ELIAS LEVITA (Elijah ben Asher ha-Levi):
Rabbi; b. at Neuetadt-on-the-Aisch (20 m. n.w.
of Nuremberg) 1489; d. at Venice Jan. 28, 1549.
His German birth is explicitly declared in the first
preface to his Massoret, a statement corroborated
by Kimchi and by Sebastian Münster. But Italy
became his second home, hence he could state at the
end of the
that he "wished to
return to Italy, the land whence he came, und die in
his city of Venice." He taught Hebrew at Padua
1504-09, lost his property there at the sack of that
city by the French, removed to Venice, thence to
Rome (in 1512), where he was under the protection of Egidio of Viterbo. When Rome was taken
by Charles V. (1527) a second time he lost his property. He removed to Venice, which became his
permanent home, with the exception of a few
intervals spent at Isny and in a visit to Germany,
Elias Levity would occupy an honorable place
among Hebrew grammarians, even if an extraordinary significance had not been attached to his
labor by the historical conditions under which it was
accomplished. His w:rk became a factor of that
historical advancement by which Christendom returned to the documentary sources of its doctrines.
To this new beginning of linguistic and historical
studies Elias Levity rendered important services.
After Reuchlin under the direction of the physician
Jacob Jehiel Loans (L. Geiger, ut inf., pp. 24, 26) had
mastered Hebrew, and after Matthias Adrianus, a
converted Jew from Spain, had been the teacher of
Pellican (Geiger, p. 43), Levita, through the mediation of Sebastian Münster and Paul Fagius, exercised a much stronger and more lasting influence
upon the transference of Hebrew knowledge to the
Christians. Still greater than in the department
of grammatical and lexical inquiries was the impulse which Elias Levita by his
gave to the text-critical treatment of the Old
Testament. He brought his children up in the
Jewish faith in spite of his intimate intercourse with
Christian scholars; but to the greatest sorrow of
one of his daughters her two sons, Elisno and Sol.
Romano embraced the Christian faith (Graetz, ix.
335). Elias Levita was a pleasing example of a
scholar who [mew how to keep free from partizan
entanglements the interest in the subject of his
His writings are: (a) Teateritiosl:
(Venice, 1538; German translation by C. G. Meyer
with annotations by Semler, Halle, 1772; in
English by D. Ginsburg,
London, 1887); (b) Grammatical:
Peruah al Pethach Debarag
(ascribed to Moses Kimehi [q.v.],
Biur al Mahmlakh ahebhile ha.daath ("
dations on Kimchi's grammar
, 1508; the
with a Latin version by S. Münster, Basel, 1b27);
(treating of Hebrew grammar, Rome, 1518,
revised edition, Isny, 1542; Hebrew and Latin by
under the title of
Basel, 1518; with echolia, 1537,
(elucidation of words composed
of different forms, Rome, 1b19);
Hebrew ascents, Venice, 1538, also Latinised by Münster);
(remarks on D. Bimahi'e
with it, Venice, 1b45). (c) Lexical:
of 712 words from Jewish literature, Basel, 1527);
(a lexicon of Targumia and Talmudic words,
Shemoth debharim (a
(annotations to D. Kimchi's "Book
of Roots," printed together Venice, 1548); (d) Exegetical:
" The Psalms with Kimchi's commentary and corrections
by the editor,, (Ieny, 1b42); " The Psalms faithfully trans
lated into Judeo-German; " " the Targum to the
with Glosses " (Iany, 1541); " The Book of Job in Rimes "
(Venice, 1544); (e) Literary:
the wonderful edenta of prince Buovo d'Antons, a novel),
"Hymns" (Venice, 1545).
J. C. Wolf,
Bibliotheca Hebraa, i.
iii. 97-102, iv. 182, Hamburg, 171b-33; J. F. Hirt, Ori
50 sqq., Jena ,
1778; J. Furat,
Bibliotheca judaica, ii.
18493; L. Geiger,
Dos Stadium der hebräiadun Sprarhe
ib. 1870; J. Levi,
Elia Levita und seine
Leiatungen ale Grammatiker,
Breslau, 1888; Backer, in
1889, 208-272; H. Graetz,
Geschichte der Juden,
vol. ix. passim, Leipsic, 1891; C. A. Briggs,
Study of Holy
passim, New York, 1899; JE, viii. 48-49.