Judaica in Leiden
An exhibition in Leiden University Library at the occasion of the Congress
of European Association of Jewish Studies, Amsterdam 21-25 juli 2002.
Nathan ha-Me’ati (13th century). Manuscript on parchment,
mid-14th century, Southern Europe. Sefardi semi-cursive script.
Or. 4719, ff. 134v-135r
¶ Medical codex containing no less than twenty different texts, all translations
of medical scientific works in Arabic by Greek, Muslim and Jewish scholars.
From the 12th century onward, Hebrew translations of Arabic
versions of classical works and their commentaries were made. The names
of the Ibn
Tibbon family, as well as the Kalonymus family,
whose work is also included in this codex, are well-known. The lesser
known Nathan ha-Me’ati produced several translations of Arabic versions
of works by Hippocrates. The Aphorisms, translated in 1283 from
the Arabic Kitab al-Fusul by the famous Hunayn Ibn Ishaq (d. 873),
circulated widely in Hebrew under the title Pirqei Abuqrat.
Most probably the codex was collected by a 14th century physician
and served as a medical compendium. It includes:
(2) Shinnui shemot ha-niqra Zinonimash, Hebrew translation by Nathan
ha-Me’ati of Avicenna’s (Ibn Sina) Canon.
(9) Haqdamat ha-Yedi`a, Hippocrates’ Prognostica by an unknown
(17) Sefer Galeinos ba-Haqqaza, Hebrew translation of an anonymous
Arabic version of Galen’s Phlebotomia (Bloodletting) by Kalonymos
Samuel ibn Tibbon (ca. 1160-1230). Manuscript on paper, 15th
century. Sefardi semi-cursive script.
Or. 4751, f. 11a.
¶ Collection of various philosophical and scientific texts. The exhibit
features a Hebrew version of Aristotle’s Meteorology based on an
Arabic paraphrase, which has now been lost. The famous Hebrew translator,
Samuel ibn Tibbon, noted the many mistakes in his Arabic Vorlage
and tried to correct them on the basis of the commentaries by Alexander
of Aphrodisias and Averroes. The exhibit shows a rather crude drawing
of the points of the compass surrounding the signs of the Zodiac.
Other texts included in this codex are:
(2) Hokhmat Ahar ha-Teva, Hebrew translation by Judah ben Salomo
Kohen of an Arabic version of Aristotle’s Metaphysica.
(3) Sefer ha-Yesodot, Hebrew translation by Abraham ibn Hisdai
Samuel of the Arabic Book of Elements of Isaac Israeli (10th
(5) Moses Narboni’s (d. 1362) commentary on Maimonides’ Moreh ha-Nevukhim
(see Or. 18 and Or. 4745).
Anonymous. Manuscript on parchment, 13th or 14th
century, Ashkenaz. Italian semi-cursive script.
Or. 4732, ff. 8b-9a.
¶ Collection of fifteen texts on medicine. Among these are two tractates
on herbs andplants for medicinal use. The first tractate in this codex
is a rare list of plant names followed by their German equivalent in Hebrew
The manuscript further includes:
(5) and (12) Treatises on the diagnostical uses of urine.
(9) Medical astrology based on the Zodiac.
(14) A treatise on the properties of plants and herbs.
and Fatti de Dio
Mose da Rieti (1388-1460). Manuscript on paper and parchment,
after 1428, Italy. Italian semi-cursive script.
Or. 4727, f. 14v.
¶ Unique didactic and moralistic encyclopedia on nature and belief, written
in Italian prose. This text is a rare example of medieval Italian
as spoken by the Jewish intelligentia at the time. The exhibited opening
deals with earthquakes (‘terra moto’). Mose da Rieti is better known for
his encyclopedic Mikdash Me’at, a Hebrew imitation of Dante’s
The Italian text was edited and linguistically analysed by I. Hijmans-Tromp,
Filosofia Naturale e Fatti de Dio. Testo inedito del secolo XV (Leiden
Iggeret Hay ben
Anonymous Hebrew translation with commentary by Moses of Narbonne
Manuscript on paper, before 1459. Sefardi semi-cursive script.
Or. 4744, ff. 124v-125r.
¶ Collection of philosophical texts in Hebrew translation and commentaries
by Isaac Albalag and Moses Narboni. Al-Ghazali’s attack on Aristotle,
entitled The Incoherence of the Philosophers, generated many critical
and interpretative responses.
Al-Ghazali’s own introduction The Intentions of the
to his critical work became an
independent compendium on philosophy. Equally influential was Averroes’
(Ibn Rushd) critique on Al-Ghazali. The latter’s work is known as The
Incoherence of the Incoherence. The exhibit features an anonymous
Hebrew translation of the famous philosophical allegory Risala Hayy
ibn Yaqzan by Abd al-Malik ibn Tufayl. The present Hebrew version
is called Hay ben Yiqatz or Yehi’el ben `Uri’el.
The codex further includes:
(1) Perush Kavvanot ha-Filosofim, commentary on Al-Ghazali’s Intentions
by Moses of Narbonne (Narboni, d. 1362).
(2) Tiqqun ha-De’ot or De`ot ha-Filosofim, Isaac Albalag’s
(13th century) Hebrew translation of part of Al-Ghazali’s Intentions.
(7) Happalat ha-Happalah, Hebrew translation by Moses Narboni
of Averroes’ Incoherence of the Incoherence.
Dalalat al Ha’irin
Moses Maimonides (1135-1204). Manuscript on paper, 1271, Near
East. Oriental semi-cursive script.
Or. 18, ff. 6v-7r.
¶ Early copy in Judeo-Arabic of Maimonides’ most significant work. Maimonides’
greatest achievement, his Guide of the Perplexed, was written in
Judeo-Arabic in Egypt in the late 12th century, and is commonly
regarded as the most important philosophic work produced by a Jew. His
philosophic views follow the Aristotelian tradition and integrated rationalism
into Jewish theology.
Moses Maimonides (1135-1204). Manuscript on parchment, 14th
- 15th century, Spain
Sefardi semi-cursive script.
Or. 4745, ff. 7b-8a.
¶ Copy of the Hebrew translation of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed
. The Hebrew translation from the Arabic original (see Or. 18) was made
by Samuel ibn Tibbon in the late 12th century, during the author’s
lifetime. Maimonides, as the leader of the Cairo community, was not only
held in high esteem by the Jewish communities under Islamic rule, but
his work was also to have great influence on Jews throughout
Moses Maimonides (1135-1204). Manuscript on parchment, probably
late 14th century, Catalonia. Sefardic semi-cursive script.
Or. 4723, ff. 234v-235r.
¶ Superbly executed copy of the Hebrew version of the Guide of the
Perplexed by Maimonides.
Naftali Herz Ulman and the Haskalah in the Dutch Republic.
Naftali Herz Ulman, son of Jehuda Löb Ulman from Mainz, was a philosopher
who moved to the Netherlands some time during the beginnings of the period
of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah). In the footsteps of the German
philosopher J.C. Wolff (1683-1739) he produced a four-part Metaphysica,
of which only the first volume, Hokhmat ha-Shorashim, was printed
in 1781. Ulman fled from Germany, as stated in one of his works: ‘He found
a refuge in this city (The Hague), when he escaped from the enemies of
truth and justice.’ Whilst living in The Hague Ulman corresponded with
Naftali Herz Ulman. Printed by J. H. Munnikhuizen, Amsterdam
876 C 3, title-page.
¶ The only part of Ulman’s Metaphysica that was actually printed.
No other works of his were printed after this one and the three following
parts remained in manuscript.
Hokhmat ha-Nefesh & Hokhmat ha-Elohut
Naftali Herz Ulman. Autograph on paper, 6 vols. in total, late
18th century, The Hague.
Late Ashkenazi cursive script.
Or. 4808a, f. 1a, title-page.
Or. 4808b, f. 159a.
¶ Parts of the Metaphysica by Naftali Herz Ulman in autograph.
Ulmans Metaphysica consisted of four parts. The last three parts
remained unprinted and are entitled: The Science of the World, The
Science of the Soul and The Science of Theology.