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Bidding Information
Lot #    29151
Auction End Date    1/25/2011 11:53:00 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Sefer Sha’ashu’im
Title (Hebrew)    ספר שעשועים
Author    R. Joseph ben Meir ibn Zabara
City    Berlin
Publisher    Eshcol
Publication Date    1925
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   [1], vii, 93, [1], 200 pp. [2] facsimiles. octavo 230:145 mm., wide margins, light age staining. A very good copy bound in the original boards, rubbed.
   Scholarly annotated edition of one of the most popular medieval collection of stories and proverbs by R. Joseph ben Meir ibn Zabara. This edition, with lengthy introductions exploring ibn Zabara’s sources, one by I. Davidson, is the most important study of Sefer Sha'ashu'im. The intention of Sefer Sha'ashu'im, as the title indicates, is to amuse the reader. As it is usual in the genre, some secular poems are included before and within the prose sections. In this work, Ibn Zabara reveals a considerable knowledge of Arabic literature – the source of most of his proverbs and pithy sayings – and also of the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmuds. More than any other work of this type, Sefer Sha'ashu'im shows Greek, Indian, and Arabic influence. Apart from its literary value, this book contains valuable information on medicine and hygiene, natural science, psychology, and physiognomy. The book includes the earliest example of questions and answers on scientific topics in Hebrew rhymed prose. Despite its contents and style value, however, it never had a great influence on Hebrew literature. Ibn Zabara dedicated it to the nasi, R. Sheshet Benveniste , physician and adviser to the court of Alfonso II of Aragon, who died in 1209.

R. Joseph ben Meir ibn Zabara (b. about 1140) was a physician and Hebrew writer. Born in Barcelona, Ibn Zabara was a contemporary of some of the Tibbon family, of Maimonides and of R. Judah Al-Ḥarizi; R. Joseph Kimḥi praised his scientific knowledge in his Commentary to Proverbs. Like his father, he studied medicine and lived as an honored physician in his native town. Ibn Zabara became known through his Sefer Sha'ashu'im ("Book of Amusements"), one of the best maqamāt written. This book is a literary account of his journey to several countries (southern Spain and Provence) with a physician named Joseph (nicknamed "Einan ha-Shed" in the book) who came from afar and joined Ibn Zabara on the journey. The book was first printed in Constantinople (1577) by R. Isaac Akrish, together with other works. In 1865 it was published serially in Ha-Levanon . In modern times, the book was translated into English twice (The Book of Delight, by I. Abrahams, 1912, repr. 1980; by M. Hadas, 1932, 1960, with introd. by M. Sherwood); F. Brewer published a selection of it (1975); there is a Catalan translation by I. González Llubera (1931), and a Spanish one by M. Forteza-Rey (1983). Apart from Sefer Sha'ashu'im Ibn Zabara wrote "Battei ha-Nefesh," a didactic poem of 126 verses on anatomy and the functions of the organs in the human body, and a short treatise in prose for physicians. He also wrote an ofan, a piyyut on the angels.

Paragraph 2    ... עם שנויי נוסחאות הערות והוספות ובצירוף מבוא מפורט, מאת ישראל דוידזון ...

עמ' [א]: "המהדורה הנוכחית עולה על זו שקדמה לה בשני דברים. האחד - שהכנסתי לתוכה כמה תקונים והערות שלי ושל אחרים, ובפרט אותן של החכמים ד"ר יחזקאל בנעט וד"ר עמנואל לעוו. והשני - שהמבוא שלי בא עכשיו לפני הקוראים בלבוש עברי ... ע"י מר ברוך קרופניק [קרוא]".

   BE shin 2207; EJ; CD-EPI 0106047
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Listing Classification
20th Century:    Checked
Germany:    Checked
Other:    Proverbs
Language:    Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica