Skip to main content

Full text of "A Curious Ibn Ezra Manuscript"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 



The object of the following lines is to call the attention of lovers 
of the commentaries of Ibn Ezra to a MS. which probably is not 
known to them. 

In the printed catalogue of the " Proprietary and Cottonian Library " 
at Plymouth, the second entry reads : " Abenezrse comment, super 
Gen. & Exodum." 

The MS. itself is labelled thus : 

"Ab. Abenezrse super Genesim & Exodum latine versus per Meth- 
rydatem, Gaonis Commentum super ultimam prophetiam Danielis; — 
in a good hand of the sixteenth century, folio," &c. 

The size of the MS. is half-folio. 

A more recent hand than that of the MS. has written on the first 

Oeilampadii Commenta de Genesi. 
180 fol. init. Ssec. XVI. 

Since the MS. itself frequently gives the names of the authors as 
"Aben Azra" and Ben Caspi, the question is not only who is this 
Oeilampadius (rather Oleilanip. ?), but also how did this writer come 
to ascribe it to a bearer of this name, a name very befitting an 
author or student (" man of the oil-lamp "). 

The Rev. J. Polack suggests to me that Ben Caspi's super-commentary, 
which is partly contained in this MS., may have borne in Hebrew 
a name such as 11ND? |DtJ>, which was mistaken for the name of the 
author. But Dr. Friedlander, in his " Ibn Ezra Literature " (Society 
of Heb. Lit. IV), remarks of Caspi that this author had the habit of 
naming his works with an allusion to *]D3 in reference to his own 
name \ 

The MS. is in Latin throughout. It contains — firstly, a very brief 
abstract of Ibn Ezra's Introduction to his Commentary on the Penta- 
teuch ; then Ibn Ezra on Gen. i-iv. 8, with many omissions. 

This part ends with the words : et mille ligna & mille lapides 
aderant ad interficiendum eum. 

After which follows : 

Finis Abenazrse. Seq. Additio Bencaspi sup ipsius [?] comment [?] 

1 On the other hand, a super-commentary by Caspi on Ibn Ezra is 
described simply as y"x i® niTOn 'd (Renan-Neubauer, Les Ecrivains Juifs 
franfais du JCIV' Steele, p. 138). 


This part of the super-commentary of Caspi (or is it more correct 
to call him with this writer Ibn Caspi ?) deals with several points 
contained in the preceding part of Ibn Ezra's commentary. 

After this, on a fresh page (p. 19), begins the Latin translation of 
the commentary of Ibn Ezra on the whole book of Exodus, with the 
omission (as also stated in the heading by the writer of it) of 
grammatical matters. Still, a cursory glance already reveals the 
fact that it sometimes differs from the text usually found in print, 
although that is the version it represents. Not alone are there 
omissions and abbreviations, but expansions are also to be found, 
as will be seen by comparing several quotations from the MS. given 
below, with the printed text. 

Into this Commentary of Ibn Ezra, the notes on it by Caspi, are 
almost to the end interwoven, as will be seen by the specimens 
adduced immediately ; towards the end of the book, however, they 
are not incorporated in the text, but as above, on Gen. i-iv, follow 

The superscription, evidently by the hand of the writer of the MS., 
runs thus : 

cum additionibus ben Caspi 

Abrami Avenzari [here follows an illegible word, perhaps versus] 
p. Methrydatem ex hebraico cm dimissione s. q. ad grammaticam 
p. tinerent. 

Then follows : 

" Et hsec sunt nomina filiorum isrl. Superaddit et [1] pro continua- 
tion sermonis preteriti," &c. 

The following specimens, which are somewhat hastily extracted, 
may contain some unavoidable mistakes in spelling, but they will 
nevertheless give a sufficiently clear idea of the character of the 

flbn Ezra on Ex. i. 10 towards the end, DWU3 l"N] Dixit marenos 
egredietur pro egrediemur, i. e. expellemur de terra [words illegible] 
egredietur ad evitandum augufi quo summo pe Aegyptii utebantur 
& cavebant int. loquendu. [The latter words are not in the usual 

[lb. ver. 16, after the translation of DiVay WO] & hoc indicat 
ep. [sancta ?] Scriptura qua utimur hebrse. [Then in red ink] Prima 
additio Ben caspi [again in black] p. p. duos transitus i. duabus viis 
[word illegible] hebreus uno modo ab heber, pay] q. Latina int. pr. 
atur transitus, qua transivit opinione. omnium gentiu mundi de 
unitate dei, et vera fide, alio mo[do] p. p. transitum fluvii euphratis. 
Nam in Mesopotamia ha[bi]tabat heber, & insula e[st] int'duos 


fluvios Tygrin & euphratem nee poterant [ea]m exire nisi fluvium 
transissent. Ido dur [=Ideo dicuntur] hebrei [D ,- I3V] 1. transeuntes 
& t. [turn] hoc e[st] quod dx deus p. Josuen in transitu fluvii hitarunt 
pres uri ab initio. [Then in red ink :] 

Secunda Additio eiusdem. [On Ibn Ezra, ib. T\Mt7 HT1. Then in 
black] et hoc indicat scriptura qua utimur hebrea ost.[endare ?] hoc 
ideo dicit, qua quidem invidentes nobis, opinati sunt linguam nfam 
[nostram ?] et hebraicam caracteres tu[m] caldaicos sive assyrios ut 
negent nos et priores ceteris, ido postillator [?] hoc excludens, dit 
[dicit] caracteres quos hemus [habemus] e. [esse] hebraicos, cum 
punctata Ira [Htera] Tau legitur Tau pro nomine illius Ire [literse] 
quod derivafta] a xobo [verbo ?] ituita [TWin Ez. ix. 4]. Quod e 
signare . et In dx [inde dixit ?] Tau 1. signum quare et nomen illius 
Ire et caracter e idem tarn legendo q. scribendo et icidem [?] e de 
ceteris Iris chaldaicis neq. aliarum linguar. Ex quo lingua & carac- 
teres hebraicos nos habere patet. 

Abram. Et faciebant ma res [matres? ib. ver. 17, pTITll] Intelligitur 
ipsas conatas fuisse ultra vires suos pueros conservare. 

Tn this way, this MS. intersperses the notes of Caspi among the 
explanations of Ibn Ezra. Generally the words : Abram, & Additio 
Ben Caspi, or Ben Chaspi, are in red ink. 

Here is one more specimen; Ibn Ezra on Ex. xii. 7, towards 
the end (in rPWfft) : et notabulum bathim equofi e ad domus, et ad 
mesuram cuius singulare e bath. 

Additio Benchaspi. Prout in fragmentis et fractionibus [is this 
the title of an arithmetical book ?] indicat, cp. [quod ?] Aegypti 
solent commede re quosdam cibos ex similagine semicocta, et frag- 
menta, supposito oleo instare minha quam d. jussit israelitis capii 
[cassi ?] et frangi. Demfum] super ponef [superponitur ?] oleum 
& sacrificar ut levitico. Bathim quando org. domu. ponitur cames 
[t*Dp] subtra beth qu. org. mensuram illam ponitur patha subra beth, 
in pronunciatione tamen uno modo proferuntur. 

[ver. 8] Abram. Et comedent eum sup. azimis, &c. 

Towards the end of Exodus, the notes of Caspi do not intrude into 
the commentary of Ibn Ezra, but are collected and subjoined at the 
end : on p. 167, after " noctis," the last word of Ibn Ezra's commen- 
tary, we find these words : 

Et sic fini3 Rabi Abram. in 60 tribus comtibus. [paragraphs or 
notes ?]. 

On p. 168. Additio Bencaspi sap. am [com ?] pen. ultimo Abram. 
sup. exodum. 

The occasional variations, noticeable in this translation, from the 


version in the commonly printed text, which version it yet mainly 
follows 1 , and still more the fact of its being interspersed with the 
notes of Caspi, make it probable if not certain, that it is translated 
from a Hebrew MS., which slightly differed from our text. 

At the conclusion of the commentary and super-commentary on 
Exodus occur a few blank pages, then the MS. finishes with the com- 
mentaries, in a Latin version, and one after another, of R. Saadya 
Gaon and of Ibn Ezra on Daniel x-xii, thus forming with the previous 
matter a curious conglomeration. 

The translator " Methrydates " is no doubt identical with the 
Flavius Mithridates who towards the close of the fifteenth century 
rendered many Hebrew works into Latin 2 . It is, however, a new 
point, I fancy, to find him among the translators of Ibn Ezra. 

M. Berlin. 


As the Holy One, blessed be he, hath compassion upon man, so 
hath he compassion upon the beasts of the field. As it is said in 
the text: 

"When a bullock or a sheep or a goat is brought forth, then it 
shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth day and 
thenceforth it shall be accepted for the oblation of an offering made 
by fire unto the Lord s ." 

Furthermore it is said: 

"And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young 
both in one day 4 ." 

And as the Holy One, blessed be he, hath compassion upon the 
beasts of the field, so is he filled with mercy for the birds of the air. 
For it is written : " If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the 
way 5 ." Midrash Rabbi Deut., VI, I. 

1 For information on the two Recensions of Ibn Ezra's Commentary, 
see Dr. M. Friedlander, Essays on the Writings of Ibn Ezra, IV, p. 148 ff. 
(cp. p. 151, cona S, and beginning of our first quotation above) ; and on the 
super-commentary of Caspi, ibid., p. 231 if. 

2 On this Mithridates see Steinschneider, Die hebraischen Uebersetzungen 
des Mittdalters, pp. 492, 922, 930, and esp. 985 and the references there 
given. Cf. Hamazkir, XXI, m, where a list of Mithridates' translations is 

8 Lev. xxii. 27. 4 Idem, 28. 5 Deut. xxii. 6.