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MELOKHIM-BUKH (Sefer Melokhim), anonymous 16th-century Yiddish epic. The epic's narrative material derives from the biblical book of Kings and its midrashic traditions (especially those concerning Solomon), while its poetic form and conception derive from the medieval German epic. It focuses less on battle scenes and more on ethical and didactic matters than the related *Shmuel-Bukh (1544). Both authors were well versed in both the broad sacred text tradition of Judaism and non-Jewish secular epic literature. Composed in four-line stanzas of two rhyming couplets (aabb), each line divided rhythmically into two half-lines of three primary accents each, the form derives from the stanza characteristic of the Middle High German Nibelungenlied. With its 2,262 stanzas, it is the longest poem in Old Yiddish literature. The basis of the entire extant text tradition is the edition of Augsburg, 1543.


L. Fuks (ed.), Das altjiddische Epos Melokîm-Bûk, 2 vols. (1965; facsimile of Augsburg, 1543); Ch. Shmeruk, Prokim fun der Yidisher Literatur-Geshikhte (1988), 114–16, 192–99; M. Wolf, in: Tarbiz, 51 (1992), 131–34; J.C. Frakes (ed.), Early Yiddish Texts: 1100–1750 (2005), 193–213; J. Baumgarten, Introduction to Old Yiddish Literature (2005), 140–42, 151–55.

[Jerold C. Frakes (2nd ed.)]