Ibn Mar Saul, Isaac ben Levi

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IBN MAR SAUL, ISAAC BEN LEVI

IBN MAR SAUL, ISAAC BEN LEVI (early 11th century), poet and grammarian of the "second generation" that preceded the golden age. Born in Lucena (and hence known as Alyussani), Isaac was respected by other grammarians even though they occasionally disagreed with his opinions. There is a considerable amount of information about him and quotations of his poems in Sefer ha-Shorashim and Sefer ha-Rikmah by his pupil Jonah *Ibn Janāḥ. We do not know if he wrote any grammatical treatises; in any case, nothing has been preserved but the references of Ibn Janāh. According to Moses ibn Ezra, he was of the same epoch as Joseph *ibn Abitur and Isaac ibn *Gikatilla, although less expert than the latter in his knowledge of Arabic. Even if Ibn Mar Saul wrote mainly liturgical poetry, he is the author of the first known Hebrew poem dedicated to the male gazelle. His best-known liturgical poem is Elohai Al Tedineni ke-Ma'ali ("My God, judge me not according to my transgressions"), a piyyut recited for Shaḥarit on the Day of Atonement according to the Sephardi ritual. He was a prolific paytan, and developed some of the characteristics of Sephardi liturgical poetry. He introduced notable novelties, like strophic poems with a structure similar to the Arabic zajal, and even in one case to the muwashshaḥ (as shown by E. Fleischer), employing in many cases the syllabic meter.

levi ibn mar saul, also a paytan, who left the insecure Córdoba and lived in Tortosa in the first half of the 11th century, was apparently his son.

bibliography:

Simchoni, in: Ha-Tekufah, 10 (1921), 156; Schirmann, in: Sefer Assaf (1953), 496–514; Schirmann, Sefarad, 1 (1954), 49–52; idem, Shirim Ḥadashim min ha-Genizah (1965), 157–8; Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 418; E. Fleischer, in: Sefer Schirmann (1970), 285–318. add. bibliography: E. Fleischer, in: Tarbiz, 63 (1994), 403ff.; Schirmann-Fleischer, The History of Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Spain (1995), 144–50 (Heb.).

[Jefim (Hayyim) Schirmann /

Angel Sáenz-Badillos (2nd ed.)]

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