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Hebrew Grammar

Buxtorf, Johann. Lexicon Hebraicum et Chaldaicum.

Basil: Johannis König, 1655.

Johann Buxtorf, 1564-1629.

“Know your enemies” wrote the 6th century Chinese general Sun Tzu. This also applied to the field of linguistics and notably, polemical anti-Jewish works . Buxtorf, a Hebrew professor at the University of Basle, shared his fellow Christian Hebraist scholars’ growing interest in what is now called Jewish Studies.  Unfortunately, Buxtorf also shared their general view of Judaism as “false, unfounded statutes and fables”, even as he consulted, corresponded with and respected individual rabbis worldwide.

The Lexicon was an indexed Latin dictionary of Biblical Hebrew and Chaldean (i.e. Aramaic) terms in the Talmud and other Jewish extra-Biblical texts that Christian scholars knew of from recently rediscovered ancient Greek and Arabic works. Most of these scholars, with variously benign and malign reasons to understand the Jewish texts, hired rabbis and Jewish academicians for the translations; dictionaries like Lexicon were a natural offshoot of these efforts.

Originally published in 1607, this edition of Lexicon is the earliest of two held by the JPL.