LEVY, MORITZ ABRAHAM:
German Orientalist; born at Altona March 11, 1817; died at Breslau Feb. 22, 1872. Having received a rabbinical education, he became teacher in the Synagogen-Gemeinde of Breslau, where he was active for nearly thirty years. For his scientific labors he received from the King of Prussia, in 1865, the title of professor.
Levy was preeminent in the field of Semitic paleography. He was the first person after Gesenius to treat the subject in a comprehensive manner. In the deciphering and interpretation of Phenician, old Hebrew, Punic, Aramaic, Himyaritic, and later Hebrew coins, seals, gems, and monuments his peculiar intuition guided him more surely than mere philological knowledge did others; such, for example, was the case with his deduction from the inscriptions found on the Hauran that at the beginning of the Christian era an Arabic people lived there which used the Aramaic language and alphabet.
Levy's first published essay, in 1855, was on the inscriptions on certain Aramean bowls ("Z. D. M. G." ix. 465 et seq.). This was followed by the first and second parts of his "Phönizische Studien" (Breslau, 1856 and 1857); his decipherment of the Eshmunazar inscription won him immediate recognition. He next published a study in Jewish history, "Don Joseph Nasi, Herzog von Naxos, Seine Familie und Zwei Jüdische Diplomaten Seiner Zeit" (Breslau, 1859). In 1860 and 1861 other essays by him appeared ("Z. D. M. G." xiv. 365 et seq., 594, 710 et seq.; xv. 615 et seq., 623 et seq.; xvii. 75), dealing with Phenician numismatics. In 1862 was published "Die Gesch. der Jüdischen Münzen Gemeinfasslich Dargestellt" (Breslau). "Eine Lateinisch-Griechisch-Phönizische Inschrift aus Sardinien" appeared in "Z. D. M. G." (xviii. 53 et seq.). In 1863 he published the third part of his "Phönizische Studien," and in 1864 his "Phönizisches Wörterbuch" (Breslau). In 1865 Levy edited, at the request of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft, the material which Osiander had left bearing on Himyaritic paleography and archeology ("Z. D. M. G." xix. 159 et seq., xx. 205 et seq.; an essay on Jewish gravestones in Aden appears in xxi. 156 et seq.). His "Systematisch Geordnetes Spruchbuch als Leitfaden für den Jüdischen Religionsunterricht" was published in Breslau in 1867; "Siegel und Gemmen mit Aramäischen, Phönizischen, Althebräischen, Himyarischen, Nabathäischen und Altsyrischen Inschriften Erklärt" appeared in 1869. In 1870 he published the fourth part of his "Studien," and "Die Biblische Gesch. nach den Worten der Heiligen Schrift der Israelitischen Jugend Erzählt," both at Breslau. "Das Mesa Denkmal und Seine Schrift," and various essays in "Z. D. M. G." (xxv. 429 et seq., xxvi. 417), appeared in the following year.
- Siegfried, in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie.