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The Meaning of Qohelet According to Ibn Ezra's Scientific Explanations

Mariano Gómez Aranda
Aleph
No. 6 (2006), pp. 339-370
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40385896
Page Count: 32
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The Meaning of Qohelet According to Ibn Ezra's Scientific Explanations
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Abstract

In his commentary on Qohelet, Abraham Ibn Ezra utilizes the theories of Ptolemaic astronomy and astrology, the ideas of earlier Neoplatonic philosophers, and the rules of the Hebrew grammarians of his time to explain the book in general and certain verses in particular. Through these concepts, Ibn Ezra tries to justify Qohelet's thesis that it is useless to occupy oneself with earthly matters, because they are subject to all kinds of external influences, from astrological effects to customs and food habits that depend on geography. The only worthwhile human activity in this world is perfection of the soul through the development of wisdom. Ibn Ezra maintains that the book of Qohelet deals with the laws of nature, although they are not exposed in a clear and obvious manner. The exegete's purpose is to uncover the scientific theories hidden in the biblical text and show that the knowledge provided by the Bible conforms to that provided by the profane sciences. Ibn Ezra uses the philosophical theory of the three souls to solve apparent contradictions in the text of Qohelet.

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