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BENAMOZEGH, ELIJAH:

Italian rabbi; born at Leghorn in 1822; died there Feb. 6, 1900. His father (Abraham) and mother (Clara), natives of Fez, Morocco, died when Elijah was only four years old. The orphan early entered school, where, besides instruction in the elementary sciences, he received tuition in Hebrew, English, and French, excelling in the last-named language. Benamozegh devoted himself later to the study of philosophy and theology, which he endeavored to reconcile with each other.

Elijah Benamozegh.

At the age of twenty-five he entered upon a commercial career, spending all his leisure in study; but his natural tendency toward science and an active religious life soon caused him to abandon the pursuit of wealth. He then began to publish scientific and apologetic works, in which he revealed a great at tachment to the Jewish religion, exhibiting at the same time a broad and liberal mind. His solicitude for Jewish traditions caused him to defend even the much-decried Cabala. Later, Benamozegh was appointed rabbi and professor of theology at the rabbinical school of his native town; and, notwithstanding his multifarious occupations from that time, he continued to defend Jewish traditions by his pen until his death.

Benamozegh was the author of the following works: (1) "Emat Mafgia'" (The Fear of the Opponent), a refutation of Leon de Modena's attacks upon the Cabala, in 2 vols., Leghorn, 1858; (2) "Ger Ẓedeḳ" (A Righteous Proselyte), critical notes on Targum Onkelos, ib., 1858; (3) "Ner le-David" (Lamp of David), commentary on the Psalms, published together with the text, ib., 1858; (4) "Em la-Miḳra" (Matrix of Scripture), commentary on the Pentateuch containing critical, philological, archeological, and scientific notes on the dogmas, history, laws, and customs of the ancient peoples, published together with the text under the title "Torat Adonai," Leghorn and Paris, 1862-65; (5) "Ṭa'am la-Shad" (Arguments for Samuel David []), refutation of Samuel David Luzzatto's dialogue on the Cabala, Leghorn, 1863; (6) "Mebo Kelali," general introduction to the traditions of Judaism, published in "Ha-Lebanon," 1864, pp. 73 et seq.; (7) "Storia degli Esseni," Florence, 1865; (8) "Morale Juive et Morale Chrétienne. Examen Comparatif Suivi de Quelques Réflexions sur les Principes de l'Islamisme," Paris, 1867; (9) "Teologia Dogmatica ed Apologetica," Leghorn, 1877; (10) "Le Crime de la Guerre Dénoncé à I'Humanité," Paris, 1881 (this work won for its author a medal and honorable mention from the Ligue de la Paix, on the proposition of Jules Simon, Edouard Laboulaye, and Frederic Passy); (11) "Ya'aneh be-Esh" (He Will Answer Through Fire), discussion of cremation according to the Bible and the Talmud, Leghorn, 1886.

Besides writing these works, Benamozegh contributed to many periodicals, his more important articles being: "Spinoza et la Kabbala," in "Univers Israélite," xix. 36 et seq.; "La Tradition," ib. xxv. 20 et seq.; Intorno alla Cabbala," in "Il Vessilo Israelitica," xli. 3 et seq.; "Il Libro di Giobbe," in "Educatore," ix. 325 et seq.; "Dell' Escatologia," ib. xxv. 203 et seq.

Bibliography:
  • Lattes, Vita ed Opere di Elia Benamozegh, Leghorn, 1901;
  • Fuenn, Keneset Yisrael, p. 100;
  • De Gubernatis, Dizionario Biografico, p. 125;
  • Zeitlin, Bibl. Hebraica, p. 19.
S. I. Br.
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