The mudawwin Revisited: Yefet Ben Eli on the Composition of the Book of Proverbs

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

Fall 2016


Yefet ben Eli, a medieval Jewish Karaite scholar, considers Solomon the primary author of the Book of Proverbs. However, he suggests that Solomon first conveyed the material orally and that the acts of recording, compilation and arrangement of the book took place after his time. Being conscious of his own writing, voice and presence, he notices the footprints of the editorial process in Scripture. For him, Scripture was of divine origin, but needed to be recorded by human hands. In his commentary on Proverbs, Yefet points to clues in the text, and the structure of the book, in order to delineate the literary process that resulted in the book as it has come down to us. His reconstruction includes models of recording and transmission as envisioned in his mind. Yefet identifies the mudawwins of Proverbs, those who wrote, recorded, redacted, narrated and/or copied the text.