Skip to main content

Ibn Shem Tov, Shem Tov ben Joseph ben Shem Tov


IBN SHEM TOV, SHEM TOV BEN JOSEPH BEN SHEM TOV (15th century), Spanish rabbi, philosopher, and preacher. Shem Tov was the namesake of his grandfather, the militant anti-Maimonidean kabbalist (see Shem Tov *Ibn Shem Tov), and the son of the moderate Maimonidean Joseph ben Shem Tov *Ibn Shem Tov. He became a vigorous defender of Aristotelian and Maimonidean philosophy. He wrote several Hebrew works on philosophic subjects, including one on the distinction between matter and form, one on teleology, and commentaries on *Averroes' intermediate commentaries on Aristotle's Physics and De Anima. Only two of his works have been printed, Derashot ha-Torah ("Homilies on the Torah"; Salonika, 1525) and a commentary on Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed, which is printed in most Hebrew editions of the Guide. As a preacher, Shem Tov, following Maimonides, taught that only the man of intellect is in the image of God. Perhaps influenced by his fideist grandfather, he also called for uncompromising loyalty to Torah and for sacrifice unto death for the Jewish people and its inheritance. In an age when many influential Jews chose baptism, he praised Moses who forfeited his status with Pharaoh and jeopardized his life by slaying the Egyptian taskmaster. It is for his commentary on the Guide that Shem Tov is generally known. Although not remarkable for its profundity or originality, it is a clear and extensive work which for centuries has been helpful to students of the Guide. Shem Tov extols the Guide: "He who knows this book and observes it meticulously is beloved above and pleasant below, and he is assured that he is a member of the world to come." His devotion to Maimonides included a religious acceptance of Aristotelian science. In commenting on the Aristotelian propositions that Maimonides held necessary for the proof of God's existence, unity, and incorporeality, he roundly ridiculed Ḥasdai Crescas for arguing against them. However, like his uncle Isaac b. Shem Tov *Ibn Shem Tov, he was apparently too immersed in Aristotelianism even to re cognize the force of Crescas' revolutionary critique.


H.A. Wolfson, Crescas' Critique of Aristotle (1929), index; J. Guttmann, in: mgwj, 57 (1913), 447–51.

[Warren Zev Harvey]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ibn Shem Tov, Shem Tov ben Joseph ben Shem Tov." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 20 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Ibn Shem Tov, Shem Tov ben Joseph ben Shem Tov." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (February 20, 2019).

"Ibn Shem Tov, Shem Tov ben Joseph ben Shem Tov." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.