Ahitub ben Isaac

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AHITUB BEN ISAAC (late 13th century), rabbi and physician in Palermo. Ahitub's father was a rabbi and physician; his brother David was a physician. He became known while still a young man for his philosophic and scientific learning. When the kabbalist Abraham *Abulafia went to Sicily to win adherents for his teaching, Solomon b. Abraham *Adret of Barcelona communicated with Ahitub in order to enlist his support in his controversy against Abulafia.

Ahitub was the author of Maḥberet ha-Tene, a poem resembling the Maḥberet ha-Tofet ve ha-Eden of *Immanuel of Rome. In this allegorical work he describes his journey to Paradise where he went to discover the right way of life. There he enjoyed the food of the blessed, and when he returned to earth he brought with him some of the waters of Paradise. These he used to water his garden which then yielded delicious fruits. The first of these he placed in a basket (tene), consecrated them to God, and then offered the fruits to anyone who wished to taste them. The number of these fruits was 13, representing the 13 *Articles of Faith. Ahitub's work was incorporated in the Sefer ha-Tadir of Moses b. Jekuthiel de Rossi who added a piyyut on the articles of faith. This piyyut was published twice (A. Freimann, in zhb, 10 (1906), 172; Hirschfeld, in jqr, 5 (1914/15), 540).

Ahitub also translated Maimonides' Treatise on Logic from the Arabic into Hebrew. This translation was still known in the 16th century, and its variant readings were recorded in the margins of some copies of the first edition of another Hebrew translation of the work, this one by Moses ibn *Tibbon. Ahitub's translation was forgotten until a manuscript of it was found and published by Chamizer. An edition of the translation appears in Maimonides' Treatise on Logic (ed. by I. Efros (1938), 67–100; cf. Eng. section, 8–9 ff.).


Zunz, Gesch, 515–6; Guedemann, Gesch Erz, 2 (1888), 202–3; Kaufmann, Schriften, 2 (1915), 236; zhb, 10 (1906), 95, 171–5; 11 (1907), 159; Margoliouth, Cat, 3 (1965), 394; Chamizer, in: Judaica, Festschrift zu Hermann Cohens 70 Geburtstag (1912), 423–56; jqr, 5 (1914/15), 532–3, 540; 7 (1916/17), 128; 11 (1920/21), 309–11; Schirmann, in: ymḤsi, 1 (1933), 123–47; J. Klatzkin, Oẓar ha-Munaḥim…, 1 (1926), 107–8.

[Umberto (Moses David) Cassuto]