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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Ibn-Balaam, Jehudah

(in Arabic Jaola Abu Zakaria), a very distinguished Jewish philologian and commentator, was born at Seville, in Spain about 1030. He was especially prominent as a defender of the authority of the Massora (q.v.). He died about 1100. His works (in Hebrew) are:

1. On the Accents of the Bible, edited by Jo Mercer (De accentibus scripturce prosaicis, Paris, 1565). Some portions of this book Heidenheim (q.v.) incorporated in his הִטִּעֲמַים מַשְׁפְּטֵי :

2. One the poetical Accents of Job, Proverbs, and the Psalms (Paris, 1556). It has recently been reedited, with remarks of the most ancient grammarians upon these peculiar accents, notes, and an introduction, by J. G. Polak (Amsterdam, 1858):

3. On the denominative Verbs in the Hebrew Language. The denominatives are arranged in alphabetical order, and commented upon in Arabic. This work has not yet been published, but specimens of it, in Hebrew, have been printed by Leopold Dukes in the Literaturblatt des Orients, 1846, No. 42:

4. A Treatise on the Hebrews Particles, in alphabetical order. This work, too, has not as yet been printed, but specimens of it have been published both by Dukes and Furst in the Literaturblatt des Orients, Nos. 29 and 42:

5. A Treatise on the Hebrew Homonyms, in alphabetical order, of which extracts have been published by Dukes in the Literaturblatt des Orients, 1846, No. 4

6. Commentary on the Pentateuch, written in Arabic. Though this work has long been known through AbenEzra, who quotes it in his commentary on Genesis 49:6; Exodus 5:19, yet it is only lately (1851) that Dr. Steinschneider discovered a MS. in the Bodleian Library containing a commentary on Numbers and Deuteronomy. "Ibln-Balaam always gives the grammatical explanation of the words first; he then enters into a minute disquisition on Saadia's translation and exposition of the Pentateuch, which he generally rejects, then explains the passage according to its context, and finally sets forth the Halachic and the judicial interpretation of the Talmud. A specimen of this commentary, which is extremely important to the Hebrew text and the Massora, has been communicated by Adolph Neubauer in the Journal Asiatique of December, 1861. It is on Deuteronomy 5:6, upon which Ibn-Balaam remarks, As to the different readings of the two Decalogues (i.e. Exodus 20:2-17, and Deuteronomy 5:6-21), Saadia is of opinion that they contain two different revelations. He entertains the same view respecting those Psalms which occur twice, with some verbal variations (e.g. Psalms 14, 51), and respecting the different readings of the Babylonian and Palestinian codices.' We thus learn of a remarkable variation between the Western and Eastern codices which is not mentioned elsewhere, namely, that the words ביום ההוא (Zechariah 14:2) are omitted in the latter; we discover why the Syriac version has not these words; and we, moreover, see in what light Saadia and others regarded the various readings" (Ginsburg in Kitto):-

7. Commentary on the Psalms, frequently quoted by Aben-Ezra:

8. Commentary on the Song of Songs, which, according to Ibn-Aknin (q.v.), who quotes it, gives a literal exposition of this book:

9. Commentary on Isaiah, quoted by Joseph Albo (Ikarin, sec. 1, 1). "Ibn- Balaam, here, contrary to the generally received opinion, explains away the Messianic prophecies, and interprets Isaiah 11 as referring to Hezekiah. From AbenEzra's quotation on Zechariah 9:7 and Daniel 10:1, it seems as if he had also written commentaries on these books. Ibn-Balaam is one of the most liberal interpreters, and quotes Christian commentators and the Koran in his expositions." See Gratz, Geschichte der Juden, 6:83 sq.; Jost, Geschichte ces Judenthums u. s. Sekte?, 2, 406; Fü rst, Biblioth. ud. 1, 81; Steinschneider, Catalogus Libr. Hebr. in Bibliotheca Bodleiana, col. 1292-1297; He-Chaluz (Lemberg, 1853), 1, 60 sq.; Leopold Dukes, Betrage zur Geschichte der alfesten Auslegung - Spracherklarung des Aifen Testamentes (Stuttgart, 1844), 2, 186 sq.; Geiger, in the Judische Zeitschrift fur Wissenschaft und Leben, 1862, p. 292 sq.

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ibn-Balaam, Jehudah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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