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IBN MIGAS, JOSEPH (JEHOSEF) BEN MEÏR HA-LEVI:

Spanish rabbi and head of a school in Lucena; born 1077; died in Lucena 1141. His birthplace was probably Seville, where his father, Meïr ha-Levi ibn Migas, and his grandfather, Joseph ha-Levi ibn Migas, had lived after the departure of the latter from Granada (Saadia ibn Danan, in Edelmann's " Ḥemdah Genuzah," p. 30a; De Rossi, "Dizionario," s.v.; D. Cassel, in Ersch and Gruber, "Encyc." section ii., pt. 31, p. 85; Weiss, "Dor," iv. 289; Neubauer, "M. J. C." i. 76). Abraham ibn Daud says (see "M. J. C." i. 76) that after the removal to Lucena (1089) of the Talmudist Isaac Alfasi, Joseph also went there, from Seville, he being then twelve years old. Steinschneider, however, because of a citation in Moses Ibn Ezra, supposes Joseph to have been born in Granada, which was the home of his father's bosom friend R. Isaac ben Baruch Albalia. Joseph studied under Isaac Alfasi at Lucena for fourteen years. Alfasi shortly before his death (1103) ordained Joseph as a rabbi, and wrote a testimonial for him. Passing over his own son, he appointed Joseph, then twenty-six years of age, to be his successor as director of the academy.

Head of Academy at Lucena.

This position Joseph held for thirty-eight years. His "accession to the throne" was commemorated by his contemporary Judah ha-Levi (Grätz, "Blumenlese," p. 76; Brody, "Diwan des Abu-l-Hasan Jehuda ha-Levi," p. 141). On the occasion of his marriage, which occurred soon after, the same poet wrote an epithalamium (Luzzatto, "Betulat Bat Yehudah," p. 38; partly translated into German in Geiger's "Nachgelassene Schriften,"ii. 113; see also Edelmann and Dukes, "Ginze Oxford," p. xiii.).

To R. Baruch ben Isaac ben Baruch Albalia, who was of the same age as himself and had been his fellow student under Isaac Alfasi, he was bound by ties of intimate friendship (Conforte, "Ḳore ha-Dorot," p. 10a). His external life passed quietly. He himself mentions (Responsa, No. 75) that he was once in Fez. It is narrated that on the eve of a Day of Atonement, which was also the Sabbath, he caused the execution of a Jew in Lucena who had turned informer in the wars between the Spanish Arabs and the Almoravid Berbers (Judah ben Asher, Responsa, No. 75).

An elegy in manuscript at Oxford, mentioned by Dukes in his "Naḥal Ḳedumim." (p. 11), is taken by Grätz ("Blumenlese," p. 112) to have been written by Jekuthiel on the death of Ibn Migas. Dukes, on the contrary, considers Jekuthiel to have been the subject of the poem, and Ibn Migas—about whom nothing further is said—to have been the author ().

Among the pupils of Ibn Migas may be mentioned his son, R. Meïr, whose son Isaac is mentioned by Judah al-Ḥarizi ("Taḥkemoni," xliv.; see also D. Cassel in "Zunz Jubelschrift," p. 126); a nephew of the same name (Edelmann, l.c. p. 30); and Maimun, the father of Maimonides. That Joseph ibn Migas was a teacher of Maimonides—who was only six years old at the time of Joseph's death—is an old error (see Menahem Meïri, "Bet ha-Beḥirah," in Neubauer, "M. J. C." ii. 228; Edelmann, l.c. p. 30; Sambari, in Neubauer, "M. J. C." i 127; Ibn Yaḥya, "Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah," p. 32a; Weiss, "Dor," iv. 290; Jew. Encyc. i. 375, s.v. Alfasi) which has already been refuted by Zacuto ("Yuḥasin," p. 131a). It rests upon a gloss in Abraham ibn Daud's "Sefer ha-Ḳabbalah" (Neubauer, l.c. i. 76) and upon a misunderstood passage in Maimonides' writings.

His Works.

Of Joseph ibn Migas' works may be mentioned: (1) Responsa (Salonica, 1791; Warsaw, 1870), two hundred and fourteen of which were collected by Joseph Elijah ha-Levi, partly translated from the Arabic, and published from a poor manuscript. Many of his responsa are given in Bezaleel Ashkenazi's "Shiṭṭah Meḳubbeẓet" and in Azulai's "Birke Yosef"; and a few appear in the Maimonidean collection of letters "Pe'er ha-Dor" (Nos. 211 et seq.). Azulai claimed to have possessed a volume of Joseph's responsa in manuscript ("Shem ha-Gedolim," i. 81). Joseph's responsa were cited also by older Jewish law teachers, as those of an esteemed authority, under the abbreviation (2) Talmud commentaries (Menahem Meïri, "Bet ha-Beḥirah," in Neubauer, "M. J. C." ii. 228), of which there have been preserved, (a) Novellæ on Baba Batra, quoted by Zerahiah ha-Levi (see Reifmann, "Toledot Rabbenu Zeraḥyah ha-Levi," p. 41, Prague, 1853), by Solomon ben Adret (Responsa, No. 180), and by others (first printed in Amsterdam, 1702; with Eleazar ben Aryeh's commentary "Zer Zahab," 1809); (b) Ḥiddushim on Shebu'ot, mentioned in the "Pe'er ha-Dor," No. 145 (first printed in Prague, 1809, in "Uryan Telitai"; together with other novellæ, ib. 1826). His novellæ contain no explanations of words; but, conformably to the character of the halakic Ḥiddushim, he lays emphasis on the clearness and intelligibility of the whole context, sometimes giving two or more explanations of one passage. He names Hananeel and Alfasi as his authorities. He is of the opinion that it would be impossible to obtain religious decisions directly from the Talmud (Responsa, No. 114) without utilizing those of the Geonim ("Teshubot").

A work entitled "Megillat Setarim," which Zerahiah ha-Levi mentions as having been written by Joseph ibn Migas (Reifmann, l.c. p. 41), has not been preserved; nor can it be determined whether, as Grätz ("Gesch." vi. 108) supposes, "Megillat Setarim" was the title of his Talmud commentary.

In view of the few, poorly edited fragments of his works, an independent criticism of his importance as a scholar is hardly possible. Maimonides says of him in the introduction to his Mishnah commentary (Pococke, "Porta Mosis," p. 108): "The Talmudic learning of this man amazes every one who understands his words and the depth of his speculative spirit; so that it might almost be said of him that his equal has never existed." Judah ha-Levi eulogizes him in six poems (see, besides those already cited, Brody, l.c. pp. 87, 191), and is full of his praise (ib. p. 173).

Bibliography:
  • D. Cassel, in Ersch and Gruber, Encyc. section ii., pt. 31, p. 85;
  • Grätz, Gesch. vi. 107 et seq.;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 1512;
  • idem, Jewish Literature, p. 73;
  • Winter and Wänsche, Die Jüdische Litteratur, ii. 374, 381.
G. M. Sc.
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