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date: 15 October 2019

David ben Judah (Messer Leon )locked

  • Don Harrán

Extract

(Messer Leon )

(b Mantua, 1470; d Salonika [now Thessaloniki], 1526). Rabbi, philosopher. He was the son of the scholar Judah Messer Leon. David refers to music, briefly, in his treatise Shevaḥ ha-nashim (‘Praise of women’), a commentary on Proverbs xxxi. Acknowledging the wonders of music in ancient Israel, he praises the skills of the Levites and the power of music to awaken prophecy. It is not enough to sing, rather the singer must be well trained and have a sweet voice. Song is intrinsic to life’s activities: King David is said to have sung to God at all times, in sickness and in health. The author explains the origins of the term selah as a combination of the syllables sol and la. In the course of his exposition, he mentions an earlier work, Abir Ya‘aqov (‘The Cavalier Jacob’), now lost, where he claims to have treated ‘the science of music’ in chapter 7....

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