Page 115 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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ev it a
109
In the same year he added a compendium to
Masoret,
called
Tuv
Ta’am,
a treatise on the musical accents in the prose portion of
the Bible.
In 1540 Levita was invited by the German scholar and pastor
Paulus Fagius to head a new Hebrew press in Isny, Wiirttemberg.
It seems that Levita considered this task a sacred call. Perhaps
he felt the challenge to disseminate the knowledge and love of
Hebrew not only to Catholics in Italy but also to Protestants in
Germany. However, he regarded this a temporary assignment.
Already over seventy, he left his wife behind in Venice (some of
their children were still young) and undertook the difficult jour­
ney across the Alps, working en route on MSS he had taken with
him. During his two years in Isny he saw several of Fagius’ works
through the press and no less than five of his own. One of these
was the revised edition of his
Bahur
(1542). Three works sig­
nify a new specialty in his studies: lexicography. The first two
were intended as supplements to Kimhi’s
Sefer Hashorashim
and
Nathan’s
Arukh,
the dictionaries of the time. They are
Metur-
geman
(1541), the first dictionary to the Targumin, and
Tishbi
(ibid.),
a glossary of 712 special terms. These were followed by
Shemot Devarim
(1542), a German-Hebrew dictionary of fre­
quent words, greetings, etc. Also in the
Meturgeman
and the
Tishbi
he used German (as well as Italian) synonyms to explain
the Hebrew and Aramaic words. This utilization of .German in
his scientific work may have been his reason for printing
Bovo
-
buch
(1541?), which, as he says in the preface, he had written
“ 34 years ago.” Several of the Isny publications appeared with
Latin translations by Fagius.
When Fagius received and accepted a call to Strassburg, pro­
vided he would be allowed to strengthen both Protestantism and
Hebrew learning in the city of Constance, Levita accompanied
him there. For two more years the friendly scholars collaborated
on a number of publications.
Finally in 1544 he returned to Venice. Now 75 years old, he
was far from slowing down. The next two years saw the public­
ation of his Judeo-German translation of the Psalms and of
Nimukim,
glosses to Bomberg’s new edition of David Kimhi’s
Mikhlol
(Venice, 1545-46). Ginsburg enumerates seven public­
ations Levita completed before his death in 1549. Among them
is the annotated
Mahalakh,
Levita’s first grammar textbook, which
had been plagiarized when Levita sent out the MS from Padua.
During almost forty years it had been printed and reprinted, but
Levita was much too busy with new books to denounce and halt
the misappropriation of an old one. But now, realizing the time
was drawing near for gathering the harvest, he claimed owner­
ship.