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JUDAH IBN ḲURAISH:

Hebrew grammarian and lexicographer; born at Tahort, northern Africa; flourished in the eighth and ninth centuries. In his grammatical work he advanced little beyond his predecessors, but his contributions to comparative philology are of great value. He recognized that the various Semitic languages are derived from one source, and that, although different in their development, they are subject to the same linguistic laws. His "Risalah," a letter in Arabic to the community at Fez (ed. Bargès and Goldberg, Paris, 1857), is the earliest known contribution to the critical study of the Semitic languages. In the preface he warns the community of Fez not to neglect the study of the Targumim, since they are important for a correct knowledge of the Bible, which contains many Aramaisms. Judah's grammatical researches were original, and he maintained his views regardless of the Mishnah and the Talmud; hence he has been, erroneously, considered a Karaite. He is said to have written, in addition to the "Risalah," a dictionary, and a book on the Commandments. Of these works, however, nothing certain is known, although Judah himself mentions the dictionary in the "Risalah."

Bibliography:
  • Goldberg, preface to the Risalah, Paris, 1857;
  • Karpeles, Gesch. der Jüdischen Literatur, i. 435 et seq., Berlin, 1886;
  • Winter and Wünsche, Die Jüdische Litteratur, ii. 142-144.
J. J. Z. L.
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