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Many (most?) piyyutim have some sort of rhyme to them. Unlike alphabetic acrostics, for example, rhyming does not appear in Tanach. What is the earliest source of rhymes in Jewish texts?

(If R' Elazar HaKalir was the son of R' Shimon bar Yochai, as some maintain, he was probably the first to use rhyming. But there are many who argue with this claim.)

  • Almost all Hebrew rhymes because of hebrew rules of grammar. – avi May 7 '14 at 9:04
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There is rhyming in Tanach. For example:

Genesis 4:23

וַיֹּאמֶר לֶמֶךְ לְנָשָׁיו: עָדָה וְצִלָּה שְׁמַעַן קוֹלִי \ נְשֵׁי לֶמֶך הַאְזֵנָּה אִמְרָתִי \ כִּי אִישׁ הָרַגְתִּי לְפִצְעִי \ וְיֶלֶד לְחַבֻּרָתִי

Deuteronomy 32:1-2, 6

וְתִשְׁמַע הָאָרֶץ, אִמְרֵי-פִי \ יַעֲרֹף כַּמָּטָר לִקְחִי \ תִּזַּל כַּטַּל אִמְרָתִי

הֲלוֹא-הוּא אָבִיךָ קָּנֶךָ \ הוּא עָשְׂךָ וַיְכֹנְנֶךָ

Proverbs 6:9-10

עַד-מָתַי עָצֵל תִּשְׁכָּב \ מָתַי תָּקוּם מִשְּׁנָתֶךָ \ מְעַט שֵׁנוֹת \ מְעַט תְּנוּמוֹת \ מְעַט חִבֻּק יָדַיִם לִשְׁכָּב

Additional examples can be found in

Ha'Azinu and in V'Zoht ha'Bracha. [likchi - imrati; k's'irim - v'chirvivim; kanecha - vayechonenecha; yesovevenhu - y'vonenehu - yitzrenu; tumecha - v'urecha - chasidecha; etc.] Think of Shirat Devorah (Shoftim 5) [chadashim - she'arim; mashabim - la'she'arim; lakachu - nilchamu. Also Shmuel Bet 22 (sal'i - um'tzudati - u'mfalti).

Then of course most of Yeshayahu and in Trei Asar. [e.g. Yeshayahu 1: petza - v'chabura - u'maka tri'a; 3 (ha'avasim - v'hashvisim - v'hasaharonim; ha'machalatzot - v'hama'atafot- v'hamitpachot). (Source)

The Wikipedia article on Biblical Poetry contains additional information.

Recommended reading: "The Art of Biblical Poetry" by Robert Alter

  • 2
    My favourite: Exodus 29:35 rhymes ככה with אתכה. – magicker72 May 6 '14 at 18:42
  • @magicker72 especially since that's pretty much a made up word (the way we pronounce it) – הנער הזה Jul 10 '14 at 5:19
  • @Matt I'm not sure what you mean. Both words appear other times in Torah (eg. Num 8:26 or Num 22:33). – magicker72 Jul 10 '14 at 11:02
  • @magicker72 not the way it's pronounced there (אתכה) – הנער הזה Jul 10 '14 at 20:31
  • @Matt That's just the pausal form. It's very common (eg. לְךָ becomes לָךְ). – magicker72 Jul 10 '14 at 20:39

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