Don Isaac Abravanel 1437-1508

Don Isaac Abravanel, was a Jewish theologian, biblical commentator, and financier, b. Lisbon.

He served as treasurer to Alfonso V of Portugal but fled that country when he was implicated (1483) in a plot.

Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain then employed him, until they expelled the Jews from their kingdom.

The governments of Naples and Venice later employed him. His biblical commentaries are notable for their interpretation of the books of the Bible in terms of their various historical and social backgrounds and for their liberal quotations from Christian commentaries.

Don Abravanel attacked the use (by Maimonides) of philosophical allegory, which he believed weakened the faith of many and thus tended to undermine the Jewish community in a precarious time.

In his analyses of the messianic prophecies he specifically denied Christian claims of Jesus as the Messiah.

This was a dangerous position to take at that time. He looked to an impending messianic age in which the Dispersion would end with Israel’s return to the Holy Land and the reign of messianic rule for all humanity. See study by Benzion Netanyahu (2d ed. 1968).