Biography of Abrahán ibn Ezra (1089-ca. 1164)

Poet, philologist and exegete scientist Jewish, born in Tudela when it was still the city under the Muslim power. In his youth he/she trained solidly Jewish and Arab, culture probably in Toledo and Cordoba, and traveled to other countries. In 1140, perhaps a result of disappointments and family problems, leave their homeland and start the tour of various European countries for more than 25 years, until his death between 1164 and 1167. Although it was already living the decline of the time, the breadth of their sacred and profane knowledge made him one of the last representative of Judaism in al - Andalus and served as a bridge to spread the fruits of Andalusian Jewish culture by Christian Spain and throughout Europe.

The main occupation of the first years of his life is, apparently, poetry. Though he/she had a special relationship with his countryman, Judah ha-Levi, his way of writing poetry is very different. Without prejudice to the Andalusian traditional genres such as the eulogies and songs of friendship, in his poems are new topics more concrete and realistic, of the life of every day, with vulgar, curious or prosaic, actors such as beggars and gamblers; adopts a tone of humor and satire somewhat bitter at the same time, introducing gambling or games of chess, disputes over the merits of different plants or animals, etc. Lack of inspiration and lyrical depth, used frequently the formal virtuosity, writing poems in very strange graphic shapes. Before the arrival of the Almohads, weeping bitterly the destruction of the old aljamas.

Are kept more than 500 poems sinagogales yours, many with Strophic structure; Sometimes, with footprints of philosophical and psychological, particularly neo-Platonic ideas, as well as the astronomical conceptions of time. Mention aside deserves an extensive poem (inspired by Avicenna) named there are ben-Meqis, in which the character so called travels all the creation up to the highest of the heavens.

His wandering Europe starts with a stay in Rome where passed to other Italian cities. Stop there where Jewish communities welcome you and transmits them to change its poetic and linguistic science, mathematical, astrological and philosophical knowledge, or feedback most of the biblical books that illuminate the meaning of the words from the most genuine Andalusian exegesis. When asked, he/she translates for them works written in Arabic by the Jews of al - Andalus, the philological works of Hayyuy. In Italy in that same decade wrote several books on Hebrew grammar: Sefer moznayim or "Book balance", Sefer has-yesod or "Book of the Foundation", the defence of Saadyah against Adonim ha-Levi, the Sefer sahot or "Book of linguistic correctness" (translated into English by C. del Valle, Salamanca, Univ. Pontificia de Salamanca, 1977), and Safah berurah, "Clear language". Write comments to the Pentateuch and some prophets and books of scientific character as the Sefer has-Cibbur, "Book of the collation" and the Sefer has-mispar or 'Book of the number'.

In France, where moves towards 1148, writes new Bible commentaries on the Pentateuch and many scientific works: Sefer yesod mispar, 'Book of the Foundation of the number'; Sefer has-ehad, «Book unit», on mathematics; Mispete has-mazzalot, "Law of the constellations"; Resit hokmah, «Start of wisdom», and several books about astrology; Sefer keli nehoset, "Book of the bronze instrument», on the astrolabe; Sefer has-Casamim, "Book of the substances», on matters of physics and metaphysics. In 1158 goes to England, and writes the Yesod mora, «Foundation of fear» and the Iggeret Shabbat, 'Charter on Saturday', then returning back to the South of France, unless we know for certain where he/she died.

In addition to its remarkable poetic production, Biblical reviews are among the most prized in the Jewish world for his interest in the literal sense of the text and philological knowledge, as well as for its philosophical and scientific content. His writings on mathematics and astronomy are an important contribution to the progress of Western science, and Europe owes much little in this field. Their positive attitude towards Astrology would not just influence generations. His philosophy is essentially neoplatonic, but not systematic soundness. In the field of grammar, it not only streamlines and propagates ideas of philologists Al-Andalus in the 11th century, they made a new personal synthesis.


DÍAZ ESTEBAN, f. (ed.) Abraham ibn Ezra and his time. Proceedings of the International Symposium. Madrid, Tudela, Toledo. 1-8 February 1989. (Madrid: Spanish Association of orientalists, 1990).

SÁENZ-BADILLOS, A. Hebrew literature in medieval Spain. (Madrid: Fundación Amigos de Sefarad, 1991).

SÁENZ-BADILLOS, TARGARONA, J. Dictionary of Jewish authors (Sefarad. 10th - 15th centuries). (Córdoba: El Almendro, 1990).