Nathan, Mordecai

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NATHAN, MORDECAI (15th cent.), French physician of Avignon, the teacher of Joseph b. Solomon *Colon. Nathan was mentioned among three "Jews and doctors of medicine" together with three "Christian doctors of medicine in Avignon" in a manuscript entitled "Thoroughly Tested Prescription for Pestilential Disease" (Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. Français 630, fol. 54). It appears that he was also identified with M. Nadi, the mathematician (Wolf, Bibliotheca, 4 (1733), 904).

He is known by his work Me'ir Nativ, also called Ya'ir Nativ (Venice, 1523), the first Hebrew concordance of the Bible, compiled between 1437 and 1448. Nathan was familiar with Christian scholarly circles, and more than once engaged in theological polemics with them. He became convinced from these polemics of the need to prepare a Hebrew concordance of the Bible to make it easier for Hebrew-speaking Jews to reply to Christians. He arranged the books of the Bible in the order of the Vulgate (Latin translation). He explained the roots of the words in the most concise language. Verbs and nouns, however, appear in disorder, and he omitted prepositions and formative letters. He also omitted proper nouns and the Aramaic words in the Bible. Christian scholars engaged in the study of Hebrew attached great importance to the work. Mario de Calascio published the concordance a second time (Rome, 1621) together with a Latin translation, in which the defects of the Hebrew edition were remedied. Differences of opinion have arisen about the identity of the author of Me'ir Nativ. The inner title page gives Mordecai Nathan as the name of the author, whereas the introduction is signed by Isaac Nathan. Johannes Buxtorf concluded, therefore, that Mordecai Nathan was also known as Isaac Nathan. I.S. *Reggio concluded that the author was Isaac Nathan and that the name Mordecai on the title page was an error. A. Tauber thought that the author was Mordecai Nathan, while the Isaac, who wrote the introduction, was apparently his relative.


I.S. Reggio, Iggerot Yashar, 1 (1834), 70–76; Gross, Gal Jud, 10; Gross, in: mgwj, 29 (1880), 518–523; S. Mandelkern, Heikhal ha-Kodesh (1896), introd., 9–11; A. Tauber, in: ks, 2 (1925), 141–4; Renan, Rabbins, 533; E. Wickersheimer, Dictionnaire biographique des médicins en France au Moyen-Age (1936), 537; E.R. Malachi, Oẓar ha-Leksikografyah ha-Ivrit (an appendix to Heikhalha-Kodesh of S. Mandelkern, 1955), 12f., 27f., 30.

[Isidore Simon and

Abraham David]