ABRAHAM IBN HASSAN HA-LEVI:
By: Louis Ginzberg
Author of a work on the six hundred and thirteen Biblical precepts, published as an appendix to the "first" rabbinic Bible (by Daniel Bomberg, Venice, 1517) under the title, "Commands and Prohibitions, by Rabbi Abraham Ibn Hassan ha-Levi." This work, originally written in Arabic, contained at first only a list of the Biblical precepts, arranged in the order of the weekly lessons, where they are recorded, and annotated with the corresponding references to Maimonides' "Yad ha Ḥazaḳah." Later, however, it was considerably enlarged by its Hebrew translator, Judah ben Shoshan or Shushan, who is otherwise unknown; he added to it corresponding passages from the Talmud and Sifre. Through this enlargement its original purpose of serving as a short educational guide was lost. The Hebrew text was published only once, but a Latin translation of it, made by the converted Polish Jew, Philip Ferdinand, was printed at Canterbury in 1597, and afterward reprinted by J. von Lenz in his "Theologia Judaica," in 1694. Ferdinand gives the name of the author as Abraham ben Kattani and the title of the book as "Ḳol Adonai." Upon what grounds he does so is not clear, since he himself refers to the Bomberg Bible as his source. In some manuscripts of Abraham's work he is more fully described as one coming from "Arnut in the land of Lanardu," which does not afford much help. Yet we may safely assume that the author came from a country where Arabic was generally spoken among the Jews; for only this language can be implied when Judah ben Shoshan describes himself as the translator of the work. This assumption finds strong support in the Arabic names Hassan and Shoshan, and renders improbable Neubauer's assertion that the work of Hassan is identical with the well-known law digest, "Sefer ha-Ḥinnuk," written originally in the rabbinic Hebrew idiom.
- Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. 4230, 5053;
- Neubauer, in Monatsschrift, 1877, xxi. 181, 182;
- idem, Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS. Nos. 73, 887, 2323, 2455.