R. Yosef Bekhor Shor – Intellectual Profile

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R. Yosef Bekhor Shor
R. Yosef Bekhor Shor
ר' יוסף בכור שור
Dates12th century
LocationNorthern France
WorksTorah and Tehillim commentaries, novellae on the Talmud, liturgical poems
Exegetical Characteristics
Influenced byRashbam, R. Tam
Impacted onSefer HaGan, Baalei HaTosafot, Ramban



  • Name – ר' יוסף בכור שור‎,2 ר' יוסף מאורליינש‎‎,3 probably ר' יוסף בן יצחק  מאורליינש‎ and ר' יוסף בר' יצחק בן הנדיב ר' יוסף מקינון‎4
  • Dates – 12th century5
  • Location – Orleans, Northern France
  • Education and Occupation – No more than a skeletal history of R"Y Bekhor Shor’s life can be constructed from the extant sources.6
    • Lived in the 12th century Northern French Tosafist milieu and was a disciple of R. Tam.7
    • He was a Halakhist/Talmudist whose novellae are included in Tosafot, as well as a Bible commentator.
    • From his writings it can be deduced that he knew Latin and was familiar with Christian biblical exegesis.8
    • He also was a פייטן (author of liturgical poems)9 who had a well-developed literary sense.10
    • His prominent position within the Tosafist world is attested by frequent use of his commentaries by later Tosafist compilations.11
  • Family – R"Y Bekhor Shor cites his father once in his commentary,12 and he had a son who is cited in Tosafist literature, called R. Avraham b. R. Yosef of Orleans.13
  • Teachers – R. Yaakov Tam14
  • ContemporariesRashbam, R. Eliezer of Beaugency,15 R. Avraham Ibn Ezra16
  • Students – 
  • Time period – 
  • World outlook – 


  • Biblical commentaries – Torah,17 Tehillim18
  • Rabbinics – 
    • Talmudic novellae – R"Y Bekhor Shor is cited a number of times in Tosafot on the Talmud19
    • Halakhic codes – 
    • Responses to the works of others – 
    • Responsa – Conducted Halakhic correspondence with R. Tam.20
  • Jewish thought – 
  • Other works – Piyuttim21
  • Misattributed works – 

Torah Commentary

See R. Yosef Bekhor Shor's Torah Commentary.


  • Verse by verse / Topical – 
  • Genre – 
  • Structure – 
  • Language – 
  • Peshat and derash – 


  • – 


  • – 

Textual Issues

  • Manuscripts – R. Yosef Bekhor Shor's Torah commentary has survived in only one mid-sixteenth century manuscript, MS Munich 52. This manuscript has served as the basis for all printed editions of the commentary.22
  • Printings – Originally published piecemeal beginning in the mid 19th century. Bereshit and Shemot were published by A. Jellinek (Leipzig, 1856), Vayikra by M. Halevi in HaZofeh LeHokhmat Yisrael 8 (1924), Bemidbar 1–15 by J. Neumann (Frankfurt, 1900), Bemidbar 16–36 by M. Bamberger (Budapest, 1928), Devarim 1–15 by A. Zweig (Breslau, 1914), and Devarim 32 and 34 by G. Walter (Breslau, 1890). The first complete edition was published by Y. Gad (Yerushalayim, 1956-1960), and this was followed by Y. Nevo, (Yerushalayim, 1994). For more on the AlHaTorah.org edition, see R. Yosef Bekhor Shor's Torah Commentary.23
  • Textual layers – see R. Yosef Bekhor Shor's Torah Commentary.


Significant Influences

  • Earlier Sources – Rashi
  • Teachers – 
    • His father – cited only once in Vayikra 23:16.  The Sefer HaGan Shemot 27:18 records an additional interpretation which R"Y Bekhor Shor transmitted in the name of his father.
    • R. Tam – 
    • R. Eliezer of Mainz / Beaugency – cited only once in a gloss on Vayikra 22:25.24
  • Foils – 

Occasional Usage

  • Menachem b. Saruq – cited only once in Shemot 14:20.
  • R. Chayyug - cited only once in Devarim 11:26.
  • R. Avraham b. Hiyya – cited once in Devarim 28:63.25
  • R. Yosef Kara – cited nine times: Bereshit 4:23-24, 34:25, 49:9, Shemot 4:11, 20:1, Devarim 14:1, 28:68, 32:17, 33:1.
  • Rashbam – cited five26 times:  Bereshit 36:12 ("ורבי' שמו' מצא"),27‎ Shemot 2:14 ("ומשם רבי' שמואל שמעתי"),‎ 3:14 ("ור' שמואל פירש")‎, 6:13 ("ור' שמואל פירש"),‎ 14:25 ("ומשום רבי' שמואל שמעתי").  There are many other interpretations of R"Y Bekhor Shor, though, which were taken from or influenced by Rashbam.
  • Ibn Ezra – cited only twice in the glosses to the commentary on Bereshit 49:4, Shemot 24:11, and another time in the name of R"Y Bekhor Shor in Sefer HaGan Bereshit 2:23.
  • R. Shelomo Parchon – cited only once in the gloss to the commentary on Bereshit 33:6.
  • R. Ovadiah b. Shemuel HaSefaradi28 – cited nine29 times: Bereshit 2:2, 18:5, 39:2, Shemot 4:11, 10:2, 15:26, 22:19, 23:25, Devarim 31:18.30
  • R. Yitzchak HaGer – cited twice (both of which are glosses): Shemot 3:13,31 4:11.
  • R. Karshava – cited only once in Bereshit 44:10.
  • R. Tuv Elem – cited only once in a gloss to Vayikra 20:14.
  • R. Berechya – cited only once in a gloss to Vayikra 19:19.

Possible Relationship


Later exegetes