- Prose. § I. Bible Translations:
- Location of Versions.
- Character of Translation.
- § II.
- § III. Apocrypha:
- § IV. Bible Commentaries:
- § V.
- § VI. Traditional Literature:
- Talmud and Midrash.
- § VII. Halakah:
- § VIII. Liturgy:
- § IX. Narratives:
- § X. Miscellaneous:
- Poetry. § XI. Modern Persian:
- Influence on the Jews.
- § XII.
- Epic Poetry.
- Molla Shahin.
- § XIII.
- Sacred Poetry.
- § XIV. Independent Collections:
- § XV. Diwans:
- § XVI.
- Yusuf Yahudi.
- § XVII.
- § XVIII.
- Records of Persecution.
- § XIX.
- Modern Literature.
- § XX.
At the present stage of research it is not possible to arrange the literature of the Jews written in Persian but in Hebrew characters either in chronological or even in geographical order, because the origin of the manuscripts does not always show the origin of the works they contain. The following survey is based simply upon a division into prose works and poetry, each of these divisions being subdivided according to the subject-matter of the writings. The greater part of the manuscripts mentioned in this article belongs to E. N. Adler of London, who has published a catalogue of them in the "Jewish Quarterly Review" (x. 584-626; printed separately under the title ". The Persian Jews: Their Books and Their Ritual," London, 1899). The manuscripts are here cited according to their provenience: T. = Teheran; B. = Bokhara. Other collections are to be found in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris ("Catalogue," 1866), and in the British Museum (Margoliouth, "Descriptive List of the Hebr. and Samaritan MSS, in the Brit. Mus." London, 1893; idem, "Cat. Hebr. and Samaritan MSS. in the Brit. Mus." part i., ib. 1899). The printed works have for the most part been published within the last few years at Jerusalem for the Jews of Bokhara.Prose. § I. Bible Translations: Location of Versions.
The oldest fragments of Persian translations of the Bible occur in a Parsee polemic dating from the second half of the ninth century, the "Shikand Gumanik Vijar" (see
Instead of this corrupt oral translation of the Torah, Simeon Ḥakam wished to give his fellow countrymen of Bokhara a new and correct translation, fixed by printing. Simeon had as aids to his work (Preface, p. v. b) the translation of Tawus, the poetic work of the Mollah Shahin, the Arabic translation of Saadia, and the commentaries of Rashi, Abraham ibn Ezra, and Samuel b. Meïr. His translation follows the Hebrew text verbatim. The single words are separated from each other by dots; and in order to satisfy the adherents of the traditional translation, he very often inserts in brackets and in smaller print the rendering of certain words as approved by the traditions of Bokhara. Simeon's statement as to the lack of written Bible translations among the Persian Jews is confirmed by the fact that Adler's collection contains only one manuscript of the Pentateuch (B. 61), dated 1776.§ II.
A translation of the Earlier Prophets, together with Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles, is found in a Paris manuscript (Nos. 90, 91), completed 1601-2 in the city of Lar. MS. Adler, B. 43h, contains a "tafsir" (explanation) of Joshua from the Targum. A Paris manuscript (No. 97), older than the sixteenth century, contains a translation of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel i.-x. (ed. Lagarde, "Persische Studien," 1884; see Nöldeke, in "Literarisches Centralblatt," 1884, p. 888). In it the Targum and the commentary of David Ḳimḥi have been used (Munk, l.c. pp. 70-83). The translation of Isa. Iii. 13-Iiii. 12 had been edited earlier, in Persian transcription, by Neubauer in his work, "The 53d Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpretations" (pp. 137 et seq.). The Paris Library also contains a transcription of the translation of Isaiah and Jeremiah, made in Hamadan in the year 1606 (Munk, l.c. p. 69). The Targum is the basis of a translation of Jeremiah in a Paris manuscript (No. 100), the writing of which shows the same character as the other Paris manuscripts already mentioned. A codex of Samuel (MS. Adler, B. 43) also contains a tafsir of Isaiah. The commentary on Ezekiel to be mentioned later contains a translation of Ezekiel which follows the text closely and varies considerably from the translation edited by Lagarde. Translations of the twelve Minor Prophets are contained in a Paris manuscript (No. 101), and in two manuscripts in the St. Petersburg Library (Harkavy-Strack, "Cat." pp. 165, 262).MS. Adler, B. 45 (comp. B. 52), contains a collection of the prophetic hafṭarot (Harkavy-Strack, l.c. p. 166).
In the year 1740 Baba b. Nuriel in Ispahan completed a translation of the Pentateuch and Psalms at the command of Nadir Shah. The same translation is contained in MSS. Brit. Mus. Or. 4729 (year 1822) and 2452 (Margoliouth, "Cat." p. 120). I. Grill has edited the 68th Psalm ("Indogermanische Forschungen," ii. 142). A further translation of the Psalms is found in MS. Adler, B. 27 (comp. T. 31); but MSS. Vatican 37 and 42 are probably of non-Jewish origin (see Horn in "Z. D. M. G." li. 7; comp. Walton, "Prolegomena," p. 694). A new translation by Benjamin b. Johanan ha-Kohen of Bokhara was published at Vienna in 1883 (see Ethé in "Lit.-Blatt für Orientalische Philologie," i. 186). The same author published a translation of Proverbs at Jerusalem in 1885 (see Zetterstein in "Z. D. M. G." liv. 555). Other translations of this book exist at Paris (MSS. 116, 117) and in the Adler collection (B. 43, 46); translations of Job, at Paris (MSS. 118, 120, 121), St. Petersburg (Harkavy-Strack, l.c. p. 167), and Parma (MS. De Rossi 1093). A new translation of Job, made by Solomon Babagan b. Phinehas of Samarcand, was printed at Jerusalem in 1895 (see "J. Q. R." x. 547). Various translations of the Five Scrolls exist in manuscript; e.g., of Canticles, Adler, B. 12, 43, 46; T. 31; Paris 116, 117; of Ruth, Paris 40, 116; of Lamentations, Adler, B. 43; Paris 101, 118 (see also Munk, l.c. p. 69, note 1); of Ecclesiastes, Adler, B. 43, 46; T. 31; Paris 116, 117; and of Esther, Adler, B. 43, T. 16; Paris 116, 127 (the last from the year 1280). Simeon Ḥakam has edited a Persian translation of Canticles (see his preface to the Pentateuch translation, p. v. b). The Paris. Library has two copies of a translation of Daniel (MSS. 128, 129), the second having been made in the year 1460. The translation of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles has already been mentioned (MSS. Paris 90, 91).§ III. Apocrypha:
The apocryphal books translated from Hebrew redactions are Tobit, Judith, Bel and the Dragon, and the Book of Antiochus (MS. Paris 130, written 1601 in Lar; Munk, l.c. pp. 83-86). Especially noteworthy and also of linguistic interest is an Apocalypse of Daniel ("Ḳiṣṣai Daniyal," ed. Zotenberg, in Merx, "Archiv," i. 385 et seq.; see
Of Bible commentaries in Persian there is only one, on Ezekiel, published by Salemann from a St. Petersburg manuscript (Firkovich collection, ii., No. 1682). The beginning (up to i. 26) is lacking, the existing commentary together with the above-mentioned translation extending to xxxix. 26. The date of the manuscript can not be determined, although the language of the commentary has many old forms (see C. Salemann in "Bulletin de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de St. Pétersbourg," 1900, xiii., No. 3, pp. 269-276). The Persian commentary on the Book of Samuel, "'Amuḳot Shemuel," written in northern Persia during the fourteenthcentury (MS. Gaster 77), is only in part Persian. Besides the Persian rendering of single words and sentences it contains principally extracts from the commentary of Rashi. In spite of its brevity it is of peculiar interest from a philological point of view. The beginning of a similar work on the Book of Kings, closely following that on Samuel, is also contained in this manuscript (Bacher, in "Z. D. M. G." li. 392-425). MS. Brit. Mus. Or. 2460 contains, according to Margoliouth ("Cat." i. 184 et seq.), a "fragment of a Persian commentary on portions of the Prophets." Only single prophetical hafṭarot are commented upon. The above-mentioned translation of the Pentateuch of the year 1319 is in individual passages accompanied by explanations in Persian ("J. Q. R." xv. 279). Likewise the translation of the twelve Minor Prophets (MS. Paris 101) contains explanatory remarks in the margin.§ V. Lexicography.
Lexical glosses accompanying the Bible text were especially popular among the Persian-speaking Jews as an aid to the study of the Bible. Joseph b. Moses, the author of the Pentateuch translation of 1319, refers to the "Master Abu Sa'id," who wrote an explanation of the difficult words in all of the twenty-four books of the Holy Scriptures ("J. Q. R." xv. 282). The commentary on Samuel (MS. Gaster 77; see above) contains such lexical glosses on certain parts only. MS. Brit. Mus. Or. 2454 (of the years 1804-5) contains "A vocabulary of difficult words in the Bible, explained in Persian" (Margoliouth, "Descriptive List," p. 72). Of the Adler collection, B. 1 (perhaps of the year 1183) gives, as an appendix to a siddur, "Perush ha-Millot, Persian translation of the difficult words and passages of the Bible." B. 43 contains a "Sefer Bi'ur Millot ha-Torah," composed in 1708. In the same codex the difficult words ( probably means nothing more than this) of the books of Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles are explained. B. 49 contains "A vocabulary of difficult words in the Pentateuch with explanations in Persian." B. 50: "Vocabulary of difficult words in the Bible (Pentateuch, Kings, Ezekiel, Esther, Canticles, and Joel)."
Judæo-Persian literature boasts of two dictionaries that deserve notice: one entitled "Sefer ha-Meliẓah," by Solomon b. Samuel of the fourteenth century; the other, "Agron," by Moses ben Aaron ben She'erit of Shirwan of the fifteenth century. The former, which is contained in one St. Petersburg and in three Adler manuscripts (these supplement one another: one of the Adler manuscripts was written in 1490; the St. Petersburg one is still older), was completed in Urgenj, Russian Turkestan, in the year 1339. The "Sefer ha-Meliẓah" is a literary curiosity not only on account of its place of origin, which is not elsewhere mentioned in the history of Jewish literature, but also on account of its contents. It comprises about 18,000 articles, some of them very short, however, which comprehend the whole vocabulary of the Bible, of the Targum, of the Talmudic-Midrashic literature, and of other writings, in a systematic alphabetical arrangement, with Persian translations of the words explained, hundreds of which are unidentifiable. Some of these may be corruptions of the original forms, or they may be derivatives; but some of them are nothing more or less than linguistic puzzles (see Bacher, "Ein Hebräisch-Persisches Wörterb." Strasburg, 1900).
Of the "Agron," composed in 1459, only a large fragment, from the middle of the letter "yod" to the end, has been preserved (MS. Gaster 77). It deals with the whole vocabulary of the Old Testament, including the Aramaic portions. The articles are arranged alphabetically, and consist partly of roots, partly of word-formations (chiefly substantives, and particles). It gives the several different meanings of one root or noun in as many separate articles. The book is a popular aid to the study of the Bible; and in its use of the Persian language it presents many interesting idioms (Bacher, in Stade's "Zeitschrift," xvi. 201-247; xvii. 199-203).
Grammatical writings in Persian are not to be found in Judæo-Persian literature. Nevertheless Baba b. Nuriel's translation of the Psalms is preceded by "A Grammatical Introduction on the Servile Letters, the Vowels, and the Accents" (Margoliouth, "Cat." i. 120).§ VI. Traditional Literature: Talmud and Midrash.
The Mishnah treatise Pirḳe Abot has frequently been translated on account of its use in the liturgy. It seems that in Bokhara not only is it read on the Sabbaths during the summer, but one chapter is read each day. This is to be seen from the introduction to the Persian translation, or rather explanatory paraphrase, printed at Jerusalem in 1902 (Bacher, in "Zeit. für Hebr. Bibl. " vi. 112-118, 156-157). Other translations exist, e.g., that of Jacob b. Palṭiel (MS. Adler, T. 25; see also T. 2, 60; B. 38). The beginning of a metrical translation of Abot by Mollah Amrani ('Imrani) has also been preserved ("J. Q. R." xv. 290). MS. Adler, B. 35, contains a translation of the so-called "Alphabet of Ben Sira," written in 1681; this is also found in MS. Brit. Mus. Or. 4731 (Cowley-Neubauer, "The Original Hebrew of Ecclesiasticus," pp. xv., xxix.). The Persian marginal notes to the Hebrew Genizah text of Ben Sira should also be mentioned here (Stade's "Zeitschrift," x. 308-310). A translation of portions of the Midrash on the death of Moses and Aaron is contained in MS. Adler, T. 32. The same Midrash has recently been translated by Simeon Ḥakam (see his preface to the Pentateuch translation, p. v. b). For a homiletic dissertation on the seven wonders of Egypt by Eleazar ha-Kohen (MS. Adler, B. 36) see "Z. D. M. G." liii. 422. MS. Adler, T. 32, "The Story of the Destruction of the Temple" ("Ḥorban ha-Bayit"), and T. 9, "Persian Hebrew Midrash," also belong here. MS. Adler, T. 65, "Hebrew-Persian Perush Mishnayot," written in the year 1830, probably contains lexical glosses to the Mishnah (comp. B. 43a, "explanation of unusual words which are found scattered throughout the Mishnah"). Persian glosses to the first book of Maimonides' "Yad ha-Ḥazaḳah" are found in MS. Brit. Mus. Or. 2456 (Margoliouth, "Descriptive List," p. 42).§ VII. Halakah:
A catechism on the rules for slaughtering, written in Hebrew some time between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries in the northern part of the Persian linguistic territory, contains Persianexpressions ("Zeit. für Hebr. Bibl." iii. 166). A comprehensive work in Persian on the ritual has recently appeared in Jerusalem. It is the ritual compendium of Abraham Aminof translated by Simeon Ḥakam from the unpublished Hebrew original ("Liḳḳuṭe Dinim," 4 parts, Jerusalem, 1901-3; see Bacher in "Zeit. für Hebr. Bibl." v. 147-154; idem, in "Z. D. M. G." lvi. 729-759; "Keleti Szemle," iii. 154-173).§ VIII. Liturgy:
Elkan N. Adler has discussed the siddur of the Persian Jews, on the basis of three manuscripts containing it (B. 1, B. 6, T. 79), in "J. Q. R." x. 601 et seq. One of these manuscripts, a revision of Saadia's siddur, was written in 1564 in Shiraz. Of the Persian parts of this siddur (p. 605) he says: "Many of the less easy hymns and prayers are translated into Persian." The liturgical rules and directions are frequently given in Persian (see also Neubauer's remarks on the Persian parts of the siddur of the Chinese Jews, in "J. Q. R." viii. 129, 137 et seq.). Other manuscripts to be mentioned in this connection are: Adler, T. 43, "Hebrew Prayers, Hymns, Seliḥot, Hosha'not, Stories, etc., with some translations into Hebrew-Persian, written by Ephraim b. Raḥamim"; T. 49, "Confessions of sins and prayers" ("Widduyim, Taḥanunim"), by Elisha b. Samuel; T. 51-52, "Hebrew-Persian Prayers, Poems," etc.; T. 80, "Seliḥot, etc., Hebrew-Persian translation." T. 66 contains a translation of the Pesaḥ Haggadah.
Reference to a liturgical usage of the Bokhara Jews is made in a small book published by Raḥamim b. Elijah (Jerusalem, 1899), which contains a translation based on the Targum of the hafṭarah for the last day of the Pesaḥ. feast (Isa. x. 32-xii.), and, in connection with it, a long homily on the invasion of Sennacherib. Another little book by the same author is a glorification of the seven evenings of the Feast of Tabernacles (the "seven guests"; comp. MS. Adler, B. 23) based on the Luria legend (see Bacher in "Zeit. für Hebr. Bibl." iv. 180-185, v. 131). The liturgical poetry (MSS. Adler, B. 3, 4) will be spoken of later.§ IX. Narratives:
Here may be mentioned, besides the works spoken of in § II., and those to be discussed in connection with poetical productions, the story of Eldad ha-Dani, of which several copies exist (MS. Brit. Mus. Or. 4731; see "J. Q. R." vii. 119; MSS. Adler, B. 14, T. 60); T. 26, "Ma'asiyyot," Hebrew-Persian narratives about Maimonides, etc.; and T. 42, historical stories.§ X. Miscellaneous:
MS. Adler, T. 5, is designated "Hebrew-Persian Medical Dictionary." MS. Brit. Mus. Or. 2455 (see Margoliouth, "Descriptive List," p. 85) contains various Persian treatises in Hebrew characters on medicine. The same manuscript, dating from the year 1807, contains also the "Ta'bir Nameh,"a translation of the book of interpretations of dreams ("Pitron Ḥalomot"), attributed to Hai Gaon. A dream-book in Persian, a translation by Simeon Ḥakam of Nathan Amram's "Sefer ha-Aḥlama." (a compilation from the "Pitron Ḥalomot" and from the "Mefashsher Ḥelmin" of Solomon Almoli), was published in Jerusalem in 1901. It also contains an extract from the Sefer ha-Pirkus" (on convulsions; see Benjacob, Oẓar ha-Sefarim," p. 602), likewise attributed to Hai Gaon. The preface states that the work was widely circulated in Bokhara and the adjacent districts in 1877 by the pious R. David Ḥefeẓ. A Persian translation of the "Sefer Ha-Bal'i" (by an unknown author), with an appendix entitled "Seder ha-Yamim," accompanies the dream-book. The "Sefer ha-Bal'i " resembles the "Sefer Re'amim u-Re'ashim" of Isaac Ashkenazi. The "Seder ha-Yamim" is attributed on the title-page to Ḥayyim Vidal. In the field of superstitious literature belongs also MS. Adler, B. 25, "Hebrew-Persian Charms."Poetry. § XI. Modern Persian: Influence on the Jews.
Modern Persian poetry, which, since Firdusi, has enriched the literature of the world with numerous works of the first rank, has made a lasting impression on the Persian-speaking Jews. The love of poetry and the attention given to its cultivation which have characterized Persian civilization down to the present day, distinguish also the Jews who live among Persian-speaking people, and the classics of Neo-Persian poetry have been warmly appreciated by them. Various manuscripts of the classics transcribed into Hebrew testify to this. The British Museum contains Hebrew manuscripts of Niẓami (Or. 4730) and of Ḥafiẓ (Or. 4745), both of them of the eighteenth century ("J. Q. R." viii. 119). In the Adler collection, T. 78 contains "Niẓami's Romance 'Khosraw and Shirin,' transliterated with twelve three-quarter-page illustrations, highly colored"; T. 77, "The story of Yusuf and Zulaikha by Jami, with an illumination"; T. 27, besides writings on Jewish subjects, the "Gulistan" of Sa'di; the diwan numbered T. 21 contains chiefly poems of Sa'di; T. 19 contains a great deal of the diwan of Ṣẓ'ib;' T. 73 is "the story of the Prince of Bokhara"; B. 36, which will be mentioned again, is a collection of poems by Mohammedan and Jewish poets. Among the poems are the "ghazals" of Sa'di and poems by Ṭufaili, Sayyidi, Zinbu of Samarcand, Mushfiḳi (d. 1585; concerning him see Vambéry, "Gesch. Bokhara's," ii. 97), Shamsi, and others whose names are not given. There are also a poem, interesting from a historical point of view; an elegy by Ḥagi on the death of the Khan 'Ubaid Allah (d. 1711; see "Z. D. M. G." xxxviii. 342); and two narratives in prose: one with verses intermixed, the scene of which is laid in Samarcand in the "madrasah" of Mirza Ulug-Beg; the other by the above-mentioned Sayyidi, written in the year 1680. One of the Hebrew writers of these non-Hebrew works was Simḥah b. David ("Z. D. M. G." Iiii. 422-427).
It will be seen further on (§ XVII.) that toward the end of the seventeenth and in the first half of the eighteenth century Persian poetry was especially cultivated by the Jews of Bokhara. Characteristic of earlier times is the fact that Mollah Shahin (see below) incorporated a verse of Sa'di in his poem without further remark (Horn, in "Z. D. M. G." xlvii. 204). Despite the religious and social chasm separating them from the authors and cultivators of Persian literature, the Jews zealously devoted themselves to its productions and made them their own by transcribing them into Hebrew characters. So, in their own poetry, which was based on Jewish tradition,they closely followed the Persian national literature in language and meter, and, in a certain sense, contributed to it.§ XII. Epic Poetry.
Those Judæo-Persian poems should first be mentioned in which the subject-matter is furnished by Biblical narratives. The chief representative of this Biblical epic poetry is Maulana Shahin Shirazi, a poet of the fourteenth century. Simeon Ḥakam, in the introduction to his Pentateuch translation (p. v. a), states that Shirazi completed his work in the year 1639 of the Seleucid era (= 1328
Shahin, a fellow countryman and an older contemporary of Ḥafiẓ, was plainly under the influence of this florescent period when he undertook to write the narrative parts of the Pentateuch in poetic form. He selected for it the "hazaj" meter, which is especially popular in the narrative poetry of the Persians, and the form of the couplet ("mathnawi"). He strictly follows the sequence of the weekly sections, and enriches the Biblical material with legends, such as occur in the "Sefer ha-Yashar," and with other additions. The whole work is divided into short chapters, each provided with a superscription. Three of these have been published by Seligsohn with an English translation ("J. Q. R." xv. 290-300). Simeon Ḥakam has published the first two parts, on Genesis (Jerusalem, 1903).Molla Shahin.
In similar fashion Shahin did into poetry the post-Pentateuchal parts of the Biblical narrative. MS. Adler, T. 15, entitled "Milḥamot Adonai," contains "The Wars of Joshua with the Philistines [i.e., Canaanites], Bible stories in Persian verse, by Muley Shahin." An incomplete manuscript in the British Museum (Or. 2453; see "R. E. J." xxiii. 279) contains an anonymous poetical redaction of the books of Samuel (as far as II Sam. v. 11), as has been demonstrated by Horn (in "Z. D. M. G." xlvii. 202-212), who has edited a portion of it (on I Sam. xxv.). The manuscript begins with a poem on Yusuf and Zulaikha, which Horn, on the strength of the catalogue (see Margoliouth, "Descriptive List," p. 69), considers to be a transcription from the work of Jami. It is very probable, however, that it is the corresponding portion from Shahin's poetical redaction of the Pentateuch. The manuscript also contains a versification of the Book of Ruth (before that of Samuel). The contents and form of the work show that Shahin is the author and that he undertook a poetical redaction of the whole Bible narrative.
A metrical redaction of the books of Esther and Ezra and of the Targum Sheni on Esther (MS. Adler, T. 27) should also be mentioned in this connection.§ XIII. Sacred Poetry.
The translations of liturgical poetry occupy a large place in the Judæo-Persian writings. Two poems of Solomon ibn Gabirol were frequently translated: the "Azharot" and "Keter Malkut." MSS. Adler, B. 35 and 38, contain the text and Persian translation of the "Azharot." The latter of these manuscripts contains a translation of the first part of the "Azharot" ("Tafsir Shemor Libbi") by Samuel, son of the Molla Pir Aḥmad, under the title "Iḥtiraz Namah" (= "Book of Warning"); it contains also a translation of the second part of the same work ("Tafsir Be-Ẓel Shaddai Eḥeseh") by Manasseh, son of the Molla Solomon b. Eleazar, who was called also "Jami Kashmiri." MS. Adler, T. 29, contains "Tafsir Azharot, by Muley Benjamin ben M. Mishael" ("R. E. J." xliii. 101, note 2). T. 64 contains "Azharot by Nathanael b. Moses," an original Hebrew poem, and the translation in Persian by the author himself. The "Keter Malkut" was published in Jerusalem with a Persian translation by Solomon Babagan b. Phinehas in 1895 ("J. Q. R." x. 597). A translation of the same poem is also contained in MSS. Adler, T. 31 and 47. Perhaps the "'Aṭeret Malkut" of R. Joseph, called "Yadgar" (MS. Adler, T. 48), is another name for the "Keter Ṃalkut."
The translator of the "Azharot," Benjamin b. Mishael, translated the "'Aḳedah" of Judah Samuel 'Abbas b. Abun (Zunz, "Literaturgesch." p. 216; "J. Q. R." xiv. 622) in 1718, and augmented the translation considerably with verses of his own. This translation was first edited in 1902 in Jerusalem. As an appendix are added the Persian translations of the "widdui" of Rabbi Nissim for the morning prayer of the Day of Atonement, and two other confessions of sin for musaf and minḥah of the Day of Atonement. Sabbath hymns with Persian translations are printed in "Seder Kebod Shabbat," published by David Ḥakam, Wilna, 1895 (Salemann, "Chudâidâd," p. iii., note 2).
Numerous metrical translations of various non-liturgical Hebrew poems are found in the Hebrew-Persian book of songs, which will be spoken of later, and in other collections (diwans), of which only the fact that they exist is as yet known. A few other works to be mentioned in this connection are: MS. Brit. Mus. Or. 4744, containing "Liturgical Poems in Hebrew and Persian" ("J. Q. R." vii. 119); MS. Paris 127, at the end of which is a Purim poem in Hebrew and Persian (see "Paris Cat." p. 13); MS. Adler, T. 3, "Baḳḳashot u-Pizmonim; Text and Translation"; and MS. Adler, T. 43, "Prayers, Hymns, etc., with Some Translation into Hebrew-Persian" (see above, § VIII.).§ XIV. Independent Collections:
The translations of liturgical and other religious poetry into Persian are often augmented so as to form independent poems. The literature of this kind contained in the manuscripts is still too little known for it to be possible to give an enumeration of the religious poetry of the Persian Jews that does not rest on a Hebrew basis. Seligsohn, from a Paris manuscript (No. 1356), has published the interesting work of a Persianpoet, Moses b. Isaac (of unknown date), in which the "Azharot" of Gabirol are imitated ("R. E. J." xliii. 101 et seq.). It is a new redaction in Hebrew verse, to which a translation is added, a Persian tetrastich corresponding to each Hebrew distich. The whole is preceded by a Persian introductory poem. The poem proper, like the above-mentioned Persian translation of Gabirol's "Azharot," is entitled "Iḥtiraz-Namah." MS. Adler, B. 41, contains a poem by R. Benjamin—which is perhaps the original of the above-mentioned one of Benjamin b. Mishael—in Hebrew with Persian translation. MS. Paris 118 contains an elegy on the Ninth of Ab in Persian, interspersed with Hebrew words (Munk, l.c. p. 68; "Orient, Lit." vi. 619). In MS. Brit. Mus. Or. 4729, the above-mentioned Persian translation of the Psalms is followed by "several liturgical poems in the same language" ("J. Q. R." vii. 119).§ XV. Diwans:
The Adler collection contains a considerable number of compilations of songs, briefly termed "diwans"; and only here and there is a scanty designation of their contents given. They are comprised in the following Adler manuscripts, all of them from Teheran: T. 4, "Poems, Problems"; T. 6, "Diwan of Muley Solomon"; T. 8; T. 17; T. 22; T. 30, "Hebrew-Persian diwan of Israel b. Moses, Samuel b. Nissim, Moses b. Joseph ha-Levi, Refuah Cohen b. Eleazar, Elisha b. Samuel, etc."; T. 40; T. 51-52, "Hebrew-Persian Prayers, Poems, etc."; T. 63, "Hebrew and Hebrew-Persian Diwan, inter alios Abraham, David b. Ma'amin"; T. 72; T. 74, "Seventy Songs from Yezd."
Of the manuscripts brought from Bokhara, B. 18, "Hebrew and Hebrew-Persian Diwan, Shirot," belongs here. B. 38 is a collection (written in Meshed, c. 1806) containing "Hebrew and Persian piyyuṭim for weddings, circumcisions, etc." As authors are mentioned: Siman-Ṭob, Israel b. Moses, Shabbethai Ṣaliḥ, and Abraham b. Levi. B. 13 contains ninety-one poems in Hebrew, Hebrew and Persian, and Persian alone.Najjarah.
Many of the poems of this collection are also found in "Yismaḥ Yisrael" (Jerusalem, 1901), by Israel b. Abraham of Yezd, a collection of songs used by Persian Jews on festive occasions ("J. Q. R." xiv. 116-128). Of the sixty-three poems in the book only a very small number are Persian, although many of the Hebrew poems are followed by Persian translations. Many of the Hebrew poems are by Israel Najjarah; eight are accompanied by a Persian rendering; and "Molla Joseph" or "Molla Joseph the poet" (who is none other than Yusuf Yehudi of Bokhara) is named as the translator of four of them. Among those of Israel Najjarah, the Aramaic Sabbath song, "Yah Ribbon 'Alam," is reprinted in Persian translation in "J. Q. R." xiv. 126. Two others of his, from the collection "Yismaḥ Yisrael," have been published with their translations by Raḥamim b. Elijah (Bacher, in "Z. D. M. G." lv. 241-257; comp. ib. lvi. 729). Other authors of Persian poems or Persian translators whose works are found in this collection are: (1) Siman-Ṭob, who mentions, as a source of his "Ḥayat al-Ruḥ," a collection of songs by Israel Yezdi (see "Zeit. für Hebr. Bibl." v. 152). The collection has Hebrew poems of his accompanied with his own Persian translations. (2) Benjamin Amina: a prayer for the master of the house. (3) Tobiah: a "ghazal." (4) Judah: a Hebrew and Persian poem ("J. Q. R." xiv. 127). (5) Manasseh of Kashmir, also called "Jami Kashmiri" (see § XIII.): translations of two poems of Israel Najjarah, one of which is dated 5564 (= 1804). (6) Molla Amin: translation of a poem of Jonah, in which the curious rime of the original is imitated. Where the translator is not named, as in certain poems of Najjarah and in the "'Aḳedah" of Ephraim b. Isaac, the translator is probably Yusuf Yahudi or Siman-Ṭob. The anonymous Persian poems which the collection contains do not show Jewish religious color either in their subject-matter or in their language. Among the authors who contributed only Hebrew poems may be mentioned Shakirsh (on account of his remarkable name, which perhaps is connected with the Persian word "shagird") and Elisha b. Samuel.§ XVI. Yusuf Yahudi.
Of these poets Molla Joseph b. Isaac deserves special attention. Under the name Yusuf Yahudi (= "Joseph the Jew") he was highly regarded even in non-Jewish circles. His name is at times accompanied with the epithet "sha'ir" (poet). In a Hebrew note, found in MS. Adler, B. 16, it is stated that Joseph b. Isaac wrote the "Seven Brothers" in the year 5448 (= 1688), and the two works "Sharḥ(?) Antiochus" and "Sharḥ Mosheh Rabbenu," sixty-one years later (5509=1749). He died on the eleventh of Nisan, 5515 (= 1755), and must therefore have reached the age of ninety. The last two works mentioned in the note have not yet been found. The one was plainly a redaction of the Antiochus Megillah (see above, § III.); the other, a poetical rendering of the life of Moses. The name "Sharḥ" (= "commentary") is the same as that of the work of Shahin (see above, § XII.). On the other hand, Yusuf's early work, the "Seven Brothers" ("Heft Biraderan" or "Heft Daderan" also with Hebrew title "Shibe'ah Aḥim"), has been preserved in several copies (MSS. Adler, B. 7, B. 11, B. 16, B. 28, B. 51; fragment in B. 15), and was printed in Jerusalem in 1884 (see "J. Q. R." x. 588, 597). The poet says that he completed his work on the eighth of Ab, 5448 (= 1688), the day before the fast-day upon which it was to be read. This work, treating of the celebrated martyrdom of the seven brothers and their mother, is based on the narrative of the Palestinian midrash, Ekah Rabbati, to Lam. i. 16 (Bacher, "Jüdische Märtyrer im Christlichen Kalender," in "Jahrb. für Jüdische Gesch. und Litteratur," 1901, iv. 70-85). Another poem of Yusuf's which shows much similarity to the "Seven Brothers" in its phraseology is the eulogy of Moses, entitled "Mukhammas" (ed. Bacher, in "Z. D. M. G." liii. 396 et seq.) on account of its strophic form, containing twenty strophes of five lines each. MS. Adler, B. 36, contains also more than a dozen poems composed by Yusuf Yahudi. Part of them have the same strophic form as the eulogy of Moses. One is an elegy (1732) on a Molla Leṭifi, aged eighty-eight. Two poems have distinctly religious contents: a song for Sabbath and an Elijah song for the close of that day (see "Z. D. M. G." liii. 389-396). For Yusuf's translations see § XV.§ XVII.
In the note concerning Yusuf Yahudi, spoken of in the preceding paragraph, mention is also made of his associates ("ḥaberim"), probably meaning his poetical contemporaries. These latter are Molla Uzbek, Molla Elisha, and Molla Solomon. "It was this last who wrote a 'Sharḥ Antiochus' after Molla Joseph's work of the same name had appeared. They all died in Bokhara." Elisha is probably identical with the Elisha b. Samuel referred to in § XV.; and Molla Solomon is probably the author whose diwan is mentioned in the same section.
Other poets whose works are found in MS. Adler, B. 36, and who probably belong to the same circle, are: David b. Abraham b. Maḥji, who wrote an Elijah song in Hebrew and Persian strophes, and Uzziel, two of whose Elijah songs are given in "Z. D. M. G." liii. 417-421. These are the same in form as the Elijah songs of Yusuf Yahudi and of David b. Abraham. At the head of the collection of Bokhara Elijah songs is the poem of Benjamin Amina, mentioned above (§ XV.). With them is placed a short poem by the same author written in Hebrew verses interspersed with Persian (reprinted in "Z. D. M. G." liii. 420 et seq.; see also "J. Q. R." xiv. 123). The Molla David, several of whose poems are contained in this collection, is plainly identical with the David b. Abraham mentioned above. His poems include a "ḳaṣidah" in praise of Moses, and three pieces designated as "ḳaṣidahs," but which are really prose pieces, consisting of rather long paragraphs, each ending with the same rime and containing observations and exhortations. The same form of rimed prose is also found in a poem of Yusuf Yahudi; but there it is designated as "ṭawil." Of the poems given without their authors' names may be mentioned an elegy (perhaps by Yusuf Yahudi) on a Molla A'ta, a pious scholar who died on the 25th of Kislew, 1689.§ XVIII. Records of Persecution.
The facts given in the last two sections seem to show that the Jews of Bokhara in the second half of the seventeenth and in the first half of the eighteenth century lived in comparatively favorable circumstances, and could cultivate Persian poetry without considerations of creed. In Persia proper, however, during the same period, they suffered oppression and repeated persecution, as appears from two remarkable poems written at the time in the same form of the "mathnavi" as are the Biblical poems of Molla Shahin (MS. Paris 1356, written in 1842; the first one also in MS. Adler, 291). Seligsohn has published four extracts from them with a French translation ("R. E. J." xliv. 87-103, 244-259). The longer one relates, in more than twenty divisions, the persecutions endured by the Jews in Ispahan under the rule of Abbas I. (d. 1628) and during the whole of the reign of Abbas II. (d. 1666). He also relates, in chronological order, the persecutions suffered by the Jews in the cities of Hamadan, Shiraz, Ferahabad, Kashan, and Yezd. Other extracts from the work of Babai are published by Bacher ("Une Episode de l'Histoire des Juifs de Perse") in "R. E. J." xlvii. 262-282. The poet was born in one of these cities: the heading of the work calls him "Babai b. Luṭf, known as the Kashani." The work has no title; it is designated simply "Gufta-i Babai" (= "Narrative of Babai"). The same is the case with the second work, the author of which is called in the superscription "Babai b. Ferhad." He describes the persecutions of the Jews under the Afghan dynasty of Maḥmud, Ashraf, and Ṭahmasp II. (1722-32). The Paris MS. contains also a poem composed by Mashiaḥ b. Raphael in honor of Abraham ha-Nasi.
A short poem of Babai b. Luṭf's is contained in MS. Brit. Mus. Or. 4731 (see "R. E. J." xliv. 88, note 2). This Teheran manuscript contains among other things "Timsal Namah, known as the 'Story of the Seven Viziers,' in the redaction of Rabbi Judah" ("J. Q. R." vii. 169). This is perhaps the same Judah whose bilingual poem has been mentioned above (§ XV.). The same manuscript contains further a work entitled "Maḥzan al-Pand." MSS. Brit. Mus. Or. 4732, 4744, from Teheran (of the year 1812), contain a metrical redaction of Abraham b. Ḥasdai's "Ben ha-Melek weha-Nazir" ("J. Q. R." l.c.). The Adler collection has four copies of this work—the Persian title of which is "Shahzada wa-Ṣufi"—Iikewise from Teheran (T. 18, 20, 41, 75).§ XIX. Chudâidâd.
In the eighteenth century or at the beginning of the nineteenth, during the reign of Emir Ma'ṣum (d. 1802), the Zealot ruler of Bokhara, a pious and learned man by the name of Chudâidâd (Hebr. "Nathaniel") suffered martyrdom because he refused to embrace Islam, which, it was falsely said after his death, he had accepted. This occurrence was celebrated by a Bokhara poet, Ibrahim Abu al-Khair, in a poem containing nearly 400 double lines. It is in contents and meter of the same character as the two Babai poems referred to in the foregoing sections (ed. C. Salemann, in the "Mémoires de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de St. Pétersbourg," 7th series. vol. xlii.; comp. extracts by Nöldeke in "Z. D. M. G." li. 548-553, and corrections by Bacher, ib. lii. 197-212; see, also, "Zeit. für Hebr. Bibl." iii. 19-25). Of a longer poem by Ibrahim Abu al-Khair, completed on the eighth of Shebaṭ, 5569 (= 1809), only the introductory parts are extant, one of which is devoted to the praise of the ruler of Bokhara (see Salemann, l.c. pp. iv.-v.).
In MS. Adler, B. 11, the Chudâidâd poem has the superscription: "In memory of ["bi-yadi"] Molla Chudâidâd, the pious." Then follows a poem twelve pages long with a similar superscription: "In memory of Molla Iṣḥaḳ Kemal; may he rest in Eden."Modern Literature.
The year 1893, in which the Jews of Bokhara founded a large colony in Jerusalem, marks the beginning of a new epoch in their literary activity. Many of them consider it a pious task to care for the education and edification of the Jews in their native country by publishing liturgical and other writings in the popular tongue of Persia. Among the Bokhara Jews living in Jerusalem, Simeon Ḥakam stands preeminent as an editor and translator.§ XX.
The following is an alphabetical list of the authors mentioned in this article, with references to the sections in which they are treated:
- Abu Sa'id (13th or 14th cent.), 5.
- Amin, 15.
- Baba b. Nuriel (1740), 2.
- Babai b. Ferhad (c. 1730), 18.
- Babai b. Luṭf Kashani (1665), 18.
- Benjamin, 14.
- Benjamin Amina (18th cent.), 15, 17.
- Benjamin b. Johanan ha-Kohen (1883-85), 2.
- Benjamin b. Mishael (1718), 13, 14.
- David, 17.
- David b. Abraham b. Maḥji (18th cent.), 17.
- David Ḥakam (1895), 13.
- David b. Ma'min, 15.
- Eleazar ha-Kohen, 6.
- Elisha (18th cent.), 17.
- Elisha b. Samuel, 8, 15.
- Ibrahim Abu al-Khair (1809), 19.
- 'Imrani, 6.
- Israel b. Abraham of Yezd (1901), 15.
- Israel b. Moses, 15.
- Jacob b. Joseph. See Tawus.
- Jacob b. Palṭiel, 6.
- Joseph b. Isaac.
- Joseph b. Moses (1319), 1.
- Joseph Yadgar, 13.
- Judah, 15, 18.
- Khawajah Bukhari, 3.
- Manasseh b. Solomon b. Eleazar Kashmiri (1804), 13, 15.
- Mashiaḥ b. Raphael (18th cent.), 18.
- Moses b. Aaron b. She'erit of Shirwan (1459), 5.
- Moses b. Isaac, 14.
- Moses b. Joseph ha-Levi, 15.
- Nathanael b. Moses, 13.
- Raḥamim b. Elijah (1899), 8, 15.
- Refuah Cohen b. Eleazar, 15.
- Samuel b. Pir Aḥmad, 13.
- Shabbethai Ṣaliḥ, 15.
- Shahin Shirazi (1328), 12.
- Shakirsh, 15.
- Siman-Ṭob, 15.
- Simeon Ḥakam (1903), 1, 2, 6, 7, 10.
- Solomon (18th cent.), 15, 17.
- Solomon Babagan b. Phinehas of Samarcand (1895), 2, 13.
- Solomon b. Samuel of Urgenj (1339), 5.
- Tawus, Jacob b. Joseph (16th cent.), 1.
- Tobiah, 15.
- Uzbek (18th cent.), 17.
- Uzziel (18th cent.), 17.
- Yusuf Yahudi of Bokhara (d. 1755), 15, 16, 17.