ISAAC BEN SAMUEL OF ACRE:
Palestinian cabalist; flourished in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. According to Azulai ("Shem ha-Gedolim,"s.v.), he was a pupil of Naḥmanides. He was at Acre when that town was taken by Al-Malik al-Ashraf, and was thrown into prison with many of his coreligionists; but he escaped the massacre, and in 1305 went to Spain. Abraham Zacuto states, in his "Yuḥasin," that Moses of Leon discovered the Zohar in the time of Isaac of Acre. But Isaac doubted the authenticity of the Zohar, not having heard of it in the Holy Land, and made inquiries about it of Naḥmanides' pupils, without, however, any satisfactory result. When he met Moses of Leon at Valladolid, the latter took an oath that he had in his house at Avila a copy of the Zohar, written by Simeon b. Yoḥai himself. But Moses of Leon died before he could return to Avila, and Isaac, more than ever desirous of obtaining the truth, consulted at Avila a certain David Rafan. The last-named told Isaac that Moses of Leon's wife and daughter had revealed to the wife of a certain R. Joseph the fact that Moses of Leon had written the book himself. Grätz ("Gesch." vii. 211) takes this story as historical, but Landauer (in "Orient, Lit." vi. 710-713) shows it to be apocryphal, and demonstrates that the Zohar was discovered much later.
Isaac of Acre is frequently quoted by Elijah de Vidas in his "Reshit Ḥokmah," and by R. Ḥayyim Vital in his "Megillat Setarim." He was an expert in composing the sacred names ("ẓerufim"), by the power of which angels were forced to reveal to him the great mysteries (Azulai, l.c.). According to Azulai he wrote many cabalistic works. Those that are known are: "Me'irat 'Enayim," a cabalistic commentary on Naḥmanides' commentary to the Pentateuch; "Sefer ha-Sodot," mentioned in the "Nobelot Ḥokmah" of Joseph Solomon Delmedigo; "Ketem Paz," a cabalistic work mentioned by Moses Botarel in his commentary to the "Sefer Yeẓirah," and the author of which he calls "Isaac ben Samuel," identified by Michael ("Or ha-Ḥayyim," No. 1088) with Isaac b. Samuel of Acre; "Liḳḳuṭe Shoshanim," possibly a compendium of the "Sefer ha-Sodot." It appears from the "Reshit Ḥokmah" that Isaac of Acre wrote also a book on ethics. A specimen of the "Me'irat 'Enayim" was published by Jellinek in his "Beiträge"; the remainder of Isaac's works are still in manuscript.
- Me'irat "Enayim;
- Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., vii. 186, 211, 427-428;
- Abraham Zacuto, Yuḥasin, ed. Filipowski, pp. 95, 96, London, 1857;
- Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, p. 54;
- Jellinek, Beiträge, ii., xiii.;
- Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 2523;
- Landauer, in Orient, Lit. vi. 182, 224, 509;
- Michael, Or ha-Ḥayyim, p. 513, No. 1088.