Dunash Ben-labrath Ha-levi

Dunash ben-Labrath ha-Levi an eminent Jewish scholar, was born in Bagdad about AD 920, spent most of his life at Fez, and died at Cordova about AD 980. His writings contributed largely to the development of Hebrew lexicography and Biblical exegesis. These writings are chiefly in the form of controversies with Saadia (q.v.) and Menachem ben-Saruk (q.v.). His criticisms of the grammatical and exegetical works of Saadia are entitled סֵפֶר תּשׁוּבוֹת(the Book of Animadversions), only fragments of which remain. They show that he was a better grammarian, especially as to knowledge of the verb, than Saadia. These fragments are preserved in the שׂפִת יֶתֶר, a work of Aben Ezra (q.v.) written in defense of Sa'adia, published with a critical commentary by Lippmann, and with a preface by Jost (Frankf. a. M. 1843). His criticism of Menachem's Hebrew Lexicon contains, according to Furst, 200 articles, each concluding with some terse remark or saying in rhyme. It was published with notes by H. Filipowski, and with remarks by Leopold, Dukes, and Kirchheimer, by the London Antiquarian Society (London. and Edinb. 1855). The principal points may be summed up in the following:

1. Dunash classifies verbs and adverbs separately, and objects to the derivation of the former from the latter.

2. Distinguishes the servile letters of verbs from nouns similar in form by grammatical rules.

3. Shows the advantage of the application of the Chaldee and Arabic in the explanation of Hebrew words.

4. Departs in more than twenty-four different verses from the Masoretic text, which by many are thought to yield a better sense.

First says of this work that it is "of great interest in relation to a knowledge of Hebrew philology, of the new Hebrew poetry, and of the state of Jewish culture in Spain in the tenth century." The influence which Dunash exercised over Jewish grammarians and expositors of the Bible is seen in the frequent quotations made from his works by the principal lexicographers and commentators, such as Rashi, Joseph Cara, Aben-Ezra, and Kimchi Dukes, Liter. Mittheil. uber die attest. hebraisceien Exegeten, Grammatiker u. Lexicographen (Stuttg. 1844), page 149, etc.; Steinschiieider, Cat. Libr. Hebr.; Etheridge, Introduction to Hebr. Literature, pages 373 and 379; Furst, Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Leips. and London. 1867), Preface, 25 sq.; Kitto, Cyclop. 1:709.

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