Berlin: Verlag der Jüdischen Freyschule (Hevrat Hinukh Ne'arim), 1785-91. First edition. Hardcover. 2 vols. 47 leaves, (15), (8), 71 leaves, 58 leaves, (4). Wood boards with gilded decorated boarders and stamped designs and title-label on spine. Red edges all around. Decorative marbled endpapers. Green book markers. Book of Psalms in Hebrew with the German translation by Moses Mendelssohn. Hebrew commentaries by Obadiah Sforno and Joel Loewe. This work was printed in four parts from 1785 to 1790. Includes a list of subscribers from Jewish communities across Europe. Foldout pictures of musical instruments. Each part opens with a piece of modern Hebrew poetry modeled after Psalms. This work was part of the Biur project started by Moses Mendelssohn and continued after his death in 1786. Its purpose was to offer a German translation of the Bible and commentary for Jewish school children. It exemplifies some of the different faces of the early Haskalah (Enlightenment) movement. We see the pious desire to improve biblical literacy. Yet underneath this was an attempt to replace Yiddish with German and thus allow Jews to become better integrated into general society. There is also a nationalist element here with Psalms placed as the foundation for a revived Jewish literary culture to match the emerging German Romantic literary culture. Text in Hebrew and Judeo-German. Second volume boards slightly bent. g to vg. Item #18881
Israel Zinberg, "The Berlin Haskalah" pg. 185 and 232.