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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Provençal School (12th–13th Centuries)

The lore of the Spanish peshat tradition was brought to Provence by the Kimḥi family. The father Joseph (ca. 1105–1170) moved his family, which already included his elder son Moses, from Spain to Narbonne in Provence around 1150, in the wake of the Almohade persecutions. His second son David (ca. 1160–1235) was born in Narbonne. David lost his father at the tender age of ten years and was raised by his brother. The Kimḥis were an impressive family, all steeped in the Sephardic tradition of philosophical rationalism and scientific study of the Hebrew language. All wrote biblical commentaries and grammatical works. Joseph is probably best known for his anti‐Christian polemic Sefer ha‐Berit (The Book of the Covenant), which contains much material of an exegetical nature, Moses for his grammatical work, Mahlakh shevilei ha‐da'at (The Course of the Paths of Knowledge), which was translated into Latin in 1508 and became a favorite of 16th‐century Christian Hebraists. Both Joseph and Moses left commentaries on Proverbs and Job; the latter's Proverbs commentary was attributed until recent times to Abraham Ibn Ezra. But the family's most distinguished exegete was David (better known by the acronym Radak), who surpassed his father and brother in celebrity. He produced commentaries on theTorah, Prophets, Psalms, Proverbs, Job, and Chronicles. These commentaries along with his grammatical works, Sefer ha‐Shorashim (Book of Roots) and Sefer Mikhlol (Comprehensive Hebrew Grammar), became standard works in the field and epitomized the best of the Spanish peshat tradition. Growing up in Provence, with its history of midrashic exegesis, Radak was exposed to the positive aspects of this tradition; and in his commentaries he does justice to both peshat and midrash, quoting derashot (homiletical interpretations of the Sages) and also incorporating midrashic methods and sensibilities into his peshat exegesis. For instance, while Radak opposes the midrashic tendency to glorify the patriarchs and matriarchs, preferring to view them as having human strengths and weaknesses, he does derive moral encouragement and religious inspiration from their actions. For example, at Gen. 21.15 , concerning Hagar and Ishmael, he teaches the lesson of patience and fortitude in the face of adversity, for if God can perform a miracle for Abraham's maidservants, anyone may benefit from such divine attention.

In similar fashion, Radak does not shy away from applying biblical prophecies and psalms to the situation of the Jews in their present exile and to the long awaited messianic salvation. Thus, in commenting on Isa. 52.1 , “Awake, awake, O Zion! Clothe yourself in splendor; put on your robes of majesty, Jerusalem, holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean shall never enter you again,” he explains “the uncircumcised and the unclean” as referring to the two nations of Edom (Christianity) and Ishmael (Islam) who have fought incessantly over Jerusalem, but who will eventually have to surrender it when the Messiah comes. In this contemporizing tendency he reacts against the extreme historicization of those exegetes such as Moses Gikatilla, who, perhaps for apologetic reasons, explained all the biblical prophecies as referring to past events.

A philosophically trained Maimonidean, Radak introduces philosophical ideas into his commentaries and vigorously defended the Maimonidean position both in writing and orally, participating in his later years in the first Maimonidean controversy. Radak also had a keen historical sense, which he applied judiciously to various biblical issues. For example, he explains the existence of variant readings for the same words, called ketiv (written) and qere (to be read) as the result of the confusion generated by the first exile (6th century BCE), when books were lost and traditions forgotten. In cases when the men of the Great Synagogue (a group believed by the Sages to have begun functioning in the early postexilic period) could not determine which of two variants was the correct one, they recorded both. In general, on matters concerning the transmission of the biblical text, he is relatively progressive.

The works of Radak, alongside those of Ibn Ezra, exerted tremendous influence in subsequent generations. His grammar books became the standard in the field, and were copied and printed numerous times. His grammatical works and his commentaries were very popular among Christian Hebraists of the 16th–19th centuries, and are consulted and cited by modern Bible scholars to this day.

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