Hebrew Manuscripts : Ha-Maʾor ha-Gadol

Shem Tov ben Judah Ibn Mayor of Briviesca

Hebrew Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Ha-Maʾor ha-Gadol, a super-commentary on Abraham ibn Ezra on the Pentateuch, by Shem Ṭov b. Judah ibn Mayor שם טוב בן יהודה ן מאיור of Briviesca in Spain. The work was composed in 5144 A. M. (1384 CE), when the author was 24, see f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(16);return false;'>2v</a>, where he states ואף כי איש כמוני בן ארבע ועשרים. This copy was produced by the scribe Yoḥanan b. Abraham ibn ʿAziz in Salonika in 1557, f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(491);return false;'>240r</a>; MS Oxford, Bodleian 228 is another copy of the same work by the same scribe.<br /><br /> There are catchwords on every verso and the titles at the beginning of each paraša are written in larger letters, decorated with supralinear dots. There are some diagrams within the body of the text, e.g. ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(166);return false;'>77v</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(172);return false;'>80v</a>.<br /><br /> Some of the margins are defaced by scribbled calculations, e.g. f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(13);return false;'>1r</a>, children’s alphabetic and other writing exercises, e.g. f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(14);return false;'>1v-2r</a> or f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(165);return false;'>77r</a>, and more than a few manicules, e.g. ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(246);return false;'>117v–118r</a>.<br /><br /> A later hand has added the name of the corresponding paraša to the top margin of every recto. Other owners have left their marks, including some notes in Ladino on ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(287);return false;'>138r-139r</a>, which perhaps relate to items for a dowry.<br /><br /> An identification of the work and its author, signed by M. Steinschneider and dated 1867, is pasted into the <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(5);return false;'>front fly-leaf</a>.<br /><br />Solomon Schiller-Szinessy explained the importance of this work (of which only two copies were known to him) as resting on two essential features: (a) it is mainly concerned with explaining the grammatical content of Abraham ibn Ezra’s commentary, and thus as a grammatical supercommentary it is unique, and (b) it contains ‘an inexhaustible source of biography and bibliography’ based in large part on oral traditions known to the author, which are not found elsewhere. He also lauded the copyist in hyperbolic terms: ‘[of] the copyist of this MS. it is impossible to speak in too high terms. His intelligence is only equalled by his conscientiousness; and even editors of our own time could only rival but never exceed him’! </p>

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