AL-QIBLAH AND BE’ER ZAMZAM

Saadia Gaon qiblah.jpg

Saadia’s Targum, Sefer Bereshit 24:62

וכאן אסחק קד גא פי מגיה מן אלביר אלתי ללחי אלנטאר והו מקים פי בלד אלקבלה.

Wa kana Ishaq qad ja’a fi maji’ihi min al-bi’r allati lil-Hay Al-Nadhir wa huwa muqim fi balad Al-Qiblah.

(“And Isaac came in the way of Be’er Lahai Roi and he dwelt in the country of Al-Qiblah”),

(See J. Derenbourg, Version Arabe du Pentateuque de R. Saadia Ben Iosef Al-Fayyoumi (Paris: Ernest Leroux, Editeur, 1893), p. 37.

Ibn Ezra’s commentary on Sefer Bereshit 16:14

באר לחי לאשר יהיה חי לשנה האחרת. כי בכל שנה היו חוגגים הישמעאלים אל הבאר הזות גם היום יקרא באר זמזם

Be’er Lachai la’asher yihyeh chay lash-shanah ha-acheret. Ki be chol shanah hayu Hoggim ha-Yishmaelim el ha-Be’er hazzot gam hayyom yiqqare Be’er Zamzam.

“Be’er Lachai means the well of him who will be alive next year. The well was so called because the Ishmaelites held the Hajj at this well. It is still in existence and is called the well of Zamzam”, see Asher Weiser, Ibn Ezra: Perushi ha-Torah le Rabbainu Avraham Ibn Ezra (Yerushalayim: Mossad Harav Kook, 1977), p. 151

Saadia’s Targum, Sefer Bereshit 16:7

פוגדהא מלאך אללה עלי עין מא פי אלבריה עלי אלעין פי טריק חגר אלחיגאז

Fa wajadaha malak ALLAH ‘ala ‘ain ma’in fi al-bariyyah, ‘ala al-‘ain allati fi thariq Hajr Al-Hijaz.

(see J. Derenbourg, Version Arabe du Pentateuque de R. Saadia Ben Iosef Al-Fayyoumi. Paris: Ernest Leroux, Editeur, 1983), p. 24

Based on the rabbinical texts, Isaac came in the way of well of Zamzam (Ibn Ezra’s commentary, Sefer Bereshit 16:14; 24:62), he dwelt in the country of Al-Qiblah (Saadia’s Targum, Sefer Bereshit 24:62), which Al-Qiblah was in the South, in Hajr Al-Hijaz (Saadia’s Targum, Sefer Bereshit 16:7).

Negev, according to Saadia’s is the Qiblah, to refer to the HOLY PLACE, not only a place (an sich). In Saadia’s Targum, Negev is not Jerusalem as the (future) Qiblah. But Negev is the (future) Qiblah itself which lies in the south of Judea.

According to Rabbi Samson Rapael Hirsch – Hebron, now the name of Hebron beforetime was Kiriath Arba also lies in Judea, not in Negev. According to him, Negev exactly means ערבה (Arabia). When Abraham lived in Mamre, district of Hebron (south of Jerusalem), Abraham then took a journey to the Negev, to the SOUTH, to the Qiblah. So, Abraham took a journey to the Qiblah in Arabia, not to the Qiblah in Judea. Obviously,
Isaac also took a journey to Be’er Lachai Roi, the Be’er Zamzam, a holy place in the South, a holy place of the Ishmaelites and Abraham dwelt. It is so clear.

Our topic here is about the meaning of THE QIBLAH correctly according to Saadia’s on the Sefer Bereshit 12:9. So, we have to compare the other traditional rabbinical sources, such as Ibnu Ezra, Rashi, Radak, Hirsch etc.

1. The Qiblah (Saadia Gaon).
2. The place of ADONAI (Rabbi Bachya ben Asher)
3. The Neqba – dry land, hot there (Ibn Ezra).
4. The South: the whole district from Jerusalem SOUTHWARDS which so called ערבה – ‘Araba, the wilderness territory (Hirsch).

Conclusion:

The Qiblah lies in ערבה (Araba), in the wilderness, not on the mount in Judea. The Qiblah lies in the South of Jerusalem, not in Jerusalem itself as the Qiblah.

Pls read Rashi’s words carefully, לדרומה של ארץ ישראל והיא לצד ירושלים (li-drumah shel eretz Yisrael ve hiya letzad Yerushalayim (to the South of the land of Israel which is the direction of Jerusalem). The keyword of Rashi’s words here is the preposition לצד which implies that it is not Jerusalem itself but “adjacent” or “on the side of.” Therefore we can be certain that what Rav Saadia Gaon meant was Mecca as the Qiblah, as the SOUTH in Arabian peninsula (Al Hejaz). In the Chamisha Chumshe Torah: Bereshit. The Pentateuch: Translated & Explained. Genesis, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch said:

“the South of Palestine was by no means the most flourishing part, the whole district from Jerusalem southwards is called in the book of Zacharia ערבה (‘Araba), meaning “Wilderness” (London: L. Honig & Sonss Ltd., 1963), p. 235.

The whole district from JERUSALEM SOUTHWARDS is called in the book of Zacharia ערכה (‘Araba), meaning WILDERNESS. What does it mean? THE SOUTH of Palestine is not JUDEA, but ערבה (‘ARABA) itself, and Jerusalem is not a part of ערבה (‘ARABA). Jerusalem as the (future) holy place is not a part of ערבה (Araba), and according to Rabbi Somson Raphael Hirsch it means that Jerusalem is not the Qiblah, Jerusalem is not a part of Araba, Jerusalem is not a part of the South, and Jerusalem is not a part of the Neqba. Hirsch’s commentary refers to the Genesis Rabbah 39:16 “And Abram journeyed, going on still toward THE SOUTH (xii,9): he drew a course and journeyed “TOWARD THE (FUTURE) SITE OF THE TEMPLE.” Which temple is it? Of course the temple site of the South, the temple site of Neqba, the temple site of ARABA. Now we understand that THE QIBLAH which was meant by Saadia’s must be the future temple site of Araba, not in Jerusalem.

So, what is the reason to think that Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s commentary and Bereshit (Genesis) Rabba 39:16. contradict with Saadia’s Judeo-Arabic Targum?

Nothing at all.

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