Lot 7
  • 7

Three Volumes of Midrash ha-Gadol, David ben Amram Adani, Yemen: [15th–16th c.], and 1614

12,000 - 18,000 USD
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  • printed book
Three volumes, each written in black ink on paper in Yemenite scripts, each volume in a different hand. Vol. I: Genesis, 149 [of 154] leaves (10 ½ x 7 ¼ in.; 268 x 185 mm), lacking initial leaf and final four leaves. Two columns, 36-38 lines; catchwords. Modern [mis]foliation in pencil. Marginal tape repairs, some affecting text. Worming. Stained and soiled. Vol. II: Exodus, 78 [of 83] leaves (11 ¾ x 7 ¾ in.; 300 x 196 mm). lacking first five leaves. Two columns, 42-46 lines; catchwords. Modern foliation in pencil. Moderately soiled and stained; heavy staining to first 18 leaves. Marginal tape repairs some affecting text. Vol. III: Numbers, 169 [of 170] leaves (9 7/8 x 6 7/8 in.; 252 x 175 mm), lacking final leaf only. Text in one column, 26 lines; catchwords. Modern foliation in pencil. Worming. Tape repairs, some affecting text. All volumes: Speckled edges. Modern quarter vellum over cloth. Titles gilt on spines. Worn.

Catalogue Note

The Midrash ha-Gadol was compiled by the thirteenth-century Yemenite scholar, David ben Amram Adani. Writing in clear, lucid Hebrew prose, Adani introduces each weekly portion with a poem in rhymed verse. The work is important not only because of the author's original contributions to the literature of halakhah and aggadah, but also because of the multitude of extracts which he incorporates from ancient tannaitic Midrashim either unknown, or only partially known, from other sources.

As with virtually all other copies of the work, all the volumes of this mixed set of Midrash ha-Gadol were written in Yemen. The Genesis and Numbers volumes are unsigned and undated, though paleographic evidence suggests that the former was produced probably in the fifteenth century, and the latter, no later than the sixteenth. 

The colophon on the final page of the Exodus volume reveals that it was completed on Friday, the 15th day of Av in the year 1614 in the town of Bet Egel in Yemen. Though the present volume is unsigned, there are two other volumes dated to the same year and town, both signed by the scribe, Zachariah ben Nathan ben Yehudah Kaloofi. The Genesis volume is in the British Library (BL Or. 9954: Gaster 1), and the Leviticus volume is in an important private NY collection (Lehmann, D 40). By examining the colophons in both the Genesis and Exodus volumes, we can estimate that Kaloofi wrote, on average, just over 4 folios per day.