Jarchi, Solomon Ben Isaac

, otherwise Raschi and Isaaki, a famous rabbi, was born in 1104, at Troyes in Champagne in France. Having acquired a good stock of Jewish learning at home, he travelled at thirty years of age visiting Italy, Greece, Jerusalem, Palestine, and Egypt, where he met with Maimonides. From Egypt he passed to Persia, and thence to Tartary and Muscovy; and last of all, passing through Germany, he arrived in his native country, after he had spent six years abroad. After his return to Europe, he visited all the academies, and disputed against the professors upon any questions proposed by them. He was a perfect master of the Talmud and Gemara, but filled the postils of the Bible with so many Talmudical reveries, as totally extinguished both the literal and moral sense of it. Many of his commentaries are printed in Hebrew, and some have been translated into Latin by the Christians, among which is his “Commentary upon Joel,” by Genebrard; those upon Obadiah, Jonah, and Zephaniah, by Pontac; that upon Esther, by Philip JDaquin. But the completest of these translations is that | of his Commentaries on the Pentateuch, and some other books, by Fred. Breithaupt, who has added learned notes. The style of Jarchi is so concise, that it is no easy thing to understand him in several places, without the help of other Jewish interpreters. Besides, when he mentions the traditions of the Jews recorded in their writings, he never quotes the chapter nor the page; which gives no small trouble to a translator. He introduces also several French words of that century, which have been very much corrupted, and cannot be easily understood. M. Breithaupt has overcome all those difficulties. The style of his translation is not very elegant: but it is clear, and fully expresses the sense of the author. It was printed at Gotha in 1710, 4to. There are several things in this writer that may be alleged against the Jews with great advantage. If, for instance, the modern Jews deny that the Messias is to be understood by the word Shiloh, Gen. xlix. 10, they may be confuted by the authority of this interpreter, who agrees with the Christians in his explication of that word. M. Reland looks upon rabbi Jarchi as one of the best interpreters we have and tells us in his preface to the “Analecta Rabbinica,” that when htf met with any difficulty in the Hebrew text of the Bible, the explications of that Jewish doctor appeared to him more satisfactory than those of the great critics, or any other commentator.

Jarchi wrote also Commentaries upon the Talmud, and upon Pirke-Avon, and other works. It is said that he was skilled in physic and astronomy, and was master of several languages besides the Hebrew. He died at Troyes in 1180 and his body was carried into Bohemia, and buried at Prague. His decisions were so much more esteemed, as he had gathered them from the mouths of all the doctors of the Jewish academies in the several countries through which he had travelled. His “Commentary upon the Gemara,” appeared so full of erudition, that it procured him the title of “Prince of Commentaries.” His Commentaries upon the Bibles of Venice are extant; his glosses or Commentaries upon the Talmud are also printed with the text. They were published collectively in 1660, in 4 vols. 12mo. He was so highly esteemed among the Jews, as to be ranked among the most illustrious of their rabbies. He married, and had three daughters, who all were married to very learned rabbies. 1

1 Gen. Dict. —Moreri.