Rabbi Abraham Zacuto (1452-ca. 1515) was a Sephardic scholar who studied the Bible and Talmud with his father and Rabbi Isaac Aboab II (1433-1493) and astronomy and astrology at the University of Salamanca. His expertise in the latter fields was highly sought-after by the likes of the King of Portugal and Vasco da Gama, the latter of whom consulted with Zacuto before embarking on his famous journey to India in 1496. When the Jews were expelled from Portugal in 1496-1497, Zacuto fled to Tunis (much as he had escaped to Portugal after being expelled from Spain in 1492), where, in 1504, he completed his highly influential, multiyear historiographical treatise, Sefer yohasin, a book of genealogies which attempted to trace the historical development of the Oral Law and to establish the chronology of the sages who had transmitted it as part of the “chain of tradition.”
Sefer yohasin was first published in Constantinople in 1556, and subsequent editions appeared in Krakow (1580) and Amsterdam (1716). In 1857, Herschell Filipowski (1816-1872), a Lithuanian-born Hebraist, editor, and mathematician who immigrated to Great Britain in 1839 and established Hevrat Me‘orerei Yeshenim, a Jewish antiquarian society, in 1851, republished the work based on a more complete and accurate Oxford manuscript (MS Hunt. 504). This edition, which was reissued in Frankfurt am Main in 1924 by Abraham Hayyim Freimann (1889-1948) with an introduction, indexes, and corrections, is still considered the best one available. The present lot is a beautiful deluxe version of this title printed on vellum.
Aron Freimann, “Die hebräischen Pergamentdrucke,” Zeitschrift für hebræische Bibliographie 15 (1911): 46-57, 82-92, at p. 89 (no. 156).
Vingorad, London 583
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