Query: Help with a Translation from Abravanel on Exodus

Jacob Adler's picture


In Isaac Abravanel’s commentary on Exodus 30:11 we find the following phrase:


כמו שכתב הפלוסוף שיצאו מן העין אידים מהמותרים אשר ידחם הטבע


Can anyone help with a translation.  I am particularly concerned with the final words, מהמותרים אשר ידחם הטבע.


The whole paragraph can be found on Sefaria, at https://www.sefaria.org/Abarbanel_on_Torah%2C_Exodus.30.11.15?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en


I will appreciate any assistance.




Jacob Adler

University of Arkansas

Philosophy Department


Categories: Query

I did skim through the entire section on "Abarbanel on Torah, Exodus 30:11" in Sefaria, and I could not find there the sentence you are inquiring about. Maybe I am looking/searching for it incorrectly on the site, but I wouldn't try to venture a translation of this particular sentence without first being able to studying carefully the entire context/paragraph in which it appears. Thank you.

Yuval Warshai

מותרים = superfluous material
אידים = exhalation
ידחם = they expel them
These are all standard medieval Hebrew scientific-medical terms.
Nature expels the superfluous materials (מותרים) from the eyes in the form of exhalation, and this exhalation is harmful, so it can harm people - this is Abarbanel's explanation of the "evil eye", i.e. you can harm people by merely looking at them, beause your eye may exhale harmful materials. (Human nature has a capacity to expel harmful or superfluous materials from the body - this is a standard assumption of Hippocratic-Galenic medicine. טבע probably refers to human nature, the capacity of the body to eject superfluous materials.)
Best regards, shana tova,
Tamas Visi

Yes, thank you for a concise,precise, and elegant explanation. (My apologies for not seeing the large passage on my first try.)

Assuming that you'd agree with the following simple, common translation:

טבע = nature

I got curious about the term (and concept) and went searching for it in the biblical and early rabbinic literature. To my guarded surprise, I could not find it there.

My immediate assumption is then, that the term/concept does nor appear in Hebrew literature before the Golden Age of Jewish philosophy in Spain in the 11th century. Is this a plausible assumption in your view? Thank you,
shana tova, Yuval Warshai

טבע is found in Abraham Ibn Ezra's biblical commentaries, who used it with the meaning of nature many times.
shanah tovah
Josefina Rodriguez-Arribad