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ELEAZAR BEN ZIṬA ABU AL-SARI (generally cited as Ben Ziṭa or, more correctly, Ben Zuṭa):

Karaite Bible exegete; lived probably in Egypt in the tenth century. He supported the rigid, ascetic, and Sadducean doctrines advocated by Anan and other Karaites, though at times he opposed Anan's teaching.

It is not at all certain that he ever wrote any work, or that Saadia compiled any reply to his views. His disputes with Saadia seem to have been oral. All that is known of Ben Ziṭa comes from Abraham ibn Ezra, who probably derived the information from Saadia's commentary to the Pentateuch. Ibn Ezra mentions Ben Ziṭa several times in his commentary to Exodus.

Ibn Ezra also mentions Ben Ziṭa in his "Sefer ha-'Ibbur" (7a), in regard to the question whether the method of determining the months and the festivals is to be found in the Bible. Ben Ziṭa was the first to cite Gen. i. 14; Num. xxviii. 14; and Ps. civ. 19 as such proof. A marginal note to a Bodleian manuscript (No. 316) of Ḳimḥi's commentary to Ezekiel, published by Neubauer in "Jour. Asiatique," 1861, p. 230, also contains a reference to Ben Ziṭa's refutation of Anan's quaint interpretations of Ezek. xviii. 6; but Israelsohn has shown that the passage is quoted not from Ibn Janaḥ, but from Judah ibn Balaam's commentary to Ezekiel. The name "Abu al-Ari," found in the Bodleian manuscript and accepted by Neubauer, Fürst, and Geiger, is a mistake for "Abu al-Sari."

Bibliography:
  • Geiger, in Jüd. Zeit. ii. 151;
  • Pinsker, Liḳḳuṭe Ḳadmoniyyot, p. 43;
  • Fürst, Gesch. des Karäert. i. 100, 173; ii. 33;
  • Israelsohn, in Rev. Etudes Juives, xxiii. 132;
  • Poznanski, in Monatsschrift, xli. 203.
K. G.
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