SINDABAR (or Sindbad, Sindabot), Indian sage who is the hero of an ancient book, Mishlei Sindabar (Parables of Sindbad) or Sippurei Sindabar (Tales of Sindbad), a collection of short stories of Buddhist origin. These belong to the type of stories dealing with the life of Asoka, "defender of the faith of Buddha," but in the course of time foreign motifs were blended into them. After many transmutations this book reached world literature, including Hebrew literature, by way of Arabic. In almost every language the names became distorted and the form of the stories underwent changes. The medieval translations were generally adaptations, every translator introducing changes in the original text, leaving out some things and adding others, and finally changing the stories round as he saw fit. Because of all these adaptations it is at times impossible to discern the original text on which the collection rested. The Hebrew book called Mishlei Sindbad exists in various MSS, having first been printed in Constantinople in 1516 and appearing in five subsequent editions. Neither the translator nor his source is known. The Hebrew text is therefore an important source in investigating the history of the work. The framework of the stories is simple: An Indian king has a son in his old age. When the latter is seven years old the king entrusts him to Sindabar, "the chief sage of India," to teach him wisdom and knowledge. The son grows up to become the wisest man in the realm. Just as the prince is about to return to his father, he and Sindabar see in the stars that if upon reaching home the prince does not preserve complete silence for the first seven days, but speaks like other men, he will be killed. The prince returns and the king is greatly troubled by his silence, for which he does not know the reason. The king has 80 wives, one of whom loves the prince. She tries to entice him to kill his father and rule in his stead. Shocked by what she says, the prince is silent. Fearing that he will expose her behavior to his father, the woman tells the king that the prince has tried to rape her and begs that he be condemned to death. When this becomes known to the king's seven advisers they go to him one by one to try and persuade him not to kill the prince. They tell him moving stories to influence him. The woman then comes to contradict the advisers, telling suitable stories of her own. When the seven days of silence are over the prince tells his father the truth. The king wishes to kill his wife, but the prince is sorry for her and begs his father to pardon her. The king recognizes the wisdom of his son, the pupil of Sindabar. This book is also known in another Hebrew version, based on an Italian translation called Parables of Erasto by Isaac Uziel (15–16th centuries), published in Jerusalem in 1945.   The Hebrew version has been translated into Yiddish, German, and English (Tales of Sendebar (1967), tr. by M. Epstein). See fiction , The Romance in Hebrew Literature. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: P. Kassel (ed.), Mishlei Sindbad (1888); A.M. Habermann (ed.), Mishlei Sindbad (1946); M. Epstein (ed. and tr.) Tales of Sendebar (1967). (Abraham Meir Habermann)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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