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Moses (ben Isaac) ben Ha-Nesi'ah


MOSES (ben Isaac ) BEN HA-NESI'AH (late 13th century), Hebrew grammarian and lexicographer; lived in England. His mother was apparently Jewish and was known as "Countess" or "Contesse," in Hebrew Ha-Nesi'ah; hence his name: Ben ha-Nesi'ah. His only extant work, Sefer ha-Shoham ("The Onyx Book"), is the sole source for the scanty information available on him. In the introduction, he states that in his youth he wrote a grammar book, Leshon Limmudim ("Language of Learning"). This work is not extant and some scholars assume that extracts of it were included in Sefer ha-Shoham, written later. The author chose the name שֹׁהַם (Shoham), because it is an anagram of his name מֹׁשֶה (Moses). From the work, it can be learned that the author's teacher was R. *Moses b. Yom Tov ha-Nakdan ("the Punctuator") of London (c. 1268) and that he had a knowledge of Arabic. Moses b. ha-Nesi'ah was acquainted with many of the works of his predecessors.

Sefer ha-Shoham is divided into three parts. The first is a general introduction to the Hebrew language, a study of the origin of the letters, and on the formative letters and their role, etc. In the second part, the author reviews the verbs and divides them into seven groups. His system was possibly influenced by that of Judah b. David *Ḥayyuj. He then lists the nouns, classified into 162 metric groups, according to the method of David *Kimḥi. The third part deals with the particles, adverbs, numerals, vocalization, and accents. He added also a dictionary of the Aramaic words found in the Bible. Only the introduction to Sefer ha-Shoham and the section dealing with the verbs have been published (1947).


Moses b. Isaac ha-Nesi'ah, Sefer ha-Shoham, ed. by B. Klar, 1 (1947), vii–viii (introd.), 5–16 (Eng. section) 16 n. 24 (additional bibliography).

[Nissan Netzer]

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