R. Chizkiyah b. Manoach (Chizkuni)
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Background 1 Life Name – Hebrew name – ר' חזקיה בן מנוח 2 Dates – 13th century. Almost nothing is known for certain about Chizkuni’s life. Chizkuni uses material from a work known to have been authored circa 1240, and his commentary is cited by a work authored in 1313, 3 thus setting the earliest and latest boundaries for the authorship of Chizkuni. Y. Priel and others estimate that Chizkuni was authored no later than 1260. 4 5 Location – Scholarly consensus places Chizkuni in Northern France, although no hard evidence exists, with a minority of scholars holding that he may have lived in Provence, or perhaps Germany. 6 7 Education – Occupation – Family – Teachers – Contemporaries – Students – Time period – World outlook – Works Biblical commentaries – Chizkuni, a commentary on the entire Torah. 8 Rabbinics – Talmudic novellae – Halakhic codes – Responses to the works of others – Responsa – Jewish thought – Misattributed works – Characteristics Verse by verse / Topical – Genre – Structure – Language – Peshat and derash – Methods Themes Textual Issues Manuscripts – There are four known manuscripts of Chizkuni, one of which appears to be an autograph. 9 10 Printings – Textual layers – Sources Significant Influences Earlier Sources – Teachers – Foils – Occasional Usage Possible Relationship Impact
1 This section is largely based on the dissertation of Dr. Yosef Priel, The Exegetical Method of R. Hezekiah Ben Manoah (Hizquni) on the Torah (Bar Ilan University, 2010, herafter: Priel). 2 Usually referred to by the name of his commentary, Chizkuni. 3 Sefer HaGan. See Priel: 231. 4 Minchat Yehudah by R. Yehudah b. R. Elazar. Chida (Shem Hagedolim Ma’arechet Sefarim, אות ח) cites the introduction to this work (this introduction no longer exists in extant copies of Minchat Yehudah), where R. Yehudah writes that he wrote that work in 1313 and lists Chizkuni as one of his sources. 5 Priel bases this estimate mainly on a two-part argument related to the commentary of Ramban. First of all, he assumes that Chizkuni was not exposed to Ramban’s Torah commentary, which, he argues, would be highly unlikely if he lived at the end of the 13th century rather than mid-century. Second, he makes a case that Ramban’s later additions, from his period in Eretz Yisrael (he reached Akko in 1267), actually cite some material from Chizkuni. See Priel:193-200. 6 This is largely based on the fact that Chizkuni’s main sources are prominent Northern French works such as Rashi, R. Yosef Bekhor Shor, and Rashbam, and that Chizkuni’s style, as mainly a compendium, fits well with the Tosafist activity in middle to late 13th century Northern France, which produced a number of other Torah commentaries in compendium form. Priel: 188-189 makes the argument that Chizkuni was unaware of Radak’s commentaries, and thus could not have lived in Provence where Radak’s work was well-known. 7 See Priel: 11 for a concise summary of the various opinions. 8 Published by Mosad HaRav Kook (edited by C. Chavel) as פירושי התורה לרבנו חזקיה ב"ר מנוח (Jerusalem, 1982), and subsequently in the Mikraot Gedolot Torat Chayyim. R. Chizkiyah functions in three different modes in his commentary: as a super-commentator to Rashi, as a compiler of other (mostly Northern French) commentaries, and as an independent exegete. Priel (231) estimates that Chizkuni borrows approximately ten percent of his commentary from each of the following: Rashi, R. Yosef Bekhor Shor, and R. Avraham ibn Ezra. He also borrows much, though somewhat less, from Rashbam. Other important sources for Chizkuni include R. Yosef Kara, Sefer HaGan, and the commentary of R. Yeshayah of Trani (Rid), as well as many midrashim. Chizkuni usually paraphrases in simpler language the commentaries that he borrows, and he tends to order multiple commentaries from easiest to hardest for the learner to understand. Both practices are indicative of Chizkuni’s sensitivity as an educator (Priel: 232). As far as how many sources Chizkuni uses, in an introductory poem to the commentary R. Chizkiyah mentions that he searched for commentaries and found “עד עשרים”. Priel (ibid.) notes that while he clearly used more sources than that, twenty may actually be the number of works whose names appear in Chizkuni. Nevertheless, other than Rashi, Chizkuni usually does not cite the names of his sources. At least ten percent of Chizkuni is independent exegesis (Priel: 231). Most of these comments are peshat exegesis, while there are also many Masoretic notes, and comments about the cantillation marks and Torah reading customs. One of the distinguishing marks of Chizkuni, according to Priel (32-100), is the emotional atmosphere of the commentary. This is expressed not only in an exegetical focus on emotional and psychological facets of the text, but also in a writing style that attempts to emotionally connect with the audience, and in an emotional understanding of certain mitzvot. According to Priel, Chizkuni was greatly influenced in this direction, as well as towards an interest in realia, by R. Yosef Bekhor Shor, who therefore should be viewed as perhaps the most significant source for Chizkuni. Chikuni falls – both stylistically and historically (assuming it was written mid-13th century) – somewhere between the earlier Northern French commentators who produced highly independent commentaries and the late 13th- early 14th-century Tosafist’s who acted almost exclusively as compilers (in works such as Da’at Zekeinim, Moshav Zekeinim, and others). A curiosity about Chizkuni that is worth mentioning is the recurrent use of the abbreviation חז"ק, which appears approximately eighty times. There are at least six different views of what this term means (see Priel: 301-306 for a summary and discussion of the views). Chavel understood it as introducing R. Chizkiyah’s own comments after citing Rashi or other earlier authorities, and this influenced the layout of the Chavel edition, as he put a colon after the term. Y. Ofer (“פירוש החזקוני לתורה וגלגוליו,” Megadim 8 (1989): 70-73) notes, however, that there are many cases where the term is used in the middle of a sentence or phrase and thus does not seem to be merely an introduction. Ofer, rather, argues that the term is parallel to צריך עיון or similar, referring to a question that has no answer (and may also hint to the fact that it is an independent thought of R. Chizkiyah). Indeed, the majority of usages of the term are cases of questions without answers, however there are also cases with answers. Ofer argues that such instances can mostly be explained by the fact that the answers were only added later, and he cites several examples where such a process can actually be observed in the Oxford manuscript. Several other scholars concur that the term seems to indicate a question or problem. Regarding what the letters actually stand for, if not just for the author’s name, Brecher (הערות לס' חזקוני: 14) theorizes that it stands for חזינא קטיר (based on Yevamot 61a), meaning that the author sees a knot that requires undoing (although this is quite distant from the meaning of the phrase in Yevamot). Carmiel Cohen of Hebrew University suggested (in a conversation with Priel) that the abbreviation refers to the phrase חזות קשה in Yeshayahu 21:2, which would be a play on words that refers to a difficult question. 9 See Priel: 2 for details. A fifth manuscript, 167 in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, was thought to contain Chizkuni, but actually contains a different work also named Chizkuni, by a completely different author. This other work was published as חזקוני על פירוש רש"י by שלמה זלמן פיליפ. 10 Oxford, Bodleian Library, Neubauer Catalogue 243 (Mich. 568). There is a note on this manuscript that reads “ספר החזקוני בכתב מידי המחבר עצמו.” However, the manuscript was written by two different people, a main scribe with a clear and aesthetic script, and a proofreader who made many corrections and additions. The fact that the corrections included things such as the replacement of text accidentally skipped by the scribe would seem to indicate that the main scribe was simply copying a pre-existing work, implying that this could not be the author’s original manuscript. See, however, Y. Ofer, “פירוש החזקוני לתורה וגלגוליו,” Megadim 8 (1989): 69-83, where Ofer makes cogent arguments that it was R. Chizkiyah himself who was the proofreader (and that he had commissioned a scribe to create a manuscript of Chizkuni from an earlier draft).