AZARIA BEN JOSEPH IBN ABBA MARI (also called Bonafoux or Bonfos Bonfil Astruc):

One of the last Jewish writers coming from Perpignan, France. He flourished in the first half of the fifteenth century. A rising against the Jews was the cause of his leaving his native city. Neubauer ("Ecrivains Juifs," p. 759; see also "Revue Etudes Juives," v. 41) places this riot in the year 1414, when the friar Vincent Ferrer roused the angry passions of the mob against the Jews for refusing baptism (see Grätz, "Gesch. der Juden," viii. 123); but Gross ("Gallia Judaica," p. 473) is rather inclined to place the date in 1420, when the Jews of Perpignan were exposed to all manner of vexatious proceedings by the Inquisition ("Revue Etudes Juives," xvi. 14).

Be this as it may, Azaria had, in 1423, settled with his son in Italy, where he translated from Latin into Hebrew the following works: (1) "De Consolatione Philosophiæ" of Boethius (lived 470-524). Boethius was the only early Latin writer whose works were translated into Hebrew. The preface of the translator informs us that it was commenced Ṭebet 28, 5183 (i.e., 1423) at Torre Maestrata de Montelfelatra (probably Macerata di Monte Feltro), in the province of Urbino Pesaro, and finished the same year at Castel San Pietro, in the province of Bologna. (2) A translation of the 28th book of the medical work entitled "Liber Practicæ," by Zahrawi (eleventh century), after the Latin of Simon of Genoa, was finished November, 1429, at Senise in the province of Basilicate. Neubauer maintains that Azaria made his translation not from the Arabic original, but from a translation made by Abraham of Tortosa, son of Shem-Ṭob, son of Isaac, who translated, in 1254, the whole work of Zahrawi at Marseilles ("Rabbins Français," p. 592). (3) A translation from the Latin of the second book of the "Simplicia" by the physician Dioscorides. The following is Azaria's brief introduction to this translation (Neubauer, "Revué des Etudes Juives," v. 46):

"It often happens that physicians find themselves in places where they can not procure required drugs except with great difficulty, and hence are placed in great embarrassment. This is particularly the case with those of our coreligionists who are obliged to dwell in villages or in the mountains to gain their living. There are places where one can not find a variety of drugs wherewith to make the necessary medicaments. Therefore, I, Azaria, called Bonafoux in the vulgar tongue, have translated this alphabetical table which I found in use among Christians, entitled in Greek Περί των Αντιβαλλομἐνων ["Book of the Equivalents of Drugs"], composed by the philosopher and physician Dioscorides for his uncle."

  • In addition to the works mentioned above, see Steinschneider, Hebr. Uebers. pp. 466, 650, 740.
G. S. K.
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