Page 253 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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WEINBERGER /THE LITURGICAL POETRY OF SAMUEL IBN NAGRELA
245
of Ismail Ibn Abbad of Seville on October 5, 1039. In recounting
the event, the Nagid, commanding the troops of Granada, is
struck by the size and strength of the enemy which appears
to be vastly superior to the forces of Ibn Abbas which he de­
feated the year before. In the thick of battle, he sees the Angel
of Death hovering over the men in combat. At that moment,
he writes:
,D^yr
Vip>3 mum lmsnn
own ’mana
d
,
i
713T piw ’39 *□ mVnV /,3,?3 THU'on anx nyV
(“I raised my voice pronouncing the Name of God, honored
and awesome, as do the seventy Standard Bearers,
I had prepared it for use in times of distress in petitioning
the Dweller in the Heavens”)
Did Ibn Nagrela actually pronounce the Ineffable Name of
God? Was not this practice limited to the High Priest on the
Day of Atonement in Temple times [Yoma 39b]? Apparently
not. In a
tefilla
composed by Rav Saadia Gaon ni3N non "D1T
(“He remembers the loving kindness of the Fathers”)16 we read
(lines I79ff): “Our Fathers knew how to pronounce the Inef­
fable Name; the Firm Foundations of the Earth invoked it when­
ever they were in danger.” To understand the reference to the
seventy Standard Bearers one is required to consult the
Pirqe
de Rabbi Eliezer
, 24: “The Holy One Blessed be He called to
the seventy angels who surround the throne of his glory, and
He said to them: Come let us descend and let us confuse the
seventy nations . . . The Holy One, blessed be He descended
with the seventy angels who surround the throne of his glory,
and they confused their speech into seventy nations and seventy
languages.17
After returning victorious from the wars the Nagid is stricken
ill whereupon he composes the
shirah
VxV111310 (“I am obliged
to God for his goodness”18 In it he draws a graphic portrait
of the horrors of war and complains about his illness from which
he has not found relief for the past three months. Yet “there
is a blessing in that,” he writes (in line 41) “since the suffering
settles my account with God, although to some it is mere ca­
16. Cf.
Ha-Askolah Ha-Paytanit Shel Rav Saadia Gaon,
ed. M. Zulay (Jerusalem,
1964), pp. 212-226 .
17. Cf.
Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer,
ed. A.A. Broda (Vilna, 1838), chap. 24.
18. Cf.
Divan Shmuel Hanagid,
pp. 52-56.