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2 (Spring 2005) 228–256
Medieval Monasticism and the Evolution of Jewish Interpretation to the Story of Jephthah’s Daughter
J O S H UA B E R M A N
S T U DI E S I N T HE F IE L D of Jewish-Christian relations in the Middle Ages over the last decade have attended to the ways in which Jewish culture incorporated motifs, concepts, and symbols from the host culture of Latin Christendom.1 In the visual arts, paintings of a Jewish child being brought to his tutor resemble Madonna scenes of the period.2 In ritual custom the Jewish tradition of teaching the letters of the Hebrew alphabet to a child by writing them on a piece of cake with honey is seen to evolve concomitantly with the rise of the prominence of the Eucharist.3 In social thought, Jewish writings of the period exhibit an interest in the intentionality of marital intercourse that parallels developments within Christian thought as well.4
My thanks to David Berger, Jeremy Cohen, Adam Ferziger, Edward Greenstein, and Rimon Kasher, who read the manuscript and offered invaluable comments, and to Uriel Simon and Miriam Goldstein for their extended consultations. An earlier version of this paper was read at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, 2003. 1. See full-length studies in Israel Jacob Yuval, ‘‘Two Nations in Your Womb’’: Perceptions of Jews and Christians (Hebrew; Tel Aviv, 2000); Ivan G. Marcus, Rituals of Childhood: Jewish Acculturation in Medieval Europe (New Haven, Conn., 1996). 2. Evelyn M. Cohen, ‘‘The Teacher, the Father, and the Virgin Mary in the Leipzig Mahzor,’’ Proceedings of the Tenth World Congress of Jewish Studies Division D, vol. 2: Art, Folklore, and Music (Jerusalem, 1990), 71–76; see also Marc Michael Epstein, ‘‘The Elephant and the Law: The Medieval Jewish Minority Adapts a Christian Motif,’’ Art Bulletin 76 (1993): 465–78. 3. Marcus, Rituals of Childhood, 18–34; with regard to Passover rituals, see Yuval, Two Nations, 219–66. 4. Jeremy Cohen, ‘‘Sexuality and Intentionality in Rabbinic Thought of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries,’’ Marriage and the Family in Halakha and Jewish Thought, ed. M. A. Friedman (Hebrew; Tel Aviv, 1997), 155–72; Ephraim Kanarfogel, Jewish Education and Society in the High Middle Ages (Detroit, 1992), 70–72.
The Jewish Quarterly Review (Spring 2005) Copyright 2005 Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. All rights reserved.
While the most attention has been devoted to the ﬁeld of custom, Jewish literary creations of the period have also been seen to incorporate Christian iconography. Ivan Marcus has noted that the Sefer Zekira, by Rabbi Ephraim of Bonn, written in the third quarter of the twelfth century, depicts a ritual attack upon Rabbi Jacob ben Meir of Ramerupt in revenge for the Jews’ role in the cruciﬁxion. In the narrative Rabbi Jacob emerges as a Jewish Christ-ﬁgure enduring many of the physical and verbal abuses suffered by Jesus at the hands of the Jews according to Gospel sources.5 This study examines the history of interpretation of the story of the daughter of Jephthah (Jgs 11.29–40) in Karaite, Rabbanite, and Christian sources. Its primary focus, though, is upon the dynamics through which medieval rabbinic exegetes drew inspiration from a decidedly Christian source—the institution of monasticism—and, in a break with rabbinic exegetical tradition, reread the story of the Jephthah’s daughter in a highly innovative manner. With one voice, the midrashic exegetical tradition afﬁrmed that Jephthah’s vow was a commitment to sacriﬁce the ﬁrst creature that greeted him upon his victorious return from battle against the Ammonites (Jgs 11.31), and that even when that creature proved to be his own daughter, Jephthah carried out his vow (11.39) and offered her as a sacriﬁce.6 Later exegetes found it difﬁcult to fathom how Jephthah could commit child immolation and yet receive no explicit censure.7 Within the commentaries
5. Ivan G. Marcus, ‘‘Jews and Christians Imagining the Other in Medieval Europe,’’ Prooftexts 15.3 (1995): 209–29; see also Jeremy Cohen, ‘‘The ‘Persecutions of 1096’—From Martyrdom to Martyrology: The Sociocultural Context of the Hebrew Crusade Chronicles’’ (Hebrew), Zion 59 (1994): 169–208; Marc Michael Epstein, Dreams of Subversion: Medieval Jewish Art and Literature (University Park, Pa., 1997). 6. GenR 60.3; LevR 37.4, EcclR 10.15, Tanhuma, Behukotai 7. See similarly in . . Josephus Jewish Antiquities 5.10, and in Philo, M. R. James, trans., The Biblical Antiquities of Philo (London, 1917), 194. 7. The propensity of medieval exegetes to minimize the grievousness of Jephthah’s actions here ought to be seen within the larger context of how rabbinic exegetes related to the failings of Israel’s biblical leaders and heroes. A comprehensive study of the subject yet awaits us and to attempt one here would be beyond the scope of the present study. Incisive local comments have been offered by David Berger. See his ‘‘On the Morality of the Patriarchs in Jewish Polemic and Exegesis,’’ Understanding Scripture: Explorations of Jewish and Christian Traditions of Interpretation, ed. C. Thomas and M. Wyschogrod (New York, 1987), 49–62; D. Berger, ‘‘Solomon’s Wisdom in Medieval Jewish Commentaries on the Book of Kings,’’ Hazon Nahum: Studies Presented to Dr. Norman Lamm in Honor of His Seventieth Birthday, ed. Y. Elman and J. S. Gurock (New York, 1997), 101–9.
1160– . 1986).e.. and Medievalism’’ (Hebrew). nor see another person for the rest of their lives. A more extensive understanding of monastic practices reveals these exegetes to be highly sensitive to the economic. institutional. Dogmatism.2 (2005) of Abraham Ibn Ezra (1089–1164)8 and R. sacriﬁcialist interpretation. and shows as well the imaginative. 13–27. way the medieval exegetes read these insights into the story of Jephthah’s daughter. L. ed. p. 9a. David Qimhi to Jgs 11.40 that in fulﬁlling the vow ‘‘she secluded herself . H. Tex. ‘‘This is the basis from which the Kingdom of Edom (i. Simon has correctly grouped these exegetes together as providing an alternative to the earlier. B. that they should enter and not leave at all for their entire lives.. While we do not possess a commentary to Judges by Ibn Ezra. social. Don Isaac Abarbanel (1437– 1508) wrote concerning her life of solitude. The shorthand terms ‘‘sacriﬁcialist’’ and ‘‘non-sacriﬁcial’’ approaches to the story. familial. c. as do the ascetics enclosed in the cells’’ (µyçwrph µyçnah wmk tddwbtm htyh µytbb µyrwgsh). David Qimhi (c. Tigay (Winona Lake. . The observation of Simon and others that these readings reﬂect the inﬂuence of monasticism in Latin Christendom is worthy of further elaboration and revision. and ceremonial contexts in which women engaged the monastic life. and J. his position is stated elsewhere in his writings.10 Simon points to the remark of R. 1874). Ind. originate with Marcus. Yet when monastic practices across the Middle Ages are surveyed. See his commentary to Dt 29. 1997). two of the leading rabbinic exegetes of their age. The relative merits of these two interpretations are not the focus of this study but are discussed at length in David Marcus. regnant.230 JQR 95. Jephthah and His Vow (Lubbock.9 Uriel Simon has suggested that this interpretation reﬂects the inﬂuence of medieval monasticism.. Uriel Simon. Similarly. Eichler. 10. ‘‘Peshat Exegesis of Biblical Historiography: Historicism.’’ Simon notes that Gersonides (1288–1344) rounds out the list of medieval rabbinic exegetes who were exposed to Latin Christendom and adopted this non-sacriﬁcial interpretation of the vow. 197*–98*. Nahmanides offers the fullest presentation of Ibn Ezra’s position on this story in his own commentary on Lev 27.1235). Tehillah le-Moshe: Biblical and Judaic Studies in Honor of Moshe Greenberg. Cogan. the Church) derived the practice to establish houses of seclusion for women.29. observed Simon.20. then that person would indeed be dedicated to God not in the form of a sacriﬁce but through a life of devotion to God through seclusion. and in his Sefer Ha-’Ibur (Lyck. a different interpretation of the vow was offered: were the ﬁrst creature to greet him be a person. 9. if anachronistic. M. signiﬁcant differences between these exegetes begin to appear 8. employed throughout this study.
Both Simon and David Marcus. ‘‘Jewish Polemics against Islam and Christianity in the Light of Judaeo-Arabic Texts. Most signiﬁcant. and creative imagination could cross polemical lines. Sarah Stroumsa. Halakha. Marcus. through the late Middle Ages and across the medieval world. it became a currency that was continually reformed and refashioned. these rabbinic readings are further illuminated when we examine the evolution of patristic and Christian scholastic scholarship to this story and examine possible avenues of inﬂuence between rabbinic and Christian exegesis.12 ¯ ¯ ¯ The attribution of the non-sacriﬁcial approach to the story of Jephthah’s daughter. 1959 study of R. bears out Sarah Stroumsa’s contention that in the triangular marketplace where Muslims. 241.’’ Judaeo-Arabic Studies: Proceedings of the Founding Conference of the Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies.MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 231 in bold relief: What were the obligations incumbent upon Jephthah’s daughter as a result of the vow? What explanations are offered of the need for her to observe celibacy? Who chose the site of her seclusion.1170. arguments served as currency. Saadya’s Translation of the Pentateuch (Hebrew. inﬂuence. who lived and worked in northern Iraq. In this study we will explore the ways in which exposure. Simon. R. David Qimhi) and to Ibn Ezra.1105–c. Christians. and Polemics in R. however. Norman Golb (Amsterdam.13 We will see that as the non-sacriﬁcial approach to the story changed hands. The evolution of exegesis of the story of Jephthah’s daughter from its Karaite beginnings. in the most thorough study of Jephthah’s vow within the ﬁeld of biblical studies. noted that the approach is already found in the writings of the early tenth-century Karaite thinker. Rav Saadya Gaon’s Translation of the Torah: Exegesis. in his . quickly changing hands. Yaqub al-Qirqisanı.’’ *198. D. 108. 12. New York. 1997). 8. 1959). ‘‘Peshat Exegesis. Saadiah Gaon’s biblical exegesis. cannot be ascribed solely to the inﬂuence of Latin monasticism.11 Yet Moses Zucker. then. as quoted . attribute the non-sacriﬁcial approach to R. Jephthah. Moses Zucker. is the need for a revision in our understanding of the provenance of the non-sacriﬁcial approach to the story of Jephthah’s daughter. 13. and who built her home there? What contact with the outside world was permitted to her? Moreover. Joseph Qimhi (c. . ed. and Jews set up their doctrinal booths. 11. between sects as well as between faiths. by his son. each exegete created an altered vision of the terms of Jephthah’s daughter’s fate—each in accordance with his own exegetical needs and the socio-religious milieu in which he wrote.
¯nı Yet Simon had also conjectured that the impetus for this interpretation reﬂected the inﬂuence of Christian monasticism. A man’s daughter could be considered his property. . (Arabic. 3. A consecrated sheep may not be slaughtered and eaten outside of a sacral context.16 In his own works Qirqisanı makes mention of contact with a ¯ ¯ Christian ‘‘bishop’’ or deacon.’’15 In his study. Magne Sæbø (Gottingen. and through his vow Jeph¯ ¯ thah had consecrated his daughter for God.232 JQR 95. Conn. every proscribed thing is totally consecrated to the Lord.14 He comes to a discussion of the ¯ ¯ ¯ Jephthah narrative via a discourse on the laws of consecrating items to God. 116–19. had themselves come to this interpretation out of a familiarity with Christian monastic practice? Qirqisa ¯’s casting of Jephthah’s daughter as celibate in a sacerdotal ¯nı sense may reﬂect familiarity with eremitical Christian norms.39.10 (Nemoy. Qirqisanı. 1952).2 (2005) TH E K ARA IT E O R IGI N S O F TH E AP PR OAC H The earliest record of the non-sacriﬁcial approach is found in the Code of Karaite Law of Yaqub al-Qirqisanı. ed. Nemoy. reasoned Qirqisanı. 1939–45). Karaite Anthology (New Haven. see ¯ ¯ ¯nı Leon Nemoy..17 He wrote an account of Jesus and the 14. 43. Leon Nemoy. see Daniel Frank. Kita al-Anwa 6. Is there evidence that the earliest champions of the non-sacriﬁcial interpretation. For Qirqisanı. 4 vols. My thanks to Miriam Goldstein for her ¨ generous assistance with the Karaite texts cited in this study.. 15. ‘‘Karaite Exegesis.37) was a statement that ‘‘I have been prevented from marriage or from knowing a man. See Andrew Palmer.28): But all that a man owns. Monk and Mason on the Tigris Frontier (Cambridge. a jug that is consecrated may no longer be used for secular purposes. 42–44. On Qirqisanı ¯ ¯ as biblical exegete. sexual pleasure—could be derived from her. no enjoyment—meaning. Qirqisanı writes that her declaration that ‘‘I will ¯ ¯ bewail my maidenhood’’ (Jgs 11. On Qirqisa ¯ generally. Simon had maintained that the non-sacriﬁcial interpretation of the story had its Jewish beginnings in the work of Ibn Ezra. New York. within Karaite writings. nothing that he has proscribed for the Lord may be sold or redeemed. Kita al-Anwar wal-Mara ¯b ¯ ¯qib: Code of Karaite Law by Yaqub ¯ al-Qirqisanı. ¯b ¯r. Qirqisa ¯’s interpretation predates that period. 17. I: From the Beginnings to the Middle Ages. ed. No beneﬁt or enjoyment may be derived from an item consecrated. 1990).’’ Hebrew Bible / Old Testament: The History of Its Intepretation: Vol. Jephthah’s vow was an enactment of scriptural law ¯ ¯ (Lev 27. Cenobitic houses were known to exist at this time as far east as the Fertile Crescent. since I have become a holy thing and a thing sanctiﬁed unto God. the Karaites. 2000). Code. ¯ ¯ 16. be it man or beast or land of his holding. Karaite Anthology. And so it was with Jephthah’s daughter.672).
we may say with certainty that Qirqisanı was ¯ ¯ familiar with Christian practice and may have had broad familiarity with the idea of Christian monastics who in one form or another sought eremia (solitude). secluding oneself for God. See H. ¯ ¯ ¯ 1984). Creazione e caduta dell’uomo nell’esegesi giudeo-araba medievale (Brescia. For an overview of contact between Jews and Christians under Islamic rule in the tenth and eleventh centuries. ed. 1989). Qirqisa ¯. 4:990.’’ Encyclopedia of Monasticism (Chicago. Byzantine monasticism at this time expressed itself in many ways. see Sarah Stroumsa. 3:672). Landolt. 3 vols. . 1974) 2:697–714. couldn’t fathom the notion that Jephthah had actually sacriﬁced his daughter.8. Yaqub al-Qirqisanı on Jewish Sects and Christianity (Frankfurt am Main. Saul Lieberman. 135–39. As we will see. Kitab al-Anwar.’’ Salo Wittmayer Baron Jubilee Volume on the Occasion of his Eightieth Birthday.10 (Nemoy. Qirqisanı writes that ‘‘the daughters of Israel would go out to the place where she ¯ ¯ was. Kita al-Anwa 6.’’ ARAM 3 (1991): 93–95.39–40). opened before them exegetical opportunities through which to understand the Jephthah story in a less offensive fashion.18 Bruno Chiesa has detected Christian inﬂuence in Qirqisanı’s commentary to ¯ ¯ Genesis 1. (Jerusalem. which allowed a man to consecrate his daughter. ‘‘Khalwa. 1.’’ Encyclopedia of Islam (Leiden. ‘‘The Attitude of the Early Karaites towards Christianity. Scripture states that it ‘‘became a custom in Israel for the maidens of Israel to go every year. Their legal rendering of Lev 27. Qirqisa ¯. 2002). we may also note the presence of another Christian motif within Qirqisanı’s interpretation of the story ¯ ¯ of the daughter of Jephthah. to conclude that the non-sacriﬁcial interpretation was born of this awareness. Maria Roumnalou.29.39. 20. It seems more plausible to assert that the Karaites. 18. Constantine. Code. ‘‘Hermits: Eastern Christian. 19.MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 233 doctrines of Christianity in which he displays a familiarity with the New Testament. 1:582. 95–97. ¯nı 21. Suﬁ writers were openly acknowledging their indebtedness to Christian hermits in the evolution of the Suﬁ practice of khalwa. for four days in the year and chant dirges for the daughter of Jephthah’’ (Jgs 11. as a condition of the vow. later exegetes were far more explicit in the debt they owed to the monastic practices they saw around them. This does not give us license. See also Leon Nemoy. a phenomenon not found in Karaite exegesis of this passage. By the tenth century. Bruno Chiesa. 61–65. and contemporary Christian thinkers. 198–99.19 In addition to the practice of celibacy. however. 2000).’’20 Qirqisa ¯ seems to underscore more emphatically than the text ¯nı itself that Jephthah’s daughter lived an eremitical life. ‘‘The Impact of Syriac Tradition on Early Judeo-Arabic Bible Exegesis. ¯b ¯r. translated in Bruno Chiesa and Wilfred ¯ ¯ ¯nı Lockwood. like other later exegetes. ranging from cenobitic houses to a variety of semi-solitary arrangements.21 Taken in total.
and nonetheless. to engage in human sacriﬁce?! And if he gave her (to the Lord. The tenth and ﬁnal question addresses the nature of prophecy broadly. Some years ago Moses Zucker published a Geniza fragment that records a list of ten questions in the area of biblical exegesis that were posed to a learned disciple of R. interpretation of the story had emerged as a bone of contention between Karaites and Rabbanites. The account of Jephthah’s daughter. 93. had spoken with one voice in favor of the sacriﬁcial interpretation of Jephthah’s vow. Rav Saadya Gaon. 25. 1:84. See the discussion in Robert Brody.8 (Nemoy. as Karaism as a movement had not yet coalesced into a uniﬁed sect.25 Yet 22. or after her death? The pressing nature of the question is made even more evident when we note its place in the order of the ten questions posed. Code. ¯b ¯r. The questions are ordered according to the biblical sequence of the passages they concern. which. 92–115. 24. ‘‘The Geonim of Babylonia as Biblical Exegetes. . Zucker.’’22 Qirqisa ¯ may be referring to a rival group of ¯nı Karaites.’’ Hebrew Bible / Old Testament. he married and fathered children . and opposed us on it. 3:671). Zucker. as we noted earlier. even at the expense of the simple meaning of the passage. The ﬁrst eight concern passages from the Pentateuch. and where did [the daughters of Israel] go to chant dirges for her. and claimed that her father sacriﬁced her. The question raised may reﬂect the gaonic predilection to exonerate biblical heroes. Qirqisanı. . that is). Saadiah Gaon strove mightily in his writings to refute. but it seems more likely that he refers here to the Rabbanite tradition. The debate is echoed in Rabbanite sources as well.39.234 JQR 95. was this in her lifetime. emerges as the sole scriptural passage outside of the Pentateuch to have made the list. Qirqisanı writes that ¯ ¯ there are ‘‘some who have refused to respond to what we have said regarding the daughter of Jephthah. raised in the ninth question. Kita al-Anwa 6.2 (2005) It would appear that by the tenth century. Rav Saadya Gaon. And yet we see that Hanna consecrated Samuel to the Lord .24 The ninth question reads as follows: What precisely did Jephthah do to his daughter in fulﬁllment of his vow? Did he offer her as a sacriﬁce or did he give her (to the Lord)? If he offered her as a sacriﬁce—how may this be. . .23 Zucker notes that the questions all revolve around issues that preoccupied heretics of the generation and arguments that R. and this from sources on each side of the debate. Saadiah Gaon for clariﬁcation. . then he effectively prevented her from ever marrying. ¯ ¯ 23.
’’ Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 1 (1992): 179–95. 28. and it is unthinkable to conceive of such an interpretation of Scripture. On the attitude of Andalusian Rabbanites to Karaism at this time. Melilah 1 (1944): 35–53. ‘‘Is the proper understanding of this passage A or B?’’ In all three answers the position adopted is the B position. in which the question likewise takes this form. however. For a complete listing of Karaite writers attributed by Ibn Ezra in his Pentateuch commentary. to date. see Asher Weiser. see D. and thus we do not know whether the Karaite interpretation was countenanced by the opinion of this learned disciple of R.MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 235 the fact that the story of Jephthah’s daughter is the only scriptural passage raised from the entire corpus of biblical literature outside of the Pentateuch suggests that the passage had been the subject of vigorous debate.28 Yet. Note. Such a claim is tantamount to overturning that which is abundantly clear. a feature that emerges in the rhetoric of the fragment. contains the answers given to the ﬁrst seven questions only. Lacking any prior Rabbanite commentary that endorses this position. however. 59–71. however. Perushe ha-Torah le-Rabbenu Avraham Ibn Ezra (Jerusalem. On disputes concerning legal exegesis between Ibn Ezra and the Karaites. J. 42. we will proceed to analyze Ibn Ezra’s comments on this story on the assumption that he was inspired in this regard by his Karaite sources. Ibn Ezra cited Karaite sources more widely and more explicitly than any other medieval Rabbanite exegete. concerning Jephthah’s daughter. Three of the seven questions posed for which we have answers are asked in the form of. No conclusions may be drawn. R. the B position is the non-sacriﬁcial approach. Saadiah Gaon.27 The earliest Rabbanite commentary in our possession to adopt the non-sacriﬁcial approach is that of Abraham Ibn Ezra. 1976). Weis. Melilah 2 (1945): 121–34. 1952). the Karaites and the Halakah’’ (Hebrew). in all likelihood because of the Karaite provenance of the nonsacriﬁcial approach. in this context. anyone who maintains otherwise is simply arguing counter to the explicit meaning of the verses. It is curious to note. no 26. without better knowledge of the rhetorical conventions of the period than we have at this time. Lasker.37: ‘‘have no doubt that Jephthah killed his daughter. based on the Hebrew translation from the Judeo-Arabic of Moshe Goshen-Gottstein found in Joseph Gad. Sefer Asoro Maorot Hagdolim (Johannesberg. Ibn Balaam was a vociferous opponent of the Karaites and the vituperative tone of his comment here may well reﬂect his feelings concerning the Karaite origins of the non-sacriﬁcial interpretation. ‘‘Karaism in Twelfth-Century Spain. . Melilah 3–4 (1946): 188–203.’’ The translation is my own. the commentary of the late eleventh-century Spanish exegete Judah Ibn Balaam on Jgs 11. In the ninth question. see P.26 CR O S S IN G TH E S ECTA RIA N D IV ID E: ABR AH AM I BN EZR A’S AD A PTAT IO N O F T H E K AR AI TE AP PR OAC H The Geniza fragment published by Zucker. ‘‘Ibn Ezra. 27.
6. On the contentious terrain of halakhic matters he eschews them scornfully. Jephthah’s vow was predicated upon the law of consecration ¯nı found in Lev 27. m Arak 8. therefore. are clear. The passage at hand may well bring us to the limits of Ibn Ezra’s ﬂexibility in drawing from Karaite sources. Ibn Ezra had to strip the argument of its legal chaff and reformulate it in a manner that would not run counter to rabbinic law. The non-sacriﬁcial approach ran counter to every rabbinic statement on the story found in talmudic and midrashic literature. who lived in Jerusalem in the latter part of the tenth century. she was given over to a priest. however. Rather. Japhet avers that being a consecrated ¯ ¯ object. This is due. in large part. to the fact that it is clear that Ibn Ezra borrowed from Karaite sources more often than the several dozen instances in which he offers them attribution. that it was in the biblical commentary of Japhet ben Eli that Ibn Ezra found the inspiration for his non-sacriﬁcial approach to the story of Jephthah’s daughter. however. Japhet does not write that Jephthah’s daughter lived in some form of eremitic life. he states that. But more signiﬁcant. is that the Karaite approach to the story rested fully upon a legal interpretation that ran counter to rabbinic law. like all consecrated items. The Talmud explicitly rules that that verse does not allow an individual to consecrate children of any age.30 Both Qirqisanı and Ja¯ ¯ phet in their respective writings toil at length to demonstrate the manner in which Jephthah’s vow represented an enactment of this law of conse29. b Arak 28a. Unlike his Karaite predecessor. By contrast.29 The Karaite application of the law of consecration found in Lev 27. the most oft-cited Karaite in his works is Japhet ben Eli. as we will see. Our analysis will proceed on the assumption. the ﬁrst Jew to write a commentary on the entire Bible. Japhet’s approach to the story mirrors Qirqisa ¯’s. In adapting the Karaite position to the story. The poles of his position.28 to Jephthah’s vow was one that Ibn Ezra would not have been able to countenance. In large measure. 30.2 (2005) comprehensive study has been executed that examines the guidelines employed by Ibn Ezra in his consultation with Karaite materials. The issue of how Ibn Ezra utilized Karaite interpretations of non-legal passages is less well understood. .236 JQR 95. indeed.28. Like Qirqisanı. she could be enjoyed by no man. and hence would remain celibate. Nowhere does Ibn Ezra cite Qirqisanı by name and it is assumed that ¯ ¯ he did not have access to his writings. On the more neutral plateau of philology he cites them often.
’’ meaning that if the ﬁrst creature that emerges from the doors of my house be a man or a woman. . . then and it will be to God. then I shall offer it as a burnt offering.29. and he provided her with sustenance all of the rest of her days and no man knew her and his daughter remained permanently shut away. ‘‘and it will be to God. Ibn Ezra needed to reject most of what they had written on the subject. . and I will offer it as a burnt offering (Jgs 11. says Jephthah. He made a house for his daughter outside of the city where she secluded herself. Reforming and reformulating what he had found in his Karaite sources. to stand before God and to serve him and to bless in his name . 32.32 Our analysis begins with the ﬁrst half of the passage in which two verses referring to the Levites have been marshaled to depict the obligations engendered by the vow.MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 237 cration.31) is ‘‘or I will offer it as a burnt offering.28 (MS Russian National Library Yevr-Arab I. Eschewing the legal argument from the law of consecrated objects in Lev 27. set apart from the ways of the world to stand and serve in the name of the Lord in prayer and in thanksgiving.14).28. .31 In adapting their approach to the story. and in his commentary on Judges 11 (MS Saint Petersberg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies of Russian Academy of Sciences A146. holy. then.565 37b). The second phrase is likewise taken from a passage that refers to the Levites: ‘‘At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi . Like the Levites. Japhet’s position on the story of Jepthah’s vow is found in his commentary on Lev 27.’’ Within the Torah the notion that a person or a group of people will ‘‘be to God’’ is found only in reference to the dedication of the Levites: ‘‘You shall set apart the Levites from among the Israelites and the Levites shall be to me’’ (Nm 8. Ibn Ezra made several innovations to the non-sacriﬁcial approach to the story of Jephthah’s daughter: The explanation of. Alternatively. Ibn Ezra instead implies that Jephthah 31. Jerusalem. My thanks to the Institute of Microﬁlmed Hebrew Manuscripts of the Hebrew University and National Library. that is why the Levites have received no hereditary share along with their kinsmen’’ (Dt 10. Jephthah’s daughter has been segregated from the rest of society for the sake of serving God. If a man or woman emerges.8–9). 58a–63b). See further discussion in the following note. if that entity is appropriate for sacriﬁce. . As presented by Nahmanides in his own commentary on Lev 27.
Code. W O MEN ’S MO N AS T ICI S M IN T H E T W EL FT H AN D TH I RT EEN TH CEN TU RI ES In the year 1140. and England.238 JQR 95. 3:672).16. at the age of ﬁfty-one.10 (Nemoy. Recall that for the Karaites the celibacy she was to endure emanated from her status as a consecrated object: ‘‘I have been prevented from marriage or from knowing a man. which may signify that Ibn Ezra followed suit.34 Within Ibn Ezra’s casting of her experience. and where he would continue to provide for her. Simon is of the opinion that the lines quoted in the name of the Ibn Eza are not a paraphrase (personal communication).’’ taken verbatim from the depiction of Rebecca in Gn 24. France. her days are to be ﬁlled with prayer and in thanksgiving of the Lord. she is to be set apart away from the ways of the world. I suggest. the nature of the experience that she would endure in its fulﬁllment. we now learn.39. are hardly mandated by a close reading of the text of Judges 11 and instead reﬂect an imaginative interpolation of a world to which Ibn Ezra had had wide exposure: the world of Latin monasticism. and hence marshals verses that cast her as such. since I have become a holy thing and a thing sanctiﬁed unto God. 34. Japhet.’’ in Qirqisa ¯’s words. 63a). several new motifs emerge: in addition to remaining celibate. These motifs. While there is no evidence that Nahmanides had Ibn Ezra’s commentary to Judges (if one existed). would build a house for her. how¯nı ever. I would add to this the observation that the description of Jephthah’s daughter in the passage attributed to Ibn Ezra includes the phrase ‘‘and no man knew her. most notably Italy. strenuously against Ibn Ezra. Qirqisanı.39 (MS Saint Petersberg A146. and that the attribution by Nahmanides to Ibn Ezra is faithful to the original. Simon (‘‘Peshat Exegesis.33 Yet no less signiﬁcant here are the very terms of the vow. A reading of the Ibn Ezra’s understanding imbedded within the commentary of Nahmanides (Lev 27. Ibn Ezra left his native Spain and spent the rest of his life traveling among the countries of Latin Christendom.2 (2005) wished to make her into a pseudo-Levite. where she was to live in permanent seclusion. ¯ ¯ . Based upon the language used by Nahmanides to introduce Ibn Ezra’s position and the language he uses when turning to his own opinion. in his commentary to Jgs 11. Notice also that Ibn Ezra’s recasting of Jephthah’s daughter here also borrows heavily from 2 Sam 20.’’ 198*) maintains that Nahmanides may have had fragments of such a work or of another lost work that contained this comment or may have received an indirect transmission of Ibn Ezra’s comment on this passage.29) leaves one with a degree of uncertainty as to whether Nahmanides is faithfully quoting Ibn Ezra or only paraphrasing him generally. Kita al-Anwa 6. and here Ibn Ezra departs signiﬁcantly from his predecessors. had also quoted this verse. It was during this 33. her father.3. ¯b ¯r.
Joseph Qimhi. 1991).37 By 1220 there were 525 and by the end of the thirteenth century. Elizabeth Makowski. 9. 1997). Joseph Qimhi by Ibn Ezra. . 37. Monastic life dates to the third century in Egypt and there is a consensus that claustration had always been observed by nuns since the time of Saint Jerome.. N. Bruce L. Venarde. ‘‘by the end of the thirteenth century nearly all the inhabitants of this great region were no more than a day’s journey from a female monastic community and most were closer than that. Languedoc. Venarde. Canon Law and Cloistered Women: Periculoso and Its Commentators (Washington. In his study of women’s monasteries in France and England. Simon (‘‘Peshat Exegesis. approach to the story at hand.38 Vernarde asserts that. began around the millennium.C. Women’s Monasticism. The lofty ideals of the monastic life were perforce proscribed by very earthly con35. .40 These data suggest that the most intense period of women’s monastic growth—1080– 1170 by Venarde’s account—coincides with the lifetimes of Ibn Ezra and R. including his commentaries on the Bible.’’ *198) maintains that the approach was transmitted to R. 38. 11. Venarde.41 Yet beyond a quantitative measure of the phenomenon of women’s monasticism we ought also attend to its social milieu. Women’s Monasticism. 650.35 The heyday of women’s monasticism in Europe.’’39 In all of France and England the rate of new foundations was the greatest in the thirteenth century in the southern French provinces of Provence. 1997). Bruce Venarde claims that the number of monasteries increased tenfold from the millennium through the year 1300. 16. Venarde.36 Between the years 1080 and 1170 alone the number quadrupled from one hundred to over four hundred. and Gascony. In a similar vein Johnson (Equal in Monastic. 890–1215 (Ithaca. 41. Equal in Monastic Profession (Chicago. Penelope D. Women’s Monasticism.’’ 40. the ﬁrst Rabbanite exegetes to adopt the non-sacriﬁcial . 15. D. Venarde. 39. What emerges from the scholarship of women’s monasticism is that eligibility for the convent was not simply the lot of the pious but of the well-to-do pious.. Women’s Monasticism. Women’s Monasticism and Medieval Society: Nunneries in France and England. however. 3. 36. Johnson. 158) writes that ‘‘all medieval people must have been aware of the presence of houses of religious women and men scattered around the countryside and it would have been almost impossible not to have had feelings about these ubiquitous monastics.MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 239 period of his life that most of his works were written. 11.Y. 12.
and a woman. its ﬁrst abbess.44 the notion that an individual. ed. Thomas Shank (Kalamazoo. Concerning warrior aristocracies such as these.42 Most nuns were drawn from the aristocracy and when openings became available they were usually ﬁlled by relatives of the founders of the house or of major donors. Venarde. Johnson. Venarde. it should be noted. a woman’s lack of autonomy did not necessarily imply that the decision was against her will. Women’s Monasticism. ‘‘Benedictine Life. young women were still considered under the guardianship of their senior male relative. Equal in Monastic. the age of consent. 1028–30. 101. sisters. Women’s Monasticism. 4. Johnson. See Johnson. 48. 16.46 The language of a typical charter states that one Alan.45 Individuals and particularly women were viewed as being subsumed within the family as a whole. n. for additional secondary sources. 26. Even upon attaining majority at the age of twelve. 46.50 42. 49. A nunnery was only as strong as its ﬁnancial support. 96. the most common scenario was that in which one or both parents consecrated a daughter to a life of monastic purity.’’ and ‘‘dedicating’’ are typical of the formal vow of oblation. Equal in Monastic. 89. Equal in Monastic.’’ 97–99. 9. 14. 45. J. translated and quoted in Johnson. no. for his sister Adele. Skinner.’’ Distant Echoes: Medieval Religious Women.218. 50. Skinner. . Johnson. chap. The charter reads: ‘‘I offered to God my sister. 44. 27. The most common convention through which a woman entered a convent was through oblation by the senior male member of her family. See also Venarde.240 JQR 95. ‘‘Benedictine Life. ‘‘Social and Economic Contexts in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries.’’47 While oblation was the prerogative of the senior male in the family.49 This was true.. and widows. See the opening chapter of Johnson’s work on the role of the secular community (Equal in Monastic. 94. count of Brittany. Equal in Monastic. Mich. Mary Skinner. ‘‘Benedictine Life. 2–61) in garnering pledges and ﬁnancial support for the convent. Indeed. 1. Cartulaire de Saint-Georges de Rennes. A.’’ ‘‘offering. chose a monastic profession is probably anachronistic.48 And while women oblates could be wives.43 The question of how a woman became a nun and under what circumstances is no less important. Verbs such as ‘‘bestowing. Skinner.’’ 89–132. founded a wealthy nunnery in Rennes.’’ 97. 15. 1984). it was considered an honor to be admitted. Nichols and L. Women’s Monasticism.2 (2005) siderations.’’ ‘‘elevating.’’ 97. no matter the girl’s age. 43. ca. ‘‘Benedictine Life for Women in Central France: 850–1100: A Feminist Revival. the most precious treasure I possess under the sun and moreover I dedicated her according to her spiritual desire to perpetual virginity. 47.
1:584. ed. assumes her responsible role within the family structure and accedes to the oblation: ‘‘ ‘Father’.53 Although the anchorite vocation was available to male and female monastics alike. ‘you have uttered a vow to the Lord. Jephthah’s daughter. Within the convent. it was not the individual nun who was cut off from society but the convent as a community in isolation.’’ La Femme dans la vie religieuse du Languedoc (xiiie–xive s). Canon Law. she said. Equal in Monastic. 137. seeing that the Lord has vindicated you against your enemies the Ammonites’ ’’ (Jgs 11. While claustration was a preeminent feature of women’s monasticism in the Middle Ages. n. . Ibn Ezra wrote. Ibn Ezra (as well as later medieval exegetes) highlights one aspect of her ordeal that stands in great opposition to what was the standard fare for women religious who joined monastic orders. The daughter. E. while rueful about the harshness of the decree. Paulette L’Hermite-Leclercq. 1988). Jgs 11. with ease. E.’’ 282.1–11 documents that Jephthah had assumed leadership only on the basis of his military prowess.36). 52. see Makowski.52 To fully understand the cultural matrix out of which Ibn Ezra’s non-sacriﬁcial approach emerged we must examine the role and place of a very particular personage on the landscape of women’s monasticism who lived in total seclusion: the anchoress. Leclerq. we may see how a medieval rabbinic exegete such as Ibn Ezra could. 148. Here was the leading member of the warrior aristocracy51 dedicating his daughter to the service of God through a formalized vow of oblation. 54. A. ‘‘Reclus et Recluses dans le sud-ouest de la France. ‘‘Reclus et Recluses. On the history of claustration for women monastics. it was an overwhelmingly female phenomenon. women enjoyed rich bonds of community that supplanted the loss of structure offered by the traditional nuclear family. Johnson. was to live in total seclusion and isolation. Yet to interpret Ibn Ezra’s non-sacriﬁcial approach against the backdrop of the medieval women’s convents is insufﬁcient. The most comprehensive study of anchorite life in the south of France in the central Middle Ages has been that of Paulette L’HermiteLeclercq. Privat (Paris. 281–99. 293. 53. however. Jones. now buttressed with the victory over the Ammonites. do to me as you have vowed.MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 241 Separated by a great chasm of time and location from the ancient Israelite setting of the Jephthah narrative.’’ Encyclopedia of Monasticism. read many aspects of his social milieu into the narrative of Judges 11. ‘‘Hermits: Western Christian.54 The social dynamic of the anchorite life that she describes may best be 51.
60. even of modest size. ‘‘Hermits: Western Christian.’’ 288. ‘‘Reclus et Recluses.58 According to Leclercq. See also Ann K.’’ 291. 54 percent mention a bequest to the local recluses. a highly visible personality. recluses were to be found in the thirteenth century in the southwest of France in all cities and boroughs.60 55. The recluse lived a life of solitude devoted to repetitive prayer on behalf of the community. with regard to the spread of the phenomenon in England. ‘‘Reclus et Recluses. in solitude. 36–37. Leclercq. Leclercq. and fuel.’’ 289. Yet the anchorhold could also be located at points of strategic signiﬁcance for the defense of the city such as the city gate or under a bridge. Leclercq.2 (2005) understood in modern terms as similar to that of a person who embarks upon a hunger strike. fourteenth. Attendants were appointed who brought food. Kathryn L. Although physically famished. A lone individual undertakes the challenge of extreme hardship for a cause. Anchorites. Leclercq. The heroic efforts of the hunger striker. 59. or. Warren. The relationship is reciprocal. see similarly. Yet the individual is hardly alone. Anchorites. The efﬁcacy of the recluse’s prayers was thought to be beneﬁcial for the city’s defense. 1985). and funeral expenses. ‘‘Reclus et Recluses. 56. It was usually situated alongside the local parish church. and ﬁfteenth centuries.56 The site of the reclusoir. Reyerson. health. materials..242 JQR 95. Warren. anchorhold. Of the ninety-four wills written in that city between 1200 and 1350. . in turn. Anchorites and Their Patrons in Medieval England (Berkeley. ‘‘Reclus and Recluses. the striker is socially nourished by the knowledge of wide support encouraging his or her cause. Warren. While the anchorite life was not a form of social protest. ‘‘Reclus et Recluses.’’ 1:585. meaning that the recluse was situated at the heart of the city and hence was. ‘‘Changes in Testamentary Practices at Montpellier on the Eve of Black Death.’’ 288. dramatizes the anchorite’s status.55 In turn the recluse was supported by the wider community. They ﬁrst appear in twelfth-century sources and become much more numerous in the thirteenth.57 In the south of France the recluse was such an esteemed ﬁgure that by law both the Church and the municipality were expected to contribute to the costs of his or her upkeep.’’ 284. 3–7. Leclercq. 58. The grassroots supporters of the cause spur the hunger striker to persist in the ever more difﬁcult undertaking. the social dynamic here was much the same.’’ Church History 47 (1978): 260.59 The prominence of recluses in southwestern France at this time is well illustrated by a statistic from Montpellier. energize and motivate popular support for the sake of the cause. 57. Jones. Calif. which provided for an array of needs. 15.
Unlike the Karaites who spawned the non-sacriﬁcial approach. 62. ca. The difference between the Karaites and Ibn Ezra on this score is not of details alone. Leclercq. however. Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages (London. 1288– . Equal in Monastic.62 It is with these pragmatic concerns in mind that we may return to Ibn Ezra’s description of the fulﬁllment of the vow.1235). Many of the anchorite motifs that we saw in Ibn Ezra are offered by these exegetes as well.1160–ca. This consideration. adopted by R. 123. but of paradigm. Jephthah’s daughter was a consecrated object. each speaks of her fulﬁllment of the vow in terms of a vocation. For Ibn Ezra. Warren. essentially undifferentiated from any other consecrated object that would fall within the law of consecrated items found in Lev 27. had to travel out of his own city to witness women’s monasticism ﬁrsthand: records indicate that a nunnery was already functioning in Nar61. Edward Cutts. Johnson. and by Gersonides (Orange. already mentioned with regard to monastic houses generally. Ibn Ezra states that ‘‘[Jephthah] made a house for his daughter outside of the city where she secluded herself. materials. Both speak of her seclusion from society.28. Qimhi may not have . The non-sacriﬁcial interpretation was. Unlike a nun joining a convent. was particularly acute with regard to the anchorite.MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 243 A ubiquitous theme found in the archival sources pertaining to the anchorite concerns the very earthly consideration of ﬁnancing his or her lofty endeavor. For the Karaites. ‘‘Reclus et Recluses. Anchorites. the image of the fulﬁllment of the vow seems to reﬂect the socioreligious milieu in which Ibn Ezra worked. and manpower necessary to construct the anchorhold? How would the recluse be supported? The demand by would-be anchorites surpassed the capacity of the Church to fulﬁll it. 1902). 41–52. 1344) in their respective commentaries on Jgs 11. . Jephthah’s daughter emerges as a woman religious engaged in monastic vocation. in turn. and he provided her with sustenance all of the rest of her days. David Qimhi (Provence. in large part because of ﬁnancial restrictions. it was his responsibility to ensure that the means were available to support the endeavor. J EPH T H AH ’S DAU GH T E R AS A NC H O RIT E : TH E PR O LI FER ATI O N AN D EX PAN S IO N O F T H E T H E ME IN Q I MH I AN D G ERS O N ID ES .61 Thus before a bishop could approve the candidacy of an anchorite. Like Ibn Ezra.’’ 288. 149.31–40. Who would pay for the land.’’ The verses of Judges 11 say nothing of these issues. This was often possible only through an endowment of substantial means. the anchorite was not entering into an existing order.
one and concerns the question of who would visit her for four days each year. Venarde.’’(38) ‘‘Go. the concern for how to bring the anchorite’s wish to practical fruition was a very real one. ‘‘he built for her (va-ya as lah) a cell. and I will go with my companions and lament upon the hills and there bewail my maidenhood.40.’’ Only the second phrase implies what he did to her—he inducted her into the cell.39). Qimhi seizes this possibility and comments on the phrase .244 JQR 95. Scripture writes of Ehud that.aseh-li) victuals in the manner that I fancy’’ (Gn 27. and inducted her into it. his daughter. For Qimhi. Isaac asks Esau: ‘‘make for me (va. or on behalf of.39 states that after the two-month stay. they both underscore the point that Jephthah would construct a cell for her. Here. She had never known a man. is something that he did for her—he built her a cell. as . as indicated by Jgs 11. and that the construct va-ya as lah implies that he did something to her. may He be blessed’’ (11.2 (2005) bonne in 1246. Jephthah ‘‘fulﬁlled through her his vow that he had vowed’’ (rdn rça wrdn ta hl ç[yw). ‘‘ascetic’’ and. again (11. Women’s Monasticism. Gersonides likewise describes her monastic vocation. The ﬁrst phrase.31) describes Jephthah’s daughter as an . additional contributions are made in this regard by Qimhi and Gersonides. (39) After two months time. reading of the biblical text. The text of Jgs 11. It would seem that the pragmatic consideration of constructing an anchorhold was foremost in the minds of both Qimhi and Gersonides. ‘‘he made for himself (va-ya as lo) a double-edged sword’’ (Jgs 3.ç. Within the medieval context. . or on behalf of someone.37–40): She further said to her father. ‘‘Let this be done for me: let me be for two months. While Ibn Ezra may have been the ﬁrst to incorporate anchorite motifs into the story of Jephthah’s daughter. Hence.39). Yet in biblical Hebrew the root .y. Scripture states as follows (11. She would be ‘‘exclusively dedicated to the service of the Lord. The ﬁrst issue is a highly subtle . in which to fulﬁll her vow. this emerges in an innovative .7).’’ he replied. 200. and she and her companions went and bewailed her maidenhood upon the hills. So it became a custom in Israel (40) for the maidens of 63. however. Sacriﬁcialist interpretations of the story maintain that he killed her. as one who was ‘‘separated from society and from the ways of the world’’ (µlw[h ykrdmw µdah ynbm hçwrp).63 Qimhi (11. the grammatical possibility exists that the phrase in question implies not that Jephthah performed an action upon his daughter but for.[ followed by the preposition le.16). then. He let her go for two months.may mean to do something for. she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed. as we saw.
40) describes her condi. the four yearly visits were enshrined . Japhet.and fourteenth-century France were well-esteemed ﬁgures in the broader community. cemented. 63a). But we may also conjecture that the socioreligious climate in which these two exegetes lived and worked informed the manner in which they construed the story. 65. I have translated the words µyçwrph µyçnah in a gender-neutral way.40 (MS Saint Petersberg A146. The public status accorded the anchoress could well be transposed upon the fate and role played by Jephthah’s daughter within her own ‘‘cell’’ of seclusion. See Jones. An additional aspect of the anchorite experience that appears in these commentaries is that of active enclosure. Ez 24.27. ‘‘Hermits: Western Christian.14. and chant dirges for the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.’’ 585. ‘‘Reclus et Recluses.’’ it is not uncommon for Qimhi to use the . no doubt. For both Qimhi and Gersonides. Japhet ben Eli had commented that the maidens of Israel who would visit Jephthah’s daughter consisted of her friends and family. Jgs 11.11. µytbb µyrwgsh µyçwrph µyçnah wmk tddwbtm htyh.’’66 The comment is of great importance because it sug64. enclosure of one form or another was the norm for anchorites throughout the Middle Ages. term to refer to ‘‘persons’’ generally (see his commentaries to Is 3. which states the ‘‘daughters of Israel’’ went to chant dirges for Jephthah’s daughter. so too was Jephthah’s daughter perceived to be someone with a calling on behalf of the community.10. 13. While we earlier saw that the anchorite . Japhet felt that it was most plausible that those that would visit her would be those closest to her.65 This practice sheds light on comments made by both Qimhi and Gersonides. The Hebrew here reads. Leclercq found that the anchorite’s entry into the cell was preceded by an elaborate rite of enclosure which would conclude with the door to the cell either being waxed. Jer 51. tions: ‘‘she secluded herself as do the ascetics who are enclosed (heb. or otherwise locked from the outside. While µyçna commonly means ‘‘men. implying a signiﬁcant entourage of women. 37–38. 24. Just as the anchorites of thirteenth. also contributed to the identity of those who visited her as her close friends and family. . for four days in the year.1.16). Mal 3. 57. Leclercq. In her study of anchorite life in southwestern France. Each of them writes that a law was established throughout Israel that the ‘‘daughters of Israel’’ would go to visit her. 66. in law. even those who had not known her previously. Qimhi (on 11.20.40.’’ 288. The interpretation may reﬂect nothing more than a close reading of the text of 11.64 Presumably. µyrwgs) in the cells. ‘‘ascetics’’. The mention of her ‘‘companions’’ in vv.MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 245 Israel to go every year.
’’68 The comment is highly resonant of a composition written for three anchoresses in England lifestyle was at all times a predominantly female phenomenon. male vocation and hence drew his readers’ attention to the broad phenomenon of the anchorite life. in the manner depicted by Leclercq. May He Be Blessed. Not so. ‘‘Philosophical Misogyny in Medieval Jewish Philosophy—Gersonides v. akin to a Levite or a priest. Pious and Rebellious: Jewish Women in Europe in the Middle Ages (Jerusalem. The term ‘‘and he enclosed her’’ in Gersonides (hrygsh). to a life of service in the Tabernacle. as is the fate of married women. explains Gersonides. enclosed ascetics. Qimhi invokes eremitic images to de.21.246 JQR 95. 2001). Qimhi apparently did not see the anchorite vocation as a uniquely fe. see Menachem Kellner. way of comparison.’’ Joseph Baruch Sermoneta Memorial Volume. On Gersonides’ view of women. Rather. ed. 67. Alone among the non-sacriﬁcial medieval exegetes. 113–28. 68. Ravitzky (Jerusalem. following his daughter’s two-month stay. see Avraham Grossman.’’ is clearly a graft of the process of enclosure of the anchorite upon the text of Judges 11.’’ following the incident between Reuven and Bilhah. Even within a non-sacriﬁcial interpretation of Judges 11.2 (2005) gests that when Qimhi obliquely compared Jephthah’s daughter to ‘‘the . See his commentary on Gn 2. one could have understood that Jephthah’s daughter simply went off to the forest to live a life of isolation. My thanks to Robert Harris for bringing this source to my attention. ‘‘enclosed her’’ (hrygsh) within a cell. scribe Jacob’s permanent withdrawal ‘‘from women and from involvement with the world in commitment to the service of the Lord. On the place of women in medieval Jewish society. If the ﬁrst person to greet him was male. Gersonides suggests that the vow contained two stipulations. however. and with regard to the role of the woman in marriage. . it was not exclusively so.67 Whereas Qimhi merely draws from the anchorite image of enclosure by .21. A. For if she had a husband she would not be able to dedicate herself to the Lord. Maimonides. Gersonides (11. The comment is in consonance with Gersonides’ view of women in marriage expressed elsewhere. she would need to serve her husband. I would like to draw from the literature concerning anchorite life to illuminate a comment made by Gersonides concerning the conditions laid down in Jephthah’s vow. depending on gender. if the person were a woman: ‘‘if the person were a woman. In his commentary on Gn 35. see particularly 23–62. Finally.39) writes that this is precisely what was done to her: Jephthah. then he would be dedicated.’’ their ubiquitous presence guaranteed that his readership knew to whom and to what he was referring: the anchorites who had been actively enclosed in their cells. perforce she would need to remain celibate. the ‘‘ascetics who are enclosed (segurim) in the cells. following Qimhi’s comparison to . 1998).
71 Yet. Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages (New York. and Nahmanides. History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church (5th ed. The image it gives of domestic life is vivid and harsh: ‘‘The wife stands. .. London. .MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 247 in 1215 entitled Hali Meidenhad. her child screams. and thus in his biblical commentaries we ﬁnd extensive familiarity with the writings of Rashi. . and Constance S.. See also Henry C. Aaron ben Joseph opens his commentary on the story with this same grammatical observation. Frank. 70. Our survey of the evolution of the non-sacriﬁcial approach to the story in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries concludes with an examination of the commentary on the Book of Judges by Aaron ben Joseph. ed. Aaron ben Joseph.31 that does not appear in the earlier commentaries on the verse. grammatical insight into the language of the vow in Jgs 11. Joan Bechtold. The citation concerns . biblical exegete and grammarian R. we can clearly see the inﬂuence of Qimhi. 1990). In his commentary to the . nor in any other thirteenth-century commentary thereafter. eds. Wright. the cat is at the ﬂitch and the hound at the hide. Moses Qimhi. F.’’ 127. Lea. ‘‘Ibn Ezra and the Karaite Exegetes Aaron ben Joseph and Aaron ben Elijah. The only . Qimhi had opened his commentary to the story by citing his father. 168. 1990). the . composed in Old English. 1835). Yet we may also suggest that the vow entailed celibacy alone.’’ Abraham Ibn Ezra ´ and His Age: Proceedings of the International Symposium. Her cake is burning on the stove and her calf is sucking all the milk up. ‘‘Karaite Exegesis.’’ 179. story of Jephthah’s vow. 238.’’69 It is highly unlikely that Gersonides was familiar with this work.70 In much of his philosophical writings and biblical exegesis. . ‘‘An Anchorhold. an innovative. not out of ﬁdelity to sectarian exe69. 71. Aaron reverts to the image of Jephthah’s daughter found in previous Karaite literature. Qimhi. Dıaz Esteban (Madrid. Mivhar Yesharim (Gozlow. Yet both comments stem from a shared medieval mind-set about the role of women in domestic life and the slim opportunities it afforded for contemplative piety. he was open to Rabbanite learning. Put differently. this may be out of allegiance to his Karaite predecessors. Judges 2b. Translated in Robertson. Julia Bolton Holloway. 99–107. Now. the pot is running into the ﬁre and the churl is scolding. On Aaron ben Joseph as an exegete. even as he felt comfortable widely citing Rabbanite authorities. see Daniel Frank. The purpose of the work is to convince anchoresses that they made the right choice by depicting the extreme discomfort and disadvantage of secular marriage. 1932). a late thirteenth-century Byzantine Karaite scholar. characteristic that Aaron mentions concerning the enactment of the vow is that she was to remain celibate. if questionable. he does not offer the same anchorite picture as does Qimhi. while he had clearly consulted Qimhi.
Rather. Jeph. The comment would seem to accord well with the information provided by the text of Jgs 11. and thus he reverted to the most basic monastic motif and the one with the most secure basis in the text.2 (2005) getical tradition. But all of Qimhi’s comments about enclosure. listen to her words. but indeed for the same reason that those earlier Karaite exegetes maintained likewise: For Aaron. the windows should be tightly shut. . be as little fond of your windows as possible. it would stand to reason that visual contact was made with those who visited her on those four yearly occasions. which was translated into Latin and widely disseminated throughout Europe. My dear sisters. TH E REN AI S S AN CE REC AS TI NG O F JE PH TH A H’ S D AU GH TER I N T HE CO M MEN TA RY O F D O N IS A AC A B ARB ANE L A further anchorite interjection into the story of Judges 11 is seen in a detail of Abarbanel’s depiction of the enactment of her solitude.40. otherwise. the window must have an opaque curtain over it. If the daughters of Israel ‘‘went out. should have windows for the anchoress to receive communion and to pass the items necessary for her sustenance. seclusion. as for the Karaite exegetes who preceded him. When opened. In this regard it cautions anchoresses. severely proscribes visual contact with the outside world.248 JQR 95. the anchorite image was not a living model that inhabited the socioreligious landscape in which he lived and worked. save for the four days a year in which she would receive visits from the daughters of Israel. thah building a house for her. . The Ancrene Riwle. Abarbanel.. Let them be small. Jephthah’s daughter’s regular state of affairs was one of secluded isolation.’’ While nothing in the text of Jgs 11. [the daughters of Israel] would go there. He thus borrowed grammatical material from Qimhi that supported all versions of the non-sacriﬁcial approach to . Have curtains made . avers otherwise: ‘‘It would seem that she would be prohibited from seeing even these women. that of celibacy alone. The recluse. ‘‘is it then so exces- . etc. living in thirteenth-century Byzantium. Conversely. someone may say. a thirteenth-century handbook for English anchoresses. it dictates. those of the parlour smallest and narrowest. however. Yet it cautions that other than when necessary. it may be that Abarbanel’s comment reﬂects common anchorite norms. But my dear master. man or women. simply failed to speak to the socioreligious reality in which he lived.40 mandates this interpretation. the story. Gersonides had written that Jephthah’s daughter would have visual contact with no one. and would lament with her over the condition of her seclusion.’’ then this would imply that.
74 Abarbanel offers comments concerning preparations undertaken by Jephthah’s daughter for the enactment of the vow that are distinct within the corpus of medieval rabbinic commentary on the story and reﬂect precisely these types of humanist attitudes.73 Yet. Lawee. Structure and Imagery in the Ancrene Wisse (Hanover. Eric Lawee has called our attention to the degree to which Abarbanel’s thought was inﬂuenced by the Renaissance age in Italy in which he lived at the end of his life. but as an individuated spiritual being. as Lawee also states. On the prohibition for the anchoress to see the outside world. William J. 2001).MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 249 sively evil to peep out?’’ Yes it is. The Ancrene Riwle.d. and in which he composed most of his works. especially. 73. and Dialogue (Albany. 74. Human perceptions and responses were favored in the place of intellectual systems of thought. 76. C. Salu (Notre Dame. the studia humanitatis of the Italian Renaissance revealed a new concern with individual human beings. people. Knowledge. dear sister. Middlemore (London and New York.. see Janet Grayson.72 In his recent intellectual history of Abarbanel. trans. Abarbanel’s exegetical tendencies were no doubt infused and informed by an even broader range of Italian Renaissance and. and especially in the young. was a subjective appropriation. J. Italian Renaissance humanism conceived of ‘‘knowledge’’ as a total experience of feelings that shaped the will and stimulated the whole person to some active response. 238.75 Moreover. or race. Mary B. in Jakob Burkhardt’s formulation. Jakob Burckhardt. 1955). 31. 1987). 169–202. thus conceived. n. 176. Isaac Abarbanel’s Stance. The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. G. Further restrictions about receiving guests are found on 27–28. Whereas scholastic traditions had localized knowledge with the intellect.. Eric Lawee. 201–2. 21.H. Elizabeth Robertson. Dissent. man became conscious of himself. . 1974). Anchorites. ‘‘The Spirituality of Renaissance Humanism.). It is evil and excessively evil in any anchoress. 143. S. Isaac Abarbanel’s Stance toward Tradition: Defense.. Lawee has well documented this with regard to Abarbanel’s penchant for historical thinking and critical reading in his exegetical method. Bouwsma. esp.’’ in Equally in God’s Image. humanist values. not solely as a member of a family. ‘‘An Anchorhold of Her Own: Female Anchoritic Literature in Thirteenth Century England.Y. N. 75.76 This conceptual backdrop sheds light on Abarbanel’s comments con72. and it was here that. Warren.’’ Christian Spirituality: High Middle Ages and Reformation. because of the evil which comes of it. 39–45. N. Ind. Raitt (London. trans. ed.
2 (2005) cerning the preparations undertaken by Jephthah’s daughter. Qimhi and Gersonides had written that Jephthah had built the cell of . ¯ ¯ Here. She also intended to choose the site of her seclusion. ‘‘Allow me two months.’’ Earlier exegetes had interpreted the action.38 reads. and I will go and traverse the hills. may be seen to accord with the language of the text itself. The abeyance requested was. expands upon the purpose of the stay: This was because she was destined to remain in seclusion for the rest of her life. me and my companions. the traversal of the hills has its own experiential purpose: to sense the freedom that she will no longer be able to taste thereafter. Abarbanel’s interpretation bears out humanist sensitivities. Jephthah’s daughter is invested here with the power to determine where to establish her anchorhold.250 JQR 95. we once again see a humanist impulse in Abarbanel’s exegesis. as the text says.’’ For Abarbanel. She therefore requested two months time. in contrast with the earlier exegetes. inasmuch as thereafter she would no longer be free or mobile. Indeed. during which she would satiate her desire for freedom and mobility. had elaborated little upon what the text itself had stated concerning her request of a twomonth reprieve. This is the meaning of. never to come out again. ‘‘and I will bewail my maidenhood’’— that she would never be able to marry. Abarbanel.’’ such as a jug or a head of sheep. The picture of Jephthah’s daughter that emerges from their commentaries is one of passivity and obeisance. ‘‘I will go and traverse the hills. as per Gersonides) within it. to ‘‘know. sacriﬁcialists and non-sacriﬁcialists alike. indeed. to borrow Qirqisanı’s language.’’ that which will be denied her—freedom and mobility—reﬂects a humanist mind-set in which the feelings engendered by personal experience are given a prominent value. Jgs 11. to experience. enclosure for her and had inducted (or even enclosed her. His reading. Earlier commentators.’’ as designed to serve the one purpose: ‘‘and I will bewail my maidenhood. For the Karaites. Abarbanel makes no comment regarding Jephthah’s own role in the construction of the cell. nor of any act on his part of induction or enclosure of his daughter. however. further. . the elevation of the notion of the individual that is not necessarily immanent in the text. for the purpose of bewailing the fact that she would never know matrimonial union. Abarbanel’s attention to her desire to taste freedom. and I will bewail my maidenhood. the denial to Jephthah’s daughter of any subjectivity was even more radical: she was essentially undifferentiated from any other consecrated ‘‘thing.
nor see another person for the rest of their lives. even though he was doing so to illuminate the case of Jephthah’s daughter—a female recluse. for searching out the causality of events over time. By the late ﬁfteenth century. however. however. 78. at an especially great rate in the fourteenth and ﬁfteenth centuries. Most modern editions of Abarbanel’s commentary have the transliterated word ‘‘cloister’’ in parentheses following the term bate perishut. . Abarbanel’s comment concerning the evolution of Church practice seems an aside to his purported task of elucidating the text. According to Leclerq’s study of anchoresses in Languedoc. Yet from their ﬁrst appearance in the beginning of the twelfth century.e. is absent from the ﬁrst-edition printing of the commentary (Pisaro.’’ and that we had noted his use of gender-neutral language ‘‘ascetics’’ (µyçwrph µyçnah).’’ The word ‘‘cloister. however. Recall that Qimhi had compared Jephthah’s daughter to ‘‘the ascetics . Leclercq. terms about the phenomenon of the anchorite. Yet we may ask: was Abarbanel correct in his assertion that the Church had seen in Jephthah’s daughter a model or a precursor for the latter-day practice of sacerdotal seclusion? Our com77. the Church) derived the practice to establish houses of seclusion77 for women. which suggested that in his day and locale the anchorite life was a vocation practiced by men and women alike. the vocation over the two and half centuries that separated them. ‘‘Reclus et Recluses. that they should enter and not leave at all for their entire lives.’’ however. which I have translated in highly literal fashion. This difference between Qimhi and Abarbanel may be seen as an index of change in the nature of .. it is a ﬁne example of what Lawee had described as Abarbanel’s penchant for historical thinking. enclosed in their cells. ‘‘houses of seclusion. 1512) and is a later gloss to elucidate Abarbanel’s reference.78 These ﬁgures could well explain why Qimhi spoke in gender-neutral . In the present comment. Abarbanel could recognize the anchorite life as a female vocation and hence conjecture a biblical precedent in the ﬁgure of Jephthah’s daughter. the number of anchoresses there multiplied.’’ 284. it would appear that Abarbanel construed anchorite life as a woman’s vocation.MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 251 We conclude our observations concerning the Renaissance recounting of Jephthah’s daughter in Abarbanel’s commentary with a comparison that he draws between Jephthah’s daughter and the monastic norms of his day: This is the basis from which the Kingdom of Edom (i. Seen in another light. there were always more women recluses than men.
Thus we ﬁnd. The celebrated virtue of the lament.252 JQR 95. some four centuries after it was ﬁrst proposed in Karaite circles. reveals that the non-sacriﬁcial approach to the story of Jephthah’s daughter enters the discourse of Christian exegesis only in the fourteenth century.S ACR IF ICI AL A PPR O ACH T O J EPH T H AH ’S VO W One would expect that the non-sacriﬁcial approach to the story of Jephthah’s daughter would have wide circulation within classical Christian exegesis. the twelfth-century theologian. and is found neither in the Glossa Ordinaria nor in the writings of Thomas Aquinas. however. be offered as ‘‘a burnt sacriﬁce to the Lord’’ (holocaustum offeram Domino). and is it possible to trace lines of inﬂuence here across the polemical divide? CH R IS T IA N EX EGES IS AN D T H E N O N.2 (2005) ments thus far about the changing social climate in which the non-sacriﬁcial approach to the story was construed have ignored a crucial facet of that milieu to which we now attend: How did Christian exegetes across the ages interpret the story. all Church commentators worked within the understanding that Jephthah had vowed to sacriﬁce his daughter and had in fact done so.31). for example. is not monasticism but martyrdom and describes in elaborate detail how Jephthah’s daughter took her own life in fulﬁllment . While Elijah and Elisha are oft-cited models of the eremitic life in early Christian exegesis. however. female models are hardly to be found. Indeed. The creature that would ﬁrst meet Jephthah would. one of which is a lament in tribute to Jephthah’s daughter. it is absent from materials found in the Patrologia Latina. composed a series of hymns to be recited regularly by monastic nuns. The most inﬂuential element that prevented the non-sacriﬁcial approach from gaining currency in earlier eras was the very translation rendered by Jerome of the language of the vow (Jgs 11. The sacriﬁcialist understanding of the account was also theologically convenient. With the exception of some voices that interpreted the phrase christologically. One can well imagine that a Christian theologian familiar with the non-sacriﬁcial approach to the story of Jephthah’s daughter might have composed a hymn for monastery recitation paying homage to this ‘‘spiritual mother’’ of woman’s monasticism. An examination of the history of Christian exegesis. that Peter Abelard. according to Jerome’s rendering. The authority of the Vulgate was considered absolute from the patristic through the monastic periods of exegesis. Some commentators saw within Jephthah’s daughter a paradigm of Christian virtue.
5:712. E.’’ New Catholic Encyclopedia (New York. Planctus Virginum Israelis Super Filia Jephtae Galaditae. R. 80. tomus II. Other medieval writers saw Judith as a scriptural forebear of the anchoress. 61–64. 178. . the Council of Vienne in 1311 ordered that ancient Hebrew and Greek be taught. however. Herman Hailperin.. W.. eds. particularly 138. vol. 2000). 1994). It is no coincidence that the commentary of Nicholas de Lyra. 81. 1994). Biblia Sacra cum glossis. 82. de Lyra availed himself of a wide range of rabbinic commentaries on the Hebrew Bible and freely incorporated them into his own with great frequency and with attribution.31 and the theological agenda served by rendering Jephthah’s daughter a martyr.81 His commentary on the story of Jephthah’s daughter is no exception. Petrus Abaelardus. 1963). Yet because of Jerome’s Latin translation of 11. On the state of Nicholas de Lyra scholarship generally. which meant that learned clergy members would now be encouraged to access the Hebrew original of the Hebrew Bible.80 More signiﬁcantly for our purposes. Pa. Rashi and the Christian Scholars (Pittsburgh. reﬂected a greater mastery of Hebrew and of Hebrew sources than any Christian commentary since Jerome. 1967). McNally. Rabbinische Traditionen bei Nikolaus von Lyra (Frankfurt am Main.79 Rabbinic exegetes had been embellishing the nonsacriﬁcial interpretation with monastic themes at least since the time of Ibn Ezra. My thanks to Joseph Hochbaum for his assistance with this material. rendered in the 1320s and 1330s. see Debora Kuller Shuger. interlineari et Ordinaria. col.. Structure and Imagery. 137. ‘‘Exegesis. 1819–1820. fol. See Wolfgang Bunte. For one. Patrologia Latina. Immediately after his citation of the midrashic material he states 79.MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 253 of her father’s vow. the Vulgate no longer enjoyed universal authority as the sole authoritative translation of the Bible. n.82 He cites the earlier Christian traditions that Jephthah had indeed sacriﬁced his daughter. The Renaissance Bible: Scholarship. For a brief overview of medieval Christian exegetical attitudes toward Jephthah’s vow prior to Nicholas de Lyra. Sacriﬁce and Subjectivity (Berkeley. Medieval. Krey and Lesley Smith. It was in the early fourteenth century with the inﬂuence of scholasticism that trends in Christian exegesis would shift in a fashion that would allow the penetration of the non-sacriﬁcial approach. nor the patristic fathers as its absolute interpreters. Nicolaus de Lyra. the non-sacriﬁcial interpretation emerged only as a latecomer within the history of Christian interpretation of the story. He then states that he saw in Hebrew sources various attempts that are recorded in the midrash to ﬁnd halakhic relief to annul the vow. Calif. Lugduni 1545. 47b–48a. and 240. see Philip D. Moreover. Nicholas of Lyra: The Sense of Scripture (Leiden. 46. See Grayson.
who themselves had engaged learned Jews. there may also be evidence that de Lyra’s interpretation shaped Abarbanel’s comments to the episode. Not enough is known about how de Lyra attained his knowledge of Jewish sources. 84. 1957). prayer. De Lyra does not explicitly attribute his nonsacriﬁcialist approach to a particular Jewish source. Masoret u-bikoret (Jerusalem. and no doubt de Lyra envisaged Jephthah’s daughter embracing these vows much as would monks and nuns of his own day. .254 JQR 95. the fact that he contrasts the sacriﬁcial approach of the patristic sources with midrashic sources that chronicle attempts to annul the vow. fasts. It is possible. but to the religiosi. 152. a hermitess. n. he asserts. Yet considering that we know that Abarbanel read de Lyra widely.84 Recall that Abarbanel stated that it was from the story of Jephthah’s daughter that the Church derived the practice of strict claustration for women. It should be noted. through celibacy. may well have stemmed from Jewish inﬂuence. See his commentary on Is 7. suggests that this approach. however. see Lawee. This list of her obligations—more detailed than any found in Jewish exegesis of the story—resembles a set of monastic vows. His extensive and sustained citation of Rashi in his own commentary to the Pentateuch would suggest that he had a manuscript of Rashi’s commentary directly available to him. Abarbanel read Nicholas widely and routinely hailed him as the greatest of Christian commentators. 1916). Moving forward in time and back across the polemical divide. and then concludes with his non-sacriﬁcial approach. those that live in a monastery. or anchorite.83 Fulﬁllment of the vow. The lacuna in Nicholas’s ‘‘bibliography’’ in his comments on this story again comes into play. He may have had contact with learned Jews or other Church clergymen. Other examples are given in Jacob Guttman. 199–200 and 281. For more on Abarbanel’s use of Christian sources. with no Christian source to substantiate his claim. Die religionsphilosophischen Lehren des Isaak Abravanel (Breslau. was in the form of dedication to the service of God. it may be that he construed de Lyra’s comparison of Jephthah’s daughter to monastic women as an indication that the Church saw this episode as a scriptural source for the institution of claustration. and charitable acts. 256. Based 83. however. Moshe Zevi Segal. Isaac Abarbanel. of which this writer is unaware.2 (2005) that the intimations of the text of Judges 11—that she died—reﬂect the ‘‘death to the world’’ that is the lot of the monastic. that other materials were made available to him orally.17 and Ez 4. 46. Nonetheless. too. It may be that Abarbanel simply surmised that this was so. that he does not compare her to an eremitae. It may also be that Abarbanel had access to other Christian writings.6.
and symbols from the host culture of Latin Christendom. he cites no Jewish source for the non-sacriﬁcial approach. Abishag. may have read the passage differently.’’ as Adam vero cognivit uxorem suam Hevam. Scripture states that Jephthah carried out his vow. a common meaning of ‘‘to know’’ in many biblical passages. ‘‘and Adam knew his wife Eve. and thus the close reading of the verb ignoro here as ‘‘unfamiliar’’ is inconsistent with the Vulgate’s own understanding of the account.85 At the outset of this study we noted that research in the ﬁeld of JewishChristian relations in the Middle Ages has increasingly attended to the ways in which Jewish culture incorporated motifs. Perhaps a stronger indication of Christian inﬂuence upon Abarbanel’s exegesis here may be seen in his interpretation of Jgs 11. but implies that she was unaware. offers a novel interpretation: ‘‘ ‘she knew no man’—but rather remained in seclusion. The Vulgate translates Gn 4. Similarly.’’ The interpretation is highly reminiscent of the Vulgate translation here. While Abarbanel rejects the Vulgate’s interpretation of the episode. Exegetes who had adopted the non-sacriﬁcial approach understood the statement as a consequence: because she was destined to a life of seclusion. . she would never have the opportunity to enjoy physical union with a man. Abarbanel may have taken this to mean that Nicholas had reached this interpretation independently or via Christian exegetical traditions. however. Abarbanel. ‘‘and the king did not know her’’ (1 Kgs 1.’’ Rabbinic writers who adopted the sacriﬁcialist approach understood this to be a statement of her condition: she had been sacriﬁced while yet a virgin.1. Abarbanel. Here however. and co-opted it for the sake of his non-sacriﬁcial approach. The root ignoro is never used in conjunction with sexual union. is likewise rendered. Both these positions understood the term ‘‘knowledge’’ here to be carnal knowledge. is noteworthy.’’ as quae ignorabat virum. for it is primarily through the interpretation of Scrip85. the Vulgate translates ‘‘and she knew no man.MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM—BERMAN 255 upon the structure of his argument and the lack of any Church exegetical precedent. rex vero non cognivit eam. the Vulgate adopted a sacriﬁcialist reading of the episode. ‘‘and she knew no man. however. we may still allow that he drew local inspiration from the Vulgate’s rendering of the phrase. the biblical comment that David never had relations with his nurse. we contended that Nicholas’s adoption of the non-sacriﬁcial approach reﬂected rabbinic inﬂuence. and never again saw another person for the rest of her life. As mentioned. concepts. The incorporation of a Christian motif within the realm of rabbinic biblical exegesis.39. Whereas de Lyra attributed the midrashic material. ‘‘had no familiarity’’ with anyone. as we have seen here.4).
Frank Talmage (Toronto. Rosenthal (Jerusalem. n. ed. Harvard University. 86. and discussion in Jeffrey Robert Woolf. Joseph Colon (Mahari’’k). delphia. Y. the present study is signiﬁcant in another respect as well. 45.D. The Jewish Christian Debate in the High Middle Ages: A Critical Edition of Nizzahon Vetus (Phila. 29. ed. Mehkarim u-mekorot. 2000). Israel Yuval has stated that the incorporation of Christian motifs within Jewish culture is generally felt to be a subconscious process. See The Polemic of Nestor the Priest. The Book of the Covenant of Joseph Kimhi. trans.2 (2005) ture that Jews and Christians engaged in counterpolemics. Jewish Bible Exegesis: An Introduction. 19 and 79. no. Rabbanite. 502. see Ephraim Kanarfogel.86 The incorporation of the monastic image to reinterpret the Jephthah narrative is also noteworthy in light of the deep scorn registered in much medieval rabbinic writing concerning clerical monasticism. Frank Talmage. ed. 10. Berger. 87.88 Yet. Cohen (New York. Yehudah Rosenthal. J. Jewish Bible Exegesis. ‘‘The Disputation of Eliyahu Chayim of Genezzano with a Franciscan Monk’’ (Hebrew). Greenberg (Jerusalem. In short. 88. Yom Tov Assis et al. 69–70 and 223. as does R..1 (1985): 29–60.256 JQR 95. 1991). 43. Magical and Pietistic Dimensions in the Tosaﬁst Period (Detroit. 160. ‘‘The Life and Responsa of Rabbi Joseph Colon ben Solomon Trabotto (Maharik)’’ (Ph. ‘‘Medieval Christian Exegesis and Its Reciprocal Relationship with Jewish Exegesis’’ (Hebrew). 1979). it is rare indeed that the author explicitly shares the provenance of his allusion with his Jewish audience. see also Avraham Grossman. trans. 1972). and 194. David Berger. dissertation. 1991). See also Responsa of R. . and symbols from the host culture of Latin Christendom. on ascetic trends among rabbinic ﬁgures in southern France at this time.’’ Facing the Cross: The Persecutions of 1096 in History and Historiography.87 Against the backdrop of the current state of research into the Jewish adaptation of motifs. Daniel J. ‘‘Provence Exegetes of the 12th and Early 13th Centuries’’ (Hebrew). from Iraq in the east to Spain in the west. 226–30. Yuval. 35. 1:452. Two Nations. Peering through the Lattices: Mystical. concepts.’’ Essential Papers on Judaism and Christianity in Conﬂict. ed. Lasker and Sarah Stroumsa (Jerusalem. . ‘‘The Jewish Christian Debate in the High Middle Ages. even when an allusion suggests that its author was fully aware of the Christian origin of a borrowed image. 87. the medieval history of interpretation of the Jephthah narrative—Karaite. and Christian—allows us to follow the creative exchange of exegetical currency between the commentators of different sects and of different faiths. 1967). ‘‘On the Image and Destiny of Gentiles in Ashkenazic Polemical Literature. 107. n. 79. Talmage. (Jerusalem. 1996). M. over the span of half a millennium. 2000). 1983). Zion 51. ‘‘The Jewish-Christian Polemic and Jewish Biblical Exegesis in Twelfth Century France’’ (Hebrew). from the same volume see F. David Berger. David Kimhi in his comments on the story.
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