The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia


Hebrew philologist of the tenth century; pupil of Dunash b. Labraṭ. He is known exclusively through the polemic in which he defended his teacher against the attacks of the pupils of Menahem b. Saruḳ. The only manuscript which has preserved this very interesting polemic (Parma MSS., Codex Stern, No. 6) names in its title "the pupils of Dunash" as having framed the answer to the pupils of Menahem. At the end of the manuscript, however, the answer is called "Teshubot shel Talmid Dunash," and in the work itself (verse 46) the writer names himself explicitly "Jehudi [see Jer. xxxvi. 14] ben Sheshet." The father's name is punctuated , and made to rime with words ending in "-shat," hence it should properly be pronounced "Sheshat," instead of, as is usually done, "Sheshet." The polemic gives no further information concerning the person of Jehudi. He wrote it during the lifetime of his teacher Dunash, perhaps with his assistance; Ḥasdai ibn Shaprut, however, was no longer living, a fact which may explain why Jehudi did not preface his work with a eulogy of this great patron of the sciences.

Jehudi b. Sheshet makes the three pupils of Menahem the object of relentless invective, and his coarse ridicule does not spare even their names, especially that of Ben Kafron, which he derides because of its signification in Latin ("caper" = "goat"). He reproaches Judah b. David Ḥayyuj, the youngest of them, for his Christian descent; indeed, he goes far beyond his teacher and the pupils of Menahem in his polemical zeal.

Tribute of Jehu to Shalmaneser II.(From the Black Obelisk.)

Jehudi ben Sheshet uses the same meter and the same rime as Dunash and his opponents had used. His writing consists of a metrical part containing 154 verses, of which 1-83 form the introduction, and of a prose part preceded by a prologue in rimed prose. The portion in prose is an elucidation of the second half of the metrical part. He answers only about thirty of the fifty criticisms of Menahem's pupils, and is very emphatic in his eulogy of Dunash, preferring him even to Saadia (verse 61). He also defends the application of Arabic laws of prosody to Hebrew verse (p. 22), introduced by Dunash. Jehudi's polemic has been published, with that of Menahem's pupils, by S. G. Stern in "Sefer Teshubot: Liber Responsionum" (Vienna, 1870).

  • Bacher, in Winter and Wünsche, Die Jüdische Litteratur, ii. 156, 161.
G. W. B.
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