Jacob Ben-asheri Ben-jechiel Ben-uri Ben-eliakim Ben Juhdah
Jacob ben-Asheri ben-Jechiel ben-Uri ben-Eliakim ben- Juhdah also called Baal Ha-Turim, after his celebrated ritual work, was born in Germany about A.D. 1280. At the age of eighteen he was an eye-witness of the fearful massacres of his Jewish brethren, which began in Bavaria April 20, 1298, under the leadership of Rindfleisch and soon spread over France and Austria, and by which more than 100,000 persons were slaughtered in less than six months. The insecurity of the lives of Jews led him to emigrate in 1303. For more than two years he and his family moved from town to town, until they found a resting-place at Toledo, in Spain. Though in very straitened pecuniary circumstances, he began at once literary labors, and as the result we have
(1) A Commentary on the Pentateuch (עִל הִתּוֹרָה פֵירוּשׁ), the basis of which is Nachmanides's exposition. "He excluded from it Nachmanides's philosophico-cabalistic portions, inserted in their stead remarks of Rashi, Joseph Cara, Samuel ben-Meier, Abraham ben-Chija, R. Tam, Aben-Ezra, Joseph Kimchi, Jehudah the Pious, Simon ben-Abraham. Meier of Rothenburg, R. Asher, the father, and R. Jehudah, the brother of the author, as well as glosses of his own at the beginning of every Sabbatic section SEE HAPHITARAH, which chiefly consist of explanations of words and whole sentences according to the hermeneutical rule called גימטריא (i.e. reducing every letter of a word to its numerical value, and explaining it by another word of the same quantity SEE MIDRASH, and which he calls פרפיאית, dainty supplements), and recondite reasons for the critical remarks of the Masorites upon the text (טעמי המסורות). This work is of great importance to the understanding of the original design of the Masorah. Such was the extraordinary: popularity of the Genatrical portions of this commentary that they were detached from the exegetical part and printed in a separate form in Constantinople in 1514, in Venice in 1544, and have since appeared not only in the Rabbinic Bibles of Bomberg (Venice, 1546-48 and 1568), of Buxtorf (Basle, 1617-19), and Frankfurter (Amsterdam, 1.724-27), under the title of בעל הטורים קצת פרפראות חידושי, but also in five editions of the Bible between 1595 and 1653, and in no less than twenty different editions of the Pentateuch between the years 1566 and 1804--hereas the exegetical part was not published till 1805 at Zolkiew, and again in 1838 at Hanover: —
(2) אִרבָּעָה טוּרַים, a celebrated religious code, so named because it consists of four parts or rows, respectively denominated אויח חיים, the way of life; דעה יורה, the teacher of knowledge; אבן העזר, the stone of help; and חשן המשפט, the breastplate of justice." It treats of the ritual, moral, matrimonial, civil, and social observances of the Jews, and is, upon the whole, a very remarkable work; for a time it even supplanted the Jod Ha-Chezaka of the renowned Maimonides, and became the text-book of Jewish Rabbins throughout the entire known world. It is indispensable to the student of Jewish antiquities, and we refer here only to the best editions that have been published of this work (Augsburg, 1540; Hanover, 1610). He died in 1340. See Geiger, Wissenschaftl. Zeitung IV (Stuttg. 1839), p. 395 sq.; Grätz, Gesch. d. Juden, 7:346 sq.; First, Biblioth. Jud. 2, 16 sq.; Steinschneider, Catal. Libr. Hebsr. in Biblioth. Bodleiana, col. 1181 sq.; Kitto, Cyclop. Bibl. Lit. 2, 452 sq.