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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Isaac Ben Samuel of Acre

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Palestinian cabalist flourished in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. According to Azulai ("Shem ha-Gedolim," s.v. ), he was a pupil of Naḥ manides. He was at Acre when that town was taken by Al-Malik al-Ashraf, and was thrown into prison with many of his coreligionists but he escaped the massacre, and in 1305 went to Spain. Abraham Zacuto states, in his "Yuḥ asin," that Moses of Leon discovered the Zohar in the time of Isaac of Acre. But Isaac doubted the authenticity of the Zohar, not having heard of it in the Holy Land, and made inquiries about it of Naḥ manides' pupils, without, however, any satisfactory result. When he met Moses of Leon at Valladolid, the latter took an oath that he had in his house at Avila a copy of the Zohar, written by Simeon b. Yoḥ ai himself. But Moses of Leon died before he could return to Avila, and Isaac, more than ever desirous of obtaining the truth, consulted at Avila a certain David Rafan. The last-named told Isaac that Moses of Leon's wife and daughter had revealed to the wife of a certain R. Joseph the fact that Moses of Leon had written the book himself. Grä tz ("Gesch." 7:211) takes this story as historical, but Landauer (in "Orient, Lit." 6:710-713) shows it to be apocryphal, and demonstrates that the Zohar was discovered much later.

Isaac of Acre is frequently quoted by Elijah de Vidas in his "Reshit Ḥ okmah," and by R. Ḥ ayyim Vital in his "Megillat Setarim." He was an expert in composing the sacred names ("ẓ erufim"), by the power of which angels were forced to reveal to him the great mysteries (Azulai, l.c. ). According to Azulai he wrote many cabalistic works. Those that are known are: "Me' irat ' Enayim," a cabalistic commentary on Naḥ manides' commentary to the Pentateuch "Sefer ha-Sodot," mentioned in the "Nobelot Ḥ okmah" of Joseph Solomon Delmedigo "Ketem Paz," a cabalistic work mentioned by Moses Botarel in his commentary to the "Sefer Yeẓ irah," and the author of which he calls "Isaac ben Samuel," identified by Michael ("Or ha-Ḥ ayyim," No. 1088) with Isaac b. Samuel of Acre "Liḳ ḳ uṭ e Shoshanim," possibly a compendium of the "Sefer ha-Sodot." It appears from the "Reshit Ḥ okmah" that Isaac of Acre wrote also a book on ethics. A specimen of the "Me' irat ' Enayim" was published by Jellinek in his "Beiträ ge" the remainder of Isaac's works are still in manuscript.

Bibliography : Me' irat "Enayim Grä tz, Gesch. 3d ed., 7:186, 211,427-428 Abraham Zacuto, Yuḥ asin , ed. Filipowski, pp. 95, 96, London, 1857 Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim , p. 54 Jellinek, Beiträ ge , ii., xiii. Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. Colossians 2523 Landauer, in Orient, Lit. 6:182, 224,509 Michael, Or ha-Ḥ ayyim , p. 513, No. 1088.K. M. Sel.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Isaac Ben Samuel of Acre'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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