Cambridge University Library

September 2009

T-S Misc.7.140: an early copy of the Guide

The Genizah is blessed with numerous manuscripts containing parts of Moses Maimonides’ Dalālāt al-Ḥā’irīn, the Guide for the Perplexed. What distinguishes the present fragment, which is the very end of the Guide, from many others is that it seems to be a very early copy. Judging by the handwriting it was probably written no later than the early thirteenth century, so it may even have been made while Maimonides was still alive. Does its proximity to the time of composition give it a greater reliability than more recent recensions of the work?

The fragment contains several minor differences from the printed edition that scholars use today; these are tabulated below. In a few of these cases the principal scholarly version (Munk 1931) corrects some non-standard uses of Arabic and alters the plene spelling of biblical quotations. One of the differences might attest to a calque in the published version, although it is difficult to be certain. The phrase על ידי appearing in the manuscript seems to be an instance of the Hebrew expression, while in the published version it appears as the Arabic עלי ידי (used in the same sense as the Hebrew). On the verso, the first textual difference seems to be for the purpose of clarification. The fragment has the Arabic term faṣl, 'section, part, chapter', which is quite ambiguous. In the published version the change to Hebrew pasūq shows that the reference is to the biblical verse quoted rather than the chapter as a whole. Finally, the phrase אמן is missing from before the closing poem. Likewise, the final statement of completion is absent, but it could have been on another page.

A major difference that would considerably alter the meaning of the text is אלגזיאת, where ז appears in place of א; this changes the meaning of the word from ġāya, ‘goal,’ to juz’, ‘part’. While it is possible to make sense of the manuscript reading, I think that Munk's version presents the more likely reading: the earliest manuscripts are not always the most reliable!


T-S Misc.7.140

T-S Misc.7.140, recto: Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed


T-S Misc.7.140 reading — Munk edition


Line 5: אשראף אלגזיאת for line 13: אשרף אלגאיאת
Line 7: וידוע for line 15: וידע
Line 7: אן? for line 15: או
Line 8: Ø for line 16: כי
Line 10: נעני for line 18: יעני
Line 15: מהמול for line 23: 'מהמלה
Line 16: על for line 24: עלי
Line 16: סייד for line 24: סיד


Line 4: אלפצל for line 3: אלפסוק
Line 7: הי for line 5: הו
Line 8: דאימה for line 6: דאימא
Line 13: אלתאמר for line 9: אלתאמל
Line 14: Ø for line 10: תעלי
Line 15: תשמע for line 12: תפתחנה
Line 16: (הא(רץ for line 13: בארץ
Line 17: נוגה for line 13: נגה


T-S Misc.7.140, verso

T-S Misc.7.140, verso: Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed



S. Munk, دلالة الحائرين דלאלה אלחאירין (ספר מורה נבוכים) לרבנו משה בן מימון, המקור הערבי לפי הוצאת שלמה בן אליעזר מונק , בצרוף חלופי נוסחאות, מפתחות וקטעים מכתב ידו של הרמב׳׳ם (Defus ‘Azri’el: Jerusalem, 1931).

Daniel Davies

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