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Sambari, Joseph ben Isaac

(1,058 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Hary
Joseph ben Isaac Sambari, who lived in Cairo probably between 1640 and 1703, was a scholar with unique interests. Whereas most of his contemporaries had no interest in writing history, Sambari, in addition to engaging in biblical studies, was also a noted historian. His teacher was Ḥananiah Barhon, and his patron was Raphael Joseph, the chief financier (Ar. ṣarrāf bāshī) of the Ottoman governor of Egypt, Qaraqash ʿAlī. Like David Conforte, Sambari attended Abraham Scandari’s rabbinic academy, and over the years he made considerable use of its library. Shimon Shtober, who has written extensively on Sambari, identifies him as belonging to the mustʿarbīm community, Jews whose ancestors had settled in Egypt in the early Middle Ages. Sambari’s literary works include a biblical study, Porat Yosef (A Fruitful Bough is Joseph), which treated the Masora and biblical cantillation (see Grammar and Masora). The manuscript of this treatise, located at the Alliance Israélite Universelle Library (Paris), has not been critically edited and published. His Sefer Divre Ḥakhamim

Cairo Collection, The

(614 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Hary
The  Cairo Collection consists of more than one hundred photocopied manuscripts, mostly from Egypt, dating from the eighteenth through the twentieth century. In the 1980s this collection was brought from a synagogue in Cairo to the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem. Most of the manuscripts are Jewish liturgical texts written in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Judeo-Arabic. The documents in the collection have made it possible to reconstruct ma…

Cairene Purim, the

(616 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Hary
Cairene Purim is a local holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jews of Cairo in 1524 from Aḥmad Pasha, a tyrannical Ottoman governor. Aḥmad, the third vizier of Sulaymān I (Suleiman the Magnificent), arrived in Egypt in January 1524. Disappointed by the governorship, because he had hoped that Sulaymān would promote him to a higher post, he left no doubt as to his intention to establish his own sultanate in Egypt. Forming an alliance with the Mamluks, he ordered his name to be mentioned in Friday sermons at local mosques, instructed the head of the mint, a Jew named Abraham Castro, to strike coins in his name, and proclaimed himself sultan of Egypt. Fearing the consequences, Castro fled to Istanbul to report to Sulaymān. When Aḥmad discovered that Castro had betrayed him, he took revenge on the Jews of Cairo, of whose wealth he was in need. On February 9, 1524, Aḥmad won a fierce battle against Sulaymān’s loyalists and established himself in the citadel of Cairo. He taxed the citizens heavily and gave over the ḥārat i l-yahūd (Jewish quarter) to the Mamluks, who plundered and looted it, killing at least five Jews. However, opposition to the pasha grew and three Egyptian officers who were loyal to Sulaymān organized a force that attacked Aḥmad. He fled to the desert on February 22, 1524, assembling loyal Circassian and Bedouin troops. Back in Cairo, the three officers retook the citadel, and on March 4, they finally caught and killed Aḥmad Pasha. Ibrāhīm Pasha, Sultan Sulaymān’s first vizier, was sent to Cairo to reorganize the administration there.…


(3,440 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Hary
Hypercorrection (also called overcorrectness) is one kind of ‘linguistic correction’, best termed ‘pseudocorrection’ (Blau 1970). Pseudocorrections result from speakers' and writers' desire to speak and to write a more prestigious variety and to avoid stigmatized forms. For example, in England, tension between social dialects has persistently caused speakers and writers to employ various hypercorrections. One important determinant of social status has been the pronunciation of the glottal fricat…
Date: 2018-04-01

Bible Translations

(8,318 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Hary | David Bunis | Dalia Yasharpour | Meira Polliack
1. Judeo-Arabic (Ninth to Thirteenth Century) In ancient and medieval times, Jews translated the Hebrew Bible into their spoken tongues, such as Greek, Aramaic, and Arabic (as well as many other languages and vernaculars employed in specific periods and places). Unlike the various degrees of prohibition regarding scriptural translation in Islamic (as well as Christian) medieval lore and theology, there was no halakhic or theological prohibition of scriptural translation per se among the Jews, although ther…