Email Email   


Medieval Hebrew poet and philosopher. Born in Malaga, Spain, he was orphaned as a child. At 16, his genius had already become evident. The tragic experiences of his short life—poverty, illness, and loneliness—are reflected in his subtle and pessimistic poems. His outstanding creative intelligence is revealed in his philosophical works as well. Many of Ibn Gabirol’s poems, or piyyutim, became part of Jewish religious liturgy. His Keter Malkhut, a paean to the greatness of God, is recited on Yom Kippur Eve.

  As a penetrating philosopher, Ibn Gabirol in­fluenced both Christian theology and Jewish mystic thought. His philosophic work Fons Vitae (Source of Life), originally written in Arabic and later translated into Latin, was for centuries credited to “Avicebron”; it was not until the middle of the 19th century that Jewish scholar Solomon Munk discovered a fragmentary Hebrew translation by means of which he was able to prove that Avicebron was ac­tually Ibn Gabirol. Ibn Gabirol’s end is surrounded by mystery. An envious Arabic poet was said to have murdered him and buried his remains under a fig tree. To the astonishment of all, the tree bore unusually beautiful fruit. The king questioned the owner about his marvelous tree until he broke down and confessed his crime.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email