Page 68 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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Hebrew Bible Concordances,
with a Biographical Study of
Solomon Mandelkern
o n c o r d a n c e s
w h e t h e r
t o
t h e
Scriptures or to major works
of literature — are now almost invariably compiled with the aid of
computers which are singularly well adapted for such a task and
take the drudgery out of it, so that the compilers and editors can
concentrate on the intellectual work. It has thus become difficult
to imagine how in the past lone scholars toiled on the compilation
of such vast word indexes, not only without the benefit of com­
puters but also without copying machines, typewriters and ball
point pens, armed only with goose quill, ink and paper slips. But
even if we try to transport ourselves mentally to the past, we
would assume that the diligent compilers of concordances or
tran s la to rs o f the Bible were men who led a qu ie t life,
undisturbed by the distractions of the outer world. Those are the
images we have of St. Jerome in his cell, and Martin Luther in the
Wartburg castle. Thus, when we look at the first complete and
scholarly concordance to the Hebrew Bible, published in two
large folio volumes, each page displaying four columns of small
print, and find that this was the work of one man, Solomon
Mandelkern, we might be led to think that he, too, must have
been one of those reclusive scholars. A learned Bible scholar he
was indeed, and a gifted poet, historian, translator and philolo­
gist to boot. Yet his life was by no means one of quiet contempla­
tion and concentration on his monumental work, but it was
rather full of turbulent events, incessant wanderings, abject
poverty, and lack of recognition.
He was born in 1846 in the townlet of Mlynov, near the city of
Dubno in Wolhynia (not far from the present border between
Poland and the Soviet Union) as Shelomoh ben Simhah Dov
Mandelker,* a name which he later changed and “Europeanized”
* All Hebrew names are given in Romanization according to the American Na­
tional Standard ANSI Z39.25, not in their latinized form, unless actually so
used by a person.