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SHĀHIN, Judeo-Persian poet. Though a few short fragments of Judeo-Persian poems were found in the Cairo *Genizah, Shāhin is regarded the first and greatest Judeo-Persian poet who flourished during the 14th century. Most probably Shāhin, meaning "falcon," is the pen name of the poet that appears in many places in his poetic productions; his real name and personal life are unknown. Scholars who briefly mentioned Shāhin's works claimed that he was from *Shiraz, but internal evidence shows beyond any doubt that he was not from Shiraz or any place in the southern or central parts of Iran. He may have belonged to the Greater *Khorāsān, probably the city of Merv. Shāhin is as great to the Persian Jews as the composer of Shāh-Nāmeh, Firdowsi, is to the Iranians.

Shāhin's first poetic work is a paraphrase of the four last books of the Pentateuch which has to do with the life and deeds of Moses and the children of Israel, hence it was named "Musā-Nāmeh" by Simon *Ḥakham of Bukhara and Wilhelm Bacher of Budapest (see bibl.) who showed interest in the works of Shāhin. The poet himself titled this work Sharḥ-i Torah ("Exegesis of the Torah"). It is indeed a rather free interpretation which makes use of Midrashim and even Muslim sources. Musā-Nāmeh, which contains about ten thousand verses, was completed in 1327 C.E.

Shāhin's second poetic work is Tafsir Megillat Ester ("Interpretation of the Book of Esther"), which is known to scholars by the name of Ardashir-Nāmeh. Ardashir (ruled 465–425 B.C.E.), according to Shahin, is Ahasuerus, though most scholars consider Xerxes (in Persian Khashāyār, ruled 486–465 B.C.E.) to be the king who married Esther. Ardashir-Nāmeh consists of three separate but interwoven stories: (1) that of the Book of Esther; (2) a love story related to the Shiruyeh, the son of Vashti, and a Chinese princess, Mahzād; (3) a brief narration of the life and deeds of Cyrus the Great, mostly based on the Book of Ezra, hence this part is sometimes known as Ezrā-Nāmeh. Here Shāhin talks about Cyrus the son of Esther the Queen, a belief held also by some Muslim historians such as Ṭabarī. The depiction of nature, hunting, and battle is superb. Ardashir-Nāmeh contains about six thousand verses and was completed in 1333 C.E.

Shāhin's third poetic work is a paraphrased versification of the first book of the Pentateuch, the Book of Genesis, which was named by the poet Sharḥ-i Torah, Sefer Bereshit, and by scholars Bereshit-Nāmeh. The major part of this work narrates the story of Joseph and Potipharʾs wife, hence it is also known as "Yosef va Zolaikhā." Bereshit-Nāmeh makes extensive use of Midrashim and especially Muslim sources known as Qiṣaṣ al-Anbiyāʾ (the stories of the prophets). As the poet's last work, it displays maturity of mind, great erudition, and profound knowledge of the Persian language with all its rhetorical devices. Bereshit-Nāmeh, which contains about ten thousand verses, was completed in 1359 C.E.

Simon Ḥakham published all of Shāhin's works in Jerusalem.


J.P. Assmusen, "Judaeo-Persica I, Shāhin Shirāzis Ardashirnāma," in: Acta Orientalia, 28 (1964), 243–61; W. Bacher, Zwei juedisch-persische Dichter Schahin und Imrani (1908); D. Blieske, Šahin-e Širazis Ardašir-Buch (1966); Sh. Ḥakham, Shāhin Torah (1905); idem, Sefer Sharḥ Shāhin al Megillat Ester (1910); V.B. Moreen, "A Dialogue between God and Satan in Shāhin's Bereshit-Nāmah," in: Sh. Shaked and A. Netzer (eds.), Irano-Judaica, 3 (1994), 127–41; A. Netzer, "A Judeo-Persian Footnote: Shāhin and 'Emrāni," in: Israel Oriental Studies, 4 (1974), 258–64; idem, "Some Notes on the Characterization of Cyrus the Great in Jewish and Judeo-Persian Writings," in: Acta Iranica, 2 (1974), 35–52; idem, Oẓar Kitvei-Yad shel Yehudei Paras be-Makhon Ben Zvi (1985); idem, "The Story of the Prophet Shoʿayb in Shahin's Musānāmeh," in: Acta Iranica, 16 (1990), 152–67; idem, "Notes and Observations Concerning Shāhin's Birthplace," in: Sh. Shaked and A. Netzer (eds.) Irano-Judaica, 4 (1999), 187–202; E. Spicehandler, "Shāhin's Influence on Bābāi ben Lotf: The Abraham-Nimrod Legend," ibid., 2 (1990), 158–65.

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