There's a vague verse in parshas Mishpatim which is a good prototype for my question:

מְלֵאָתְךָ֥ וְדִמְעֲךָ֖ לֹ֣א תְאַחֵ֑ר בְּכ֥וֹר בָּנֶ֖יךָ תִּתֶּן־לִּֽי׃

Literally: do not delay your full and mixed things. Give me your first born son.

Rashi has his interpretation, which makes the two halves of the verse unconnected.

The Ibn Ezra however brings an interpretation from Ben Zuta, a Karaite scholar, who from what I've heard, the Ibn Ezra wasn't so fond of.

The explanation brought is your full things refer to a pregnant woman, and mixed things refer to man's seed. The verse is therefore interpreted to mean do not delay marriage, so you can have kids, and give your first born to Hashem. This way, the verse fits nicely as a whole. See the Ibn Ezra's issue with this interpretation, which he rejects.

However, Mahari Kara, potentially a student of Rashi, interprets the verse the same way as Ben Zuta (click here and click his name). Rav Chaim Vital, in Sefer HaLikkutim parshas Mishpatim does as well. It's not definite that either of them had seen this comment from Ben Zuta, or Ibn Ezra, and perhaps they happened to interpret the verse in the same way.

I'm looking for other examples of this phenomenon, where a Rabbinic commentator gives the same explanation a Karaite scholar does, without quoting/citing them. These would be explanations that are either known as Karaite views, e.g. quoted by Rishonim as the Karaite view, or views that are known to have been held by Karaites, and that the significant majority of classical Rabbanic expositors do not agree with. That would preclude something like וידבר ה' אל משה. (Although I don't know if that disqualifies my prototype case.)

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    this probably happens all the time... Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 3:04
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    How can you be sure the interpretation doesn't originate from Rabbinic tradition? Ben Zuta, Ibn Ezra, and Mahari Kara are all contemporaries (10th Century). Perhaps Ben Zuta got it from Rabbinic sages, liked it, and incorporated it into his writings, and Ibn Ezra, thinking it to be Ben Zuta's personal interpretation, discounts it (or maybe he just didn't like the interpretation; maybe it has nothing to do with Ben Zuta being a Karaite).
    – ezra
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 3:20

2 Answers 2


Rashbam has an interpretation that appears to be the same as a Karaite interpretation.

The verse in Exodus 13:9 states:

וְהָיָה לְךָ לְאוֹת עַל יָדְךָ וּלְזִכָּרוֹן בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ לְמַעַן תִּהְיֶה תּוֹרַת ה' בְּפִיךָ כִּי בְּיָד חֲזָקָה הוֹצִאֲךָ יְהוָה מִמִּצְרָיִם

And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thy hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in thy mouth; for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt. (Mechon Mamre)

The standard rabbinic interpretation of this verse is that the "sign" and the "memorial" are the tefillin shel yad and the tefillin shel rosh. Moreover, the standard rabbinic interpretation understands "between thine eyes" as referring to a spot on top of the head as opposed to on the forehead.

Rashbam, however, interprets the sign metaphorically, and the memorial as referring to some kind of ornamental piece that is worn on the forehead:

לאות על ידך. לפי עומק פשוטו יהיה לך לזכרון תמיד כאילו כתוב על ידך כעין שימני כחותם על לבך

בין עיניך. כעין תכשיט ורביד זהב שרגילין ליתן על המצח לנוי

Rashbam's interpretation is the same as a Karaite interpretation. Nehemia Gordon (co-author of As it is written: The Brief Case for Karaism) writes in an article about tefillin:

Upon closer examination it becomes clear that this phrase is a figure of speech and not a command at all. The brilliant Rabbanite commentator Rashbam (Rashi's grandson) was wise enough to realize the true meaning of this expression.

Not only does he interpret tefillin metaphorically like Rashbam, he actually cites Rashbam as support!

(See, also, Wikipedia.)

  • If he cites the Rashbam as support, this fails the criterion that they not cite each other yet draw the same conclusion.
    – DonielF
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 2:38
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    @DonielF Nehemia Gordon is not the originator of this Karaite interpretation. I just cited him because he spells it out explicitly. And he is certainly not saying that the Karaites got this from Rashbam. He is just saying that even the Rabbanite Rashbam interpreted it this way. Also, the question only specified that the Rabbinic source not quote the Karaite source, but it did not specify that the Karaite source not quote the Rabbinic source.
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 2:45
  • Interesting diyuk in my wording ;-). I agree this is a Karaite interpretation but do you know of an explicit Karaite source who says it, to avoid confusion?
    – robev
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 3:14
  • @robev Not off the top of my head. But we can make another diyuk in your wording: These would be explanations that are either known as Karaite views, e.g. quoted by Rishonim as the Karaite view, or views that are known to have been held by Karaites
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 3:17

As I commented, this happens all the time. A good resource that mentions more of these occurrences (including when Chazal may agree with Karaite interpretations) is Rabbi Josh Waxman's Parshablog.

Here is an example from last week, where Ibn Ezra agrees with the Karaites against other mefarshim (and Chazal) in interpreting what לזנות בית אביה (Devarim 22:21) means. Chazal say that she was certainly already engaged when she committed this Aveirah, and therefore she is liable to receive the death penalty, based on a hekesh. Ibn Ezra says that we are unsure if she was already married, but that she still gets the death penalty, and the Karaite commentaries say this as well. See the linked article for details, but here is the final point:

Here is Aharon ben Eliyahu; and here is Aharon ben Yosef. Both are Karaites, and they present more or less the same as Ibn Ezra suggested.

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