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RASHI, Solomon ben Isaac (1040-1105). Commentary on the Prophets (II Samuel 22:1 to Zechariah 6:13), in Hebrew, MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
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RASHI, Solomon ben Isaac (1040-1105). Commentary on the Prophets (II Samuel 22:1 to Zechariah 6:13), in Hebrew, MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM\n\n[northern France, c.1200]\n297 x 263mm. 122 leaves: 1-28, 38 + 2(2 leaves, pp.43-46, a slightly later insertion after v), 4-118, 128(of 10, lacking viii, and x a final cancelled blank), 13-158, lacking several gatherings at the beginning and one at the end, modern pencil pagination followed here, two columns of 35 lines written in a Franco-Ashkenazic semi-cursive script with aleph-lamed ligature, a few headings and concluding lines in Franco-Ashkenazic square script, tetragrammaton written as double or triple yod with an additional pen stroke, all in dark brown ink between four verticals and 36 horizontals ruled in blind, justification: 85-17-85mm, upper margin 26mm, lower margin 44mm, inner margin 38mm, outer margin 38mm, ten lines 85mm, catchwords in the lower margin of final versos with decoration (probably slightly later) that is sometimes elaborate and figural, as pp.84, 212 and 196, the latter with a deer and a hybrid figure and protruding into the text area, line-filling usually by anticipating the first letter(s) of the next word in the line, including the use of broken mem, shin, ayin as on p.96, the use of dilated letters or the use of a graphic filler slightly resembling a cursive het, a thick rounded horizontal stroke and a thinner vertical stroke on the left, protruding lines generally prevented by compressing last words or by abbreviating words towards the end of the line, with a single abbreviation accent, occasionally one or two letters do protrude into the margin, diagrams of the Temple and of the Temple Mount in Ezekiel (first gathering detached, original marginal holes and stitching, some tears and patches in margins and occasionally in text with slight losses, cropping resulting in the probable loss of two catchwords from quires 3 and 12, where only decoration remains, modern repair to marginal tear of pp.41/42, darkening and wear towards the end of the manuscript and no more than half of the final four leaves surviving). Nineteenth-century half-leather, one paper endleaf at back, yellow edges, there are sewing stations from at least one earlier binding (severely rubbed, boards detached, spine rubbed and defective). Modern black cloth box.\n\nPROVENANCE:\n\n1. Professor Malachi Beit-Arié has examined the manuscript and confirmed that the vellum was prepared in the manner traditional for Ashkenazic Hebrew manuscripts, specifically for codices produced in France, until the middle of the 13th century. There is a marked difference between flesh and hair sides, unlike parchment prepared later which has indistinguishable or nearly indistinguishable sides, and this difference between hair and flesh is reflected in the arrangement of the sheets according to Gregory's rule, that hair side faces hair side and flesh side faces flesh side. Among the old Ashkenazic manuscripts that display such distinguishable skin sides, there is not a single example that can be attributed with any certainty to Germany, whereas there are several extant manuscripts of this type that bear explicit or implicit proof of being written in France.\n\nThe parchment leaves were gathered in quires of four bifolia, as is the case for almost all Ashkenazic manuscripts. It is ruled in the manner prevalent in such manuscripts only until the middle of the 13th century: vertical rows of prickings were made in the outer margins only and the lines were drawn by hard-point on the hair sides of the unfolded bifolia.\n\nThe script of the codex, and comparison of its writing to early Ashkenazic manuscripts enables us to identify the time and region of its production more precisely. The commentary is written in a pre-Gothic semi-cursive Ashkenazic type of script that developed in the second half of the 12th century. Among explicitly dated manuscripts no example survives from before 1226/7 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Laud. 271). The semi-cursive mode, however, does appear in earlier, undated, French manuscripts of Mahzor Vitry, as well as in early documents written in England, undoubtedly by Jews of Norman origin. Indeed the closest comparisons with the script of the Schocken codex can be made with French codices of Mahzor Vitry that share the same codicological features as the present manuscript. These are Parma, Biblioteca Palatina, Parm. 2574, which appears to be the closest to the Schocken codex, New York, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Micr. 8334, perhaps dated 1204, and less close in script but codicologically similar, Paris, Victor Klagsbald collection (formerly Sassoon 535), which was written before 1176/7. These features establish that the Schocken codex was written in France, shortly before or after the year 1200.\n\nThe manuscript appears to have been written by someone called Jacob: this name was decorated by the scribe, for example on p.34, col.2, l.7, in accordance with a well-known scribal practice of singling out one's name when it occurs in the text. On p.99, col.1, l.17 the name Isaac was highlighted, possibly by the same later hand that decorated the catchwords. Certain parts of the manuscript, especially toward the end, seem to have been copied more quickly and pages 41 and 42 were copied in a different 13th-century hand. Pages 43-46 are inserted leaves of vellum of a different quality and are written in a late-13th-century hand. The same hand also completed the text on other pages or parts of pages that originally had been left blank: p.57, col.2, pp.60-61 (with the exception of the first eleven lines of p.61, col.1, which were written by the original scribe), 64, 152, 156 (from the lower part of column 1), 157, 161. Two additional hands are responsible for smaller sections: 15 lines on p.137, col.1, and the first column of p.208. Other glosses, additions and corrections to the text were added up to the 17th or 18th century.\n\n2. The following inscription, written in an Ashkenazic cursive hand of the second half of the 19th century, appears at the beginning of the manuscript:\n\n'This manuscript includes the commentary of our teacher Rashi of blessed memory on the Prophets, but it is lacking at the beginning and the end and begins at the end of Samuel and goes on to the middle of the Minor Prophets, but lacks some leaves there. This manuscript was found in the foundations of the old synagogue of Mainz when it was pulled down in 5610 (1850) to make way for the new synagogue and this manuscript was under the corner stone. And even though it has some mistakes, because of which it must have been buried, nevertheless it is valuable because it has some variants that are different from those of the printed texts of Rashi. And also because its writing testifies to its antiquity and that it was written at least 500 years ago. After I wrote this, I discovered that it was written during Rashi's lifetime, and that the copyist was R. Simeon Kara, a disciple of Rashi, since in Ezekiel 27:17, on the words 'in wheat of Minnith', instead of what occurs in printed books 'I Rabbi Simeon found what I found', the version in this manuscript is 'and I the scribe found'. This proves that R. Simeon himself was the scribe.'\n\nThe identification of Simeon Kara as the copyist is incorrect. For a discussion of this issue, see the article by J. Penkower mentioned below, in which it is demonstrated that the author of the passage was R. Shemaiah of Troyes (11th century), one of Rashi's closest disciples, and that the text was corrupted in subsequent printed editions. The fact that some of the later manuscript additions to the manuscript appear to have been written as late as the 17th or 18th centuries is puzzling in light of the information provided in the inscription.\n\n3. Samuel Bondi (1794-1877), founder of the Orthodox Jewish community of Mainz, and/or his son Jonah (1816-1896), who also served as a rabbi in Mainz. It is likely that it passed to their descendants (see below).\n4. Salman Schocken (1877-1959), one of the most important 20th-century collectors of Jewish books. His pencilled notes appear on the front pastedown: 'Raschi: Kommentar zu den Propheten. Bruchstck. Von Bondi Frankft/M gekauft' ('Rashi: Commentary on the Prophets. Fragment. Bought from Bondi Frankfurt/Main'); his library stamp appears in the bottom margins of many folios. Part of Schocken's extensive library and collection became the Jerusalem-based Schocken Institute for Jewish Research of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. The present manuscript was no 19.526.\n\nCONTENT:\n\nRashi, Solomon ben Isaac: Commentary on the Prophets\n\nII Samuel 22:1-end of II Samuel pp.1-4; Kings pp.4-38; Jeremiah pp.38-64; Ezekiel pp.64-121; Isaiah pp.121-144 and 146-196 with Hosea 12:15-13:15 on p.145 (repeated pp.210-211); Minor Prophets pp.197-244; Hosea pp.197-211; Joel pp.211-213; Amos pp.213-221; Obadiah pp.221-222; Jonah pp.222-223; Micah pp.223-229; Nahum pp.229-232; Habakkuk pp.232-237; Zephaniah pp.237-238; Haggai pp.238-240; Zechariah 1:1-6:13 pp.240-244\n\nAs well as the missing gatherings at beginning and end one folio is lacking between p.194, ending with the commentary on Isaiah 54:10, and p.195, which begins with the commentary on Isaiah 57:15. In the middle of p.195, the scribe omitted seven chapters, skipping from Isaiah 57:18 to 64:5. Later, on the same page, he omitted half a chapter, skipping from Isaiah 65:1 to 65:17.\n\nRashi is without doubt the most highly reputed exegete of the Hebrew Bible, and his was the most important and influential Hebrew biblical commentary of the Middle Ages. This manuscript is one of the two or three oldest extant manuscripts of Rashi on the Prophets, and perhaps the oldest such manuscript written in France. It is, therefore, highly important for reconstructing the original content of this commentary, its early evolution at the hands of Rashi and his disciples, and its subsequent expansion by later generations of scribes and scholars.\n\nAccording to various testimonies, after Rashi completed his commentary he sometimes corrected his interpretation of particular verses. In some cases, these revisions were made after Rashi had studied the text again with his closest disciples; in other instances, Rashi's students interpolated their own interpretations. Consequently, different manuscripts (and printed texts) of this commentary preserve different stages of its evolution: some contain Rashi's initial version, others his final 'corrected' text, and yet others a combination of the two. The early date of the Schocken codex ensures its valuable contribution to the study of the additions and changes made by Rashi and his disciples, leading to a more accurate understanding of the early evolutionary stages that are embedded within his 'final' commentary.\n\nThe central problem in the study of Rashi's Commentary is determining which parts of the commentary were actually written by him, and which sentences or phrases are later additions that did not emanate from Rashi himself. Many hundreds of passages in the printed version of 'Rashi's' text are almost certainly neither his original nor 'corrected' comments at all, but are additions written by later scholars. Their opinions and interpretations became integrated into both printed editions and later manuscripts. It seems that some of these additions were first written in the margins of the manuscripts and in the course of recopying, scribes interpolated the marginalia into the body of the text, rendering them indistinguishable from the original commentary. Other additions, however, were from their inception written directly into the body of the text, following the practice of medieval Ashkenazic scribes, and especially copyists, to add to the books of other writers.\n\nTHIS MANUSCRIPT IS OF GREAT IMPORTANCE FOR ITS PRESERVATION OF THE PRISTINE TEXT OF RASHI'S COMMENTARY; IT HAS ALMOST NO LATER ADDITIONS. Along with other accurate manuscripts, it can thus serve as an invaluable comparison for identifying which, exactly, are the later additions that appear in printed and manuscript versions. For example, many of these additions contain quotations from the 10th-century commentator Menahem ben Jacob ibn Saruq. The absence of many of these in the Schocken manuscript testifies to the fact that many were later additions. Yet the presence of several references to Menahem in this manuscript reveals that some of these quotations were part of Rashi's original text. Special attention must still be paid to the Old-French glosses in the text. There is no doubt that these also represent a very old recension.\n\nThe manuscript contains the following later additions:\n\nManuscript addenda to Rashi's commentary have been written in the margins of some pages. Some of these are sections of text that the copyist inadvertently omitted, while others are remarks that Rashi added to his commentary after it was completed. In the lower margins, the weekly Torah readings and the festivals on which a given chapter is recited as the haftarah are noted. Most of these annotations are in a later hand, except on p.24 (II Kings 2:4), where the scribe of the manuscript himself added the word haftarah (without citing the name of the reading).\n\nIn the Book of Ezekiel, the division to chapters, or more precisely the Hebrew division to sedarim, was added at the top of the pages. At the beginning of the book, however, the division does not correspond to the accepted division into sedarim.\n\nILLUSTRATION:\n\nEzekiel is illustrated with two diagrams that do not occur in the printed editions: the Temple, illustrating Ezekiel 26 (on p.115) and the Temple Mount illustrating the end of the book of Ezekiel (on p.121).\n\nCENSUS:\nOther manuscripts of Rashi on the prophets datable before 1250 are:\nOxford, Corpus Christi College 165 (Ashkenaz, late 12th century)\nOxford, Bodleian Library, Bodl.Or. 326 (France, mid-13th century or England, mid-12th century)\nOxford, Bodleian Library, Bodl.Or. 142 (Ashkenaz, early 13th century)\nOxford, Bodleian Library, Ms Bodl. Opp. 34 (Ashkenaz, early 13th century)\nParma, Biblioteca Palatina, Ms Parm. 2854 (early to mid-13th century)\nMunich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. Hebr. 5 (Würzburg, 1233)\nCambridge, St John's College 3 (1239)\n\nSELECTED REFERENCES:\n\nR.J. Auman, The Family Bondi and Their Ancestors (?Jamaica, New York, 1966)\nA. Berliner, Beitraege zur Geschichte der Raschi-Commentare (Berlin, 1903)\nA. Grossman, The Early Sages of France (Jerusalem, 1995), pp.121-253\nI. Maarsen, Parschandatha; the Commentary of Raschi on the Prophets and Hagiographa (Amsterdam, 1930-Jerusalem, 1936)\nA. Marx, 'The life and work of Rashi,', Rashi Anniversary Volume (New York, 1941), pp.9-30\nJ.S. Penkower, 'On the Textual Variants of Rashi's Commentary on Ezekiel 27:17,' Tarbiz, 63 (1994), pp.219-233\nG. Sed-Rajna, 'Some Further Data on Rashi's Diagrams to his Commentary on the Bible', Jewish Studies Quarterly, 1 (1993-1994), pp.149-157 E. Shereshevsky, Rashi, the Man and his World (New York, 1982)\n\nChristie's are grateful to Professor Malachi Beit-Arié of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Dr Simhah Emanuel of Tel Aviv University, Binyamin Richler, Director of the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem, Dr Emile G.L. Schrijver, Director of the Menasseh ben Israel Institute, Amsterdam, and Professor Israel M. Ta-Shma of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem for studying this manuscript and sharing their notes with us.
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