A Judeo-Arabic mystery book

I’ve been going through my old Hebrew manuscripts, and came across a fragment that I’ve been wondering about for many years. It hails from Yemen, and it’s written in Hebrew characters – but it’s Arabic. My guess is that it’s some sort of medical treatise or maybe an esoteric work. Since my readership has expanded over the years, I’m hoping that somebody might be able to shed some light on this. Here are three pages from it:

judeo Arabic1

judeo Arabic2

I transliterated the headings back into Arabic characters as best I could (I’m sure there are errors):

ألقبض ألخإرج من ألطريق وألقبض ألدآخل

ألقول علي ألقبض ألدآخل

ألقبض ألخآرج  من ألكوسج

ألضآحك من ألإجتمآع

 ألضآحك من آلبيض

 ألضآحك من آلأعتبه

I understand a few of the words, but not enough to grasp the overall meaning. Any help would be appreciated.

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4 Responses to A Judeo-Arabic mystery book

  1. jewamongyou says:

    What does this have to do with the post? If you posted this comment here by accident, then let me know which post you intended to comment on.

  2. Zimriel says:

    As الضاحك this has to do with laughter, which firstly doesn’t make sense in this context and secondly the dotted (emphatic) צ / tzade would surely be Arabic ẓal (ظ) today. There are various controversies about how the first Arabs pronounced ḍ and ṣ, up to Sibawayh; but the current pronunciation of official Arabic has been fairly consistent since the Crusades I believe.

    And given that this is JudaeoArabic, I think this is a fairly late-mediaeval text. So dotted-tzade is ẓal here.

    If so then the word would be الظاحك which is “premolar”. So we may have a dental text on our hands.

    • Zimriel says:

      Found a glossary. It would appear that the Arabs themselves don’t seem to distinguish much between ظ and ض outside the Qur’an and classical literature so, you may have been right all along.

    • jewamongyou says:

      The Hebrew letter צ is the equivalent of Arabic ص and the Arabic ض, is sometimes used in its stead. Hence Hebrew צחק is the same as Arabic ضحق . Even though most Arabs don’t pronounce the difference between ض and ظ the spelling is faithful to history. I couldn’t find the word for premolar you describe in my faithful al-Mawrid Arabic dictionary. It lists a word that looks like (it’s a tiny font) قبطاحن and all the traditional words for molar, and premolar, contain the word for “grind” طاحن (Tahhin – the same root as tehina/tahini).

      Thanks for looking into this!

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