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Gabirol, Solomon ben Judah, Ibn

GABIROL, SOLOMON BEN JUDAH, IBN

GABIROL, SOLOMON BEN JUDAH, IBN (c. 1021–c. 1057; Ar. Abu Ayyub Sulayman ibn Yahya ibn Gabirul; Lat. Avicebron), Spanish poet and philosopher.

His Life

The main source of information on Ibn Gabirol's life is his poems, although frequently they offer no more than hints. A number of details can be found in the works of *Ibn Saʿīd and in the Kitab al-Muhadara wal-Mudhakara by Moses *Ibn Ezra (published by A. Halkin (1975), 36b, 37a, etc.), and some information can be deduced from Ibn Gabirol's introduction to his ethical work, Tikkun Middot ha-Nefesh (Constantinople, 1550). His family left Córdoba in the unsafe years of the beginning of the 11th century, and he was very likely born in Malaga – or at any rate he lived there and regarded it as his native city, signing a number of his poems "Malaki," i.e., from Malaga – but as a child he was taken to Saragossa, where he acquired an extensive education. Orphaned at an early age, he wrote a number of elegies on the death of his father; on his mother's death in 1045, he mourned both his parents in "Niḥar be-Kore'i" (14). Ibn Gabirol complained in his poems of his weak physique, small stature, and ugliness, and if we understand his words literally, he was frequently ill from his childhood on, suffering particularly from a serious skin disease that he seems to describe in his strange and terrifying poem "Ha-Lo Eẓdak." Being unusually mature for his age, he began to write poetry at a very young age, at the latest 16 when he wrote Azharot (Venice, 1572). Ibn Gabirol likened himself to a 16-year-old with the heart of an 80-year-old ("Ani ha-Sar," 8). According to his contemporaries, his character, at times verging on arrogance, brought him into frequent conflict with influential men of his day, whom he attacked virulently, and with society in general. Since he wanted to devote his life to philosophy and poetry, he was dependent on the support of wealthy patrons, a subservience against which he rebelled from time to time. In 1038 Ibn Gabirol wrote a number of elegies on the death of *Hai b. Sherira Gaon. One of his more important supporters was Jekuthiel b. Isaac ibn Ḥasan, whom he praised in a number of poems for his knowledge of the Talmud and the sciences, his interest in poetry, and his generosity ("Ve-At Yonah"). When Jekuthiel was killed in 1039 as a result of court intrigues, Ibn Gabirol wrote two elegies, one of which ("Bi-Ymei Yekuti'el Asher Nigmaru") is regarded as one of the greatest of Jewish medieval secular poems. With the loss of his patron, Ibn Gabirol's financial status and social standing were drastically lowered and his incessant squabbling with the town nobles caused him considerable suffering. At the age of 19, he completed his great didactic poem, "Anak." It is thought that he wrote Tikkun Middot ha-Nefesh ("The Improvement of the Moral Qualities") in 1045, and soon afterward he seems to have left Saragossa; from then on few details are available on his life and work. Some scholars believe that he lived for some time in Granada, where his patron was *Samuel ha-Nagid, with whom he later quarreled as a result of his criticisms of Samuel's poems. Ibn Gabirol appears to have spent the year 1048–49 under the patronage of *Nissim b. Jacob ibn Shahin, but it is doubtful if he ever was actually Nissim's student. He was on friendly terms with Isaac ibn Khalfun and Isaac ibn Kapron. According to Moshe Ibn Ezra, Ibn Gabirol died in Valencia at the age of 30, while Abraham Ibn Daud states that he died in 1070, when he was approximately 50. However, the most exact date seems to be that given by Ibn Saʿīd: 450 a.h. or 1057–58, when he was between 36 and 38. The many legends surrounding his life attest to the awe in which the man and his works were held after his death. One legend (found in the commentary to Sefer Yeẓirah (publ. Mantua, 1562), attributed to Saadiah Gaon) relates how Ibn Gabirol made a female golem out of wood; another (in Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah by Gedaliah ibn Yaḥyā, Venice, 1587) tells how he was murdered by an Arab.

Works

In one of his poems, Ibn Gabirol boasts of having written 20 books, but only two are extant that can certainly be attributed to him: Mekor Ḥayyim and Tikkun Middot ha-Nefesh. Both are written in Judeo-Arabic. Sefer Al ha-Nefesh (Liber de Anima), which has been preserved in Latin, and Mivḥar Peninim (Venice, 1546) are frequently attributed to Ibn Gabirol, but in both cases there is insufficient proof of his authorship. In their commentaries on the Bible, Abraham ibn Ezra and David Kimḥi quote some of his interpretations, mostly allegorical, but it is not known if he composed a complete commentary of his own. The difficult task of recovering and identifying Ibn Gabirol's poems, which were scattered in prayer books, anthologies, and single pages dispersed in many libraries, was first undertaken in the 19th century by J.L. Dukes, S.D. Luzzatto, S. Sachs, and H. Brody, who brought out the first collection of his verse. The discovery in the Genizah in the early part of the 20th century of an ancient index of poems by Ibn Gabirol, Ibn Ezra, and Judah Halevi proved that there had been a very early collection of Ibn Gabirol's poems, and later a complete divan was found in manuscript (Schocken 37). Bialik and Ravnitzky did not regard their seven-volume edition of Ibn Gabirol's collected works (1924–32) as complete. Brody and Schirmann published a scientific edition of his secular poems in 1974. D. Jarden collected and annotated the secular (1975) and liturgical (1976) poems in four volumes. Ibn Gabirol's poems have been translated into most Western languages (I. Goldberg, 1998). There is a good English translation of many of his poems by P. Cole (2001); a German translation by F. Bargebuhr (1976); E. Romero translated into Spanish a large selection of his secular poems (1978), and M.J. Cano translated his secular poetry (1987) and a significant part of his liturgical poems (1992).

Poetry

In his poetic works Ibn Gabirol displays his great knowledge of biblical Hebrew and his linguistic virtuosity, while avoiding the complexity of many of his predecessors, including Samuel ha-Nagid. Employing images and idioms from Arabic poetry, he fuses them into an original style, with brilliant intellectual metaphors. He can be a formalist in some conventional genres, but he also attains lyrical heights that are unusual in the Middle Ages, with deep reflections on his own life and his search for wisdom. While he wrote in biblical Hebrew, like all Andalusian poets, he was not a purist, and allowed himself some neologisms that provoked the censure of his most intransigent critics. In spiritual tone his poetry is shaped by Bible and talmudic literature as well as by early mystical Midrashim. In its mystical tendencies, his work is sometimes described as closely akin to Sufi poetry. Both his scientific knowledge, especially of astronomy, and his neoplatonic leanings are evident in his poems.

secular poetry

In accordance with contemporary tradition, most of Ibn Gabirol's secular poetry was composed in honor of patrons whom he describes in extravagant panegyric. As he employs the full range of the Hebreo-Arabic rhetoric of the time in poems of praise and poems of friendship, it is often difficult to differentiate between the two. In the tone of the Arabic poems of self-praise, he refers to himself as a "violin unto all singers and musicians" ("Ani ha-Sar") before whom are opened the "doors of wisdom" that are closed to the rest of his nation ("Ha-Tilag le-Enosh"). Following convention, especially that of the great Arab pessimistic poets, he emphasizes the contrast between himself and the society in which he lives, frequently voicing complaints against time, i.e., fate, and his inability to find his place among his fellows, involved as they are in mundane matters and temporal successes. Nonetheless, he was alive to the impulses of youth and while he composed few love poems those few are powerful lyrics. An erotic note is sounded in his description of his relation to poetry, which he portrays as a desirable young girl. In his most personal poetry, he expresses the internal tensions of his own search for knowledge, his solitude and his confrontation with destiny and with the men of his time, his bitterness and despair, mourning his inability to enjoy the pleasures of the world and of love, and finding refuge in wisdom and in God.

In his "wisdom poetry" he depicts himself as devoting his life to knowledge in order to prepare his soul to rejoin the "Source of Life" on its release from its bodily prison. Knowledge has two aspects consisting both of the effort of the intellect to scale the heights of the heavenly spheres and of the soul's introspection. At first pleading with God to let him live, the poet soon begins to deride the world and time, regarding them as valueless and insignificant obstacles on the way to eternity. From the height of his identification with the infinity of the Godhead and of eternity, he regards with disgust the trials of the world below, the illusions of the senses, and the weakness of the flesh.

In accordance with the rules of rhetoric, some of Ibn Gabirol's extensive nature poetry seems to have served as an introduction to his laudatory verse, for the patron's generosity was often likened to the ordained plenitude of nature. It is clear from his nature poetry that he was influenced by the Islamic culture prevalent in Spain at the time, but within this traditional framework, the fine descriptions are accurately observed. Some of his winter poems ("autumn" according to the poet) include a few of his finest creations, e.g., "Avei Sheḥakim," and "Yeshallem ha-Setav Nidro."

A part of Ibn Gabirol's poetry reflects his lack of social adaptation and his pessimistic view of the society of his time. His response is to complain in a harsh, satirical tone. If his contemporaries are not able to recognize his qualities, he pays them back with contempt, fustigating their ignorance and their wretchedness.

In another large section of Ibn Gabirol's work, his ethical poems, he addresses the reader directly, propounding an ethic based upon individual introspection. These poems deal with the transience of life and the worthlessness of bodily existence in all its aspects as opposed to the eternal values of spiritual life and the immortality of the soul. Ibn Gabirol's didactic tendency also finds expression in the many riddles he composed, which were possibly appended to letters, and it is also apparent in the dialogue form in which many of the longer poems were written. This style, developed in medieval Arabic poetry, was also used to introduce variety into the long poems which otherwise tended to be monotonous as a result of the identical rhyming of all the stanzas. The only secular verse he wrote in a strophic form is "Ki-Khelot Yeini" – a humorous poem that became a popular Purim song.

religious poetry

Through his combination of pure Hebrew with the varied meters of Arabic poetry, Ibn Gabirol enhanced his poetic stature in the estimation of his contemporaries. Today, however, these qualities are dimmed by the great wealth of complex strophic forms he employed in his religious poetry. Stylistically, liturgical poets were always the elite of medieval Jewish poetry and Ibn Gabirol's works in this genre are the apogee of the tradition. Ibn Gabirol composed a substantial number of religious poems in the difficult style of the early school of liturgical poets, possibly because they were commissioned by various communities or synagogues. Despite this, the freshness and vivacity of his imagery is striking. Many of these liturgical poems have been preserved, not only in Sephardi and Ashkenazi prayer books but also in those of the Karaites. It is on the basis of these poems that Ibn Gabirol is regarded as the major religious poet of Spanish Jewry, and many of them, such as "Reshut" and "Shaḥar Avakkeshkha," are outstanding lyrical-religious creations even outside this particular context. In contrast to the long compositions of the classical piyyut Ibn Gabirol writes many short poems that reflect the feelings and predilections of the Andalusian believer in his relation with God. At the same time, he introduces many elements of secular poetry in the liturgical poems. Although his God is a personal deity, to whom he may turn in confession or supplication, Ibn Gabirol, unlike Judah Ha-levi, does not describe his great love for God as the relationship between the lover and the beloved. The poet, who in his secular verse is strong-willed and contemptuous of the base world about him, becomes humble in his religious poetry as he begins to understand himself and man in general. When addressing God, he realizes his insignificance and his inability either to combat desire or to understand the essential evil of the senses for which there is no succor except in the compassion of God ("Adonai, Mah Adam," "Shokhenei Battei Ḥomer"). At times, these expressions of longing and of profound love for God are akin to the emotions expressed in the love poems ("Shaḥar Aleh Elai Dodi").

As it was customary to compose liturgical poems according to a system of acrostics, most of the religious poems begin with the letter shin (S). In his shorter poems, Ibn Gabirol set out his own name "Shelomo" in the first letters of each verse, whereas in the longer ones he duplicated this name a number of times, combining it with that of his father Judah ibn (or ben) Gabirol. Other poems were composed according to an alphabetical sequence, but even in these he wove his own name, at times beginning an alphabetically arranged poem with a verse containing his name. Although surpassed by Judah Halevi's poems in the same vein, Ibn Gabirol's national poetry overshadows the modest efforts of Samuel ha-Nagid and should be regarded as a link between the two. This poetry emerged from a combination of the traditional longing for deliverance and the particular fate of Spanish Jewry. Political events, the fate of Jekuthiel, and the murder of an anonymous Jewish statesman by Christians in the forests along the border ("Asher Teshev Shekhulah"; "Lekhu Bo'u ve-Hikkaveẓu") must have reinforced Ibn Gabirol's awareness of the dangers of exile. In "Ge'ullot" and "Ahavot" the people of Israel speak to their God as a woman to her lover, telling of her sorrows, while her lover comforts her with promises of her deliverance. In these poems fear of the final destruction and of the end of the prophetic vision mingle with a fervent belief in the advent of the Messiah. Rashuyyot, a collection of limpid short poems, is marked by extreme yearning for the savior. According to Abraham ibn Ezra, Ibn Gabirol was among those who tried to predict the Day of Judgment and this tendency is apparent in his poetry. The concepts and visions in Ibn Gabirol's mystical poems are very difficult to reconcile with the philosophical concepts expressed in his other works. In these poems, knowledge of the Divinity can be apprehended only by the elect who have plumbed the mysteries of creation through which God manifests Himself. The very names of God are endowed with mystical significance, becoming potent symbols of the power of the Creator and the wonders of His creation. The account of the creation is similar to that which appears in Sefer Yeẓirah. Many midrashic elements, as well as God's reply out of the whirlwind in Job, join to form a dynamic, mysteryshrouded account of creation breaking forth from the turmoil of primordial chaos into reality and form. There are detailed descriptions of the upper spheres, the curtain of the heavens, and the abodes of the angels, written in the spirit of *heikhalot literature and the Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer. The close relationship between imagery and content in some of these poems, e.g., "Ha-Ra'ash ha-Gadol," and "Shinanim Sha'ananim," suggests that they may have been written in moments of ecstasy. Ha-Anak is a didactic poem apparently intended to teach the basic rules of Hebrew. According to Abraham ibn Ezra (introduction to Moznayim, 1809), the poem contained 400 stanzas, of which only 88 are extant, and was based upon a series of acrostics. An introduction on the superiority of the Hebrew language is followed by an explanation of how the words in the language are related to 22 letters of the alphabet in the same way that form is related to matter. "Ha-Anak," which Ibn Gabirol called Iggeret and Maḥberet, is written in plain, flowing language, and was apparently designed for study, perhaps for teachers. The book was greatly admired by Abraham ibn Ezra, who regarded it as an important contribution to the understanding of the Hebrew language. The peak of Ibn Gabirol's poetic achievement is Keter Malkhut, a long composition in rhymed prose dealing in high style with the essence of God, the work of the creation, with a description of the "spheres," and a confession of the low condition of man, prone to sin (see below). The many editions, manuscripts, translations, and imitations (most important by David ibn Zimra) of the work bear witness to the widespread and continuing admiration it has aroused.

Judah *Al-Ḥarizi has the highest praise for Ibn Gabirol's poetry: "All the poets of his age were worthless and false in comparison… He alone trod the highest reaches of poetry, and rhetoric gave birth to him in the lap of wisdom… all the poets before him were as nothing and after him none rose to equal him. All those who followed learned and received the use of poetry from him" (Tahkemoni, "Third Gate").

[Encyclopaedia Hebraica /

Angel Sáenz-Badillos (2nd ed.)]

Philosophy

metaphysics

Gabirol presents his philosophic views in his major work, Mekor Ḥayyim ("The Source of Life"). Written in Arabic, but no longer extant in that language, the full work has been preserved in a medieval Latin translation under the title Fons Vitae. A Hebrew translation of several extracts by Shem Tov ibn Falaquera (13th century), who claimed that it contained all of Gabirol's thought, is also extant under the title Likkutim mi-Sefer Mekor Ḥayyim. In studying Mekor Ḥayyim, however, the loss of the Arabic original makes it difficult to explain certain terms.

Mekor Ḥayyim is written in the form of a dialogue between master and pupil, a style also current in Arabic philosophic literature of that period. However, it is not a typical Platonic dialogue, in which the student discovers true opinions for himself through discussion with the master; instead, the student's questions serve to enable the master to expound his views. Mekor Ḥayyim, divided into five treatises, is devoted primarily to a discussion of the principles of matter and form. The first treatise is a preliminary clarification of the notions of universal matter and form, a discussion of matter and form as they exist in objects of sense perception, and a discussion of the corporeal matter underlying qualities. The second treatise contains a description of the spiritual matter that underlies corporeal form. The third is devoted to demonstrating the existence of simple substances. The fourth deals with the form and matter of simple substances, and the fifth, with universal form and matter as they exist in themselves. The doctrine of matter and form is, in Gabirol's view (Mekor Ḥayyim, 1:7), the first of the three branches of science, the other two being, in ascending order, the science of (God's) will and the science of the First Essence, God. Gabirol states (5:40) that he has written a special book devoted to God's will, but no further evidence of such a book is available.

Gabirol's cosmological system generally has a neoplatonic structure but with modifications of his own. The first principle is the First Essence, which can be identified with God. Next in order of being are the divine will, universal matter and form, then the simple substances – intellect, soul, and nature, and finally the corporeal world and its parts. Gabirol holds that all substances in the world, both spiritual and corporeal, are composed of two elements, form and matter. This duality produces the differences between various substances, but, according to some passages, it is specifically the forms that distinguish one substance from the other, while according to others, it is matter. Matter is the substratum underlying the forms; forms inhere in it. All distinctions between matter and form in the various substances stem from the distinction between universal matter and universal form, the most general kinds of matter and form, which, according to Gabirol's account of being, are the first created beings. However, Gabirol presents conflicting accounts of their creation. According to one account (5:42), universal matter comes from the essence of God, and form, from the divine will, but according to another (5:36–38), both of these principles were created by the divine will. In some passages Gabirol holds that universal matter exists by itself (2:8, 5:32), which deviates from the Aristotelian account of matter, but in other passages he states, in accord with Aristotle's view, that matter is akin to privation, and form to being, and that matter exists only in potentiality (5:36).

All forms, in addition to appearing in various levels of being, are also contained in universal form. Matter and form do not exist by themselves; their first compound is intellect, the first of the spiritual substances, from which the soul emanates, it, too, being composed of matter and form. Hence, as opposed to the Aristotelian views, spiritual matter exists, and it is found in all incorporeal substances. All spiritual, or simple, substances emanate forces that bestow existence upon substances below them in the order of being. Thus, soul is emanated from intellect. There are three kinds of soul, rational, animate, and vegetative, which, besides being cosmic principles, also exist in man. In contrast to the opinion of the Aristotelians, nature as a cosmic principle emanates from the vegetative soul. Nature is the last of the simple substances, and from it emanates corporeal substance, which is below nature in the order of being. Corporeal substance is the substratum underlying nine of the ten Aristotelian *categories. The tenth category, substance, is universal matter as it appears in the corporeal world, and the nine other categories are universal form as it appears in the corporeal world.

For soul to be joined to body a mediating principle is required. The mediating principle joining the universal soul to the corporeal world is the heavens; the mediating principle joining the rational soul of man to the body is the animal spirit. The relation of man's body to his soul is also said to be like the relation between form and matter (a parallel which is difficult to reconcile with Gabirol's account of these two principles). The soul comprehends the forms but not matter, since the latter principle is unintelligible. In order to comprehend sensible forms the soul must use the senses, because these forms do not exist in the soul as they are in the corporeal world. The forms which always exist in the soul are the intelligible forms. However, since the soul was deprived of its knowledge as a result of its union with the body, these forms exist in the soul only potentially, not actually. Therefore, God created the world and provided senses for the soul, by means of which it may conceive tangible forms and patterns. It is through this comprehension of the sensible forms and patterns that the soul also comprehends ideas, which in the soul emerge from potentiality to actuality (5:41).

All forms exist in intellect, also, but in a more subtle and simple manner than in soul. Furthermore, in intellect they do not have separate existence, but are conjoined with it in a spiritual union. "The form of the intellect includes all the forms, and they are contained in it" (4:14). Intellect, which is composed of universal form and matter, is below these two principles, and therefore can conceive them only with great difficulty.

Above the knowledge of form and matter there is a far more sublime knowledge: that of the divine will, which is identical with divine wisdom and divine logos. This will in itself, if considered apart from its activity, may be thought of as identical with the Divine Essence, but when considered with respect to its activity, it is separate from divine essence. Will according to its essence is infinite, but with respect to its action is finite. It is the intermediary between divine essence and matter and form, but it also penetrates all things. In its function as the efficient cause of everything, it unites form with matter. The will, which causes all movement, be it spiritual or corporeal, is in itself at rest. The will acts differently on different substances, this difference depending upon the particular matter, not upon the will (5:37). The First Essence, i.e., God, cannot be known because it is infinite and because it lacks any similarity to the soul. Nevertheless, its existence can be demonstrated.

The goal to which all men should aspire is defined in Mekor Ḥayyim (1:1, 2:1) as knowledge of the purpose for which they were created, i.e., knowledge of the divine world (5:43). There are two ways to achieve this goal: through knowledge of the will as it extends into all matter and form and through knowledge of the will as it exists in itself apart from matter and form. This knowledge brings release from death and attachment to "the source of life."

sources

On a number of points, Gabirol's philosophy is close to the neoplatonic system current in medieval thought, for example, the concept of emanation that explains the derivation of simple substances and the concept of the parallel correspondence between different grades of being. Nevertheless, it differs on two very important points from the Muslim neoplatonism: the concept of form and matter (especially the latter) and the concept of will.

Gabirol's concept of matter is not internally coherent. On the one hand, it reflects distinct Aristotelian influence, but on the other, the occasional identification of matter with essence (substantia) suggests a Stoic influence, possibly the result of Gabirol's reading of the Greek physician Galen (second century). A concept that particularly characterizes Gabirol's system is spiritual matter. One possible source of this concept is the neoplatonist Plotinus (205?–270) in his Enneads (2:4), but there is no known Arabic translation of the latter's text (see *Neoplatonism). Theorem 72 of Proclus' Elements of Theology, which was translated into Arabic, sets forth a view of matter akin to Gabirol's. Like Gabirol, Plotinus and the Greek neoplatonist Proclus (c. 410?–485) regard matter as the basis of all unity in the spiritual world as well as in the physical. However, they do not maintain that universal form and matter are the first simple substances after God and His will. Pseudo-Empedoclean writings set forth the view that matter (Heb. yesod) and form are the first created beings and are prior to intellect. Ibn Falaquera states explicitly that Gabirol followed the views expressed by "Empedocles," that is, in the Pseudo-Empedoclean writings. It is even more likely that Gabirol's views on form and matter were influenced by certain texts of the tenth-century philosopher Isaac *Israeli or by a pseudo-Aristotelian text (see J. Schlanger, La philosophie de Salomon Ibn Gabirol (1968), 57–70) that appear to have influenced the latter as well as other authors.

In the identification of divine will and the logos and in the concept of the omnipresence of will, Gabirol's concept of will finds a parallel in *Saadiah Gaon's commentary to Sefer Yeẓirah. There is also a partial similarity of Gabirol's teachings to those of the Muslim Ismaili sect. In the text of Mekor Ḥayyim Plato is the only philosopher mentioned.

influence of mekor Ḥayyim

Mekor Ḥayyim is unique in the body of Jewish philosophical-religious literature of the Middle Ages, because it expounds a complete philosophical-religious system wholly lacking in specifically Jewish content and terminology. The author does not mention biblical persons or events and does not quote the Bible, Talmud, or Midrash. To some extent this feature of the work determined its unusual destiny. Among Jewish philosophers Mekor Ḥayyim is quoted by Moses ibn Ezra in his Arugat ha-Bosem. Abraham ibn Ezra was apparently influenced by it, although he makes no direct reference to the work, and Joseph ibn Ẓaddik, the author of Ha-Olam ha-Katan ("The Microcosm"), also drew on it. There is also a clear similarity between the views of the Spanish philosopher and kabbalist Isaac ibn *Latif and those of Mekor Ḥayyim. Traces of Gabirol's ideas and terminology appear in the Kabbalah as well.

On the other hand, Mekor Ḥayyim was severely attacked by Abraham *Ibn Daud, an Aristotelian, in his book Emunah Ramah. Despite these influences, however, Mekor Ḥayyim was slowly forgotten among Jews. In its own time it was not translated into Hebrew, and the original Arabic text was lost.

In the 12th century Mekor Ḥayyim was translated into Latin by Johannes Hispalensus (Hispanus) and Dominicus Gundissalinus. Hispalensus, also known as Aven Dauth, may possibly have been the same Ibn Daud who criticized Gabirol. Gabirol's name was corrupted to Avicebron, and he was generally regarded a Muslim, although some Christians thought he was a Christian. Some Christian thinkers were greatly influenced by Mekor Ḥayyim. Aristotelians, such as Thomas *Aquinas, sharply criticized Gabirol's views, but the Franciscan philosophers, who favored Augustine, accepted some of them. The Jewish philosophers Isaac *Abrabanel and his son Judah *Abrabanel, better known as Leone Ebreo, seem to have been familiar with some of Gabirol's works. Leone Ebreo, who quotes him by the name Albenzubron, regards him as a Jew, and states his own belief in Gabirol's views. It was only in the 19th century, 350 years after the Abrabanels, that Solomon *Munk, the French scholar, rediscovered the Falaquera extracts and through them identified Avicebron as Solomon ibn Gabirol, a Jew. Among modern philosophers, Schopenhauer noted a certain similarity between his own system and that of Gabirol.

ethical work

Tikkun Middot ha-Nefesh. ("The Improvement of the Moral Qualities"), Gabirol's book on ethics, was written around 1045 and has been preserved in the original Arabic as Kitāb Iṣlāḥ al-Akhlāq and in Hebrew by Judah ibn Tibbon's Hebrew translation (1167). In this work Gabirol discusses the parallel between the universe, the macrocosmos, and man, the microcosmos. There is no mention in the book of the four cardinal virtues of the soul, a Platonic doctrine which was popular in Arabic ethical writings. Gabirol developed an original theory, in which each of 20 personal traits is assigned to one of the five senses: pride, meekness, modesty, and impudence are related to the sense of sight; love, mercy, hate, and cruelty, to the sense of hearing; anger, goodwill, envy, and diligence, to the sense of smell; joy, anxiety, contentedness, and regret, to the sense of taste; and generosity, stinginess, courage, and cowardice, to the sense of touch. Gabirol also describes the relation between the virtues and the four qualities: heat, cold, moistness, and dryness, which are incorporated in pairs in each of the four elements of which the earth is composed: earth, air, water, and fire.

philosophical poetry

Gabirol gives poetic expression to the philosophical thought of Mekor Ḥayyim in the first part of his poem Keter Malkhut (The Kingly Crown, tr. by B. Lewis, 1961). Although the conceptual framework of Keter Malkhut is not identical in every detail to that of Mekor Ḥayyim, the differences are in many cases only of phrasing or emphasis. The conceptual variations reflect the contradictions apparent in Mekor Ḥayyim itself. Keter Malkhut opens with praise for the Creator and an account of His attributes: His unity, existence, eternity, and life and His greatness, power, and divinity. God is also described as "Light," according to the neoplatonic image of the deity, "Thou art the supreme light and the eyes of the pure soul shall see thee" (tr. Lewis, 31). Nevertheless, Gabirol stresses that God and his attributes are not distinguishable: we refer to attributes only because of the limited means of human expression.

The next section speaks of divine "Wisdom" and the "predestined Will" (ha-Ḥefeẓ ha-Mezumman), which together parallel the single concept of will (Raẓon) in Mekor Ḥayyim. "Thou art wise, and from Thy wisdom Thou didst send forth a predestined will, and made it as an artisan and a craftsman, to draw the stream of being from the void…" (ibid., 33). His description of the creative activity of the predestined will corresponds with the concept of will in Mekor Ḥayyim, but despite the close ties between them, wisdom and will are not as closely identified with each other in Keter Malkhut as in Mekor Ḥayyim. In Mekor Ḥayyim Wisdom is seated upon the Throne, which is the first matter; in Keter Malkhut the link between these two substances is not clearly stated: "Who can come to Thy dwelling place, when Thou didst raise up above the sphere of intelligence the throne of glory, in which is the abode of mystery and majesty, in which is the secret and the foundation to which the intelligence reaches…" (ibid., 47). Apparently, in Keter Malkhut the foundation or element (ha-Yesod) is the first matter.

The will is the instrument and the means of creation; after the description of the will the poet goes on to describe the structure of the world according to Ptolemaic cosmology. The earth, "half water, half land," is surrounded by a "sphere of air," above which there is a "sphere of fire." The world of the four elements is circumscribed by the spheres of the moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the zodiac, and the diurnal sphere, "which surrounds all other spheres." The distance of these spheres from the world, the length of their orbit, the magnitude of the heavenly bodies found within them, and, particularly, their forces and their influence upon nature, worldly events, and the fate of man are all described according to Ptolemaic and Muslim astronomy. However, beyond the nine spheres there is yet another, which is the result of philosophical abstraction: "… the sphere of the Intelligence, 'the temple before it,'" from whose luster emanates the "radiance of souls and lofty spirits … messengers of Thy Will" (ibid., 45). Above this sphere is "the throne of glory, in the abode of mystery and majesty," and beneath it is "the abode of the pure souls" (ibid., 47). In this exalted sphere, also, the punishment of sinful souls will be meted out. This part of the poem ends with a description of the soul that descends from the upper spheres to reside temporarily in matter, the source of sin, from which the soul can escape only by "the power of knowledge which inheres" in it (ibid., 50). The concluding section of the poem contains a confession of sins (viddui), and for that reason Keter Malkhut was included in the Day of Atonement prayer book of some Jewish rites.

Among the translations and editions of Gabirol's philosophical works are: the Hebrew text of Ibn Falaquera's Likkutim mi-Sefer Mekor Ḥayyim, with a French translation by S. Munk, in the latter's Mélanges de philosophie juive et arabe (1859, 19272); a German edition by C. Baemker of the Latin translation by Johannes Hispanus (Hispalensus) and Dominicus Gundissalinus (1895); Fountain of Life, a partial translation by H.E. Wedeck with an introduction by E. James (1962); La Source de Vie, Livre iii, translated with introduction, notes, and bibliography by F. Brunner (1950); Sefer Mekor Ḥayyim, a modern Hebrew translation by J. Bluwstein (1926); Fountain of Life in an English tranlation by A.B. Jacob (1987); Improvement of the Moral Qualities, including the Hebrew text, translated with an introduction by S. Wise (1901); Keter ha-Malkhut, edited by I.A. Zeidman (1950).

[Shlomo Pines]

bibliography:

poetry: Moses ibn Ezra, Shirat Yisrael, ed. by B. Halper (1924), 69–72; M. Sachs, Die religioese Poesie der Juden in Spanien (1845), 213–48; Zunz, Lit Poesie, 187–94; S. Sachs, Shelomo b. Gabirol u-Keẓat Benei Doro (1866); A. Geiger, Salomo Gabirol und seine Dichtungen (1867); D. Kahana, in: Ha-Shilo'aḥ, 1 (1897), 38–48, 224–35; J.N. Simhoni, in: Ha-Tekufah, 10 (1921), 143–223; 12 (1922), 149–88; 13 (1923), 248–94; Solomon b. Gabirol, Selected Religious Poems tr. by I. Zangwill, ed. by I. Davidson (1923), introd.; J. Klausner, introd. to Mekor Ḥayyim tr. by J. Bluwstein (1926); A. Marx, in: huca, 4 (1927), 433–48; D. Yellin, Ketavim Nivḥarim, 2 (1939), 274–318; A.M. Habermann, in: Sinai, 25 (1943), 53–63 (bibliography on Mivḥar ha-Peninim); A. Orinowski, Toledot ha-Shirah ha-Ivrit bi-Ymei ha-Beinayim, 1 (1945), 85–133; J. Millás-Vallicrosa, Selomo ibn Gabirol como poeta y filósofo (1945); H. Schirmann, in: Keneset, 10 (1947), 244–57; J. Schirmann, Shirim Ḥadashim min ha-Genizah (1966), 166–84 (166f. a bibliographical list of poems published since 1935); Seis Conferencias en Torno a Ibn Gabirol (Malaga, 1973); J. Schirmann, in: rej, 131 (1972), 323–50; F.P. Bargebuhr, in: eb (1973), 9:145; H. Brody and J. Schirmann with the participation of J. Ben-David, Solomon Ibn Gabirol, Secular Poems (1974); F. Bargebuhr, Salomo Ibn Gabirol. Ostwestliches Dichtertum (1976). add. bibliography: D. Yarden (ed.), The Secular Poetry of Rabbi Solomon Ibn Gabirol (Heb., 1975); idem, The Liturgical Poetry of Rabbi Solomon Ibn Gabirol (Heb., 1976); D. Pagis, Change and Tradition in the Secular Poetry of Spain and Italy (Heb., 1976); P. Cole, Selected Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol (2001); E. Romero, Poesía secular (1978); M.J. Cano, Ibn Gabirol: poemas seculares (1987); idem, Ibn Gabirol: poesía religiosa (1992); I. Goldberg, Solomon ibn Gabirol: a Bibliography of His Poems in Translation (1998); I. Levin, Mystical Trends in the Poetry of Solomon Ibn Gabirol (Heb., 1986); Schirmann-Fleischer, The History of Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Spain (1995), 257–345 (Heb.); R. Loewe, Ibn Gabirol (1989); A. Sáenz-Badillos, El alma lastimada: Ibn Gabirol (1992); idem, in: meah 29:2 (1980), 5–29; A. Tanenbaum, The Contemplative Soul (2002). philosophy: J. Schlanger, La Philosophie de Salomon ibn Gabirol (1968); Guttmann, Philosophies, index s.v.Ibn Gabirol; idem, Die Philosophie des Salomon ibn Gabirol (1889); F. Brunner, Platonisme et aristotélisme: La Critique d'Ibn Gabirol par St. Thomas d'Aquin (1965), incl. bibl.; idem, in: rej, 128 (1970), 317–37; Heschel, in: Festschrift J. Freimann (1937), 68–77; idem, in: mgwj, 82 (1938), 89–111; idem, in: huca, 14 (1939), 359–85; R. Palgen, Dante und Avencebrol, 1958; Pines, in: Tarbiẓ, 27 (1957/58), 218–33; 34 (1964/65), 372–8; Husik, Philosophy, index; G. Scholem, in: Me'assef Soferei Ereẓ Yisrael (1960), 160–78. add. bibliography: J. Guttman, Philosophie des Salomon Ibn Gabirol (Avicebron) Dargestellt und Erlautert (1979); J. Lomba, La corrección de los caracteres (1990); F. Brunner, Metaphysique d'Ibn Gabirol et de la Tradition Platonicienne (1997).

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