Page 62 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
nides, and Sforno. T h e Biblical and scientific works o f this wan­
der ing Sephardic scholar were widely known and disseminated
in Jewish and learned Christian circles. He died penniless in
his native Spain at Calahorra, perhaps in 1164 o r 1167, su r­
viving all o f his children, including Isaac who apparently con­
verted to Islam.
T h e re can be no doub t that Ibn Ezra, an im po rtan t trans­
m itter o f Judeo-Arabic culture and scholarship beyond the bo r­
ders o f Spain, was a towering intellect o f encyclopedic erud ition
held in high esteem by many o f his contemporaries. Maimon-
ides, writing to his son, urged him not to pay attention to “com­
mentaries, treatises and books o ther than those o f Ibn Ezra’s,
which alone are meaningful and profitable to all who study them
with intelligence, unders tand ing and deep insight.”3 Ju d ah al-
Harizi in his
Tahkemoni
wrote, “T h e poems o f the sage R. Abra­
ham Ben Ezra are a help in trouble and like bountiful rains
in a time o f d rough t. All his piyyutim are wonderful and their
themes are marvelous. The like o f them none have seen.”4 Sim­
ilarly, Ibn Ezra was hailed by his intellectually curious, non-
Arabic speaking co-religionists in sou thern France for sharing
Arabic scientific knowledge with them in Hebrew; Ibn Ezra’s
Tsurat ha-arets
and
Sefer ha-ibur
were composed at the request
o f the Jewish sages o f Provence.5
Although no comprehensive up-to-date bibliography exists
for scholarship on Ibn Ezra and his prolific writings (not all
o f it is extant), an introductory survey o f the more endu r ing
literature p rio r to 1970 can be found in th
e EncyclopaediaJudaica
(Jerusalem, 1971-72), V III: 1163-70, supplemented in the scien­
tific area by Martin Levey’s contribution to the
Dictionary of Sci­
entific Biography
(New York, 1970- ), IV: 502-03 and Magda
Whitrow, ed.,
ISIS Cumulative Bibliography: A Bibliography of the
History of Science formed from ISIS Critical Bibliographies 1-90,
1913-65
(London: Mansell, 1971-84), 1:4-5.
Finally researchers will welcome a newly published volume,
3. Moses Maimonides, “Letter o f Moral Instructions to His Son Abraham,”
in
Letters o f Maimonides
, ed. by Leon D. Stitskin (New York, 1977), p. 156.
4. Judah al-Harizi,
The Tahkemoni.
An English Translation by Victor Emanuel
Reichert (Jerusalem, 1965-73), 1:79.
5. Isadore Twersky, “Aspects o f the Social and Cultural History o f Provencal
Jewry,” in the author’s
Studies in Jewish Law and Philosophy
(New York, 1982),
p. 191.