Hebrew Poetry from Late Antiquity
Wout Jac. van Bekkum
The discovery of the Genizah manuscipt collection is nothing less than a revolution for the knowledge of Hebrew literature and Jewish culture in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. One of the main results of one hundred years of Genizah research is the rediscovery of Hebrew liturgical poetry which shed much light on various aspects of Jewish studies. For the last half century it has been almost comonplace to discover new poems, unknown poets, novel uses of poetry and unfamiliar poetic versions of familiar prose texts within liturgical settings being revealed among the manuscripts and manuscript fragments. The products of the composers and reciters of synagogue poetry convincingly demonstrate the importance of poetry in Jewish worship and communal life. The major corpora of Palestinian liturgical poetry bear evidence to the prolific literary activity of a number of famous poets who laid the foundations for the development of Hebrew poetry in later periods: Yossi ben Yossi, Yannai, Simon bar Megas, Elazar birabbi Kilir and Yohanan ha-Kohen. One of these mostly Byzantine-Jewish 'melodists' was Yehudah who composed a cycle of poems in accordance with the reading tradition of the Pentateuch and Prophets on the sabbath. This study presents Yehudah's oeuvre with commentaries and deals with its historical and literary context in four introductory chapters. The edition is complemented by indices and a bibliography.