Obj. ID: 38828
Jewish printed books Keter Kehunah ve-Hu Chelek Rishon me-Sefer Yosifon by Yosef ben Gorion, Dyhernfurth, 1799
This text was prepared by William Gross:
Yosifon is a chronicle of Jewish history from Adam to the age of Titus believed to have been written by Yosifon or Joseph ben Gorion. In this edition are woodcuts of a primitive by charming nature.
Yosifon was compiled in Hebrew early in the 10th century by a Jewish native of south Italy. The first edition was printed in Mantua in 1476. The book subsequently appeared in many forms, one of the most popular being in Yiddish, with quaint illustrations. Though the chronicle is more legendary than historical, it is not unlikely that ancient sources were used by the first compiler. The book enjoyed great popularity in England. In 1558, Peter Morvyn translated an abbreviated version into English, and edition after edition was called for. Lucien Wolf has shown that the English translations of the Bible aroused so much interest in the Jews that there was a widespread desire to know more about them. This led to the circulation of many editions of Josippon, which thus formed a link in the chain of events which culminated in the readmission of the Jews to England by Oliver Cromwell. The Ethiopic version of Yosifon is recognized as canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
The work is ascribed to Joseph ben Gorion (יוסף בן גוריון), a Jew living in southern Italy in either the 9th or the 10th century. As the Muslim writer ibn Hazm (d. 1063) was acquainted with the Arabic translation by a Yemenite Jew, Daniel Chwolson proposes that the author lived at the beginning of the 9th century.
During the late-eighteenth and nineteenth century, when the Jewish world center of print moved to Eastern Europe, and the social place and function of women improved, there were 24 women active in Hebrew printing and publishing, 17 of whom were in Eastern Europe. A substantial number of printing houses came to be run by widows, the most famous of whom was the Widow (Dvoyre) Romm, who exerted substantial control over the great Lithuanian publishing house from 1860 until her death in 1903. In at least one case, a major Hebrew press, in Lwów, was founded and run from 1788 to 1805 by a woman, Yudis Rosanes, who came from the Żółkiew line of Uri Fayvesh ha-Levi.