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Persian translator of the Bible; flourished in the sixteenth century. The polyglot Pentateuch printed at Constantinople in 1546 included a Persian translation in Hebrew characters, in addition to the Targum of Onḳelos and the Arabic rendering by Saadia Gaon. In his preface the editor of the polyglot referred to this version as "a Persian translation which a wise and learned man, R. Jacob b. Joseph Tawus, has made for us"; this is followed by a statement indicating that the translator or the translation had been brought to Constantinople by Moses Hamon, the physician of Sulaiman I. Of the two interpretations, the view which makes the word "hebi'o" refer to the translator, thus implying that Jacob Tawus went to Constantinople at the request of Moses Hamon, is probably correct, as the editor expressly says "us"; the version accordingly seems to have been made by Tawus at Constantinople specifically for this polygot. Except for these data, nothing is known concerning the translator, whose name denotes" peacock." About 1570, however, a certain Jacob ben Issachar Tawus is described in a responsum of R. Moses Alshech (No. 103) as a thorough Talmudist. According to Zunz (in Geiger's "Wiss. Zeit. Jüd. Theol." iv. 391), this Jacob ben Issachar was a nephew of the translator, a view which is far more plausible than that of Kohut, who seeks to identify him with the translator himself by substituting the name Issachar for Joseph ("Kritische Beleuchtung," etc., p. 10). When Moses Hamon accompanied Sulaiman on his first Persian campaign (1534-35), he may have induced the scholarly Persian Jew to return with him to Constantinople (see Grätz, "Gesch." ix. 34). Jacob Tawus based his work on the old traditions of the Judæo-Persian Bible translations (see Jew. Encyc. vii. 317), although he was influenced in many passages by the Targum of Onḳelos and Saadia's Arabic version, as well as by the commentaries of Rashi and Ibn Ezra. His version, transcribed in Persian characters, was reprinted in 1657 in the fourth volume of the London Polyglot, with a Latin translation by Thomas Hyde; but it remained almost unnoticed until Munk recognized its true character, and determined its date in his "Notice sur R. Saadia Gaon" (Paris, 1838). The work is apparently known to a certain extent among the Jews of Persia, inasmuch as Simeon Ḥakam, the latest Judæo-Persian translator of the Pentateuch, states in the preface to his "Miḳra Meforash" (Jerusalem, 1901, vol. i.) that he remembered seeing as a youth a copy of the Constantinople Polyglot of the Pentateuch in his native place, Bokhara, although he became acquainted with the translation by Tawus only when he found it in the London Polyglot at Jerusalem.

  • Kohut, Kritische Beleuchtung der Persischen Pentateuch-Uebersetzung des Jacob b. Joseph Tawus, Leipsic, 1871;
  • A. Geiger's review of the same in Jüd. Zeit. x. 103-113.
W. B.
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