A 15th-century commentary on the Pentateuch by Nahmanides.
Who was Nahmanides?
Often referred to in Jewish sources as Ramban, an acronym of his name, Rabbi Mosheh ben Nahman (1194–1270 CE) was a prominent talmudic scholar, philosopher, kabbalist and biblical commentator. In Christian Europe he was known as Nahmanides, and by his Catalonian nickname - Bonastruc ça Porta. Nahmanides was born, studied and lived for most of his life in Girona, northeastern Spain, spending his last years in the Holy Land, mainly in Jerusalem and Acre. It is there that he wrote his famous commentary on the Torah. He was largely influenced by his illustrious predecessors, Rashi and Abraham Ibn Ezra, whose interpretations he frequently quoted, analysed, amplified or refuted in his own biblical exposition. An accomplished and erudite scholar, Nahmanides’s approach was conservative, combining traditional explanations based on the Halakhah (body of Jewish laws) and the Aggada (ancient Jewish lore) with mystical elements. His biblical commentary was one of the earliest to include references to the teachings of kabbalah, of which he was an influential advocate.
The unnamed scribe copied the text on paper in a semi-cursive oriental script without vowels. The style of Hebrew writing in this manuscript points to Persia as the most likely place of production. However, without a proper colophon providing data on the original commission, this assumption cannot be confirmed. Throughout the manuscript, there are many instances of last words overreaching the left border line being inscribed above preceding words. This is a scribal technique encountered particularly in manuscripts originating from the Middle East, as for example the Yemen. It is essentially a practical method of ‘justification’ aimed at keeping the text aligned along the left margins.
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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.