Page 88 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
the Hebrew Bible until Mandelkern undertook his compilation
on entirely different principles, and on a vastly larger scale.
LEVITA’S CONCORDANCES
Much more ambitious and more scholarly concordances were
compiled by the famous Jewish grammarian Eliyah Halevi
Ashkenazi Levita (1468-1549), also known as Eliyah Bahur (the
young man). Between the years 1515 and 1521 he compiled for
his patron, the cardinal Egidio di Viterbo, a concordance to
which he gave the title
Sefer hazikhronot
(The book of remem­
brances [Esther 6:1]) because it was meant to serve as an aid to
memory. Unlike Nathan, he arranged the different forms of
each word according to the rules of Hebrew grammar, and in a
logical sequence.30 He also added the masoretic comments on
each verb or noun regarding their proper vocalization, and in­
cluded particles and proper names inasmuch as they had been
dealt with by the Masoretes; for every word he also gave its trans­
lation into Yiddish. While he followed the
M e’ir nativ
in citing
passages in the order of the Vulgate (and, as he expressly stated,
for the same reason, namely as an aid in theological disputations),
he emphasized in his introduction that his work was meant to
serve several other purposes as well: it could be used as a diction­
ary; as a manual of grammar and lexicology; as an explanation of
the
masorah;
as a reference book for biblical quotations (although
he gave only locators, not citations); as an aid to preachers of ser­
mons on certain subjects; as a rhyming dictionary; and even as a
key to kabbalistic lore.
This concordance was never published and remains to this day
as a manuscript in the Bavarian State Library in Munich (where
Mandelkern studied it). A second edition, written for Levita’s
30 The verbs were arranged according to the eight Hebrew conjugations, in each
of these by past tense, participle, infinitive, imperative and future tense (this
being the traditional order), and by the ten forms for gender and number.
The nouns were arranged after the verbs of the same root, also by gender and
number, first separate and then in conjunction with prefixes. Only locators
were given, but no citations. Locators were not always given for every word in a
verse, e.g., “Listen, O heavens” (Deut. 32:1) was listed only under the root for
“listen” but not under “heavens.” In some cases, words for related concepts
were subsumed under a generic term, e.g. “water, wine, see under drink”;
“meat, bread, see under food.”