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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Japheth Ben-Ali ha-Levi

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(called in Arabic Abu-Ali Hassan ben-Ali al-Lei al-Bozrii), a very able Karaite grammarian and commentator on the Old Test., flourished at Bassra, in Arabia, during the latter half of the 10th century. He is reputed to have written a history of the Karaites (q.v.), of which traces still remain (see Rule, Karaites, p. 106), and commentaries which cover twenty MS. volumes preserved in. Paris and Leyden. He distinguished himself by his literary labors, and obtained the honorable appellation of הגדול המלמד, the great teacher, and a place among those who are mentioned in the Karaite Prayer-book. The late eminent Orientalist Monk brought, in 1841, from Egypt to the royal library at Paris, eleven volumes of this commentary, five of which are on Genesis and many sections of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers; two volumes are on the Psalms, one is on Proverbs, and one on the Five Megilloth. They are written in Arabic, preceded by the Hebrew text and an Arabic translation. The indefatigable Pinsker has examined the entire twenty volumes, and made extracts from them. This work, of such gigantic magnitude, although it has exercised great influence on the development of Biblical exegesis (as may be concluded from the fact that Aben-Ezra had them constantly before him when writing his expositions of the O.T., and that he quotes them with the greatest respect), has not as yet been published, and we have still only the fragments which Aben-Ezra gives us. Japheth was also an extensive polemical writer, and engaged in controversies with the disciples of Saadia (q.v.); but for polemics he does not seem to have possessed the proper requisites. See Ginsburg in Kitto, s.v.; Jost, Israelitische Annalen (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1841), p. 76: Barges, Rabbi Japhet ben-Heli Bassorensis Karaitis in Psal. Commentarii Prefatio (1846); Pinsker, Likkute Kadmoniot (Vienna, 1863), p. 169; Supplement, p. 181, etc.; Gratz, Geschichte der Juden, 5, 342.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Japheth Ben-Ali ha-Levi'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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