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9. The Sabbath Epistle by Abraham Ibn Ezra: Its Purpose and Novelty

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Chapter Summary

In London Ibn Ezra composed Yesod Mora in the summer of 1158; and in the Sabbath Epistle, the topic of the present chapter, the narrator recounts an experience that he had in England in December of that same year. Following the prelude, the Sabbath Epistle consists of a cosmological introduction and three chapters on the beginning of the Jewish year, month, and day, respectively. The originality in the Sabbath Epistle's exegesis is that Ibn Ezra interprets the half-verse 'There was evening, there was morning, day one', as meaning that ' "Day" is the total period of evening and morning'. The crux of the Sabbath Epistle's reasoning structure is an analogy between the day and the solar year in general, and between the Sabbath day and the Sabbatical year in particular. With the Sabbath Epistle, Abraham Ibn Ezra reverted to the issue of the correct start of the Sabbath day.

Keywords: Abraham Ibn Ezra; Sabbath day; Sabbath Epistle; Sabbatical year

10.1163/9789004259669_010
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