Ibn-gebirol or Gabirol, Salomon Ben-jehrdah

Ibn-Gebirol or Gabirol, Salomon ben-Jehrdah a very distinguished Jewish philosopher, commentator, and grammarian, as well as hymnologist, was born at Malaga, in Spain, about 1021. When only nineteen years of age he evinced his great skill as a poet, and his thorough acquaintance with Hebrew grammar by writing a grammar of the Hebrew language in Hebrew verse. It has never been printed entire, but parts of it have been published by Parchon in his Hebrew Lexicon (Paris, 1844), and by Leop. Dukes, in his Shire Shelomo (Hannov. 1858). About 1045 Ibn- Gebirol published his first philosophical work, which was translated by Ibn- Tibbon into Hebrew, entitled תַּקּוּן מַדּוֹת הִנֶּפֶשׁ (published in 1550 and often). He propounds in this work "a peculiar theory of the human temperament and passions, enumerates twenty propensities corresponding to the four dispositions multiplied by the five senses, and shows how the leaning of the soul to the one side may be brought to the moral equipoise by observing the declarations of Scripture, and ethical sayings of the Talmud, which he largely quotes, and which he intersperses with the chief sayings of 'the divine' Socrates, his pupil Plato, Aristotle, the Arabic philosophers, and especially with the maxims of a Jewish moral philosopher called Chefez Al-Kute, who is the author of an Arabic paraphrase of the Psalms in rhyme (Steinschneider, Jewish Literature [Lond. 1857], p. 101)." But as this work contained also personal allusions to some leading men of Saragossa, he was expatriated in 1046. After traveling from one place to another, he finally found a protector in the celebrated Samuel Ha-Nagid, a Jew also, then prime minister of Spain, and he was enabled to continue his philosophical studies, as the result of which he produced The Fountain of Life, his greatest work. Fragments of a Hebrew translation and an entire Latin version of it were published by Munk in his Melanges de philosophie Nizte et Ara be (Paris, 1857-59). He died in 1070. The influence which Ibn-Gebirol exerted on Arabian and Jewish philosophy cannot be too highly estimated. He certainly deserves to be called "the Jewish Plato," as Graitz chooses to name him; but the assertion that he was the first philosopher of the Middle Ages, and that his philosophical treatises were used by the scholastic philosophers, is an error, as Lewis (History of Philosophy, ii, 63) fully proves, although Imunk, and after him Gratz, fell into the same mistake, as also Ginsburg, the writer of the article on Ibn- Gebirol in Kitto (Bibl. Cyclop. 2, 356). From frequent quotations in Aben- Ezra's commentaries, it seems that Ibn-Gebirol must also have written some expositions of the Old-Test. Scriptures, though none such are known to us at present existing. Ibn-Gebirol also had a natural talent for verse making. One of his hymns, entitled The royal Diadem, "a beautiful and pathetic poetical composition of profound philosophical sentiments and great devotion, forms an important part of the divine service on the evening preceding the great Day of Atonement with the devout Jews to the present day." See Gratz, Geschichte de. Jude, 6, 31 sq.; Sachs, Religiise Poesie d. Juden i. Spanien (Berl. 1845), p. 3 sq. 213, etc.; Ztuz, Syncacogcale Poesie der Mittelalters, p, 222; First, Biblioth. Jud. i, 320 sq.

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