Israeli, Isaac ben Solomon

or Isaac the Elder

born 832/855, Egypt
died 932/955, Al-Qayrawān, Tun.

Egyptian Jewish physician and philosopher.

He began his medical career as an oculist in Cairo and later became court physician to al-Mahdī, founder of the Fātimid dynasty in northern Africa. He wrote several medical treatises in Arabic that were later translated into Latin and circulated in Europe. Schooled in Classical learning, he wrote philosophical works, including his Book of Definitions, which discusses Aristotle's four types of inquiry and then provides definitions of wisdom, intellect, soul, nature, love, and time. His interpretation of eschatological matters in light of Neoplatonic mysticism was very influential for later Jewish philosophers.

* * *

▪ Jewish physician and philosopher
Arabic  Abū Ya-ʿqūb Isḥaq Ibn Sulaymān Al-isrāʾīlī,  also called  Isaac Israeli, or Isaac The Elder 
born 832/855, Egypt
died 932/955, Al-Qayrawān, Tunisia

      Jewish physician and philosopher, widely reputed in the European Middle Ages for his scientific writings and regarded as the father of medieval Jewish Neoplatonism. Although there is considerable disagreement about his birth and death dates, he is known to have lived more than 100 years and never to have married or to have had children.

      Israeli first gained note as an oculist, maintaining a practice near Cairo until about 904, when he became court physician in Al-Qayrawān to the last Aghlabid prince, Ziyādat Allāh. He also studied medicine there under Isḥāq ibn ʿAmrān al-Baghdādī, with whom he sometimes has been confused.

      Some five years after his arrival, Israeli entered into the service of al-Mahdī, the founder of the North African Fāṭimid dynasty (909–1171), whose capital was Al-Qayrawān. At the request of the caliph, Israeli wrote eight medical works in Arabic. All were translated into Latin in 1087 by the monk Constantine, who claimed to have written them himself. Not until 1515 was their true authorship uncovered, and the works were republished in Lyon under the title Omnia Isaac Opera (“All of Isaac's Works”); the editor, however, mistakenly included the writings of other medical scholars as well. Israeli's scientific works include standard treatises on fevers, urine, pharmacology, ophthalmology, and ailments and treatments. He wrote also on logic and psychology, showing particular insight in the field of perception.

      Of his philosophical writings, Kitāb al-ḥudūd (Hebrew: Sefer ha-gevulim, “The Book of Definitions”) is best known. Beginning with a discussion of Aristotle's four types of inquiry, Israeli goes on to present 56 definitions, including definitions of wisdom, intellect, soul, nature, reason, love, locomotion, and time. Others of his philosophical works include Sefer ha-ruʾaḥ ve-ha-nefesh (“Treatise on Spirit and Soul”), probably part of a larger exegetical effort, and Kitāb al-jawāhir (“Book of Substances”).

      Israeli's thought was influenced heavily by two major sources: the great 9th-century Islāmic philosopher al-Kindī and a lost pseudo-Aristotelian treatise on such matters as the source of being, the nature of the intellect, and the course of the soul. Israeli's interpretation of eschatological matters in the light of Neoplatonic mysticism was to influence Solomon ibn (Ibn Gabirol) Gabriol in the 10th century and other later Jewish philosophers.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ISRAELI, ISAAC BEN SOLOMON — (c. 855 c. 955), physician and philosopher. Born in egypt , Israeli emigrated at about the age of 50 to kairouan , capital of the maghreb , where ʿUbayd Allāh al Mahdī, founder of the Fatimid dynasty, appointed him court physician. His renown… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Israeli, Isaac ben-Solomon — (c. 855–c. 955)    North African physician and philosopher. Israeli was born in Egypt and first gained a reputation as an eye specialist. Around 905 he made his way to Kairouan (Tunisia) and the court of Ziyadat Allah, the last of the Aghlabid… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Israeli, Isaac ben Solomon — (832/855, Egipto–932/955, Al Qayrawan, Túnez). Médico y filósofo judío egipcio. Comenzó su carrera médica como oculista en El Cairo y más tarde se convirtió en médico de la corte de al Mahdi, el fundador de la dinastía fatimí en África del Norte …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Israeli, Isaac ben Solomon (Isaac Judaeus) — (c.855 c.955)    Physician and philosopher. He was born in Egypt. At about the age of 50 he moved to Kairouan, where he served as court physician. He wrote eight medical works, including treatises on pharmacology, fevers and ophthalmology, as… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Isaac Israeli ben Solomon — (in Hebrew Yitzhaq ben Sh lomo ha Yisra eli; in Arabic Abu Ya qub Ishaq ibn Suleiman al Isra ili; also known as Isaac Israeli the Elder was an Egyptian Jewish physician and philosopher. He was born in Egypt before 832; died at Kairouan, Tunisia,… …   Wikipedia

  • Gerson ben Solomon Catalan — was a Jewish author who lived at Arles, France in the middle of the thirteenth century. He died, possibly at Perpignan, toward the end of the thirteenth century. According to Abraham Zacuto and others, he was the father of Levi ben Gerson… …   Wikipedia

  • KOOK, SAUL ḤONE BEN SOLOMON ZALMAN — (1879–1955), Israeli Hebrew writer and scholar. Kook, who was born in Grajewe (Poland), was a younger brother of Rabbi Abraham Isaac kook . He studied in yeshivot and with his brother, whom he followed, settled first in Jaffa in 1904, and later… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Isaac Israeli — ben Salomon  Ne doit pas être confondu avec Isaac Israeli ben Joseph …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ben — /ben/, n. a male given name, form of Benjamin. * * * (as used in expressions) Akiba ben Joseph Alfasi Isaac ben Jacob Alkalai Judah ben Solomon Hai Abba Mari ben Moses ben Joseph Israel ben Eliezer Ben Ali Zine el Abidine Ben Bella Ahmed Ben… …   Universalium

  • Isaac Israeli ben Salomon —  Ne doit pas être confondu avec Isaac Israeli ben Joseph …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.