[b-hebrew] Proverbs 5:6 & Saadia Gaon's interpretation

Ishinan ishinan at comcast.net
Tue Oct 6 21:55:21 EDT 2009

Proverbs, chapter 5, is about the warning of succumbing to a prostitute, at 
least this is Sa`iyd bin Yuwsuf al-Fayyuwmiy's  interpretation.  In this 
chapter the warning does not deal in generalities about the ways of life, 
but rather it is specifically aimed at the consequences of interaction with 
a prostitute, or a woman who is a stranger (period).  The climax of chapter 
5 is reached in verses 8-10 with a warning of the loss of one's honor if one 
seeks the door of a whore and endangering one's wealth to be siphoned 
mercilessly by strangers.

Al-Fayyuwmiy  (b. Egypt 882-d. Baghdad 942) AKA Saadia Gaon is considered 
the most important medieval scholar of Hebrew literature and history.  As 
the founder of Judeo-Arabic literature he is the first important rabbinic 
figure to write extensively in Arabic.   His interpretation, and his Arabic 
translation, of the old Testament is today the base of all Arabic 
translations of the Bible.

As a means of popular religious enlightenment, Saadia's translation 
presented the Scriptures in a rational form which aimed at the greatest 
possible degree of clearness and consistency. One special feature introduced 
by Saadia's were informative subtitles to all chapters.  For example :

Proverbs Chapter 4 deals with pearls of  Paternal wisdom addressed to a son

Proverbs Chapter 5 deals with a warning about seeking the company of 

Proverbs Chapter 6 deals with marital life and its responsibilities

Further, Saadia's Arabic translation of the Bible is of importance as it 
takes its place beside the Aramaic and the Greek Bible-translations of 
antiquity, the Latin Vulgate, etc.  Side by side these translations do not 
always agree.  As the message is translated from one language to another it 
eventually suffers distortions.  Because the position assigned to Saadia in 
the oldest list of Hebrew grammarians has not been challenged even by the 
latest historical investigations, his version of the translated Bible is of 
high importance in this respect, and it is used to verify other translations 
of the Old Testament.

If anyone is interested in Saadia's verbatim interpretation of verse 5 in 
Arabic, along  with my annotations in English (scanned JEPG), please contact 
me off the list and I'll be more than happy to oblige.  Just give me 24 
hours for the turn around.

Best regards

Ishinan Ishibashi


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