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Tamakh, Abraham ben Isaac Ha-Levi


TAMAKH, ABRAHAM BEN ISAAC HA-LEVI (d. 1393), Spanish paytan, talmudist, and philosopher; d rabbi of Gerona. Abraham may have come from Provence, although according to some he originated from Barcelona. Abraham with other scholars was requested by Pedro iv of Aragon to decide on the family purity of the family of one Isaac Castellon. He lived in Gerona, where he was one of the leaders of the community. He was a contemporary and colleague of Profiat *Duran who eulogized him after his death in a letter written to Tamakh's son Joseph which was intended to be read publicly at the memorial service for his father. The academy he headed in Gerona and its library were destroyed in the wave of anti-Jewish violence in 1391. He fled from Gerona, passed through Narbonne, and made his way to Ereẓ Israel. It is known that during his journey he stayed in various communities in Italy and Egypt and also held office in these towns. After reaching Ereẓ Israel, he returned for unknown reasons to Spain, where he died. His fame rests mainly on his commentary to the Song of Songs, published with the biblical text (Sabbioneta, 1558; Prague, 1611). In modern times it has been published with variae lectiones from manuscripts and printed editions by L.A. Feldman (1970). In his commentary Abraham cites by name only Maimonides and Naḥmanides, and the influence of the former's Guide of the Perplexed is especially noticeable. There is also a substantial affinity between it and Joshua *ibn Shuaib's homily on the Song of Songs that was included in his large book of sermons. Abraham belonged to the circle of *Nissim b. Reuben Gerondi and *Isaac b. Sheshet Perfet and exchanged letters and poems with them. Abraham's correspondence with Nissim Gerondi and his circle has also been published by Feldman in Koveẓ al Yad (see bibliography). There are different views as to the meaning of the name Tamakh. It may have been an acrostic of the words showing respect for the dead, Tehei Menuḥato Kavod ("may he rest in honor"), or it may be an ordinary family name, found among many families of levites.


L.A. Feldman, in: Koveẓ al Yad, 17 (1968), 127ff.; idem (ed.), R. Abraham b. Isaac ha-Levi Tamakh, Commentary on the Song of Songs (1970), introd. 3–35; idem, in: Hadorom, 25 (1967), 186–94; 28 (1969), 222–37; idem, in: Samuel K. Mirsky Memolrial Volume (1970), 85–103; Joshua ibn Shuaib, Derashot (1969), introd, by S. Abramson, 41–43; Zunz, Lit Poesie, 512; Graetz, Gesch, 8 (1909), 408; Neubauer, in: rej, 9 (1884), 117; Gross, Gal Jud, 429; Davidson, Oẓar, 1 (1924), 165:2226, 170:3656, 406:8949; Baer, Spain, 2 (1966), 106, 152, 156, 475.

[Leon A. Feldman]

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