TRANSLATION AND TRANSLATORS
The earliest Jewish translations, apart from possible examples in the Bible, are the Greek version of the Pentateuch and, later, other books of the Bible, which were made to fill a need in the Greek-speaking Jewish community of Alexandria and other places that no longer understood the original Hebrew. Similarly, the Aramaic vernacular of Jewish settlements in Palestine and other parts of southwestern Asia explain the development of Aramaic versions of the Bible.
In the 10th century *Ḥisdai ibn Shaprut was one of the main translators of Dioscorides' work from Greek to Arabic in the court of Cordoba. During the 12th and 13th century Toledo was a very notable center of translations and the Jews played an important role in this enterprise. In the middle of the 12th century the archbishop of Toledo, Don Raimundo de la Sauvetat (1124–52), promoted the translation of Arabic philosophical works from Arabic through the Romance versions into Latin. The Jew Avendauth worked together with the Christian Gundisalvus, translating, for instance, the De Anima of Avicenna and Ibn Gabirol's Fons Vitae. One century later, King Alfonso the Sage relied on Jewish translators to get Romance versions of many scientific works. Among them, Judah ben Moses ha-Kohen, Isaac ibn Sa'id, the Alfaquim Don Abraham (Ibn Shoshan?), Samuel ha-Levi Abulafiah, and Don Moses Alfaquí, translated important astronomic and astrologic treatises.
The many translations into Hebrew which began to appear in Western Europe early in the 12th century can be attributed to several factors, among which the spread of Judeo-Islamic culture was of central importance. Cultured and scholarly men from Islamic Spain began to travel to Christian lands. Abraham Ibn Ezra, for example, traveled to Italy, France, and England, and supported himself by writing Hebrew grammars, translations, and biblical commentaries commissioned by Jewish communities. These works undoubtedly stimulated interest in the new approaches to language and learning and reflected the cultural richness of Spain. In consequence of religious persecutions and other disturbances in the Iberian Peninsula during the 12th century, some Jewish families emigrated to southern France or northern Italy, and spread something of the learning and achievements of their native land in their new homes. Works written in Hebrew, moreover, stimulated a desire for additional works in that language. In addition, the general cultural awakening in Western Europe during the 12th century affected the Jews, encouraging them to the further acquisition of knowledge. Without question, at the end of the 12th century, Maimonides' Hebrew code of Jewish law Mishneh Torah excited scholars in France and Italy, so that they avidly sought everything the master produced, translating it from Arabic into Hebrew.
No discernible pattern governed the books that were translated into Hebrew. Apparently, books were often translated on the request of a patron, or a scholar would select a book to translate for his own reasons. However, besides the large number of such unclassifiable translations, activity was concentrated in the fields of philosophy, mathematics, medicine, and other sciences. Generally, translators explained their undertakings as being in response to a special request. Judah ibn *Tibbon relates in the introduction to his Hebrew version of Baḥya ibn Paquda's Ḥovot ha-Levavot (Duties of the Heart) that Meshullam b. Jacob, whom he praises as an adept in both religious and secular studies, urged him to prepare a translation of the Arabic work. Similarly, Judah *Al-Ḥarizi states that he translated Maimonides' Moreh Nevukhim (Guide of the Perplexed) at the invitation of some Provençal scholars. There are many other examples of requests urging the translation of a work, yet there is no information about remuneration, although the translators presumably received some payment
There was considerable complaint about the neglect of Hebrew and the employment of Arabic. Writers occasionally pointed out the difference between Jews who lived under Islamic domination and Jews who resided in Christian lands. It was not the use of the vernacular Arabic which vexed them, because it was taken for granted that for social intercourse the language of the land was the proper vehicle. But in view of the fact that Jews in Christian countries utilized Hebrew in their literary productions, Jewish writers in Islamic countries justified their use of Arabic by claiming that the subjects they dealt with – subjects not cultivated by Italian and French Jews – required a vocabulary which Hebrew did not possess and which Arabic possessed in abundance. Moses ha-Kohen *Gikatilla, who supplied a Hebrew translation of the grammatical studies of Ḥayyūj, explains that grammarians were compelled to write in Arabic "because it is the current speech of a victorious people, and it is explicit while Hebrew is vague; clear and plain whereas Hebrew is ambiguous; and it is proper to elucidate the unknown by the known and the vague by the explicit." Judah ibn Tibbon presents a brief historical survey of the course of development: "Afterward most of the geonim lived in the Diaspora of the Muslim Empire, Iraq, Ereẓ Israel and Iran, and spoke Arabic, and all the Jewish communities in those areas spoke that tongue. Most of their interpretations of biblical and mishnaic and talmudic books were in Arabic, as also most of their compilations and responsa in answer to inquiries made of them. All the people understood it. Moreover it is a rich language, fully adequate for every theme and every need of orator or author; straight and clear rhetoric, to express the essence of every subject more than is possible in Hebrew." Notwithstanding the conceded advantages of Arabic over Hebrew, Jews adhered to the tradition that Hebrew was the divine tongue, the first to serve mankind. But the exile and the tribulations which Jews suffered had caused the loss of a significant portion of Hebrew vocabulary, since the Bible was the only record preserved.
In view of the difference in the richness of the two languages, the role of translator imposed certain duties, the main being the coinage of words and phrases in Hebrew according to need. For translating philosophical, scientific, or medical works new technical words had to be created in Hebrew. It was also necessary to decide what method to pursue in this process. Ordinarily translation is in large measure interpretation, and the function of the translator is to transmit in the new medium the sense of the original. Before Samuel ibn Tibbon translated the Guide of the Perplexed into Hebrew, he asked Maimonides for suggestions. The latter offered the following instructions: a translator must first understand the content, and narrate and explain that content in the language in which he is working. He will not escape changing the order of words, or transmitting phrases in single words, or eliminating vocables, or adding them, so that the work is well ordered and expounded, and the language of the translator will follow the principles governing that language. Despite this very sensible advice, Samuel ibn Tibbon's translation of the Guide, and his father's version of other works, give the impression of excessive faithfulness to the original. Yet this did not prove contrary to Maimonides' demands, inasmuch as he expressed his gratitude for the accomplishment of his translator. In fact, the style developed by father and son, with strong Arabic influence in its morphology, syntax, and vocabulary, became the standard for subsequent efforts in this field (Goshen-Gottstein). Other ways of translating, searching for a pure, more literary biblical language and avoiding the numerous neologisms, was undertaken also by other Jewish scholars like Judah Al-Ḥarizi, who translated Maimonides' Guide in a completely different way not long after the Tibbonid translation. But the method of the ibn Tibbon family was taken as a model for the future, while Al-Ḥarizi's translation was quickly forgotten.
When the full mastery of Arabic was lacking, books were translated from Arabic to Latin by way of the Hebrew version, and occasionally Hebrew translations were made from the Latin rather than from the original Arabic. Although thorough knowledge of both tongues was theoretically necessary – to appreciate the nuances and fathom the true meaning of the original, and to render it authentically and idiomatically – in practice this was unfortunately rarely the case. Translators, even if they were qualified to produce the ideal version, were so concerned about remaining faithful to the original Arabic that they frequently violated Hebrew syntax or sentence structure, and disregarded simple rules of gender and number. Nevertheless, translators contributed greatly to the enrichment of Hebrew, adding a large scientific and philosophic vocabulary. The means utilized to expand the vocabulary were forming new words from existing roots, creating additional noun patterns, making derivations from verbal stems, or forming verbs from nouns. Occasionally a new meaning was attached to an existing term, parallel to the course followed in the coinage of the Arabic terminology. In addition, a number of words were borrowed from Arabic, and they were generally adjusted to the morphological requirements of Hebrew. It should also be kept in mind that the philosophic and scientific style introduced by the translators became the standard, so that men who composed in Hebrew followed the patterns adopted from Arabic.
Translators were not always familiar with the subject of the work they were rendering. Occasionally criticism would be voiced about translators who offered to work without adequate knowledge of the field involved. However, on the whole, translators were usually conscious of their obligations, and succeeded in transmitting authentic versions of the originals. Even in more popular literature, where greater freedom could be taken since in popular works eloquence was frequently a
Translators generally approached their task with deep humility. Statements of inadequacy and confessions of ignorance, which should have kept them from the undertaking, are often found in translators' introductions to their works. Although some of these expressions were undoubtedly pro forma, many others represent expressions of genuine trepidation with which translators assumed the charge. Samuel b. Judah of Marseilles, who translated Aristotle's Ethics, admits openly and sincerely his insufficient acquaintance with the subject and expresses the hope of studying it in depth to improve his rendering. Judah b. Nathan, who prepared a Hebrew version of Ghazalī's The Intentions of the Philosopher, frankly describes his inadequate command of the language and the subject. Yet the results are by and large highly commendable.
Our main source of information about Hebrew translations is still the monumental work of M. Steinschneider, Die hebraeischen Uebersetzungen des Mittelalters und die Juden als Dolmetscher (1893, repr. 1956). The following is a survey of medieval Hebrew translations of Arabic and Latin works. It begins with philosophy, and in this field *Aristotle was far and away the outstanding representative of Greek thought among Muslim and Jewish thinkers. The latter, who were mostly unfamiliar with Greek, knew him only through the Arabic. Two Muslim philosophers are extremely important for their influence on their Jewish counterparts: Abu al-Naṣr Muhammad al-*Fārābi (c. 870–950), known as "the second teacher" (Aristotle was the first), and Abu al-Walīd Muhammad ibn Rushd (*Averroes; 1126–1198). The Jewish philosophers knew the views of the Greek master through the commentaries of these two.
The Muslim thinkers, and Maimonides among the Jews, knew of a compendium of the entire Organon; but in Hebrew translation, only some parts are to be found: (1) Porphyry's Isagoge was called Kiẓẓur mi-Kol Melekhet ha-Higgayon by its translator Moses b. Samuel ibn Tibbon. A fragment of another version of their Introduction to logic is also extant; (2) Categoriae Sifrei Ma'amarot, in two renderings; (3) Hermeneutica, in two Hebrew translations, both known to Abraham Avigdor in his commentary on Averroes; (4) Syllogisms, also in two translations, and an abridgment by Jacob Anatoli; (5) Analytica Posteriora – Ma'amar bi-Tena'ei ha-Hekkesh ha-Mofet, anonymous; (6) Topica – Ommanut ha-Nisṣu'aḥ, in two translations, both anonymous. All of these works in logic are in al-Fārābi's version.
Averroes studied Aristotle's works in three ways: (1) Summaries of the latter's teachings which he himself called Al-Jawāmi ʿal-Sighār (the brief compendia; in Heb. Kiẓẓur). (2) The Middle Commentaries, which Averroes named Talkhiṣ – Be'ur or Perush; the Hebrew renderings do not indicate in each work whether it is from this body, or from the next one. (3) The Great Commentaries. In these Aristotle's text is offered in sections, followed in every case by a detailed commentary. In the ensuing list 1 = The Compendium, 2 = The Middle Commentary, 3 = The Great Commentary. I. Logic. (1a) Kol Melekhet ha-Higgayon le-Aristoteles mi-Kiẓẓurei ibn Rushd by Jacob b. Inaktur, Nov. 10, 1189. (1b) Kiẓẓur Higgayon by Samuel b. Judah of Marseilles, December 1329. He explains in his introduction that he undertook it only because the previous one was a poor performance. (2a) by Jacob b. Abba Mari Anatoli, March 1232. (2b) Nissu'aḥ ve-Hata'ah by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus, Arles, 1313. (2c) Halaẓah ve-Shir by Todros Todrosi, Arles, 1337. (3) Ha-Mofet by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus, December 1314.
II. A. Physics. (1) Ha-Shema ha-Tivi by Moses ibn Tibbon. (2a) Ha-Shema by Zerahiah Ḥen of Barcelona, in Rome, 1284. It is in eight sections (ma'amarim), divided into principles (kelalim), and these into chapters (perakim). (2b) Ha-Shema by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus, Arles, 1316. (3) Ha-Shema by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus. It seems that another version was prepared by Moses b. Solomon.
B. Sefer ha-Shamayim (1) Themistius' paraphrase, by Zerahiah Ḥen, Rome, 1284. Averroes' Kelalei ha-Shamayim veha-Olam was done by Moses ibn Tibbon. (2) by Solomon b. Joseph ibn Ayyūb of Granada, in Béziers, 1259.
C. (1) Ha-Havayah ve-ha-Hefsed, by Moses ibn Tibbon, 1250. (2) by Zerahiah Ḥen, Rome, 1284. Also by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus, October 1316.
D. Al-Āthār al-ʿAlawiyya on meteorology. (1) Otot ha-Shamayim by Samuel ibn Tibbon, 1210. A work by Averroes: Otot Elyonot was translated into Hebrew by Moses ibn Tibbon. (2) Be'ur Sefer ha-Otot ha-Elyonot by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus, Arles, 1316.
E. Ha-Ẓemaḥim 1–2 by Shem Tov ibn Falaquera, and Kalonymus b. Kalonymus, who did Averroes' commentary, April 1314.
F. Sefer Ba'alei-Ḥayyim, consisting of de Natura Animalium, de Partibus and de Generatione. The last two were translated by Jacob b. Machir ibn Tibbon, December 1302.
G. On the Soul, translated by Zerahiah Ḥen in Rome, 1284. Averroes' treatment (1) Kelalei Sefer ha-Nefesh, by Moses ibn Tibbon, 1244. (2a) by Shem Tov b. Isaac of Tortosa. (2b) Be'ur Sefer ha-Nefesh by Moses ibn Tibbon, April 1261. (3) Of the Great Commentary no Hebrew translation is known, but it was used by Shem Tov Falaquera and was commented on by Joseph b. Shem Tov. It is also pertinent to mention the treatise of Alexander of Aphrodisias, which in Hebrew is Ma'amar Nefesh, translated by Samuel b. Judah of Marseilles in Murcia, November 1323.
H. Of the Parva Naturalia, consisting of de Sensu et Sensato, de Memoria, de Somno, and de Berevitate Vitae, only the
Metaphysics. Al-Fārābī's introduction Kitāb fi Aghrāḍ Aristo fī Kitāb mā ba'd al-Tabī'a was rendered anonymously in Hebrew under the title: Be-Khavvanot Aristo be-Sifro Mah she-Akhar ha-Teva. Books alpha–lambda were done from the Latin by Baruch b. Yā'ish for Samuel Sarfati about 1485. Of Averroes' treatment, one was presented in Hebrew by Moses ibn Tibbon in May 1258, a second by Zerahiah Ḥen, 1284, in Rome and also by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus in May 1317. The third is by Moses b. Solomon of Salon in Beaucaire, 1310–20, of which only Hebrew fragments survive. Themistius' paraphrase of Book Lambda (12) was translated by Moses ibn Tibbon. De Anima plus Averroes' commentary was explained, and possibly translated by Moses Narboni under the title Efsharut ha-Devekut ba-Sekhel ha-Po'el. Three treatises on the same theme were translated into Hebrew by Samuel ibn Tibbon. Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics were rendered in Hebrew from the Latin by Don Meir b. Solomon Alguadez, Averroes' middle commentary in Hebrew by Samuel b. Judah of Marseilles, February 1321.
His Politics were never translated into Arabic, although its existence was known as the practical application of the principle in the Ethics to the conduct of the state, but it is Plato's Republic which was available in Arabic under the title Kitāb al-Siyāsa and was translated into Hebrew by Samuel b. Judah of Marseilles in 1320–22.
Of Aristotle's Economica, a Hebrew version from the Arabic was prepared by David b. Solomon of Seville (1373?), and probably from the Latin by Leon Aretino. The latter carries an Introduction by an otherwise unknown Abraham ibn Tibbon. Several pseudo-Aristotelian works circulated in Hebrew, generally via Arabic. Of these, Problemata by Moses ibn Tibbon (1264); on stones – Sefer ha-Avanim or De Lapidario; Theology by Moses b. Joseph Arovas, from the Arabic, and also in Italian by him; Secretum secretorum, in Arabic Sirr al-Asrār, and in Hebrew, anonymously, Sod ha-Sodot, in the 13th century; de Causis, on the absolute good, by Zerahiah Ḥen called Ha-Be'ur be-Tov ha-Gamur, and also by Hillel b. Samuel of Verona, both from the Arabic, which is not known (Produs' de Causis was rendered in Hebrew by Judah Romano, and called Sefer ha-Sibbot); Kitāb-al-Tufāḥa ("On the Apple"; on immorality, and seen as an imitation of Plato's Phaedo) in Hebrew by Abraham ibn Ḥisdai; these are also letters which he sent to Alexander the Great, and works on auguring.
Muslim thinkers who wrote in Arabic, and whose works were translated into Hebrew, include al-Fārābi: Fi al-Tanbīhʿalā Sabīl al-Saʿāda is rendered in Hebrew, Ha-He'arah al-Derekh ha-Haẓlaḥah, by an anonymous translator; Kitab al-Mabādi ʾ or al-Siyāsa was translated by Moses ibn Tibbon, and named Sefer ha-Hatḥalah; Iḥṣā ʾ al-Ulūm (an enumeration of the sciences), in Hebrew, by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus, Be-Mispar ha-Ḥokhmot;ʿUyūn al-Masā ʾ il (answers to philosophical problems), in Hebrew Ayin Mishpat ha-Derushim by Todros Todrosi; Kalonymus b. Kalonymus did Iggeret be-Siddur Kri ʾ at ha-Ḥokhmot from the Arabic fī mā Yanbaghīʿan Yaqdum qabla Taʿallum al-Falsafa; Ba-Sekhel u-va-Muskal from fī al-ʿAql wa al-Mʿaqūl; the last was also translated anonymously as Ha Sekhel ve-ha-muskalot. Risāla fi Hayāt al-Nafs was done in Hebrew by Zerahiah Ḥen, in 1284, Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna, d. 1037), accepted by orthodox Islam, wrote al-Samā ʾ wa al-ʿĀlam, translated into Hebrew as Ha-Shamayim ve-ha-Olam, by Solomon b. Moses of Melgueil (second half of 13th century), probably from Latin; Sefer ha-Shenah ve-ha-Yekẓah by the same, again from Latin; al-Najāt, translated as Haẓẓalat ha-Nefesh by Todros Todrosi (1330–40); Ḥai ibn Yaqzān, in Hebrew Iggeret Ḥai ben Mekiẓ by Abraham ibn Ezra.
Al-*Ghazālī (d. 1111), the famous critic of philosophy, wrote Maqāṣid al-Falāsifa ("The Objectives of the Philosopher"; it was cribbed by Saádiah b. Daud al-ʿAdeni under the title Zakāt al-Nafs) which was adopted by Isaac al-Balagh (only the first two parts) and called De'ot ha-Pilosofim. A translation, Kavvanot ha-Pilosofim, was prepared (1352–58) by Judah b. Nathan, a Provençal physician. A third anonymous version also exists. His Tahāfut al-Falāsifa ("The Collapse of the Philosophers") was translated into Hebrew, by Zerahiah b. Isaac ha-Levi, called Saladin, and possibly the Rabbi Ferrer of the Tortosa disputation (1412–14). Miʿyar al-ʿIlm is Moznei ha-Iyyunim by Jacob b. Machir ibn Tibbon; Mīzān al-ʿAmal, an ethical work, done by Abraham b. Samuel ibn Ḥasdai and called Moznei Ẓedek. Mishkatt al-Anwar ("The Niche of the Lights") is Maskit ha-Orot by Isaac b. Joseph al-Fāsī, of the 13th century. Another, but anonymous, rendering is called Ha-Orot ha-Elohiyyot.
Abdallah ibn Muhammad of Badajoz (d. 1127) wrote al-Dā ʾ ira al-Wahmiyya ("The Imaginary Circle") a work which was quite influential among Jewish thinkers. Moses ibn Tibbon rendered it into Hebrew, calling it Ha-Agullot ha-Ra'yoniyyot. It was also done by Samuel Motot, as part of his commentary on Sefer Yeẓirah. Ibn Baja (d. 1138 in Fez) wrote Kitāb al-Wadāʿ("The Farewell" [to the world]) which was converted into Hebrew by Ḥayyim ibn Vivas, and fī Tadbīr al-Mutawaḥḥid (on the conduct of the recluse) which is Be-Hanhagat ha-Mitboded, by Moses of Narbonne who wrote a commentary on it. Ibn Ṭufayl (d. 1185 in Murcia) composed a celebrated Risālat Ḥayy ben Yaqzān, in Hebrew Iggeret Ḥayawan ben Yakson, it was also incorporated by Moses of Narbonne in his commentary. Ibn Rushd (Averroes, d. 1198) wrote an exposition of the harmony of religion and philosophy called Faṣl al-Maqāl etc., which was translated into Hebrew, anonymously, under the name Ha-Hevdel ha-Ne'emar she-Bein ha-Torah ve-ha Ḥokhmah min ha-Devekut. He refuted Ghazāli's critique of philosophy in his Tahāfut al-Tahāfut ("The Collapse of the Collapse"); its Hebrew version, Happalat ha-Happalah, was prepared by Kalonymus b. David b. Todros. A second rendering, anonymous, is also extant.
Since a number of Jewish thinkers wrote their works in Arabic, they also required conversion into Hebrew. The earliest is Isaac Israeli. Among his philosophic writings are Kitāb al-Ḥudūd wa al-Rusūm ("Book of Definitions"), in Hebrew, Sefer
Baḥya ibn Paquda composed the ethical-philosophical, Farāʾid al-Qulūb; in Hebrew it is Ḥovot ha-Levavot translated by Judah ibn Tibbon, who also appended an interesting introduction to his translation.
Solomon ibn Gabirol wrote a philosophic rather than a theological study, whose Arabic original has not been discovered. No medieval Hebrew translation exists (one is extant in Latin), but an epitome, Likkutim, prepared by Shem Tov ibn Falaquera, is extant. A modern Hebrew version is now available. Other works Ibn Gabirol rendered into Hebrew included Iṣlāḥ al-Akhlāq ("The Improvement of the Character") translated by Judah ibn Tibbon as Tikkun Middot ha-Nefesh, and a collection of aphorisms, probably by the same translator, under the title Mivḥar ha-Peninnim. Another version, in the rhyme, Shekel ha-Kodesh, was the work of Joseph Kimḥi. Joseph ibn Ẓaddik, a judge in Cordoba (d. 1149), wrote al-ʿĀlam al-Ṣaqhīr ("Microcosm"), which is Ha-Olam ha-Katan in Hebrew, but the translator is unknown.
Judah Halevi (d. 1141) is the author of Kitāb al-Hujja wa al-Dalil ("The Argument and Proof "), known as Ha-Kuzari in Judah ibn Tibbon's Hebrew rendering. A fragment is also extant of a translation by Judah b. Kardena. Abraham ibn Daud, the earliest Aristotelian among Jewish thinkers, wrote al-ʿAqida al-Rafiʿa, on free will and other matters. It was translated as Ha-Emunah ha-Nissa'ah by Samuel ibn Motot in 1312, and as Ha-Emunah ha-Ramah by Solomon b. Levi. Moses Ibn Ezra wrote a work of literary criticism, Kitāb al-Muḥaḍara wa al-Mudhākara (which is called Shirat Yisrael in a modern Hebrew version by B. Halper, or Sefer ha-Iyyunim ve-ha-Diyyunim by A.S. Halkin), and Fi Maʿna al-Majāz wa al-Haqīqa ("On Literalisms and Figurative Expressions"), part of which was rendered into Hebrew as Arugat ha-Bosem.
Many of the works of Maimonides were rendered in Hebrew translation. Of his commentary on the Mishnah, Judah al-Ḥarizi translated the general introduction and most of Zera'im; Joseph ibn al-Fawwāl and a certain Simḥah did Mo'ed and Nashim in Huesca; the remaining three were done in Saragossa by Solomon ibn Ya ʾ qūb (Nezikin) and Nethanel ibn Almali (Kodashim and Tohorot). There are also fragments of other translations. Avot was done by Samuel ibn Tibbon. Maimonides' Sefer ha-Mitzvot, listing the 613 biblical precepts, was rendered into Hebrew by Abraham ibn Ḥisdai, of which only fragments exist, and by Moses ibn Tibbon. A third version exists by Solomon ibn Ayyūb. His epistle on forced conversion was titled Iggeret ha-Shemad in Hebrew; the translator is unknown; his Iggeret Teiman exists in three Hebrew versions: (a) by Samuel ibn Tibbon; (b) by Abraham ibn Ḥisdai; (c) by Nahum ha-Ma'aravi; his treatise on resurrection, Ma'amar Teḥiyyat ha-Metim, by Samuel ibn Tibbon. His major philosophic composition, Dalālat al-Hā ʾ irīn, was translated by Samuel ibn Tibbon and also by Judah al-Ḥarizi. His treatise on logic, Maqāla fi Sināʿat al-Manṭiq, is available in Hebrew, probably from Moses ibn Tibbon's hand, as Millot ha-Higgayon.
Joseph b. Judah ibn Aknin wrote a philosophic commentary on the Songs of Songs, which he called Inkishāf al-Asrār wa Ṭuhūr al-Anwār. It was recently translated into Hebrew. Of Karaite thinkers, Joseph al-Basir's two works were provided with a Hebrew translation: Al-Muḥtawī was translated under the title Sefer ha-Ne'imot, and Kitāb al-Tamyīz, received by the Hebrew name Maḥkimot Peti.
Books by Christians which are available in Hebrew translation include Quaestiones naturale by Adelard of Bath (c. 1120), which is Dodi ve-Nekhdi, by Berechiah ha-Nakdan; Philosophia of Albertus Magnus (1193–1286) is in a Hebrew version titled Kiẓẓur ha-Pilosofyah ha-Tivit by Abraham Shalom, and Aegidius de Columnas' (d. 1306) De Regimine Principum, in Hebrew Hanhagat ha-Melakhim. The De Consolationes Philosophiae of Boethius (d. 524) was translated into Hebrew by Samuel b, Benveniste and called Menaḥem Meshiv Nafshi, and again by Azariah b. Abba Mari under the name Neḥamot ha-Pilosofyah. Other scholastics whose works were translated are Occam (d. 1343/7) whose Summa totius, in Hebrew Perakim ba-Kolel, was translated by Eli Habillo, who called himself Don Manuel. Petrus Hispanus (d. 1276) wrote Parva Logicalia, a work quite popular among Jews, as can be judged from the several renderings: (a) Higgayon Kaẓar by Abraham Avigdor; (b) Higgayon by Judah b. Samuel Shalom; (c) Trattat, anonymous; Be'ur ha-Mavo by Jehezekiah b. Ḥalafta. Raimund Lull (d. 1215) created an Ars Parva from his Ars Magna, the former was rendered into Hebrew by several translators as Melakhah Keẓarah. Many of Thomas Aquinas' works, particularly the philosophic treatises and commentaries, were made available in Hebrew.
The Jews in the Islamic world were deeply interested in mathematics, first, because of its intrinsic challenge, and secondly, because of its use in astronomy and astrology, which had important practical and religious implications. As in philosophy, so in science, the pursuits of the Greek scientists were eagerly studied. Archimedes' work on cylinders was translated by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus under the title Ba-Kaddur u-va Iẓtevanah from Costa ibn Lucca's Arabic version. Kalonymus also provided a Hebrew version of the measurement of circles, Bi-Meshiḥat ha-Agullah; from Thābit b. Karras' Arabic. Euclid was the representative of the Greeks. His Kitāb al-Uṣūl or al-Ustuqṣāt, in 12 books, augmented by two more of Hypsicles, was rendered by Moses ibn Tibbon in 1270. Another version called Yesodot ve-Shorashim was made by Jacob b. Machir about 1270. Other Hebrew texts also exist, possibly from the Latin, for example, his Data in Sefer ha-Mattanot
Ptolemy of Alexandria (d. 150), known to Jews and Arabs as Betolomaus, is the author of Elmegiste, which was translated into Hebrew as Ḥibbur ha-Gadol by Jacob Anatoli. The introduction to Elmegiste was turned into Hebrew as Ḥokhmat ha-Kokhavim, or Ḥokhmat Tekhunah ha-Keẓarah by Moses ibn Tibbon. His Hypotheses was rendered by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus in 1317 under the title Be-Sippur Inyenei ha-Kokhavim ha-Nevukhim. Several works ascribed to Ptolemy also circulated, among them the Astrolabe, called Ma'aseh ha-Aẓterolav by Solomon Sharvit ha-Zahav (14th century), and Planispherium, called Mofetei Kelei ha-Habbatah, probably from the Latin.
Muslim mathematician and astronomer Jābir ibn Aflaḥ's Kitāb al-Hay ʾ a, which was translated into Hebrew by Moses ibn Tibbon, is identical with the alleged Elmegiste in nine books, completed in 1274. His Sector of Menelaus is Ha-Ḥibbur ba-Temunah ha-Ḥitukhit le-Mileus; the translator is not known with certainty. Abu Batir's De Nativitatibus was rendered into Hebrew as Sefer ha-Moladot by Isḥāq abu al-Khayr from the Latin in 1498. Averroes' Compendium is Kiẓẓur Elmegiste by Jacob Anatoli in 1231. Abu Isḥāq al-Bitrinji of Seville composed Kitāb fi al-Hay ʾ a, Ma'amar ba-Tekhunah in Hebrew by Moses ibn Tibbon. Costa ibn Lucca's Al-ʿAmal bial-kurra al-Nujūmiyya was translated by Jacob b. Machir as Sefer ha-Ma'aseh be-Khaddur ha-Galgol. Aḥmed al-Ferghani (d. 833/ 844) wrote Jawāmiʿal-Nujūm which is Yesodot ha-Tekhunah by Jacob Anatoli (the title is not his). Muhammad al-Ḥaṣṣār composed an arithmetic which he named Al-Bayān wa al-Tidhkār, and it is available in the Hebrew translation of Moses ibn Tibbon as Ḥeshbon. Ibn Haitham's Qawl fi Hay ʾ at-ʿAlam was translated as Sefer ha-Tekhunah by Jacob b. Machir in 1271, and by Solomon ibn Fatir ha-Kohen in 1322. Abu Yūsuf al-Kindī's astrological work on the new moon was prepared in Hebrew by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus as Iggeret be-Kiẓẓur ha-Ma'amar ba-Moladot. His Iggeret ha-Maspeket ba-la-Ḥiyyut u-va-Matar exists in an anonymous translation. Jaʿfar Abu Maʿshar (d. 885/6 at the age of 100) wrote Al-Madkhal al-Kabīr, which was translated into Hebrew from the Latin under the name Mavo ha-Gadol me-Ḥokhmat ha-Tekhunah by Jacob b. Elijah. Another work of his is Sefer Kaẓar be-Mivḥar Liabi Maʿshar by an anonymous translator from the Arabic al-Ikhtiyārāt. The astronomical Tables, by an unknown Muslim, were translated into Hebrew by Abraham ibn Ezra and called Ta'amei Luḥot al-Khwarizmi. Ibn Muʿadh's discussion of the solar eclipse of 1079, was converted into Hebrew by Samuel b. Judah of Marseilles (1320–40), who also translated Ibn Muʾadh's treatise on the Dawn, as Iggeret be-Ammud ha-Shaḥar. Kitāb al-ʿAmal bi al-Asturlab by Aḥmad ibn al-Saffār was rendered into Hebrew as Perush ha-Aẓterolab by Jacob b. Machir. Kalonymus b. Kalonymus translated Abu l-Qāsim ibn Samḥ's work under the title Ma'amar ba-Iẓtevanot u-va-Meḥudadim. Abu al-Kāmil Shujāʿ of Egypt (900–950) composed Ṭharā ʾ if al-Ḥisāb, and it was translated from the Latin into Hebrew by Mordecai Finzi of Manta (1344–1375). Thābit b. Qurra (d.901) composed Kitāb al-Shakl al-Qaṭāʿ. Its Hebrew version, Sefer ha-Temunah ha-Ḥittukhit, is by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus. Ibrāhīm al-Nakkūsh ibn al-Zarkala (1061–80) composed al-Ṣafḭḥa al-Zarkaliya, which was done in Hebrew by an unknown translator under the title Iggeret ha Ma'aseh ba-Lu'aḥ ha-Nikra Ṣafḭḥa. Another work by this author, on the fixed stars, was translated by Samuel b. Judah of Marseilles and called Ma'amar bi-Tenu'at ha-Kokhavim ha-Kayyamim.
A few Jewish astronomers wrote in Arabic, and their works required translation. Mashalla (d. 820) wrote an astrological study, which Abraham ibn Ezra translated under the title She'elot. He also translated Mashalla's work on eclipses which in Hebrew is called Be-Kadrut ha-Levanah ve-ha-Shemesh ve-Ḥibbur ha-Kokhavim u-Tekufat ha-Shanim. Sahl ibn Bishr (d. c. 820) compiled a book of principles of astrology, Kitāb al-Aḥkām. Rendered into Hebrew by an unknown translator, it is called Kelalim. Maimonides' treatise on the calendar is translated by an unknown scholar as Ḥibbur be-Ḥokhmat ha-Ibbur. Joseph ibn Naḥmias' astronomical study, Nūr al-ʿAlam, was rendered into Hebrew by an unknown translator as Ha-Shamayim ha-Ḥadashim. The astronomical tables of Joseph ibn Wakkār were also done in Hebrew.
The Alphonsine Tables, prepared by the Jew Yisḥak ibn Cid in 1265, for the Christian astronomer Alphonse, have been rendered into Hebrew, as have other tables, with adjusted dates. Gerard of Sabionetta wrote a Thearica Planetarum which, in the Hebrew of Judah b. Samuel Shalom, is Iyyun Shivah Kokhevei Lekhet. Hermanus Contractus (d. 1054) produced de Mensura Astrolabu, which in Hebrew is called Sefer ha-Aẓteroblin, and, in another version, Sefer Astrolog. Both translators are unknown. John of Gmund (d. 1417) is the author of a treatise on the stars which David b. Meir Kalonymus translated into Hebrew and called Marot ha-Kokhavim. Alessandro Piccolomini (d. 1578) composed La Spera del Mondo and Speculazione dei Pianete. In Hebrew they are respectively Sefer ha-Kidor and Iyyunei Kokhevei ha-Nevokhah in the translations of an unknown author. Dioscorides (first cent. C.E.) compiled a work on Simplicia in which Ḥisdai ibn Shaprut participated in translating into Arabic; no Hebrew version is known, except for passages in the medical work of the so-called Asaf. His Succeda Nea was translated from the Latin by Azariah Bonafoux under the title Temurat ha-Sammim. Numerous writings of Galen were available in Hebrew. Ars Parva (Techne) was rendered from the Arabic as Ha-Me'assef le-khol ha-Maḥanot by an unknown scholar. Four of his smaller works on illnesses, their cause and symptoms, were combined in the Hebrew of Zerahiah Ḥen (1277) under the heading Sefer ha-Ḥola'im ve-ha-Mikrim. Zerahiah Ḥen also translated the Katagenos,
Hippocrates, the father of Greek medicine, was known to the medieval Jews, through the Arabs, by his aphorisms, Kitāb al-Fusūl, translated by Moses ibn Tibbon as Perakim. This work was also translated by an unknown scholar and by Nathan ha-Me'ati, in 1283. Hillel b. Samuel of Verona prepared a Hebrew version of it from the Latin with the title Ma'amar ha-Rofe'im, and another version under the name Agur, again from the Latin, was made by an unknown translator. Hippocrates' Prognostica with Galen's comments and titled Hakdamat ha-Yedi'ah, was probably translated by Nathan ha-Me'ati. It also exists as Ḥidot ve-Hashgaḥot, evidently rendered from Greek and Latin by an unknown translator. His work on acute illnesses, Hanhagat ha-Ḥola'im ha-Ḥaddim, was translated by Nathan ha-Me'ati, and by his grandson Samuel b. Solomon. Hippocrates' study of air, water, and places, Sefer ha-Avirim u-va-Zemannim ve-ha-Memot ve-ha-Araẓot – was rendered by Nathan ha-Me'ati, and Galen's commentary on it, in Hebrew, is the work of Solomon b. Nathan in 1299. A book, Marot ha-Sheten ("on the color of urine"), ascribed to the Greek physician, is extant in Hebrew in the translation of Joseph b. Isaac Yisre'eli.
In Arabic a good deal was produced on medicine, and much of it was rendered into Hebrew. The celebrated translator of Galen, Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, himself a physician, compiled an introduction, Madkhal fi-al-Ṭibb, which exists in Hebrew as Mavo or She'elot translated from the Latin by Moses ibn *Ṭibbon and two anonymous scholars called Mavo. Māsawayh (d. 857) wrote medical curiosities, al-Nawādir al-Ṭibbiyya, translated into Hebrew as He'arot min ha-Refu'ah by an unknown scholar, and Iṣlāh al-Adwiya al-Mushila ("on laxatives") rendered into Hebrew as Me-ha-Eẓah ve-ha-Teva'im ve-ha-Tena'im by Samuel b. Jacob (end of 13th century), and also by an unknown scholar. There is an antidotary by Māsawayh, Aqrābadhīn, of which three or four anonymous versions are in existence. Muhammad al-Rāzī (d. 932/3), one of the famous Muslim writers on medicine, wrote al-Manṣūrī, a general work in ten tracts, which was translated by Shem Tov b. Isaac Tartasi (d. 1264), and was later abridged. His Aegritudine junctuarum (Me-Ḥolyei ha-Ḥibburim), de Aegritudinibus puerorum (Me-Hanhagat ha-Ne'arim ha-Ketannim) are both by unknown translators from the Latin, the latter being a more literal translation than Me-Ḥoli ha-Ne'arim ke-fi Rāzi. Pirkei Razi, 119 short aphorisms, is an anonymous translation from Arabic, as is also Sefer ha-Pesakot. A compendium, Liber Divisionum, was translated by Moses ibn Tibbon as Ha-Ḥilluk ve-ha-Ḥilluf; he also translated Al-Rāzī's antidotary in 1257; of the latter an anonymous version also exists. Al-Rāzī's explanation of why people go to charlatans, Ba-Meh she-Yikreh bi-Melekhet ha-Refu'ah, is perhaps the work of Nathan ha-Me'ati. There is an anonymous Ma'amar be-Hakkazah, and, from the Latin, Mi-Segullat Evrei Ba'alei Ḥayyim ve-Te'aliyyotam ve-Hezzekam ("on limbs and organs of living beings"). Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) is the author of the standard medical textbook of the late Middle Ages. His Canon, al-Qānūn, was translated by Nathan ha-Me'ati, although the manuscripts do not include the rendering of the whole. Zerahiah Ḥen also worked on a translation of the Canon, but only the first two books are known. Of Joseph ha-Lorki's rendering (before 1402) only book one and part of book two are extant. Avicenna's al-Qānūm al-Ṣaghīr was translated by Moses ibn Tibbon in Montpellier in 1272. Canticum, a medical book in verse (arjūza in Arabic), was rendered into prose by Moses ibn Tibbon, and, in verse, by Solomon b. Joseph ibn Ayyūb (Sefer ha-Ḥaruzim ha-Nikra arjūza), and by Ḥayyim Israel, and by an unknown scholar of whose work only a fragment exists. His al-Adwiya al-Qalbiyya on cures for heart disorders, is found in two anonymous Hebrew versions: Ha-Sammim ha-Libbiyyim, and Ha-Refu'ot ha-Levaviyyot, the latter from Latin.
ʿAmmār ibn Ali (d. 1020), an ophthalmologist, wrote al-Muntakhab fiʿIlāj al-ʿayn, translated by Nathan ha-Me'ati under the title (not by him) Shetalim ha-Nifradim ha-Mo'ilim la-Ayin. Ali ibn Riḍwān (d. 1068) wrote al-Uṣūl fi-al-Ṭibb which Kalonymus b. Kalonymus translated into Hebrew in Arles in 1307 under the title Ha-ʿAmmud be-Shorshei ha-Refu'ah. His Sharḥ Kitāb al-Ṣināʿa al-Saghīra, on a work by Galen, is translated as Perush Melakhah Ketannah by Samuel ibn Tibbon, done in Béziers in 1199. Another rendering from the Latin, by Hillel b. Samuel, is called Sefer ha-Tenge.ʿAmmār's al-Ustuqṣāt, was translated into Hebrew as Perush ba-yesodot by an unknown scholar. Aḥmed al-Jazzār (11th century) is the author of al-Iʿtimād, on simple cures, which in Hebrew is the anonymous Sefer ha-Ma'alot. His Zād al-Musāfir (viaticum) is Ẓeidat ha-Derakhim by Moses ibn Tibbon in 1259, Ẓeidah la-Oreḥim by Abraham b. Isaac, and Ya'ir Nativ by an unknown translator. He also wrote on forgetfulness, in Hebrew Iggeret ha-Shikhḥah by Nathan ha-Me'ati.
Abu al-Qāsim Zahrawī of Spain (11th century) compiled al-Taṣrīf, on medical practice, which was rendered into Hebrew by Shem Tov b. Isaac Tartasi (1261–64) and called Sefer ha-Shimmush. He-Ḥafeẓ ha-Shalem, a medical compendium, is the version by Meshullam b. Jonah (1287) of a no longer extant Arabic original, a compendious work in two tractates and 14 sections. Ibn Ṣoar (d. 1162) wrote al-Taysir fi-al-Mudāwāt
Gentile da Foligna (d. 1348) composed a book on practice, Prattiche, Nisyonot in its anonymous Hebrew version, and Consilium, which is called Eẓah by its Hebrew translator, probably Joshua of Bologna. Guy de Gauliac, a surgeon in Avignon (d. 1363), prepared a Chirurgia magna, translated by an unknown scholar; the beginning and end are unfortunately missing. He also produced a Chirurgia Parva, translated into Hebrew by Asher b. Moses (1468), and titled Giddu'a Kaẓar. John Jacobi (1366), wrote Secretarius practicus. It is available in two anonymous Hebrew renderings: Sod ha-Melakhah and Sod ha-Pratikah. Gerard de Salo composed a commentary on the ninth book of Al-Rāzī's al-Manṣūrī titled in Nomum mansoris; Abraham Avigdor made an abridged translation, and Leon Joseph a full one in 1394. His introductarium juvenum, on the care of the body, was likewise done in Hebrew by Leon Joseph and called Meishir ha-Matḥilim, and his treatise on fever, de Febribus, was translated by Abraham Avigdor. Bernard Alberti (1339–58) compiled an Introductarium in practicam, a collection of prescriptions, done in Hebrew by Abraham Avigdor under the title Mavo ba-Melakhah. Albertus Magnus is the author of discussions on six needs of the body, which Moses Ḥabib called She'elot u-Teshuvot in his Hebrew version of it.
Jews were interested not only in philosophy and the sciences, but also in what can be called the humanities. They translated and wrote a good deal of popular literature, and they also cultivated eloquence, linguistics, and poetry. Mention should be made of the great popularity among them of all sorts of divinations, called Goralot, including astrology, mantic, and facial features. Among the foreign creations which made their way into Hebrew are the fables of Aesop, known as Ḥidot Esopito, and Kalila and Dimna by the Indian Bidpai. Its anonymous Hebrew translation is the source of all European versions made from its Latin rendering by the convert John of Capua (1262–78). Another Hebrew text prepared by Jacob b. Eleazar (d. 1223) is less literal than the other. The story of a demon who entered a woman and was expelled by a man, which is found in an Indian source and in the 1001 Nights, is told in Ma'amar Midyenei Ishaḥ. Mishlei *Sindabar, the Hebrew counterpart of the very popular Seven Sages, although originally of Indian origin, is important as the link which connects the eastern type of individual and the western type.
The history of Alexander the Great, originating in Callisthenes' Greek story, was popular in Jewish literature from talmudic times. The medieval Hebrew book, Sefer Alexander Mokedon ve-Korotov, said to be the work of Samuel ibn Tibbon or Judah al-Ḥarizi, is a translation of an Arabic original. Immanuel b. Jacob did another Toledot Alexander from the Latin. It should also be noted that sayings gleaned by various authors were also attractive to Jews, so that books like Sefer ha-Musar, Mishlei Arav, or Mishlei Anashim ha-Ḥakhamim, not to speak of works in which they are introduced en passant, are all translations from the Arabic, whether from one work
Hebrew grammar and lexicography attracted the attention of a number of Jewish writers who were stimulated by the parallel studies of Arabic, and many of their works were originally written in Arabic, and only later translated into Hebrew. The comparative lexicographic study of Judah ibn Quraish (tenth century) was not translated until modern times. Judah Ḥayyuj (early 11th century) wrote on verbs with quiescent letters, and geminative verbs. These tracts were first translated by Moses ha-Kohen Gikatilla as Otiyyot ha-Sefer ve-ha Meshekh, and later, by Abraham ibn Ezra as Otiyyot ha-Naḥ, Ba'alei ha-Kefel, and ha-Nikkud. The master work of Hebrew grammar by Jonah ibn Janāḥ, Kitāb al-Lumaʿ, was translated into Hebrew by Judah ibn Tibbon, and the lexicon, Kitāb al-Uṣūl, was translated by Isaac b. Judah, and by Isaac ha-Levi, both translations going only to the letter lamed. A complete translation was made by Judah ibn Tibbon in 1171. Ibn Jarah's shorter work, al-mustalḥiq, is called Sefer ha-Hassagah by its Hebrew translator Obadiah (c. 1300). Judah ibn Bal'am compiled a work on Hebrew particles Ḥurūf al-Maʿāni, rendered as Otiyyot ha-Inyamim in an anonymous Hebrew version; and al-Afʿāl Mushtaqqa min al-Asmā ʾ, a work on verbs derived from nouns, which in its anonymous Hebrew rendering is Ha-Pe'alim she-Hem mi-Gizrat ha-Shemot. He also is the author of a short tract on the proper reading of the Bible, Hadāyat al-Qāri ʾ, which was rendered into Hebrew either by Nethanel b. Meshullam or by Menahem b. Nethanel under the title Horayat ha-Kore.
Some miscellaneous compositions include halakhic writings of Hai Gaon (d. 1038) such as al-Buyūʿāt, which was translated into Hebrew by Isaac b. Reuben and was called Sefer ha-Mikkaḥ ve-ha-Mimkar, and, in an anonymous Hebrew version Mishpetei ha-Tena'im ve-Halva'ot, and the book on oaths which in its anonymous Hebrew translation is titled Mishpetei Shevu'ot or Sefer ha-Shevu'ot. A metrical version also exists, Sha'arei Dinei Mamonot ve-Sha'arei Shevu'ot. Joseph ibnʿAknīn, who wrote an introduction to the Talmud and a book on biblical and talmudic weights and measures, is represented in Hebrew translation by Mevo ha-Talmud, perhaps by an Abraham Yerushalmi, and by an anonymous version Ma'amar al ha-Middot. Of Abraham Maimonides' moralistic and pietistic work Kifāyat al-'Abidin, only a short section was rendered into Hebrew. A work on liturgy, Mitzvot Zemanniyyot, by Israel Yisre'eli, was translated into Hebrew by Don Shem Tov b. Ardutiel. Of Joseph ibnʿAknīn's Ṭibb al-Nufūs, only the first chapter was translated under the name Marpeh ha-Nefashot.
Steinschneider, Uebersetzungen (1893, repr. 1956); E. Bevan and C.J. Singer (eds.), Legacy of Israel (1927), 173–314. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Goshen-Gottstein, Medieval Hebrew Syntax and Vocabulary as Influenced by Arabic (Heb., 1951); B.R. Goldstein, in: Isis, 72:2 (1981), 237–51; A. Ivry, in: Rencontres de cultures dans la philosophie médiévale (1990), 167–86; J. Lomba, in: Mediaevalia, Textos e Estudios, 7–8 (1995), 199–220; S. Harvey, in: The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy (2003), 258–80; S. Harvey (ed.), The Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias of Science and Philosophy (2000); M. McVaugh and L. Ferre, The Tabula Antidotarii of Armengaud Blasi and Its Hebrew Translation (2000); G. Freudenthal, in: JQR, 93:1–2 (2002), 29–115.
[Abraham Solomon Halkin /
Angel Sáenz-Badillos (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.