Commentary

Type: Commentary

Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra's Commentary to the Torah:

Title

This original title for Ibn Ezra's commentary on the Torah is rarely used. It is taken to mean "the book of the upright" and is the title of a work that is cited in the Bible.(e.g., Joshua 10:13).

Author

Rabbi Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra was born and educated in the "Golden Age" of Muslim Spain. He excelled as a poet, philosopher, grammarian and Biblical commentator.

Dates

c. 1089 - c. 1164.

Place

Originally from Tudela, Spain.

The latter part of his life (after 1140) was spent wandering in poverty through Italy, Provence, France, England, Egypt and Israel. It was during his wanderings that he composed most of his many influential literary works.

Description

Ibn Ezra's works of Biblical interpretation were based primarily on a meticulous foundation of Hebrew grammar and philology, and attention to the realia of Biblical life. His critical sense leads him to raise questions regarding the traditional ascriptions of authorship to Biblical books, anticipating some of the conclusions of modern scholarship. Ibn Ezra was aware of his departures from Rashi's approach; though fact he was not entirely above applying homiletical or allegorical interpretations, as in his commentaries to Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs.

His Biblical commentaries employ a style that is brief to the point of being cryptic, and have therefore generated their own subsidiary literature of supercommentaries.

In spite of his commitment to the plain meaning of the Bibilcal text, Ibn Ezra used his commentaries to defend the rabbinic oral tradition against its detractors from the Karaite movement (the Jewish "fundamentalist" group that rejected Talmudic tradition in favour of exclusive reliance on the Bible), making extensive use of the teachings of Rabbi Sa'adia Ga'on, the tenth-century scholar and exegete who had conducted his own war against Karaism.

Ibn Ezra also finds many opportunities to indulge his love of astrology, a science which he believed held the key to understanding several Bibical laws and narratives.


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