Dunash ibn Tamim

Born on 890

Died on 956

Dunash ibn Tamim;

(Hebrew: דונש אבן תמים‎) was a Jewish tenth century scholar, and a pioneer of scientific study among Arabic-speaking Jews. His Arabic name was أبو سهل Abu Sahl; his surname, according to an isolated statement of Moses ibn Ezra, was “Al-Shafalgi,” perhaps after his (unknown) birthplace. Another name referring to him is Adonim.

His first name seems to have been native to northern Africa, it was common among medieval Berbers. The younger contemporary of Ibn Tamim, Dunash ben Labrat, for instance, was born in Fez.

Details concerning Ibn Tamim’s life and activities have been gathered principally from his Sefer Yetzirah commentary.

In this commentary, which was written in 955–956 CE, Saadia Gaon is mentioned as no longer living. The author refers, however, to the correspondence which was carried on when he was about twenty years of age between his teacher, Isaac Israeli ben Solomon, and Saadia, before the latter’s arrival in Babylonia, consequently before 928; hence Tamim was born about the beginning of the tenth century.

Like his teacher, he was physician in ordinary at the court of the Fatimid caliphs of Kairouan, and to one of these, Isma’il ibn al-Ḳa’im al-Manṣur, Tamim dedicated an astronomical work, in the second part of which he disclosed the weak points in the principles of astrology.

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