Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hebrew Dictionaries

The post below focuses on R. Elijah haBahor's dictionary- Sefer haTishbi. There are, however, numerous other Hebrew Dictionaries. R. Elijah haBahor himself wrote another focusing on Aramic words from the Targuimim, titled Sefer haMiturgumin. The most complete exposition on Hebrew Dictionaries is Shimeon Brisman's "A History and Guide to Judaic Dictionaries and Concordances." While the title indicates it also discusses Concordances, in truth, there is a second volume, not yet published, that focuses on those. This volume, however, is devoted to the history of the Hebrew Dictionary. While Brisman does a very good job of giving a very good overview, at times, I found the book somewhat lacking. He focuses much of his attention on the bibliographical details which causes the content to suffer.

Perhaps the most well-known dictionary to students' of the Talmud is Marcus Jastrow's dictionary. While recently there have been a few dictionaries that claim to be comprehensive dictionaries of the Talmud for the English reader, Jastrow's is still king. The University of Pennsylvania has now posted online a permanent exhibit on Jastrow as well as on Hebrew Dictionaries. The exhibit has reproduced many of the title pages and given brief histories on many of the most important Hebrew Dictionaries.

Perhaps one of the more interesting dictionary was done by a Jew who converted to Christianity. Philippe d'Aquin (originally Mordechi) wrote a commentary on the famed dictionary of R. Nathan of Rome - the Arukh. His commentary, Marikh haMarkhot was published just once (you can see the title page here) . His commentary was not that novel, most of it was "borrowed" from earlier commentaries on the Arukh. R. Yosef Toemim, author of the Peri Megadim, states that the commentary that one should use when studying the Arukh is Marikh haMarkhot -the commentary d'Aquin. [There is no other commentary by that name, nor is the fact that the author was a non-Jew hidden. On the title page it states that the author is a professor of Hebrew at the University of Paris.]

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