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Ben ha-Melekh ve-ha-Nazir
בן המלך והנזיר
R. Avraham ibn Hasdai
Joseph b. Jacob of Padua
This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
92 ff., 140:94 mm., nice margins, age and damp staining, few scattered wormwoles affecting letters. A good copy bound in modern half leather and marbled paper boards, corners tipped in.
Ben ha-Melekh ve-ha-Nazir (The Son of the King and the Nazirite), Parables and wisdom, ethical work in prose. Based on the original Hindu tale about a prince who eventually became an ascetic. Balauhar and Budasaph, the names of the heroes of the tale in the old Pahlavi version, became Barlaam and Joasaph in the Greek version and Barlaam and Josaphat in the oldest Latin version (1048) and in later European translations. The Hebrew work is based on an Arabic version, but whether it is a translation or an adaptation cannot be determined until the Arabic text is established. Ben ha-Melekh ve-ha-Nazir is the account of a prince, Joasaph, sent by his father to a luxurious palace on an island in an effort to avert the fulfillment of a prophecy that he would become a Christian monk. When the prince discovers the reason for his confinement, he implores his father to allow him to return to the mainland. The king yields, and the son soon becomes aware of evil in the world, with consequent unrest in his heart. A monk, Barlaam, who comes disguised as a merchant (monks being prohibited in the land) gains access to the prince and gradually teaches him to realize the vanity of this world and the advantages of the ascetic life. Unlike the Greek and the Arabic tales, the Hebrew does not reintroduce the father, nor does it relate his efforts to undo the effects of the monk's instruction. Instead, it continues the discussion on philosophic and theological questions until the monk is obliged to leave and the prince feels bereft and lonely. The course of transmission of the original tale until it evolved into a world classic is complicated, with many problems still unresolved. In the European texts, the prince adopts the Christian faith of his preceptor. The Hindu original is obviously modeled after the life of Buddha. The Hebrew version is attractively written, and the prose narrative is interspersed with versified aphorisms.
מנוקד כראוי ומוגה ... ע"י ... (המדפיס) יוסף בכמ"ר יעקב ז"ל מפדואה ...
CD-EPI 0106159 (on copy in British Museum)
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Kind of Judaica