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SAMUEL HA-NAGID (993-1055).

Statesman, poet, Talmudic scholar, and grammarian. Born in Cordova, Spain, he was forced by anti-Jewish persecution to flee to Malaga, where he studied both Jewish and secular subjects. Samuel’s learning and wisdom attracted the attention of the vizier Abu-al-Kasim, who appointed Samuel his confidential secretary. On the vizier’s death, Samuel became counselor and prime minister to the king of Granada. For thirty years, he had overseen the political, financial, and military affairs of the kingdom. The kingdom of Granada prospered, due largely to Samuel’s discretion and sagacity. While holding high political office, Samuel was also the spiritual leader, or Nagid, of the Jewish community. He supported men of letters and institutions of learning, not only in Spain, but also in Egypt, Babylonia, and other Jewish settlements. He found the time to teach the Talmud, as well as to write works of grammar. Samuel Ha-Nagid opened the golden era of Hebrew poetry in Spain. He was the first to write secular poetry; his unique war poems describe military campaigns vividly.

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