Documents: 29, displayed: 1 - 20

Sub-project: Hebrew Manuscript Library of Switzerland

September 2018

Status: In progress

Financed by: Susanne & René Braginsky Foundation

Project Director: Dr. Justine Isserles

Description: Several hundred Hebrew manuscripts are preserved in Switzerland today in various private and public collections. The Hebrew Manuscript Library in Switzerland project aims to shed light on a selection of medieval and pre-modern Hebrew manuscripts from the cities of Basel, Bern, Geneva, St Gallen and Zurich, chosen to be highlighted predominately for their rarity in content, but also for their codicological, palaeographical and decorative features. The digitization and scholarly descriptions of these manuscripts on e-codices will undoubtedly help to establish the importance of these precious witnesses from Swiss collections, many of which have been unacknowledged until now. This project is generously supported by the Susanne & René Braginsky Foundation

All Libraries and Collections

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Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, A IV 37
Parchment · I + 197+ II ff. · 24.3-24.5 x 17.5-17.8 cm · Ashkenaz · 2nd half 14th century and 2nd half 15th century
Moses Maimonides, Sefer Moreh Nevukhim

This 14th and 15th century Ashkenazi copy of the Sefer Moreh Nevukhim (Guide to the Perplexed) by Moses Maimonides is the Hebrew translation of the work made in 1204 by Samuel ben Judah Ibn Tibbon (1150-1230). This copy also includes a preface from the commentary to the Moreh Nevukhim by Shem Tov ben Joseph ben Shem Tov, a 15th century Spanish rabbi and vigorous defender of Aristotelian and Maimonidean philosophy. In the 16th century, this manuscript was owned by Johann Buxtorf II, and used as the base for the latter’s Latin edition of the Doctoris Perplexorum (Basel, 1629). (iss)

Online Since: 03/19/2020

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Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, AN IX 4
Parchment · III + 84 + III ff. · 21 x 15.4-16.3 cm · Ashkenaz · 2nd half 15th century
The Basel Nizzaḥon

The Sefer Nizzaḥon Yashan is the name of an anonymous anthology of arguments against the Christological interpretation of biblical verses, supplemented by critique of the Gospels and Christian doctrines and morals. Composed in Franco-Germany circa 1300, most confutations are based on polemical themes and criticisms of Christian faith which were disseminated in Jewish circles in medieval Ashkenaz and northern France. There are few extant editions and manuscripts of this work, one of which is the Basel Nizzaḥon. This manuscript which bears some similarities with the other copies, should nevertheless be considered as an indirect, yet important witness to Jewish apologetic from medieval Franco-Germany. (iss)

Online Since: 03/19/2020

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Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, R III 3
Paper · III + 28 + I ff. · 19.5-19.7 x 14.4-14.5 cm · Ashkenaz · 16th century
Sefer Avqat Rokhel attributed to Makhir ben Isaac of Toledo

The Avqat Rokhel is a selection of eschatological writings arranged in three ‘books’ with several sections each, attributed to Makhir ben Isaac Sar Hasid of Toledo (14th c.), a student of Judah ben Asher (1270-1349), son of Asher ben Yehiel (Rosh, c.1250-1327). Only its title is identical with a later work on responsa by Joseph Caro (1488-1575) (Ed. Princ. Salonica, 1791). The title of the work is taken from a verse of the Songs of Songs 3: 6 [Who is this that cometh up out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant/ perfumer (אבקת רוכל)?] and can be translated as “The perfumer’s powders”. (iss)

Online Since: 10/08/2020

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Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, R IV 2
Parchment and paper · 48 ff. · 21.5-22.2 x 15.5 cm · Ashkenaz · 15th century
Astrological, philosophical and medical miscellany

This miscellany, compiled in 15th century Ashkenaz, is a handbook chiefly composed of a plethora of texts on astronomy, astrology, prognoses, popular medicine and medical-astrology, related to illnesses and bloodletting, to which are appended other texts on a variety of subjects: calendrical tables and treatises, ethical and liturgical poems, 13th century halakhic and scholastic philosophical material translated into Hebrew. Furthermore, a small but significant discovery in the manuscript helps to pinpoint the city of Cologne or its surroundings, as a possible location for the production this miscellany. (iss)

Online Since: 06/18/2020

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Bern, Burgerbibliothek, Cod. 200
Parchment · VII + 258 + XIII ff. · 30 x 22 cm · Ashkenaz · 1290
Lexicographical and scientific miscellany

This medieval Hebrew lexicographical and scientific miscellany dates back to 1290 and encloses three highly important texts, used as the base for published editions and studies. These are: the Maḥberet Menahem by Menahem ben Jacob Ibn Saruq (died c. 970); an anonymous Hebrew prose translation of the very popular Old French version of the lapidary by Marbode of Rennes (12th c.) and lastly, an anonymous abridged version of the talmudic and midrashic lexicon entitled Sefer ha-Arukh by Natan ben Yehiel Anav of Rome (1035-1110), called the Berner Kleiner Arukh. The particularity of this copy is the presence of Old West Yiddish and Old French glosses. Furthermore, among the numerous later notes, there are more significant additions which abound in the blank pages and margins of the manuscript, the most unusual of which is a charm in Middle High German in Hebrew characters, relative to Hulda, a German goddess comparable to Venus, taken from the Tannhäuserlied. Moreover, this manuscript belonged to several famous Jewish and Christians owners, whose scriptural witness testifies to the manuscript’s remarkable stature as a treasured source of knowledge from the time it was compiled at the end of the 13th century, to its possession by Christian Hebraists in Switzerland during the 16th and 17th centuries. (iss)

Online Since: 12/12/2019

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Bern, Burgerbibliothek, Cod. 253
Paper · II + 107 + II ff. · 29-29.2 x 20.7-21 cm‎ · Ashkenaz · 2nd half 15th century
Tur Oraḥ Ḥayim, first book of the Arba’ah Turim by Jacob ben Asher

The Arba’ah Turim is a work of legal nature and is divided into four books, the first of which is found in MS Cod. 253 is the Tur Oraḥ Ḥayim or ‘Path of Life’ and encloses laws on daily Jewish practices of blessings (i.e. washing hands in the morning, tefilin, tsitsit), prayer and laws on the Sabbath, festivals and Torah readings. This section also includes aspects of the Hebrew calendar relative to the annual liturgy. (iss)

Online Since: 10/08/2020

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Bern, Burgerbibliothek, Cod. 359
Parchment · 109 ff. · 24-24.5 x 17.5-18 cm · Italy · 2nd half of the 15th century
Abraham ben Meir ibn Ezra, Sefer ha-Yashar

The Sefer ha-Yashar is one of two Bible commentaries by the great R. Abraham Ibn Ezra (1089/92-1164/67). Written in Lucca, Italy ca. 1142-45, this work attained great recognition and popularity during the Middle Ages and has been preserved in numerous manuscripts and printed books. This 15th century Italian copy is of particular interest since it belonged, at some point during the 16th century, to Theodore de Bèze (1519-1605), the famous Genevan Calvinist theologian and Professor, who then gave it to one of his disciples and colleagues, Antoine Chevalier (1507-1572), the first Professor of Hebrew language at the Académie de Genève. (iss)

Online Since: 06/13/2019

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cod. Bodmer 22
Parchment · 1 f. · 305.4 x 32.8 cm · Ashkenaz · c. 1500
Megillat Esther (מגילת אסתר) / Esther Scroll

Early 16th century Esther scroll from Ashkenaz, for private use with intricate floral and animal type ink drawings located over some of the monumental letters in the list of Haman’s sons. (iss)

Online Since: 12/14/2018

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Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Comites Latentes 69
Parchment and paper · 82 ff. · 15 x 11-11.7 cm · Vienna · 1756 and 18th-19th century
Pesach Haggadah

This handwritten Haggadah Comites Latentes 69 was created in Vienna in 1756. It is decorated with black ink and masterfully imitates copper engraving. The author is the famous scribe and illustrator Simmel ben Moses from Polna (active between 1714 and 1756), who produced about thirty dated manuscripts that have survived until today, of which, however, only 17, including CL 69, are autographs. His works of art are among the most remarkable examples of Hebrew manuscript decoration in 18th century Central Europe. The Song of Solomon, copied by later hands, concludes this magnificent manuscript. (iss)

Online Since: 06/22/2017

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Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Comites Latentes 173
Paper · VI + 173 + VI ff. · 21.7-21.9 x 15-15.5 cm · Velletri · between 1565 and 1599
Sefer Ḥokhmat Nashim

This legal manuscript with the title Sefer Ḥokhmat Nashim is part of a vernacular literary genre for women that was widely read in Ashkenazic and Italian communities since the Renaissance. This manual of prescriptions in Judeo-Italian is said to have been copied by the famous Italian kabbalist and preacher Mordechai ben Juda Dato during the second half of the 16th century. (iss)

Online Since: 09/26/2017

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Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Comites Latentes 278
Paper · III + 1 + II f. · 25.7 x 17-18 cm · 12th century
Kitab al-Hidaya ila Faraiḍ al-Qulub

This rare Judeo-Arabic fragment is from the Kitab al-Hidaya ila Faraiḍ al-Qulub (Guide to the Duties of the Heart ) by Baḥya ben Joseph Ibn Paquda (2nd half of the 11th century). This work is of fundamental importance since it sets out the first Jewish system of ethics. The manuscript tradition of this Judeo-Arabic work is quite fragmentary because few textual witnesses remain today. (iss)

Online Since: 09/26/2017

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Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. heb. 1
Parchment · I + 429 + II ff. · 27.8-28 x 20-20.5 cm‎ · Sephardic · 13th century
Massoretic Bible (Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographs)

This immaculately preserved Sephardic 13th century massoretic Bible was employed as a study manual for learning the cantillation notes for the Torah readings. The significance of this massoretic bible lies however within its provenance, where it must have arrived in Italy sometime in the mid-15th century and acquired by Solomon Finzi, a famous Jewish banker from Mantua, who owned a large library of Hebrew manuscripts. Lastly, a letter inserted at the beginning of the manuscript testifies to the use of this bible as one of the 615 biblical manuscripts collated for Benjamin Kennicott’s Vetus Testamentum hebraicum variis lectionibus (1776-1780). (iss)

Online Since: 12/12/2019

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Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. heb. 3
Parchment · I + 131 + I ff. · 21.5 x 14.5 cm · Northern France · mid-13th century
Hebrew Bible (Pentateuch and Book of Esther)

This medium format bible from northern France arrived at the Bibliothèque de Genève between 1667 and 1701 and is one of the oldest donations to this library, once called the Académie de Genève. Furthermore, this bible was also used as one of the 615 biblical manuscripts collated for Benjamin Kennicott’s Vetus Testamentum hebraicum variis lectionibus (1776-1780). (iss)

Online Since: 12/14/2018

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Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. heb. 4
Parchment · 1 f. · 208.3 x 13.5 cm · Amsterdam · around 1641
Megillat Ester (מגילת אסתר) / Esther Scroll

This Megillat Esther consists of thirty round text medallions, surrounded by multicolored engraved decorations with floral, animal and baroque architectural designs. This unbeknownst scroll is one of sixth extant scrolls composed of the “lion, lamb and bear” motif, produced by the famous engraver Shalom Italia (ca. 1619-1664). He also engraved numerous Esther scrolls of different motifs that are still preserved in special collections, museums and libraries throughout the world. (iss)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

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Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. heb. 8
Parchment · I + 280 + I ff. · 22 x 14.8-15 cm‎ · end-13th century to beg.-14th century
Mahzor

This beautiful Mahzor for the High Holidays (Rosh ha-Shana and Yom Kippur) of the Jewish liturgical year, according to the north French rite (Nussaḥ Tsarfat) is accompanied by a great deal of liturgical poems (piyyutim). This manuscript preserves the liturgy recited by the once flourishing communities of medieval northern France. Several catchwords are surrounded by figurative ink drawings. The volume entered the Bibliothèque de Genève at an unknown date between 1667 and the end of the 17th century, having been previously owned by the physician of Andrea Doria, Condottiere of Charles Quint (1500-1558). (iss)

Online Since: 06/18/2020

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Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. heb. 9
Paper · I + 139 + I ff. · 20.5-25 x 14.2-15 cm · Ashkenaz and Italy · 1st half 14th century (Mishneh Torah) and mid-15th century (lapidary)
Mishneh Torah (Books I, II, V) by Maimonides and a Hebrew and Judeo-Italian lapidary

This paper manuscript which is dated thanks to its watermarks, is divided into two distinct textual units bound together. The first work is an Ashkenazi 14th century incomplete copy of the remarkable legal work Mishneh Torah by Maimonides (1135-1204), containing books 1, 2 and 5. The second text is an Italian 15th century anonymous lapidary entitled Inian ha-Avanim, followed by a text listing the carats of pearls and spinels, as well as the value of silver and gold in several cities and regions, including locations such as Paris, Venice, Genoa and Sicily. This miscellany entered the Bibliothèque de Genève at an unknown date between 1667 and the end of the 17th century. (iss)

Online Since: 06/18/2020

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Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. heb. 10
Parchment and paper · I + 118 + I ff. · 21.5 x 16 cm · Sephardic · 14th century
Composite manuscript of arithmetical, astronomical and ethical texts

This manuscript consists of four texts: an anonymous treatise on arithmetic and astronomy, an anonymous commentary on the Sefer ha-Mispar by R. Abraham Ibn Ezra (ca. 1092-1167), the treatise She'elot Tiviot (Problemata Physica) attributed to Pseudo-Aristotle, and the ethical and didactic poem Musar Haskel by R. Hai ben Sherira Gaon (ca. 939-1038). The She'elot Tiviot, translated from Arabic into Hebrew by Moïse Ibn Tibbon (died ca. 1283), are especially important since Ms. heb. 10 contains a version in four chapters. Of a total of seven known surviving manuscripts in the entire world containing the She'elot Tiviot, only three other manuscripts comprise these four chapters. (iss)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

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Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. heb. 12
Parchment and paper · II + 103 + III ff. · 21.4 x 14.8-15 cm · Sephardic · end of the 13th - beginning of the 14th century
Logica Aben Resched

This manuscript contains an anonymous Hebrew paraphrase of the first five books of Averroes' (Abu al Walid Muhammed Ibn Rushd, c.1126-1198) Commentaire Moyen (middle commentary) on the Organon attributed to Aristotle. From the 13th century on, Hebrew paraphrases and compilations of certain books of the Organon were written by intellectual Jews from Provence, such as Jacob Anatolio Abba Mari (ca. 1194-1256); more than fifty manuscripts of this work of his have survived. The anonymous paraphrase found in the Bibliothèque de Genève’s Ms. heb.12 is part of the same series. (iss)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

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Genève, La Bibliothèque juive « Gérard Nordmann », HEB 0002
Paper · I + 186 + VI ff. · 20.7 x 17.3 cm · 18th century
Astronomical and geographical work

This manuscript is a copy of only one of six extant manuscript exemplars and an old print of this work (1743) worldwide. Its author is the famous Bohemian rabbi, astronomer and mathematician R. David ben Salomon Gans (1541-1613). In his 1974 monograph about David Gans, André Neher referred to this copy as the Manuscrit de Genève. A colophon in the manuscript gives the date as 1613, but a current study on the history of the transmission of this work suggests that it is an 18th century copy. (iss)

Online Since: 06/14/2018

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St. Gallen, Kantonsbibliothek, Vadianische Sammlung, VadSlg Ms. 326
Parchment · IV + 134 + IV ff. · 12.3-12.5 x 9-9.5 cm · Italy · 14th century
Mahzor according to the Roman rite

This small mahzor according to the Roman rite was written in Italy during the 14th century. It contains a first section with abridged prayers for the festivals of the Jewish liturgical year (Pessah, Shavuot, Rosh ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atseret) and a second section, enclosing many liturgical poems accompanying the prayers. This prayer ritual was not only written for personal use, due to its size, but may have also been destined for a woman, since a word, found in the vidui (confession), situated in the manuscript at the end of the Yom Kippur afternoon prayers, ends with a feminine suffix. (iss)

Online Since: 06/13/2019

Documents: 29, displayed: 1 - 20