Don Yitzchak Abravanel (1437-1508) was a multi-talented Renaissance man possessing extraordinary élan. An eloquent writer and towering Tanach scholar, he belongs to a very select cadre of Jewish educators. Tanach scholarship is forever indebted to this brash powerhouse for penning his fifteenth- century tour de force.
An advisor, confidante and treasurer to royalty, Don Abravanel’s impeccable wisdom and unwavering integrity served Portuguese and Spanish kings well. A life with unimaginable opulence and repose crashed when King Ferdinand and his wife Queen Isabel came to power. Groundswells of religious fanaticism and anti-Semitism mauled and gnawed until they tarnished a Golden Era. Forced conversions, murder and pillage overtook hundreds of thousands of Abravanel’s co-religionists. Spurning an insidious dispensation by Spanish monarch to remain cloistered and protected within the palace, Abravanel preferred to accompany his disgorged brethren eastward.
Arriving in Renaissance Italy, Abravanel resumed prominent government positions and, fortunately, his writing. His death in Venice, in the year 1508, concurrently marked the end of the medieval Biblical commentary epoch.