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Abraham Zacuto's Sefer Yuchasin

Manuscript. Early 16th century. 60 pages, 1550x200mm. Sefardic semi-cursive script.


A genealogy book, or chronicle of the generations from the creation until the time of the author, Avraham Zacuto, circa 1500.


Avraham Zacuto published his Sefer Yuchasin  in Tunis. The book was considered an important document of Jewish history in that it included the lineage of the Jewish people and its key figures, from inception to the time of the author.


R. Avraham Ben Shmuel Zacuto was born in Salamanca, Castillia (today's Spain) in 1452. He studied Talmud and kabbalah, at the same time pursuing his studies in astronomy at the acclaimed University of Salamanca. Until 1480, he was employed by the bishop of the town as an astronomer and scientists. In the 1470s, he wrote an impressive book on the solar system and earned renown as an astronomer. As a result, he became part of a society of scholars who prepared navigation tables for Portuguese sailors. Zacuto did much to improve the navigational abilities of the Portuguese and was credited with playing an important role in the Portuguese reaching India. Zacuto fled from Portugal without converting after the mass baptism that took place in Lisbon in 1497. He and his son were taken prisoner twice along the way, but eventually reached Tunis. In 1513, Avraham Zacuto reached Palestine, where he lived until his death two years later.  


Avraham Zacuto's Sefer Yuchasin was printed in Constantinople in 1566. The manuscript in the National Library is not complete. It includes the second article, tractate Amoraim, and then a different manuscript, by a different author from a later period.

 

Abraham Zacuto's Sefer Yuchasin