Hebrew Language #17 Hebrew Literature #14 Families, works from France, Germany and the Levant

The fact that many of the most important works were written in Arabic, the vernacular of the Spanish Jews under the Moors, which was not understood in France, gave rise to a number of translations into Hebrew, chiefly by the family of Ibn Tibbōn (or Tabbōn). The first of them, Judah ibn Tibbōn, translated works of Baḥya ibn Paqūdah, Judah ha-levi, Seadiah, Abū’lwalīd and Ibn Gabirol, besides writing works of his own. He was a native of Granada, but migrated to Lunel, where he probably died about 1190.

His son Samuel, who died at Marseilles about 1230, was equally prolific. He translated the Mōreh Nebhūkhīm during the life of the author, and with some help from him, so that this may be regarded as the authorized version; Maimonides’ commentary on the Mishnah tractate Pirqē Abhōth, and some minor works; treatises of Averroes and other Arabic authors. His original works are mostly biblical commentaries and some additional matter on the Mōreh.

His son Moses, who died about the end of the 13th century, translated the rest of Maimonides, much of Averroes, the lesser Canon of Avicenna, Euclid’s Elements (from the Arabic version), Ibn al-Jazzār’s Viaticum, medical works of Ḥunain ben Isaac (Johannitius) and Razi (Rhazes), besides works of less-known Arabic authors. His original works are commentaries and perhaps a treatise on immortality.

His nephew Jacob ben Makhīr, of Montpellier (d. about 1304), translated Arabic scientific works, such as parts of Averroes and Ghazzali, Arabic versions from the Greek, as Euclid’s Data, Autolycus, Menelaus (מיליום) and Theodosius on the Sphere, and Ptolemy’s Almagest. He also compiled astronomical tables and a treatise on the quadrant. The great importance of these translations is that many of them were afterwards rendered into Latin,[The fullest account of them is to be found in Steinschneider’s Hebräische Übersetzungen des Mittelalters (Berlin, 1893).] thus making Arabic and, through it, Greek learning accessible to medieval Europe.

Another important family about this time is that of Qimḥi (or Qamḥi). It also originated in Spain, where Joseph ben Isaac Qimḥi was born, who migrated to S. France, probably for the same reason which caused the flight of Maimonides, and died there about 1170. He wrote on grammar (Sepher ha-galui and Sepher Zikkaron), commentaries on Proverbs and the Song of Solomon, an apologetic work, Sepher ha-berīth, and a translation of Baḥya’s Ḥōbhōth ha-lebhabhōth. His son Moses (d. about 1190) also wrote on grammar and some commentaries, wrongly attributed to Ibn Ezra.

A younger son, David (Radaq) of Narbonne (d. 1235) is the most famous of the name. His great work, the Mikhlōl, consists of a grammar and lexicon; his commentaries on various parts of the Bible are admirably luminous, and, in spite of his anti-Christian remarks, have been widely used by Christian theologians and largely influenced the English authorized version of the Bible. A friend of Joseph Qimḥi, Jacob ben Me’īr, known as Rabbenū Tam of Ramerupt (d. 1171), the grandson of Rashi, wrote the Sepher ha-yashar (ḥiddūshīn and responsa) and was one of the chief Tosaphists.

Of the same school were Menahem ben Simeon of Posquières, a commentator, who died about the end of the 12th century, and Moses ben Jacob of Coucy (13th century), author of the Semag (book of precepts, positive and negative) a very popular and valuable halakhic work.

A younger contemporary of David Qimḥi was Abraham ben Isaac Bedersi (i.e. of Béziers), the poet, and some time in the 13th century lived Joseph Ezobhi of Perpignan, whose ethical poem, Qeʽarath Yōseph, was translated by Reuchlin and later by others. Berachiah,[See H. Gollancz, The Ethical Treatises of Berachya (London, 19023] the compiler of the “Fox Fables” (which have much in common with the “Ysopet” of Marie de France), is generally thought to have lived in Provence in the 13th century, but according to others in England in the 12th century.

In Germany, Eleazar ben Judah of Worms (d. 1238), besides being a Talmudist, was an earnest promoter of kabbalistic studies. Isaac ben Moses (d. about 1270), who had studied in France, wrote the famous Or Zarūaʽ (from which he is often called), an halakhic work somewhat resembling Maimonides’ Mishneh Tōrah, but more diffuse. In the course of his wanderings he settled for a time at Würzburg, where he had as a pupil Me’īr of Rothenburg (d. 1293). The latter was a prolific writer of great influence, chiefly known for his Responsa, but also for his halakhic treatises, ḥiddūshīn and tōsaphōth. He also composed a number of piyyūṭīm. Me’īr’s pupil, Mordecai ben Hillel of Nürnberg (d. 1298), had an even greater influence through his halakhic work, usually known as the Mordekhai. This is a codification of halakhōth, based on all the authorities then known, some of them now lost. Owing to the fact that the material collected by Mordecai was left to his pupils to arrange, the work was current in two recensions, an Eastern (in Austria) and a Western (in Germany, France, &c.).

In the East, Tanḥūm ben Joseph of Jerusalem was the author of commentaries (not to be confounded with the Midrash Tanḥūmā) on many books of the Bible, and of an extensive lexicon (Kitāb al-Murshid) to the Mishnah, all in Arabic.

Hebrew Literature by Arthur Ernest Cowley


Ibn Tibbōn = Tabbōn: a family of Jewish translators, who flourished in Provence in the 12th and 13th centuries. They all made original contributions to philosophical and scientific literature, but their permanent fame is based on their translations. Between them they rendered into Hebrew all the chief Jewish writings of the middle ages. These Hebrew translations were, in their turn, rendered into Latin (by Buxtorf and others) and in this form the works of Jewish authors found their way into the learned circles of Europe.
The chief members of the Ibn Tibbon family were

(1) Judah Ben Saul (1120–1190), who was born in Spain but settled in Lunel. He translated the works of Baḥya, Halevi, Saadiah and the grammatical treatises of Janaḥ.

(2) His son, Samuel (1150–1230), translated the Guide of the Perplexed by Maimonides. He justly termed his father “the father of the Translators,” but Samuel’s own method surpassed his father’s in lucidity and fidelity to the original.

(3) Son of Samuel, Moses (died 1283). He translated into Hebrew a large number of Arabic books (including the Arabic form of Euclid).

(4) Jacob ben Machir ibn Tibbon = Jacob ben Makhīr of Montpellier = Prophatius = Don Profiat Tibbon = Profatius Judæus grandson of Samuel ben Judah ibn Tibbon. In the controversy between the Maimonists and the anti-Maimonists, Jacob defended science against the attacks of the Provençal rabbi Abba Mari ben Moses ben Joseph and his party. His works, translated into Latin, were quoted by Copernicus, Reinhold, and Clavius. He was also highly reputed as a physician, and, according to Jean Astruc (“Mémoires pour Servir à l’Histoire de la Faculté de Médecine de Montpellier,” p. 168), was regent of the faculty of medicine of Montpellier. Jacob became known by a series of Hebrew translations of Arabic scientific and philosophical works, and above all by two original works on astronomy.
The Ibn Tibbon family thus rendered conspicuous services to European culture, and did much to further among Jews who did not understand Arabic the study of science and philosophy.

Qimḥi = Kimchi = Qamḥi = Ḳamḥi family: the family name of Jewish grammarians and biblical scholars, the earliest known members of which lived at the end of the eleventh and in the twelfth century, and of three who worked at Narbonne in the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th, and exercised great influence on the study of the Hebrew language. The name, as is shown by manuscript testimony, was also pronounced Ḳamḥi and further mention is made of the French surname Petit.

Joseph Qimḥi =  Joseph Kimchi = Joseph Qamḥi = Joseph Ḳamḥi: a native of southern Spain, who settled in Provence, where he was one of the first to set forth in the Hebrew language the results of Hebraic philology as expounded by the Spanish Jews in their Arabic treatises. He was acquainted moreover with Latin grammar, under the influence of which he resorted to the innovation of dividing the Hebrew vowels into five long vowels and five short, previous grammarians having simply spoken of seven vowels without distinction of quantity. His grammatical textbook, Sefer Ha-Zikkaron, “Book of Remembrance” (ed. W. Bacher, Berlin, 1888), was marked by methodical comprehensiveness, and introduced into the theory of the verbs a new classification of the stems which has been retained by later scholars. In the far more ample Sefer Ha-Galuy, “Book of Demonstration” (ed. Matthews, Berlin, 1887), Joseph Ḳimḥi attacks the philological work of the greatest French Talmud scholar of that day, R. Jacob Tam, who espoused the antiquated system of Menaḥem b.Saruq, and this he supplements by an independent critique of Menaḥem. This work is a mine of varied exegetical and philological details. He also wrote commentaries — the majority of which are lost — on a great number of the scriptural books. Those on Proverbs and Job have been published. He composed an apologetic work under the title Sefer Ha-Berith (“Book of the Bond”), a fragment of which is extant, and translated into Hebrew the ethico-philosophical work of Baḥya ibn Paquda (“Duties of the Heart”). In his commentaries he also made contributions to the comparative philology of Hebrew and Arabic.

Moses Ḳimḥi was the author of a Hebrew grammar, known — after the first three words — as Mahalak Shebile Ha-daat, or briefly as Mahalak. It is an elementary introduction to the study of Hebrew, the first of its kind, in which only the most indispensable definitions and rules have a place, the remainder being almost wholly occupied by paradigms. Moses Ḳimḥi was the first who made the verb paqadh a model for conjugation, and the first also who introduced the now usual sequence in the enumeration of stem-forms. His handbook was of great historical importance as in the first half of the 16th century it became the favourite manual for the study of Hebrew among non-Judaic scholars (1st ed., Pesaro, 1508) the Jewish grammarian. Elias Levita wrote Hebrew explanations, and Sebastian Münster translated it into Latin. Moses Ḳimḥi also composed commentaries to the biblical books; those on Proverbs, Ezra and Nehemiah are in the great rabbinical bibles falsely ascribed to Abraham ibn Ezra.

Cervera Bible, David Qimhi’s Grammar Treatise

David Kimhi = David Kimchi = David Qimḥi = David Al-Ḳamḥi = RaDaK = ReDaḲ = Maistre Petit = Ha-Ḥitti: French grammarian; born in Narbonne, a city in southern France in the Occitania region 1160; died there 1235; youngest son of Joseph Ḳimḥi, and brother of Moses Ḳimḥi. His father having died while David was yet a child, the latter was brought up by his elder brother Moses. Later he supported himself by teaching Talmud to the young. He was well versed in the whole range of Hebrew literature, and became the most illustrious representative of his name. Later generations applied to him the saying from Abot (iii. 21), “Without ḳemaḥ [= “flour,” the etymon of the name “Ḳimḥi”] no Torah”; and he exerted an influence which is felt even today.

Works of the Kimhi family were underwritten by the Ibn Yahya family of Lisbon, Portugal.

Jacob ben Me’īr = Jacob ben Meïr Tam = Rabbenū Tam of Ramerupt: grandson of Rashi. Most prominent of French glossators or tosafists on the text of the Talmud. Born at Ramerupt, on the Seine, in 1100; died at Troyes June 9, 1171. His mother, Jochebed, was a daughter of Rashi. Rabbenu Tam received his education from his father, from Joseph Ṭob ‘Elem (Bonfils) II., and from his eldest brother, Samuel ben Meïr (RaSHBaM). After his father’s death Jacob conducted a Talmudic academy in Ramerupt.
On May 8, 1147, on the second day of the Feast of Weeks, a disorderly band who had attached themselves to the French Crusaders broke into his home, robbed him of everything except his books, dragged him into a field, insulted him on account of his religion, and decided to kill him. They inflicted five wounds upon his head, in order, as they said, to take revenge upon the most prominent man in Israel for the five blows which the Jews had dealt to Jesus. At that moment a prince of high rank happened to pass, and Jacob called upon him for protection, promising him a horse worth five marks in return. The prince thereupon bade the crusaders give the rabbi into his keeping, promising that he would either persuade him to be baptized or place him in their power again on the following day (Ephraim bar Jacob, in Neubauer and Stern, “Hebr. Berichte über die Judenverfolgungen Während der Kreuzzüge,” p. 64)
Shortly afterward, Jacob went to Troyes, not far away. It was probably there that the first French assembly of rabbis took place in 1160, for which the Rhinelands became celebrated. At this meeting it was laid down that disputes between Jew and Jew were not to be carried to a Christian court, but were to be settled by fraternal arbitration. New conditions of life had arisen owing to the closer terms on which Jews and Christians lived, and Jacob Tam was foremost in settling the terms which were to govern the relations, from the Jewish side. Many others of his practical ordinances (Takkanoth), connected with marriage and divorce, trade and proselytism, as well as with synagogue ritual, had abiding influence, and bear invariably the stamp of enlightened independence within the limits of recognized authoritative tradition and law. A second synod in Troyes, held after RaSHBaM’s death, renewed an old law of Narbonne which decreed that if a woman died childless within the first year after her marriage her husband, after deducting the equivalent of what she had used during the year, was to return her dowry and valuables to her parents or guardians.
A third synod, presided over by R. Tam and Moses of Pontoise, threatened with ex-communication any person who should question the legality of a deed of divorce on the ground that the document had not been written in the prescribed way. Other ordinances, doubtless passed at similar synods by R. Tam in conjunction with other French rabbis, were cited in the name of R. Tam alone, and correctly, in so far as they were due to his suggestion. Among them was the repetition of the ban uttered by R. Gershom against polygamy, and the regulation that men must not divorce or desert their wives except for sufficient cause; according to Halberstam MS. No. 45, p. 256 (now in Montefiore Library, No. 130; comp. H. Hirschfeld in “J. Q. R.” xiv. 195), in which this second regulation is cited in the name of R. Tam, only the exigencies of business or study are sufficient to justify a man in leaving his wife at any time.
It is said that R. Tam was very wealthy, and had official relations with the King of France (“Sefer ha-Yashar,” § 595), who favoured him (Abraham ben Solomon, in Neubauer, “M. J. C.” i. 102; Harkavy, “Ḥadashim gam Yeshanim,” supplement to the Hebrew edition of Graetz, “Hist.” vi. 6, note 10; Heilprin, “Seder ha-Dorot,” i. 208a). So far as is known, Jacob had two sons, Joseph and Solomon, and one daughter, who married in Ramerupt. The “Isaac ben Meïr” mentioned in the “Sefer ha-Yashar” (§§ 99, 252, 604) was his brother. When the news of the heroic death of the martyrs at Blois reached Jacob, he appointed Siwan 20 (in the year 1171 it was May 26) a day of fasting for the inhabitants of France, England, and of the Rhine provinces.
R. Tam’s chief work is his “Sefer ha-Yashar,” which contained both novellae and responsa, its main purpose to resolve Talmudic textual problems without resorting to emendations of the received text, a very poor edition of which was published in Vienna in 1811, from a manuscript; the second part, according to an Epstein manuscript, with the notes of Ephraim Solomon Margoliouth and his own, was reissued by F. Rosenthal, among the publications of the Meḳiẓe Nirdamim Society (Berlin, 1898).  Tam also authored a much-cited work of Biblical philology, Rulings of Rabbeinu Tam, in which he weighed in on the debates of Menahem b. Saruq and Dunash b. Labrat. He was also a poet and grammarian.

Moses ben Jacob of Coucy = Moses Mikkotsi = Moses Kotsensis (SeMaG): Moses’ maternal grandfather was Ḥayyim ben Hananeel ha-Kohen of Paris. Nothing is known of Moses’ life before he settled in Paris to study under Judah ben Isaac, the great French tosafist. He received instruction also from a certain Joseph (Tos. Yeshanim to Yoma 11a, 70b), who can not be positively identified, but who may have been either the poet Joseph of Chartres, mentioned in the “SeMaG” (Prohibition No. 113), or the tosafist Joseph ben Baruch. Moses mentions occasionally Simson ben Abraham of Sens and Baruch ben Isaac of Worms, author of the “Sefer ha-Terumah”; it is usually believed, especially of the latter, that they were his teachers, although he does not expressly call them such. In 1235 Moses traveled in France, and in 1236 in Spain, lecturing publicly in the synagogues on the prescriptions of the Mosaic law and admonishing his audiences to observe them, at the same time, however, emphasizing the truth that mere observance of the oral law to the neglect of justice and brotherly consideration toward others, irrespective of faith or race, can not be counted as meritorious (“SeMaG,” Prohibition No. 64; Commandments Nos. 7 and 74). In Spain he found that a number of Jews had married Christians and Mohammedans, and he succeeded in bringing about their divorce (Prohibition No. 112; Commandment No. 3, end). He knew the French, Spanish, and Arabic languages, and was an eloquent speaker; hence he was called “ha-darshan” (the preacher; see “Catalogus Librorum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecæ Senatoriæ Civitatis Lipsiensis,” p. 203, No. xvii.). In 1240 Moses was one of the four rabbis who, in a public disputation in Paris, were required to defend the Talmud against the accusations of Donin; R. Jehiel, however, was the only speaker among them. In 1250 Moses finished his “Sefer Miẓwot,” afterward called “Sefer Miẓwot ha-Gadol” (abbreviated “SeMaG”) in order to discriminate it from an extract arranged by Isaac of Corbeil and called “Sefer Miẓwot ha-Ḳaṭon” (abbreviated “SeMaḲ”).

Baruch ben Isaac of Worms = Baruch ben Isaac from Worms or from France = Baruch ben Isaac Tzarfat

Abraham ben Isaac Bedersi = Abraham ben Isaac Bedersi = Abraham ben Isaac Bedaresi: Provençal Jewish poet; born at Béziers (whence his surname Bedersi, or native of Béziers). He regularly went to Perpignan, where he attended the lectures of Joseph Ezubi and took an active part in its communal affairs.
At one time he lived at Arles, and in 1285, during the war of France with Roussillon, he took refuge in Narbonne. He seems at one time to have been rich, for in a poem he declares that he is independent and writes for his own pleasure. The compiler of his diwan relates that Bedersi sent money to the wandering poet Gorni (Luzzatto, Intro. to Ḥotam Toknit, p. 4).
Bedersi was a prolific writer. Several collections of his poems are still extant in manuscript in various libraries. His works show the decadence of Jewish poetry at that time. His style is stiff and unintelligible, though he possessed a thorough knowledge of Hebrew.

Eleazar ben Judah of Worms = Eleazar Ben Judah Ben Kalonymos = Eleazar ben Judah ben Kalonymus = Eleazar Rokeaḥ = Eleazar the Perfumer: Jewish rabbi, mystic, Talmudist, and codifier, member of the eminent Kalonymos family, which gave medieval Germany many of its spiritual leaders and mystics; another member of that family, the semilegendary pietist Judah ben Samuel the Ḥasid of Regensburg, was his teacher and spiritual master, who initiated him into the study of the Cabala, at that time little known in Germany.
Eleazar underwent great sufferings during the Crusades. In 1196, the night of 22 Kislew, two Christian crusaders broke into his house and, before his eyes, murdered his wife Dulcina, his two daughters Belat and Hannah, and his son Jacob. In spite of this horrendous experience, he continued to teach a doctrine of love of humanity.
As a man of great erudition, he did not compartmentalise his knowledge of Kabbalism (the influential body of Jewish mystical writings) and the Talmud (the rabbinical compendium of law, lore, and commentary); but tried to unify these opposing aspects of Judaism in his writings, often with strange results.
In his cabalistic works he developed and gave a new impulse to the mysticism associated with the letters of the alphabet. The philosophical Cabala of the school of Isaac the Blind is replaced by arithmetical speculations. By the gemaṭria and noṭariḳon systems of interpretation found in the Talmud, Eleazar invented new combinations by which miracles could be performed. The haggadic anthropomorphism which he had combated in his earlier works (“Ha-Roḳeaḥ,” “Sha’are ha-Sod weha-Yiḥud”) occupied later the foremost place in his cabalistic writings. Eleazar’s great merit lies not in his new cabalistic system, but in his ethical works. In these he shows greatness of soul and a piety bordering upon asceticism. Though so severely tried by fate, he inculcates cheerfulness, patience, and love for humanity.
Eleazar became a rabbi at Worms in 1201 and In 1233 he took part in the great Synod of Mayence (Mainz) which enacted the body of regulations known as “Taḳḳanot ShuM” , which considered such questions as business relations with Christians and the inequitable exemptions of particularly favoured Jews from the tax imposed by the government.
Eleazar his greatest work is his ethical code Rokeaḥ or Ha-Roḳeaḥ (1505; “Dealer in Spice”), for which he is sometimes known as Eleazar Rokeaḥ. The work is prefaced with a number of chapters, divided into 497 paragraphs containing halakot and ethics, dealing with the essential principles of Judaism, in which Eleazar attempts to explain mystical concepts, including the unity of God, in terms of Halakha (Law) and presents subjects from sabbath law, holiday rituals, and marriage ceremony to penance for sins, the latter a preoccupation of the German Ḥasidim, in common with medieval Christianity.
Eleazar wrote tosafot to many Talmudical treatises, referred to by Bezalel Ashkenazi in his “Shiṭṭah Meḳubbeẓet”; a commentary on “Sheḳalim” in the Palestinian recension, cited by Asheri in his commentary to that treatise in the Babylonian Talmud; thirty-six chapters on the examination of slaughtered animals (MS. Michael No. 307). Zunz enumerates fifty-five liturgical poems and dirges composed by Eleazar and occurring in the Ashkenazic maḥzorim, ḳinot, and seliḥot.

Me’īr of Rothenburg = Meir Of Rothenburg = Meir Ben Baruch = Maharam of Rothenburg: native of Fulda, great rabbinical authority of 13th-century German Jewry and one of the last great tosaphists (writers of notes and commentary) of Rashi’s authoritative commentary on the Talmud.
Meir studied in Germany and later in France, where he witnessed, in 1242 or 1244, the public burning of 24 cartloads of Talmudic manuscripts, a disaster that inspired him to write a moving poem. On returning to Germany, he was rabbi in many communities but probably spent the longest time in Rothenburg, where he opened a Talmudic school. At first the order provoked the opposition of many rabbis, who accused Meïr of a desire to rule; but they afterward accepted it. Though later Meir acquired great celebrity through his introduction into Germany of the rabbinical system of ordination and became famous as an authority on rabbinic law and for nearly half a century acted as the supreme court of appeals for Jews of Germany and surrounding countries. He sent to France Isaiah b. Abba Mari with authority to appoint rabbis there.
Although Meir wrote no single major work, his 1,500 or so extant responsa (authoritative answers to questions regarding Jewish law and ritual) are rich with information about the community organisation and social customs of medieval German Jewry. He also wrote many erudite Talmudic tosaphoth (notes).
In practice he was a strict Talmudist whose teachings were practised by many and included in numerous literary compositions by his disciples, such as the famous codifier Asher ben Jehiel = Rabbenu Asher = Asheri.
The famous Catalan rabbi, Talmudist and Maimonidean, Rabbi Menachem Meirialso known as Hameiri called Meir Ben Baruch the “greatest Jewish leader of Zarfat (Medieval Hebrew for France, a reference to Charlemagne‘s rule of Germany)” alive at the time.

Mordecai ben Hillel of Nürnberg = Mordechai ben Hillel HaKohen = The Mordechai: a German rabbi and halakist and posek, who died as a martyr at Nuremberg in 1298. His great legal (Halachic) work is usually cited as “the Mordecai,” one of the sources of the Shulchan Aruch, and its value consists in its thorough use of the medieval authorities. It acquired wide authority, and was one of the sources of the Code of Joseph Caro. Mordecai was also the author of Responsa.
His grandfather Hillel, on his mother’s side, was a grandson of theGerman Rabbinic scholar and Rishon Eliezer ben Joel ha-Levi, who was in turn a grandson of Eliezer ben Nathan. Mordechai was also a relative of Rabbi Asher ben Jehiel. He was a son-in-law of R’ Yechiel of Paris. He was married to Zelda, with whom he had five children.

Tanḥūm ben Joseph of Jerusalem = Tanḥūm ben Joseph of Yerusalmi = Tanḥum ha-Yerushalmi = Abraham ibn Ezra of the Levant: a 13th-century Hebrew lexicographer, biblical exegete and scholar of great merit who was one of the last representatives of the rationalistic school of Biblical exegesis in the Orient; he is called by modern writers “the Ibn Ezra of the East.” He lived in Palestine, perhaps for a time in Egypt also, and had a son, Joseph, who maintained a correspondence with David, the grandson of Maimonides (comp. Brody in “Sammelband,” 1893, issued by the Meḳiẓe Nirdamim).
Tanḥum’s very existence was unknown to European scholars until the eighteenth century, when fragments of his works were brought from the Orient by Pocock, who published some of them in his “Porta Mosis.” Tanḥum skilfully handled the Arabic language, in which he composed his works; he possessed some knowledge of Greek, and was well versed in philosophy and natural science.
He was the author of “Kitab al-Ijaz wal-Bayan” (“Book of Elucidation”), consisting of commentaries on the Biblical books, the Prophets and Hagiographa, with an introduction entitled “Kulliyyat” giving a sketch of Hebrew grammar and an account of the philologists of the Middle Ages.
Al-murshid al-kāfī (“The Sufficient Guide”) is a comprehensive and detailed lexicon arranged in alphabetical order in which he defines difficult words found in the Mishnah and in the writings of Maimonides, namely the extensive commentary on the Talmud, composed in the 12th century, the Mishne Torah. All Hebrew words are arranged according to their lexical root. In addition, Tanhum wrote an introduction to his books, entitled Al-Kuliyāt (“General Principles”). The author quotes Saadia, Ibn Janaḥ, Dunash, Moses ibn Ezra, and other prominent philologists. Specimens of the “Murshid,” still extant in manuscript (Bagdad, Jerusalem, and Oxford), have been published by Wilhelm Bacher under the title “Aus dem Wörterbuche Tanchum Jerushalmi’s” (Strasburg, 1903).
In Tanhum’s writings there is considerable interest in the natural sciences and worldly wisdom; There is considerable use of professional terms from the fields of medicine and music, as well as a little from astronomy and physics. Tanhum’s learning in Jewish studies was so pervasive that he was coined the name “the Abraham ibn Ezra of the Levant.



Hebrew Language #2 The name “Hebrew” and Speech of Canaan

Hebrew Language #3 Among Christian scholars

Hebrew Language #4 Hebrew Literature #1 Old Testament

Hebrew Language #5 Hebrew Literature #2 Torah, Apocryphal literature and Targum

Hebrew Language #6 Hebrew Literature #3 Halakhah

Hebrew Language #7 Hebrew Literature #4 Mishnah and Midrash

Hebrew Language #8 Hebrew Literature #5 Talmud and Masorah

Hebrew Language #9 Hebrew Literature #6 Hebrew Liturgy

Hebrew Language #10 Hebrew Literature #7 The Geōnīm

Hebrew Language #11 Hebrew Literature #8 The Qaraites or Karaites

Hebrew Language #12 Hebrew Literature #9 Medieval scholarship

Hebrew Language #13 Hebrew Literature #10 Exegesis

Hebrew Language #14 Hebrew Literature #11 French school of the 11th century

Hebrew Language #15 Hebrew Literature #12 High level of literature in Spain in the 12th and 13th century

Hebrew Language #16 Hebrew Literature #13 Maimonides, Maimonists and anti-Maimonists

4 thoughts on “Hebrew Language #17 Hebrew Literature #14 Families, works from France, Germany and the Levant

  1. Pingback: Hebrew Language #18 Hebrew Literature #15 Limit of Hebrew literature its development | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

  2. Pingback: Hebrew Language #19 Hebrew Literature #16 Later writers – From the Renaissance to 18th Century, going into a new religious movement within Judaism | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

  3. Pingback: Hebrew Language #20 Hebrew Literature #17 Later writers – From the 18th Century into 19th century and Modernizing tendencies | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

  4. Pingback: Hebrew Language #20 Hebrew Literature #18 The re-creation of Hebrew as a literary language | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.