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Saul Abdallah Joseph

JOSEPH, SAUL ABDALLAH (1849–1906), merchant-scholar in *China. Born in *Baghdad, he was a merchant and money changer by profession. At the age of 18, he traveled to India and China, finally settling in Hong Kong. He was an interesting example of a scholar who dwelt in an environment foreign to Judaism and yet played an active role in Hebrew literature and culture. Writing for the Hebrew newspapers Ḥavaẓẓelet and Ha-Levanon, he published articles on the Jews of China and on medieval poetry. His profound knowledge of the Bible, the Hebrew language, Arabic literature, and the Oriental way of life enabled him to understand Spanish Hebrew poetry. His principal contribution lay in pointing out the influence of Arabic poetry on the Hebrew poetry of Spain (he himself translated Arabic stanzas written in the Spanish meter). By nature hot-tempered, he wrote essays noted for their sharp controversies and lack of courtesy toward contemporary scholars. Two of his works were posthumously prepared for publication by Samuel *Krauss: Givat Sha'ul (1923), an extensive commentary to 138 secular poems of Judah Halevi, which were previously published by H. Brody; Mishbeẓet Tarshish (1926), a commentary to Sefer ha-Tarshish or Ha-Anak of Moses ibn Ezra, first published by David Guensburg in 1886. The divan of Todros *Abulafia, Gan ha-Meshalim veha-Ḥidot ("Garden of Apologues and Saws"), which was discovered and copied by Joseph, was published in phototype by Moses *Gaster (1926).


S. Joseph, Givat Sha'ul, ed. by S. Krauss (1923), xxvii–xxx (Eng. and Heb.); T. Abulafia, Gan ha-Meshalim veha-Ḥidot, ed. by D. Yellin, 2, pt. 2 (1936), xlvii–ci.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.