BEN HA-MELEKH VE-HA-NAZIR


BEN HA-MELEKH VE-HA-NAZIR
BEN HA-MELEKH VE-HA-NAZIR (Heb. בֶּן הַמֶּלֶדְ וְהַנָּזִיר "The Prince and the Hermit"), Hebrew version by Abraham b. Samuel ha-Levi Ibn Ḥasdai\>\> of an original Hindu tale about a prince who eventually became an ascetic. Balauhar and Budasaph, the names of the heroes of the tale in the old Pahlavi version, became Barlaam and Joasaph in the Greek version and Barlaam and Josaphat in the oldest Latin version (1048) and in later European translations. The Hebrew work is based on an Arabic version, but whether it is a translation or an adaptation cannot be determined until the Arabic text is established. Ben ha-Melekh ve-ha-Nazir is the account of a prince, Joasaph, sent by his father to a luxurious palace on an island in an effort to avert the fulfillment of a prophecy that he would become a Christian monk. When the prince discovers the reason for his confinement, he implores his father to allow him to return to the mainland. The king yields, and the son soon becomes aware of evil in the world, with consequent unrest in his heart. A monk, Barlaam, who comes disguised as a merchant (monks being prohibited in the land) gains access to the prince and gradually teaches him to realize the vanity of this world and the advantages of the ascetic life. Unlike the Greek and the Arabic tales, the Hebrew does not reintroduce the father, nor does it relate his efforts to undo the effects of the monk's instruction. Instead, it continues the discussion on philosophic and theological questions until the monk is obliged to leave and the prince feels bereft and lonely. The course of transmission of the original tale until it evolved into a world classic is complicated, with many problems still unresolved. In the European texts, the prince adopts the Christian faith of his preceptor. The Hindu original is obviously modeled after the life of Buddha. The Hebrew version is attractively written, and the prose narrative is interspersed with versified aphorisms. There is a Catalan translation by T. Calders (1987). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Peri (Pflaum), Der Religionsdisput der Barlaam-Legende (1959); Abraham b. Ḥasdai, Ben-ha-Melekh ve-ha-Nazir, ed. by A.M. Habermann (1951); F. Liebrecht, Zur Volkskunde (1879), 441–60; Steinschneider, Uebersetzungen, 863–7; E.A.W. Budge, Barlaam and Jewâsaf (1923); D.M. Lang, The Wisdom of Balahvar (1957); J. Jacobs, Barlaam and Josaphat (1896). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Calders, El Príncep i el monjo d'Abraham ben Semuel ha-Levi ibn Hasday (1987).

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • JUDAH BEN ISAAC — (14th or 15th century), author of a Hebrew treatise on music. Judah ben Isaac, who was probably a native of Southern France and seems to have been connected with the Jewish cultural renaissance in 14th century Provence, adapted his treatise from… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Abraham ben Samuel ibn Chasdai — Abraham ben Samuel (ha Levi) ibn Chasdai (* 12. oder 13. Jahrhundert, möglicherweise in Barcelona; † 1240 in Barcelona) war ein jüdischer Übersetzer und Dichter. Zahlreiche kulturgeschichtlich bedeutende arabische Werke philosophischer,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • IBN ḤASDAI, ABRAHAM BEN SAMUEL HA-LEVI — (early 13th century), translator and Hebrew poet in Barcelona. One of Maimonides staunchest adherents, he corresponded with Judah ibn Alfakhar and Meir ha Levi Abulafia to convince them to retract their opposition to Guide of the Perplexed.… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • ISRAELI, ISAAC BEN SOLOMON — (c. 855 c. 955), physician and philosopher. Born in egypt , Israeli emigrated at about the age of 50 to kairouan , capital of the maghreb , where ʿUbayd Allāh al Mahdī, founder of the Fatimid dynasty, appointed him court physician. His renown… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • MEIRI, MENAHEM BEN SOLOMON — (1249–1316), Provençal scholar and commentator of the Talmud. Meiri was born in Perpignan where he spent his whole life. His family, regarded as one of the most distinguished in Provence, originated from   Carcassonne and Narbonne. Few… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • ASHKENAZI, BEZALEL BEN ABRAHAM — (c. 1520–1591/94), talmudist and halakhic authority. Ashkenazi was born in Jerusalem or in Safed, where he studied in his youth under Israel di curiel . About 1540 he went to Egypt where he studied in Cairo under david b. solomon ibn Abi Zimra.… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • LITERATURE, JEWISH — Literature on Jewish themes and in languages regarded as Jewish has been written continuously for the past 3,000 years. What the term Jewish literature encompasses, however, demands definition, since Jews have lived in so many countries and have… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • TRANSLATION AND TRANSLATORS — The earliest Jewish translations, apart from possible examples in the Bible, are the Greek version of the Pentateuch and, later, other books of the Bible, which were made to fill a need in the Greek speaking Jewish community of Alexandria and… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • BUKHARA — BUKHARA, capital of the former khanate of the same name in Russian Central Asia, now within Uzbekistan (see Map: Bukhara). Introduction The Jews of Bukhara are an ethnic and linguistic group, concentrated in Central Asia, particularly in the area …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • JUDEO-PERSIAN — JUDEO PERSIAN, a form of Persian used by Jews and written in Hebrew characters. The oldest Judeo Persian texts are the earliest known records in the Persian language (see judeo persian Literature below). These consist of the inscriptions of Tang… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.