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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Ibn Tibbon

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Family of translators that lived principally in southern France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. On the name "Tibbon" see Steinschneider in "J. Q. R." 11:621. The more important members of the family were:

Translator of Aristotle's "Economics" his exact relationship to the Tibbon family is unknown (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 227).M. Sc.

Provenç al astronomer born, probably at Marseilles, about 1236 died at Montpellier about 1304. He was a grandson of Samuel ben Judah ibn Tibbon. His Provenç al name was Don Profiat Tibbon the Latin writers called him Profatius Judæ us. Jacob occupies a considerable place in the history of astronomy in the Middle Ages. His works, translated into Latin, were quoted by Copernicus, Reinhold, and Clavius. He was also highly reputed as a physician, and, according to Jean Astruc ("Mé moires pour Servir à l' Histoire de la Faculté de Mé decine de Montpellier," p. 168), was regent of the faculty of medicine of Montpellier.

In the controversy between the Maimonists and the anti-Maimonists Jacob defended science against the attacks of Abba Mari and his party the energetic attitude of the community of Montpellier on that occasion was due to his influence.

Jacob became known by a series of Hebrew translations of Arabic scientific and philosophical works, and above all by two original works on astronomy. His translations are: (1) the "Elements" of Euclid, divided into fifteen chapters (2) the treatise of Kosta ben Luka on the armillary sphere, in sixty-five chapters (3) "Sefer ha-Mattanot," the "Data" of Euclid, according to the Arabic translation of Isḥ aḳ ben Ḥ unain (4) "Ma' amar Ṭ alḳ us," treatise of Autolycus on the sphere in movement (5) three treatises on the sphere of Menelas of Alexandria (6) "Ma' amar bi-Tekunah," or "Sefer ' al Tekunah," in forty-four chapters, from Abu ' Ali ibn Ḥ assan ibn al-Ḥ aitham (7) treatise on the use of the astrolabe, in forty chapters, from Abu al-Kasim Aḥ mad ibn al-Ṣ affar (8) compendium of the "Almagest" of Ptolemy, from Abu Muhammed Jabar ibn Aflaḥ (9) "Iggeret ha-Ma' aseh be-Luaḥ ha-Niḳ ra Sofiḥ ah," from Abu Isḥ aḳ ben al-Zarḳ alah (10) preface to Abraham bar Ḥ iyya's astronomical work (11) an extract from the "Almagest" on the arc of a circle (12) "Ḳ iẓ ẓ ur mi-Kol Meleket Higgayon," Averroes' compendium of the "Organon" (Riva di Trento, 1559) (13) Averroes' paraphrase of books xi.-xix. of Aristotle's history of animals (14) "Mozene ha-' Iyyunim," from Ghazali.

The two original works of Jacob are: (1) a description of the astronomical instrument called the quadrant (Bibliothè que Nationale, Paris, MS. No. 1054), in sixteen chapters, the last of which shows how to construct this instrument it was translated several times into Latin (2) astronomical tables, beginning with March 1,1300 (Munich MS. No. 343,26). These tables, also, were translated into Latin and enjoyed the greatest repute.

Bibliography : Munk, Mé langes , p. 489 Carmoly, Histoire des Mé decins Juifs , p. 90 Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. Colossians 1232 idem, Hebr. Uchers. Grä tz, Gesch. 7:246 Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Franç ais , pp. 599 et seq. Gross, Gallia Judaica , p. 332.I. Br.

Rabbi in Montpellier took part in the dispute between the followers and the opponents of Maimonides. He induced his relative Jacob ben Machir ibn Tibbon to support the Maimonidean party by pointing out that the anti-Maimonideans were the opponents of his grandfather Samuel ibn Tibbon and of the son-in-law of the latter, Jacob ben Abba Mari ben Samson ben Anatoli. In consequence of this, Jacob ben Machir ibn Tibbon protested against the reading of Solomon ben Adret's letter to the community of Montpellier, which nevertheless took place in the synagogue of that city on the following day, a Sabbath, in the month of Elul, 1304 ("Minḥ at Ḳ ena' ot," Nos. 21,22). According to Jacob ben Machir ibn Tibbon (ib. No. 39), Judah wrote various works, and made several translations which were praised even by Naḥ manides. None of them are extant.

Bibliography : Perles, Salomo b. Abraham b. Adereth , pp. 30,37 Grä tz, Gesch. 7:228 et seq. , 248 Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Franç ais Zunz, Z. G. p. 477 Geiger, Wiss. Zeit. Jü d. Theol. 5:99 Gross, Gallia Judaica , p. 333.

Translator born at Granada, Spain, 1120 died after 1190. He left his native place in 1150, probably on account of persecution by the Almohades, and went to Lunel in southern France. Benjamin of Tudela mentions him as a physician there in 1160. Judah lived on terms of intimacy with Meshullam ben Jacob and with Meshullam's two sons, Asher and Aaron, whom in his will he recommends as friends to his only son, Samuel. He was also a close friend of Abraham ben David of Posquiè res and of Zerahiah ha-Levi, the latter of whom he freely recognized as a greater scholar than himself, and whose son he also wished to have as a friend for his own son. He had two daughters whose marriage caused him much anxiety.

Judah was very active as a translator, his works including the translation into Hebrew of the following:

Translations of Philosophic Works.

  1. Baḥ ya ben Joseph ibn Paḳ uda's "Al-Hidayah ila Fara' id al-Ḳ ulub," under the title "Torat Ḥ obot ha-Lebabot." He was induced to undertake this work by Meshullam ben Jacob and his son Asher, at whose desire he translated the first treatise, in 1161. After its completion Joseph Ḳ imḥ i translated the other nine treatises and afterward the first one also. At the wish of Abraham ben David of Posquiè res, Judah continued his translation of the work. Judah's translation is the only one that has held its place. That of Ḳ imḥ i was gradually superseded and at last came to be forgotten entirely. Only a small fragment of it has been preserved (published by A. Jellinek in Benjacob's edition of "Ḥ obot ha-Lebabot," Leipsic, 1846). Judah's translation of Baḥ ya's work was first printed at Naples in 1489 without a title.

  2. Solomon ibn Gabirol's " Kitab Islaḥ al-Akhlaḳ ," under the title "Tiḳ ḳ un Middot ha-Nefesh" (printed together with the first-mentioned translation at Constantinople in 1550).

  3. Judah ha-Levi's "Kitab al-Ḥ ujjah," under the title "Sefer ha-Kuzari" (1167 printed at Fano in 1506 and many times since). In this instance also Judah's translation drove that of his rival, Judah ibn Cardinal, out of the field, so that only a small portion of the latter's work has been preserved (see Cassel's ed., pp. 344 et seq. ).

  4. Two works by Ibn Janah:
    (a ) His grammar, "Kitab al-Luma' ," under the title "Sefer ha-Rikmah" (1171 edited by B. Goldberg, with notes by R. Kirchheim, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1856). The translator's preface is interesting for the history of literature, and it gives Judah's opinions on the art of Hebrew translation. (b ) "Kitab al-Uṣ ul," under the title "Sefer ha-Shorashim" (edited by Bacher, Berlin, 1896). Isaac al-Barceloni and Isaac ha-Levi had already translated this dictionary as far as the letter "lamed," and Judah finished it in 1171.
  5. Saadia's "Kitab al-Amanat wal-I' tiḳ adat," under the title "Sefer ha-Emunot weha-De' ot" (1186 first ed. Constantinople, 1562).

Spurious Works Attributed to Judah.

Judah is also said to have translated the collection of poems "Mibḥ ar ha-Peninim," usually attributed to Solomon ibn Gabirol. This translation is ascribed to Ibn Tibbon in a very doubtful note in Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 1975, and in manuscript Parma, de Rossi, No 1394. In no other manuscript is Judah ibn Tibbon called the translator. Further, the note mentions Seville instead of Granada as his home. The translation of Aristotle's "Analytica Posteriora" is also ascribed to Judah. This translation, however, is not extant and it is altogether improbable that Judah translated the work in question.
Judah's independent works are:
  1. Sod Ẓ aḥ ut ha-Lashon, on rhetoric and grammar. It is doubtful if this work was ever completed and nothing but its title has been preserved (in Ibn Tibbon's testament see No. 2, below).
    It is also doubtful whether he wrote a commentary on the last chapter of Proverbs. The remark on the subject in his will (see below), "Remember also my explanation of ' Eshet Ḥ ayil,' p. 9," can refer to an oral explanation.
  2. Ẓ awwa' ah, his ethical will, written in 1190 or after, and addressed to his son, Samuel, who at that time already had a son of his own (published with a biographical sketch in German by M. Steinschneider, Berlin, 1852 with an English translation by H. Edelmann in "Derek Ṭ obim," London, 1852).

His Ethical Will.
Judah's testament, with its homely style and frankness, is one of the most interesting in this class of literature. It gives a deep insight into the soul of the man and his relation to his indisputably greater son, Samuel. Against the latter his chief complaint is that he never initiated his father into his literary or business affairs, never asked for his advice, and, in fact, hid everything from him.

He recommends Samuel to practise writing in Arabic, since Jews like Samuel ha-Nagid, for example, attained rank and position solely through being able to write in that language. He exhorts him to morality and to the study of the Torah as well as of the profane sciences, including medicine. He is to read grammatical works on Sabbaths and festivals, and is not to neglect the reading of "Mishle" and of "Ben Mishle." In regard to his medical practise he gives his son sage advice. He further advises his son to observe rigorously the laws of diet, lest he, like others, become ill frequently in consequence of intemperate and unwholesome eating, which would not fail to engender mistrust in him as a physician on the part of the general public. Interesting are Judah's references to his library as his "best treasure," his "best companion," and to his book-shelves as "the most beautiful pleasure-gardens." He adds:

"I have collected a large library for thy sake so that thou needest never borrow a book of any one. As thou thyself seest, most students run hither and thither searching for books without being able to find them. . . . Look over thy Hebrew books every month, thy Arabic ones every two months, thy bound books every three months. Keep thy library in order, so that thou wilt not need to search for a book. Prepare a list of the books on each shelf, and place each book on its proper shelf. Take care also of the loose, separate leaves in thy books, because they contain exceedingly important things which I myself have collected and written down. Lose no writing and no letter which I leave thee. . . . Cover thy book-shelves with beautiful curtains, protect them from water from the roof, from mice, and from all harm, because they are thy best treasure."
His fine linguistic sense and his conception of the art of translating are shown by his counsels on this subject.
He advises his son to read the weekly portion in Arabic every Sabbath so as to initiate himself into the art of translating, in case he should ever feel an inclination for it. He recommends to him an easy, pregnant, elegant style, not overburdened with words further, he is to avoid foreign words and unusual and affected constructions, and is to use words which have a harmonious sound and are easy to pronounce. He always lays great weight upon the advantages of having a beautiful, clear handwriting and of using beautiful paper, good ink, etc. The testament closes with a poem summarizing the contents of the will.

Views on Translation.
Judah ibn Tibbon well understood the difficulties of the translator's task. He says in the preface to his translation of Baḥ ya's "Ḥ obot ha-Lebabot" that he hesitated to translate the book because he did not feel sufficiently acquainted with Hebrew, and that he undertook the task only in compliance with the wish of his friend. He knows that he is laying himself open to adverse criticism with his translation, as is the case with every innovation. He attributes the imperfect character of his predecessors' translations from Arabic into Hebrew to the fact that either they did not have a thorough knowledge of Arabic or of Hebrew or that they gave in the translation their own opinions instead of those of the author. Judah is also of the opinion that the Hebrew translation can not always reproduce the pregnancy of the Arabic original. He holds that a translator should first make a strictly literal rendering of the original, and then revise his translation as though it were an original production of his own. For his creation of new word-forms (in the use of which he was not without precedents), and for the rabbinicisms in his Hebrew style, he excuses himself to the reader by saying that they are unavoidable. It is true that he often translated the mistakes of the original without heeding the sense, or rather lack of sense, expressed therein.

His son, Samuel, in his introduction to the "Moreh Nebukim" justly calls Judah "the father of translators" since Gedaliah ibn Yaḥ ya he has also had the title of "chief of translators" (Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." 1:455). Maimonides speaks very flatteringly of Judah in a letter to Samuel.

Bibliography : Abrahams, in J. Q. R. 3:453 et seq. Fü rst, Bibl. Jud. iii., pp. xiii. et seq. Grä tz, Gesch. 6:204 Munk, Notice sur Saadia Gaon , p. 19 De Rossi, Dizionario , s.v. Tibbon Steinschneider, Jewish Literature , pp. 86 et passim idem, Hebr. Uebers. pp. 47,373. et passim Zunz, G. S. 3:135 idem, Z. G. p. 232 Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Franç ais , 27:511,588, et passim idem, Les Ecrivains Juifs Franç ais , pp. 355,482, 686 Winter and Wü nsche, Die Jü dische Litteratur , 2:192 Gross, Gallia Judaica , pp. 280,282.

Original Works.
Physician and author born in Marseilles flourished between 1240,1283 son of Samuel ibn Tibbon and father of the Judah ibn Tibbon who was prominent in the Maimonidean controversy which took place at Montpellier. The number of works written by Moses ibn Tibbon makes it probable that he reached a great age. With other Jewish physicians of Provence, he suffered under the order of the Council of Bé ziers (May, 1246) which prohibited Jewish physicians from treating Gentiles. He wrote the following works:

  1. Commentary on Canticles (Lyck, 1874). Written under the influence of Maimonides, it is of a philosophical and allegorical character, and is similar to that by his brother-in-law Abba Mari ben Simson ben Anatoli, whom he quotes repeatedly. In a long preface he deals with the poetical form and the philosophical content of the book, especially discussing the three classes of poetry according to the "Organon" of Aristotle. This part of the preface, taken from Immanuel ben Solomon's commentary to Canticles, was published by Dukes in his "Naḥ al Ḳ edumim" (pp. 55,56 Brü ll's "Jahrb." 3:171 et seq. Steinschneider, "Hebr. Bibl." xiv 99, Salfeld, in Berliner's "Magazin," 6:25).

  2. Commentary to the Pentateuch, according to Isaac de Lattes' "Sha' are Ẓ iyyon" (see p. 42 of Buber's Yaroslav, 1885, edition of the latter work) and Gedaliah ibn Yaḥ ya's "Shalshelet ha-Ḳ abbalah (see Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." 1:1055). This commentary is quoted in the Commentary on Canticles (p. 24a). Azulai, in his "Shem ha-Gedolim" (i:144), mentions that, according to an early source, Moses ibn Tibbon composed a work of this kind. But an ancient authority, Judah Mosconi (c. 1370), in his supercommentary on Abraham ibn Ezra, expresses some doubt as to the authenticity of this commentary on account of its often very unsatisfactory explanations. According to Steinschneider, it was merely a supercommentary on Abraham ibn Ezra (see "Cat. Bodl." Colossians 2004 "Hebr. Bibl." 14:103 Berliner's "Magazin," 3:47,150 comp. Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 2282,9).

  3. "Leḳ eṭ Shikḥ ah," mentioned by Isaac de Lattes (l.c. ) as contained in the foregoing work, though he does not give any further indication of its contents. Gedaliah ibn Yaḥ ya (l.c. p. 54b, ed. Venice) gives only the title.

  4. "Sefer Pe' ah," an allegorical explanation, in ninety-one chapters, of haggadic passages in the Talmud and the Midrash (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 939,9). Its tendency is apologetical. After Raymund de Pennaforte had established schools, in which Arabic and Hebrew were taught, for the purpose of converting Jews and Moors, Christian clerics, in their incomplete knowledge of the rabbinical writings, attempted to cast scorn on the, anthropomorphisms of the Midrashim. Moses ibn Tibbon traces this to those who took the anthropomorphic passages in a literal instead of, as Maimonides had taught, an allegorical sense (see Isaac de Lattes, l.c. Zunz, "G. V." p. 400 Steinschneider and Cassel, "Jü dische Litteratur," in Ersch and Gruber, "Encyc." section ii., part 28, p. 409 "Cat. Bodl." l.c. ).

  5. Commentary on the weights and measures of the Bible and the Talmud (Vatican MSS., No. 298,4 see Assemani, "Catal." p. 283 Steinschneider, "Joseph ibn Aḳ nin," in Ersch and Gruber, "Encyc." section ii., part 31, p. 50 "Ginze Nistarot," 3:185 et seq. ).

  6. "Sefer ha-Tanninim," mentioned by Isaac de Lattes (l.c. ), but without indication of its contents the Vatican MS. has the title "Ma' amar ' al ha-Tanninim." According to Assemani (l.c ), it contained explanations on the creation of the Tanninim (comp. Genesis 1:21 ). Gedaliah ibn Yaḥ ya (l.c. ) gives its title as "Sefer ha-Ḳ inyanim," which has been accepted as correct by Azulai ("Shem ha-Gedolim") and Benjacob ("Oẓ ar ha-Sefarim," p. 531) it is, however, certainly incorrect, as the contents of the book show.

  7. "' Olam Ḳ aṭ on," a treatise on the immortality of the soul, several manuscripts of which exist (Vatican MSS., No. 292,2 Paris MSS., No. 110. see Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." Nos. 1319,7, 1324,10, 1335,2, 1600,13 see also Carmoly in "Orient, Lit." 2:235,314). Moses ibn Tibbon's authorship is doubtful. According to a Bodleian manuscript, No. 1318,7, his father, Samuel ibn Tibbon, was its author in another passage Judah, his grandfather, is said to be its author (see Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 2003-2004).

  8. Letter on questions raised by his father, Samuel ibn Tibbon, in regard to Maimonides' "Moreh Nebukim" (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 2218,2).

Gedaliah ibn Yaḥ ya (l.c. ) erroneously ascribes to Moses ibn Tibbon a "Sefer ha-Kolel," a "Sefer ha-Melek," and a "Sefer ' Asarah Debarim" (see Zunz, "Z. G." pp. 471-472 Steinschneider, l.c. ). Moses, was also wrongly accredited with three other works: a commentary on Abot, a commentary on Ibn Gabirol's "Azharot," and notes on the "Sefer ha-Madda' " of Maimonides (Steinschneider, l.c. ).

Moses ibn Tibbon's translations are even more important and numerous than his original works. They include versions of Arabic works on philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. The name of the author of the work from which the translation was made precedes, in the following list, the title by which the translation is known. His most important translations are as follows:

    Averroes: Commentaries, etc., on Aristotle: "Physica Auscultatio" (about 1250 Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 109) "Kelale ha-Shamayim weha-' Olam" ("De Cœ lo et Mundo" l.c. p. 126) "Sefer ha-Hawayah weha-Hefsed" (1250: "De Generatione et Corruptione" l.c. p. 130) "Sefer Otot ' Elyonot" ("Meteora" l.c. p. 135) "Kelale Sefer ha-Nefesh" (1244: "De Anima" l.c. p. 147) "Bi' ur Sefer ha-Nefesh" (1261: "The Middle Commentary" l.c. p. 148) "Ha-Hush we-ha-Muḥ ash" (1254: "Parva Naturalia" l.c. p. 154) "Mah she-Aḥ ar ha-Ṭ eba' ", (1258: "Metaphysica" l.c. p. 159) "Bi' ur Arguza" (commentary on Avicenna's "Arjuzah" Renan, "Averroes," p. 189 Steinschneider, l.c. p. 699).
    Avicenna: "Ha-Seder ha-Ḳ aṭ on" (1272: "The Small Canon" l.c. p. 693, comp. p. 285).
    Baṭ alyusi: "Ha-' Agullot ha-Ra' yoniyyot" ("Al-Ḥ ada' iḳ ," on the "similarity of the world to an imaginary sphere" l.c. p. 287), edited by D. Kaufmann ("Die Spuren al-Bataljusi's in der Jü dischen Religionsphilosophie," Leipsic, 1880).
    Al-Ḥ aṣ ṣ ar: "Sefer ha-Ḥ eshbon" (1271: Treatise on Arithmetic Steinschneider, l.c. p. 558 "Isr. Letterbode," 3:8).
    Euclid: "Shorashim," or "Yesodot" (1270: "Elements" Steinschneider, l.c. p. 506, comp. p. 510).
    Alfarabi: "Hatḥ alot ha-Nimẓ a' ot ha-Tib' iyyim" (1248: "Book of the Principles" l.c. p. 291. comp. p. 47), edited by H. Fillpowski, in a Hebrew almanac of 5610 (Leipsic, 1849).
    Geminus: "Ḥ okmat ha-Kokabim," or "Ḥ okmat Tekunah" (1246, Naples: Introduction to the "Almagest" of Ptolemy l.c. p. 539).
    Ibn al-Jazzar: "Ẓ edat ha-Derakim" (1259. "Viaticum").V06p547001.jpgPage of the First Edition of Moses ibn Tibbon's Translation of Maimonides' "Sefer ha-Miẓ wot," Constantinople, 1516-18. (In the Columbia University Library, New York.)Ḥ unain: "Mabo el Meleket ha-Refu' ah" ("Introduction to Medical Science" l.c. p. 711).
    Razi: "Ha-Ḥ illuḳ weha-Ḥ illuf" ("Book of the Divisions [of Maladies]" l.c. p. 730) "Al Iḳ rabadhin" ("Antidotarium" l.c. p. 730).
For his other translations see Steinschneider, l.c. pp. 177,231, 362,363, 416,542, 544,553 idem , "Cat. Bodl." cols. 1998 et seq.

True to the traditions of his family, Moses ibn Tibbon translated those of Maimonides' Arabic writings which his father had not translated:

Translations from Maimonides.

"Miktab" or "Ma' amar be-Hanhagat ha-Beri' ut," a treatise on hygiene in the form of a letter to the sultan, printed in "Kerem Ḥ emed" (iii:9 et seq. ), in Jacob ben Moses Ẓ ebi's "Dibre Mosheh" (Warsaw, 1886), and by Jacob Saphir ha-Levi (Jerusalem, 1885, from his own manuscript, under the title "Sefer Hanhagat ha-Beri' ut"). This translation (1244) was one of his first, if not the first (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 770 et seq. ).

Commentary on the Mishnah. A fragment of his translation of Pe' ah, which was published by A. Geiger 1847, makes it at least possible that he translated the whole Seder Mo' ed (l.c. p. 925).

"Sefer ha-Miẓ wot," another of his earliest translations (Constantinople, c. 1516-18, also printed in various editions of Maimonides' "Yad," but without Moses ibn Tibbon's preface) in it he excuses himself for continuing his own translation, though having known of that of Abraham Ḥ asdai , on the ground that the latter had obviously used the first edition of the Arabic original, while he himself used a later revision (l.c. p. 927).

"Millot ha-Higgayon," a treatise on logic (Venice, 1552, with two anonymous commentaries). No complete manuscript of the Arabic original is known. The terminology here used by Moses ibn Tibbon has been adopted throughout Hebrew philosophical literature (l.c. p. 434).

"Ha-Ma' amar ha-Nikbad," a treatise on poisons, also called "Ha-Ma' amar be-Teri' aḳ " (extant in several manuscripts see Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." Colossians 1919 , iv. idem , "Hebr. Uebers." p. 764).

Commentary on Hippocrates' "Aphorisms" (1257 or 1267: l.c. p. 769, comp. p. 659).

Bibliography : Steinschneider, Jewish Literature , pp. 96,104, 125,167, 184,197 Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Franç ais , 27:593 et seq. , 750 et seq. idem, Les Ecrivains Juifs Franç ais , pp. 356,432, 686,759 Grä tz, Gesch. 7:103 Winter and Wü nsche, Die Jü dische Litteratur , 3:661 Gross, Gallia Judaica , pp. 59,327, 356,373, 534.Moses ben Isaac ibn Tibbon appears as a copyist on the island of Candia in the early part of the fifteenth century (Steinschneider, "Mose Antologia Israelitica," 1879, 2:457 1880, 3:283).

Son of Moses ibn Tibbon first mentioned in a responsum of Solomon ben Adret (Neubauer, in "R. E. J." 12:82 et seq. ), which narrates a suit brought by Samuel against his rich young cousin Bionguda (). Bionguda was the youngest of three daughters born to Bella, the daughter of Moses ibn Tibbon. After the death of her husband, Jacob ha-Kohen (1254), Bella went to Marseilles, where Bionguda became engaged to Isaac ben Isaac. Samuel ibn Tibbon, who at that time was probably living at Marseilles, contested the legality of the marriage to Isaac ben Isaac, saying that he had made Bionguda his legal wife while she was still living at Naples. Bionguda denied this. The lawsuit connected with this dispute has been reviewed by Isidore Loeb ("Un Procè s dans la Famille des Ibn Tibbon," Paris, 1886) and by Grä tz ("Monatsschrift," 36:49).

Bibliography : Geiger, Wiss. Zeit. Jü d. Theol. 5:98 Gross, in R. E. J. 4:198 et seq. idem, Gallia Judaica , p. 373 Steinschneider, Hebr. Uebers. p. 539.

Physician and philosophical writer born about 1150 in Lunel died about 1230 in Marseilles. He received from his father and other able teachers in Lunel a thorough education in medicine, in Arabic, in Jewish literature, and in all the secular knowledge of his age. Later he lived in several cities of southern France (1199 in Bé ziers, 1204 in Arles) and traveled to Barcelona, Toledo, and even to Alexandria (1210-1213). Finally he settled in Marseilles. That he was buried in Tiberias (see Brü ll in Kobak's "Jeschurun," 6:211, Hebr. text, note) is very improbable. His father's will (see Judah ben Saul ibn Tibbon ) gives a good insight into Samuel's character.

Original Works.
In comparison with his translations, the original works of Samuel are not numerous. He composed in 1213, on shipboard, when returning from Alexandria, "Bi' ur meha-Millot ha-Zarot," an explanation of the philosophical terms of Maimonides' "Moreh Nebukim," printed, together with his Hebrew translation of the "Moreh," at Venice, 1551, and often afterward (see Geiger, "Wiss. Zeit. Jü d. Theol." 3:427 Goldenthal, "Grundzü ge und Beiträ ge zu einem Sprachvergleichenden Rabbinisch-Philosophischen Wö rterb." in "Denkschriften der Kaiserlichen Akademic der Wissenschaften," 1:424 et seq. , Vienna). When finishing his translation of the "Moreh" he felt the necessity of giving an alphabetical glossary of the foreign words that he had used in his translation. In the introduction to the glossary he divides these words into five classes: (1) words taken mainly from the Arabic (2) rare words occurring in the Mishnah and in the Gemara (3) Hebrew verbs and adjectives derived from substantives by analogy with the Arabic (4) homonyms, used with special meanings and (5) words to which new meanings were given by analogy with the Arabic. He gives also a list of corrections which he desired to be made in the copies of his translation of the "Moreh." The glossary gives not only a short explanation of each word and its origin, but also in many cases a scientific definition with examples (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 420 et seq. ). According to Isaac Lattes (Renan-Neubauer, "Les Ecrivains Juifs Franç ais," p. 686), Samuel wrote a commentary on the whole Bible, but only the following portions are known:

"Ma' amar Yiḳ ḳ awu ha-Mayim," a philosophical treatise in twenty-two chapters on Genesis 1:9 , published by M. Bisliches, Presburg, 1837 (Geiger, l.c. 4:413 et seq. ). It deals with physical and metaphysical subjects, interpreting in an allegoric-philosophical manner the Bible verses cited by the author. At the end of the treatise (p. 175) the author says that he was led to write it through the propagation of philosophy among Gentiles and the ignorance of his coreligionists in philosophical matters. The many manuscripts of the "Ma' amar" are enumerated in Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 199, note 671. The year of its composition is not known.

A philosophical commentary on Ecclesiastes, quoted by Samuel in the foregoing work (p. 175), and of which several manuscripts are extant (Steinschneider. "Cat. Bodl." Colossians 2488 ). It is described by Perreau in "Bollettino Italiano degli Stud. Orient." new series, 1878.

A commentary on the Song of Solomon. Quotations from this work are found in his commentary on Ecclesiastes in Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 1649,2, fol. 21 and in his son's commentary on the Song of Solomon. These make it perfectly evident that he really composed this work but its contents are, entirely unknown (see Salfeld, "Das Hohelied bei den Jü dischen Erklä rern des Mittelalters." in Berliner's "Magazin," 6:24 et seq. ).

"Ner ha-Ḥ ofes," a commentary on those parts of the Pentateuch which, he contends, are to be taken allegorically. The book is only quoted by himself (in his "Ma' amar Yiḳ ḳ awu ha-Mayim," pp. 9,13, 17,132), and no manuscript of it has yet been found.

Samuel ibn Tibbon was an enthusiastic adherent of Maimonides and his allegorical interpretation of the Bible, and he is said to have even gone so far as to declare that the Bible narratives are to be considered simply as parables ("meshalim") and the religious laws merely as guides ("hanhagot") to a higher, spiritual life (Brü ll's "Jahrb." 4:9, 10:89). Such statements, not peculiar in his age, aroused the wrath of the adherents of the literal interpretation of the Bible, the anti-Maimonidean party.

Samuel's reputation is based not on his original writings, however, but on his translations, especially on that of Maimonides' "Dalalat al-Ḥ a' irin" (finished about 1190) into Hebrew under the title "Moreh Nebukim."

The "Moreh Nebukim."
This title, by which the book has always since been quoted, and which signifies "Guide of the Perplexed," his opponents satirically changed into "Nebukat ha-Morim" = "Perplexity of the Guides." Before finishing this difficult work, Samuel consulted Maimonides several times by letter regarding some difficult passages. Maimonides' answers, some of which were written in Arabic and were later on translated into Hebrew, perhaps by Samuel himself, praise the translator's ability and acknowledge his thorough command of Arabic, an acquirement very surprising in a country like France. After having given some general rules for translation from the Arabic into Hebrew, he explains the doubtful passages, which he renders into the latter language. (For some interesting remarks by Samuel on Arabic philosophical writers see Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 40 et seq. ) Some fragments of this correspondence have been printed in "Ḳ obeẓ Teshubot ha-Rambam," 2:26 et seq. and in Ottensoser, "Briefe ü ber den Moreh des Maimonides," Nos. 1,2 others have been discovered in a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, by Steinschneider ("Hebr. Uebers." pp. 415 et seq. ).

Samuel ibn Tibbon's translation is preceded by an introduction. As the motive for his undertaking he mentions that the scholars of Lunel asked him for a translation of the "Moreh." As aids in his work he indicates the Hebrew translation by his father (whom he calls "the Father of the Translators"), works on the Arabic language, and the Arabic writings in his own library. Samuel also wrote an index to the Biblical verses quoted in the "Moreh" (see Renan-Neubauer, "Les Ecrivains Juifs Franç ais," p. 684).

The distinction of Samuel's translation is its accuracy and faithfulness to the original. Whether one approves or disapproves his introduction of a number of Arabic words into Hebrew, and the fact that, by analogy with the Arabic, he gives to certain Hebrew words meanings different from the accepted ones, the magnitude of his work can not be questioned. Especially admirable is the skill with which he reproduces in Hebrew the abstract ideas of Maimonides, which is essentially a language of a people expressing concrete ideas. Soon after Samuel (that is, after 1230) the poet Judah al-Ḥ arizi also translated the "Moreh" (part i., ed. Schlossberg, London, 1857 part ii., ib. 1876 part iii., ib. 1879). He adopted Ibn Tibbon's Hebrew title, "Moreh Nebukim" (see Kaufmann, "Die Attributenlehre," p. 363), and though he said of Samuel, not without some personal animus, that the latter had intentionally obscured the meaning of the original, he was not successful in his attempt to have his own translation supersede that of Ibn Tibbon (Pococke, cited by Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." 1:856),

That keen critic Shem-Ṭ ob ibn Palquera passes judgment upon both translations in an anonymous letter. "In Ibn Tibbon's translation," he writes, "are only a few errors and if the learned translator had had time he would certainly have corrected these but in Al-Ḥ arizi's translation mistakes are numerous, and words are often given a wrong meaning" (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 428 et seq. ).

When the struggle between the Maimonists and anti-Maimonists arose, Samuel did not escape reproach for having spread the ideas of Maimonides, his chief accuser being Judah al-Fakhkhar (Kaufmann, l.c. p. 493).

Samuel also translated the following works of Maimonides:

  1. A treatise on Resurrection under the Hebrew title "Iggeret" or "Ma' amar Teḥ iyyat ha-Metim," Constantinople, 1569, and often afterward (see Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." Colossians 1914 ).

Other Translations.

  1. Mishnah commentary on Pirḳ e Abot, including the psychological introduction, entitled "Shemonah Peraḳ im" (Soncino, 1484 et seq. , and often afterward in the Mishnah and Talmud editions). The preface to his translations exists in two different versions (Steinschneider, l.c. Colossians 1890 idem , "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 437,926 see also Brann in Berliner's "Magazin," 5:41. et seq. Baneth, ib. 6:171 et seq. , 237 et seq. Geiger. "Moses ben Maimon," in "Nachgelassene Schriften," 3:60,88).

  2. "The thirteen articles" under the title "Shelosh ' Esreh ' Iḳ ḳ arim" or "Yesodot" (1505 see Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 925 idem , "Cat. Bodl." Colossians 1887 ).

  3. A letter to his pupil Joseph ibn ' Aḳ nin, a part of which is printed in "Ḳ obeẓ Teshubot ha-RaMBaM," 2:30 et seq. (see Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 931d idem , "Cat. Bodl." Colossians 1901 ).
    Samuel also translated the following writings of other Arabic authors: (1) ' Ali ibn Riḍ wan's commentary on the "Ars Parva" of Galen (according to Paris MS. 1114), finished in 1199 in Bé ziers (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 734). (2) Three smaller treatises of Averroes, under the title "Sheloshah Ma' amarim" (edited by J. Herez, with German transl.: "Drei Abhandlungen ü ber die Conjunction des Separaten Intellects mit den Menschen von Averroes, aus dem Arabischen Uebersetzt von Samuel ibn Tibbon," Berlin, 1869). Samuel translated these three treatises both as an appendix to his commentary on Ecclesiastes (see above) and separately (Steinschneider, l.c. p. 199).(3) Yaḥ ya ibn Baṭ riḳ 's Arabic translation of Aristotle's "Meteora," under the title "Otot ha-Shamayim" (also quoted under the title "Otot ' Elyonot"), translated on a voyage from Alexandria, between the two islands Lampedosa and Pantellaria. It is extant in several manuscripts. The preface and the beginning of the text have been printed by Filipowski ( c. 1860) as a specimen. Samuel made this translation, at the request of Joseph ben Israel of Toledo, from a single and bad Arabic translation of Baṭ riḳ (Steinschneider, l.c. p. 132.).
Some works are wrongly ascribed to Samuel by late copyists, e.g. , the translation of a "Biography of Alexander the Great," under the title "Sefer Aleḳ sandros Maḳ edon we-Ḳ orotaw" (see "Ḳ obeẓ , ' al Yad," 2:12 et seq. , Berlin, 1886 I. Lé vi, in "R. E. J." 3:248 et seq. for the contrary view see Steinschneider, l.c. p. 899) a commentary on Avicenna's "Ḳ anon" (Steinschneider, l.c. pp. 686,692). Shem-Ṭ ob ibn Palquera's "De' ot ha-Pilusufim" (the error in this case is due to a mistake in the introduction, where "Samuel" occurs instead of "Shem-Ṭ ob" see Steinschneider, l.c. pp. 5,285 idem , "Cat. Bodl." cols. 2483 et seq. ).
Bibliography : Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Franç ais , pp. 573 et seq. idem, Les Ecrivains Juifs Franç ais , Index Steinschneider, Jewish Literature , pp. 86 et passim Grä tz, Gesch. 6:204 Winter and Wü nsche, Die, Jü dische Littera tur , 2:330,385.G. M. Sc.

Copyright Statement
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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Ibn Tibbon'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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