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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Abigdor ben ha-Ḳanah

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A cabalistic writer of the fifteenth century, who lived either in Spain (Graetz) or in Italy or in Greece (Jellinek). In the introduction to his book "Sefer ha-Ḳanah," he describes himself as "Ḳanah Abengedor, son of Nahum, of the Ram family"; but in the preface to his other work, "Sefer ha-Peli'ah," he styles himself "Elkanah, son of Jeroham, son of Abigdor, of the Ram family," and claims to be a descendant of the Mishnah teacher Neḥunyah b. Haḳana.

The chief rôle in both works (the texts of which are very poor) is played by a prodigy named Nahum, who, at the age of three, together with his father, was taught the Cabala by his grandfather, the last-named receiving the assistance and cooperation of the prophet Elijah and various heavenly voices. From these circumstances it has been suggested that Nahum was the real name of the author. Abigdor's works are: (1) "Sefer ha-Peli'ah," printed in 1784 at Korez under the double title of "Sefer ha-Ḳanah, wehu Sefer ha-Peli'ah" and containing observations on the account of the Creation in Genesis and on the Decalogue. (2) "Sefer ha-Ḳanah," printed in 1786 at Poretzk. This work, which has become extremely rare, is an explanation of the two hundred and forty-eight affirmative precepts of Judaism. The introduction was published separately, under the title of "Sefer Ḳeneh Binah," at Prague in 1610 by Eleazar Perles, son of Abraham Enoch. Although the author of the "Ha-Ḳanah" never mentions the Zohar, he makes use of all its methods, delighting in manipulations of the names of God and of angels, and in the symbolism of numbers and letters, quite in the style of Abraham Abulafia. His purpose is to show that the difficulties in Bible, Talmud, and ritual can be solved only by the teachings of the Cabala; whereas the rabbinical teachers, he claims, often fall into absurdities in their explanatory attempts. He assails the rabbis and Talmudists of his period so vigorously that it would appear they had been taking energetic steps to prevent the spread of the Cabala, thereby leading him to plead energetically for its value and necessity. Abigdor seems to have been the first to give a cabalistic turn to Talmudical hermeneutic rules and maxims. For the rest, both of his works are little better than compilations. In "Sefer ha-Peli'ah" are liberal excerpts from Jonah Gerondi, Abraham Abulafia, Recanati, Joseph ha-Aruk's commentary on the "Yeẓirah," and the "Ṭurim" of Jacob ben Asher. "Ha-Ḳanah" follows closely the "Semag" of Moses of Coney, and cites a portion of the "Sha'are Orah" of Joseph Gikatilla. See CABALA.

Bibliography:
  • Jellinek, B. H. , Introduction, pp. 38 et seq.;
  • idem, Ḳoná¹­res Taryag, pp. 40 et seq.;
  • Grätz, Gesch.d. Juden, 3d ed., 8:449;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. of Hebr. MSS., Royal Library of Munich, No. 42;
  • Michael, Or ha-Ḥayyim, No. 17.
K.
P. B.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Abigdor ben ha-Ḳanah'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/a/abigdor-ben-ha-anah.html. 1901.

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