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Levi ben Gershom (1288–1344) of Provence, Talmudist, philosopher, and astronomer. Gersonides wrote a lengthy commentary on the Bible in which his general methodology is to give a list of ‘advantages’ to be gained from the biblical narratives, that is, the moral lessons to be derived from them. His philosophical approach in this work and particularly in his Wars of the Lord follows the rationalistic mode of Aristotelian philosophy in its Arabic garb. He understands, for instance, the fall of the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6) to have been caused by the weakening of the walls by the tramping feet of the priests and the blowing of the trumpets. Gersonides' principle is that the Torah does not oblige us to accept things that are contrary to reason. In his Wars of the Lord, Gersonides understands the doctrine of creation as meaning not that God created the world ‘out of nothing’ but rather that he created it out of a formless substance.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) — Judaism and Jewish Studies.

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