Phinehas ben Jacob Ha-Kohen

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PHINEHAS BEN JACOB HA-KOHEN (Kafra ), eighth century Palestinian paytan. He is apparently the last in the list of the "early poets" given in *Saadiah Gaon's Sefer ha-Agron. As the acrostic to one of his piyyutim implies, he came from Kafra, near Tiberias, and his connection with Ereẓ Israel is further indicated in his piyyutim by the representation of a number of customs in force only in that country. His assumed identification with R. Phinehas, head of the academy, who is mentioned among the early masoretes, is possible, but not sure. A prolific poet, Phinehas wrote his works approximately in the second half of the eighth century, at least after 748. Most of his compositions were found in the Cairo Genizah. The critical edition of Sh. Elitsur (2004) includes more than 140 piyyutim of many diverse genres. Outstanding among them are Kiddush Yeraḥim, piyyutim for all the months of the year, a series of piyyutim concerning the 24 divisions of kohanim, and two monumental kedushta for Shemini Aẓeret. The Kedushta contains an important and colorful amount of midrashic matter; the sources of some of these Midrashim are unknown. Phinehas' style places him in the school of Eleazar *Kallir, but his expression is usually simpler and his poetry original. In only a few compositions does he use many neologisms and an obscure style, with typical strange paytanic forms.


A. Harkavy, Zikkaron la-Rishonim ve-gam la-Aḥaronim, 5 (1892), 112–5; A. Marmorstein, in: hḤy, 5 (1921), 225–8; 6 (1922), 46–47; M. Zulay, in: ymḤsi, 1 (1933), 150–62; idem, in: Yerushalayim, 4 (1953), 51–81; H. Yalon, in: Ginzei Kedem, 5 (1934), 191–2; M. Margalioth, in: bjpes, 8 (1940/41), 97–104; idem, in: Tarbiz, 29 (1960), 339ff.; A. Scheiber, in: jqr, 42 (1951/52), 213–4; idem, in: Gold-ziher Memorial Volume, 2 (1958), 55; E. Fleischer, in: Sinai, 59 (1966), 215–26; 61 (1967), 30–56; 66 (1970), 224–60. add. bibliography: E. Fleischer, Hebrew Liturgical Poetry in the Middle Ages (Hebrew; 1975), passim; idem, in: Ha-Yoẓerot (1984), 113ff., 129; T. Beeri, The "Great Cantor" of Bagdad (Hebrew; 2002), 83ff.; Sh. Elitsur, Piyyuṭe Rabbi Pinḥas ha-Kohen (2004).

[Ezra Fleischer /

Angel Saenz-Badillos (2nd ed.)]