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Saadia Gaon

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Rabbeinu Saʿadiah Gaon
רבינו סעדיה גאון
Bornc. July 892
Fayyum (present-day Egypt)
DiedMay 16, 942
Burial placeSafed Old Jewish Cemetery
EraMedieval philosophy
ChildrenDosa ben Saadia

Saʿadia ben Yosef Gaon[a] (882/892 – 942)[3][4] was a prominent rabbi, gaon, Jewish philosopher, and exegete who was active in the Abbasid Caliphate.

Saadia is the first important rabbinic figure to write extensively in Judeo-Arabic.[5] Known for his works on Hebrew linguistics, halakha, and Jewish philosophy, he was a practitioner of the philosophical school known as the "Jewish Kalam".[6] In this capacity, his philosophical work The Book of Beliefs and Opinions represents the first systematic attempt to integrate Jewish theology with components of ancient Greek philosophy. Saadia was also very active in opposition to Karaite Judaism in defense of Rabbinic Judaism.



Early life


Saadia was born in Dilāẓ in the Faiyum in Middle Egypt in 892. He immigrated to Palestine in 915 at the age of 23, where he studied in Tiberias under the scholar Abu Kathir Yaḥya al-Katib (known as Eli ben Yehudah ha-Nazir in Hebrew), a Jewish mutakallim or theologian mentioned also by ibn Ḥazm. In 926, Saadia settled permanently in Lower Mesopotamia, known to Jews as "Babylonia", where he became a member of Sura Academy.

Saadia, in Sefer ha-Galui, stresses his Jewish lineage, claiming to belong to the noble family of Shelah, son of Judah,[7] and counting among his ancestors Hanina ben Dosa, the famous ascetic of the first century. Expression was given to this claim by Saadia in calling his son Dosa; this son later served as gaon of Sura Academy from 1012–1018. Regarding Joseph, Saadia's father, a statement of Aaron ben Meïr has been preserved saying that he was compelled to leave Egypt and died in Jaffa, probably during Saadia's prolonged residence in the Holy Land.

The usual nisba al-Fayyumi refers to Saadia's native place, the Fayyum, which is located in Middle Egypt; in Hebrew, it is often given as Pitomi, derived from a contemporary identification of Fayum with the Biblical Pithom, an identification found in Saadia's works.

At the age of 20, Saadia began composing his first great work, the Hebrew dictionary which he entitled Agron.[8] At 23, he composed a polemic against the followers of Anan ben David, particularly Solomon ben Yeruham, thus beginning the activity which was to prove important in opposition to Karaite Judaism in defense of Rabbinic Judaism. In the same year, he left Egypt and moved to Palestine.

In 921, Saadia triumphed over the Palestinian Gaon Aaron ben Meïr over the latter's introduction of a new triennial cycle of Torah reading that also changed the dates of Passover and Rosh Hashanah.[9] Later, one of Saadia's chief disputants was the Karaite by the name of Abu al-Surri ben Zuṭa, who is referred to by Abraham ibn Ezra, in his commentary on Exodus 21:24 and Leviticus 23:15).[10]

In the year 928, at the age of thirty-six (variant: forty-six), David ben Zakkai, the Exilarch or head of Babylonian Jewry, petitioned Saadia to assume the honorary title of gaon, where he was appointed that same year the Gaon of Sura Academy at Mata Mehasya, a position which he held for 14 years until his death.[11]

After only two years of teaching, Saadia recused himself from teaching because of a dispute that had fallen out between him and the Exilarch. During Saadia's absence, his post was occupied by Joseph ben Jacob, the grandson of Natronai ben Hilai. At length, Saadia was reconciled with the Exilarch and returned to serve in his former position, although Joseph ben Jacob also remained serving in his capacity as Gaon.

Dispute with Ben Meir


In 922, six years before Saadia was appointed Gaon of Babylonia, a controversy arose concerning the Hebrew calendar, that threatened the entire Jewish community. Since Hillel II (around 359 CE), the calendar had been based on a series of rules (described more fully in Maimonides' Code[12]) rather than on observation of the lunar phases. One of these rules required the date of Rosh Hashanah to be postponed if the calculated lunar conjunction occurred at noon or later. Rabbi Aaron ben Meïr, head of the Palestinian Gaonate (then located in Ramla), claimed a tradition according to which the cutoff point was 642/1080 of an hour (approximately 35 minutes) after noon.[13] In that particular year, this change would result in a two-day schism with the major Jewish communities in Babylonia: according to Ben Meir the first day of Passover would be on a Sunday, while according to the generally accepted rule it would be on Tuesday.

Saadia was in Aleppo, on his way from the East, when he learned of Ben Meïr's regulation of the Jewish calendar. Saadia addressed a warning to him, and in Babylon he placed his knowledge and pen at the disposal of the exilarch David ben Zakkai and the scholars of the academy, adding his own letters to those sent by them to the communities of the Jewish diaspora (922). In Babylonia he wrote his Sefer haMo'adim, or "Book of Festivals," in which he refuted the assertions of Ben Meïr regarding the calendar, and helped to avert from the Jewish community the perils of schism.

Appointment as Gaon


His dispute with Ben Meir was an important factor in the call to Sura that he received in 928. The Exilarch insisted on appointing him as Gaon "head of the academy" despite the weight of precedent (no foreigner had ever served as Gaon before) and against the advice of the aged Nissim Nahrwani, a Resh Kallah at Sura, who feared a confrontation between the two strong-willed personalities, Exilarch David and Saadia. Nissim declared, however, that if David was determined to see Saadia in the position, then he would be ready to become the first of Saadia's followers.[14]

Under his leadership, the ancient academy of Sura founded by Abba Arikha entered upon a new period of brilliancy.[15] This renaissance was cut short, though, by a clash between Saadia and David, much as Nissim had predicted.

In a probate case, Saadia refused to sign a verdict of the exilarch which he thought unjust although the Gaon of Pumbedita had subscribed to it. When the son of the exilarch threatened Saadia with violence to secure his compliance and was roughly handled by Saadia's servant, open war broke out between the exilarch and the gaon. Each excommunicated the other, declaring that he deposed his opponent from office. David ben Zakkai appointed Joseph ben Jacob Gaon of Sura and Saadia conferred the exilarchate on David's brother Hasan (Josiah; 930).

Hasan was forced to flee and died in exile in Greater Khorasan, and the strife that divided Babylonian Judaism continued. Saadia was attacked by the exilarch and by his chief adherent, the young but learned Aaron ibn Sargado (later Gaon of Pumbedita, 943-960), in Hebrew pamphlets, fragments of which show a hatred on the part of the exilarch and his partisans that did not shrink from scandal. Saadia did not fail to reply.



Saadia's influence upon the Jews of Yemen has been exceptionally great, as many of Saadia's extant works were preserved by the community and used extensively by them. The basis for the Yemenite Siddur (Tiklāl) is founded upon the prayer format edited originally by Saadia.[16] The Yemenite Jewish community also adopted thirteen penitential verse written by Saadia for Yom Kippur, as well as the liturgical poems composed by him for Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkot.[16]

Saadia's Judeo-Arabic translation of the Pentateuch, the Tafsir, was copied by the Yemenite Jews in nearly all their handwritten codices, and they originally studied Saadia's major work of philosophy, Beliefs and Opinions, in its original Judeo-Arabic,[16] although by the early 20th-century, only fragments survived.[17]

Method of translation


As much as Saadia's Judeo-Arabic translation of the Torah (Tafsīr) has brought relief and succor to Jews living in Arabic-speaking countries, his identification of places, fauna and flora, and the stones of the priestly breastplate, has found him at variance with some scholars. Abraham ibn Ezra, in his commentary on the Torah, wrote scathing remarks on Saadia's commentary,[18] saying: "He doesn't have an oral tradition […] perhaps he has a vision in a dream, while he has already erred with respect to certain places […]; therefore, we will not rely on his dreams."

However, Saadia assures his readers elsewhere that when he rendered translations for the twenty-odd unclean fowl that mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, (Leviticus 11:13–19; Deuteronomy 14:12–18) his translation was based on an oral tradition received by him.[19] Saadia's method of conveying names for the fowls based on what he had received by way of an oral tradition prompted him to add in his defense: "Every detail about them, had one of them merely come unto us [for identification], we would not have been able to identify it for certain, much less recognize their related kinds."[20]

The question often asked by scholars now is whether Saadia applied this principle in his other translations. Re'em (Heb. ראם), as in Deut. 33:17, improperly translated as "unicorn" in some English translations, is a word that is now used in Modern Hebrew to represent the "oryx," although Saadia understood the same word to mean "rhinoceros", and writes there the Judeo-Arabic word for the creature (Judeo-Arabic: אלכרכדאן, romanized: al-karkadann). He interprets the zamer (Hebrew: זָֽמֶר, romanized: zāmer) in Deuteronomy 14:5 as giraffe.

Comparative study of Saadia's translations for the Eight Creeping Things of Leviticus, ch. 11
Leviticus 11:29–30
Hebrew Word Saadia Gaon
(Old French)
Leviticus 11:29 החֹלד
Middle East blind mole-rat[21]
Weasel (Mustela spp.)[22][23]
Leviticus 11:29 העכבּר
house mouse[21][26]
xxx μυς
Leviticus 11:29 הצב
Spiny-tailed lizard (Uromastyx aegyptia)[21]
Toad (Bufo spp.)[22][27]
Big lizard[24][28]
Leviticus 11:30 האנקה
monitor lizard[21]
southern white-breasted hedgehog)[22]
Shrew (Crocidura spp.)[24]
Leviticus 11:30 הכח
Agama lizard (Agama spp.)[21]
xxx χαμαιλέων
Leviticus 11:30 הלטאה
Fringe-toed lizard (Acanthodactylus spp.)
(Lacerta spp.)[21]
Lizard (Lacerta spp.)[22]
Leviticus 11:30 החמט
Chameleon lizard (Chamaeleo spp.)[21]
Slug (Limax spp.)[22]
Leviticus 11:30 התנשמת
Mediterranean house gecko[21]
Mole (Talpa spp.)[22]

In Saadia's translation and commentary on the Book of Psalms (Kitāb al-Tasābiḥ), he has done what no other medieval writer has done before him, bringing down a biblical exegesis and noting where the verse is to be read as a rhetorical question, and where the verse itself derides the question with good humor:

הַר אֱלהִים הַר בָּשָׁן. הַר גַּבְנֻנִּים הַר בָּשָׁן
לָמָּה תְּרַצְדוּן הָרִים גַּבְנֻנִּים
הָהָר חָמַד אֱלהִים לְשִׁבְתּוֹ. אַף יי' יִשְׁכּן לָנֶצַח

Is the hill of God the hill of Bashan? A hunchback mountain is the hill of Bashan! (Meaning, it is unfit for God's Divine Presence).
Why leap ye, ye hunchback mountains?
That mountain wherein God desires to dwell (i.e. Mount Moriah in Jerusalem), even the Lord shall dwell [therein] forever more.

— Saadia Gaon's Commentary[32]

Saadia's approach to rabbinic exegesis and midrashic literature was ambivalent. Although he adopted them in his liturgies, he did not recoil from denouncing them in his commentary on the Bible whenever he thought that they broke-away from the plain and ordinary meaning of the text.[33] Saadia adopts in principle the method of the Sages that even the episodic-like parts of the Bible (e.g. story of Abraham and Sarah, the selling of Joseph, etc.) that do not contain commandments have a moral lesson to tell.[34]

In some instances, Saadia's biblical translations reflect his own rationale of difficult Hebrew words based on their lexical root, and he will, at times, reject the earlier Targum for his own understanding. For example, in Psalm 16:4, Saadia retracts from the Targum (translated): "They will multiply their goddesses[35] (Hebrew: עַצְּבוֹתָם); they have hastened after some other thing; I shall not pour out their libations of blood, neither shall I take-up their names upon my lips," writing instead: "They will multiply their revenues (Judeo-Arabic:אכסאבהם); they have hastened after some other thing," etc.[36] Even where a certain explanation is given in the Talmud, such as the Hebrew words בד בבד‎ in Exo. 30:34 (explained in Taanit 7a as meaning "each spice pounded separately"), Saadia deviates from the rabbinic tradition in his Judeo-Arabic translation of the Pentateuch, in this case explaining its sense as "having them made of equal portions."[37]

In another apparent deviation from Talmudic tradition, where the Talmud (Hullin 63a) names a biblical species of fowl (Leviticus 11:18) known as raḥam (Hebrew: רחם) and says that it is the colorful European bee-eater called the sheraqraq, Saadia in his Judeo-Arabic translation of the Humash writes that raḥam is the Egyptian vulture based on the phonetic similarity of its Arabic name with the Hebrew.[38] The sheraqraq (Arabic: شقراق, romanizedšiqirrāq) is a bird that harbingers rain in the Levant (around October), for which reason the Talmud says: "When raḥam arrives, mercy (raḥamīm) comes into the world."[38]

Later years


He wrote both in Hebrew and in Arabic a work, now known only from a few fragments, entitled "Sefer ha-Galui" (Arabic title, "Kitab al-Ṭarid"), in which he emphasized with great but justifiable pride the services which he had rendered, especially in his opposition to heresy.

The fourteen years which Saadia spent in Babylonia did not interrupt his literary activity. His principal philosophical work was completed in 933; and four years later, through Ibn Sargado's father-in-law, Bishr ben Aaron, the two enemies were reconciled. Saadia was reinstated in his office; but he held it for only five more years. David b. Zakkai died before him (c. 940), being followed a few months later by the exilarch's son Judah, while David's young grandson was nobly protected by Saadia as by a father. According to a statement made by Abraham ibn Daud and doubtless derived from Saadia's son Dosa, Saadia himself died in Babylonia at Sura in 942, at the age of sixty, of "black gall" (melancholia), repeated illnesses having undermined his health.

Mention in Sefer Hasidim


An anecdote is reported in Sefer Hasidim about Saadia ben Yosef "the sage," in which he ends a dispute between a servant who claims to be the heir of his deceased master and the man's true son and heir by having them both draw blood into separate vessels. He then took a bone from the deceased man and placed it into each of the cups. The bone in the cup of the true heir absorbed the blood, while the servant's blood was not absorbed in the bone. Using this as genetic proof of the son's true inheritance, Saadia had the servant return the man's property to his son.[39]


A street sign at the intersection of Se’adya Ga’on and HaHashmona’im streets in Tel Aviv.
Sign on Saadia Gaon street

Saadia Gaon was a pioneer in the fields in which he toiled. The foremost object of his work was the Bible; his importance is due primarily to his establishment of a new school of Biblical exegesis characterized by a rational investigation of the contents of the Bible and a scientific knowledge of the language of the holy text.

Saadia's Arabic translation of the Torah is of importance for the history of civilization; itself a product of the Arabization of a large portion of Judaism, it served for centuries as a potent factor in the impregnation of the Jewish spirit with Arabic culture, so that, in this respect, it may take its place beside the Greek Bible-translation of antiquity and the German translation of the Pentateuch by Moses Mendelssohn. As a means of popular religious enlightenment, Saadia's translation presented the Scriptures even to the unlearned in a rational form which aimed at the greatest possible degree of clarity and consistency.

His system of hermeneutics was not limited to the exegesis of individual passages, but treated also each book of the Bible as a whole, and showed the connection of its various portions with one another.

The commentary contained, as is stated in the author's own introduction to his translation of the Pentateuch, not only an exact interpretation of the text, but also a refutation of the cavils which the heretics raised against it. Further, it set forth the bases of the commandments of reason and the characterization of the commandments of revelation; in the case of the former the author appealed to philosophical speculation; of the latter, naturally, to tradition.

The position assigned to Saadia in the oldest list of Hebrew grammarians, which is contained in the introduction to Abraham ibn Ezra's "Moznayim," has not been challenged even by the latest historical investigations. Here, too, he was the first; his grammatical work, now lost, gave an inspiration to further studies, which attained their most brilliant and lasting results in Spain, and he created in part the categories and rules along whose lines was developed the grammatical study of the Hebrew language. His dictionary, primitive and merely practical as it was, became the foundation of Hebrew lexicography; and the name "Agron" (literally, "collection"), which he chose and doubtless created, was long used as a designation for Hebrew lexicons, especially by the Karaites. The very categories of rhetoric, as they were found among the Arabs, were first applied by Saadia to the style of the Bible. He was likewise one of the founders of comparative philology, not only through his brief "Book of Seventy Words," already mentioned, but especially through his explanation of the Hebrew vocabulary by the Arabic, particularly in the case of the favorite translation of Biblical words by Arabic terms having the same sound.

Saadia's works were the inspiration and basis for later Jewish writers, such as Berachyah in his encyclopedic philosophical work Sefer Hahibbur (The Book of Compilation).

Saadia likewise identifies the definitive trait of "a cock girded about the loins" within Proverbs 30:31 (Douay–Rheims Bible) as "the honesty of their behavior and their success",[40] rather than the aesthetic interpretations of so many others, thus identifying a spiritual purpose of a religious vessel within that religious and spiritual instilling schema of purpose and use.

Relations to mysticism


In his commentary on the "Sefer Yetzirah", Saadia sought to render lucid and intelligible the content of this esoteric work by the light of philosophy and scientific knowledge, especially by a system of Hebrew phonology which he himself had founded. He did not permit himself in this commentary to be influenced by the theological speculations of the Kalam, which are so important in his main works. In introducing "Sefer Yetzirah"'s theory of creation he makes a distinction between the Biblical account of creation ex nihilo, in which no process of creation is described, and the process described in "Sefer Yetzirah" (matter formed by speech). The cosmogony of "Sefer Yetzirah" is even omitted from the discussion of creation in his magnum opus "Kitab al-Amanat wal-I'tiḳadat." Concerning the supposed attribution of the book to the patriarch Abraham, he allows that the ideas it contains might be ancient. Nonetheless, he clearly considered the work worthy of deep study and echoes of "Sefer Yetzirah"'s cosmogony do appear in "Kitab al-Amanat wal-I'tiḳadat" when Saadia discusses his theory of prophecy.





Saadia translated the Humash and some of the other books of the Hebrew Bible into Judeo-Arabic, adding a Judeo-Arabic commentary.

  • Torah
  • Isaiah[41]
  • Megillot[42]
  • Tehillim (Judeo-Arabic translation and commentary, which he called Kitāb al-tasbiḥ [= "the Book of Praise"])[43]
  • Iyyov (Book of Job)[44] (translated to English by Dr. Goodman),[45] and Mishlei[46]
  • Daniel[47]

Saadia translated Megillat Antiochus into Judeo-Arabic and wrote an introduction.[48]

Hebrew linguistics

  1. Agron
  2. Kutub al-Lughah, also known as Kitāb faṣīḥ lughat al-‘ibrāniyyīn, “The Book of Eloquent Language of the Hebrews”[49]
  3. "Tafsir al-Sab'ina Lafẓah," a list of seventy (properly ninety) Hebrew (and Aramaic) words which occur in the Hebrew Bible only once or very rarely, and which may be explained from traditional literature, especially from the Neo-Hebraisms of the Mishnah. This small work has been frequently reprinted.

Halakhic writings

  1. Short monographs in which problems of Jewish law are systematically presented. Of these Arabic treatises, little but the titles and extracts is known, and it is only in the "Kitab al-Mawarith" that fragments of any length have survived.
  2. A commentary on the thirteen rules of Rabbi Ishmael, preserved only in a Hebrew translation by Nahum Ma'arabi. An Arabic methodology of the Talmud is also mentioned, by Azulai, as a work of Saadia under the title "Kelale ha-Talmud".
  3. Responsa. With few exceptions these exist only in Hebrew, some of them having been probably written in that language.
  4. The Siddur of Saadia Gaon (Kitāb jāmiʿ al-ṣalawāt wal-tasābīḥ), containing the texts of the prayers, commentary in Arabic and original synagogal poetry. Of this synagogal poetry the most noteworthy portions are the "Azharot" on the 613 commandments, which give the author's name as "Sa'id b. Joseph", followed by the title "Alluf," thus showing that the poems were written before he became gaon.

Philosophy of religion

  1. Emunoth ve-Deoth (Kitāb al-amānāt wa-al-iʿatiqādāt), the Book of Beliefs and Opinions:[50] This work, first compiled in 933 CE, of which several revisions were made until its final redaction,[51] is considered to be the first systematic attempt to synthesize the Jewish tradition with philosophical teachings. Prior to Saadia, the only other Jew to attempt any such fusion was Philo (Ivry 1989). Saadia's objective here was to show the parallelism between the truths delivered to the people of Israel by Divine revelation, on the one side, and the necessary conclusions that can also be reached by way of rational observation, on the other. The effect of these ideas expressed in his philosophical books are clearly reflected in Saadia's story of creation, especially when he comes to deal with the theological problems, such as in the verse of Deuteronomy 4:24: “For the LORD your God is a devouring fire,” which constitutes an example of a verse that cannot be understood in its plain context, but should rather be understood in such a way as not to contradict one's definite knowledge that God does not change, nor can anything corporeal be associated with him.[52]
  2. Tafsīr Kitāb al-Mabādī,[53] an Arabic translation of and commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah, written while its author was still residing in Egypt (or Israel), and intended to explain in a scientific manner how the universe came into existence.[54] On the linguistic aspect, Saadia combines a debate on the letters and on their attributes (e.g. phonemes), as well as a debate on related linguistic matters.

Polemical writings

  1. Refutations of Karaite authors, always designated by the name "Kitab al-Radd," or "Book of Refutation." These three works are known only from scanty references to them in other works; that the third was written after 933 is proved by one of the citations.
  2. "Kitab al-Tamyiz" (in Hebrew, "Sefer ha-Hakkarah"), or "Book of Distinction," composed in 926, and Saadia's most extensive polemical work. It was still cited in the twelfth century; and a number of passages from it are given in a Biblical commentary of Japheth ha-Levi.
  3. There was perhaps a special polemic of Saadia against Ben Zuta, though the data regarding this controversy between is known only from the gaon's gloss on the Torah.
  4. A refutation directed against the rationalistic Biblical critic Hiwi al-Balkhi, whose views were rejected by the Karaites themselves;
  5. "Kitab al-Shara'i'," or "Book of the Commandments of Religion."
  6. "Kitab al-'Ibbur," or "Book of the Calendar," likewise apparently containing polemics against Karaite Jews;
  7. "Sefer ha-Mo'adim," or "Book of Festivals," the Hebrew polemic against Ben Meir which has been mentioned above.
  8. "Sefer ha-Galui," also composed in Hebrew and in the same flowery biblical style as the "Sefer ha-Mo'adim," being an autobiographical and apologetic work directed against the Exilarch (rosh galuth), David b. Zakkai, and his chief patron, Aharon ibn Sargado, in which he proved his own uprightness and equity in the matter of controversy between them.

See also



  1. ^ Arabic: سعيد بن يوسف الفيومي Saʿīd bin Yūsuf al-Fayyūmi;[1] Hebrew: סַעֲדְיָה בֶּן יוֹסֵף אַלְפַיּוּמִי גָּאוֹן Saʿăḏyā ben Yōsēf ʾal-Fayyūmī Gāʾōn; alternative English names: Rabbeinu Saʿadiah Gaon ("our Rabbi [the] Saadia Gaon"), often abbreviated RSG (RaSaG); Saadia b. Joseph;[2] Saadia ben Joseph; Saadia ben Joseph of Faym; or Saadia ben Joseph Al-Fayyumi
  1. ^ Gil, Moshe & Strassler, David (2004). Jews in Islamic countries in the Middle Ages. Leiden: Brill. p. 348. ISBN 90-04-13882-X..
  2. ^ SAADIA B. JOSEPH (Sa'id al-Fayyumi), jewishencyclopedia.com; Article
  3. ^ The traditional birth year of 892 was exclusively cited before 1921 and is still occasionally cited. It rests on a statement by the twelfth-century historian Abraham ibn Daud that Saadia was "about fifty" years old when he died. The modern birth year of 882 rests on an 1113 CE Genizah fragment containing a list of Saadia's writings compiled by his sons eleven years after his death, which stated that he was "sixty years less forty ... days" at death. Henry Malter, "Postscript", Saadia Gaon: His life and works (1921) 421–428. Jacob [Jocob] Mann, "A fihrist of Sa'adya's works", The Jewish Quarterly Review new series 11 (1921) 423-428. Malter rejected 882 because it was in conflict with other known events in Saadia's life. He suspected an error by a copyist. The year 882 is now generally accepted because its source is closer in both time and space to his death. Abraham Firkovich had previously held the opinion that Saadia Gaon was born in 862, based on the view that he was aged twenty when he first began writing his Sefer Ha-Iggaron in 882 (See: Abraham Firkovich, Hebrew Newspaper Hamelitz - 1868, Issue 26–27)
  4. ^ Bar Ilan CD-ROM
  5. ^ Scheindlin, Raymond P. (2000). A Short History of the Jewish People: From Legendary Times to Modern Statehood (Illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press US. p. 80. ISBN 9780195139419. saadia arabic jewish.
  6. ^ Stroumsa, Sarah (2003). Saadya and Jewish Kalam: The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 71–90. ISBN 978-0-521-65207-0.
  7. ^ HE
  8. ^ Abraham Firkovich, Hebrew Newspaper Hamelitz - 1868, Issue 26–27
  9. ^ "Saadia Gaon". www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org.
  10. ^ [Herzog College Ben Zuta], Herzog College (in Hebrew)
  11. ^ Sherira Gaon (1988). The Iggeres of Rav Sherira Gaon. Translated by Nosson Dovid Rabinowich. Jerusalem: Rabbi Jacob Joseph School Press - Ahavath Torah Institute Moznaim. pp. 150–151. OCLC 923562173.
  12. ^ Laws of the Sanctification of the Moon, chs. 6-10, written c. 1170.
  13. ^ Various suggestions have been made as to where Ben Meir got this figure. A contemporary author, Remy Landau, suggests that he wanted to optimize the rule and thereby reduce the frequency of this postponement (The Meir-Saadia Calendar Controversy).
  14. ^ Yuchasin, section 3, account by Nathan the Babylonian.
  15. ^ Letter of Sherira Gaon.
  16. ^ a b c Tobi, Yosef; Seri, Shalom, eds. (2000). Yalqut Teman - Lexicon of Yemenite Jewry (in Hebrew). Tel-Aviv: E'eleh betamar. p. 190. OCLC 609321911.
  17. ^ Saadia Gaon (2011). Book of Beliefs & Opinions (Sefer ha-Nivḥar ba-emunot uva-deʻot) (in Hebrew). Translated by Yosef Qafih. Kiryat Ono: Mekhkon Mishnat ha-Rambam. p. 5. OCLC 989874916.
  18. ^ Abraham ibn Ezra's Commentary of the Pentateuch, on Genesis 2:11–12 and on Exodus 28:30, as well as in his critique on RSG's identification of the bird, ʿozniah (the Steppe eagle), in Leviticus 11:13.
  19. ^ Zohar Amar, Flora of the Bible, Rubin Mass Ltd.: Jerusalem, p. 58 ISBN 978-965-09-0308-7 OCLC 783455868 LCCN 2012-426122 (Hebrew); Yosef Qafih, Rabbi Saadia Gaon's Commentaries on the Pentateuch, Mossad Harav Kook: Jerusalem 1984, p. 125 (note 7) (Hebrew)
  20. ^ Zohar Amar, Flora of the Bible, Rubin Mass Ltd.: Jerusalem, p. 59 ISBN 978-965-09-0308-7 OCLC 783455868 LCCN 2012-426122 (Hebrew); Yosef Qafih, Rabbi Saadia Gaon's Commentaries on the Pentateuch, Mossad Harav Kook: Jerusalem 1984, p. 125 (note 7) (Hebrew)
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h Zohar Amar, Shmona Shratzim, Mekhon Moshe: Kiryat-Ono 2016, pp. 13, 66 ISBN 978-965-90818-9-9
  22. ^ a b c d e f Sefer Targum La'az (Translation of Foreign Words), Israel Gukovitzki, London 1992, p. 140.
  23. ^ According to Amar, thought to be Mustela subpalmata or Mustela nivalis, species that were once endemic to Israel.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h Zohar Amar, Shmona Shratzim, Mekhon Moshe: Kiryat-Ono 2016, p. 12 ISBN 978-965-90818-9-9.
  25. ^ In Greek, the word gale is a generic term including the weasel, ferret, and the stoat.
  26. ^ By saying, "after its kind," it would include rats (Rattus), voles (Microtus), hamsters, gerbils, jerboas, etc.
  27. ^ As for "frogs" and "toads," according to Maimonides (Mishnah commentary, Introduction to Seder Taharot), both reptiles are generically called in Hebrew צפרדע, but in Arabic dhafadaʿ, and neither one of them can convey uncleanness by touching, even after death. See Maimonides, Mishnah Taharot 5:1, where it is proven that a dead frog is not the same as one of the dead creeping things.
  28. ^ Krokódeilos, not to be mistaken with the animal that is called by this name today, or crocodile. For in ancient Greek, any big lizard was called "krokódeilos."
  29. ^ Or what is also spelt in Arabic: العظاية.
  30. ^ Rabbi Yosef Qafih and Zohar Amar correct the Judeo-Arabic text to read "אלחרבא" (Arabic: حرباء) = Chameleon lizard. Qafih explains in his commentary on the Responsa and Halachic Decisions of Rabbi Abraham ben David of Posquières, responsum # 91 (note 2), p. 149, that what the inquirer incorrectly mentioned under the Old French name of limace (slug), based on Rashi's translation of חמט in Leviticus 11:30, the original meaning of the word is none other that chameleon lizard.
  31. ^ Rabbi Saadia Gaon's reference here is to the lizard that is called in Arabic: سام أبرص .
  32. ^ Sefer Tehillim - with a Translation and Commentary of Rabbi Saadia Gaon, ed. Yosef Qafih (2nd edition), Mechon-Moshe: Kiryat-Ono 2010, s.v. Psalm 68:15–16 [in some editions, vss. 16–17], p. 162 (Hebrew)
  33. ^ Tobi, Yosef (1984). "Sa'adia's Biblical Exegesis and his Poetic Practice". Hebrew Annual Review. 8. Ohio State University: 241–257. OCLC 231040805.; Ben-Shammai, Haggai (2015). Leader's Project: Studies in the Philosophical and Exegetical Works of Saadya Gaon (in Hebrew). Jerusalem: Bialik Institute. pp. 336–373. OCLC 909032204.
  34. ^ Saadia (1966). Yosef Qafih (ed.). The Book of Psalms, with a Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Saadia ben Yosef Gaon (in Hebrew). Jerusalem, New-York: American Academy of Jewish Studies. pp. 19–21. OCLC 868644462.
  35. ^ English translation "goddesses" follows the Aramaic Targum of Psalm 16:4, where the word צלמניהון is used for עצבות, the plural feminine form of עצבים (images; idols) found in Psalm 115:4, Psalm 135:15, among other places.
  36. ^ Saadia (2010). Book of Psalms with a Translation and Commentary of Rabbi Saadia Gaon (תהלים עם תרגום ופירוש הגאון רבינו סעדיה בן יוסף פיומי זצ"ל) (in Hebrew). Translated by Qafih, Yosef. Kiryat-Ono: Makhon Moshe (Makhon Mishnat haRambam). p. 74 (Ps. 16:4). OCLC 741156698.
  37. ^ Saadia Gaon (1984). Yosef Qafih (ed.). Rabbi Saadia Gaon's Commentaries on the Pentateuch (in Hebrew) (4 ed.). Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook. p. 97. OCLC 232667032.
  38. ^ a b Dalman, Gustaf (2013). Work and Customs in Palestine. Vol. I/1. Translated by Nadia Abdulhadi Sukhtian. Ramallah: Dar Al Nasher. pp. 168–169 (vol. 1). ISBN 9789950385-00-9. OCLC 1040774903.
  39. ^ Judah ben Samuel of Regensburg. ספר חסידים - יהודה בן שמואל, החסיד, 1146-1217 (page 73 of 228). Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  40. ^ PROVERBS 10-31, Volume 18 - Michael V. Fox - Yale University Press 2009 - 704 pages
  41. ^ Translated into Hebrew by Professor Yehuda Ratzaby (http://www.virtualgeula.com/moshe/catd1.jpg, Machon MosHe 2003 Catalog List, http://hebrew-academy.huji.ac.il/al_haakademya/haverim/haverimbeavar/Pages/yehudaratsabi.aspx Archived 2014-08-31 at the Wayback Machine).
  42. ^ Hebrew translation along with original Judeo-Arabic by Rabbi Yosef Kafih (available online at https://www.hebrewbooks.org/39855 but missing pages רמד-רמה [pages ק-קא were scanned twice]).
  43. ^ Hebrew translation along with original Judeo-Arabic by Rabbi Yosef Kafih (https://www.otzar.org/wotzar/book.aspx?8066&lang=eng [first 40 pages viewable for free]).
  44. ^ Hebrew translation along with the original Judeo-Arabic by Rabbi Yosef Kafih (https://www.otzar.org/wotzar/book.aspx?24835&lang=eng [first 40 pages viewable for free]).
  45. ^ Published in the Yale Judaica Series as The Book of Theodicy (1988). Goodman writes that his edition "would have been impossible without the careful Arabic edition of Saadiah's translation and commentary that we owe to the indefatigable industry of Ḳāfiḥ, whose notes and glosses are frequently acknowledged in my own" (p. xiv).
  46. ^ Hebrew translation along with the original Judeo-Arabic by Rabbi Yosef Kafih (https://www.otzar.org/wotzar/book.aspx?149875&lang=eng [first 40 pages viewable for free]).
  47. ^ Hebrew translation along with the original Judeo-Arabic by Rabbi Yosef Kafih (https://www.otzar.org/wotzar/book.aspx?7871&lang=eng [first 40 pages viewable for free]).
  48. ^ Extant portion of introduction published with English translation by S. Atlas and M. Perlmann in Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Vol. 14 (1944): Saadia on the Scroll of the Hasmonaeans. Hebrew translation thereof as well as Saadya Gaon's Judeo-Arabic translation by Rabbi Yosef Kafih, appended to Kafih's edition of Daniel.
  49. ^ Aron Dotan, Or Rišon Beḥokhmat ha-Lašon, Jerusalem 1997.
  50. ^ This (כתאב אלאמאנאת ואלאעתקאדאת [Judeo-Arabic]) was the name of Saadia's first edition, later emended by Saadia to אלמכ'תאר פי אלאמאנאת ואלאעתקאדאת (Hebrew: הנבחר באמונות ובדעות) as described by Kafih on pages 8-9 of his edition (https://www.otzar.org/wotzar/book.aspx?12163&lang=eng).
  51. ^ Saadia Gaon (2011). Book of Beliefs & Opinions (Sefer ha-Nivḥar ba-emunot uva-deʻot) (in Hebrew). Translated by Yosef Qafih. Kiryat Ono: Mekhkon Mishnat ha-Rambam. p. 6 (Introduction). OCLC 989874916.
  52. ^ Ayelet Cohen, Linguistic Comments in Saadia's Biblical Commentary (Abstract), Haifa University 2017
  53. ^ Saadia Gaon's version of the text itself along with his Judeo-Arabic commentary with facing Hebrew translation by Rabbi Yosef Kafih (https://www.otzar.org/wotzar/book.aspx?23506&lang=eng [first 40 pages viewable for free]).
  54. ^ Sefer Yetzirah Hashalem (with Rabbi Saadia Gaon's Commentary), Yosef Qafih (editor), Jerusalem 1972, p. 46 (Hebrew / Judeo-Arabic)


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. {{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • M. Friedländer, "Life and works of Saadia", The Jewish Quarterly Review 5 (1893) 177–199.
  • Henry Malter, Saadia Gaon: His life and works (Morris Loeb Series, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1921, several later reprints).
  • Salo W. Baron, "Saadia's communal activities", Saadia Anniversary Volume (1943) 9–74.
  • Ivry, Alfred L. (1989). "The contribution of Alexander Altmann to the study of medieval Jewish philosophy". In Arnold Paucker (ed.). Leo Baeck Institute Year Book XXXIV. London: Secker & Warburg. pp. 433–440.
  • Wein, Berel (November 1993). Herald of Destiny: The Story of the Jews 750-1650. Brooklyn, NY: Shaar Press. pp. 4–12. ISBN 0-89906-237-7.
  • Saadya Gaon, The Book of Doctrines and Beliefs, Hackett, 2002
  • Stroumsa, Sarah (2003). "Saadya and Jewish kalam". In Frank, Daniel H.; Leaman, Oliver (eds.). The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 71–90. ISBN 978-0-521-65207-0.
  • Gyongyi Hegedeus, Saadya Gaon. The Double Path of the Mystic and Rationalist, Brill, 2013
  • Robert Brody, Sa'adiyah Gaon, (Litman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2013).

Further reading

  • Masliyah, Sadok (1979–1980). "Saadia Gaon's Arabic Version of the Book of Isaiah". Hebrew Studies. 20/21. University of Utah: 80–87. JSTOR 27908661.
  • Ashur, Amir; Nir, Sivan; Polliack, Meira (2017). "Three Fragments of Saʿadya Gaon's Arabic Translation of Isaiah Copied by the Court Scribe Joseph ben Samuel (c. 1181–1209)". Senses of Scripture, Treasures of Tradition. Leiden: Brill. pp. 485–508. doi:10.1163/9789004347403_021. ISBN 978-90-04-34716-8.
Preceded by Gaon of the Sura Academy
Succeeded by