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Salmon ben Jeroham


SALMON BEN JEROHAM (Sulaym ibn Ruhaym ; tenth century), Karaite polemicist and writer, a fervent spokesman for the Mourners of Zion (*Avlei Zion), a native of Ereẓ Israel or Iraq. According to Karaite tradition, he was the teacher of *Saadiah Gaon, an impossibility since Salmon was much the younger man of the two. However, the tradition may possibly reflect some actual personal conflict between them, which could partially explain Salmon's extreme hatred of Saadiah. Salmon's principal work, Milḥamot Adonai, written in Hebrew, is a rhymed attack on the Rabbanites and on Saadiah. Even for an age characterized by abusive polemics, the language of the book is unusually vehement, and the author treats Saadiah more as a personal enemy than a theological adversary. In his subject matter, Salmon merely repeats the arguments of older Karaite polemicists, but the violent language and quasi-poetic form are all his own. If the hypothesis that Salmon is the same person as Ibn al-Sākawayh is correct, Saadiah refuted his attacks in a special work, only fragments of which remain. In the 950s Salmon wrote a series of commentaries on the Bible. Complete mss, fragments and quotations identified so far include commentaries on Psalms, the Song of Songs, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Isaiah. Though less violent in tone, they still contain many attacks on Saadiah's views, and on the Rabbanites in general. The commentary on Lamentations is especially interesting because it apparently constitutes the mourning rites and sessions of the Karaite Mourners of Zion. In his commentary on Ecclesiastes he expounds his ethical and intellectual views. Some scholars cast doubts on the authenticity of these two commentaries, because they contain much less anti-rabbinic bias. Salmon condemned all secular studies as ungodly and forbidden.


I. Davidson (ed.), Book of the Wars of the Lord (1934), introd.; Steinschneider, Arab Lit., 76–78; S. Poznański, Karaite Literary Opponents of Saadiah Gaon (1908), 12–14; Mann, Texts, 2 (1935), index s.v.Salmon b. Yeruham; L. Nemoy, Karaite Anthology (1952), 69–82; Z. Ankori, Karaites in Byzantium (1959), index s.v.Salmon b. Yeruham. add. bibliography: L. Marwick (ed.), The Arabic Commentary of Salmon ben Yeruham the Karaite on the Book of Psalms, Chapters 42–72 (1956); G. Vajda, Deux commentaires karaïtes sur l'Ecclésiastes (1971); M. Gil, Palestine during the First Muslim Period (634–1099) (1992), index; H. Ben-Shammai, in: S. Elizur et al. (eds.), Knesset Ezra: Literature and Life in the Synagogue: Studies Presented to Ezra Fleischer (Heb., 1994), 191–234; M. Polliack (ed.), Karaite Judaism: A Guide to Its History and Literary Sources, (2003), index; N. Wieder, The Judean Scrolls and Karaism (2005), index

[Leon Nemoy /

Golda Akhiezer (2nd ed.)]

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