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“Daniel Klein continues to spread the teachings of an important, but too often overlooked, biblical interpreter” – Jewish Link of NJ
“A true scholarly achievement” – Professor Martin Lockshin
Samuel David Luzzatto (1800-1865), known by his Hebrew acronym Shadal, was the leading Italian Jewish scholar of the 19th century. A linguist, educator, and religious thinker, he devoted his talents above all to the interpretation of the Bible, especially the plain meaning of the text. Although he was a devout believer in the divinity, unity, and antiquity of the Torah, Shadal approached the text in a remarkably free spirit of inquiry, drawing upon a wide variety of sources, ancient and contemporary, Jewish and non-Jewish. As a result, his interpretations may strike even the modern reader as fresh and novel.
Highlights of Shadal’s Numbers (Bemidbar) commentary are his discussion of what the “villains” of the book, Korah and Balaam, have in common; his theory that the punishment of wandering in the desert for forty years was actually a blessing for the people of Israel; and his thorough search for the elusive “sin” of Moses that kept him from entering the Promised Land. This volume also features two appendices: the first is a translation of Shadal’s dramatic poem about On ben Pelet, and the second is a presentation of Shadal’s contentious exchange with Elia Benamozegh on the value of Kabbalah, the state of Jewish-Christian relations, and reasons for the commandments.
Shadal’s treatment of the book of Numbers, as well as the other books of the Torah, consisted of his Italian translation of the text and his Hebrew-language commentary. Here, for the first time, is an all-English version of both the text translation and the unabridged commentary, the first complete edition of Shadal’s Bemidbar since its original publication in 1875. The translator-editor has supplied copious explanatory notes and a list identifying the sources that Shadal cited.