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Isaac Israeli ben Solomon

Omnia Opera Ysaac. Lyons, 1515.

Isaac Israeli ben Solomon, ca. 832 – ca.932.

Israeli was born into a Jewish family in Egypt, and lived in Cairo where he gained a reputation as a specialist in diseases of the eye.  In his early seventies, he was appointed as court physician to the last Aghlabid prince, Ziyadat Allah III, and shortly therafter, as a doctor to the founder of the Fatimid Dynasty of North Africa, 'Ubaid Allah al-Mahdi.  His fame grew with the printing of his works written in Arabic, considered by the Muslim physicians as "more valuable than gems."

Israeli's medical treatises were studied for several centuries both in the original Arabic and in Latin translation. In the eleventh century, Constantine Africanus, a professor at the prestigious Salerno school of medicine, translated some of Israeli's works into Latin. Many medieval Arabic biographical chronicles of physicians list him and his works.

The three men depicted here – a Muslim, a Jew and a Christian - never actually met. However, their ideas meet in Omnia Opera, an early record of intellectual exchange between Jewish and non-Jewish scholars. By 800-900 C.E., Diaspora Jews were translators and transmitters of scientific knowledge that yeshivot began to incorporate as an honorable discipline.

One of them, the man shown at left, was Haly Abbas (d. 900-1000 C .E.), a Persian royal physician and compiler of the best organized, most-utilized medical work of his time.

In medieval Europe, Arabic medical writings like those of ben Solomon and Abbas were translated, adapted and popularized by scholars like Benedictian monk Constantinus Africanus (1017-1087), shown on the right.

He died in Tunisia, in 932. 

Omnia was the first published version of Constantinus’ Latin Liber Pantegni .It includes several of ben Solomon’s writings, including some of the earliest ever produced on urology.