Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Pentateuch: Jewish Interpreters



HEBREW: אבוהב or Rabbi Isaac Aboab,[1] אוצר ״ Rabbi Joseph Caspi,[2] אור השכל אמרי נועם, אור היקר of Rabbi Obadiah Saforno,[3] Rabbi Bechai,[4] גבורים of Rabbi Ephraim Lemburgensis,[5] דברי שלום, דרשות, זוחר, זכרון טוב, יוסף דעת, כלי יקר, דברי טעם of Rabbi Ephraim, כתר שם טוב of Rabbi Shem Tov, לקח טוב of Rabbi Moses Najara,[6] מכלל יופי, מלמד התלמידים of Rabbi Jacob Ben Machir,[7] Manasseh Ben Israel,[8] מנתח בלילה of Rabbi Abraham Menahem,[9] מעשה נסים of Rabbi Nissim, Rabbi Moses Haddarsan,[10] עולת שבת of Rabbi Ben Schofeth, עיני העדה of Rabbi Johanan Aleman,[11] צרור המור of Rabbi Abraham Hispani, רבות or the greater glosses of the Rabbah of Nahmanides, ראשית הדעת of Rabbi Moses Albelda,[12] רקנאט or Rabbi Menahem Recanati,[13] תולדות יצחק of Rabbi Isaac Karo,[14] תנחומא or Tanchuma,[15] Targum Hebraically, and translated into Latin by Taylor.[16]

Let the Interpreters of the Books of the Old Testament in the preceding chapter be added.

[1] Isaac Aboab of Castile (1433-1493) was a Spanish Rabbi. He wrote commentaries on both Nahmanides’ and Rashi’s commentaries on the Pentateuch. Abraham Zacuto, the chronicler and mathematician, was one of his disciples.


[2] Rabbi Caspi wrote multiple commentaries on the Pentateuch: Porashat Kesef (a commentary on Ibn Ezra’s commentary on the Pentateuch), Matzref le-Kesef, Tirat Kesef, Mizreqe Kesef, etc.


[3] Rabbi Obadiah Sforno (c. 1475-1550) was an Italian Rabbi, philosopher, and physician. He was involved in teaching Reuchlin the Hebrew language. Obadiah wrote commentaries on the Pentateuch, Job, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Jonah, Habakkuk, and Zechariah. His commentaries focus on the literal interpretation of the text, informed by traditional Rabbinic interpretation.


[4] Bahya ben Asher was a thirteenth century Spanish Rabbi and scholar. He produced a commentary on the Torah, which takes into account the literal meaning of the text, its logical and philosophical implications, traditional rabbinic interpretation, and a Kabbalistic/mystical interpretation of text, following Nahmanides.


[5] Rabbi Ephraim Solomon Ben Aaron (died 1619) served as Rosh Yeshivah at Lemberg, and then as Rabbi at Prague. He wrote multiple works on the Torah, including his Ir Gibborim.


[6] Israel ben Moses Najara (c. 1555-c. 1625) was a Rabbi of Gaza. He travelled extensively in the Near East, learned multiple languages, and composed poems in the meters of multiple foreign people groups. He wrote commentaries on the Pentateuch and on Job.


[7] Jacob ben Machir ibn Tibbon (c. 1236-c. 1304) was a French mathematician, astronomer, physician, and philosopher.


[8] Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel (1604-1657) was a Portuguese Jewish scholar. His El Conciliador was an attempt to reconcile difficult and seemingly contrary portions of the Old Testament. He established the first Hebrew printing press in Amsterdam.


[9] Rabbi Abraham Menahem ben Jacob Ha-Kohen (born 1520) was a Veronese Rabbi; under his guidance Verona’s yeshivah became famous. His commentary on the Pentateuch is based upon the Midrashim.


[10] Moses Haddarsan (eleventh century) was a French Rabbi. He was an expert in Rabbinical tradition. His midrashic and haggadic comments on Scripture survive only in the quotations of others (Rabbi Salomon, for example).


[11] Rabbi Johanan Aleman (born c.1435) was an Italian Rabbi, exegete, and philosopher. He was involved in teaching Hebrew to Italian humanists, such as Pico della Mirandola. Aleman’s עיני העדה is a Kabbalistic commentary on the Torah.


[12] Rabbi Moses Albelda (born 1500) was a Rabbi and philosopher, probably originally of Spain. However, due to the vicissitudes of the times, he was forced to wander, serving as Rabbi of Arta in Greece and later of Valona in Albanian. His ראשית הדעת is a homiletical commentary on Genesis.


[13] Rabbi Menahem ben Benymin Recanati (late thirteenth, early fourteenth century) was an Italian Kabbalist. He wrote a Kabbalistic commentary on the Torah (Perush 'Al ha-Torah), and many of the teachings of the ancient rabbis survive only in his works.


[14] Isaac Karo (died in 1518) was a Spanish Talmudist and Bible commentator. He studied in Toledo, one of the important Rabbinical centers in Spain, before the expulsion of Jews in 1492. He was then forced to flee from Portugal as well, finally settling in Constantinople, probably spending the remainder of his life in Turkey. His Toledot Yitzhak attempts to do justice to the peshat (literal/simple interpretation), as well as to the allegorical interpretation of the biblical text. He also wrote Hasde David, a work of philosophical and haggadic homilies.


[15] There are no less than three midrashic collections covering the Pentateugh called Tanchuma. These collections receive their name from Rabbi Tanchuma, a fifth generation amora. Some of the homiletical material may have originated with him; but, as the collections now stand, they were neither written nor arranged by him.


[16] Targum Jerusalem is a medieval Aramaic rendering of the Hebrew Torah. Unhappily, it survives only in fragments. Targum Jerusalem is more than a translation, including additional narrative and interpretative material. It was first printed in the Rabbinical Bible in 1517, and Francis Taylor (1589-1656, an English Churchman of such learning and ability that he was invited to sit at the Westminster Assembly) translated it into Latin in 1649.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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