FARISSOL (PERIZOL), ABRAHAM BEN MORDECAI:
Italian scholar and geographer; born at Avignon, France, 1451; died, according to Grätz ("Geschichte," ix. 44), in 1525; Zunz, however ("G. S." i. 178), says that he was living in 1526. In 1468 he was at Avignon, but soon afterward went to Mantua, and in 1473 to Ferrara. He acted at Ferrara as cantor in the synagogue (according to Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 81, the cantor at that time was a certain "Mordecai"), and occupied himself besides in the copying of manuscripts. He wrote a short commentary to the Pentateuch under the title of "Pirḥe Shoshannim" (De Rossi, "MSS. Codices," No. 201). Soon afterward he wrote a polemical work under the title of "Magen Abraham," or "Wikkuaḥ ha-Dat," in three parts, the second against Christianity, the third against Islam. He was induced to write this work by the fact that at the court of Ercole d'Este I., Duke of Ferrara, he had had a dispute with two monks. By order of the duke he also made a résumé in Italian of the Hebrew text, so that his antagonists might understand his position ("Monatsschrift," xlii. 421). Kirchheim proved (in "Orient, Lit." vi., col. 7) that the greater part of that work was copied from Duran's "Ḳeshet u-Magen." About the same time Abraham Farissol wrote a commentary to Job (in "Biblia Rabbinica," Venice, 1518). But the most important of his writings is the "Iggeret Oreḥot 'Olam," a cosmographic and geographic work in thirty chapters (Ferrara, 1524; Venice, 1587). The chief sources Farissol used were Bergomas' "Supplementum" and Amerigo's "Cosmographia." The author speaks of the newly discovered parts of the world, of the wonderful stories told by travelers, and of the Ten Tribes.
Farissol was the first Jewish scholar who turned his attention to geography. The "Iggeret" was translated into Latin by Hyde under the title of "Tractatus Itinerum Mundi" (Oxford, 1691). In 1525 Farissol wrote a commentary to Ecclesiastes (De Rossi, ib. No. 48). He also translated into Hebrew Aristotle's "Logic" and the compendium of Porphyry (De Rossi, ib. No. 145). Some sermons of Farissol's, and a number of letters which he wrote in 1468 and 1474 to several of his contemporaries (Messer Leon of Ferrara being among them), are also extant.
- Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. iii., No. 117;
- De Rossi, MSS. Codices, i. 95-97;
- idem, Dizionario, pp. 117, 118;
- Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 689;
- idem, Hebr. Uebers. p. 81;
- idem, Hebr. Bibl. vii. 27, 28; ix. 115;
- Michael, Or ha-Ḥayyim, pp. 91, 92;
- Kirchheim, in Orient, Lit. vi. 7;
- Michael, ib. vi. 253;
- Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., viii. 457, ix. 44-46;
- Fürst, Bibl. Jud. i. 276;
- Gross, Gallia Judaica, p. 11;
- Fuenn, Keneset Yisrael, pp. 52, 53;
- Abraham Pesaro, in Il Vessillo Israelitico, 1879, p. 170.