Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Hamishah Humshei Torah: Pentateuchum; Nevi'im Rishonim; Nevi'im Aharonim; Sefer Ketuvim (The Pentateuch; Former Prophets; Later Prophets; Hagiographa)

Wittenberg: Zacharias Crato [Krafft], 1586. First edition. Hardcover. Four parts, quarto, published between 1586 and 1587. Register continuous through parts 1 and 2; separate registers for parts 3 and 4. Collation in 4s: 1-65 (blank 33.4); 1-30 (lacks blank 30.4); 1-32 (lacks 32.4 colophon). 506 leaves. Title within elaborate woodcut borders. Single-column text in vocalized Hebrew with cantillation; printed side-glosses. Separate Hebrew half-titles within woodcut borders for the latter three parts (Former Prophets; Later Prophets; Hagiographa); names of the biblical books set in large font within woodcut cartouches. Later vellum. Title and following three leaves with marginal reinforcement (slight text loss). Occasional mild embrowning, else very good, with bright half-titles.

First Wittenberg edition of the complete Hebrew Scriptures, with a concluding list of Haftaroth readings, noting the Ashkenazi and Sefardi variations. Our copy is the variant with Hebrew and Latin title. (Most of the few surviving copies are bound with a Hebrew title, and the publisher's information is taken from the colophon, which provides a Jewish calendar date of [5]347 = 1587). Vinograd notes that individual books and sections of the Hebrew Bible had been printed at Wittenberg since a quarto edition of the prophet Obadiah appeared in 1521. The title-page designs were re-used in the Hebrew bible published at Frankfurt am Oder in 1595. Each book closes with the masora finales printed in square type.

Andreas Masch notes in his revised edition of Le Long's Bibliotheca Sacra (1778): "This edition of the Hebrew Bible is so rare and infrequent that it was omitted in the [earlier] edition of Le Long's work at Paris, but it is known to Wolffius [Bibliotheca Hebraea] not in its entirety, but only in respect of certain parts." One can speculate as to why the edition is rare, but it may be worth noting that "[w]hen Hans and Friedrich Hartmann decided to start producing Hebraica in an effort to become the official printer for the univeristy of Frankfurt/Oder, they were able to do so relatively quickly by hiring awy five experienced workmen from Zacharias Croto's Wittenberg firm, which was having financial difficulties" (Burnett).

At the colophon is noted the year and the name of those at whose expense this Hebrew Bible was published: [colophon info in Heb. and Latin] The above example is therefore attributed to the liberality of the prince, and to the expense of the two citizens of Witteberg [But the Rühilii brothers were not correctors of the work, but citizens and senators of Witteberg, whose name is quite famous in the history of the Germanic Bibles.]. The work came from the workshop of Zacharias Craton, otherwise known as Kraft, to whom we owe several editions of German Bibles. The title in both copies represents a gate, in which above and below Ps. 118, com. 20. was expressed. To the first edition of Plantini, that this was engraved in such a way that almost the pages correspond to the pages, without even Plantini's typographical plasters having passed into this one, he judges that he reviews this, Cl. Knochius. It is completed in four parts, with five festival books added to the Pentateuch; but each part is decorated with a special title. Closes each book with a final masora printed in square type, and at the end is added a Table of Haphtharas.


This latter title page was the one used in the [unique] presentation copy printed on large paper. Very Good. Item #53478

Full title: חמשה חומשי תורה Pentateuchum mandato & liberalitate illustrissimi principis ac Domini, Domini Augusti Electoris Saxoniae... Vitebergae: Typis Zacharia Cratonis, Anno 1586. [alternate Hebrew title: חמשה חומשי תורה נדפס עם רב העיון על ידי זכריה כראטו].

References: Benzing, Buchdrucker 16/17, p. 471; Le Long/Masch I (1778), pp. 33-34; Steinschneider 277; VD16 ZV 29818 (quarto); Vinograd 21. Not in: Adams; Darlow & Moule; Delaveau & Hillard. Cf. Burnett, Christian Hebraism in the Reformation Era, p. 204.

Price: $12,500.00

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