Hebraist and Bible commentator; born at Treptow, Pomerania, May 16, 1828; died in Derbyshire, England, Aug. 24, 1885. He was educated at Berlin University, where he studied classics, philology, and the Semitic languages, and at the Rabbinical College of Berlin. In 1848 he obtained degrees at Berlin and at Halle, and in the same year took part in the European struggle for freedom that resulted in the émeute of 1848. Going to England, Kalisch contributed to the periodicals of Great Britain and the Continent, and delivered lectures on secular and archeological topics before various learned bodies. He then obtained a permanent appointment as secretary to Chief Rabbi N. M. Adler. This position he held from 1848 to 1853, and was then engaged as tutor and literary adviser to the Rothschild family. In this capacity he found leisure to produce a considerable amount of erudite work.

Kalisch's special object was to write a full and critical commentary on the Old Testament, and at this task he labored with indefatigable energy. In 1855 he published the first volume, entitled "An Historical and Critical Commentary on the Old Testament, with a New Translation—Exodus"; the second, "Genesis," appeared in 1858; the third, "Leviticus," part i. and part ii., in 1867 and 1872 respectively. These contain a résumé of all that Jewish and Christian learning had accumulated on the subjects up to the dates of publication. In his "Leviticus" Kalisch anticipated Wellhausen to a large extent. The interval between the issue of "Genesis" and that of "Leviticus" was occupied with the preparation of a "Hebrew Grammar" in two parts, the second dealing with the more difficult forms and rules. In 1877 Kalisch issued the first part of "Bible Studies," comprising annotations on "The Prophecies of Balaam." The second part, on "The Book of Jonah," preceded by a treatise on "The Hebrew and the Stranger," was issued in the following year. In 1880 appeared his comprehensive work entitled "Path and Goal: A Discussion on the Elements of Civilization and the Conditions of Happiness," consisting of an attempt to bring together representative utterances of adherents of all the chief religions of the world.

Kalisch was a writer of exceptional erudition, without, however, possessing an equal power of using his resources for literary purposes. His views on Biblical and Jewish subjects generally were of an advanced type. He was prevented from completing his projected comprehensive commentary on the entire Pentateuch by the ill health which attended his last years.

  • Athenœum, Sept. 5, 1885;
  • Jew. Chron. and Jew. World, Aug. 28, 1885;
  • The Times (London), Aug. 31, 1885;
  • Jew. Herald (Melbourne), Oct. 16, 1885;
  • Morais, Eminent Israelites, pp. 170-173.
J. G. L.
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