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Biblical Commentary

Abravanel, Isaac. Mirkevet ha-mishneh.

Sabioneta: Ṭobiah Puʻah, 1551.

Isaac Abravanel, 1437-1508.

This is the original edition of Mirkevet (“Chariot of the Copy” in Biblical Hebrew), a commentary on Deuteronomy written between 1483 and 1496. This first of Abravanel’s Biblical commentaries was also the first to undergo Church censorship.

Criticisms of mixed marriages, conversos, and Christianity were blotted out, even though the printing house had preemptively removed several passages. All subsequent printings of Abravanel’s complete Biblical commentaries used this expurgated version.

The Lisbon-born Abravanel’s broad education included contact with Christian Biblical scholars whose ideas he then used in his own writings. However, while praising some of their ideas, his derision of others drew the censors’ attention. Nonetheless, Jewish and non-Jewish thinkers alike came to admire his oeuvre’s high quality.

Mirkevet was the first of only 34 titles published by Tobias Foa, a wealthy Jew and Sabionetta’s first Hebrew printer. Although the authorities closed his press in 1590, Foa’s custom-made fonts were used in later Venetian Bible printings.

Biblical Commentary