Zürich, Zentralbibliothek, Ms. Heidenheim 30
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Dr. Justine Isserles, chercheure associée, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes-Saprat (Paris), 2019.

Manuscript title: Sefer ha-Sorashim by David ben Joseph Kimhi (1160-1235)‎
Place of origin: Byzantium
Date of origin: ‎14th century
Support: Paper and parchment. Structure of each quire: first and centre bifolio made of parchment with 3 paper bifolios in the middle. Low quality parchment surrounding and paper, some of which is watermarked.
  • e.g. f. 11: heart with an arrow going downwards (Briquet 788)‎
  • e.g. f. 69: two circles (Briquet 3173 or 3175)‎
  • e. g. f. 77r: three mountains in a circle (Briquet 11886)‎
Extent: V + 104 + V
Format: 300-304 x 220-226 mm
Foliation: Foliotation from right to left in Arabic numerals in grey pencil in corner of upper margin on the recto side of each folio. Greek numerals are written in black ink in the center of the bottom margins at the beginning and end of every quire. The counting goes from left to right and starts with the number δ (4) on folio 104v and ending with the number ιδ (14) on folio 1r.
Collation: 11 quires of quinions.‎ I (1r-9v)*; II (10r-19v); III (20r-28v)*2; IV (29r-37v)*3; V (38r- 47v); VI (48r-56v)*4; VII (57r-65v)*5; VIII (66r-74v)*6; IX (75r-84v); X (85r-94v); XI (95r-104v).‎
‎*: Stub between folios 5v and 6r.‎ ‎*2: Stub between folios 24v and 25r. ‎*3: Stub between folios 32v and 33r.‎ ‎*4: Stub between folios 51v and 52r.‎ ‎*5: Stub between folios 61v and 62r.‎ ‎*6: Stub between folios 69v and 70r.‎
Thanks to the presence of the Greek numerals at the beginning and the end of each quire going from 4 to 14 (see under foliotation), there are presently 3 quires missing from the end of the manuscript. Furthermore, because the first page of the manuscript has a root starting with the letter ‘yod’ (‎י‎), we know that the beginning of the manuscript is also lacking several quires, even though this was not taken not consideration by the author of the Greek numbering.‎
Catchwords:‎ ff. 9v, 19v, 28v, 37v, 47v, 56v, 65v, 74v, 84v, 94v.‎
Condition: Heavily restored manuscript. Many humidity stains and cut sections of pages.‎
Page layout: Brown pencil ruling on the parchment and paper.‎ ‎1+2+1 columns. 34-37 ruled lines for 34-37 written lines. The ends of lines are respected by the adding of the last word diagonally above the last word at the end of the line.‎
Page laid out in 2 columns of text (200 x 165 mm). Outer and inner indentations around the initial words.‎
Writing and hands: Medium module bookhand oriental script for the main text and large module square oriental script for the initial words and end-titles (e.g. ff. 14v, 30r). No vocalization. One scribe named ‎אלקנה‎ (Elqanah) copied this manuscript and some marginal glosses (e.g. ff. 34r, 47v, 53r). His name can be found in acrostics on f. 40r, right column, lines 1, 3, 5, 6, 8.
Additions: Very few later additions.‎
  • ff. 19v, 57r inscriptions in the inter-column in black ink in a square calligraphic script.
  • f. 87r: thick cursive script in black ink in lower left margin
Binding: Black and cream coloured ‘clotted’ paper glued on cardboard 19th century binding (310 x 230 mm) with two paper stickers on its spine. ‎
  • Sticker 1: Handwritten inscription: KIMCHI Sefer Haschoraschim. ‎ס' השרשים ‏‎. MS
  • Sticker 2 : Printed inscription : Ms Heid. 30‎
The author and his work:
R. David ben Joseph Kimḥi (Narbonne, 1160-1235) is one of the most important grammarians, lexicographers and exegetes of the medieval period. His magnum opus, the Sefer ha-Miklol, is a philological treatise written in Narbonne circa 1210, divided in two parts. The first is the Ḥeleq ha-Diqduq, devoted to Hebrew grammar and the second section is a biblical dictionary called the Sefer ha-Shorashim (Book of Roots) and is based on the identically named grammatical work by Jonah ibn Janah (c. 990-1050), which was translated from the Arabic by Judah ibn Tibbon (c.1120-1190). Although both works bear the same name, Kimhi succeeded in distinguishing himself from it by increasing the lexicographical material through new etymologies and comparisons of medieval Hebrew and Aramaic. Among his sources, Kimhi, often quotes his father R. Joseph Kimhi (c. 1105-1170), a grammarian, exegete and translator in his own right. Furthermore, the Sefer ha-Shorashim includes glosses in Arabic and in French (the latter originating from Rashi’s commentary), as well as the insertion of 280 Provençal glosses, reflecting the language spoken in Narbonne in the early 13th century (Kogel, 2015, p. 183).
Extant manuscripts, fragments and printed editions:
The great significance of the Sefer ha-Shorashim of the Zentralbibliothek, dated to the 14th century, owing to some of the watermarks in the paper of the volume, lies within the fact that it is the only preserved copy of Byzantine origin known today (attested by its Oriental-Byzantine script and quire numbering in Greek numerals).
Today, the Hebrew text of the Sefer ha-Shorashim is extant in approximately 80 manuscripts of diverse origins (Sephardi, Italian, Ashkenazi, Provençal) and about 150 fragments (Kogel, 2015, p. 183), many of which are part of the Italian Genizah (in Sephardi, Ashkenazi and Italian script, see Perani, 2014, pp. 157-158), thus testifying to the incomparable popularity of the work throughout the Middle Ages (see Jewish National University Library website, Jerusalem). Regarding Hebrew printed editions of the Sefer ha-Shorashim, since the Editio Princeps (Rome, 1470), there have been no less than seven other editions until 1546 (Offenberg, 1981, p. 131 and Marx, 1950). From the Renaissance onwards, this philological work displaying the roots of biblical words and structured in alphabetical order, became a useful reference tool for Christian Hebraists, such as Cardinal Giles of Viterbo (1465-1532), who translated the Sefer ha-Shorashim into Latin (Abate, 2013, pp. 434-437).
(Many thanks to Dr. Judith Kogel from the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes-CNRS, in Paris, who is directing the project Racines and for sharing the information on the website relative to this project with me: Liber Radicum, https://shorashim.hypotheses.org (viewed 25.06.2019).

  • Lacunary work at the beginning and at the end as well as in the middle because of the presence of several stubs.
    The work begins with the root יקש and ends with the root שוא.
    At the end of the letter ‘nun’ (נ), on f. 43v, a small poem can be found.
Provenance of the manuscript: This manuscript was part of the collection of Moritz Heidenheim (1824-1898), a German Jewish scholar from Worms, who converted to Anglicanism. After several years studying in London, Heidenheim came to Zurich in 1864 and became an Anglican chaplain, where stayed until his death in 1898.
Acquisition of the manuscript: In 1899, the collection of 211 Hebrew manuscripts (189 paper and 22 parchment manuscripts) and 2587 printed books entered the Zentralbibliothek in Zurich. This collection encompasses a wide variety of subjects, including biblical, exegetical, halakhic, liturgical, grammatical, lexicographical, cabbalistic, astronomical and apologetical literature, and conveys above all, Moritz Heidenheim’s scholarly and scientific interests as a 19th century bibliophile (O. Franz-Klauser, 2006, pp. 116, 241, 246).‎
Manuscript catalogues:
  • J. Prijs, Die hebraïschen Handschriften der Zentralbibliothek Zürich. Im Auftrag der Verwaltung der Zentralbibliothek beschrieben von Joseph Prijs (7 vols.), vol. 4, Nr. 155, pp. 315-316
  • A. Schechter, Die hebraïschen Manuscripte der Zentralbibliothek zu Zürich (Abt. Heidenheim) von Abraham Schechter. Abgeschlossen am 15. September 1921, (Hebrew), pp. 26-27.
Printed catalogues and secondary literature:‎
  • C. M. Briquet, Les filigranes. Dictionnaire historique des marques du papier dès leur apparition vers 1282 jusqu’en 1600. A Facsimile of the 1907 Edition with Supplementary Material Contributed by a Number of Scholars, Allan Stevenson (ed.) (Amsterdam: The Paper Publications Society, 1968), 4 vol.‎
  • O. Franz-Klausner, Ein Leben zwischen Judentum und Christentum. Moritz Heidenheim (1824-1898) (Zurich: Chronos Verlag, 2008).‎
  • J. Prijs, Die hebräischen Handschriften in der Schweiz: Katalog der hebräischen Handschriften in den Schweizer öffentlichen Bibliotheken … redigiert auf Grund der Beschreibungen von Joseph Prijs (Basel, Benei Beraq: Sefer Verlag, 2018), pp. 201-202 (Nr. 209).‎
References on the David Kimhi the Sefer ha-Shorashim in Hebrew:‎
  • M. Z. Cohen, “The Qimhi Family”, in Hebrew Bible Old Testament, The History of Its Interpretation: The Middle Ages, M. Saebo (ed.) (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2000), pp. 388-415.‎
  • J. Kogel, “Le‘azim in David Kimhi’s Sefer ha-shorashim: Scribes and Printers through Space and Time”, in The Late Medieval Hebrew Book in the Western Mediterranean. Hebrew Manuscripts and Incunabula in Context, Javier del Barco (ed.) (Leiden: Brill, 2015), pp. 182-200.‎
  • N. Netzer, “Terumato šel rabbi David Qimhi le-fitron millim yehida’iyyot šoreš ‘al pi lešon ḥakamim” (Hebrew), Hebrew Union College Annual [Cincinnati], 59 (1988), pp. 1-11 (Hebrew section).‎
  • M. Perani, “ Fragments of Linguistics Works from the Italian Geniza”, in A Univesral Art. Hebrew Grammar Across Disciplines and Faiths, Nadia Vidro, I. E. Zwiep, J. Olszowy-Schlanger (eds.) (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2014), pp. 137-166 (part. pp. 157-158).‎
  • Sefer ha-Shorashim: Rabbi Davidis Kimchi Radicum Liber sive Hebraeum Bibliorum Lexicon, J. H. R. Biesenthal and F. Lebrecht (eds.), (Berlin : G. Bethge, 1847), (facsimile : Jerusalem, 1967).‎
  • F. E. Talmage, David Kimhi: The Man and the Commentaries, (Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press, 1975).‎
References on the Latin translation of the Sefer ha-Shorashim entitled Liber Radicum:
  • E. Abate, “Filologia e Qabbalah. Ricognizione della biblioteca ebraica di Egidio da Viterbo : i manoscritti della biblioteca Angelica di Roma”, Archivio italiano per la storia della pietà 26 (2013), pp. 414-451.‎
  • C. Astruc and J. Monfrin, “Livres latins et hébreux du Cardinal Gilles de Viterbe”, Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et de Renaissance, 23 (1961), pp. 551-554 (p. 552).‎
  • F. Di Cesare, Catalogo dei manoscritti in scrittura latina datati per indicazione di anno, di luogo o di copista, II, (Turin : Biblioteca Angelica di Roma, 1982), p. 15.‎
  • F. X. Martin, “The Writings of Giles of Viterbo”, Augustiniana, 29 (1979), pp. 141-193.‎
  • E. Narducci, Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum praeter Graecos et Orientales in Bibliotheca Angelica olim coenobii Sancti Augustini de Urbe, Tomus I, complectens codices ab instituta Bibliotheca ad a. 1870, (Rome: 1893), p. 1.‎
  • L. G. Pélissier, “Manuscrits de Gilles de Viterbe à la Bibliothèque Angélique (Rome) ”, Revue des bibliothèques, 2 (1892), pp. 228-240.‎
  • R. J. Wilkinson, Orientalism, Aramaic and Kabbalah in the Catholic Reformation. The First Printing of the Syriac New Testament (Leiden: 2007), pp. 29-62.
References on the printed editions of the Sefer ha-Shorashim and on the first Hebrew printed books in general:‎
  • M. Marx, “On the Date of Appearance of the First Printed Hebrew books”, in Alexander Marx Jubilee Volume (New York: 1950), vol.1, pp. 481-501.‎
  • A. K. Offenberg, “Untersuchungen zum hebraïschen Buchdruck in Neapel um 1490”, in Buch und Text im 15. Jahrhundert, Arbeitsgespräch in der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel von 1. bis 3. März 1978, L. Hellinga et H. Härtel (eds.) (Hamburg: Ernst Hauswedell & Co., 1981), pp. 129-141.‎