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Moses Ibn Ezra and Judah Halevi: Their Philosophies in Response to Exile

JAN D. KATZEW
Hebrew Union College Annual
Vol. 55 (1984), pp. 179-195
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23507614
Page Count: 17
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Moses Ibn Ezra and Judah Halevi: Their Philosophies in Response to Exile
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Abstract

The writings of Moses Ibn Ezra and Judah Halevi epitomize the literary achievements attained by Jews in the medieval period. Both men lived in Spain at the turn of the twelfth century, though Ibn Ezra and Halevi differed on essential issues that faced Medieval Spanish Jewry. Both lived in exile. It is the character of their perceptions of exile that receives treatment in this essay. A crucial issue on which these two masterful poets diverged was the doctrine of Arabiyya, or Arab superiority. Halevi's yearning for Zion stood in contradistinction to Ibn Ezra's profound appreciation of Arabic culture. Their thoughts on exile were inextricably bound up with their philosophical approaches in general and with their attitudes toward the land of Israel in particular. Whatever sense of exile from the land of Israel Ibn Ezra possessed was connected to the eschaton, whereas Halevi demonstrated, by word and deed, the immediacy of his longing for a return to his "home" in the land of milk and honey. Nevertheless, Moses Ibn Ezra and Judah Halevi represented two foci of a debate that has yet to be resolved.

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