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SAADIA BEN NAḤMANI:

Liturgical poet and perhaps also Biblical commentator; lived in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. He was the author of a piyyuṭ for the first "Ma'arib" of the Feast of Tabernacles, beginning "Sukkat shalem selah," and consisting of ten strophes of six lines each; and Zunz thinks him to have written likewise the piyyuṭ beginning "Elohekem dirshu" and recited on Sabbaths which fall on the first day of the month. Saadia ben Naḥmani is supposed by Ḥayyim Michael to be identical with the Saadia quoted by Rashi as having personally spoken to him ("Liḳḳuṭe ha-Pardes," Hilkot "Tish'ah be-Ab").

The supposition that Saadia was a Biblical commentator is based on the fact that the commentary on Chronicles, generally attributed to Rashi, was discovered not to belong to the latter, as is mentioned in Tos. to Yoma 9a, but to have been arranged by the pupils of a certain R. Saadia. It has also been proved that Saadia's commentary on Chronicles was copied by his pupils in different localities, the several copies, therefore, containing many variants. Ḥayyim Michael holds that the Saadia in question also may be identical with the subject of this article and likewise with the author of the commentary on the "Sefer Yeẓirah," in ascribing which to Saadia Gaon the printers, as was proved by Delmedigo ("Maẓref la-Ḥokmah," p. 9b) and by Jacob Emden ("Miṭpaḥat Sefarim," p. 4b), were in error. This commentary, too, was arranged by Saadia's pupils, who in certain passages altered their master's words.

If the various identifications are correct, it may be concluded, as appears from the many German words found in these commentaries, that Saadia was a native of Germany. The author of the commentary indicates Kalonymus b. Judah as his maternal uncle (commentary on II Chron. iv. 7, 17) and Eleazar b. Meshullam as his teacher (commentary on I Chron. iv. 31, passim). He studied at Narbonne also, under Isaac b. Samuel (ib. ix. 34, passim), which accounts for the French words in his commentary.

Bibliography:
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, p. 416;
  • Landshuth, 'Ammude ha-'Abodah, p. 299;
  • Michael, Or ha-Ḥayyim, No. 1146;
  • Joseph Weiss, in Kerem Ḥemed, v. 232-244;
  • Zunz, Literaturgesch. p. 177e.
E. C. M. Sel.
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