David Kimhi

David Kimhi

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David Kimhi (1160–1235), also known by the Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 acronym as the RaDaK , was a medieval rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

, biblical commentator
Jewish commentaries on the Bible
This article describes the first printing of the Hebrew Bible with major Jewish commentaries, notes concerning translations into Aramaic and English, lists some universally accepted Jewish commentaries with notes on their method of approach and lists modern translations into English with notes.-...

, philosopher, and grammarian. Born in Narbonne
Narbonne is a commune in southern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It lies from Paris in the Aude department, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Once a prosperous port, it is now located about from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Provence
Hachmei Provence
The term Hachmei Provence refers to the Jewish rabbis of Provence, a province in southern France, which was a great Torah center in the times of the Tosafists...

, he was the son of Rabbi Joseph Kimhi
Joseph Kimhi
Joseph Ḳimḥi , was a medieval Jewish rabbi and biblical commentator. He was the father of Moses and David Kimhi, and the teacher of Rabbi Menachem Ben Simeon....

 and the brother of Rabbi Moses Kimhi
Moses Kimhi
Moses Kimhi was a medieval Jewish biblical commentator and grammarian.-Birth and Early Life:Kimhi was born around 1127, the eldest son of Joseph Kimhi and the brother of David Kimhi, known as the RaDaK. He was born and lived in the Provence region of southern France, and area that was heavily...

, both biblical commentators and grammarians. Works of the Kimhi family were underwritten by the Ibn Yahya family of Lisbon, Portugal.

David Kimhi is best known today for his commentaries on the books of the Prophets
Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

. He also wrote commentaries on the books of Genesis, Psalms, and Chronicles
Books of Chronicles
The Books of Chronicles are part of the Hebrew Bible. In the Masoretic Text, it appears as the first or last book of the Ketuvim . Chronicles largely parallels the Davidic narratives in the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings...

. His work focuses on the language, niqqud (vocalization), rabbinic tradition of the reading, grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

, and literal meaning of the words. He also addresses key issues such as the authorship of the various books and the historical eras in which the prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

s were active, as well as other historical
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 and geographical
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...


His commentary on Genesis tends toward the philosophical. He seeks out the ethical
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 underpinnings of the stories, believing that they were not included in the text for purely historical reasons, but rather for their moral message. He makes extensive use of the ancient Targum
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon means "to strike or break with fist"; and do means "way", "method", or "path"...

 translation of the text into Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 attributed to Jonathan ben Uzziel
Jonathan ben Uzziel
Jonathan ben Uzziel is known as the author of Targum Jonathan. He is also said to have written a book of kabbalah known as Megadnim. He was one of the 80 tannaim who studied under Hillel the Elder. His tomb is in Amuka, Galilee near Tzfat, Israel...

, commenting on it and bringing variant readings. The commentary also includes a mystical interpretation of the Garden of Eden
Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is in the Bible's Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. Literally, the Bible speaks about a garden in Eden...

 and the story of Cain and Abel
Cain and Abel
In the Hebrew Bible, Cain and Abel are two sons of Adam and Eve. The Qur'an mentions the story, calling them the two sons of Adam only....

. A similar, mystical interpretation by Kimhi can also be found in his glosses on the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel
Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and preceding the Book of the Twelve....

, describing the Divine Chariot. When he does not understand a particular text, he follows the example of Rashi
Shlomo Yitzhaki , or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi , was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh...

 and writes, "I did not understand the reason why this story appears in this particular place," or "I did not find a proper reason for it."

Kimhi was also a noted grammarian. His book, Michlol , draws heavily on the earlier works of Rabbi Judah ben David Hayyuj
Judah ben David Hayyuj
Judah ben David Hayyuj was a Jewish linguist. He is regarded as the father of scientific grammar of Hebrew language. He was born in Fez, Morocco, about 945...

 and Rabbi Jonah ibn Janah. He also composed a dictionary
A dictionary is a collection of words in one or more specific languages, often listed alphabetically, with usage information, definitions, etymologies, phonetics, pronunciations, and other information; or a book of words in one language with their equivalents in another, also known as a lexicon...

 of the Hebrew language
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 called Sefer Hashorashim (Book of Roots) .

Kimhi also delved into philosophy and the science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

s, and was very much influenced by both Abraham Ibn Ezra
Abraham ibn Ezra
Rabbi Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra was born at Tudela, Navarre in 1089, and died c. 1167, apparently in Calahorra....

 and Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

. He was a staunch defender of Maimonides in the debates over his writings.

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