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The Messiah in Isaiah 53

The commentaries of Saadia Gaon, Salmon ben Yeruham and Yefet ben Eli on Is 52:13-53:12- Edition and translation

Joseph Alobaidi

Saadia's commentary on the servant passage of Is 52:13-53:12 presents one of the oldest anti-messianic interpretations of Isaiah's passage. This first time edition and translation of his commentary, found among manuscripts from Cairo Geniza, unveils Saadia's way of reasoning and his struggle against all kind of apocalyptic ideas threatening the Jewish community of his time. Salmon ben Yeruham and Yefet ben Eli tried to oppose his interpretation by using traditional messianic categories. Their commentaries, edited and translated (Salmon, for the first time in English) on the basis of more manuscripts than previous editions, represent the Karaite expectation of a saviour for Israel in exile. Both believe that the servant of Isaiah's passage is an anticipated figure of the awaited liberator. As a result, we have three exegetical masterpieces of this vital passage in Isaiah.
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Le commentaire des psaumes par le qaraïte Salmon ben Yeruham

Psaumes 1-10- Introduction, édition, traduction

Joseph Alobaidi

La période judéo-arabe (VIIIe-XIIe siècle) est l'une des étapes les plus significatives dans le développement du judaïsme et dans l'histoire de l'exégèse du texte biblique. Le judaïsme talmudique devait affronter le qaraïsme qui constituait le défi le plus sérieux aux rabbins par trop confiants dans les formulations classiques. C'est aussi le moment où l'exégèse du texte biblique cessait d'être un ensemble d'histoires édifiantes et, grâce à l'introduction massive des observations grammaticales, commençait à s'appuyer sur des bases scientifiques. Salmon ben Yeruham, dans son Commentaire sur les Psaumes est un excellent témoin de ces deux aspects. Vivant sur les terres bibliques sa compréhension du texte sacré est d'une actualisation qui nous surprend par sa richesse et sa profondeur.
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Edited by Joseph Alobaidi

Bible in History focuses on biblical interpretation in different ages and countries and is a series dedicated to studies of biblical exegesis as well as to research about principles of interpretation relevant to interpreters of the Bible. The series is open to studies focusing on philological and theological aspects of particular Bible passages but it also welcomes publications in the field of history of biblical interpretation that study the development of new ideas and their impact on the interpretation of the text. Editions of textual variants as well as of influential old and modern commentaries are also within the scope of this series.
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The Book of Daniel

The Commentary of R. Saadia Gaon

Joseph Alobaidi

The book of Daniel exerted a strong influence despite its brevity and late composition. Old Jewish commentators read it as the future God planned for Israel. Modern Bible scholars trace the birth of Apocalyptic literature to its chapters. The commentary of Saadia Gaon is the first serious example of rabbinical reading and displays the multidimensional role of the Book of Daniel. In Rabbi Saadia’s commentary a new style in commenting the Bible emerges. Philological consideration and historical inquiry replace the story-telling type or midrashic exegesis. The commentary is also a testimony of the vital role the Middle East played in forging today’s Judaism.
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Old Jewish Commentaries on the Song of Songs I

The Commentary of Yefet ben Eli- Edited and translated from Judeo-Arabic by Joseph Alobaidi

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Edited by Joseph Alobaidi

The commentary of Yefet ben Eli the Karaite (second half of the tenth century) on The Song of Songs is example of an exegetical work obeying two imperatives: The explanation of the divine message of Salvation mixed with the assiduous Karaite effort to prove wrong their adversaries, the Rabbanites, with the help of the Bible. In so doing Yefet ben Eli wrote a thoughtful and original commentary on the very symbolic Song of Songs. Indeed, according to Yefet ben Eli nothing in the Book should be taken realistically. The ability of Yefet to replace symbols by historical events is one of the many marks that show Yefet’s mastery and the originality of his commentary.
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Old Jewish Commentaries on «The Song of Songs» II

The Two Commentaries of Tanchum Yerushalmi- Text and translation

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Joseph Alobaidi

This book contains two commentaries on The Song of Songs by Tanchum Yerushalmi (c. 1220-1291), one of the best representatives of rational exegesis in the Middle Eastern rabbinical school of thought. His in depth knowledge of the Bible as well as his acquaintance with Greek philosophy, added to familiarity with his own Jewish tradition allowed him to write rich biblical commentaries. In so doing he showed himself as a worthy disciple of Saadia Gaon, Hai and Ibn Janah whom he mentions in his commentary on The Song of Songs. The extent of his knowledge can easily be seen in both his philological and philosophical commentaries on one of the most intriguing books of the Bible.