The author was a noted fifteenth-century Yemenite scholar and medical writer—his surname "ha-Rofe" means 'the physician' —known in Arabic as "Yahye ibn Suleiman al-Tabîb". His Midrash ha-Hefez is his most famous work and is the most important Yementie Midrash. It is a philosophical and grammatical commentary on the Pentateuch and Haftarot, strongly influenced by Maimonides, but also citing Bahir, Sa'adya Gaon, Galen, and other writers, and quoting a number of otherwise unkown Midrashim for which the work is our only source. Sassoon devotes 8 pages to describing the manuscript. It includes a dated reference to the author himself, recording that he was still alive in 1427 (p. 108). There are 7 manuscripts of the text in the British Library, all later than 1500 and all defective. An edition was published in 1962; and cf. S. Liebermann, Midrashei Teiman, 1970, pp. 22 - 3. The present manuscript comprises Numbers and Deuteronomy, with their respective Haftarot, opening with the Haftarah from Ezekiel 34:1.
The manuscript is signed and dated by the scribe in a long colophon on p. 170 recording its completion on 4 Adar 1500 by Solomon ben Sa'adyah ben David ben Solomon ben Sa'adyah ben Abraham ben Hisdai ben Sa'adyah ben Gad. This takes his ancestry back seven generations, probably about 200 years. He seems to have written the manuscript for his own use.
Literature: D.S. Sassoon, Ohel Dawid, Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the Sassoon Library, London, 1932, I, pp. 50 - 57.
Provenance: David Solomon Sassoon (1800 - 1942), his MS.262.
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