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Ḥamiẓ, Joseph ben Judah


ḤAMIẒ, JOSEPH BEN JUDAH (d. c. 1676), physician, philosopher, kabbalist, and communal leader. Born in Venice, from his youth Ḥamiẓ devoted himself to Torah and scholarship and was one of the outstanding pupils of Leone *Modena. In 1624 he received the degree of doctor of medicine and philosophy at the University of Padua. At the same time the rabbis of Venice decided to ordain him as rabbi. In honor of his graduation, his teacher and colleagues published a "collection of eulogies and poems" under the title Belil Ḥamiẓ (Venice, 1624; also in: Seridim, 1938). To Modena's distress, Ḥamiẓ came under the influence of esoteric teachings and joined the kabbalistic circles of Moses *Zacuto and *Aaron Berechiah b. Moses of Modena. In 1658 he and Zacuto published an expanded edition of the Zohar Ḥadash with glosses on the *Zohar, titled Derekh Emet. During the same period Ḥamiẓ began to write a commentary on the Zohar but ceased this work because he decided to move to Jerusalem. Thereafter all traces of him are lost.

During recent years two collections of his works have been found. I. Tishby discovered that a manuscript in Oxford University Library (Ms. Bod. 2239) is a collection of Ḥamiẓ's works written during the years 1667–75. From its contents it is clear that he was associated with Shabbatean circles and was active in the movement. E. Kupfer discovered that Ms. Parma 1283 was written by Ḥamiẓ in the town of Zante, where he stayed around 1666 on his way from Venice to Ereẓ Israel with his family. Apparently he delayed there because of the troubles that befell him: His wife and many members of his family who had accompanied him from Venice died in Zante. While staying there, he practiced as a physician, devoted much of his time to Torah, and was active in the life of the Jewish community. In 1674 he promoted the conference for the union of the communities in Zante, and was chosen to introduce *takkanot for the united community.

From his writings in the Parma manuscript, it is clear that despite his devotion to Kabbalah and his association with Shabbatean activists he continued to be in doubt and disturbed. Even in his later years, side by side with kabbalist writings there are philosophical ideas and studies based on the school of Maimonides. Among the works in this collection is the Pirkei ha-Musar u-Middot, which he wrote as a kind of testament for his children.

Hamiẓ collected material from a variety of early kabbalistic material, including several books of Abraham *Abulafia and even earlier Kabbalah, and thus preserved material that is hardly known from other sources.


M. Benayahu, Iggerot R. Shemu'el Abohav ve-R. Moshe Zakut u-Venei Ḥugam, 2, 8 (1955); I. Tishby, in: Sefunot, 1 (1956), 80–117; Scholem, Shabbetai Ẓevi, 2 (1957), index; E. Kupfer, in: ks, 40 (1965), 118–23; idem, in: Sefunot (in print).

[Ephraim Kupfer]

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