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ʾAbū al-Faraj Hārūn ibn Faraj (Aaron b. Jeshua)

(829 words)

Author(s): Geoffrey Khan
ʾAbū al-Faraj Hārūn ibn Faraj was a Karaite grammarian of Hebrew who lived in Jerusalem in the first half of the eleventh century. He was attached to the Karaite college (Ar. dār lil-ʿilm) founded by his teacher,   Joseph Ibn Nūḥ (Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf), and succeeded to its leadership after his death. The largest of Abū ʿl-Faraj Hārūn’s numerous works in Arabic on the Hebrew language of the Bible is a comprehensive study in eight parts on Hebrew morphology and syntax entitled al-Kitāb al-Mushtamil ʿalā al-Uṣūl wa ‘l-Fuṣūl fī ‘l-Lugha al-ʿIbrāniyya (The Comprehensive Book of General Princ…

Dar lil-ʿilm

(645 words)

Author(s): Geoffrey Khan
The term dār al-ʿilm or dār lil-ʿilm (Ar. college; lit. house of knowledge) was applied to several Muslim libraries and scientific institutions in the eastern Islamic world in the ninth and tenth centuries. One of the most important was founded by the vizier Abū Naṣr Sābūr ibn Ardashīr in Baghdad during the reign of Bahāʾ al-Dawla (991–993). According to the fifteenth-century chronicler Ibn al-Hītī, the Karaite place of learning in Jerusalem in the first half of the eleventh century was also known as a dār lil-ʿilm. Ibn al-Hītī states that the school belonged to Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf ibn Nūḥ,…

Ibn Nūḥ, Joseph (Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf)

(603 words)

Author(s): Geoffrey Khan
Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf ibn Nūḥ (known in Hebrew as Joseph ben Noah) was a Karaite scholar who was active in the second half of the tenth century and the early eleventh century (see Karaism). For most of his adult life Ibn Nūḥ resided in Palestine. According to the chronicle of Karaite scholars by David ibn al-Hītī (15th century), he founded a college (Ar. dār lil‑ʿilm) in Jerusalem around the end of the tenth century. He is likely to be identical with the Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf ibn Bakhtawayh (or Bakhtawī) mentioned in some sources (see Pinsker, p. 62; Mann, vol. 2, p. 30). The surviving works that are expl…

Grammar and Masora

(2,219 words)

Author(s): Geoffrey Khan
The term Masora (Heb. tradition) refers to the activity of the scholars known as Masoretes in the first millennium C.E., the purpose of which was to transmit the Hebrew Bible accurately in both its written and orally recited forms. The Masoretes continued the work of the   soferim (Heb. scribes) of the Second Temple and talmudic periods, who were also occupied with the correct transmission of the biblical text. After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E., a special effort was made to preserve the Jewish Scriptures. Even before this time Jewish religious authorities …


(1,598 words)

Author(s): Geoffrey Khan
When a presentative particle is used to draw attention to a referent, it forms a complete clausal unit, e.g. hāḏā zaydun, ʾiḏā zaydun ‘here is Zayd’. The presentative function of the demonstrative particles should be distinguished from their more usual function of identifying a referent (‘this one, this man’; deixis). The two functions are clearly related; in both cases, the particle points the attention of the hearer to a referent. The subtle difference lies in the fact that when the particle is used in the identifying …


(7,768 words)

Author(s): Geoffrey Khan
The Arabic language was used by Jews in Arabia before the rise of Islam. Some of the pre-Islamic Arabic poets were Jewish, the most famous of whom was as-Samawʾal ibn ʿAdī. The surviving written works of those Jewish poets do not exhibit anything that distinguishes them from the equivalent works of their non-Jewish contemporaries, and so they are generally not referred to as Judaeo-Arabic. It is assumed that the Jewish communities in Arabia spoke Arabic as their vernacular language. Although we do not have any direct evidence of the nature of this spoken language…