54 64 (MIDRASH). Sepher Mechilta [Halachic Midrash to the Book of Exodus]. Anonymous (Attributed to the Mishnaic Sage, Rabbi Yishmael). FIRST EDITION. Printed in two columns in rabbinic type. ff. (42). Lightly stained in places, minimal wear, opening leaf expertly repaired verso with initial words of each line in facsimile, previous owner’s stamps. Modern morocco. Sm. folio. [Vinograd, Const. 60; Yaari, Const. 41; Mehlman 136; Deinard, Atikoth Yehudah p. 27; Hacker, Areshet vol. V, p. 476 no. 41.] Constantinople, Astruc de Toulon,1515. $10,000 - $15,000 ❧ Although it was commonly accepted that the opposing schools of Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Akiva composed different sets of Halachic Midrashim, this present collection is the only one known to exist until the discoveries of additional texts in the 19th century. R. Nissim ben Jacob, R. Samuel HaNagid and Maimonides have all identified R. Yishmael as the author of this Sepher Mechilta. Such authorship is indeed recognized by many in the scholarly community as plausible, but contingent upon the acknowledgment that the work underwent a subsequent process of revision following its initial composition. Over the past century-and-a-half, fragments of a variant Mechilta texts were discovered in the Cairo Genizah and were studied, first by Rabbi David Tzvi Hoffman of Berlin and later by Professors J.N. Epstein and E.Z. Melamed of Jerusalem. It was initially believed that these fragments simply represented a variant text to Rabbi Yishmael’s Mechilta, but have by now been positively identified as belonging to the lost Mechilta d’Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai, a student of Rabbi Akiva. The Genizah fragments were joined with various citations preserved by the Yemenite Midrash HaGadol in order to artificially reconstruct and restore the original Mechilta d’RaShB”I - an extraordinary scholarly accomplishment. Still debated today is whether additional discovered fragments prove the existence of a third Mechilta - the Mechilta d’Rebbi Yishmael on the Book of Devarim. In any event, the present work is the Mechilta anthology that did indeed survive the travails of history, and this Constantinople text, the first printed appearance of the Mechilta, is a significant milestone in its preservation. 65 (MIDRASH). Midrash Shmuel [Midrashic commentary to the Book of Samuel]. FIRST EDITION. Complete as issued, without title-page. A FINE, WIDE-MARGINED COPY. ff. 12, (4). Trace wormed at margins expertly repaired, few light stains. Signed by censor Camillo Jagel at end. Bound in Valmadonna-custom blind-tooled maroon crushed morocco, spine in compartments and titled in gilt. Folio. [Vinograd, Const. 90; Mehlman 176; Deinard, Atikoth Yehudah, p. 25.] Constantinople, (Nahmias?),1517. $10,000 - $15,000 ❧ EXCEPTIONALLY RARE MIDRASHIC TEXT. The last two leaves of Midrash Shmuel contain the Responses of Sa’adyah Gaon to Ten Questions Concerning the Resurrection of the Dead. Despite Italian dominance over 16th century Hebrew printing, it was the presses of the Sephardic Diaspora (Constantinople and Salonika) that were the first to issue most of the Midrashim published in that century. Sephardic culture had always been receptive of the artistic expression of the Midrash, but especially now, given the trauma of the Iberian Expulsion, its soothing words were greatly needed in the still rootless Sephardic communities of the Ottoman Empire.