Family of translators that lived principally in southern France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. On the name "Tibbon" see Steinschneider in "J. Q. R." xi. 621. The more important members of the family were:

Abraham ibn Tibbon:

Translator of Aristotle's "Economics"; his exact relationship to the Tibbon family is unknown (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 227).

M. Sc.Jacob ben Machir ibn Tibbon:

Provençal astronomer; born, probably at Marseilles, about 1236; died at Montpellier about 1304. He was a grandson of Samuel ben Judah ibn Tibbon. His Provençal name was Don Profiat Tibbon; the Latin writers called him Profatius Judæus. Jacob occupies a considerable place in the history of astronomy in the Middle Ages. His works, translated into Latin, were quoted by Copernicus, Reinhold, and Clavius. He was also highly reputed as a physician, and, according to Jean Astruc ("Mémoires pour Servir à l'Histoire de la Faculté de Médecine de Montpellier," p. 168), was regent of the faculty of medicine of Montpellier.

In the controversy between the Maimonists and the anti-Maimonists Jacob defended science against the attacks of Abba Mari and his party; the energetic attitude of the community of Montpellier on that occasion was due to his influence.

Jacob became known by a series of Hebrew translations of Arabic scientific and philosophical works, and above all by two original works on astronomy. His translations are: (1) the "Elements" of Euclid, divided into fifteen chapters; (2) the treatise of Kosta ben Luka on the armillary sphere, in sixty-five chapters; (3) "Sefer ha-Mattanot," the "Data" of Euclid, according to the Arabic translation of Isḥaḳ ben Ḥunain; (4) "Ma'amar Ṭalḳus," treatise of Autolycus on the sphere in movement; (5) three treatises on the sphere of Menelas of Alexandria; (6) "Ma'amar bi-Tekunah," or "Sefer 'al Tekunah," in forty-four chapters, from Abu 'Ali ibn Ḥassan ibn al-Ḥaitham; (7) treatise on the use of the astrolabe, in forty chapters, from Abu al-Kasim Aḥmad ibn al-Ṣaffar; (8) compendium of the "Almagest" of Ptolemy, from Abu Muhammed Jabar ibn Aflaḥ; (9) "Iggeret ha-Ma'aseh be-Luaḥ ha-Niḳra Sofiḥah," from Abu Isḥaḳ; ben al-Zarḳalah; (10) preface to Abraham bar Ḥiyya's astronomical work; (11) an extract from the "Almagest" on the arc of a circle; (12) "Ḳiẓẓur mi-Kol Meleket Higgayon," Averroes' compendium of the "Organon" (Riva di Trento, 1559); (13) Averroes' paraphrase of books xi.-xix. of Aristotle's history of animals; (14) "Mozene ha-'Iyyunim," from Ghazali.

The two original works of Jacob are: (1) a description of the astronomical instrument called the quadrant (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS. No. 1054), in sixteen chapters, the last of which shows how to construct this instrument; it was translated several times into Latin; (2) astronomical tables, beginning with March 1, 1300 (Munich MS. No. 343, 26). These tables, also, were translated into Latin and enjoyed the greatest repute.

  • Munk, Mélanges, p. 489;
  • Carmoly, Histoire des Médecins Juifs, p. 90;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 1232;
  • idem, Hebr. Uchers.;
  • Grätz, Gesch. vii. 246;
  • Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Français, pp. 599 et seq.;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, p. 332.
I. Br.Judah ben Moses ibn Tibbon:

Rabbi in Montpellier; took part in the dispute between the followers and the opponents of Maimonides. He induced his relative Jacob ben Machir ibn Tibbon to support the Maimonidean party by pointing out that the anti-Maimonideans were the opponents of his grandfather Samuel ibn Tibbon and of the son-in-law of the latter, Jacob ben Abba Mari ben Samson ben Anatoli. In consequence of this, Jacob ben Machir ibn Tibbon protested against the reading of Solomon ben Adret's letter to the community of Montpellier, which nevertheless took place in the synagogue of that city on the following day, a Sabbath, in the month of Elul, 1304 ("Minḥat Ḳena'ot," Nos. 21, 22). According to Jacob ben Machir ibn Tibbon (ib. No. 39), Judah wrote various works, and made several translations which were praised even by Naḥmanides. None of them are extant.

  • Perles, Salomo b. Abraham b. Adereth, pp. 30, 37;
  • Grätz, Gesch. vii. 228 et seq., 248;
  • Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Français;
  • Zunz, Z. G. p. 477;
  • Geiger, Wiss. Zeit. Jüd. Theol. v. 99;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, p. 333.
Judah ben Saul ibn Tibbon:

Translator; born at Granada, Spain, 1120; died after 1190. He left his native place in 1150, probably on account of persecution by the Almohades, and went to Lunel in southern France. Benjamin of Tudela mentions him as a physician there in 1160. Judah lived on terms of intimacy with Meshullam ben Jacob and with Meshullam's two sons, Asher and Aaron, whom in his will he recommends as friends to his only son, Samuel. He was also a close friend of Abraham ben David of Posquières and of Zerahiah ha-Levi, the latter of whom he freely recognized as a greater scholar than himself, and whose son he also wished to have as a friend for his own son. He had two daughters whose marriage caused him much anxiety.

Judah was very active as a translator, his works including the translation into Hebrew of the following:

Translations of Philosophic Works.
  • (1) Baḥya ben Joseph ibn Paḳuda's "Al-Hidayah ila Fara'id al-Ḳulub," under the title "Torat Ḥobot ha-Lebabot." He was induced to undertake this work by Meshullam ben Jacob and his son Asher, at whose desire he translated the first treatise, in 1161. After its completion Joseph Ḳimḥi translated the other nine treatises and afterward the first one also. At the wish of Abraham ben David of Posquières, Judah continued his translation of the work. Judah's translation is the only one that has held its place. That of Ḳimḥi was gradually superseded and at last came to be forgotten entirely. Only a small fragment of it has been preserved (published by A. Jellinek in Benjacob's edition of "Ḥobot ha-Lebabot," Leipsic, 1846). Judah's translation of Baḥya's work was first printed at Naples in 1489 without a title.
  • (2) Solomon ibn Gabirol's " Kitab Islaḥ al-Akhlaḳ," under the title "Tiḳḳun Middot ha-Nefesh" (printed together with the first-mentioned translation at Constantinople in 1550).
  • (3) Judah ha-Levi's "Kitab al-Ḥujjah," under the title "Sefer ha-Kuzari" (1167; printed at Fano in 1506 and many timessince). In this instance also Judah's translation drove that of his rival, Judah ibn Cardinal, out of the field, so that only a small portion of the latter's work has been preserved (see Cassel's ed., pp. 344 et seq.).
  • (4) Two works by Ibn Janah: (a) His grammar, "Kitab al-Luma'," under the title "Sefer ha-Rikmah" (1171; edited by B. Goldberg, with notes by R. Kirchheim, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1856). The translator's preface is interesting for the history of literature, and it gives Judah's opinions on the art of Hebrew translation. (b) "Kitab al-Uṣul," under the title "Sefer ha-Shorashim" (edited by Bacher, Berlin, 1896). Isaac al-Barceloni and Isaac ha-Levi had already translated this dictionary as far as the letter "lamed," and Judah finished it in 1171.
  • (5) Saadia's "Kitab al-Amanat wal-I'tiḳadat," under the title "Sefer ha-Emunot weha-De'ot" (1186; first ed. Constantinople, 1562).
Spurious Works Attributed to Judah.

Judah is also said to have translated the collection of poems "Mibḥar ha-Peninim," usually attributed to Solomon ibn Gabirol. This translation is ascribed to Ibn Tibbon in a very doubtful note in Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 1975, and in manuscript Parma, de Rossi, No 1394. In no other manuscript is Judah ibn Tibbon called the translator. Further, the note mentions Seville instead of Granada as his home. The translation of Aristotle's "Analytica Posteriora" is also ascribed to Judah. This translation, however, is not extant; and it is altogether improbable that Judah translated the work in question.

Judah's independent works are:

  • (1) Sod Ẓaḥut ha-Lashon, on rhetoric and grammar. It is doubtful if this work was ever completed; and nothing but its title has been preserved (in Ibn Tibbon's testament; see No. 2, below).It is also doubtful whether he wrote a commentary on the last chapter of Proverbs. The remark on the subject in his will (see below), "Remember also my explanation of 'Eshet Ḥayil,' p. 9," can refer to an oral explanation.
  • (2) Ẓawwa'ah, his ethical will, written in 1190 or after, and addressed to his son, Samuel, who at that time already had a son of his own (published with a biographical sketch in German by M. Steinschneider, Berlin, 1852; with an English translation by H. Edelmann in "Derek Ṭobim," London, 1852).
His Ethical Will.

Judah's testament, with its homely style and frankness, is one of the most interesting in this class of literature. It gives a deep insight into the soul of the man and his relation to his indisputably greater son, Samuel. Against the latter his chief complaint is that he never initiated his father into his literary or business affairs, never asked for his advice, and, in fact, hid everything from him.

He recommends Samuel to practise writing in Arabic, since Jews like Samuel ha-Nagid, for example, attained rank and position solely through being able to write in that language. He exhorts him to morality and to the study of the Torah as well as of the profane sciences, including medicine. He is to read grammatical works on Sabbaths and festivals, and is not to neglect the reading of "Mishle" and of "Ben Mishle." In regard to his medical practise he gives his son sage advice. He further advises his son to observe rigorously the laws of diet, lest he, like others, become ill frequently in consequence of intemperate and unwholesome eating, which would not fail to engender mistrust in him as a physician on the part of the general public. Interesting are Judah's references to his library as his "best treasure," his "best companion," and to his book-shelves as "the most beautiful pleasure-gardens." He adds:

"I have collected a large library for thy sake so that thou needest never borrow a book of any one. As thou thyself seest, most students run hither and thither searching for books without being able to find them. . . . Look over thy Hebrew books every month, thy Arabic ones every two months, thy bound books every three months. Keep thy library in order, so that thou wilt not need to search for a book. Prepare a list of the books on each shelf, and place each book on its proper shelf. Take care also of the loose, separate leaves in thy books, because they contain exceedingly important things which I myself have collected and written down. Lose no writing and no letter which I leave thee. . . . Cover thy book-shelves with beautiful curtains, protect them from water from the roof, from mice, and from all harm, because they are thy best treasure."

His fine linguistic sense and his conception of the art of translating are shown by his counsels on this subject.

He advises his son to read the weekly portion in Arabic every Sabbath so as to initiate himself into the art of translating, in case he should ever feel an inclination for it. He recommends to him an easy, pregnant, elegant style, not overburdened with words; further, he is to avoid foreign words and unusual and affected constructions, and is to use words which have a harmonious sound and are easy to pronounce. He always lays great weight upon the advantages of having a beautiful, clear handwriting and of using beautiful paper, good ink, etc. The testament closes with a poem summarizing the contents of the will.

Views on Translation.

Judah ibn Tibbon well understood the difficulties of the translator's task. He says in the preface to his translation of Baḥya's "Ḥobot ha-Lebabot" that he hesitated to translate the book because he did not feel sufficiently acquainted with Hebrew, and that he undertook the task only in compliance with the wish of his friend. He knows that he is laying himself open to adverse criticism with his translation, as is the case with every innovation. He attributes the imperfect character of his predecessors' translations from Arabic into Hebrew to the fact that either they did not have a thorough knowledge of Arabic or of Hebrew or that they gave in the translation their own opinions instead of those of the author. Judah is also of the opinion that the Hebrew translation can not always reproduce the pregnancy of the Arabic original. He holds that a translator should first make a strictly literal rendering of the original, and then revise his translation as though it were an original production of his own. For his creation of new word-forms (in the use of which he was not without precedents), and for the rabbinicisms in his Hebrew style, he excuses himself to the reader by saying that they are unavoidable. It is true that he often translated the mistakes of the original without heeding the sense, or rather lack of sense, expressed therein.

His son, Samuel, in his introduction to the "Moreh Nebukim" justly calls Judah "the father of translators"; since Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya he has also had the title of "chief of translators" (Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." i. 455). Maimonides speaks very flatteringly of Judah in a letter to Samuel.

  • Abrahams, in J. Q. R. iii. 453 et seq.;
  • Fürst, Bibl. Jud. iii., pp. xiii. et seq.;
  • Grätz, Gesch. vi. 204;
  • Munk, Notice sur Saadia Gaon, p. 19;
  • De Rossi, Dizionario, s.v. Tibbon;
  • Steinschneider, Jewish Literature, pp. 86 et passim;
  • idem, Hebr. Uebers. pp. 47, 373. et passim;
  • Zunz, G. S. iii. 135;
  • idem, Z. G. p. 232;
  • Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Français, xxvii. 511, 588, et passim;
  • idem, Les Ecrivains Juifs Français, pp. 355, 482, 686;
  • Winter and Wünsche, Die Jüdische Litteratur, ii. 192;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 280, 282.
Moses ibn Tibbon: Original Works.

Physician and author; born in Marseilles; flourished between 1240 and 1283; son of Samuel ibn Tibbon and father of the Judah ibn Tibbon who was prominent in the Maimonidean controversy which took place at Montpellier.The number of works written by Moses ibn Tibbon makes it probable that he reached a great age. With other Jewish physicians of Provence, he suffered under the order of the Council of Béziers (May, 1246) which prohibited Jewish physicians from treating Gentiles. He wrote the following works:

  • (1) Commentary on Canticles (Lyck, 1874). Written under the influence of Maimonides, it is of a philosophical and allegorical character, and is similar to that by his brother-in-law Abba Mari ben Simson ben Anatoli, whom he quotes repeatedly. In a long preface he deals with the poetical form and the philosophical content of the book, especially discussing the three classes of poetry according to the "Organon" of Aristotle. This part of the preface, taken from Immanuel ben Solomon's commentary to Canticles, was published by Dukes in his "Naḥal Ḳedumim" (pp. 55, 56; Brüll's "Jahrb." iii. 171 et seq.; Steinschneider, "Hebr. Bibl." xiv 99, Salfeld, in Berliner's "Magazin," vi. 25).
  • (2) Commentary to the Pentateuch, according to Isaac de Lattes' "Sha'are Ẓiyyon" (see p. 42 of Buber's Yaroslav, 1885, edition of the latter work) and Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya's "Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah (see Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." i. 1055). This commentary is quoted in the Commentary on Canticles (p. 24a). Azulai, in his "Shem ha-Gedolim" (i. 144), mentions that, according to an early source, Moses ibn Tibbon composed a work of this kind. But an ancient authority, Judah Mosconi (c. 1370), in his supercommentary on Abraham ibn Ezra, expresses some doubt as to the authenticity of this commentary on account of its often very unsatisfactory explanations. According to Steinschneider, it was merely a supercommentary on Abraham ibn Ezra (see "Cat. Bodl." col. 2004; "Hebr. Bibl." xiv. 103; Berliner's "Magazin," iii. 47, 150; comp. Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 2282, 9).
  • (3) "Leḳeṭ Shikḥah," mentioned by Isaac de Lattes (l.c.) as contained in the foregoing work, though he does not give any further indication of its contents. Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya (l.c. p. 54b, ed. Venice) gives only the title.
  • (4) "Sefer Pe'ah," an allegorical explanation, in ninety-one chapters, of haggadic passages in the Talmud and the Midrash (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 939, 9). Its tendency is apologetical. After Raymund de Pennaforte had established schools, in which Arabic and Hebrew were taught, for the purpose of converting Jews and Moors, Christian clerics, in their incomplete knowledge of the rabbinical writings, attempted to cast scorn on the, anthropomorphisms of the Midrashim. Moses ibn Tibbon traces this to those who took the anthropomorphic passages in a literal instead of, as Maimonides had taught, an allegorical sense (see Isaac de Lattes, l.c.; Zunz, "G. V." p. 400; Steinschneider and Cassel, "Jüdische Litteratur," in Ersch and Gruber, "Encyc." section ii., part 28, p. 409; "Cat. Bodl." l.c.).
  • (5) Commentary on the weights and measures of the Bible and the Talmud (Vatican MSS., No. 298, 4; see Assemani, "Catal." p. 283; Steinschneider, "Joseph ibn Aḳnin," in Ersch and Gruber, "Encyc." section ii., part 31, p. 50; "Ginze Nistarot," iii. 185 et seq.).
  • (6) "Sefer ha-Tanninim," mentioned by Isaac de Lattes (l.c.), but without indication of its contents; the Vatican MS. has the title "Ma'amar 'al ha-Tanninim." According to Assemani (l.c), it contained explanations on the creation of the Tanninim (comp. Gen. i. 21). Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya (l.c.) gives its title as "Sefer ha-Ḳinyanim," which has been accepted as correct by Azulai ("Shem ha-Gedolim") and Benjacob ("Oẓar ha-Sefarim," p. 531); it is, however, certainly incorrect, as the contents of the book show.
  • (7) "'Olam Ḳaṭon," a treatise on the immortality of the soul, several manuscripts of which exist (Vatican MSS., No. 292, 2; Paris MSS., No. 110. see Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." Nos. 1319, 7, 1324, 10, 1335, 2, 1600, 13; see also Carmoly in "Orient, Lit." ii. 235, 314). Moses ibn Tibbon's authorship is doubtful. According to a Bodleian manuscript, No. 1318, 7, his father, Samuel ibn Tibbon, was its author; in another passage Judah, his grandfather, is said to be its author (see Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 2003-2004).
  • (8) Letter on questions raised by his father, Samuel ibn Tibbon, in regard to Maimonides' "Moreh Nebukim" (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 2218, 2).

Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya (l.c.) erroneously ascribes to Moses ibn Tibbon a "Sefer ha-Kolel," a "Sefer ha-Melek," and a "Sefer 'Asarah Debarim" (see Zunz, "Z. G." pp. 471-472; Steinschneider, l.c.). Moses, was also wrongly accredited with three other works: a commentary on Abot, a commentary on Ibn Gabirol's "Azharot," and notes on the "Sefer ha-Madda'" of Maimonides (Steinschneider, l.c.).

Moses ibn Tibbon's translations are even more important and numerous than his original works. They include versions of Arabic works on philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. The name of the author of the work from which the translation was made precedes, in the following list, the title by which the translation is known. His most important translations are as follows:

  • Averroes: Commentaries, etc., on Aristotle: "Physica Auscultatio" (about 1250; Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 109); "Kelale ha-Shamayim weha-'Olam" ("De Cœlo et Mundo"; l.c. p. 126); "Sefer ha-Hawayah weha-Hefsed" (1250: "De Generatione et Corruptione"; l.c. p. 130); "Sefer Otot 'Elyonot" ("Meteora"; l.c. p. 135); "Kelale Sefer ha-Nefesh" (1244: "De Anima"; l.c. p. 147); "Bi'ur Sefer ha-Nefesh" (1261: "The Middle Commentary"; l.c. p. 148); "Ha-Hush we-ha-Muḥash" (1254: "Parva Naturalia"; l.c. p. 154); "Mah she-Aḥar ha-Ṭeba'", (1258: "Metaphysica"; l.c. p. 159); "Bi'ur Arguza" (commentary on Avicenna's "Arjuzah"; Renan, "Averroes," p. 189; Steinschneider, l.c. p. 699).
  • Avicenna: "Ha-Seder ha-Ḳaṭon" (1272: "The Small Canon"; l.c. p. 693, comp. p. 285).
  • Baṭalyusi: "Ha-'Agullot ha-Ra'yoniyyot" ("Al-Ḥada'iḳ," on the "similarity of the world to an imaginary sphere"; l.c. p. 287), edited by D. Kaufmann ("Die Spuren al-Bataljusi's in der Jüdischen Religionsphilosophie," Leipsic, 1880).
  • Al-Ḥaṣṣar: "Sefer ha-Ḥeshbon" (1271: Treatise on Arithmetic; Steinschneider, l.c. p. 558; "Isr. Letterbode," iii. 8).
  • Euclid: "Shorashim," or "Yesodot" (1270: "Elements"; Steinschneider, l.c. p. 506, comp. p. 510).
  • Alfarabi: "Hatḥalot ha-Nimẓa'ot ha-Tib'iyyim" (1248: "Book of the Principles"; l.c. p. 291. comp. p. 47), edited by H. Fillpowski, in a Hebrew almanac of 5610 (Leipsic, 1849).
  • Geminus: "Ḥokmat ha-Kokabim," or "Ḥokmat Tekunah" (1246, Naples: Introduction to the "Almagest" of Ptolemy; l.c. p. 539).
  • Ibn al-Jazzar: "Ẓedat ha-Derakim" (1259. "Viaticum").V06p547001.jpgPage of the First Edition of Moses ibn Tibbon's Translation of Maimonides' "Sefer ha-Miẓwot," Constantinople, 1516-18.(In the Columbia University Library, New York.)Ḥunain: "Mabo el Meleket ha-Refu'ah" ("Introduction to Medical Science"; l.c. p. 711).
  • Razi: "Ha-Ḥilluḳ weha-Ḥilluf" ("Book of the Divisions [of Maladies]"; l.c. p. 730); "Al Iḳrabadhin" ("Antidotarium"; l.c. p. 730).

For his other translations see Steinschneider, l.c. pp. 177, 231, 362, 363, 416, 542, 544, 553; idem, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 1998 et seq.

True to the traditions of his family, Moses ibn Tibbon translated those of Maimonides' Arabic writings which his father had not translated:

Translations from Maimonides.

"Miktab" or "Ma'amar be-Hanhagat ha-Beri'ut," a treatise on hygiene in the form of a letter to the sultan, printed in "Kerem Ḥemed" (iii. 9 et seq.), in Jacob ben Moses Ẓebi's "Dibre Mosheh" (Warsaw, 1886), and by Jacob Saphir ha-Levi (Jerusalem, 1885, from his own manuscript, under the title "Sefer Hanhagat ha-Beri'ut"). This translation (1244) was one of his first, if not the first (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 770 et seq.).

Commentary on the Mishnah. A fragment of his translation of Pe'ah, which was published by A. Geiger 1847, makes it at least possible that he translated the whole Seder Mo'ed (l.c. p. 925).

"Sefer ha-Miẓwot," another of his earliest translations (Constantinople, c. 1516-18, also printed in various editions of Maimonides' "Yad," but without Moses ibn Tibbon's preface); in it he excuses himself for continuing his own translation, though having known of that of Abraham Ḥasdai, on the ground that the latter had obviously used the first edition of the Arabic original, while he himself used a later revision (l.c. p. 927).

"Millot ha-Higgayon," a treatise on logic (Venice, 1552, with two anonymous commentaries). No complete manuscript of the Arabic original is known. The terminology here used by Moses ibn Tibbon has been adopted throughout Hebrew philosophical literature (l.c. p. 434).

"Ha-Ma'amar ha-Nikbad," a treatise on poisons, also called "Ha-Ma'amar be-Teri'aḳ" (extant in several manuscripts; see Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." col. 1919, iv.; idem, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 764).

Commentary on Hippocrates' "Aphorisms" (1257 or 1267: l.c. p. 769, comp. p. 659).

  • Steinschneider, Jewish Literature, pp. 96, 104, 125, 167, 184, 197;
  • Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Français, xxvii. 593 et seq., 750 et seq.;
  • idem, Les Ecrivains Juifs Français, pp. 356, 432, 686, 759;
  • Grätz, Gesch. vii. 103;
  • Winter and Wünsche, Die Jüdische Litteratur, iii. 661;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 59, 327, 356, 373, 534.

Moses ben Isaac ibn Tibbon appears as a copyist on the island of Candia in the early part of the fifteenth century (Steinschneider, "Mose Antologia Israelitica," 1879, ii. 457; 1880, iii. 283).

Samuel ibn Tibbon:

Son of Moses ibn Tibbon; first mentioned in a responsum of Solomon ben Adret (Neubauer, in "R. E. J." xii. 82 et seq.), which narrates a suit brought by Samuel against his rich young cousin Bionguda (). Bionguda was the youngest of three daughters born to Bella, the daughter of Moses ibn Tibbon. After the death of her husband, Jacob ha-Kohen (1254), Bella went to Marseilles, where Bionguda became engaged to Isaac ben Isaac. Samuel ibn Tibbon, who at that time was probably living at Marseilles, contested the legality of the marriage to Isaac ben Isaac, saying that he had made Bionguda his legal wife while she was still living at Naples. Bionguda denied this. The lawsuit connected with this dispute has been reviewed by Isidore Loeb ("Un Procès dans la Famille des Ibn Tibbon," Paris, 1886) and by Grätz ("Monatsschrift," xxxvi. 49).

  • Geiger, Wiss. Zeit. Jüd. Theol. v. 98;
  • Gross, in R. E. J. iv. 198 et seq.;
  • idem, Gallia Judaica, p. 373;
  • Steinschneider, Hebr. Uebers. p. 539.
Samuel ben Judah ibn Tibbon:

Physician and philosophical writer; born about 1150 in Lunel; died about 1230 in Marseilles. He received from his father and other able teachers in Lunel a thorough education in medicine, in Arabic, in Jewish literature, and in all the secular knowledge of his age. Later he lived in several cities of southern France (1199 in Béziers, 1204 in Arles) and traveled to Barcelona, Toledo, and even to Alexandria (1210-1213). Finally he settled in Marseilles. That he was buried in Tiberias (see Brüll in Kobak's "Jeschurun," vi. 211, Hebr. text, note) is very improbable. His father's will (see Judah ben Saul ibn Tibbon) gives a good insight into Samuel's character.

Original Works.

In comparison with his translations, the original works of Samuel are not numerous. He composed in 1213, on shipboard, when returning from Alexandria, "Bi'ur meha-Millot ha-Zarot," an explanation of the philosophical terms of Maimonides' "Moreh Nebukim," printed, together with his Hebrew translation of the "Moreh," at Venice, 1551, and often afterward (see Geiger, "Wiss. Zeit. Jüd. Theol." iii. 427; Goldenthal, "Grundzüge und Beiträge zu einem Sprachvergleichenden Rabbinisch-Philosophischen Wörterb." in "Denkschriften der Kaiserlichen Akademic der Wissenschaften," i. 424 et seq., Vienna). When finishing his translation of the "Moreh" he felt the necessity of giving an alphabetical glossary of the foreign words that he had used in his translation. In the introduction to the glossary he divides these words into five classes: (1) words taken mainly from the Arabic; (2) rare words occurring in the Mishnah and in the Gemara; (3) Hebrew verbs and adjectives derived from substantives by analogy with the Arabic; (4) homonyms, used with special meanings; and (5) words to which new meanings were given by analogy with the Arabic. He gives also a list of corrections which he desired to be made in the copies of his translation of the "Moreh." The glossary gives not only a short explanation of each word and its origin, but also in many cases a scientific definition with examples (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 420 et seq.). According to Isaac Lattes (Renan-Neubauer, "Les Ecrivains Juifs Français," p. 686), Samuel wrote a commentary on the whole Bible, but only the following portions are known:

"Ma'amar Yiḳḳawu ha-Mayim," a philosophical treatise in twenty-two chapters on Gen. i. 9, published by M. Bisliches, Presburg, 1837 (Geiger, l.c. iv. 413 et seq.). It deals with physical and metaphysical subjects, interpreting in an allegoric-philosophical manner the Bible verses cited by the author. At the end of the treatise (p. 175) the author says that he was led to write it through the propagation of philosophy among Gentiles and the ignorance of his coreligionists in philosophical matters. The many manuscripts of the "Ma'amar" are enumerated in Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 199, note 671. The year of its composition is not known.

A philosophical commentary on Ecclesiastes, quoted by Samuel in the foregoing work (p. 175), and of which several manuscripts are extant (Steinschneider. "Cat. Bodl." col. 2488). It is described by Perreau in "Bollettino Italiano degli Stud. Orient." new series, 1878.

A commentary on the Song of Solomon. Quotations from this work are found in his commentary on Ecclesiastes; in Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 1649, 2, fol. 21; and in his son's commentary on the Song of Solomon. These make it perfectly evident that he really composed this work; but its contents are, entirely unknown (see Salfeld, "Das Hohelied bei den Jüdischen Erklärern des Mittelalters." in Berliner's "Magazin," vi. 24 et seq.).

"Ner ha-Ḥofes," a commentary on those parts of the Pentateuchwhich, he contends, are to be taken allegorically. The book is only quoted by himself (in his "Ma'amar Yiḳḳawu ha-Mayim," pp. 9, 13, 17, 132), and no manuscript of it has yet been found.

Samuel ibn Tibbon was an enthusiastic adherent of Maimonides and his allegorical interpretation of the Bible, and he is said to have even gone so far as to declare that the Bible narratives are to be considered simply as parables ("meshalim") and the religious laws merely as guides ("hanhagot") to a higher, spiritual life (Brüll's "Jahrb." iv. 9, x. 89). Such statements, not peculiar in his age, aroused the wrath of the adherents of the literal interpretation of the Bible, the anti-Maimonidean party.


Samuel's reputation is based not on his original writings, however, but on his translations, especially on that of Maimonides' "Dalalat al-Ḥa'irin" (finished about 1190) into Hebrew under the title "Moreh Nebukim."

The "Moreh Nebukim."

This title, by which the book has always since been quoted, and which signifies "Guide of the Perplexed," his opponents satirically changed into "Nebukat ha-Morim" = "Perplexity of the Guides." Before finishing this difficult work, Samuel consulted Maimonides several times by letter regarding some difficult passages. Maimonides' answers, some of which were written in Arabic and were later on translated into Hebrew, perhaps by Samuel himself, praise the translator's ability and acknowledge his thorough command of Arabic, an acquirement very surprising in a country like France. After having given some general rules for translation from the Arabic into Hebrew, he explains the doubtful passages, which he renders into the latter language. (For some interesting remarks by Samuel on Arabic philosophical writers see Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 40 et seq.) Some fragments of this correspondence have been printed in "Ḳobeẓ Teshubot ha-Rambam," ii. 26 et seq.; and in Ottensoser, "Briefe über den Moreh des Maimonides," Nos. 1 and 2; others have been discovered in a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, by Steinschneider ("Hebr. Uebers." pp. 415 et seq.).

Samuel ibn Tibbon's translation is preceded by an introduction. As the motive for his undertaking he mentions that the scholars of Lunel asked him for a translation of the "Moreh." As aids in his work he indicates the Hebrew translation by his father (whom he calls "the Father of the Translators"), works on the Arabic language, and the Arabic writings in his own library. Samuel also wrote an index to the Biblical verses quoted in the "Moreh" (see Renan-Neubauer, "Les Ecrivains Juifs Français," p. 684).


The distinction of Samuel's translation is its accuracy and faithfulness to the original. Whether one approves or disapproves his introduction of a number of Arabic words into Hebrew, and the fact that, by analogy with the Arabic, he gives to certain Hebrew words meanings different from the accepted ones, the magnitude of his work can not be questioned. Especially admirable is the skill with which he reproduces in Hebrew the abstract ideas of Maimonides, which is essentially a language of a people expressing concrete ideas. Soon after Samuel (that is, after 1230) the poet Judah al-Ḥarizi also translated the "Moreh" (part i., ed. Schlossberg, London, 1857; part ii., ib. 1876; part iii., ib. 1879). He adopted Ibn Tibbon's Hebrew title, "Moreh Nebukim" (see Kaufmann, "Die Attributenlehre," p. 363), and though he said of Samuel, not without some personal animus, that the latter had intentionally obscured the meaning of the original, he was not successful in his attempt to have his own translation supersede that of Ibn Tibbon (Pococke, cited by Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." i. 856),

That keen critic Shem-Ṭob ibn Palquera passes judgment upon both translations in an anonymous letter. "In Ibn Tibbon's translation," he writes, "are only a few errors; and if the learned translator had had time he would certainly have corrected these; but in Al-Ḥarizi's translation mistakes are numerous, and words are often given a wrong meaning" (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 428 et seq.).

When the struggle between the Maimonists and anti-Maimonists arose, Samuel did not escape reproach for having spread the ideas of Maimonides, his chief accuser being Judah al-Fakhkhar (Kaufmann, l.c. p. 493).

Samuel also translated the following works of Maimonides:

  • (1) A treatise on Resurrection under the Hebrew title "Iggeret" or "Ma'amar Teḥiyyat ha-Metim," Constantinople, 1569, and often afterward (see Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." col. 1914).
Other Translations.
  • (2) Mishnah commentary on Pirḳe Abot, including the psychological introduction, entitled "Shemonah Peraḳim" (Soncino, 1484 et seq., and often afterward in the Mishnah and Talmud editions). The preface to his translations exists in two different versions (Steinschneider, l.c. col. 1890; idem, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 437, 926; see also Brann in Berliner's "Magazin," v. 41. et seq.; Baneth, ib. vi. 171 et seq., 237 et seq.; Geiger. "Moses ben Maimon," in "Nachgelassene Schriften," iii. 60, 88).
  • (3) "The thirteen articles" under the title "Shelosh 'Esreh 'Iḳḳarim" or "Yesodot" (1505; see Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 925; idem, "Cat. Bodl." col. 1887).
  • (4) A letter to his pupil Joseph ibn 'Aḳnin, a part of which is printed in "Ḳobeẓ Teshubot ha-RaMBaM," ii. 30 et seq. (see Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 931d; idem, "Cat. Bodl." col. 1901).Samuel also translated the following writings of other Arabic authors: (1) 'Ali ibn Riḍwan's commentary on the "Ars Parva" of Galen (according to Paris MS. 1114), finished in 1199 in Béziers (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 734). (2) Three smaller treatises of Averroes, under the title "Sheloshah Ma'amarim" (edited by J. Herez, with German transl.: "Drei Abhandlungen über die Conjunction des Separaten Intellects mit den Menschen von Averroes, aus dem Arabischen Uebersetzt von Samuel ibn Tibbon," Berlin, 1869). Samuel translated these three treatises both as an appendix to his commentary on Ecclesiastes (see above) and separately (Steinschneider, l.c. p. 199).(3) Yaḥya ibn Baṭriḳ's Arabic translation of Aristotle's "Meteora," under the title "Otot ha-Shamayim" (also quoted under the title "Otot 'Elyonot"), translated on a voyage from Alexandria, between the two islands Lampedosa and Pantellaria. It is extant in several manuscripts. The preface and the beginning of the text have been printed by Filipowski (c. 1860) as a specimen. Samuel made this translation, at the request of Joseph ben Israel of Toledo, from a single and bad Arabic translation of Baṭriḳ(Steinschneider, l.c. p. 132.).

Some works are wrongly ascribed to Samuel by late copyists, e.g., the translation of a "Biography of Alexander the Great," under the title "Sefer Aleḳsandros Maḳedon we-Ḳorotaw" (see "Ḳobeẓ, 'al Yad," ii. 12 et seq., Berlin, 1886; I. Lévi, in "R. E. J." iii. 248 et seq.; for the contrary view see Steinschneider, l.c. p. 899); a commentary on Avicenna's "Ḳanon" (Steinschneider, l.c. pp. 686, 692).Shem-Ṭob ibn Palquera's "De'ot ha-Pilusufim" (the error in this case is due to a mistake in the introduction, where "Samuel" occurs instead of "Shem-Ṭob"; see Steinschneider, l.c. pp. 5, 285; idem, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 2483 et seq.).

  • Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Français, pp. 573 et seq.;
  • idem, Les Ecrivains Juifs Français, Index;
  • Steinschneider, Jewish Literature, pp. 86 et passim;
  • Grätz, Gesch. vi. 204;
  • Winter and Wünsche, Die, Jüdische Littera tur, ii. 330, 385.
G. M. Sc.