Skip to main content

Full text of "Maimonides' Arabic Commentary on the Mishnah"

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 

346 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

Hyrcanus established the "Pairs." However unhistorical this may 
be, it probably contains an element of fact, namely, that the Has- 
monean High Priests sanctioned the entry of the Soferim into the 

The question remains, how did the Talmudic conception of the 
Sanhedrin arise ? It is hardly necessary to say that the Mishna and 
Gemara were committed to writing long after the aristocracy had lost 
their power by the break-up of the Jewish State. By that time the 
party of the Law was supreme ; and the doctors of the Talmud held 
that the constitution which they were familiar with was the constitu- 
tion which had existed from the first. At the same time, their view 
contained some details of fact. It is an interesting point to work out 
the unmistakable connection between the Talmudic view and Num. 
xi. Either the Jews conceived their Sanhedrin on the model of 
Num. xi., or the latter must be a post-exilic interpolation. But this is 
impossible ; for Num. xi. is an early and independent document. 
Therefore, we conclude that the Talmudic doctors fashioned a more 
or less ideal constitution on the basis of the Mosaic ordinance, and at 
the same time connected it, according to their lights, with what they 
knew of the history of their national senate. 

It only remains to be said that the translation which Prof. Budde 
has given us reads extremely well, and bears clear traces of the 
scholar-like and vigorous hand from which it comes. It is a matter 
for congratulation that Prof. Budde has found time in the midst of 
his own multifarious labours to confer this boon upon all students of 
the Old Testament, who, as they use it, will realise afresh how much 
they owe to the master-mind of Kuenen. 

Magdalen College, G. A. Cooke. 


Maimonides' Arabic Commentary on the Mishnah. 

It was the merit of Pocock, the great collector of Hebrew and Arabic 
M8S. in the East — a collection which is the pride of the Bodleian 
Library — to have begun to edit parts of Maimonides' Arabic Com- 
mentary on the Mishnah in his Porta Mosis (Oxford, 1655, and 
re-edited in London, 1740). It contains, not as Pocock wrongly 
says, the introduction to the tractate of Zeraim, but the general 
introduction to the Mishnah, followed by the commentary on Helek 
— the tenth chapter of the tractate of Sanhedrin (re- edited critically 

Critical Notices. 347 

by Dr. Wolff, Rabbi at Gothenburg, Sweden, under the title of " The 
Eight Chapters," Leipzig, 1863). There follows in the Porta Mosis, 
lastly, the introductions to the Sedarim of Qodashim, Tohorot, and, in 
an appendix, of Menahot. Since Pocock, the Arabic commentaries 
of Maimonides had been used only f ragmentarily, by some scholars 
■who had access to the libraries which contain such MSS., until 
Professsor Barth, of Berlin, continued Pocock's tradition by 
publishing the Arabic Commentary, with an emended Hebrew 
translation of the tractate of Makkoth (Berlin, 1879 and 1880). 
The veteran Semitic scholar, M. J. Derenbourg, member of the 
French Institute, undertook a gigantic labour, viz., the Arabia 
Commentary, with a correct Hebrew translation, which was pub- 
lished by the society called D»»T0 »S»pD, 1886 to 1892. In- 
deed the Hebrew translation, as printed in some editions of the 
Mishnah, and in nearly all editions of the Babylonian Talmud, is 
scarcely intelligible, for the translator was in fact less than a 
mediocre Arabic scholar, and did not understand Maimonides. 
These editions are besides full of typographical mistakes. We 
should have expected that a literary society for the publication of 
Maimonides' Commentary on the Mishnah would have been formed 
under the direction of the Paris savant, as is the case for the pub- 
lication of Saadiah G-aon's works, in print and in MSS. Alas ! such 
•was not the case, for the rich Jews do not care for the glory of 
past Judaism, and no means were forthcoming for the honour of 
Maimonides. Maimonides now has to rely upon candidates for 
the doctor's degree in G-erman universities, some of whom 
take up small parts of his Commentary as their thesis, and some 
fragments have been published in volumes of collected essays. We 
are afraid that their best efforts are not equal to the difficult task. 
The candidates are, in the first instance, too young for such a critical 
edition, and, on the other hand, they have no material means for 
bringing out the Commentary on whole tractates. Thus we get from 
them only fragments, for which they had no means for consulting the 
best MSS. Of these fragmentary editions we may mention up to 
date the following : — The commentaries on Aboth I. and on Rosh 
Hashanah I. 3 and III. 1 (Berlin, 1890, in the Jubtlsschrift, dedicated 
to Dr. J. Hildesheimer on the occasion of his seventieth year). In 
dissertations were treated, from 1891 to 1894, the Arabic commenta- 
ries, with the corrected Hebrew translations, on the tractates 
Berakhot^ Eilayim Demai, and Sanhedrin (I. to III.). 

We have now before us the edition of the Arabic Commentary 
of the tractate Pe.ah, with the corrected Hebrew translation, edited 
by Dr. David Herzog, which is again the subject of a dissertation, 
with instructive notes, on the orthography of the MSS. he used, as 

348 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

well as on lexicographical points. We may expect soon the edition 
of the tractates Betsa and Hulin, as far as we know also in a disserta- 
tion. It will be seen that these authors do not try to complete one 
Seder of the Mishaah, neither agree about the uniformity of the size. 
Thus we may say that of Maimonides' Arable Commentary on the 
Mishnah only Seder Tohorot {or Toharot) is published. 

A. Neubajjer. 

Introduction to the Chronicle called H31 D?1J? VID (in Hebrew), by 
Bar Eatner. Part I. "Wilna, 1894. 

The author has undertaken a most difficult task with relation to 
the composition of the Chronicle, usually attributed to R. Yose ben 
Halafta. The real title of it, as will be seen from the edition in 
Mediaeval Chronicles II., which will appear soon, is D^iy Y1D, as it is 
stated in the Egyptian fragments of it ; the epithet, H31, " the 
great," sprang up when another Chronicle was composed, most likely 
in the ninth century a.d., which is called KW D^W "HD {The Minor 
Chronicle of the World). After a short preface about the method of 
this introduction, M. Ratner gives his minute studies and results in 
twenty-two chapters, which we shall indicate only, for it is impossible 
to go into details of the thousand quotations from Talmudic and 
casuistic literature. First, naturally comes the investigation con- 
cerning the author of our Chronicle, the result of which is that, 
according to quotations in the Talmudic literature, R. Yose can- 
not be the author of it. Here comes a chapter about the date 
of the work, which, according to M. Ratner, was composed before 
the Mishnah was settled, since quotations in the Mishnah are 
excerpted anonymously from our Chronicle, and the Babylonian 
Talmud mentions it. The third chapter states the use of Pales- 
tinian Midrashim. The Jerusalem Talmud seems not to quote our 
Chronicle distinctly, but many quotations are certainly derived 
from it. Next, it is stated that R. Johanan is the compiler of our 
Chronicle as it lies before us. The sixth chapter shows that the 
Seder Olam was not always at the disposal of the Rabbis of the Tal- 
muds and the Midrashim. Next come proofs that the Geonim, down 
to the Tosaphists, had not always the Seder Olam at their disposal. 
Our author follows up with an important chapter, where it is stated 
thai the quotations of the Mishnah and the Talmud from our 
Chronicle are different from the printed text. The tenth chapter