Aben-ezra

Aben-Ezra (otherwise ABEN-ESDRA , or IBN-ESRA, properly, ABRAHAM BEN-MEIR), a celebrated Spanish rabbi, called by the Jews the Sage, the Great, etc., was born at Toledo in 1092. Little is known of the facts of his life; but he was a great traveler and student, and was at once philosopher, mathematician, and theologian. His fame for varied and accurate learning was very great in his own day, and has survived, worthily, to the present age. He died at Rome, Jan. 23, 1167. De Rossi, in his Hist. Dict. of Hebrew Writers (Parma, 1802), gives a catalogue of the writings attributed to him. Many of them still exist only in MS. A list of those that have been published, with the various editions and translations, is given by Farst in his Bibliotheca Judaica (Lpz. 1849, 1:251 sq.). A work on astronomy, entitled בּרֵאשִׁית הָכמָה (the Beginning of Wisdom), partly translated from the Arabic and partly compiled by himself, greatly contributed to establishing his reputation (a Latin translation of it is given in Wolf, Bibliotheca Hebraica, t. 3). He also wrote a "Commentary on the Talmud," and another work on the importance of the Talmud, entitled וסוֹר מוֹרָא (the Basis of Instruction), several times printed (in German, F. ad M. 1840). His most important work consists of "Commentaries on the Old Testament" (פֵּרוּשׁ על, in several parts), a work full of erudition. Bomberg Buxtorf, and Moses Frankfurter included it in their editions of Hebrew texts and annotations of the Bible (Venice, 1526; Basil, 1618-19; Amst. 1724-7). His "Commentary on the Pentateuch" (פֵּדוּשּׁ הִתּוֹרָה) is very rare in its original form (fol. Naples, 1488; Constantinople, 1514), but it has often been reprinted combined with other matter, overlaid by later annotations, or in fragmentary form. None of the other portions of his great commentary have been published separately from the Rabbinical Bibles, except in detached parts, and then usually with other matter and translated. Aben-Ezra usually wrote in the vulgar Hebrew or Jewish dialect; but that he was perfectly familiar with the original Hebrew is shown by some poems and other little pieces which are found in the preface to his commentaries. The works of Aben-Ezra are thoroughly philosophical, and show a great acquaintance with physical and natural science. He also wrote several works on Hebrew Grammar (especially סֵפֶד מֹץזּניִַם, Augsb. 1521, 8vo; סֵפֵד צֵחוֹת, Ven. 1546, 8vo; שָׂפָּה בּרוּרָה, Constpl. 1530, 8vo), most of which have been re-edited (by Lippmann, Heidenhein, etc.) with Hebrew annotations. Some of his arithmetical and astronomical works have been translated into Latin. — Hoefer, Biographie Generale.

 
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