BIBLES, RABBINIC, called also Great Bibles (Miḳra'ot Gedolot): Hebrew Bibles containing, besides the original text, the commentaries of sundry Jewish rabbis. The first of these BbIes was published by Daniel Bomberg, edited by Felix Pratensis (4 parts, Venice, 1517-18); it contains, besides the Hebrew, the Aramaic paraphrases and commentaries of eight different writers on certain books, Masoretic notes, and other matter. As the editor was a convert to Christianity, his work did not prove acceptable to the Jews. Its faults induced Bomberg to undertake another edition, for which he employed as editor the celebrated Masoretic scholar Jacob ben Hayyim, who in after-life also embraced Christianity. This edition, the Hebrew title of which means "The Holy Gate of the Lord," was published at Venice (4 vols., 1524-25) and, like the first edition, contains the Hebrew text, the Aramaic commentaries, and the Masoretic notes. The editor’s introduction, containing a treatise on the Masorah, has been translated into English by Christian David Ginsburg (Jacob ben Chajim's Introduction to the Rabbinic Bible, London, 1865), who based The Massoretic Critical Text of the Hebrew Bible (1894) on this edition of Hayyim.
A revised and improved edition of the second Bomberg Bible was published (Venice, 1546-48) under the supervision of Cornelius Adelkind. The changes made in this edition were the omission of some commentaries and the substitution of others. Bomberg’s fourth Rabbinic Bible, by J. de Gara, was carried through the press and corrected by Isaac ben Joseph Salam and Isaac ben Gershon Treves (4 vols., Venice, 1568). The correctors remark at the end of the work that they have reinserted in this edition the portion of the Masorah omitted in the edition of 1546-48. Appended to this is the so-called Jerusalem Targum on the Pentateuch.
A Rabbinic Bible (4 vols., Venice, 1617-18) was published by Pietro and Lorenzo Bragadini and edited by the celebrated Leon of Modena. It contains the Aramaic paraphrases, the Masorah, and the Rabbinic commentaries of De Gara’s edition. This edition, however, is of less value to the critical student, being censored by the Inquisition.
Buxtorf’s Rabbinic Bible or Biblia sacra Hebraica et Chaldaica cum Masora, quæ critica Hebræorum sacra est, magna et parva ac selectissimis Hebræorum interpretum commentariis (4 parts, 2 vols., Basel, 1618-19) has a Latin preface by Buxtorf, a table of the number of chapters in the Bible, and a poem of Aben Ezra in the Hebrew language. Besides the Hebrew and the Aramaic paraphrases, it contains the commentaries of Rashi, Aben Ezra, and others, and Buxtorf’s Tiberias sive commentarius masorethicus triplex. The whole is formed after Jacob ben Hayyim’s second edition (1546-48), with some corrections and alterations by Buxtorf. Buxtorf’s Bible is imperfect, but in spite of its deficiencies, the student must still thank the editor for his work, which, however, was criticized by R. Simon in his Histoire critique du Vieux Testament (p.513).
The next Rabbinic Bible was the Sepher Kehillat Moshe, or "Book of the Congregation of Moses," edited by Moses Frankfurter (4 vols., Amsterdam, 1724-27). This is the most valuable of all the Rabbinic Bibles. It is founded upon the Bomberg editions, and gives not only their contents, but also those of Buxtorf’s, with much additional matter.
The latest Rabbinic Bible is the Miḳra'ot Gedolot published at Warsaw (12 vols., 1860-68) by Lebenson. This gigantic work contains thirty two commentaries, old and new, among others the critical commentary of Norzi. The Hebrew text is on the whole very correct, the size is more convenient than that of its predecessors, and the edition is recommended by the best Jewish authorities in Poland and Austria.
Bibliography: The one book for consultation is C. D. Ginsburg, Introduction to the Masoretico-critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible, London, 1897; cf. B. Pick, in Hebraica, ix (1892-93). 47-116.