Dubno, Solomon ben Joel

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DUBNO, SOLOMON BEN JOEL (1738–1813), Bible scholar and Hebrew poet. Dubno took his name from his birthplace in the Ukraine and studied in Lemberg (Lvov) under Solomon b. Moses *Chelm, whose Sha'arei Ne'imah on the masoretic accents he published in 1776 with annotations and an introductory poem (also appended to some editions of Judah Leib Ben-Ze'ev's Talmud Leshon Ivri, 1886). From 1767 to 1772 he lived and studied in Amsterdam and then in Berlin, where he was engaged by Moses *Mendelssohn as private tutor for his son Joseph. On Dubno's suggestion Mendelssohn undertook his famous German translation of the Bible and Hebrew commentary, known as the Biur. For that work Dubno prepared the prospectus with a lengthy introduction, Alim li-Terufah (1778), and contributed the commentary on Genesis (except ch. 1) and part of Exodus as well as annotations to the Masorah of Genesis and Exodus, Tikkun Soferim. Dubno, however, left Berlin in 1781 for Vilna before the Biur on the Pentateuch, Netivot ha-Shalom, appeared in 1783. He had been prompted, apparently, by his friends in Russia such as Zalman Volozkin, who disapproved of his association with Mendelssohn and his circle, and who encouraged him to write his own Bible commentary. Nevertheless, Mendelssohn paid generous tribute to Dubno's work in his introduction to the Biur. In 1786 he returned to Germany and finally to Amsterdam, where he lived in penury, though he possessed a valuable library of over 2,000 books, some of them very rare, and over 100 manuscripts, for which he prepared a catalog, Reshimah (1814). In Amsterdam he published a commentary on the Masorah of the whole Pentateuch, Tikkun Soferim (1803). Dubno also wrote a good deal of Hebrew poetry, e.g., Yuval ve-Na'aman (n. d.); Evel Yaḥid (1776), a eulogy on the death of Jacob Emden; and Kol Simḥah (1780), in honor of the wedding of Simḥah Bunim b. Daniel Jaffe (*Itzig). He published M. Ḥ. Luzzatto's drama La-Yesharim Tehillah (1780 or 1799) with an introduction and wrote a preface, interspersed with poetry, to Heidenheim's edition of the Shavuot maḥzor (1805). Dubno also wrote a geography of Palestine, Kunteres Aharon (Berlin, n.d.).

In his Bible commentary Dubno followed mainly the medieval exegetes, but added historical and geographical explanations as well as defending his own traditional position. He was the first Jewish commentator to dwell on the structure and didactic style of the Bible stories. In his notes on the masoretic accents, he stressed their exegetical importance as well as their antiquity.


I. Zinberg, Geshikhte fun der Literatur bay Yidn, 7 pt. 1 (1936), 53–62, 82, 134, 256; P. Sandler, Ha-Be'ur la-Torah shel Moshe Mendelssohn ve-Si'ato (1941), 16–30; Zobel, in: ks, 18 (1941/42), 126–32; R. Mahler, Divrei Yemei Yisrael, 4 (1956), 30–33; Beit-Arié, in: KS, 40 (1964/65), 124–32; A. Marx, Studies in Jewish History and Booklore (1944), 219–21; F.J. Delitzsch, Zur Geschichte der juedischen Poesie (1836), 118; Kressel, Leksikon, 1 (1965), 524–5.

[Jacob S. Levinger]

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