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Native to Israel
Native speakers
60,000 in Israel (1995)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-2 jpr
ISO 639-3 jpr
Glottolog jude1257[2]

Judeo-Persian refers to both a group of Jewish dialects spoken by the Jews living in Iran and Judeo-Persian texts (written in Hebrew alphabet). As a collective term, Judeo-Persian refers to a number of Judeo-Iranian languages spoken by Jewish communities throughout the formerly extensive Persian Empire.[3]

The speakers refer to their language as Fārsi. Some non-Jews refer to it as "dzhidi" (also written as "zidi", "judi", or "jidi"), which means "Jewish" in a derogatory sense.[3]

Judeo-Persian is basically the Persian language written in Hebrew Alphabet. However, it is often confused with other Judeo-Iranian languages and dialects spoken by the Iranian Jewish communities, such as Judeo-Shirazi, Judeo-Hamadani, and Judeo-Kashani. [4]

Persian words in Hebrew and Aramaic

The earliest evidence of the entrance of Persian words into the language of the Israelites is found in the Bible. The post-exilic portions, Hebrew as well as Aramaic, contain besides many Persian proper names and titles, a number of nouns, such as dat (or daad in current Persian) = "law", genez (or ganj in current Persian) = "treasure", pardes (or pardis or ferdos in current Persian) = "park" (which is the main root of the English word "paradise"), which came into permanent use at the time of the Achaemenid Empire.

More than five hundred years after the end of that dynasty, the Jews of the Babylonian diaspora again came under the dominion of the Persians; and among such Jews the Persian language held a position similar to that held by the Greek language among the Jews of the West. Persian became to a great extent the language of everyday life among the Jews of Babylonia; and a hundred years after the conquest of that country by the Sassanids, an amora of Pumbedita, Rab Joseph (d. 323 CE), declared that the Babylonian Jews had no right to speak Aramaic, and should instead use either Hebrew or Persian. Aramaic, however, remained the language of the Jews in Israel as well as of those in Babylonia, although in the latter country a large number of Persian words found their way into the language of daily intercourse and into that of the schools, a fact which is attested by the numerous Persian derivatives in the Babylonian Talmud. But in the Aramaic Targum there are very few Persian words, because after the middle of the third century the Targumim on the Pentateuch and the Prophets were accepted as authoritative and received a fixed textual form in the Babylonian schools. In this way they were protected from the introduction of Persian elements.


There is an extensive Judeo-Persian poetic religious literature, closely modeled on classical Persian poetry. The most famous poet was Mowlānā Shāhin-i Shirāzi (14th century CE), who composed epic versifications of parts of the Bible, such as the Musā-nāmah (an epic poem recounting the story of Moses); later poets composed lyric poetry of a Sufi cast. Much of this literature was collected around the beginning of the twentieth century by the ּּBukharian rabbi Shimon Hakham, who founded a printing press in Israel.

Biblical epics

Mishnah and midrash

  • Emrāni: Ganj-nāmah (The Book of Treasure): Poetic elaboration on the mishnaic tractate of Abot[6]

Biblical commentaries

Historical texts

  • Bābāi b. Lutf: Kitab-i Anusi (The Book of a Forced Convert)
  • Bābāi b. Farhād: Kitāb-i Sar guzasht-i Kāshān (The Book of Events in Kashan)[7]

Religious poems

See also


  1. ^ Judeo-Persian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Judeo-Persian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b "JUDEO-PERSIAN COMMUNITIES viii. JUDEO-PERSIAN – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  4. ^ Habib Borjian, “What is Judeo-Median—and How Does it Differ from Judeo-Persian?” Journal of Jewish Languages, vol. 2, no. 2, 2014, pp. 117-142. [1].
  5. ^ a b c Moreen, Vera Basch (tr. and ed.), In Queen Esther's Garden: An Anthology of Judeo-Persian Literature (Yale Judaica): Yale 2000, ISBN 978-0-300-07905-0
  6. ^ Yeroushalmi, David. "The Judeo-Persian Poet'Emrani and His Book of Treasure." Leiden: Brill (1995).
  7. ^ Bābāī b. Farhād was the author of "Kitāb-iSar-Guzasht-i Kāshān dar bāb-i ʿibrī va Goy-imi-yi Sānī" (The Book of Events in Kashan, concerning the Jews; Their second conversion), the second Judeo-Persian chronicle in verse known thus far. It covers selected events between 1721 and 1731. Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, by Vera Basch Moreen, p 2 sq
  8. ^ Loeb, Laurence D. Outcaste: Jewish Life in Southern Iran. Vol. 31. Routledge, 2011.
  9. ^ נצר, אמנון. "מוסיקה של קודש ושל חול בקרב יהודי פרס." פעמים: רבעון לחקר (in Hebrew). קהילות ישראל במזרח. 1984. pp. 163–181.
  10. ^ Chehabi, Houchang Esfandiar; Soroudi, Sorour Sarah. Persian literature and Judeo-Persian culture: collected writings of Sorour S. Soroudi. Harvard University Press, 2010.


  • Judæo-Persian (from the 1906 Public Domain Jewish Encyclopedia)
  • Vera Basch Moreen (tr. and ed.), In Queen Esther's Garden: An Anthology of Judeo-Persian Literature (Yale Judaica): Yale 2000, ISBN 978-0-300-07905-0
  • Moreen, Vera B. "The Legend of Adam in the Judeo-Persian Epic" Bereshit [Nāmah]"(14th Century)." Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research. American Academy of Jewish Research, 1990.

External links

  • Judeo-Persian Literature, Encyclopædia Iranica
  • Judeo-Persian Language, Encyclopædia Iranica
  • Jewish dialect of Isfahan, Encyclopædia Iranica
  • Judæo-Persian literature (from Jewish Encyclopedia)
  • Article from Jewish Languages site
  • A tantalising find from the Jews of medieval Afghanistan
  • On Judeo-Persian Language and Literature | Part One: State of the Field
  • Video Archive of Authentic Dialects 7dorim.com (Persian)
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