hebrew words. He was probably the author of the poem in praise of *Ḥisdai ibn Shaprut, in the same meter and rhyme as Dunash's panegyric, which they included at the beginning of the Teshuvot, trying to show that the criticism of using Arabic meter in Hebrew was not because it was impossible to do so. Of Isaac's other poetic writings, a seliḥah deploring the vicissitudes of the Diaspora is known; it is the first known example of a new metrical technique meant to replace Dunash's innovation, with a fixed number of syllables (and without counting the shewas or half-vowels). In the school of Menahem this new syllabic technique was considered more respectful of the nature of the Hebrew language. As an alternative to Dunash's invention, it was adopted in many liturgical and some secular compositions in the Middle Ages.


H. Brody and K. Albrecht (eds.), Sha'ar ha-Shir (1905), 7–8; Schirmann, Sefarad, 1 (1954), 42–48; 2 (1956), 676; Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 420; S.Z. Stern, Teshuvot Talmidei Menaḥem (1870, new ed. 1968), 9–17. add. bibliography: S. Benavente and A. Sáenz-Badillos, Tesubot de los discípulos de Menahem contra Dunas ben Labrat (1986); Ashtor, Jews of Moslem Spain, i (1973), 258–61; A. Sáenz-Badillos, in: Sefarad, 46 (1986), 421–32; Schirmann-Fleischer, The History of Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Spain (1995), 131–41 (Heb.).

[Jefim (Hayyim) Schirmann /

Angel Sáenz-Badillos (2nd ed.)]

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Ibn Kapron, Isaac

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