Throughout Talmud Yerushalmi, there are references to סרקייא. The translation I am using translates it "Saracen," but that seems anachronistic. One reference in Bava Metzia indicates it is a non-Jewish group, but I'm wondering if anyone has specifics? Perhaps a Rishon commented on who they were? Thanks!

  • 2
    Why anachronistic? Wikipedia cites the name from as early as the second century
    – b a
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 1:35
  • It's not a Yeshmaeli?
    – sam
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 4:33

1 Answer 1


According to Google, a Saracen is

a nomad of the Syrian and Arabian desert at the time of the Roman Empire.

Jastrow's Dictionary concurs with this. Most likely your translation put Jastrow in consideration when translating. Most English versions of the Talmud (especially among the older variety) used Jastrow as a primary resource for vocabulary definitions.

סַרְקִי m. (v. סְרָק) [desert-dweller,] pr. n. Sarḳí (Saracenus), a nomadic trading tribe (v. Sm. Dict. Rom. a. Greek Geogr. s. v. Saraceni). Gen. R. s. 48 אחד נדמה לו בדמות ס׳ וכ׳ Ar. (ed. סרקי, corr. acc.) one of the angels appeared to him as a Sarḳí, one asa Nabatæan &c.; Yalk. ib. 82 סִירְקִי.—Pl. סַרְקִין, סַרְקִיִּין. Y’lamd. to Num. XXIV, 6; Yalk. Num. 771 (ref. to אֲהָלִים, Num. l. c.) בקש לעשותן כאֹהָלִים של ס׳ וכ׳ he (Balaam) wanted to make them like the tents of the Saracens which are removed from place to place. Y. Yoma VI, 43ᶜ bot. הס׳ אוכלין אותו the desert dwellers ate it (the scape-goat that escaped death).

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