Page 88 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 6 (1947-1948)

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in his careful bibliography in
Aliyot Eliyahu
, the standard biog-
raphy of the Gaon.
The study of the Bible was the main concern of the Gaon and
to it he devoted much time, especially in the later years of his
life. In his comments on the Bible, the Gaon blended his attach-
ment to mysticism with a sane and rational approach to the text.
A desire to adhere strictly to the plain meaning of the Hebrew
words and their grammatical construction did not prevent him
from indulging in frequent flights of imagination, at times bor-
dering on the allegoric method followed by Philo and others.
Aderet Eliyahu
, his work on the Pentateuch, was edited by his
son, Abraham, and published in Dubrowno in 1804, together
with other standard commentaries under the general title of
Mikraot Gedolot.
The commentary does not cover the entire text,
but includes notes on several sections of the Five Books of Moses.
Much of its contents are culled from what his disciples heard
from the master at various times and had preserved in their
notes or in memory. This is plainly stated by some of his disciples
and referred to in the editor’s notes. Other manuscript versions
of the Gaon’s comments on certain parts of the Pentateuch were
in the hands of his closest associates when this edition was first
published. The Gaon’s commentary on the Book of Proverbs,
already referred to, has been reprinted many times. The Wilno
edition of 1883 includes many additions, claimed to be taken
from the manuscript notes in the author’s handwriting. Another
edition, issued in Jerusalem in 1888, by Elijah Landa, a descend-
ant of the Gaon, is preceded by a short biography and includes
several supplements, also claimed to have been taken from manu-
scripts in the Gaon’s handwriting. These, embracing notes on
Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Ezekiel as well as a list of syno-
nyms treated by the Gaon, were published under the general
title of
Berak ha-Shahar.
Some of these addenda also appeared
as separate treatises by different editors.
Tzurat ha-Aretz
is a short treatise on the geography of Palestine
on the basis of the Book of Joshua and a consideration of the
appointments of the Temple as described in I Kings and in
Ezekiel. This was first edited by Menahem Mendel and published
in Szklow in 1802. Another edition with many additions by his
grandson, Jacob Moses of Slonim, was incorporated in the Wilno
1820-50 edition of the Bible. A description of the expected
Third Temple according to Ezekiel, appeared in Berlin, 1822.
Comments on the first thirteen chapters of Isaiah and Habakuk
were also published by the same editor in Wilno in 1820. The
commentary on the first chapter of Isaiah was taken from the
Gaon’s own handwriting. “Hence I abstained from making any