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Medieval Hebrew

(6,462 words)

Author(s): Sáenz-Badillos, Angel
Medieval Hebrew was not what we understand as a living spoken language or a complete linguistic system with its own characteristics. With minor exceptions, it was not a vehicle of communication normally used in daily life. Neither Biblical nor Rabbinic Hebrew had been in use as vernaculars for centuries. A few Jewish communities had preserved written and spoken Hebrew, mostly in the milieu of synagogues and learning institutions. However, instead of remaining as a residual phenomenon during the …

Poetry, Medieval

(2,561 words)

Author(s): Sáenz-Badillos, Angel
1. Introduction This entry will focus mainly on the language of Hebrew poetry in the Iberian Peninsula from the 10th to the 15th century, with brief references to Italy and Provence as well. In the middle of the 10th century, after some poetic initiatives in the Muslim East, Jews in al-Andalus during the reign of the caliph ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III focused on the study of Biblical Hebrew, which they began to use in a new kind of poetry. They substantially changed the usages of earlier liturgical poets, the payṭanim. These courtiers of Cordova tried simultaneously to understand the meanin…