Benveniste, Joshua Raphael ben Israel

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BENVENISTE, JOSHUA RAPHAEL BEN ISRAEL (1590?–1665?), Turkish rabbi, physician, grammarian, and poet; brother of Ḥayyim *Benveniste. Joshua was born in Constantinople and was a disciple of Joseph b. Moses *Trani and Abraham *Alegre. He studied grammar under Isaac *Uzziel, and medicine under Isaac Caro, the physician. While serving as rabbi in Constantinople, he accepted the rabbinate of Sophia, after the community had agreed to all of his conditions, but the Constantinople community objected and prevailed upon him to remain. For some years Joshua was rabbi of Bursa. Many communities, even Karaites, addressed their problems to him, and responsa written by him, as early as 1610, are extant. Benveniste was a versatile author and many of his works are still regarded as basic in their fields. He devoted himself particularly to the Jerusalem Talmud, which was largely neglected in his day. His commentary on it, Sedeh Yehoshu'a, was published with the text. Joshua's method was first to explain all difficult words according to the Babylonian Talmud, the Arukh, etc., and then to explain the passage, comparing it with the parallel passage in the Babylonian Talmud or explaining it according to the context where no such parallel exists. Where the halakhah differs in the two Talmuds he decided according to the Babylonian, "since it is the essential one." He also collected explanations which he found in works of rishonim and halakhists and added his own. He deals only with the halakhic portions, ignoring the aggadah. His language is very prolix. This may explain why the commentary did not become widespread among the scholars of Eastern and Western Europe.

His commentary to the following tractates was published: Berakhot, Pe'ah, Orlah, Ḥallah, and Bikkurim of the order Zera'im (Constantinople, 1662); a number of tractates of Mo'ed, Nashim, and Nezikin (Constantinople, 1749). The commentary has frequently been reprinted together with the text. His Seder ha-Get and Seder Ḥaliẓah were published in Get Pashut (Constantinople, 1719) of Moses ibn Ḥabib. According to Ḥayyim Joseph David *Azulai, his four volumes of responsa, Sha'ar Yehoshu'a, were destroyed by fire after 1677. Some of his 97 responsa on Ḥoshen Mishpat, which have remained in manuscript (Jewish Institute, Warsaw, no. 13), were published in Husiatin in 1904 and many of his responsa were published in the books of his contemporaries. His other published works are Oznei Yehoshu'a (Constantinople, 1677), sermons, and Avodah Tammah (Constantinople, 1691–95), an exposition of the *Avodah in the Day of Atonement liturgy, and a clarification of the variant readings. The following remain in manuscript: Mishmeret ha-Mitzvot (jts, Ms. 0347), a poetic arrangement of the commandments in accordance with the enumeration of Maimonides; Levush Malkhut, describing the greatness of the Creator as evinced in the human anatomy, written in the style of the Keter Malkhut of Solomon ibn Gabirol; Perek be-Shir (Montefiore Ms. 377), on prosody and meter; and a treatise on medicine.


L. Ginzberg, Perushim ve-Ḥiddushim ba-Yerushalmi, 1 (1961), introduction (Eng.) liii–liv; N. Allony, Mi-Torat ha-Lashon ve-ha-Shirah bi-Ymei ha-Beinayim (1944), 85–92; idem, Mi-Sifrut Yemei ha-Beinayim (1945), 39–42; Benayahu, in: Aresheth, 3 (1961), 151.