Shem Tov ibn Falaquera's lost Bible commentary

Raphael Jospe, ישפה רפאל, SCHWARTZ DOV

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In several of his works, Shem Tov ibn Falaquera alluded to a Bible commentary (perush) he had composed. He also alluded to another work, Sefer Ha-Derash (Book of Interpretation), apparently a philosophic commentary to rabbinic aggadot. Both of these works were lost. In the case of the Bible commentary, it is possible that opposition to Falaquera's Platonic understanding of creation and general philosophic approach to Scripture may have led to its suppression. Falaquera was, for example, one of the philosophers thus denounced by Isaac Abravanel as distorting Scripture and misinterpreting the Torah. In the case of Sefer Ha-Derash, Solomon Al-Constantini refers to Falaquera's need to conceal his true esoteric intention, for "fear that the residents of his city would condemn him". Samuel ibn Zarza's Meqor Ḥayyim preserves some twenty-six citations of Falaquera's lost Bible commentary. These were previously published. Now, on the basis of the manuscripts of Zarza's Mikhlol Yofi, another nineteen passages have been found, of which seven are identical with citations in Zarza's Meqor Ḥayyim. The twelve remaining passages are published here for the first time. Only four of the new texts refer to a specific Biblical verse, as do the original twenty-six texts. These presumably are citations of the lost Bible commentary. The other eight texts do not refer to any verse but are midrashic in character. Presumably they are citations of the lost Sefer HaDerash.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)167-200
JournalHebrew Union College Annual
StatePublished - 1993


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