Ibn Quraysh, Judah

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IBN QURAYSH, JUDAH (second half of the ninth century), Hebrew grammarian and lexicographer. He was a physician in Tahert, Algeria, presumably in the second half of the ninth century (though some antedate him to the end of the eighth, and others postdate him to the beginning of the tenth century). According to *Ibn Janaḥ he knew *Eldad ha-Dani and was interested in his travels. With Saadiah Gaon, Ibn Quraysh is regarded as one of the founders of comparative Semitic linguistics; knowing Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic, he recognized their similarity in both vocabulary and grammatical structure. When the community of Fez in Morocco decided to abolish the custom of reciting the Aramaic Targum in synagogues, Ibn Quraysh addressed to them an epistle (risāla), in the preface of which he urged them to retract their decision, since the recitation was an old tradition and contributed to the comprehension of the Bible, while the Aramaic language in general, as well as Arabic, was important for the understanding of the Bible and the Hebrew language. The main body of the epistle falls into three parts: in the first part, biblical Hebrew in the form of a vocabulary is compared in alphabetical order with Aramaic, in the second with mishnaic Hebrew, and in the third with Arabic. The second section of the third part also treats of the similarity of structure of Arabic and Hebrew, as well as the correspondence of consonants and the structure of prohibitions. He also deals with non-Semitic words in the Bible. This work, which was edited by D.B. Goldberg and J.J.L. Bargès and translated into Hebrew by M. Katz (see bibliography), apparently had no special title. A critical edition has been published by D. Becker (see bibliography) along with a modern Hebrew translation. Because of its preface, it is as a rule called Risāla, but it is also referred to by other names. Abraham Ibn Ezra calls it Sefer ha-Yaḥas and Av va-Em; Isaac b. Samuel ha-Sephardi called it Agron Av va-Em (the third part of the work which was apparently the most widespread, begins with the words 'av and 'em). Menahem b. Saruq referred to it as Sefer Pitronot. Ibn Quraysh also composed religious poems (piyyutim), some of which were published by H. Brody in hḤy, 2 (1912/13), 63–83. The authorship of other works attributed to him is quite uncertain. The assertion that ibn Quraysh was a Karaite was first refuted by P. Frankel.


R. Yehuda ben Koreisch, Epistola de studii Targum utilitate, ed. by J.J.L. Bargès and D.B. Goldberg (1857), preface (Arabic with notes in Latin); Eppenstein: in: mgwj, 44 (1900), 486–507; J.M. Toledano, Ner ha-Ma'arav (1911), 15; ej, 8 (1931), 1007 (bibliography); M. Katz (ed.), Iggeret R. Yehudah ben Kuraish (1950), preface (bibliography 31ff.); Vajda, in: Sefarad, 14 (1954), 385–7; Baron, Social, 2, 7 (19582), 225–6, n. 17. add. bibliography: D. Becker, The Risāla of Judah b. Qurayash, A Critical Edition (1984); A. Maman, Comparative Semitic Philology in the Middle Ages from Saadia Gaon to Ibn Barun (10th12thcent.) (2004), 180–1.

[Joshua Blau]

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Ibn Quraysh, Judah

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