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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works

 

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Joseph ben Abba Mari ben Joseph ben Jacob Caspi
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Hebrew Name(s): יוסף אבן כספי
Other Names: Joseph ibn Kaspi, Joseph ben Kaspi, Yosef Kaspi, Joseph Caspi
Period: Rishonim — 13th–14th Century
Location: France
Dates: 1280–1340

Biography:
A philosopher, gammatician and biblical commentator, Joseph ben Caspi was born in Lagentiere and later settled in Tarascon.
 
Caspi was a prolific writer, beginning his literary career at the age of seventeen. Later he studied logic and philosophy. Many of his works are now only known only from the list he himself complied.
 
Caspi's works were variously received. Ibn Tzartzah, Moses of Narbonne and Efodi praised them, Johanan Aleman recognized their mystical character and Isaac Abrabanel and Simon Duran declared him anti-religious because his commentary on the Moreh admitted the eternity of the universe.

Works:
Mishneh Kessef, Sefer ha-Shorashim, (Roots of Silver); Pirush HaSodos Shel Ibn Ezra Al HaTorah; Perush; Terumat Kesef (Oblation of Silver) Tzawwa'at Kaspi (Testament of Caspi. aka Yoreh De'ah); Mattot Kesef (Staves of Silver); Kefore Kesef (Cups of Silver); Kesef Siggim (Silver Dross); Tzeror ha-Kesef (Bundle of Silver); Retuqot Kesef (Chains of Silver); Shulchan Kesef (Table of Silver); Adne Kesef (Thresholds of Silver); Mizreqe Kesef (Basins of Silver); Mazmerot Kesef (Sickles of Silver); Menorat Kesef (Candelabra of Silver); Chagorat Kesef (Girdle of Silver); Kappot Kesef (Spoons of Silver); Gelile Kesef (Scrolls of Silver); Chatzotzerot Kesef (Trumpets of Silver); Qa'arot Kesef (Bowls of Silver); 'Ammude Kesef (Pillars of Silver); Maskiyyot Kesef (Images of Silver); Mezamrot Kesef (Songs of Silver); Tam ha-Kesef (The Silver Is Finished); Qebutzat Kesef (Collection of Silver); Gebi'a Kesef (Goblet of Silver)

Comments:
Mishneh Kessef is a kabbalistic, ethical and philosophical commentary on the Chumash. It consists of two parts: Tirat Kessef - Sefer HaSod (Book of Mystery) and Matzref LeKesef. Tirat Kesef (Palace of Silver) is a kabbalistic commentary on the Chumash that discusses a whole book rather than parashah by parashah. Matzref LeKesef (Crucible of Silver) is a systematic commentary on the peshat (simple meaning) of the Torah, similar to Rashi and Ibn Ezra, but with a different twist, and does not have any kabbalistic interpretations.
Sefer ha-Shorashim is Ibn Kaspi's Dictionary of Hebrew Roots. The title of this book is sometimes written as Sharsharos Kesef or Sharsherot Kesef (שרשרות כסף), which means Chains of Silver (as opposed to Roots of Silver), and is so referenced in Ibn Kaspi's list of his own works, Kevutzat Kesef. In this work Kaspi endeavors to apply the science of logic to lexicography
Pirush HaSodos Shel Ibn Ezra Al HaTorah is a work of commentary on the secrets of R' Avraham Ibn Ezra in his Commentary to the Torah.
Perush is commentary on Ibn Ganah’s grammatical work.
Terumat Kesef is a summary of Averroes’s commentaries on Aristotle’s Ethics and Plato’s Republic, according to the Hebrew translation of Samuel of Marseilles.
Tzawwa’at Kaspi (or Yoreh De'ah) is a collection of moral sentences dedicated to the author's son.
Mattot Kesef is commentaries on the Bible, with the exception of the Pentateuch.
Kefore Kesef gives the author’s reasons for the rejection of various explanations of Ibn Ezra and Maimonides.
Kesef Siggim provides questions and answers on the seeming contradictions in the Bible.
Tzeror ha-Kesef (or Qitztzur Higgayon) is a compendium of logic.
Retuqot Kesef (or Pirqe Yosef ,Chapters of Joseph) is a treatise on grammar.
Shulchan Kesef is a work divided into four chapters called “regel” (foot), treating of prophets and miracles.
Adne Kesef, also called Sefer ha-Mashal, forms the second part of the work, Tirat Kesef, and containing mystical explanations of the Prophetical Biblical books.
Mizreqe Kesef gives explanations of Biblical passages respecting the creation.
Mazmerot Kesef is a commentary on Job.
Menorat Kesef is a commentary on the Merkabah (the Heavenly Chariot.)
Chagorat Kesef is a commentary on Ezra and Chronicles.
Kappot Kesef is a commentary on Ruth and Lamentations.
Gelile Kesef is a commentary on Esther.
Chatzotzerot Kesef is commentaries on Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs.
Qa'arot Kesef is a work in which Caspi endeavored to prove that the Law contains the idea of spiritual happiness and immortality, to explain the Biblical doctrine that God visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, and to explain the relation of wickedness to prosperity.
‘Ammude Kesef is an exoteric commentary on Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed.
Maskiyyot Kesef is an esoteric commentary on Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed.
Mezamrot Kesef is, in other lists, Shulchan Kesef, a commentary on the Psalms.
Tam ha-Kesef is a work on the destruction of both temples, Jeremiah's prophecies, and the arrival of the Messiah.
Kevutzat Kesef (‘Qebutzat Kesef) is a list of Caspi’s works.
Gebi'a Kesef is supplement to the mystical commentaries on the Bible. Kaspi finds great theological significance in the number 3 (Ch. V), and he speaks in this work about the origins of the concept of The Trinity found in Christian philosophy, attributing it to an earlier ternary division made among the Separate Intelligences by Aristotelian thinkers (e.g., Abu-Nasr). He also expounds the different philosophical implications of the diverse names of God in the Bible.

 

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