Home page The Occident and American Jewish Advocate Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library Shopping Mall of Zion AHAVA Hero Products 250x250

בס"ד

Literary Notices.

(Continued from Vol. 1, issue 12.)

History of the Jewish Physicians, From the French of E. Carmoly, by John R. W. Dunbar, M. D. &c. Baltimore, 8 vo. pp. 94.

"That which is particularly deserving of praise in the Jewish physicians, is their having founded the plan of medical teaching at Montpelier, which was the cradle of the celebrated faculty of this city. All the histories agree in this glorious fact, but no one of them informs us of the precise epoch, not the gradual progress. We shall attempt to give both in this place.

"The origin of the city of Montpelier was as early as the ninth century. At that period the Israelites had schools in many of the towns of Languedoc and Provence, particularly at Arles, and Narbonne about the year 1000.

"This last school was under the presidency of the Doctor Rabbi Abou, grandfather of the learned Moses Darshon. Religion was the principal object of instruction, but medicine was not neglected. One of his disciples, whose name has not been preserved by history, but who has transmitted the title of a medical work which he had composed, resided at Montpelier, about the year 1025, and is probably the founder of the medical school of that city.

"Teaching was conducted there as in the school at Salernum, in Hebrew and Arabic, and a remark made by Salisburi, Bishop of Chartres, who lived in the twelfth century, that those who came from this school were full of barbarous words, proves that even at that period, the studies were conducted in a foreign tongue. The Greek was rarely learned there, and the physicians of that city who descended from the Israelites, made use in the first place of the Arabic and Hebrew, and subsequently of the Provençal and Latin, which we find used in the translations of the twelfth century. Whoever he may be, this unknown physician taught medicine at Montpelier, and his disciples who confirmed his course of studies, had a powerful influence in inspiring Christians with a desire of learning. As regards the work of our doctor it is referred to under the title of Book of Medicine, by Nathan ben Jechiel of home, by Solomon ben Isaac of Troyes, and by Eleazar ben Nathan of Margence, all authors of the twelfth century.''

In all the civilized countries during the eleventh century, the Jews took an elevated stand in the sciences, especially medicine; among the great names of that period, Ebn Djanah, or as he is called among the Jews, Yonah ben Ganach, holds a high rank, though his works remain as yet in manuscript. The Jewish physicians were established in all countries, Christian no less than Mussulman, and they were held in high, repute in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Egypt; and what is remarkable enough, the greater part of these medical men also devoted their attention to religious literature, as their works which have come down to us amply testify; and we refer the reader to the work under review for farther particulars.

The age of Rashi, or more properly, Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, also known as Yarchi, is distinguished in our annals as one of great enlightenment in the sciences; for Israel furnished at that time some of the greatest theologians, philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers, jurists, poets and musicians. And Rashi himself, (born according to the best authorities at Troyes, in the year 1043, died in July 1108, at the age of sixty-five,) will always be regarded as one of the brightest stars among our scholars; and his varied erudition and immense industry displayed in the many works he has left behind, and which form the text-books of all Jewish students, will ever be a monument of what biblical learning is indebted to him for.—Spain boasted then of her Ebn Zohar, (born at Peneflor, in 1070, died 1161,) who was physician to Ali ben Temin, King of Seville, and afterwards to Joseph ben Tachefyn, Prince of Morocco. "He was in truth a great observer of nature, and profoundly learned, was perfect master or the Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic languages, and had no less talent for poetry than prose."

During the same period we are told, that "Although the prohibition anciently made against Christians consulting Jewish physicians in cases of disease, had been renewed in Christian Spain, the king, of Leon had, nevertheless, in defiance of it, at the beginning of this period, an Israelite physician, to whom he granted his whole confidence. It was to this doctor, that even the estates of the kingdom addressed themselves to use his influence with the king to dissuade him from an alliance with Arragon. No one who knew the imperious character of the prince dared to address him on this subject—the Hebrew doctor alone made known to him the wishes of the nation.

"Aben Omar ben Kamenil, was a very distinguished Spanish physician of that period, and has been celebrated by Mousa ben Esra de Grenada; but his glory soon faded before that of Aben Esra.

"Abraham ben Meir Aben Esra, was born at Toledo in the year 1092, of one of the most learned Jewish families of Spain. Nature had gifted him with a vast genius, which grasped almost all the sciences.

"He was versed in philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, grammar, and poetry. He delighted very much in travelling, and passed most of his life in that way. After having traversed France, he was made prisoner. Having escaped this danger, he returned to Europe, visited England and other countries, and what is very extraordinary, he composed his pricipal works during these expeditions."

(To be continued.)