Adeni, Solomon Bar Joshua

views updated


ADENI, SOLOMON BAR JOSHUA (1567–1625?), commentator on the Mishnah. In 1571 he immigrated with his father, a ḥakham in Sanʾa, Yemen, and his family to Safed, where he studied under David Amarillo. In 1577–78 Adeni's father moved to Jerusalem. After his father's death (1582) Adeni, then in difficult circumstances, was cared for and supported by R. Moses b. Jacob Alḥāmi. Alḥāmi continued, until his death, to support Solomon, who arranged Adeni's marriage in 1590. In about 1582 Adeni entered the yeshivah of the kabbalist Ḥayyim *Vital, but later studied under others as well, among them Bezalel *Ashkenazi, who came to Jerusalem. Studying in seclusion, he wrote annotations in the margins of the Mishnah, and as these increased, he abbreviated them. It was apparently after the death of Bezalel Ashkenazi that Adeni settled in Hebron, where he earned a meager living as a schoolteacher. His wife, daughter, and two sons died in 1600, apparently from a plague. His eight children from a second marriage all died in childhood from epidemics and diseases.

Adeni's commentary on the Mishnah, Melekhet Shelomo, was intended to encompass the entire Torah, explain the Talmuds, and to concentrate their commentaries and halakhic discussions in one place. The importance of the work is twofold: (1) to determine the clearest text of the Mishnah; and (2) to explain the Mishnah according to primary sources by his own method.

Adeni made use of many manuscripts of the Mishnah and the foremost rabbinic authorities then available in Ereẓ Israel. Adeni's method is remarkably accurate. He checked his quotations from primary sources. If the original text was not available, he noted from whom he copied his citation. His commentaries are the closest to the literal meaning of the Mishnah. He comments on the biographies of rabbis and he illustrates the orders Zera'im and Tohorot with many illustrations, and corrects the classical mishnaic commentators. He opened his comments with the words "the compiler states" and when he differed with a scholar, he modestly wrote, "And to me, a layman, it seems my humble opinion…."

Because of these attributes his work became an indispensable commentary for study of the Mishnah. In addition, it is an important source for philologists. Yom Tov Heller's commentary on the Mishnah, Tosafot Yom Tov (Prague, 1585–87) appeared after Adeni had finished his work. However, praising Heller's work highly, Adeni included selections from it when his book was published. Despite its importance the commentary was printed for the first time only in 1905. Adeni also produced some of Bezalel Ashkenazi's glosses and commentaries on the Mishnah and the Talmud in a work called Binyan Shelomo le-Ḥokhmat Beẓalel.

Another work equally important, but less famous because it was lost in manuscript, is Divrei Emet, glosses on the Bible. Ḥ.J.D. *Azulai saw this manuscript in Jerusalem and used it extensively in his work on the Bible, Ḥomat Anakh.

Little is known about Adeni's later life. The last information about him dates from 1625.


Azulai, 1 (1878), 120, no. 57; 2 (1878), 20, no. 7; A. Marx, in: jqr, 2 (1911/12), 266–70; Epstein, Mishnah, 2 (1948), 1290; E.Z. Melamed, in: Sinai, 44 (1959), 346–63; M. Benayahu, ibid., 30 (1952), 66–68; idem, Rabbi Ḥ.Y.D. Azulai (1959), 134.