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Ibn Yaḥya, David ben Solomon


IBN YAḤYA, DAVID BEN SOLOMON (c. 1440–1524), grammarian and Bible commentator of *Portugal and *Turkey. In 1477 Ibn Yaḥya was appointed rabbi in his native Lisbon, where he delivered sermons on Sabbaths and festivals. As a result of his efforts on behalf of the Spanish exiles who went to Portugal, he was denounced before the Portuguese king but succeeded in escaping with his family to Naples. Shortly after, Naples was conquered by the French, who deprived Ibn Yaḥya of all his possessions and put him and his family on board a boat to Corfu. After much hardship he arrived in Constantinople where he devoted his time to study and where he was held in great esteem by local scholars. He provoked a controversy when he ventured to question a decision of Elijah *Mizraḥi, chief rabbi of Turkey. Mizraḥi, in his reply, referred to him "as the aged and pious scholar" and emphasized that he had taken upon himself to reply "because I acknowledge that his motives are honorable" (Responsa (1938), 89–102). Ibn Yaḥya wrote biblical commentaries and works on grammar and halakhah, as well as a commentary on Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed. The following have been printed: Hilkhot Terefot ha-Sirkhah (Constantinople, 1519); Leshon Limmudim (ibid., 1506), a Hebrew grammar; Kav ve-Naki (Lisbon, 1492), on Proverbs; Shekel ha-Kodesh (Constantinople, 1506), on poetry, written for his relative and pupil David b. Joseph *Ibn Yaḥya (a Latin translation of the last two sections was published in Paris, 1562); Tehillah le-David (Constantinople, 1525), on the principles of Judaism, completed by his son Jacob *Tam Ibn Yaḥya.


Michael, Or, no. 780; Rosanes, Togarmah, 1 (19302), 89–90.

[Ephraim Kupfer]

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