Documents: 24, 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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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. 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. It is a sixth, not yet listed, scroll with the motif “lion, lamb and bear,” produced by the famous engraver Shalom Italia (ca. 1619-1664). He is also the creator of numerous other engraved Esther scrolls that are held 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. 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

In all the world, only six manuscript exemplars and an old print of this work (1743) still exist. Its author is the famous Bohemian rabbi, astronomer and mathematician R. David ben Salomon Gans (1541-1613), student of Maharal of Prague, R. Judah Loew (1525-1609) and of Rema, R. Moses Isserles (1520-1572). 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 about 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

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Utopia, armarium codicum bibliophilorum, Cod. 9
Parchment and paper · 132 ff. · 9.5 x 7 cm · Italy · 14th century
Collection of laws about ritual slaughter and about dietary laws (Hilkhot Shekhitah and Treifah)

This small-format handbook about ritual slaughter is from 14th century Italy. It contains the laws of shekhitah (ritual slaughter) and of treifot (possbile defects of kosher animals) by Judah ben Benjamin ha-Rofe Anaw from Rome (13th century). This is followed by excerpts of laws about shekhitah from the Torat ha-Bayit ha-Arokh, a legal work about the laws governing Jewish households by Salomon ben Abraham ben Adret from Barcelona (1235-1310). (iss)

Online Since: 10/10/2019

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Zürich, Zentralbibliothek, Ms. Car. C 126
Parchment · I +167 ff. · 23 x 17.8 cm · Sepharad (Catalonia ?) · 1292
Moses Maimonides, Sefer Moreh Nevukhim

This elegant illuminated copy of the Sefer Moreh Nevukhim (Guide to the Perplexed) by Moses Maimonides was produced in Christian Spain in 1292. It is a copy of the Hebrew translation of the work made in 1204 by Samuel ben Judah Ibn Tibbon (1150-1230). The manuscript arrived in Italy either after the Jewish persecutions of 1391 or the ensuing expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian peninsula in 1492. It was in the possession of the renowned Bolognese Sforno family before reappearing in the early 17th century in the hands of the Italian Jewish apostate and inquisitor Renato da Modena. After more than a century, the manuscript reappeared in the possession of Johann Caspar Ulrich (1705-1768) a Protestant theologian, who donated it in 1762 to the Bibliotheca Ecclesia Carolina, the chapter library of the reformed Grossmünster church of Zurich. In 1835, when the chapter was dissolved, the books and manuscripts of the chapter library became part of the new Cantonal Library in Zurich. Finally in 1917, the holdings of this library, among others, formed the new Zentralbibliothek, where the manuscript still remains today. (iss)

Online Since: 03/19/2020

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Zürich, Zentralbibliothek, Ms. Heid. 30
Parchment · V + 104 + V ff. · 30-30.4 x 22-22.6 cm · Byzantium · 14th century
R. David ben Joseph Kimhi, Sefer ha-Shorashim

The Sefer ha-Shorashim by R. David ben Joseph Kimhi (1160-1235) is extant in numerous medieval Hebrew manuscripts and fragments of diverse origins (Sephardi, Italian, Ashkenazi, Provençal), several printed editions and Latin translations, all testifying to the incomparable popularity of the work throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. However, the great significance of the Sefer ha-Shorashim of the Zentralbibliothek, dated to the 14th century, lies within the fact that it is the only preserved copy of Byzantine origin known today. (iss)

Online Since: 10/10/2019

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Zürich, Zentralbibliothek, Ms. Heid. 41
Parchment · II + 89 + II‎ ff. · ‎17-17.4 x 12.5 cm · Italy · end-13th to early 14th century
Manual on ritual slaughter and dietary laws (Hilkhot Shekhitah and Treifah)

This Italian manuscript is a manual containing the laws of ritual slaughter (Shekhitah) and forbidden foods (Treifah), taken from the Babylonian Talmud tractate Ḥulin. These laws have been commented on by two medieval rabbinical authorities, included in the manuscript. The first is Judah ben Benjamin ha-Rofe Anav of Rome (Rivevan, d. after 1280), whose commentary to the laws makes reference to customs practiced by the Jewish community of Rome, such as an important ruling taken by the elders of Rome in 1280 at the Bozzechi Synagogue, which has been edited in the description. The second author, whose work is partially copied in the manual, is the leading Talmud authority for the Jewish communities in 11th century North Africa and Spain, Isaac ben Jacob Alfasi (Rif, 1013-1103). The first three chapters of a commentary on the Babylonian Talmud tractate Ḥulin, taken from his magnum opus entitled the  Sefer ha-Halakhot, have been copied into this manual. This latter work played a fundamental role in the development of halakha and is the most important legal code prior to the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides (Rambam, 1135-1204). (iss)

Online Since: 10/10/2019

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Zürich, Zentralbibliothek, Ms. Heid. 51
Parchment · III + 209 + III ff. · 23.6-24 x 16-16.5 cm; 21.3-21.4 x 14-14.4 cm · Ashkenaz · end-14th to mid-15th century
Halakhic and calendrical Miscellany

This 14th and 15th century Askhenazi miscellany is a vademecum for personal use, destined to a scholar and composed mainly of halakhic material on ritual slaughtering, reflecting the decisions of the most important rabbinical authorities from 13th to 15th century Ashkenaz. There are also numerous treatises and tables on the Jewish and Christian calendars scattered throughout the manuscript. In addition, there is a selection of liturgical and mystical commentaries, as well as excerpts of ethical, Midrashic and Talmudic literature. The margins of the manuscript are filled with small notes and texts on medical recipes and magical incantations for various occasions in Hebrew and in Old West Yiddish. (iss)

Online Since: 12/12/2019

Documents: 24, displayed: 1 - 20