שמות

About 900 years ago (give or take a few years), Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra sat down to read parshat Shmot, just as we are this week.  As he compiled his commentary on the parsha, something must have drawn him to this portion in particular, as the vast majority of his comments on the opening of this parsha, and therefore the book of Shmot (Exodus) as a whole, deal with basic issues of grammar.  So much so that I wonder if Ibn Ezra might not have begun his commentary on the Torah writing on Shmot rather than Bereishit (Genesis).  His commentary to Bereishit opens with theological questions appropriate to the beginning of the Torah, but his commentary opening the book of Shmot include long forays into (e.g.) the origin of the root י.ה.י, in a manner that overwhelms his comments on the content of the verses.

Thus, working through what Ibn Ezra has said about this week’s parsha was slow going, but did contain pearls, such as his assertion that Moshes Egyptian name (i.e. the name he was given at birth by Pharaoh’s daughter, as opposed to משה which is simply a Hebrew translation) was מוניוס (Moniyus?), or that the etymology of הר סיני (Mount Sinai) derives from the סנה (bush) that Moshe saw burning, due to the arid climate.  Which is all to say that this parsha is exemplary of Ibn Ezra’s commentary as a whole – full of revealing and original ideas about the content of the text, but sometimes interspersed too lightly among grammatical minutiae.

Ibn Ezra is

Full of wisdom and verbs

And worth the effort

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