(2,754 words)

1. Judeo-Arabic

As in many traditional cultures, Arabic-speaking Jews drew upon a rich lexicon of proverbs, maxims, and aphorisms in both oral and written expression. These gnomic expressions, in addition to being original creations, derived from a variety of sources. The specifically Jewish sources included biblical and rabbinic literature, and the principal non-Jewish source was the local Arab milieu. Specifically Muslim dicta from the Qur’an and ḥadīth rarely entered Judeo-Arabic usage. Rather, it was popular colloquial aphorisms that were shared. As S. D. Goitein pointed out, the vernacular proverbs of the Arab world do not derive to any real extent from classical pre-Islamic proverbs, such as those preserved in al-Maydānī’s collection

Cite this page
Norman A. Stillman, Galit Hasan-Rokem and Ora Schwarzwald, “Proverbs”, in: Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Consulted online on 19 November 2017 <>
First published online: 2010
First print edition: ISBN: 978900417678, 3651

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