||Two works, the first a summary of the rules of grammar for the Hebrew language, the second on poetry, by R. Moses ben Shem Tov ibn Habib (d. before 1505). R. Habib, a grammarian, poet, translator, and philosopher, was born in Lisbon but left Portugal well before the expulsion of the Jews. He went first to North Africa, and then to southern Italy, residing in such locations as Naples, Bitonto, and Otranto. His grammatical work, Marpe Lashon, was written in Bitonto in 1486. The title page, which has no ornamentation, states:
Preferable to great riches is a wholesome tongue (marpe lashon), and rather than silver or gold are ways of pleasantness (darkhei no'am) (adaptation of Proverbs 22: I with 15:4 and 3: 17). Two valuable works, preferable to fine gold and rubies. Formed and prepared with amazing brevity, [by the] sage, the virtuous, for "a name and a praise" (Zephaniah 3:20), R. Moses ibn Habib.
This text is identical with that of the previous Constantinople edition (1510-14). Marpe Lashon, as the title page states, is a brief summary of the rules of grammar. It reflects the influence of R. Profiat Duran (Efodi) who sought to base Hebrew grammar upon logic. Prior to writing Marpe Lashon, and completed in December, 1484, R. Habib wrote a larger grammatical work, entitled Perah Shoshan (flowers of lilies, I Kings 7:26), which he refers to in Darkhei No'am and is extant in manuscript. Perah Shoshan is quoted by R. Abraham de Balmes in his Mikneh Avram (Venice, 1523).
Written in the same year and place and printed with Marpe Lashon is Darkhei No'am, on the rules of poetry. There is no title page, the beginning of the book simply being noted in large bold letters at the top of the page. The text of both books is in a single column in square vocalized letters, and lacks both pagination and signatures. The volume concludes with the ruse of the ibn Ezra at sea (25b-26a) and that the printer was Cornelius Adelkind. Darkhei No'am is dedicated to Dr. Joseph ha-Levi. Written in a clear and lucid style, R. Habib employs the principles of Aristode's Poetics. He disapproves of secular poetry and attempts to demonstrate that rhyme and meter were facets of Hebrew poetry in biblical times. As a proof Habib notes that when in Valencia he saw a tombstone, at the top of a hill, on which was chiseled the inscription, "Lift up a lamentation, in a bitter voice, for the great general, whom G-d has taken." Unable to read the remainder, which was rubbed out, R. Habib was able to discern that it concluded with "the words of Amaziah," that is, the biblical king of Judah.
R. Habib also wrote, at the behest of a student, Azariah ben Joseph, a commentary on the Behinat Olam of R. Jedaiah ha-Penini Bedersi, printed with the Constantinople () and Ferrara (1552) editions of that work. He translated works on medicine and refers to a work entided Kiryat Arba'ah, pertaining to the number four, of uncertain subject and no longer extant.