||On Hebrew philology, by the physician, grammarian, and philosopher, R. Abraham ben Meir de Balmes (c. 1440-1523). De Balmes, a grandson of R. Abraham de Balmes of Lecce (d. 1489), court physician to King Ferdinand I of Naples, was a student of Messer Leon. He resided in Padua, where he attended and later lectured at the renowned medical school at the University of Padua. It is reported that his Christian students attended his funeral. De Balmes went from Padua to Venice, where he was personal physician to Cardinal Domenico Grimani, under whose auspices de Balmes translated medieval Arabic works on philosophy and astronomy, among them Averroes and Ibn al-Hayham, into Latin. De Balmes, as did many other individuals who were both rabbis and physicians, became involved in the publication of Hebrew books, in this instance as a corrector and editor for Daniel Bomberg. Indeed, it was at the urging of the latter that de Balmes wrote Mikneh Avram.
Mikneh Avram, so entitled although de Balmes name is Abraham (ref. Genesis 13:7), because of his personal troubles, recounted in the introduction, is a systematic treatise on Hebrew grammar, particularly syntax. It is divided into eight portals, the first three devoted to phonetics, mutation of letters, and punctuation. Portal four, on nouns, is exhaustive, dividing them into 311 classes; portal five is 'on verbs, six on adverbs and particles, and seven on syntax. The eighth and final portal, on accents, was incomplete when de Balmes died, so that it was finished by Kalonymous ben David. De Balmes's approach is philosophic, each section being prefaced by philosophic and logical definitions of grammatical principles. He builds upon and provides a critique of the principles and theories of prior grammarians, both Hebrew, and Latin. De Balmes's style' is cumbersome, so that Mikneh Avram, although a scholarly accomplishment, was not very popular.
Mikneh Avram was printed in a Hebrew (this copy) and a Hebrew and Latin edition, entitled Peculium Abramae. The translation of the bilingual edition, with a Latin introduction by Bomberg, is credited to Kalonymous ben David. Mikneh Avram is unpaginated. In his introduction, de Balmes praises Bomberg, writing,
And behold there came to me Daniel Bomberg, a man greatly beloved of whom glorious things were spoken. . . . He was a Christian and feared his God. . . . The feet.of his father did not stand at the foot of Sinai but to him did I turn all my fountains, for he was one of those who spend their money freely in the service of G-d. . . to print Bible, Mishnah and Decisions beyond all other printers. He also studied Hebrew and crowned himself therewith and all his deeds shine like the splendor of the sky.