Joshua ibn Nun

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JOSHUA IBN NUN (second half of the 16th century), Safed scholar, kabbalist, and rosh yeshivah. Joshua was one of the leaders of the Safed community. He was in charge of the local charities, and from his own considerable means supported the scholars and the poor of Safed. He became attracted to the teaching of Isaac *Luria and implored Ḥayyim Vital to reveal to him Luria's esoteric doctrines. Vital, however, refused to comply though Joshua, according to one report, humbled himself before him, following him wherever he went, even to Jerusalem and to Egypt. According to that report, which is substantially correct, Vital became ill in 1587, whereupon Joshua bribed Moses, the brother of Ḥayyim, with 50 gold pieces, to copy Luria's writing that his brother had recorded. Moses hired scribes who copied the writings in three days and from then they became available to a select coterie in Israel. Joshua endorsed many of the rulings of Yom Tov *Ẓahalon. According to Ḥ.J.D. Azulai, some of his responsa are to be found in the responsa Zera Anashim (Mss.). The date of his death is usually given as 1587 but if reliance is to be placed on a recently discovered document he was no longer alive in 1585. In that case the above-mentioned incident must have occurred some years earlier than was previously thought.


Frumkin-Rivlin, 1 (1929), 131; Rosanes, Togarmah, 3 (1938), 293; Scholem, in Zion, 5 (1940), 138–40; M. Benayahu, Sefer Toledot ha-Ari (1967), 74–76; D. Tamar, Mehkarim be-Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Ereẓ Yisrael u-ve-Italyah (1970).

[David Tamar]