MUSA, ḤAYYIM IBN:
Spanish controversialist, physician, and Biblical commentator; born at Bejar, not far from Salamanca, about 1390; died in 1460. According to Abraham Zacuto ("Yuḥasin," ed. Filipowski, p. 229), Ibn Musa was also a payṭan, but nothing is known of any liturgicalproduction of his. Owing to his medical skill he had access to the princely courts of Spain, where he frequently disputed concerning religious matters both with ecclesiastics and with lay scholars. In his time, before the establishment of the Inquisition, disputations were held with greater ease, each disputant having more freedom to express his ideas, a fact frequently shown by the episodes related in his work.
Ibn Musa was the author of "Magen wa-Romaḥ," published by David Kaufmann in "Bet Talmud," ii. 117-125 (see below). He also translated from Arabic into Hebrew one of Al-Jazzar's medical works (Parma De Rossi MS. No. 339) and wrote a commentary on the Book of Isaiah; it is stated that he commentated other Biblical books also.
The "Magen wa-Romaḥ," written in 1456, is a pamphlet in the form of a letter addressed to his son Judah when the author was sick and purporting to refute those who, basing their opinion on those of Hillel (Sanh. 99a), deny the arrival of the Messiah. He complains of those who base their premises on the philosophers, by doing which they give a false interpretation to Biblical passages and to the sayings of the Rabbis. This work is an apology for Judaism against the attacks of Christians. Knowing that those who attacked Judaism drew the material for their arguments from Nicolaus de Lyra, it is the latter whom Ibn Musa vigorously refutes. Besides, seeing that scanty results have hitherto been obtained from disputations, each party considering itself to be right, Ibn Musa establishes rules for Jewish disputants, which, if observed, will certainly lead them to a successful issue. The number of these rules is twelve, of which the first three may be mentioned here: (1) The Jewish disputant must strictly observe the literal interpretation of the Biblical passages, and must not be drawn into allegorical interpretation, which is particularly the subject of speculation by Christian disputants. (2) The Jewish disputant must declare beforehand that neither the Targum nor the Septuagint is to be considered as an authority; they are regarded as sources by Christians only. (3) Haggadic interpretation must be openly declared to be of no importance for the establishment of religious doctrine.
- Fuenn, Keneset Yisrael, pp. 358-359;
- Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., viii. 164 et seq., 423 et seq.;
- Steinschneider, Hebr. Uebers. p. 706.