1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hebrew Literature
HEBREW LITERATURE. Properly speaking, “Hebrew Literature” denotes all works written in the Hebrew language. In catalogues and bibliographies, however, the expression is now generally used, conveniently if incorrectly, as synonymous with Jewish literature, including all works written by Jews in Hebrew characters, whether the language be Aramaic, Arabic or even some vernacular not related to Hebrew.
The literature begins with, as it is almost entirely based upon, the Old Testament. There were no doubt in the earliest times popular songs orally transmitted and perhaps books of annals and laws, but except in so far as remnantsOld Testament-Scriptures. of them are embedded in the biblical books, they have entirely disappeared. Thus the Book of the Wars of the Lord is mentioned in Num. xxi. 14; the Book of Jashar in Josh. x. 13, 2. Sam. i. 18; the Song of the Well is quoted in Num. xxi. 17, 18, and the song of Sihon and Moab, ib. 27-30; of Lamech, Gen. iv. 23, 24; of Moses, Exod. xv. As in other literatures, these popular elements form the foundation on which greater works are gradually built, and it is one function of literary criticism to show the way in which the component parts were welded into a uniform whole. The traditional view that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch in its present form, would make this the earliest monument of Hebrew literature. Modern inquiry, however, has arrived at other conclusions (see Bible, Old Testament), which may be briefly summarized as follows: the Pentateuch is compiled from various documents, the earliest of which is denoted by J (beginning at Gen. ii. 4) from the fact that its author regularly uses the divine name Jehovah (Yahweh). Its date is now usually given as about 800 B.C. In the next century the document E was composed, so called from its using Elohīm (God) instead of Yahweh. Both these documents are considered to have originated in the Northern kingdom, Israel, where also in the 8th century appeared the prophets Amos and Hosea. To the same period belong the book of Micah, the earlier parts of the books of Samuel, of Isaiah and of Proverbs, and perhaps some Psalms. In 722 B.C. Samaria was taken and the Northern kingdom ceased to exist. Judah suffered also, and it is not until a century later that any important literary activity is again manifested. The main part of the book of Deuteronomy was “found” shortly before 621 B.C. and about the same time appeared the prophets Jeremiah and Zephaniah, and perhaps the book of Ruth. A few years later (about 600) the two Pentateuchal documents J and E were woven together, the books of Kings were compiled, the book of Habakkuk and parts of the Proverbs were written. Early in the next century Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadrezzar, and the prophet Ezekiel was among the exiles with Jehoiachin. Somewhat later (c. 550) the combined document JE was edited by a writer under the influence of Deuteronomy, the later parts of the books of Samuel were written, parts of Isaiah, the books of Obadiah, Haggai, Zechariah and perhaps the later Proverbs. In the exile, but probably after 500 B.C., an important section of the Hexateuch, usually called the Priest’s Code (P), was drawn up. At various times in the same century are to be placed the book of Job, the post-exilic parts of Isaiah, the books of Joel, Jonah, Malachi and the Song of Songs. The Pentateuch (or Hexateuch) was finally completed in its present form at some time before 400 B.C. The latest parts of the Old Testament are the books of Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah (c. 330 B.C.), Ecclesiastes and Esther (3rd century) and Daniel, composed either in the 3rd century or according to some views as late as the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (c. 168 B.C.). With regard to the date of the Psalms, internal evidence, from the nature of the case, leads to few results which are convincing. The most reasonable view seems to be that the collection was formed gradually and that the process was going on during most of the period sketched above.
It is not to be supposed that all the contents of the Old Testament were immediately accepted as sacred, or that they were ever all regarded as being on the same level. The Torah, the Law delivered to Moses, held among the Apocryphal literature.Jews of the 4th century B.C. as it holds now, a pre-eminent position. The inclusion of other books in the Canon was gradual, and was effected only after centuries of debate. The Jews have always been, however, an intensely literary people, and the books ultimately accepted as canonical were only a selection from the literature in existence at the beginning of the Christian era. The rejected books receiving little attention have mostly either been altogether lost or have survived only in translations, as in the case of the Apocrypha. Hence from the composition of the latest canonical books to the redaction of the Mishna (see below) in the 2nd century A.D., the remains of Hebrew literature are very scanty. Of books of this period which are known to have existed in Hebrew or Aramaic up to the time of Jerome (and even later) we now possess most of the original Hebrew text of Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus) in a somewhat corrupt form, and fragments of an Aramaic text of a recension of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, both discovered within recent years. Besides definite works of this kind, there was also being formed during this period a large body of exegetical and legal material, for the most part orally transmitted, which only received its literary form much later. As Hebrew became less familiar to the people, a system of translating the text of the Law into the Aramaic vernacular verse by verse, was adopted in the synagogue. The beginnings of it are supposed to be indicated in Neh. viii. 8. The translation was no doubt originally extemporary, and varied with the individual translators, but its form gradually became fixed and was ultimately Targum.written down. It was called Targum, from the Aramaic targem, to translate. The earliest to be thus edited was the Targum of Onkelos (Onqelōs), the proselyte, on the Law. It received its final form in Babylonia probably in the 3rd century A.D. The Samaritan Targum, of about the same date, clearly rests on the same tradition. Parallel to Onkelos was another Targum on the Law, generally called pseudo-Jonathan, which was edited in the 7th century in Palestine, and is based on the same system of interpretation but is fuller and closer to the original tradition. There is also a fragmentary Targum (Palestinian) the relation of which to the others is obscure. It may be only a series of disconnected glosses on Onkelos. For the other books, the recognized Targum on the Prophets is that ascribed to Jonathan ben Uzziel (4th century?), which originated in Palestine, but was edited in Babylonia, so that it has the same history and linguistic character as Onkelos. Just as there is a Palestinian Targum on the Law parallel to the Babylonian Onkelos, so there is a Palestinian Targum (called Yerushalmi) on the Prophets parallel to that of Ben Uzziel, but of later date and incomplete. The Law and the Prophets being alone used in the services of the synagogue, there was no authorized version of the rest of the Canon. There are, however, Targumim on the Psalms and Job, composed in the 5th century, on Proverbs, resembling the Peshiṭtā version, on the five Meghillōth, paraphrastic and agadic (see below) in character, and on Chronicles—all Palestinian. There is also a second Targum on Esther. There is none on Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah.
We must now return to the 2nd century. During the period which followed the later canonical books, not only was translation, and therefore exegesis, cultivated, but even more the amplification of the Law. According to Jewish teaching Halakhah. (e.g. Abhoth i. 1) Moses received on Mount Sinai not only the written Law as set down in the Pentateuch, but also the Oral Law, which he communicated personally to the 70 elders and through them by a “chain of tradition” to succeeding ages. The application of this oral law is called Halakhah, the rules by which a man’s daily “walk” is regulated. The halakhah was by no means inferior in prestige to the written Law. Indeed some teachers even went so far as to ascribe a higher value to it, since it comes into closer relation with the details of everyday life. It was not independent of the written Law, still less could it be in opposition to it. Rather it was implicitly contained in the Torah, and the duty of the teacher was to show this. It was therefore of the first importance that the chain of tradition should be continuous and trustworthy. The line is traced through biblical teachers to Ezra, the first of the Sōpherīm or scribes, who handed on the charge to the “men of the Great Synagogue,” a much-discussed term for a body or succession of teachers inaugurated by Ezra. The last member of it, Simon the Just (either Simon I., who died about 300 B.C., or Simon II., who died about 200 B.C.), was the first of the next series, called Elders, represented in the tradition by pairs of teachers, ending with Hillel and Shammai about the beginning of the Christian era. Their pupils form the starting-point of the next series, the Tannāīm (from Aram. tenā to teach), who occupy the first two centuries A.D.
By this time the collection of halakhic material had become very large and various, and after several attempts had been made to reduce it to uniformity, a code of oral tradition was finally drawn up in the 2nd century by Judah ha-Nasī, Mishnah.called Rabbi par excellence. This was the Mishnah. Its name is derived from the Hebrew shanah, corresponding to the Aramaic tenā, and therefore a suitable name for a tannaitic work, meaning the repetition or teaching of the oral law. It is written in the Hebrew of the schools (leshōn hakhamīm) which differs in many respects from that of the Old Testament (see Hebrew Language). It is divided into six “orders,” according to subject, and each order is subdivided into chapters. In making his selection of halakhōth, Rabbi used the earlier compilations, which are quoted as “words of Rabbi ‘Aqība” or of R. Me‘īr, but rejected much which was afterwards collected under the title of Tosefta (addition) and Baraita (outside the Mishnah).
Traditional teaching was, however, not confined to halakhah. As observed above, it was the duty of the teachers to show the connexion of practical rules with the written Law, the more so since the Sadducees rejected the authority Midrash.of the oral law as such. Hence arises Midrash, exposition, from darash to “investigate” a scriptural passage. Of this halakhic Midrash we possess that on Exodus, called Mekhilta, that on Leviticus, called Sifra, and that on Numbers and Deuteronomy, called Sifrē. All of these were drawn up in the period of the Amorāīm, the order of teachers who succeeded the Tannāīm, from the close of the Mishnah to about A.D. 500. The term Midrash, however, more commonly implies agada, i.e. the homiletical exposition of the text, with illustrations designed to make it more attractive to the readers or hearers. Picturesque teaching of this kind was always popular, and specimens of it are familiar in the Gospel discourses. It began, as a method, with the Sōpherīm (though there are traces in the Old Testament itself), and was most developed among the Tannāīm and Amorāīm, rivalling even the study of halakhah. As the existing halakhōth were collected and edited in the Mishnah, so the much larger agadic material was gathered together and arranged in the Midrashīm. Apart from the agadic parts of the earlier Mekhilta, Sifra and Sifrē, the most important of these collections (which are anonymous) form a sort of continuous commentary on various books of the Bible. They were called Rabbōth (great Midrashīm) to distinguish them from preceding smaller collections. Bereshīth Rabba, on Genesis, and Ēkhah Rabbatī, on Lamentations, were probably edited in the 7th century. Of the same character and of about the same date are the Pesīqta, on the lessons for Sabbaths and feast-days, and Wayyiqra R. on Leviticus. A century perhaps later is the Tanḥūma, on the sections of the Pentateuch, and later still the Pesīqta Rabbatī, Shemōth R. (on Exodus), Bemidhbar R. (on Numbers), Debharīm R. (on Deuteronomy). There are also Midrashīm on the Canticle, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Esther and the Psalms, belonging to this later period, the Pirqē R. Eliezer, of the 8th or 9th century, a sort of history of creation and of the patriarchs, and the Tanna debē Eliyahū (an ethical work of the 10th century but containing much that is old), besides a large number of minor compositions. In general, these performed very much the same function as the lives of saints in the early and medieval church. Very important for the study of Midrashic literature are the Yalqūṭ (gleaning) Shim’ōnī, on the whole Bible, the Yalqūṭ Mekhīrī, on the Prophets, Psalms, Proverbs and Job, and the Midrash ha-gadhōl, all of which are of uncertain but late date and preserve earlier material. The last, which is preserved in MSS. from Yemen, is especially valuable as representing an independent tradition.
Meanwhile, if agadic exegesis was popular in the centuries following the redaction of the Mishna, the study of halakhah was by no means neglected. As the discussion of the Law led up to the compilation of the Mishnah, so the Talmud. Mishnah itself became in turn the subject of further discussion. The material thus accumulated, both halakhic and agadic, forming a commentary on and amplification of the Mishnah, was eventually written down under the name of Gemara (from gemar, to learn completely), the two together forming the Talmud (properly “instruction”). The tradition, as in the case of the Targums, was again twofold; that which had grown up in the Palestinian Schools and that of Babylonia. The foundation, however, the Mishnah, was the same in both. Both works were due to the Amoraim and were completed by about A.D. 500, though the date at which they were actually committed to writing is very uncertain. It is probable that notes or selections were from time to time written down to help in teaching and learning the immense mass of material, in spite of the fact that even in Sherira’s time (11th century) such aids to memory were not officially recognized. Both Talmuds are arranged according to the six orders of the Mishnah, but the discussion of the Mishnic text often wanders off into widely different topics. Neither is altogether complete. In the Palestinian Talmud (Yerushalmī) the gemara of the 5th order (Qodashīm) and of nearly all the 6th (Ṭohōrōth) is missing, besides smaller parts. In the Babylonian Talmud (Babhlī) there is no gemara to the smaller tractates of Order 1, and to parts of ii., iv., v., vi. The language of both gemaras is in the main the Aramaic vernacular (western Aramaic in Yerushalmī, eastern in Babhlī), but early halakhic traditions (e.g. of Tannaitic origin) are given in their original form, and the discussion of them is usually also in Hebrew. Babhlī is not only greater in bulk than Yerushalmī, but has also received far greater attention, so that the name Talmud alone is often used for it. As being a constant object of study numerous commentaries have been written on the Talmud from the earliest times till the present. The most important of them for the understanding of the gemara (Babhlī) is that of Rashi (Solomon ben Isaac, d. 1104) with the Tōsafōth (additions, not to be confused with the Tosefta) chiefly by the French school of rabbis following Rashi. These are always printed in the editions on the same page as the Mishnah and Gemara, the whole, with various other matter, filling generally about 12 folio volumes. Since the introduction of printing, the Talmud is always cited by the number of the leaf in the first edition (Venice, 1520, &c.), to which all subsequent editions conform. In order to facilitate the practical study of the Talmud, it was natural that abridgements of it should be made. Two of these may be mentioned which are usually found in the larger editions: that by Isaac Alfasī (i.e. of Fez) in the 11th century, often cited in the Jewish manner as Rif; and that by Asher ben Yeḥīel (d. 1328) of Toledo, usually cited as Rabbenū Asher. The object of both was to collect all halakhōth having a practical importance, omitting all those which owing to circumstances no longer possess more than an academic interest, and excluding the discussions on them and all agada. Both add notes and explanations of their own, and both have in turn formed the text of commentaries.
With the Talmud, the anonymous period of Hebrew literature may be considered to end. Henceforward important works are produced not by schools but by particular teachers, who, however, no doubt often represent the opinions Masorah. of a school. There are two branches of work which partake of both characters, the Masorah and the Liturgy. The name Masorah (Massorah) is usually derived from masar, to hand on, and explained as “tradition.” According to others it is the word found in Ezek. xx. 37, meaning a “fetter.” Its object was to fix the biblical text unalterably. It is generally divided into the Great and the Small Masorah, forming together an apparatus criticus which grew up gradually in the course of centuries and now accompanies the text in most MSS. and printed editions to a greater or less extent. There are also separate masoretic treatises. Some system of the kind was necessary to guard against corruptions of copyists, while the care bestowed upon it no doubt reacted so as to enhance the sanctity ascribed to the text. Many apparent puerilities, such as the counting of letters and the marking of the middle point of books, had a practical use in enabling copyists of MSS. to determine the amount of work done. The registration of anomalies, such as the suspended letters, inverted nūns and larger letters, enabled any one to test the accuracy of a copy. But the work of the Masoretes was much greater than this. Their long lists of the occurrences of words and forms fixed with accuracy the present (Masoretic) text, which they had produced, and were invaluable to subsequent lexicographers, while their system of vowel-points and accents not only gives us the pronunciation and manner of reading traditional about the 7th century A.D., but frequently serves also the purpose of an explanatory commentary. (See further under Bible.) Most of the Masorah is anonymous, including the Massekheth Sōferīm (of various dates from perhaps the 6th to the 9th century) and the Okhlah we-Okhlah, but when the period of anonymous literature ceases, there appear (in the 10th century) Ben Asher of Tiberias, the greatest authority on the subject, and his opponent Ben Naphthali. Later on, Jacob ben Ḥayyīm arranged the Masorah for the great Bomberg Bible of 1524. Elias Levita’s Massoreth ha-Massoreth (1538) and Buxtorf’s Tiberias (1620) are also important.
We must now turn back to a most difficult subject—the growth of the Liturgy. We are not concerned here with indications of the ritual used in the Temple. Of the prayer-book as it is at present, the earliest parts are the Liturgy. Shema‘ (Deut. vi. 4, &c.) and the anonymous blessings commonly called Shemoneh ‘Esreh (the Eighteen), together with certain Psalms. (Readings from the Law and the Prophets [Haphṭarah] also formed part of the service.) To this framework were fitted, from time to time, various prayers, and, for festivals especially, numerous hymns. The earliest existing codification of the prayer-book is the Siddūr (order) drawn up by Amram Gaon of Sura about 850. Half a century later the famous Gaon Seadiah, also of Sura, issued his Siddūr, in which the rubrical matter is in Arabic. Besides the Siddūr, or order for Sabbaths and general use, there is the Maḥzōr (cycle) for festivals and fasts. In both there are ritual differences according to the Sephardic (Spanish), Ashkenazic (German-Polish), Roman (Greek and South Italian) and some minor uses, in the later additions to the Liturgy. The Maḥzor of each rite is also distinguished by hymns (piyyūṭīm) composed by authors (payyeṭanīm) of the district. The most important writers are Yoseh ben Yoseh, probably in the 6th century, chiefly known for his compositions for the day of Atonement, Eleazar Qalīr, the founder of the payyetanic style, perhaps in the 7th century, Seadiah, and the Spanish school consisting of Joseph ibn Abitur (died in 970), Ibn Gabirol, Isaac Gayyath, Moses ben Ezra, Abraham ben Ezra and Judah ha-levi, who will be mentioned below; later, Moses ben Naḥman and Isaac Luria the Kabbalist.
The order of the Amoraim, which ended with the close of the Talmud (A.D. 500), was succeeded by that of the Sabōrāīm, who merely continued and explained the work of their predecessors, and these again were followed by the The Geōnīm. Geōnīm, the heads of the schools of Sura and Pumbeditha in Babylonia. The office of Gaōn lasted for something over 400 years, beginning about A.D. 600, and varied in importance according to the ability of the holders of it. Individual Geōnīm produced valuable works (of which later), but what is perhaps most important from the point of view of the development of Judaism is the literature of their Responsa or answers to questions, chiefly on halakhic matters, addressed to them from various countries. Some of these were actual decisions of particular Geōnīm; others were an official summary of the discussion of the subject by the members of the School. They begin with Mar Rab Sheshna (7th century) and continue to Hai Gaon, who died in 1038, and are full of historical and literary interest. The She’iltōth (questions) of Rab Aḥai (8th century) also belong probably to the school of Pumbeditha, though their author was not Gaon. Besides the Responsa, but closely related to them, we have the lesser Halakhōth of Yehūdai Gaon of Sura (8th century) and the great Halakhōth of Simeon Qayyara of Sura (not Gaon) in the 9th century. In a different department there is the first Talmud lexicon (‘Arūkh) now lost, by Ẓemaḥ ben Palṭoi, Gaon of Pumbeditha in the 9th century. The Siddūr of Amram ben Sheshna has been already mentioned. All these writers, however, are entirely eclipsed by the commanding personality of the most famous of the Geōnīm, Seadiah ben Joseph (q.v.) of Sura, often called al-Fayyūmī (of the Fayum in Egypt), one of the greatest representatives of Jewish learning of all times, who died in 942. The last three holders of the office were also distinguished. Sherira of Pumbeditha (d. 998) was the author of the famous “Letter” (in the form of a Responsum to a question addressed to him by residents in Kairawan), an historical document of the highest value and the foundation of our knowledge of the history of tradition. His son Hai, last Gaon of Pumbeditha (d. 1038), a man of wide learning, wrote (partly in Arabic) not only numerous Responsa, but also treatises on law, commentaries on the Mishnah and the Bible, a lexicon called in Arabic al-Ḥāwī, and poems such as the Mūsar Haskel, but most of them are now lost or known only from translations or quotations. Though his teaching was largely directed against superstition, he seems to have been inclined to mysticism, and perhaps for this reason various kabbalistic works were ascribed to him in later times. His father-in-law Samuel ben Ḥophni, last Gaon of Sura (d. 1034), was a voluminous writer on law, translated the Pentateuch into Arabic, commented on much of the Bible, and composed an Arabic introduction to the Talmud, of which the existing Hebrew introduction (by Samuel the Nagid) is perhaps a translation. Most of his works are now lost.
In the Geonic period there came into prominence the sect of the Karaites (Benē miqrā), “followers of the Scripture”, the protestants of Judaism, who rejected rabbinical authority, basing their doctrine and practice exclusively on The Karaites. the Bible. The sect was founded by ‘Anan in the 8th century, and, after many vicissitudes, still exists. Their literature, with which alone we are here concerned, is largely polemical and to a great extent deals with grammar and exegesis. Of their first important authors, Benjamin al-Nehawendi and Daniel al-Qūmisī (both in the 9th century), little is preserved. In the 10th century Jacob al-Qirqisanī wrote his Kitāb al-anwār, on law, Solomon ben Yeruḥam (against Seadiah) and Yefet ben ‘Alī wrote exegetical works; in the 11th century Abū’l-faraj Furqān, exegesis, and Yūsuf al-Baṣīr against Samuel ben Ḥophni. Most of these wrote in Arabic. In the 12th century and in S. Europe, Judah Hadassi composed his Eshkol ha-Kōpher, a great theological compendium in the form of a commentary on the Decalogue. Other writers are Aaron (the elder) ben Joseph, 13th century, who wrote the commentary Sepher ha-mibhḥar; Aaron (the younger) of Nicomedia (14th century), author of ‘Eẓ Ḥayyīm, on philosophy, Gan ‘Eden, on law, and the commentary Kether Tōrah; in the 15th century Elijah Bashyaẓī, on law (Addereth Eliyahū), and Caleb Efendipoulo, poet and theologian; in the 16th century Moses Bashyaẓī, theologian. From the 12th century onward the sect gradually declined, being ultimately restricted mainly to the Crimea and Lithuania, learning disappeared and their literature became merely popular and of little interest. Much of it in later times was written in a curious Tatar dialect. Mention need only be made further of Isaac of Troki, whose anti-Christian polemic Ḥizzūq Emūnah (1593) was translated into English by Moses Mocatta under the title of Faith Strengthened (1851); Solomon of Troki, whose Appiryōn, an account of Karaism, was written at the request of Pufendorf (about 1700); and Abraham Firkovich, who, in spite of his impostures, did much for the literature of his people about the middle of the 19th century. (See also Qaraites.)
To return to the period of the Geōnīm. While the schools of Babylonia were flourishing as the religious head of Judaism, the West, and especially Spain under Moorish rule, was becoming the home of Jewish scholarship. On the Medieval scholarship. breaking up of the schools many of the fugitives fled to the West and helped to promote rabbinical learning there. The communities of Fez, Kairawan and N. Africa were in close relation with those of Spain, and as early as the beginning of the 9th century Judah ben Quraish of Tahort had composed his Risālah (letter) to the Jews of Fez on grammatical subjects from a comparative point of view, and a dictionary now lost. His work was used in the 10th century by Menahem ben Sarūq, of Cordova, in his Mahbereth (dictionary). Menahem’s system of bi-literal and uni-literal roots was violently attacked by Dūnash ibn Labrāṭ, and as violently defended by the author’s pupils. Among these was Judah Ḥayyūj of Cordova, the father of modern Hebrew grammar, who first established the principle of tri-literal roots. His treatises on the verbs, written in Arabic, were translated into Hebrew by Moses Giqatilla (11th century), himself a considerable grammarian and commentator, and by Ibn Ezra. His system was adopted by Abū’l-walīd ibn Jannāḥ, of Saragossa (died early in the 11th century), in his lexicon (Kitāb al-uṣūl, in Arabic) and other works. In Italy appeared the invaluable Talmud-lexicon (‘Arūkh) by Nathan b. Yehiel, of Rome (d. 1106), who was indirectly indebted to Babylonian teaching. He does not strictly follow the system of Ḥayyūj. Other works of a different kind also originated in Italy about this time: the very popular history of the Jews, called Josippon (probably of the 10th or even 9th century), ascribed to Joseph ben Gōriōn (Gorionides); the medical treatises of Shabbethai Donnolo (10th century) and his commentary on the Sepher Yeẓīrah, the anonymous and earliest Hebrew kabbalistic work ascribed to the patriarch Abraham. In North Africa, probably in the 9th century, appeared the book known under the name of Eldad ha-Danī, giving an account of the ten tribes, from which much medieval legend was derived; and in Kairawan the medical and philosophical treatises of Isaac Israeli, who died in 932.
The aim of the grammatical studies of the Spanish school was ultimately exegesis. This had already been cultivated in the East. In the 9th century Ḥīvī of Balkh wrote a rationalistic treatise on difficulties in the Bible, Exegesis. which was refuted by Seadiah. The commentaries of the Geonim have been mentioned above. The impulse to similar work in the West came also from Babylonia. In the 10th century Ḥushīel, one of four prisoners, perhaps from Babylonia, though that is doubtful, was ransomed and settled at Kairawan, where he acquired great reputation as a Talmudist. His son Hananeel (d. 1050) wrote a commentary on (probably all) the Talmud, and one now lost on the Pentateuch. Hananeel’s contemporary Nissīm ben Jacob, of Kairawan, who corresponded with Hai Gaon of Pumbeditha as well as with Samuel the Nagīd in Spain, likewise wrote on the Talmud, and is probably the author of a collection of Ma‘asiyyōth or edifying stories, besides works now lost. The activity in North Africa reacted on Spain. There the most prominent figure was that of Samuel ibn Nagdela (or Nagrela), generally known as Samuel the Nagīd or head of the Jewish settlement, who died in 1055. As vizier to the Moorish king at Granada, he was not only a patron of learning, but himself a man of wide knowledge and a considerable author. Some of his poems are extant, and an Introduction to the Talmud mentioned above. In grammar he followed Ḥayyūj, whose pupil he was. Among others he was the patron of Solomon ibn Gabirol (q.v.), the poet and philosopher. To this period belong Ḥafẓ al-Qūṭī (the Goth?) who made a version of the Psalms in Arabic rhyme, and Baḥya (more correctly Beḥai) ibn Paqūda, dayyan at Saragossa, whose Arabic ethical treatise has always had great popularity among the Jews in its Hebrew translation, Ḥōbhōth ha-lebhabhōth. He also composed liturgical poems. At the end of the 11th century Judah ibn Bal’am wrote grammatical works and commentaries (on the Pentateuch, Isaiah, &c.) in Arabic; the liturgist Isaac Gayyath (d. in 1089 at Cordova) wrote on ritual. Moses Giqatilla has been already mentioned.
The French school of the 11th century was hardly less important. Gershom ben Judah, the “Light of the Exile” (d. in 1040 at Mainz), a famous Talmudist and commentator, his pupil Jacob ben Yaqar, and Moses of Rashi. Narbonne, called ha-Darshan, the “Exegete,” were the forerunners of the greatest of all Jewish commentators, Solomon ben Isaac (Rashi), who died at Troyes in 1105. Rashi was a pupil of Jacob ben Yaqar, and studied at Worms and Mainz. Unlike his contemporaries in Spain, he seems to have confined himself wholly to Jewish learning, and to have known nothing of Arabic or other languages except his native French. Yet no commentator is more valuable or indeed more voluminous, and for the study of the Talmud he is even now indispensable. He commented on all the Bible and on nearly all the Talmud, has been himself the text of several super-commentaries, and has exercised great influence on Christian exegesis. The biblical commentary was translated into Latin by Breithaupt (Gotha, 1710-1714), that on the Pentateuch rather freely into German by L. Dukes (Prag, 1838, in Hebrew-German characters, with the text), and parts by others. Closely connected with Rashi, or of his school, are Joseph Qara, of Troyes (d. about 1130), the commentator, and his teacher Menahem ben Ḥelbō, Jacob ben Me’īr, called Rabbenū Tam (d. 1171), the most important of the Tosaphists (v. sup.), and later in the 12th century the liberal and rationalizing Joseph Bekhōr Shōr, and Samuel ben Me’īr (d. about 1174) of Ramerupt, commentator and Talmudist.
In the 12th and 13th centuries literature maintained a high level in Spain. Abraham bar Ḥiyya, known to Christian scholars as Abraham Judaeus (d. about 1136), was a mathematician, astronomer and philosopher much studied in the middle ages. Moses ben Ezra, of Granada (d. about 1140), wrote in Arabic a philosophical work based on Greek and Arabic as well as Jewish authorities, known by the name of the Hebrew translation as ‘Arūgath ha-bosem, and the Kitāb al-Maḥaḍarah, of great value for literary history. He is even better known as a poet, for his Dīwān and the ‘Anaq, and as a hymn-writer. His relative Abraham ben Ezra, generally called simply Ibn Ezra, was still more distinguished. He was born at Toledo, spent most of his life in travel, wandering even to England and to the East, and died in 1167. Yet he contrived to write his great commentary on the Pentateuch and other books of the Bible, treatises on philosophy (as the Yesōdh mōra), astronomy, mathematics, grammar (translation of Ḥayyūj), besides a Dīwān. The man, however, who shares with Ibn Gabirol the first place in Jewish poetry is Judah Ha-levi, of Toledo, who died in Jerusalem about 1140. His poems, both secular and religious, contained in his Dīwān and scattered in the liturgy, are all in Hebrew, though he employed Arabic metres. In Arabic he wrote his philosophical work, called in the Hebrew translation Sepher ha-Kūzarī, a defence of revelation as against non-Jewish philosophy and Qaraite doctrine. It shows considerable knowledge of Greek and Arabic thought (Avicenna). Joseph ibn Mīgāsh (d. 1141 at Lucena), a friend of Judah Ha-levi and of Moses ben Ezra, wrote Responsa and Ḥiddūshīn (annotations) on parts of the Talmud. In another sphere mention must be made of the travellers Benjamin of Tudela (d. after 1173), whose Massa’ōth are of great value for the history and geography of his time, and (though not belonging to Spain) Pethahiah, of Regensburg (d. about 1190), who wrote short notes of his journeys. Abraham ben David, of Toledo (d. about 1180), in philosophy an Aristotelian (through Avicenna) and the precursor of Maimonides, is chiefly known for his Sepher ha-qabbalah, written as a polemic against Karaism, but valuable for the history of tradition.
The greatest of all medieval Jewish scholars was Moses ben Maimōn (Rambam), called Maimonides by Christians. He was born at Cordova in 1135, fled with his parents from persecution in 1148, settled at Fez in 1160, passing Maimonides. there for a Moslem, fled again to Jerusalem in 1165, and finally went to Cairo where he died in 1204. He was distinguished in his profession as a physician, and wrote a number of medical works in Arabic (including a commentary on the aphorisms of Hippocrates), all of which were translated into Hebrew, and most of them into Latin, becoming the textbooks of Europe in the succeeding centuries. But his fame rests mainly on his theological works. Passing over the less important, these are the Mōreh Nebhūkhīm (so the Hebrew translation of the Arabic original), an endeavour to show philosophically the reasonableness of the faith, parts of which, translated into Latin, were studied by the Christian schoolmen, and the Mishneh Tōrah, also called Yad haḥazaqah (יד = 14, the number of the parts), a classified compendium of the Law, written in Hebrew and early translated into Arabic. The latter of these, though generally accepted in the East, was much opposed in the West, especially at the time by the Talmudist Abraham ben David of Posquières (d. 1198). Maimonides also wrote an Arabic commentary on the Mishnah, soon afterwards translated into Maimonists and anti-Maimonists. Hebrew, commentaries on parts of the Talmud (now lost), and a treatise on Logic. His breadth of view and his Aristotelianism were a stumbling-block to the orthodox, and subsequent teachers may be mostly classified as Maimonists or anti-Maimonists. Even his friend Joseph ibn ‘Aqnīn (d. 1226), author of a philosophical treatise in Arabic and of a commentary on the Song of Solomon, found so much difficulty in the new views that the Mōreh Nebhūkhīm was written in order to convince him. Maimonides’ son Abraham (d. 1234), also a great Talmudist, wrote in Arabic Ma‘aseh Yerūshalmī, on oaths, and Kitāb al-Kifāyah, theology. His grandson David was also an author. A very different person was Moses ben Naḥman (Ramban) or Nahmanides, who was born at Gerona in 1194 and died in Palestine about 1270. His whole tendency was as conservative as that of Maimonides was liberal, and like all conservatives he may be said to represent a lost though not necessarily a less desirable cause. Much of his life was spent in controversy, not only with Christians (in 1293 before the king of Aragon), but also with his own people and on the views of the time. His greatest work is the commentary on the Pentateuch in opposition to Maimonides and Ibn Ezra. He had a strong inclination to mysticism, but whether certain kabbalistic works are rightly attributed to him is doubtful. It is, however, not a mere coincidence that the two great kabbalistic textbooks, the Bahir and the Zohar (both meaning “brightness”), appear first in the 13th century. If not due to his teaching they are at least in sympathy with it. The Bahir, a sort of outline of the Zohar, and traditionally ascribed to Neḥunya (1st century), is believed by some to be the work of Isaac the Blind ben Abraham of Posquières (d. early in the 13th century), the founder of the modern Kabbalah and the author of the names for the 10 Sephīrōth. The Zohar, supposed to be by Simeon ben Yoḥai (2nd century), is now generally attributed to Moses of Leon (d. 1305), who, however, drew his material in part from earlier written or traditional sources, such as the Sepher Yeẓīrah. At any rate the work was immediately accepted by the kabbalists, and has formed the basis of all subsequent study of the subject. Though put into the form of a commentary on the Pentateuch, it is really an exposition of the kabbalistic view of the universe, and incidentally shows considerable acquaintance with the natural science of the time. A pupil, though not a follower of Nahmanides, was Solomon Adreth (not Addereth), of Barcelona (d. 1310), a prolific writer of Talmudic and polemical works (against the Kabbalists and Mahommedans) as well as of responsa. He was opposed by Abraham Abulafia (d. about 1291) and his pupil Joseph Giqatilla (d. about 1305), the author of numerous kabbalistic works. Solomon’s pupil Baḥya ben Asher, of Saragossa (d. 1340) was the author of a very popular commentary on the Pentateuch and of religious discourses entitled Kad ha-qemaḥ, in both of which, unlike his teacher, he made large use of the Kabbalah. Other studies, however, were not neglected. In the first half of the 13th century, Abraham ibn Ḥasdai, a vigorous supporter of Maimonides, translated (or adapted) a large number of philosophical works from Arabic, among them being the Sepher ha-tappūaḥ, based on Aristotle’s de Anima, and the Mōzenē Ẓedeq of Ghazzali on moral philosophy, of both of which the originals are lost. Another Maimonist was Shem Ṭōbh ben Joseph Falaquera (d. after 1290), philosopher (following Averroes), poet and author of a commentary on the Mōreh. A curious mixture of mysticism and Aristotelianism is seen in Isaac Aboab (about 1300), whose Menorath ha-Ma’ōr, a collection of agadōth, attained great popularity and has been frequently printed and translated. Somewhat earlier in the 13th century lived Judah al-Ḥarīzī, who belongs in spirit to the time of Ibn Gabirol and Judah ha-levi. He wrote numerous translations, of Galen, Aristotle, Ḥarīrī, Ḥunain ben Isaac and Maimonides, as well as several original works, a Sepher ‘Anaq in imitation of Moses ben Ezra, and treatises on grammar and medicine (Rephūath geviyyah), but he is best known for his Taḥkemōnī, a diwan in the style of Ḥarīrī’s Maqāmāt.
Meanwhile the literary activity of the Jews in Spain had its effect on those of France. The fact that many of the most important works were written in Arabic, the vernacular of the Spanish Jews under the Moors, which was not understood in France, gave rise to a number of translations into Hebrew, chiefly by the family of Ibn Tibbōn (or Tabbōn). The first of them, Judah ibn Tibbōn, translated works of Baḥya ibn Paqūdah, Judah ha-levi, Seadiah, Abū’lwalīd and Ibn Gabirol, besides writing works of his own. He was a native of Granada, but migrated to Lunel, where he probably died about 1190. His son Samuel, who died at Marseilles about 1230, was equally prolific. He translated the Mōreh Nebhūkhīm during the life of the author, and with some help from him, so that this may be regarded as the authorized version; Maimonides’ commentary on the Mishnah tractate Pirqē Abhōth, and some minor works; treatises of Averroes and other Arabic authors. His original works are mostly biblical commentaries and some additional matter on the Mōreh. His son Moses, who died about the end of the 13th century, translated the rest of Maimonides, much of Averroes, the lesser Canon of Avicenna, Euclid’s Elements (from the Arabic version), Ibn al-Jazzār’s Viaticum, medical works of Ḥunain ben Isaac (Johannitius) and Razi (Rhazes), besides works of less-known Arabic authors. His original works are commentaries and perhaps a treatise on immortality. His nephew Jacob ben Makhīr, of Montpellier (d. about 1304), translated Arabic scientific works, such as parts of Averroes and Ghazzali, Arabic versions from the Greek, as Euclid’s Data, Autolycus, Menelaus (מיליום) and Theodosius on the Sphere, and Ptolemy’s Almagest. He also compiled astronomical tables and a treatise on the quadrant. The great importance of these translations is that many of them were afterwards rendered into Latin, thus making Arabic and, through it, Greek learning accessible to medieval Europe. Another important family about this time is that of Qimḥi (or Qamḥi). It also originated in Spain, where Joseph ben Isaac Qimḥi was born, who migrated to S. France, probably for the same reason which caused the flight of Maimonides, and died there about 1170. He wrote on grammar (Sepher ha-galui and Sepher Zikkaron), commentaries on Proverbs and the Song of Solomon, an apologetic work, Sepher ha-berīth, and a translation of Baḥya’s Ḥōbhōth ha-lebhabhōth. His son Moses (d. about 1190) also wrote on grammar and some commentaries, wrongly attributed to Ibn Ezra. A younger son, David (Radaq) of Narbonne (d. 1235) is the most famous of the name. His great work, the Mikhlōl, consists of a grammar and lexicon; his commentaries on various parts of the Bible are admirably luminous, and, in spite of his anti-Christian remarks, have been widely used by Christian theologians and largely influenced the English authorized version of the Bible. A friend of Joseph Qimḥi, Jacob ben Me’īr, known as Rabbenū Tam of Ramerupt (d. 1171), the grandson of Rashi, wrote the Sepher ha-yashar (ḥiddūshīn and responsa) and was one of the chief Tosaphists. Of the same school were Menahem ben Simeon of Posquières, a commentator, who died about the end of the 12th century, and Moses ben Jacob of Coucy (13th century), author of the Semag (book of precepts, positive and negative) a very popular and valuable halakhic work. A younger contemporary of David Qimḥi was Abraham ben Isaac Bedersi (i.e. of Béziers), the poet, and some time in the 13th century lived Joseph Ezobhi of Perpignan, whose ethical poem, Qe‘arath Yōseph, was translated by Reuchlin and later by others. Berachiah, the compiler of the “Fox Fables” (which have much in common with the “Ysopet” of Marie de France), is generally thought to have lived in Provence in the 13th century, but according to others in England in the 12th century. In Germany, Eleazar ben Judah of Worms (d. 1238), besides being a Talmudist, was an earnest promoter of kabbalistic studies. Isaac ben Moses (d. about 1270), who had studied in France, wrote the famous Or Zarūa‘ (from which he is often called), an halakhic work somewhat resembling Maimonides’ Mishneh Tōrah, but more diffuse. In the course of his wanderings he settled for a time at Würzburg, where he had as a pupil Me’īr of Rothenburg (d. 1293). The latter was a prolific writer of great influence, chiefly known for his Responsa, but also for his halakhic treatises, ḥiddūshīn and tōsaphōth. He also composed a number of piyyūṭīm. Me’īr’s pupil, Mordecai ben Hillel of Nürnberg (d. 1298), had an even greater influence through his halakhic work, usually known as the Mordekhai. This is a codification of halakhōth, based on all the authorities then known, some of them now lost. Owing to the fact that the material collected by Mordecai was left to his pupils to arrange, the work was current in two recensions, an Eastern (in Austria) and a Western (in Germany, France, &c.). In the East, Tanḥūm ben Joseph of Jerusalem was the author of commentaries (not to be confounded with the Midrash Tanḥūmā) on many books of the Bible, and of an extensive lexicon (Kitāb al-Murshid) to the Mishnah, all in Arabic.
With the 13th century Hebrew literature may be said to have reached the limit of its development. Later writers to a large extent used over again the materials of their predecessors, while secular works tend to be influenced by the surrounding civilization, or even are composed in the vernacular languages. From the 14th century onward only the most notable names can be mentioned. In Italy Immanuel ben Solomon, of Rome (d. about 1330), perhaps the friend and certainly the imitator of Dante, wrote his diwan, of which the last part, “Topheth ve-‘Eden,” is suggested by the Divina Commedia. In Spain Israel Israeli, of Toledo (d. 1326), was a translator and the author of an Arabic work on ritual and a commentary on Pirqē Abhōth. About the same time Isaac Israeli wrote his Yesōdh ‘Olam and other astronomical works which were much studied. Asher ben Jehiel, a pupil of Me’īr of Rothenburg, was the author of the popular Talmudic compendium, generally quoted as Rabbenu Asher, on the lines of Alfasi, besides other halakhic works. He migrated from Germany and settled at Toledo, where he died in 1328. His son Jacob, of Toledo (d. 1340), was the author of the Tūr (or the four Ṭūrīm), a most important manual of Jewish law, serving as an abridgement of the Mishneh Tōrah brought up to date. His pupil David Abudrahim, of Seville (d. after 1340), wrote a commentary on the liturgy. Both the 14th and 15th centuries in Spain were largely taken up with controversy, as by Isaac ibn Pulgar (about 1350), and Shem Ṭōbh ibn Shaprūṭ (about 1380), who translated St Matthew’s gospel into Hebrew. In France Jedaiah Bedersi, i.e. of Béziers (d. about 1340), wrote poems (Beḥīnath ha-‘ōlam), commentaries on agada and a defence of Maimonides against Solomon Adreth. Levi ben Gershom (d. 1344), called Ralbag, the great commentator on the Bible and Talmud, in philosophy a follower of Aristotle and Averroes, known to Christians as Leo Hebraeus, wrote also many works on halakhah, mathematics and astronomy. Joseph Kaspī, i.e. of Largentière (d. 1340), wrote a large number of treatises on grammar and philosophy (mystical), besides commentaries and piyyūṭim. In the first half of the 14th century lived the two translators Qalonymos ben David and Qalonymos ben Qalonymos, the latter of whom translated many works of Galen and Averroes, and various scientific treatises, besides writing original works, e.g. one against Kaspī, and an ethical work entitled Eben Bōḥan. At the end of the century Isaac ben Moses, called Profiat Duran (Efodi), is chiefly known as an anti-Christian controversialist (letter to Me’īr Alguadez), but also wrote on grammar (Ma‘aseh Efod) and a commentary on the Mōreh. In philosophy he was an Aristotelian. About the same time in Spain controversy was very active. Ḥasdai Crescas (d. 1410) wrote against Christianity and in his Or Adōnai against the Aristotelianism of the Maimonists. His pupil Joseph Albo in his ‘Iqqarīm had the same two objects. On the side of the Maimonists was Simeon Duran (d. at Algiers 1444) in his Magen Abhōth and in his numerous commentaries. Shem Ṭōbh ibn Shem Ṭōbh, the kabbalist, was a strong anti-Maimonist, as was his son Joseph of Castile (d. 1480), a commentator with kabbalistic tendencies but versed in Aristotle, Averroes and Christian doctrine. Joseph’s son Shem Ṭōbh was, on the contrary, a follower of Maimonides and the Aristotelians. In other subjects, Saadyah ibn Danān, of Granada (d. at Oran after 1473), is chiefly important for his grammar and lexicon, in Arabic; Judah ibn Verga, of Seville (d. after 1480), was a mathematician and astronomer; Solomon ibn Verga, somewhat later, wrote Shebeṭ Yehūdah, of doubtful value historically; Abraham Zakkuth or Zakkuto, of Salamanca (d. after 1510), astronomer, wrote the Sepher Yuḥasīn, an historical work of importance. In Italy, Obadiah Bertinoro (d. about 1500) compiled his very useful commentary on the Mishnah, based on those of Rashi and Maimonides. His account of his travels and his letters are also of great interest. Isaac Abravanel (d. 1508) wrote commentaries (not of the first rank) on the Pentateuch and Prophets and on the Mōreh, philosophical treatises and apologetics, such as the Yeshū‘oth Meshīḥō, all of which had considerable influence. Elijah Delmedigo, of Crete (d. 1497), a strong opponent of Kabbalah, was the author of the philosophical treatise Beḥīnath ha-dath, but most of his work (on Averroes) was in Latin.
The introduction of printing (first dated Hebrew printed book, Rashi, Reggio, 1475) gave occasion for a number of scholarly compositors and proof-readers, some of whom were also authors, such as Jacob ben Ḥayyīm of Tunis Later writers. (d. about 1530), proof-reader to Bomberg, chiefly known for his masoretic work in connexion with the Rabbinic Bible and his introduction to it; Elias Levita, of Venice (d. 1549), also proof-reader to Bomberg, author of the Massoreth ha-Massoreth and other works on grammar and lexicography; and Cornelius Adelkind, who however was not an author. In the East, Joseph Karo (Qārō) wrote his Bēth Yōseph (Venice, 1550), a commentary on the Ṭūr, and his Shulḥan ‘Arūkh (Venice, 1564) an halakhic work like the Ṭūr, which is still a standard authority. The influence of non-Jewish methods is seen in the more modern tendency of Azariah dei Rossi, who was opposed by Joseph Karo. In his Me’ōr ‘Enayīm (Mantua, 1573) Del Rossi endeavoured to investigate Jewish history in a scientific spirit, with the aid of non-Jewish authorities, and even criticizes Talmudic and traditional statements. Another historian living also in Italy was Joseph ben Joshua, whose Dibhrē ha-yamīm (Venice, 1534) is a sort of history of the world, and his ‘Emeq ha-bakhah an account of Jewish troubles to the year 1575. In Germany David Gans wrote on astronomy, and also the historical work Ẓemaḥ David (Prag, 1592). The study of Kabbalah was promoted and the practical Kabbalah founded by Isaac Luria in Palestine (d. 1572). Numerous works, representing the extreme of mysticism, were published by his pupils as the result of his teaching. Foremost among these was Ḥayyīm Vital, author of the ’Ez ḥayyīm, and his son Samuel, who wrote an introduction to the Kabbalah, called Shemoneh She‘arīm. To the same school belonged Moses Zakkuto, of Mantua (d. 1697), poet and kabbalist. Contemporary with Luria and also living at Safed, was Moses Cordovero (d. 1570), the kabbalist, whose chief work was the Pardes Rimmōnīm (Cracow, 1591). In the 17th century Leon of Modena (d. 1648) wrote his Bēth Yehūdah, and probably Qōl Sakhal, against traditionalism, besides many controversial works and commentaries. Joseph Delmedigo, of Prag (d. 1655), wrote almost entirely on scientific subjects. Also connected with Prag was Yōm Ṭōbh Lipmann Heller, a voluminous author, best known for the Tōsaphōth Yōm Tōbh on the Mishna (Prag, 1614; Cracow, 1643). Another important Talmudist, Shabbethai ben Me’īr, of Wilna (d. 1662), commented on the Shulḥan ‘Arūkh. In the East, David Conforte (d. about 1685) wrote the historical work Qōrē ha-dōrōth (Venice, 1746), using Jewish and other sources; Jacob ben Ḥayyīm Ẓemaḥ, kabbalist and student of Luria, wrote Qōl be-ramah, a commentary on the Zohar and on the liturgy; Abraham Hayekīnī, kabbalist, chiefly remembered as a supporter of the would-be Messiah, Shabbethai Zebhī, wrote Hōd Malkūth (Constantinople, 1655) and sermons. In the 18th century the study of the kabbalah was cultivated by Moses Ḥayyīm Luzzatto (d. 1747) and by Elijah ben Solomon, called Gaon, of Wilna (d. 1797), who commented on the whole Bible and on many Talmudic and kabbalistic works. In spite of his own leaning towards mysticism he was a strong opponent of the Ḥasīdīm, a mystical sect founded by Israel Ba’al Shem Ṭōbh (Beshṭ) and promoted by Baer of Meseritz. Elijah’s son Abraham (d. 1808), the commentator, is valuable for his work on Midrash. An historical work which makes an attempt to be scientific, is the Seder ha-dōrōth of Yeḥiel Heilprin (d. 1746). These, however, belong in spirit to the previous century.
The characteristic of the 18th and 19th centuries is the endeavour, connected with the name of Moses Mendelssohn, to bring Judaism more into relation with external learning, and in using the Hebrew language to purify Modernizing tendencies. and develop it in accordance with the biblical standard. The result, while linguistically more uniform and pleasing, often lacks the spontaneity of medieval literature. It was Moses Mendelssohn’s German translation of the Pentateuch (1780-1793) which marked the new spirit, while the views of his opponents belong to a bygone age. In fact the controversy of which he was the centre may fitly be compared with the earlier battles between the Maimonists and anti-Maimonists. One of the most remarkable writers of the new Hebrew was Mendelssohn’s friend N. H. Wessely, of Hamburg (d. 1805), author of Shīrē Tiphe‘reth, a long poem on the Exodus, Dibhrē Shalōm, a plea for liberalism, Sepher ha-middōth, on ethics, besides philological works and commentaries. A curious combination of new and old was Ḥayyīm Azulai (d. 1807), a kabbalist, but also the author of Shem ha-gedhōlīm, a valuable contribution to literary history.
In the 19th century the modernizing tendency continued to grow, though always side by side with a strong conservative opposition, and the most prominent names on both sides are those of scholars rather than literary men. Among them may be mentioned, Akiba (‘Aqībhā) Eger (d. 1837), Talmudist of the orthodox, conservative school; W. Heidenheim (d. 1832), a liberal, and editor of the Pentateuch and Maḥzor; N. Krochmal, of Galicia (d. 1840), author of Mōreh Nebhūkhē ha-zeman, on Jewish history and literature; his son Abraham (d. 1895), conservative commentator and philosopher. One consequence of the Mendelssohn movement was that many writers used their vernacular language besides or instead of Hebrew, or translated from one to the other. Thus Isaac Samuel Reggio (d. 1855), a strong liberal, wrote both in Hebrew and Italian; Joseph Almanzi, of Padua (d. 1860), a poet, translated Italian poems into Hebrew; S. D. Luzzatto, of Padua (d. 1865), a distinguished scholar and opponent of the philosophy of Maimonides, wrote much in Italian; M. H. Letteris, of Vienna (d. 1871), translated German poems into Hebrew; S. Bacher, of Hungary (d. 1891), was a poet and moderate liberal; L. Gordon (d. 1892), poet and prose-writer in Hebrew and Russian, of liberal views; A. Jellinek, of Vienna (d. 1893), preacher and scholar; Jacob Reifmann (d. 1895), scholar, wrote only in Hebrew. The endeavour to bring Judaism into relation with the modern world and to change the current impressions about Jews by making their teaching accessible to the rest of the world, is connected chiefly with the names of Z. Frankel (d. 1875), the first Jewish scholar to study the Septuagint; Abraham Geiger (d. 1874), critic of the first rank; L. Zunz (d. 1884) and L. Dukes (d. 1891), both scholarly investigators of Jewish literary history. Their most important works are in German. The question of the use of the vernacular or of Hebrew is bound up with the differences between the orthodox and the liberal or reform parties, complicated by the many problems involved. Patriotic efforts are made to encourage the use of Hebrew both for writing and speaking, but the continued existence of it as a literary language depends on the direction in which the future history of the Jews will develop.
Bibliography.—Only the more comprehensive works are mentioned here, omitting those relating to particular authors, and those already cited.
Introductory: Abrahams, Short History of Jewish Literature (London, 1906); Steinschneider, Jewish Literature (London, 1857); Winter and Wünsche, Die jüdische Literatur (Leipzig, 1893-1895) (containing selections translated into German).
For further study: Graetz, Geschichte der Juden (Leipzig, 1853, &c.) (the volumes are in various editions), with special reference to the notes; English translation by B. Löwy (London, 1891-1892) (without the notes); Zunz, Gottesdienstliche Vorträge der Juden (new ed., Frankfort-on-Main, 1892); Zur Geschichte und Literatur (Berlin, 1845). The Synagogale Poesie has been mentioned above. Steinschneider, Arabische Literatur der Juden (Frankfort-on-Main, 1902); Hebräische Übersetzungen des Mittelalters (Berlin, 1893).
On particular authors and subjects there are many excellent monographs in the Jewish Encyclopaedia (New York, 1901-6), to which the present article is much indebted.
Bibliographies of printed books: Steinschneider, Catalogus libr. Hebr. in Bibl. Bodleiana (Berlin, 1852-1860) (more than a catalogue); Zedner, Catalogue of the Hebr. Books in the British Museum (London, 1867; continued by van Straalen, London, 1894). Of manuscripts: Neubauer, Catal. of the Hebrew MSS. in the Bodleian Library (Oxford, 1886), vol. ii. by Neubauer and Cowley (Oxford, 1906); G. Margoliouth, Catal. of the Hebr. ... MSS. in the British Museum (London, 1899, &c.). Of both: Benjacob, Ozar ha-sepharim (Wilna, 1880) (in Hebrew; arranged by titles).
Periodicals: Jewish Quarterly Review; Revue des études juives; Hebräische Bibliographie.
- (A. Cy.)
- The dating of these documents is extremely difficult, since it is based entirely on internal evidence. Various scholars, while agreeing on the actual divisions of the text, differ on the question of priority. The dates here given are those which seem to be most generally accepted at the present time. They are not put forward as the result of an independent review of the evidence.
- See especially A. Jellinek’s Bet-ha-Midrasch (Leipzig, 1853), for these lesser midrashīm.
- That on Genesis was edited for the first time by Schechter (Cambridge, 1902).
- In Hebrew רשי, from the initial letters of Rabbi Shelomoh Yiẓḥaqī, a convenient method used by Jewish writers in referring to well-known authors. The name Jarchi, formerly used for Rashi, rests on a misunderstanding.
- So Bacher in J.Q.R. iii. 785 sqq.
- For the history of the very extensive literature of this class, Zunz, Literaturgeschichte der synagogalen Poesie (Berlin, 1865), is indispensable.
- See the edition of them in Harkavy, Studien, iv. (Berlin, 1885).
- Two different texts of it exist: (1) in the ed. pr. (Mantua, 1476); (2) ed. by Seb. Münster (Basel, 1541). There is also an early Arabic recension, but its relation to the Hebrew and to the Arabic 2 Maccabees is still obscure. See J. Q. R., xi. 355 sqq. The Hebrew text was edited with a Latin translation by Breithaupt (Gotha, 1707).
- On the various recensions of the text see D. H. Müller in the Denkschriften of the Vienna Academy (Phil.-hist. Cl., xli. 1, p. 41) and Epstein’s ed. (Pressburg, 1891).
- A fragment of such a work, probably emanating from the school of Ḥīvī was found by Schechter and published in J.Q.R., xiii. 345 sqq.
- See M. Friedländer in Publications of the Society of Hebrew Lit., 1st ser. vol. i., and 2nd ser. vol. iv.
- The fullest account of them is to be found in Steinschneider’s Hebräische Übersetzungen des Mittelalters (Berlin, 1893).
- See H. Gollancz, The Ethical Treatises of Berachya (London, 1902).