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Jacob ben Eleazar


JACOB BEN ELEAZAR (12th–13th centuries), poet, grammarian, and philosopher. It has been conjectured that Jacob, who lived in Toledo, was a member of the distinguished Abenalazar family of Toledo. His Arabic work, al-Kitāb-Kāmil ("The Complete Book") on Hebrew grammar, called in Hebrew Sefer ha-Shalem, is known only from citations by a number of grammarians, e.g., David *Kimḥi in his Mikhlol. More important, however, is his literary contribution. At the request of the cultured philanthropist, Benveniste b. Ḥiyya Aldian, he translated and adapted in Hebrew an Arabic version of the well-known ancient Indian story, *Kalila and Dimna, in rhymed verse. A remnant of this translation was published by J. Derenbourg (see bibl.). Jacob also wrote Sefer Pardes Rimmonei ha-Ḥokhmah va-Arugat Bosem ha-Mezimah (Margoliouth, Cat, no. 1100/1), a philosophical work of 23 chapters in rhymed verse and prose (chapters 13–23 published by Davidson; see bibl.); and Gan Te'udot, on ethical and philosophical topics (Margoliouth, Cat, no. 1100/2). The most important and most interesting of his books is Sefer ha-Meshalim (written apparently in 1233), which comprises ten maqāmāt on various topics. Four of them (5, 6, 7, 9), love stories, unusual both in content and form, were published by J. Schirmann (see bibl.). This book reflects considerable Islamic and Christian influence. In addition, two piyyutim by him are also known.


Davidson, Ozar, 4 (1933), 413; idem, in: hḤy, 10 (1926), 94–105; Steinschneider, Uebersetzungen, 872–83; idem, in: zdmg, 27 (1873), 553–60, 564f.; J. Derenbourg, Deux versions hébraïques du livre de Kalîlâh et Dimnah (1881), 311–88; Schirmann, Sefarad, 2 (19602), 207–37, 690; idem, in: ymḤsi, 5 (1939), 209–66; idem, in: Etudes d'Orientalisme dédiées à la mémoire de Lévi-Provençal, 1 (1962), 285–97.

[Abraham David]

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