Kirimi, Abraham

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KIRIMI, ABRAHAM (14th century), Crimean rabbi and Bible commentator. One of the first Jewish scholars in the Crimea, Abraham was named Kirimi after the town of Eski-Krym (Solkhat). He wrote a commentary to the Pentateuch entitled Sefat Emet. In a poem which precedes the introduction he mentions the year 1358, but it is not clear whether he is referring to the date of his birth or to the composition of the work. In the introduction he gives as his reasons for compiling the work the urging of his contemporaries, particularly his "friend and pupil," Hezekiah b. Elchanan "Ish Kara'i," a phrase apparently meaning "the Karaite." Deinard's opinion, however, is that Hezekiah was not a Karaite and that the words mean "versed in the bible," as it seems incredible that Abraham was urged by a Karaite to write an anti-Karaite work. It is nevertheless possible that Hezekiah asked Abraham for a Bible commentary, and the latter wrote one in keeping with his outlook. Apparently Abraham was a pupil of the biblical exegete *Shemariah b. Elijah Ikriti, whom he quotes in numerous passages in the Sefat Emet, and who exercised great influence over him. The book reveals Abraham as a literal commentator who explains the text according to the plain meaning of the words and the rules of grammar. In accordance with this approach, he on one occasion criticizes Rashi despite the great respect in which he held him, and praises Abraham Ibn Ezra and, above all, Maimonides. The spirit of the Guide of the Perplexed infuses the whole of the Sefat Emet, but occasionally Abraham even goes beyond the rationalism of Maimonides. He attempts to give a rational interpretation to the miracles of the Bible. He explains the visit of the three angels to Abraham and the burning bush of Moses as dream visions, and in explaining the paschal lamb he mentions the Egyptian cult of the bull. Despite these views he was highly regarded among the Jews of the Crimea, and in their memorial prayers he is mentioned immediately after Abraham Ibn Ezra. It is possible that the high regard in which he was held was the result of his opposition to Karaite Bible exegesis and his support of the traditional view.


M. Steinschneider, in: hb, 11 (1871), 38f.; A. Firkovich, in: Ha-Karmel, 3 (1863), 53f.; Fuenn, Keneset, 62f.; Y. Zinberg, in: Yevreyskaya Starina, 11 (1924), 97–101; Zinberg, Sifrut, 3 (1958), 157–61, 353; E. Deinard, Massa Krim (1878), 178–80.

[Isaak Dov Ber Markon]