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at Cordova, and throngh them he was invited to address the congregation in the synagogue on the Sabbath after his arrival. Up to the moment when his public cliscourse ended, our noble and distinguished youth was carefully guarding the secret of his descent. No premature discovery was to lessen the enjoyment of the noble triumph which he meditated. In his address, which was very eloquent and impressive, Jaimon's son shone with all the brilliancy of his acute and profound mind. The auditors were entranced, but more so Vaimon, who received his once missing child with rapture, and, amidst the acclamations and congratulations of the affectel congregation, conducted him to his beloved home.
Restored to the affections of his parent, he returned to his studies with redoubled andour. In order to perfect himself in the knowledge of the Arabic langnage, astronomy, mathematics, and medicine, he frequented the very celebrated schools (according to Leo Africanus), of Eln Topháil Ebn Saig, and more particularly the great Averroes, whose great learning and profound investigations of the Aristotelian system of philosophy, assembled round him a very great number of pupils
. It was from this learned Arab that the son of the llebrew judge received his knowledge of Aristotle, whose works were brought into Europe by the Arabs, where they gained an intluence, which, for many centuries, pervaded the whole of Christendom.
The events which happened both to Averroes and Maimonides, and nearly at the same time, bore a singular coincidence. Averroes, whose full name is Aabd-Allah Muhammed Ebn Omar Ebn Rushd, first placed at Cordova as a cadi or judge (an office held both by his father and grandfather), by the African prince of the Mohadites, commenced delivering in that city, a public course of instruction, by which he gained many personal enemies. Accused of having spoken with disrespect of the Alcoran, he was stripped both of his dignity and entire fortune, A. 1). 1163. In his distress he sought a refuge among the Israelites of Cordova ; some say even in the house of Haimonides. Soon after this
escape he fled from that city and took refuge at l'ez, in Africa, where he was compelled to undergo a very humiliating penance at the door of the mosque, and to recant some of his opinions, which were considered adverse to the religion of the Alcoran. Ile afterwards returned to Cordova, where he was soon reinstated by Yoseph ben Jacob, king of Morocco, both in his former dignity as a judge, and his office as professor, which he continued to exercise during the space of about forty years.
While the storm was bursting over the head of the devoted victim, Averroes, Maimonides was accused of having shared the deistical opinions of his friend and teacher, was exposed to all the calumnies which malice conld invent, and to all the persecutions
which mistaken zeal could inflict. And when, subsequently, it was discovered that his was the house in which Averroes had found an asylum, the illfeeling harboured against him, both by Israelites and Moors, increased to that degree that he was compelled to quit his Spanish fatherland.
About this period, the Alinohad monarch caused the poor Israelites to be very severely persecuted, in consequence of the rich coffin that contained the embalmed body of Mohammed at Mecca, having been robbed of many diamonds and valuable jewels by a band of Arabs, aided by some accomplices in the town; the guards, however, in order to screen their negligence, accused the Israelites that had come from Toledo of the act, saying they had been sent by the other Israelites of Spain to commit it. The report being believed, many Israelites were put to death, forty synagogues were burnt, and a decree issued, calling upon Israelites and Christians to embrace Islamism, whether they would or not.
In consequence of these troubles, a great many of the Israelites, discontented with the African despot and African rule, sought an alliance with the Christian sovereigns, especially king Alphonso VIII, of Leon and Castile. Maimonides, however, who was at all times disinclined to look favourably on Christians, and, alas! also on Christianity itself, preferred remaining on the Saracen territory in Spain, and consented to an outward conformity with the rites of Islamism, in preference to seeking a refuge in a Christian country.
As soon as a favourable opportunity presented itself, he escaped to Africa, and, after a short residence at Morocco, established himself in Egypt. There, for some time, he lived in obscurity, maintaining hiinself by trading in medals and precious stones. Egypt was, at that time, the seat of intestine and foreign warfare. Fatimite caliphs, descendants of Ali, the son-in-law of the prophet Mohammed, were gradually sinking into such a state of weakness, that they were no longer able to preserve their dominions. Anarchy, and hostile inroads of Christian kings and Turkish sultans, ruled supreme. In this state of confusion, Maimonides accommodated himself to circumstances, and suffered his master mind and transcendent talents to lie, as it were, under the influence of an opiate. As soon as the Turks, after completing their conquests in Asia, overthrew the reigning dynasty in Egypt, and established their dominion in that country, Maimonides, ineeting with Al-Fadhl Aabd-Arrahhim Ebn Al-Baisani, one of Salaheddin’s generals, and a man of sense and learning, immediately attached himself to him, and very soon after became his physician and counsellor.
By this means, Maimonides was soon brought to the favourable notice of Salaheddin Yoseph Ebn Ayub, formerly vizier of Bagdad, who becaine sultan after the year 1171, or (as he was more usually
called) Saladin, king of Egypt, and was taken into his majesty's service, as physician-in-chief, and privy counsellor.
About this tine (according to Alkifti's statement), a king of the Franks (name not mentioned), was taken ill at Ascalon. This king of the Christians, though inhabiting a land which, according to the notions of the age, he must have considered defiled by the footsteps of a Jew—though placed at the head of a band of adventurers that had proved the most sanguinary persecutors of the defenceless IIebrews; though able to boast of ruling over a country but two generations back cleared by the sword of the noisome weeds of Judaism, yet the medical skill of Maimonides held such powerful inducements even to him, that he felt he would be safe in his hands, and accordingly invited him to come into the country where his race was hated, into the royal presence, nay, wished to entrust him with his royal life.
At this time, the triumph of Maimonides was complete, being courted by two hostile monarchs, occupying most prominent positions on the stage of the world. Maimonides, however, giving the preference to the Moslem monarch, positively refused to render any service to the king of the Christians.
IIis elevation exciterl, of course, the envy of others, who, alike jealous of his fame and fortune, sought not to emulate or to surpass him in talents, but strove, by mean intrigues and foul calumny, to ruin him in the good opinion of his royal master. A Mohammedan lawyer from Spain accused him publicly of profaning the religion of Islam, by having abandoned it for Judaism ; but the king himself defenderl'his physician-in-chief on the ground that a forced religion is no religion. Finally, he was accused of having attempted to poison his royal master. Whether justly or not, the sultan sent him to spend a few years in disgrace and exile. TIe is said to have spent all the time of his banishment in a cave, and «levoted it entirely to his manifold studies, the fruits of which have filled many volumes.
IIe was afterwards recalled and reinstated in the favour of the sultan and his court. All the former ill feelings were now exchanged for those of respect and admiration. In short, Maiinonides, happy in the circle of his affectionate family, in the possession of a large share of worldly goods, respected by every one that knew him, admired and beloved by a numerous circle of friends and disciples, and nearly idolized by a great portion of his coreligionists, seemed now to have attained the zenith of his glory. Indeed, so far had his fame spread, that the desire of seeing him is mentioned by an eminent Arabian scholar, Aabd-Allatif, as one of the motives for his repairing from a distant country to Egypt. His time was devoted to the noble task of benefiting either the mind by his writings and instruction, or the body by his medical skill and exertions. His unremitting activity is described by him .
self in a sketch of his way of life during forty years, when his time was divided between his practice as a physician, his employment at the court of Egypt, and his diligent and extensive labour in his study. It is preserved in a letter written by him to Rabbi Samuel Aben Tibbon, the diligent translator of his Arabic works into the Hebrew tongue:
“The residence of the king and my abode are situated at some little distance. Every day I am obliged to appear at court; if the sultan, or one of his wives or children, are ill, I remain there the greater part of the day. If all are well, I return home, but never before noon. Then, having dismounted and washed my hands, I enter my house, which I generally find filled with people. Israelites and Gentiles, rich and poor, merchants and magistrates, friends and enemies, await me. I request their permission to take some food, which I only do once in the twenty-four hours. After that, I converse with each of ny visitors, and prescribe medicines for them. Meanwhile, people are continually coming in and going out, so that it is generally two hours after dark before all the attendance ceases; I then throw myself on a couch, exhausted with fatigue, and take a little repose. You may imagine that, during all this time, no Israelite can come to me for private intercourse on religious subjects. It is only on the Sabbath, when the greater part of the synagogue come to me after morning prayers, that I can give thein any directions for their conduct during the week. Then we read together a little until noon, after which some return to me, and we read together ayain till the time of evening prayer. This is my usual way of life. Do not think, however, that I have completely described it. Wher, by the help of God, you may be able, after having finished the translation for the use of your fathers, to come and see me here, you can convince yourself, by your own eyes, of the truth."
How this learned Israelite, in the midst of such overwhelming occupation, could find the leisure requisite to collect and digest materials for the numerous and voluminous works which have flowed from his pen, is indeed astonishing, IIis books amount to more than forty in number, and some of them are of great magnitude. To name some of them will give an idea of the wide field of his studies, and the variety of subjects on which he wrote.
A commentary on the Mishna was the labour of his youth, begun while he was yet in Spain, in his twenty-third year, and concluded in Egypt, in his thirtieth year. This work was written in Arabic, accompanied with several very valuable introductions to the various orders or single treatises of the Mishna. These valuable introductions were translated into Latin by the celebrated orientalist, E. Pocock, and published by him in the original Arabic and the translation, at Oxford, A.D. 1655, under the title of " Porta Mosis.” Manuscripts of this commentary in the original language are still extant in various libraries; among others, in the Bodleian. This whole work was translated into
Hebrew in fragmentary parts, by the following respective rabbins, viz.: Samuel Eben Tibbon, and his son Moses; Judah Charisi; Joseph Alfual; Chaim ben Baka; Jacob Achsai Badrashi; Solomon ben Jacob; and Nathaniel Almali. Numerous complete Hebrew editions of the whole work are extant, and to be found in thousands of IIebrew libraries. A part of it had been translated into Latin by Paul Riccius, and published under the title of “Epitome Doctrinæ Talmudica;" and the whole of it by Gulielmus Surenhusius, who published it along with the commentary of Rabbi Obadiahı, of Bartenora, in his edition of the Mislina, published at Amsterdam, between A. D. 1675 and 1689. It was also translated into the Spanish language by Rabbi Abraham ben Reuben ben Nachman, under the title of Misuaioth con el Comento de el llacham Rabbino Losehbar Maimon," published at Venice, A.D. 1004;; and into the German by R. J. Fürstenthal, under the title of “ Das Jül. Traditionswesen, chargestellt in des R. Mos. Maimonides Einleitung in seinen Wischmakommentar, &c.” Breslau, 1842.
The following extract from his preface to the Mishna may not prove unacceptable:
“Know that everything under the lunar sphere is created for the use of man.
If there are animals and plants, the utility of which is not apparent, it is because our iynorance has not been able to discover it. The proof is that every age makes discoveries of the utility of certain animals and plants; oljects that to us secm poisonous, possess their salutary qualities; we have an evident proof in vipers, which, although noxious reptiles, have been rendered useful to man. Then, since man is the end of all creation, we must examine for what purpose he exists, for what end he is created. We sce every object of the creation produce the effect for which it is created; the palm yields its dates, the spider weaves its cobwebs. All their qualities render the animal or plant proper to attain their purpose. Then what is that of man? It cannot be to cat, drink, propagate, build walls, or to command; for theso occupations are separate from him and add not to his essence, and he possesses nearly the whole of them in common with other animals.
“It is, then, intelligence only that augments his being and clevates him from a lowly condition to a sublime state. It is but by reason that man distinguishes himself from the other animals; he himself is but a rational animal. By reason, I mean the understanding of comprehensible subjects, and above all, of the unity of God; all other knowledge tends to conduct him to that; but to arrive at it he must avoid luxury, for too much care bestowed on the body destroys the soul. The man who abandons himself to his passions, who renders his understanding subservient to his corporcal desires, docs not demonstrate the divine power that lies within him, that is to say, reason, which is a matter floating in the ocean of space.
“ It results from what has been said, that the purpose of our world, and the objects contained therein, is man endowed with knowledge and good