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LE JUDAÏSME DE L’ARABIE ANTIQUE Actes du Colloque de Jérusalem (février 2006) Sous la direction de Christian Julien Robin 2015 .

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AMMAD’S H. as I observed. “they are comparable in sentiment and style to pre-Islamic Arabic poetry in general. the “thoroughly Arab character” of the texts. unsurprisingly. Modern Works on Arabian Jewish Poetry There is a rich and detailed tradition of scholarship on Jewish history and Jewish literature and so. and lack any specific his- torical detail or concrete religious expression”. but just a translation of this one poem and of the commentary of it in honour of his teacher Ezra Fleischer (the . 1874) by offering an in-depth look at one of the poems of the most famous of the Arabian Jewish poets. Probably the earliest meaningful consideration of it is Theodor Nöldeke’s “Die Gedichte der Juden in Arabien”. IJAZ Robert Hoyland Institute for Study of the Ancient World. 92.S. there are a large number of references and allusions to these Jews who seem to have assimilated so well to Arab culture that they composed odes in Arabic using Bedouin poetic forms. T HE JEWISH POETS OF MUH.  “The Jews of the Hijaz in the Qur’ān and in their Inscriptions” in G. However. he concerned himself principally with bringing together and presenting all the examples of such poetry that he could find by trawling through the tenth-century encyclopaedic (Kitāb al-Aghānī) (“Book of Songs”) and some poetic anthologies. The Qur’ān in its Historical Context 2 (London. 1 I did not go into any detail since. this material is little known and so. and the fact that “no Biblical or Talmudic influences were in evidence”. Since the material had in his time not yet been collected. in particular noting the rarity of “real Jewish names”. New York University In a recent article on the Jewish inscriptions of the Ḥijāz I mentioned that there existed “some scraps of pre-Islamic Arabic poetry composed by northwest Arabian Jews in the sixth and early seventh century”. Franz Delitzsch took matters a little further in his Jüdisch-Arabische Poesien aus Vormuhammedischer Zeit (Leipzig. However. 2 1. which appears as a chapter in his Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Poesie der alten Araber (Hannover 1864). namely al-Samaw’al ibn ‘Ādiyā.  It is not a full-length study of the topic. substantial discussion and treatment of the sub- ject is much rarer. Routledge. 2. for the sake of the completeness of this volume on Judaism in Arabia. ed. I shall say a few words on this topic. R eynolds . His analysis of the texts was confined to a few short comments. 2011).

D. which was concerned with emphasising the historic links between Judaism and Islam on the one hand and between Hebrew and Arabic on the other. esp. at times going so far as to suggest that none of the Arabic poetry attributed to Arabian Jews can be assumed to be genuine: That any odes by Jews could have survived the clearance of the Peninsula from the nation by Mohammed and Omar is simply not to be believed. The first to take it up. H irschberg . Religious Trends in Pre-Islamic Arabic Poetry (Bombay. 1892-1914) and as judge at the Karaite court in Cairo. 117-24. He introduced a sceptical note. Mustafa. and also a poet in his own right.  Faraj was a very prominent member of Egypt’s Jewish community. 1968). Ben Z e’ev.512 ROBERT HOYLAND whose whole corpus (dīwān) was subsequently edited by J. whose writings are subtitle of the work is: ein Specimen aus Fleischers Schule als Beitrag zur Feier seines Jubiläums). G. 1981). if this was thought desirable. He was a lawyer. IT MAY NOT BE DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER. Yisra’el ba-‘A rav (Tel Aviv. I attempted to get hold of the masters thesis by ‘Abdallah Jibril Miqdad on Shi‘r al-yahūd fī l-jāhiliyya wa-ṣadr al-islām (Faculty of Arts. This line of argument did not.  H. authoring numerous volumes of original verse. however.G. 1929) sim- ply recounts the lives of these poets and provides commentary on their poetry without questioning their authenticity or pondering their wider significance. Ben Ze’ev (1957) and Newby (1988) do no more than rehearse the standard narratives about these Jewish poets of Arabia without subjecting them to any critical view. 55-57.Z. 4 The Poets The topic had already been allotted some attention by a number of medieval Muslim authors. More analytical is the contribution of D. © BREPOLS PUBLISHERS THIS DOCUMENT MAY BE PRINTED FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY. Newby. 3. 1988). There is also a short section on this topic in H. Y.S.W. Ha-Yehūdīm ba-‘Arav (Jerusalem. . 1957). but was not successful. and subsequent studies adopted a largely descriptive and uncritical approach. Hirschberg in 1931. But historians who can produce the Arabic dirge composed by Adam over Abel would have comparatively little difficulty in producing those wherein the Jews of Medinah and Taima deplored the misfortunes that had befallen them. 1946). His work on Judeo-Arab poets was important to his own agenda. 3 And the studies dedicated to Arabian Jews by Hirschberg (1946). Cairo University. serving as legal counsel to the Khedive ‘Abbas Hilmi (r. 4. London 1924. boasted of their exploits in love and war (p. 71-81). A History of the Jews of Arabia from Ancient Times to their Eclipse under Islam (Columbia SC. or. Margoliouth in his Schweich lectures of 1921 (The Relations between Arabs and Israelites prior to the Rise of Islam. find favour. 76). Murad Faraj’s Al-shu‘arā’ al-yahūd al-‘arab / Les poètes judéo-arabes (Cairo.

Ta’if and Bahrain he proceeds to provide a list of “the poets of the Jews”: 5 1. 846). 7. 6 One also finds scattered among the many volumes of his magnum opus references to other Jewish poets. a prince of the tribe of Kinda.  Al-Rabī‘ ibn Abī l-Ḥuqayq 3. to the same topic. He is well known to modern scholars for his selec- tion of old and new poetry.  Al-Rabī‘ ibn Abī l-Ḥuqayq 3.815-25. ed.  Ka‘b ibn Sa‘d of Qurayẓa 10. singers and poets. which goes under the name of Ṭabaqāt fuḥūl al-shu‘arā’ (“The generations of the most outstanding poets”).). A century or so later the prolific collector of Arabian/Arab antiquities Abū l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī (d. 1. 6.  Al-Samaw’al ibn ‘Ādiyā 2. Mecca.93-107).  Abū l-Dhayyāl 7 8. 1982).  Ka‘b ibn al-Ashraf 4. and in total he cites verses from eleven of them: 1. 1969). THE JEWISH POETS OF MUḤAMMAD’S ḤIJĀZ 513 extant. 7899-8838 (= Dar al-Kutub 19. . Shakir (Jeddah. n.  Sa‘ya (Shu‘ba) ibn Gharīḍ/‘Arīḍ 6.  Written as Abū l-Zannād in some manuscripts. 1274) for the section on Jewish poets of the Ḥijāz of his Nashwat al-ṭarab. ed. is the Basran traditionist and philologist Muḥammad ibn Sallām al-Jumaḥī (d. M.  A l-Jumaḥī. and how Ka‘b al-Ashraf was assassinated at the instigation of the prophet Muḥammad.  Al-Samaw’al ibn ‘Ādiyā 2.  Abū l-Qays ibn Rifā‘a 7. 1.  Sa‘ya (Shu‘ba) ibn Gharīḍ/‘Arīḍ 6.  Ka‘b ibn al-Ashraf 4.  Sarah of Qurayẓa 9. Nasrat ‘A bd al-R ahman (‘Amman.  Al-aghānī.  Aws ibn Danī of Qurayẓa 5. ed.  Shurayḥ (ibn al-Samaw’al) 5. Having dealt with the bards of the cities of Medina. 967) dedicated a small section of his compen- dious work on musicians.  Shurayḥ (ibn ‘Imrān) 5.  Abū l-Qays ibn Rifā‘a 7.d.  Dirham ibn Zayd He gives very little biographical information about any of them except to recount in brief the oft-reiterated anecdote about how al-Samaw’al kept safe the arms entrusted to him by Imru’ al-Qays.M. even though it meant losing his own son.  Abū l-Dhayyāl 8. Ibrahim al-A byari (Cairo.279- 96. Dependent on him is Ibn Sa‘īd al-Andalusī (d. the Kitāb al-aghānī (“Book of Songs”). Ṭabaqāt fuḥūl l-shu‘arā.

11. 9. ca. Horovitz . an ancient oasis of northwest Arabia. who subsequently became Muḥammad’s 8. but rather his son Kināna. ed. Routledge. He mentions Ablaq castle in Tayma (ibid. It is plausible that the Arabic ‘Ādiyā corresponds to the Aramaic ‘Adyon (‘ dywn). ed. 174 n. 11 Our ear- liest sources do not mention him. dated AD 203. This act earned him lasting fame among subsequent generations of Arabs. he includes biographical data about each of the poets. rather than an overview like al-Jumaḥī. but al-Samaw’al refused to surrender Imru’ al-Qays’ possessions to the invader. “The Earliest Biographies of the Prophet”. A. Al-Samaw’al ibn ‘Ādiyā is the best known of the group and details of his life are found in numerous medieval Muslim histories.  Al-aghānī.70). and this explains why al-Samaw’al is often labelled the Ghassānid. The Qurʾan in its Historical Context 2 (London. and one from Mada’in Salih.  Al-Iṣfahānī notes that some allege that it was his mother who was of Ghassān (quoted by J. 77). 855) in his Ta’rīkh. ed. 8 His father had ties with the tribe of Ghassān. refer to the Jewish headman of the oasis (Hoyland. 10 The only other Arabian Jewish poet who achieved a measure of renown was al-Rabī‘ ibn Abī l-Ḥuqayq. He was a native of Tayma.514 ROBERT HOYLAND Since al-Iṣfahānī was trying to give as full a picture as he could. in G. but does not link it to al-Samaw’al. and he is celebrated in verse by a number of later authors. once the ref- uge of the last king of Babylon. C. IT MAY NOT BE DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER. The story which we alluded to above tells how the Kindite Imru’ al-Qays asked al-Samaw’al if he could deposit his weapons and armour in his castle for safekeeping while he travelled to Constantinople to beg the emperor to restore to him his kingdom. dated 356. 4. 2011). 10. “The Jews of the Hijazin the Qurʾān and in their Inscriptions”. 9 The family home is usually described as a castle and referred to by the name of al-Ablaq. and governed by a Jewish clan in the late Roman period. in his Kitāb al-bad ’ wa-l-ta’rīkh. 1903). 95-96). Nabonidus (ca. 966). Reynolds. © BREPOLS PUBLISHERS THIS DOCUMENT MAY BE PRINTED FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY. 1929.82. but even when the life of his child was threat- ened al-Samaw’al remained true to his pledge to safeguard what had been entrusted to him. al-Muṭahhar ibn Ṭāhir al-Maqdisī (d. 2). but Michael Lecker informs me that this is highly unlikely (see his The Constitution of Medina. Not long after his departure ene- mies of his came looking for him and besieged the castle.. 1977). 3. 553-43 BC)..D. The single most commonly related piece of information about him concerns his loyalty and his fidelity to his prom- ises. Unfortu- nately al-Samaw‘al’s son happened to return from a hunting trip at that moment and was captured. 8815-19.  Already reported by Khalīfa ibn Khayyāṭ (d. . who was a chief of the tribe of Naḍīr and whose family seat was the castle of Qamūṣ in Khaybar. “more loyal than Samuel” (awfā min al-Samawʾal). because in his care was Ṣafiyya bint Ḥuyayy.S.  An Aramaic inscription from Tayma. Huart (Paris. The story is also recounted by al-Iṣfahānī’s contemporary. al-‘Umari (Damascus. The Mada’in Salih text names the headman of that settlement as ‘Adyon son of Ḥaniy son of Samuel and the headman of Tayma as ‘Amr son of ‘Adyon son of Samuel. Islamic Culture 3. The deed itself led to the coining of a popular Arabic proverb. 1.203. Princeton 2004.

he had a versifying contest with the famous Arab poet. I am true though many a one is blamed for treason. Tharwat ‘Ukasha (Cairo. 12 It is only with al-Iṣfahānī’s Aghānī that we read about the poetic exploits of al-Rabī‘. For me ‘Ādiyā built a strong-walled castle With a well where I drew water at pleasure.). Hirschberg. 14. 49-54. and see the contribution of Michael Lecker in this volume. ed.90. Mukhtar al-Ghawth. Dīwān al-Samaw’al (Beirut.  Aghānī. 1996). For example. 1931). Religious Culture in Late Antique Arabia (Leiden. son of a Christian wine-merchant from Damascus. ca.W.138. keeping to the same meter and finding a rhyme. al-Muḥabbar. THE JEWISH POETS OF MUḤAMMAD’S ḤIJĀZ 515 wife after most of Kināna’s family were killed in the raid on Khaybar led by the prophet. 13 For exam- ple. “The noble are few” (inna l-kirāma qalīl). Nicholson in his A Literary History of the Arabs (New York. So high. they conform to the norms of pre-Islamic Arabic poetry. in id. and all the standard genres are found among them. I. Hannover. For the Arabic see G. 1992).  Another theme. 1965).d. 1. 1994).g. while al-Rabī‘ had to supply the next. . tribal boasting (mufākhara) is well represented in the poems of al- Samaw’al. exhort me: ‘O Samaw’al. never destroy what I have built’. for his anthol- ogy of verse (Ḥamāsa) on the virtues most highly praised by the Arabs: 15 12. 30-33. forthcoming). 1864. “Glory and Immortality: the motif of monumentum aere perennius by Samaw’al b. that of the immortality of verse.  Muḥammad ibn Ḥabīb. and J.A.88). Kitāb al-ma‘ārif. 2. Arabic Poetry: a Primer for Students (Cambridge. (my father). Abū Tammām: Hamasae Carmina (Bonn. al-Nābigha al-Dhubyānī (d. 1828-47). When wrong befalls me I endure not tamely. Dimitriev. ed. 2412 (Dar al-Kutub 6. which was selected by Abū Tammām (d. the eagle slipping back is baffled.W. And such boasting is a key feature of his most celebrated poem. The number of verses of this poem varies in different sources. “Die Gedichteder Juden in Arabien”. Once did ‘Ādiyā. 604). There are also modern editions and studies of the oeuvre ascribed to al-Samaw’al: e. 1907). 1.. Lichtenstädter (Beirut. Ibn Qutayba. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Poesie der alten Araber. Toral-Niehoff eds. 8819. The Poems As has been noted by just about every scholar who looked at these Jewish Arabic poems.. Al-Samaw’al: akhbāruhu wa-l-shi‘r al-mansūb ilayh (Beirut. appears in a poem of al-Samaw’al that is discussed by K. 13. this is the translation of R. 845). the lat- ter reciting one hemistich. n. 21-23.  Translated by Arthur A rberry. as in the following piece: 14 I was true with the mail-coats of the Kindite. 85. ‘Ādiyā” in idem and I. insofar as we can ascertain them from the surviving body of this literature. Der Divan des as-Samau’al ibn ‘Adija (Krakow. 61 n. and Wadih al-Samad. 15. Freytag. see Nöldeke .

If you are ignorant. Not few are they whose remnants are like to us – youths who have climbed to the heights. Not one sayyid of ours ever died a natural death. We have a mountain where those we protect come to dwell. We have remained pure and unsullied. She (was) reproaching us. And our swords – in all west and east they have been blunted from smiting against armoured warriors. Its trunk is anchored beneath the soil. then every cloak he cloaks himself in is comely. and do not flow out along other than the sword-blades. and a descending brought us down in due time to the best of bellies. that we were few in numbers. It harms us not that we are few. So we are as the water of the rain-shower – in our metal is no bluntness. then there is no way (for him) to (attain) goodly praise. No fire of ours was ever doused against a night-visitor. they have well-marked blazes and white pasterns.  In the Ḥamāsa there is a final verse: “Surely the Banū 1-Daiyān are (as) a pole for their people. nor was any slain of ours ever left where he lay unavenged. and old men (too). We disapprove if we will of what other men say. their mills turn and rotate around them”. neither is any miser numbered amongst us. but they disavow never words spoken by us. We indeed are a folk who deem not being killed a disgrace. and females and stallions who bore us in goodly fame kept intact our stock. so I said to her. though (the tribes of) ‘Amir and Salūl may (so) consider it. . Our ‘(battle-)days’ are famous amongst our foes. and strong to act moreover. (another) sayyid arises.516 ROBERT HOYLAND When a man’s honour is not defiled by baseness. Our souls flow out along the edge of the sword-blades. noble men are few”. IT MAY NOT BE DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER. but Hirschberg © BREPOLS PUBLISHERS THIS DOCUMENT MAY BE PRINTED FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY. neither has any casual guest alighting found fault with us. “Indeed. impregnable. We climbed on to the best of backs. And if he has never constrained himself to endure despite. ask the people concerning us and them – and he who knows and he who is ignorant are (assuredly) not equal. one eloquent to speak as noble men speak. turning back the eye and it a-weary. and a branch (of it) soars with it to the stars. 16 16. tall. seeing that our kinsman is mighty. unattainable. but their term hates death. Whenever a sayyid of ours disappears. The love of death brings our term (of life) near to us. Their blades are accustomed not to be drawn and then sheathed until the blood of a host is spilled. whereas the kinsman of the most part of men is abased. and is therefore prolonged.

whereas al-Samaw’al flourished in the mid-sixth century. For we fear lest our dreams lose their force And we languish in obscurity for all eternity. THE JEWISH POETS OF MUḤAMMAD’S ḤIJĀZ 517 The most popular of all themes in pre-Islamic poetry. that he is wrongly called Sa‘ya (cf. A wonderful bed-fellow for a young man on a cold night when the constellation of Leo is setting. He who knows us well can give you news of us – the knowledgeable is not like the ignorant. between Mustawa and Thamad. Truly. without explanation. And often you have held out false hope. in id. 1864. . 8824-25. The abode of a languid. and must rather have borne the name Shu‘ba. Hannover. (Dīwān.. Isaiah). Nöldeke . Who will help a heart that is infatuated with grief and encompassed by loss. Yesha‘yah. and the hearer harkens to the speaker. and al-Samaw’al’s brother (or grandson) Sa‘ya gives us a plaintive example of this: 18 O Lubāba. the nostalgic address to the beloved before the remains of a campsite that she once inhabited is exemplified by Abū l-Dhayyāl: 17 Do you know the abode – its occupier now departed – at al-Ḥijr.e. with a laugh like the freezing hail. 17. O Lubāba. sister of the clan of Mālik.. for only true knowledge will satisfy the interrogator. cure me. argues that it is chronologically unlikely that he would be al-Samaw’al’s brother since he is said to have lived until the time of the caliph Mu‘āwiya (660-80). the healer is preferred to the killer. O Lubāba.  Ibid. can you show favour to a needy and beseeching lover? You have held out what cannot be obtained from you. If you ask after me ask one well-informed. 8828. full-figured woman. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Poesie der alten Araber. since al-Samaw’al was not of the Banū Daiyān. 23) argues that this does not belong here. don’t sell the current time for the end time. don’t kill me. We shall not make the false into truth nor veil the truth with falsehood. Aghānī. when summons draw on the impassioned. Anguish over unfulfilled or unfulfillable love also features prominently in the repertoire of pre-Islamic Arabic poetry. words and speech. 64-65. 18. And people contend with one another with divisive thoughts. i. “Die Gedichteder Juden in Arabien”.  Al-Iṣfahānī. Nöldeke also declares.

2001). Ta’rīkh.  Al-Jumaḥī. 1. Al-bayān wa-l-tabyīn (Beirut. Even when it does touch upon spiritual notions. 869). 21 The only time he hints at possessing his own distinct faith and confessional community is in his remark that: “When we seek judgement in our religion.293. . which is often practised by women. ed. 8808-9. we are satisfied with the judgement of the Just One. 19. Abū l-Dhayyāl declares: “I am certain that if I do not die today. 22. 1. 894). I shall be tomorrow’s ransom. For example. 1. Then we (will live) according to the Torah of Moses and his religion. Ibrahim Salih (Damascus. we are no different to our fore- bears and everyone whose term of life expires arrives (at death’s door)”.  Al-Iṣfahānī.  Al-Iṣfahānī. 21. It is the close correspondence between Arabian Jewish verse and the norms of pre-Islamic Arabic poetry that is most remarked upon by mod- ern scholars. which was attacked by Muḥammad’s troops: 19 My life (I would give) for a people who wanted for nothing in Dhū Ḥurud. 1997).  Al-Jumaḥī. © BREPOLS PUBLISHERS THIS DOCUMENT MAY BE PRINTED FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY.184. nay. Shu‘arā’. 8813. his name is written Aws ibn Zaby in some manuscripts.518 ROBERT HOYLAND Finally. 20. rather become a Jewess. who separates (good from evil). ed. IT MAY NOT BE DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER. 101. when a man of the Banū l-Najjār clashed with a youth of Balī of Quḍā‘a). and in the case of the Arabian Jews its representative is Sarah. there is the elegy (rithā’). 2002). namely the War of Fāri‘.594 (spoken at the outbreak of one of the feuds of the jāhiliyya. The mature men of Qurayẓa were annihilated by the swords and lances of Khazraj. We suffered a loss under the heavy onslaught. but God only acquiesces to what He wills”. they would have kept at bay a mighty dark-clad army. Had they been more resourceful in the affair. it tends not to go beyond the generic fatalism that is a hallmark of pagan Arabian odes. now effaced by the winds. 22 Aws ibn Danī speaks of Judaism directly. and Ibn Abī Dunyā (d. Aghāni. though it does sound rather contrived and the use of the term Islam for Muḥammad’s teachings at this early stage seems suspect: 23 She called me to Islam the day I met her But I said to her. Maqtal ‘A lī. we do not make truth out of falsehood nor adhere to falsehood in preference to truth”. 20 The nearest we come to monotheist sentiments are the like of the observa- tion of al-Rabī‘ ibn Abī l-Ḥuqayq that “Man loves to encounter good for- tune. This poem is also cited (and attributed to al-Rabī‘) by Abū ‘Uthmān al-Jāḥiẓ (d. ‘Umar Tadmuri (Beirut.  Ibn al-Athīr. Aghānī.282. 1. such that for those afflicted the clear water came to taste bitter. who laments the fate of her tribe of Qurayẓa. Shu‘arā’. 23.

828). Jacob and Moses. 25 The same is true of the second poem. but to no other Biblical figure. Yaḥyā (the Baptist). But (only) he who is led to the gate of salvation is rightly guided. cf.  Hartwig Hirschfeld. Then he moves on to speak of the Day of Reckoning (al-ḥisāb). Tābūt and other sacred relics”. it is just that in this case they are Israelites and from Egypt rather than Arabia. boasting about ancestors and their glorious past deeds. Bombay. resurrection or extinction. One could say that this poem still follows the pre-Islamic Arabian model. we for whose sake Egypt was struck with ten plagues? Are we not the people of the divided sea. 25. Ahmad Muhammad Shakir (Cairo. It is in a sense very tra- ditional. Religious Trends in Pre-Islamic Arabic Poetry. famous for his highly effective chain-mail. which he knows he must face along with its consequences of reward or punishment. for whom clouds descended which shaded them the whole journey? From sun and rain they were their guard. Mustafa. his life is a ransom for his death (ḥayātī rahnu bi-an sa-amūtu).  In the version of the poem I am using there is reference to King David. but with a monotheist twist. Again it is al-Samaw’al who provides us with more substantial material. and neither will more be given to the powerful nor less to the weak. He declares that he only seeks sus- tenance (rizq) in the permitted amount and is content with piety for his bed. we for whose sake Pharaoh was drowned on the day of his arduous enterprise?. Although most of the compositions placed under his authorship appear to evince the same lack of interest in religion as the overwhelming majority of pre-Islamic Arabic odes.. for that reason. and their praiseworthy deeds were worked for them by God: 26 Let me recount the high qualities of a people which their God has chosen with signs and miracles… …Are we not the people of Egypt which was chastised. One. what good as a religion is that of Muhammad? Each of us thinks that his religion is the right way. and also made mention of Holy Torah. Solomon. … Are we not the people of the sanctuary. which is preserved in the anthology put together by ‘Abd al-Malik al-Aṣma‘ī (d. “A Poem attributed to al-Samau’al”. 122: “The poet has referred to David. taking a proud and fatalistic stance. and David was very familiar to pre-Islamic Arabian poets. THE JEWISH POETS OF MUḤAMMAD’S ḤIJĀZ 519 By my life.  Al-Aṣma‘ iyyāt. is fully given over to religious matters. 24 He opens with how he was brought to life and nurtured by God and how. ed.. However. there are two which are overtly religious in expression. in other versions explicitly Jewish figures and themes are adduced. 85. 1993). noting that God has already decided upon the level of sustenance that He will dole out. 431-40. . 24. which was discovered in the medieval repository of the Jewish community of Cairo known as the Geniza. And he concludes on a determinist note. 1968. 26. Jewish Quarterly Review 17 (1905).

who had discovered and published the Geniza poem. 701-4. Secondly. “al-Samaw’al b. 29 “The flaws in the metre”. Apparently Dr. avers Margoliuth. lines from the same poem are sometimes accorded different metres and the Geniza poem vacillates between two metres and often applies them incor- rectly. or imperfect copying or “the substitution of synonyms for words that had been forgot- ten”. 27 but publication of this particular poem prompted a more thoroughgoing response. Are we not the people of the quails and the manna. 28.v. makes no sense for a pre-Islamic poet. betray some dependence on the Qur’an. even the famous ode “The noble are few” is assigned a different author by Ibn Qutayba. My own instinct would be to side with Margoliouth. Authenticity These last two compositions bring us to the question of how we can know whether any of these poems by Arabian Jews are genuine or not. some of the poems. IT MAY NOT BE DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER. .. © BREPOLS PUBLISHERS THIS DOCUMENT MAY BE PRINTED FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY. Certainly. 363-71. they need not be specific to the Qur’an.S. he said. “might be due to corruptions and gaps in the text”. and they for whom the stone poured forth the sweetness of water?. And in general he maintains that the total lack of any reference to Islam in al-Samaw’al’s corpus makes it unlikely that they were composed in the Islamic period. ‘Ādiyā”. the par- allels with the Qur’an are suspiciously close. In an article published in 1906 D.  “Notes on the Poem ascribed to al-Samau’al”. 28 Firstly. but rather part of the religious vocabulary of the Jews and Christians whom we know to have been present in west Arabia in pre-Islamic times. offered a swift rebuttal of these arguments. especially the one in the A ṣma‘ iyyāt and the one from the Geniza.  “A Poem attributed to al-Samau’al”.  Noted by Thomas Bauer in EI. Thirdly. questioning the veracity of the tales and verses attached to al-Samaw’al. Hirschberg. both in terms of vocabulary and concepts. which. certain of the poems are attributed to other persons. especially given Muslim antipathy towards Jews. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 38 (1906). the A ṣma‘ iyyāt poem opens with the words nuṭfatun mā munītu yawma munītu (“as a 27. Margoliouth put forward a number of reasons why he considered the poetic corpus ascribed to al-Samaw’al to be suspect. s. Fadl ibn Ammar Alammari wrote a book on “Samuel – al-Samaw’al: the legend and the anonymous man” (Kuwait 2001). Concerns were voiced early on. As for the existence of Qur’anic words and ideas in this and other poems of al-Samaw’al. 29. but I only know of this work from the brief review of Joseph Sadan in the newspaper Haaretz Nov 16 2001.. For example. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 38 (1906).520 ROBERT HOYLAND protecting their hosts from the fierce hot wind.

1988). 92). but he has muddled up Ka‘b ibn al-Ashraf (poet) and Ka‘b al-Aḥbār (Jewish sage).  I. There is a common variant of nuṭfatun mā khuliqtu yawma buri’tu (cited. Conclusion In his book on the History of the Jews of Arabia Newby declares that “whatever the origin of the Arabian Jews.46: min nuṭfatin idhā tumnā (“from a drop of sperm when it is ejected”). but in the Mishna. 1988). Goldziher (in a book review in ZDMG 57. 2011). Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 38 (1906). they identified with Jewish inter- ests and concerns outside Arabia and expressed their interests in correct practice to authorities beyond their local rabbis and community leaders”. 33 He is aware that the verse compositions of these Jews do not substanti- ate this (“there is nothing to indicate that they are particularly Jewish”. impossible to disprove Hirschberg’s point that shared vocabulary could be the result of shared environment rather than direct borrowing. 32 It is. which has meant that this poem has been cited by medieval Muslim commentators in respect of Qur’an 4. 33. pp. 55-56). He substantiates this by pointing to references in the Mishna to Arabian Jewry. ed. Routledge. Arabia generally means the region on the east bank of the Jordan and not faraway Ḥijāz (see the comments and references in my “The Jews of the Hijazin the Qurʾān and in their Inscriptions”. 397) suggests a link with the Babylonian Talmud Nidda 16b. . 54. 1903.  M argoliouth..85: kāna Allāh ‘alā kulli shay’in muqītan (assumed to be the fourth form active participle of the root qwt. 34. 32. the lack of any clear reference to an external reality in any of these Arabian Jewish odes makes assessment of their authenticity and dating very tenuous. the tale is told of how the angel in charge of conception took a drop of sperm from a human and asked God: “What shall be the fate of this drop?” But there is no overt connection with the line in al-Samaw’al and no linguistic parallels. in G. 56. The Qurʾan in its Historical Context 2 (London. 31.  One could just translate “on the day I was ejected”. however. 3 4 Yet he argues strongly against those who assert that “the very secular nature of the pre-Islamic 30. for example in al-Zubaydī’s Tāj al-‘A rūs) which presumably underlies Hirschberg’s translation of “als irgend ein Samentropfen wurde ich erschaffen am Tage.and early Islamic Arabia”. 364. “A Poem attributed to al-Samawʾal”. and also in the Talmud. Reynolds. amid a discussion of whether sexual intercourse may take place in the daytime. where. da ich erschaffen wurde”. To counter this he remarks that Ka‘b was both a Jewish poet and a transmitter of haggadic material.  History of the Jews of Arabia from Ancient Times to their Eclipse under Islam (Columbia SC. In the end. 31 The same goes for the use of the word muqīt.  History of the Jews of Arabia from Ancient Times to their Eclipse under Islam (Columbia SC. “preserving” or “sustaining”). THE JEWISH POETS OF MUḤAMMAD’S ḤIJĀZ 521 drop of sperm I was ejected on the day I was determined”) 30 and it is hard not to hear in this the echo of Qur’an 53. but one expects some play on words here and the root may also signifies “fate”. and indeed they seem to suggest that their authors “espouse the secular values of pre.S.

Revelation. but it has to be said that the Arabian Jewish poetry that I have looked at in this article supports the latter view. 35. having been converted from paganism”. Arabic Theology. 140 n. Newby himself opines that there were Jews who were “pastoral nomads” and there were “urban. at least. men of the sword. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Poesie der alten Araber. He does not name his antagonists. espe- cially exegetical narratives. 56). Frank (Leuven. ed. Yet the Qur’an does. 37-97 (consider his closing sentence: “Arabic qaṣīda poetry is a necessary though by no means sufficient condition for the miracle of an Arabic Qur’ān”). . craftsmen and traders who lived in settled habitations”. History of the Jews of Arabia from Ancient Times to their Eclipse under Islam (Columbia SC. IT MAY NOT BE DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER. 37 To provide answers to these questions we need. 50. that they were not very strong Jews. powerful Jews”.  History of the Jews of Arabia from Ancient Times to their Eclipse under Islam (Columbia SC. ‘a genuine Hebrew stock’ linked ‘with the learned centres in the greater world outside Arabia’ and possessing a ‘relatively high civi- lization’. a significant spiritual advantage over the tribes living around them” (“Die Gedichteder Juden in Arabien”. 2011).. 36 Or it may well be that this division is not as stark as it is so often made out to be.  Quoted by Newby. 35 This returns us to the question that I posed in my article on the Jewish inscriptions of the Hijaz: “Should we think in terms of. 38. and possessing a relatively low level of Jewish education” ? (p. 40 (note to p. 38 but it is also essential that we think in a more subtle and complex way about the socio-landscape and the manner in which that intersects and interacts with the theological landscape. 37. From the many to the one: Essays in celebration of Richard M.. in id. 1988). eds. 2006). among the Jews that Muhammad came into contact with. and that those poets – and not just Jewish ones – who play up their desert connections were much more plugged in to wider settled society than their literary sentiments would suggest. presuppose a moderate degree of familiarity with Jewish tradition. Hannover.  James Montgomery has expressed some interesting ideas in this vein in his “The Empty Hijāẓ” in id. We could assume that they represent two separate groups from different societal backgrounds: Israel Friedlander’s “sons of the des- ert. but concerning the “Jewish literary figures” he simply says that their “art and values reflect the pastoral ideals of the pre-Islamic Arab poet” without specifying their social background or status (ibid. Arabic Philosophy. 332. as Tor- rey puts it. 111). but already Nöldeke had noted the weakness of their attachment to their “old Jewish ways”. Vidas . as Patricia Crone has recently emphasized. though he did also emphasise that “through their religion they were sharply distinguished from the other Arabs and that their literary tradition always gave them.522 ROBERT HOYLAND Jewish poets speaks to the fact that they were not Jews or. literate..  “Angels versus Humans as Messengers of God: the view of the Qur’ānic Pagans” in P. or rather of a community mostly made up of Arab converts… substantially integrated within Arabian society and barely in touch with non-Arabian Jewish communities. Townsend and M. soldiers. 56). as ‘people of the Scripture’. Newby would side with Torrey. 36. 1988). warriors” and “nomads” versus Hartwig Hirschfeld’s “peaceful palm-growers. © BREPOLS PUBLISHERS THIS DOCUMENT MAY BE PRINTED FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY. as Newby rightly stresses. 1864. Literature and Community in Late Antiquity (Tübingen. “to map the theological landscape of the Near East”. 55).