PLEASE NOTE: All bidding for the auction currently underway
at our new website at
Auction End Date
1/24/2006 12:40:00 PM (mm/dd/yyyy)
R. Abraham Zacuto
This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
168 ff., 169:104 mm., nice margins, usual light age staining. A very good copy bound in modern full calf boards, tooled in blind.
A history of the Jewish nation by R. Abraham b. Samuel Zacuto (1452–c. 1515), astronomer and historian. Sefer ha-Yuhasin, a work composed in the spirit of the writings of his predecessors (e.g., R. Sherira b. Hanina Gaon, R. Abraham ibn Daud, author of Sefer ha-Kabbalah, Maimonides and others who had written introductions to the Talmud), intended to outline the historical development of the Oral Law and to establish the chronology of the Jewish sages who had transmitted it. Meant for scholarly study by students of Jewish lore, and to stimulate debate, this work at times elucidates a particular law for the specific purpose of fostering greater faith. The originality of the research is mainly contained in the first two treatises of his book, which cover the period of the Second Temple, the Mishnah, and the Talmud. From the standpoint of completeness, these treatises are superior to anything written by R. Zacuto's predecessors and they laid the foundations for scholarly research by succeeding generations. In numerous passages, he takes issue with Maimonides and R. Abraham ibn Daud, to whose writings he refers as Kabbalat he-Hasid. Chapters three and four of Sefer ha-Yuhasin discuss the succession of the savoraim, the geonim, and the rabbis. (In his treatment of the material Zacuto, by and large, follows the line of thought of R. Abraham ibn Daud.) Chapter five expounds the epoch from the beginning of the rabbinic period in Europe until the author's time (the period of the expulsions from Spain and Portugal). In the latter treatise, Zacuto bases himself on a Hebrew chronicle which was also the groundwork of similar writings by Joseph b. Zaddik of ArMvalo and Abraham b. Solomon of Torrutiel (there is no reason to assume that the latter's work was known to Zacuto). A large part of the treatise, however, is original research and analysis, based on later rabbinic literature. R. Zacuto incorporated in the chapter the well-known story about the appearance of the Zohar in Spain, by R. Isaac b. Samuel of Acre. The author disregarded the critical conclusions that might be drawn from the story and confirmed the belief that the disciples of R. Simeon b. Yohai had compiled the Zohar. Consequently he relied on the Zohar in matters of halakhah and history. The sixth chapter is a chronological outline of the history of various nations and the scientific research and inventions carried out by their scholars. This treatise is based on Latin and Spanish works. While R. Zacuto's approach to astronomy is scientific in these analyses, his views are restricted by Jewish tradition and aggadah. He also seems careless and disparaging in his examination of gentile lore. The advantage in its study he saw mainly in that "it greatly assists the Jews dwelling among Christians to argue with them about their religion." Sefer ha-Yuhasin was first published by Samuel Shalom (Constantinople, 1566) together with an introduction and notes by the editor, as well as a Hebrew translation of Josephus' Contra Apionem. It was next published in Cracow (1580–81) with the notes of R. Moses b. Israel Isserles, and many times thereafter.
(עם תקונים בתוכו, והערות יקרות בשוליו, מאת ... יעקב בכרך) ...
הסכמה (בסוף הספר): ר' יעקב צבי ב"ר גמליאל מעקלענבורג, [קעניגסבערג], יח אדר תרי"ח.
CD-EPI 0132455; EJ; Marx in: Studies in Jewish Bibliography and Related Subjects in Memory of Abraham Solomon Freidus (1929), 247ff.
(Click thumbnail to view full size image)
Kind of Judaica