Auction 93 Part 2 - Ancient Books, Chassidic and Kabbalistic Books, Manuscripts and Letters

Mikraot Gedolot – Venice, 1524-1525 – Four-Volume Set – Mikraot Gedolot Edition Known for Its Accuracy and Beauty – Accepted Text of the Bible – Printed by Daniel Bomberg

Opening: $18,000
Sold for: $22,500
Including buyer's premium
Mikraot Gedolot, Five Books of the Torah, Neviim Rishonim, Neviim Acharonim and Ketuvim, with Targum Onkelos and the commentaries of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Radak, Targum Yonathan and more. Venice: Daniel Bomberg, [1524-1525]. Set in four volumes.

This Mikraot Gedolot edition, edited by Yaakov son of Chaim ibn Adoniyahu, and printed by Bomberg, is considered one of the most important editions of the Bible. It is renowned for its accuracy and beauty, and served as prototype and standard text for all following editions. This edition is also unique for its Masorah (Masorah Gedolah and Masorah Ketanah). Yaakov son of Chaim, who initiated this edition and prepared it for print, established the text of the Masorah based on various manuscripts, with the addition of his glosses to the Masorah and a general foreword which he authored. The present edition is in fact the first edition in which the Masorah is printed alongside the text of the Bible, and it became one of the most important sources for the text of the Masorah for future generations.

Colophon at the end of Divrei HaYamim: "Completed on 24th Tishrei 1525, in the press of Daniel Bomberg, here in Venice…".

This edition includes, apart from the Masorah Gedolah and Masorah Ketanah, Targum and the commentary of Rashi: the commentary of Ibn Ezra to most of the Bible, the commentary of Radak (to Neviim), the commentary of Ralbag (Neviim Rishonim, Mishlei and Iyov) and the commentary of R. Saadiah Gaon (to Daniel). The commentaries to Mishlei, Iyov and Ezra-Nechamia printed under the name of Ibn Ezra were actually authored by R. Moshe Kimchi.
At the end of the fourth volume, the Final Masorah was printed, along with lists of variants between Ben-Asher and Ben-Naftali and between the Western and the Eastern traditions (lacking final two leaves; the present set includes an additional volume containing another copy of the Masorah – also lacking several leaves).

Yaakov son of Chaim ibn Adoniyahu was born in Tunis and fled to Italy due to persecutions. He settled in Venice, where he became a proofreader in Bomberg's press, and took part in several of his prominent printing enterprises, including the present Mikraot Gedolot, the Jerusalem Talmud, and more. At some point, he converted to Christianity. In his book Masoret HaMasoret (second preface), R. Eliyahu Bachur praises the beauty and superiority of the Mikraot Gedolot edited by Yaakov son of Chaim, while at the same time condemning his conversion and criticizing the errors which crept into his work.
In the lengthy foreword at the beginning of the first volume, Yaakov son of Chaim recounts his life story, describing his peaceful years studying in Tunis, and the tribulations he underwent before reaching Venice, where he was approached by Bomberg who employed him to proofread the books he was printing.
Inscriptions and signatures in several places. On the title page of vol. I: "Ours, Binyamin and Shmuel son of R. Shmuel Tzadik, 1670"; on the title page of vol. II: "Belongs to the renowned R. Hertz Neimark…". Inscription on the verso of the title page of vol. III. Several glosses in vol. I. Glosses in neat Sephardic script in vol. III.

Censor's signatures at the end of the Torah vol. and at the end of the Five Megillot (copy bound after Divrei HaYamim). Words deleted with ink or scraped off (for censorship purposes) in several places.

Four volumes: Torah: [234] leaves. Neviim Rishonim: [209] leaves. Without final blank leaf. Neviim Acharonim: [211] leaves. Without final blank leaf. Ketuvim (with Masorah): [337] leaves. Lacking final two leaves of Masorah, with variants and Shaar HaNeginot. Without blank leaf following Divrei HaYamim (leaf [232]). Another copy of of Five Megillot – [42] leaves – bound after Divrei HaYamim.
Approx. 37-42 cm (Neviim Rishonim vol. larger than other volumes). Condition varies, fair to fair-good. Stains, including dark dampstains (many dampstains to vols. II and IV), and traces of past dampness to several leaves. Wear (primarily to vol. II). Worming, affecting text, repaired with paper. Many tears in various places, including large open tears, affecting text, repaired with paper (several leaves with handwritten text replacement). Damage to title pages (worming, closed and open tears, some large, affecting text and borders), repaired with paper; paper on verso of some title pages, for reinforcement. Several leaves possibly supplied from other copies. Leaves trimmed with damage to text in several places. New leather bindings.

Reference: M. Goshen-Gottstein's introduction to Biblia Rabbinica, a reprint of the 1525 Venice edition edited by Jacob ben Hayim ibn Adoniya, Jerusalem, 1972, I, pp. 7-8; J. Penkower, Jacob ben Hayyim and the rise of the Biblia Rabbinica, Jerusalem 1982.
Habermann, The Printer Daniel Bomberg, no. 93.
Bible and Tehillim
Bible and Tehillim