Lara, David ben Isaac Cohen de

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LARA, DAVID BEN ISAAC COHEN DE (1602 [1610?]–1674), philologist, lexicographer, writer, and translator. Born in Lisbon (or Amsterdam, or Hamburg), Lara studied at the academy of R. Isaac *Uziel at Amsterdam. He was appointed ḥakham of the Spanish-Portuguese community in Hamburg. In 1656 he returned to Amsterdam, spending several years there, but subsequently returned to Hamburg. A great expert on classical literature and the writings of the Church Fathers, Lara became noted for his work Keter Kehunnah (Corona Sacerdotii, Lexicon Thalmudico Rabbinicum, Hamburg, 1668) on which he worked for 40 years. In the book he deals with talmudic words which do not appear in the Arukh of *Nathan b. Jehiel of Rome, and he compares the Hebrew with words in Semitic or in European languages; the published work goes only as far as the letter yod. In Ir David, an earlier work (Amsterdam, 1638), Lara listed and explained words of Greek and Latin origin found in the Talmud and the Midrash. He also translated chapters from books on ethics from Hebrew into Spanish, such as excerpts from R. Elijah de *Vidas' Reshit Ḥokhmah under the title Tratado del Temor Divino (Amsterdam, 1633). In Divrei David (Leyden, 1658) he explained R. Abraham *Ibn Ezra's discourse on the letters alef, he, vav, yod, adding Latin notes to his text. Other works by Lara still in manuscript are Beit David, a talmudic lexicon; Oẓar Rav, foreign words and technical terms in rabbinic literature; Ohel David, explanations of synonyms in the Talmud and rabbinic literature; Kisse David, a collection of parables and legends from the Talmud and the Midrash, arranged in alphabetical order; and Pirḥei Kehunnah, a book on ethics. Christian philologists, such as Johannes Christopher Buxtorf ii, appreciated Lara's scholarship in Hebrew philology and encouraged him to publish his Keter Kehunnah. The rumor spread by Esdras Edzardus, the Hamburg missionary, that as he was approaching death, Lara came close to Christianity, has no basis in fact.


H.I. Bloom, The Economic Activities of the Jews of Amsterdam (1937), 207; Graetz, Hist, 5 (1949), 115, 117; G. Karpeles, Geschichte der juedischen Literatur, 2 (19213), 276f.; Kayserling, Bibl, 56; idem, in: rej, 13 (1886), 269–72; Schwab, ibid., 40 (1900), 95–98; Kohut, Arukh, 1 (19262), introd. xlvif.; Perles, in: mgwj, 17 (1868), 224–32, 255–64.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]