Ibn Motot, Samuel ben Saadiah

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IBN MOTOT, SAMUEL BEN SAADIAH

IBN MOTOT, SAMUEL BEN SAADIAH (or Matut, Matud ; active c. 1370), philosopher, kabbalist, and translator in Spain. He came from a well-known family in Guadalajara and was one of the members of the circle of Jewish intellectuals in Castile friendly with *Isaac b. Sheshet Perfet. In his works, particularly in his trilogy (see below), Samuel engaged in numerous philosophical and kabbalistic speculations which testify more to his erudition than to any originality of ideas. For his essential material he ransacked the "Treatise of Reconciliation" of Joseph ibn *Waqar, but also did not hesitate to have recourse to the *Zohar. Of the authors of his generation, he made much use of Judah b. Nissim ibn *Malka. Along with a knowledge of Abraham *Ibn Ezra and *Maimonides, Samuel's Jewish sources included the commentary of *Dunash ibn Tamīm on the Sefer Yeẓirah and the Olam Katan of Joseph ibn *Ẓaddik, although he never mentions the latter two authors by name. It was through the Arab philosopher al-Fārābī (Mabādīʾ al-Mawjūdāt, Hatḥalot ha-nimẓa'ot), as well as through Ibn al-Sid al-Baṭalyawsī, the Spanish Muslim philosopher, that he became directly acquainted with Muslim philosophy; it is very likely that he knew the works of the "Brethren of Sincerity" (Ikhwān al-Ṩafāʾ) and *Avicenna, although it was from Ibn Waqar that he doubtlessly derived the bulk of his information. In his theories of cosmology and prophecy Samuel combines the teachings of Kabbalah with those of philosophy without too great a concern for consistency, taking for granted affinities between the two which Ibn Waqar with greater critical acumen had only suggested. In addition, under the combined influence of Muslim and Jewish neoplatonists and astrologers, Samuel advanced greatly the thesis of the correspondence between the microcosm (body and soul of man) and the macrocosm. He wrote Megillat Setarim, a supercommentary on Abraham ibn Ezra's commentary on the Pentateuch (Venice, 1553; certain manuscripts, however, contain a fuller and more accurate version; excerpts from it are found in the Margaliyyot Tovah of Jekuthiel Lazi, Amsterdam, 1721); an unpublished trilogy consisting of Meshovev Netivot, a commentary on the Sefer Yeẓirah, MegalleiAmukkot, a commentary on Exodus, and Tehillot Adonai, a commentary on the prayer book; and finally a dissertation on Ha-Agullot ha-Ra'yoniyyot of al-Baṭalyawsī.

bibliography:

Steinschneider, Uebersetzungen, 287; A. Marx, in: zhb, 10 (1906), 175–8; Baer, Spain, index s.v. Samuel Matut; G. Vajda, in: Archives d'Histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen âge, 27 (1960), 29–63.

[Georges Vajda]