Ezra ben Solomon

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EZRA BEN SOLOMON (d. 1238 or 1245), one of the leading kabbalists of his day in Gerona, Spain. For a long time scholars thought him identical with *Azriel b. Menahem of Gerona, since various authors attributed to Azriel works written by Ezra and vice versa. However, the poems of Meshullam b. Solomon da *Piera, a contemporary of the two and also a native of Gerona, make it possible definitely to determine that Ezra and Azriel were two different individuals who lived in Gerona at the same time. This fact is also confirmed by testimonies of kabbalists from the late 13th and early 14th centuries. G. *Scholem's discovery of several of their works and I. Tishby's studies have established that the two men represented different kabbalistic trends.

According to Abraham *Abulafia, Ezra wrote a commentary to the Sefer *Yezirah (see A. *Jellinek, Beit ha-Midrash, 3 (1938), 43) which has not survived. His commentary on the Song of Songs, attributed to *Naḥmanides, was first published in Altona in 1764, with many errors repeated in all subsequent editions. It was republished by H.D. Chavel in Kitvei Rabbenu Moshe ben Naḥman (2, 1964, 474–548), but this edition too contains all the errors of its predecessors. It has been translated into French and commented upon by G. Vajda (see bibl.). Both Ezra and Azriel wrote commentaries on talmudic legends. Several fragments of Ezra's commentary appear in Likkutei Shikhhah u-Fe'ah (Ferrara, 1556); however, the publisher, Abraham b. Judah Elmaleh, concealed the author's name. The work exists in several manuscripts, especially Vatican 441. Two of Ezra's letters which have survived were published by G. Scholem (in Sefer Bialik (1934), 155–62).

Ezra's works show the influence of his teacher *Isaac the Blind. In his turn, Ezra greatly influenced his contemporaries and the kabbalists of the 13th and 14th centuries. His colleague and contemporary Jacob b. Sheshet *Gerondi, who cites him several times, sometimes in agreement and often in dispute, in Meshiv Devarim Nekhohim and Ha-Emunah ve-ha-Bittaḥon, calls him "the sage (ha-ḥakham) Rabbi Ezra." Azriel follows in Ezra's footsteps in his commentary on talmudic legends, although he changes the meaning and the outlook. The greatest scholar of the period, Nahmanides, cites Ezra's writings on at least one occasion. As noted by I. Tishby, his influence can also be discerned in the works of other noteworthy personalities, especially *Baḥya b. Asher, who mentions him by name only twice but uses his writings many times; Joshua *Ibn Shu'ayb, who cites Ezra on many occasions in his Derashot al ha-Torah (the printed copy often confuses Ezra with Abraham *Ibn Ezra); and *Isaac b. Samuel of Acre, who cites Ezra in his book Me'irat Einayim (in Ms.). Traces of Ezra's commentary on the Song of Songs appear in the *Zohar.


G. Scholem, Reshit ha-Kabbalah (1948), 127–30; idem, in: Sefer Bialik (1934), 141–62; idem, Kitvei Yad be-Kabbalah (1930), 1–3; idem, Ursprung und Anfaenge der Kabbala (1962), 328–32; I. Tishby, Perush ha-Aggadot le-R. Azri'el (1945); idem, in: Zion, 9 (1944), 178–85; idem, in: Sinai, 16 (1945), 159–78; E. Gottlieb, Ha-Kabbalah be-Khitvei R. Baḥya ben Asher (1970), 38–73; idem, in: Tarbiz, 37 (1967/68), 294–317; idem, in; ks, 40 (1964/65), 1–9; G. Vajda, Le Commentaire d'Ezra de Gérone sur le Cantique des Cantiques (1969).

[Efraim Gottlieb]