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KINAH (Heb. קִינָה; pl. קִינוֹת, kinot), poem expressing mourning, pain, and sorrow. One of the earliest poetic forms, it is also termed *hesped (lamentation), from which developed, in the course of time, the customary prose eulogy over the dead (called martiyyah in the Spanish-Arabic communities). Spoken first over important dead of the family or nation (e.g., Gen. 23:2, Jer. 22:18; Zech. 12:10), kinot were subsequently recited over calamities which befell the nation or the country, as well as over oppressive edicts decreed upon the community or upon the people. Professional female (Heb. mekonenot, see Jer. 9:16 and 19) and male mourners (Heb. sofedim, Eccl. 12:5) recited the kinot, some of which they composed themselves. Several ancient kinot are recorded in the Bible, such as David's kinah over Saul and Jonathan (ii Sam. 1:19–27), and the Book of Lamentations – also called "the scroll [or book] of kinot" – a collection of kinot in alphabetical order on the destruction of Jerusalem and the Exile of Israel. The Talmud preserves a number of whole kinot and fragments of kinot (mk 25b). In the Middle Ages, many kinot were composed for various calamities, such as the earthquake in the Sabbatical year (ra'ash shevi'i) in Tiberias and other cities of Israel (ymhsi, 3 (1936), 153–63), the kinah of Solomon ibn *Gabirol on the death of *Jekuthiel (Davidson, Oẓar, 2 (1929), 23 no. 525); and the kinah of *Eleazar b. Judah, author of Sefer ha-Roke'aḥ, on the murder of his wife and two daughters (A.M. Habermann (ed.), Gezerot Ashkenaz ve-Ẓarefat (1946), 165–7). Those composed over the restrictive edicts of the Middle Ages were usually appended to the kinot recited on the Ninth of *Av (Megillat Eikhah and the kinot of Eleazar ha-Kallir), and other fast days.

In popular parlance the term kinot is generally used for those recited on the Ninth of Av. Many kinot written for that day start with the word Zion and are thus known as Zionides (see Jerusalem in *Piyyut).

Some kinot are without any acrostic; others have an alphabetical acrostic, or one indicating the name of the author, or both; some are also rhymed. Since the first publication of the group of kinot according to the Ashkenazi rite (Cracow, 1585), hundreds of editions have appeared, both with and without commentaries. A scientific edition was published by D. Goldschmidt (1968). The kinot of the Sephardi Jews were published in Seder Arba Ta'aniyyot (Venice, 1590). Many of the kinot of the Middle Ages, however, have not yet been published.


Elbogen, Gottesdienst, 229–31; Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 494–6.

[Abraham Meir Habermann]

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