Mivchar Ha’peninim [“A Choice of Pearls”- ethics]. Translated from the original Arabic by Judah ibn Tibbon. With an annonymous commentary.

AUCTION 14 | Tuesday, November 13th, 2001 at 1:00
Important Hebrew Printed Books and Manuscripts From the Library of the London Beth Din

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Lot 328

Mivchar Ha’peninim [“A Choice of Pearls”- ethics]. Translated from the original Arabic by Judah ibn Tibbon. With an annonymous commentary.

FIRST EDITION. ff. 59 (of 60), lacking the opening blank. Light stains in places, few leaves reinforced at hinges with strips from a fifteenth century Latin manuscript on vellum, Hebrew character foliation in an early hand, signed by censors on verso of penultimate leaf and recto of final leaf (though internally uncensored), recent Hebrew manuscript notation on title, Hebrew and Latin inscriptions on verso of final leaf (blank). Recent blind-ruled chestnut morocco. Sm.4to Vinograd, Soncino 2; Offenberg 57; Goff Heb-98; Freimann-Marx, Thesaurus A 27; Goldstein 25

Soncino: Joshua Solomon Soncino 14th January, 1484

Est: $40,000 - $50,000
THE VERY FIRST WORK PUBLISHED BY THE SONCINO FAMILY OF PRINTERS. The first work typeset by the House of Soncino, was the Talmudic tractate Berachoth, which was completed on 19th December 1483. However, it was not published for sale and distribution until 2nd February 1484. Consequently, ibn Gvirol’s Mivchar Ha’peninim, which was published on 14th January 1484 is the first published work emanating from the House of Soncino. (See Amram, The Makers of Hebrew Books in Italy, pp.56-60). The Soncino dynasty, maintains a most esteemed place in the history of Hebrew printing. They began their proliferate labors at the beginning of the 1480’s, establishing presses in various Italian cities, including Soncino, Brescia and Casale-Maggiore, and later in Constantinople and Salonika as well. “For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the Word of the Lord from Soncino,” became the favored proverb of the Soncino press. Solomon ibn Gvirol was born in 1021 in Malaga, Spain, and orphaned in childhood. He moved to Saragossa, which was a center of Jewish learning and began to write and compose poetry. By the tender age of sixteen, he was already a fully fledged poet of the first rank. The literary output of ibn Gvirol was immense. His philosophical poems express lofty thoughts and disclose a neo-Platonic framework. He struggles with personal salvation and defines the purpose of the life of man to be the communion of the soul with the upper world, or its source. Ibn Gvirol's ethical poems present an exalted ode to God and an all-encompassing epic of the universe, expressing humble submission and reverence for God and the suffering of the Jewish people and their longing for salvation. On the authenticity of ibn Gvirol’s authorship of the Mivchar Ha’peninim, see A. Marx, Gabirol’s Authorship of the Choice of Pearls and the Two Versions of Joseph Kimhi’s Shekel Ha’kodesh, in: Studies in Books and Booklore (1944) pp.9-25.