Skip to main content



SHMUEL-BUKH (Sefer Shemuel), 16th-century Yiddish epic. Considered the masterpiece of Old Yiddish midrashic epic, the narrative expertly reworks the biblical book of Samuel by means of an intimate knowledge of both post-biblical Jewish traditions (particularly those concerning the primary heroic characters Samuel, Saul, and David) and the conventions of the medieval German "minstrel epic," recasting the whole as an heroic epic. The text comprises 1,792 four-line stanzas of two rhyming couplets (aabb) (plus a colophon), each line divided rhythmically into two half-lines of three primary accents each (derived from the stanza characteristic of the Middle High German Nibelungenlied). The melody to which the poem was performed became famous and was used for many other Yiddish poems of the period. While the issue of the author's identity has not been definitively resolved, Moses Esrim ve-Arba ("of the twenty-four books," i.e. a biblical scholar) named as author at the end of one early manuscript is now generally identified with an emissary from Jerusalem to Turkey in 1487, which accords with the conventional scholarly dating of the text (based on language use and topical references) to the late 15th century. The text is preserved in a complex tradition of 16th- and 17th-century manuscripts and printed editions (editio princeps, Augsburg, 1544) that precludes the construction of a critical edition.


M. Weinreich, Bilder fun der Yidisher Literatur-Geshikhte (1928), 68–111; F. Falk and L. Fuks (eds.), Das Schmuelbuch des Mosche Esrim Wearba, 2 vols. (1961; facsimile of Augsburg, 1544]; Ch. Shmeruk, Prokim fun der Yidisher Literatur-Geshikhte, 182–99, J.C. Frakes (ed.), Early Yiddish Texts: 11001750 (2004), 218–46; J. Baumgarten, Introduction to Old Yiddish Literatur (2005), 140–52.

[Jerold Frakes (2nd ed.)]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Shmuel-Bukh." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 20 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Shmuel-Bukh." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (April 20, 2019).

"Shmuel-Bukh." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved April 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.