Abraham Ibn Ezra’s commentary to the Torah (‘Five Books of Moses’ or ‘Pentateuch’).
Abraham Ibn Ezra and his biblical commentary
Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra (1089–c.1167 CE) was one of the most eminent medieval commentators of the Hebrew Bible. A native of Tudela in northern Spain, Ibn Ezra was also a well-known poet, grammarian, philosopher, astronomer and mathematician. During his lifetime he travelled and resided in foreign lands, wherefrom he acquired knowledge he later used in his writings. Unlike other commentators, Ibn Ezra shunned midrashic and kabbalistic interpretation of the Bible. Being a grammarian, Ibn Ezra’s biblical commentary focussed on the meaning and grammar of words in their different contexts. He was a fervent defender of the simple, literal sense of the text, yet he also provided philosophical interpretations. His mastery of science is evident in the way that he introduced astrological and mathematical investigations in his biblical explanations, as for example those pertaining to Exodus 12. 1. Ibn Ezra’s independent and methodical approach to biblical analysis shows a conspicuous leaning towards rationalism.
This velum codex was copied in a single column in a semi-cursive Sephardic script. Throughout the manuscript, there are numerous bands and initial word panels embellished with pen work decorations and flourishes. Lack of a colophon means that nothing is known about the manuscript’s scribe, patron and exact place of creation. Itinerant Jewish scribes often preserved their native scripts and bookmaking techniques. Consequently, this codex may have been penned by a scribe of Spanish origin who worked in Italy.
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- Article by:
- Barry Dov Walfish
Barry Dov Walfish explains the development of biblical interpretation in Judaism, looking at key corpuses such as the Masorah, Targum and Midrash.