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The Secular Hebrew Poet As Culture Hero In The Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

Secular Hebrew poetry in the Middle Ages constituted but one aspect - although a very important one - of the new Jewish culture that was created in the Muslim-Arab world in the 10th century. The actual change in the status of the poets as culture heroes began toward the mid-10th century, but it was not due to the poems written for the synagogue but to secular verse that had no connection with religious life. The prestige of the Arab poet stemmed, as well, from the fact that the poem was in effect the only spiritual field of creativity, apart from the Islamic religion, that the Arabs brought with them from the Arabian peninsula. In Ibn Ezra's view, then, the Hebrew poet fulfills a national-religious mission. The affinity of poetry and Torah learning is seen, too, in the fact that Mose ibn Ezra took pains to point to several poets' greatness in Torah.

Keywords: Arab poet; culture hero; Hebrew Poet; Moše ibn Ezra



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