Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno

Rabbi, Deceased Person

1475 – 1550


Who was Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno?

Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno was an Italian rabbi, Biblical commentator, philosopher and physician. He was born at Cesena about 1475 and died at Bologna in 1550.

After acquiring in his native town a thorough knowledge of Hebrew, rabbinic literature, mathematics, and philosophy, he went to Rome to study medicine. There his learning won for him a prominent place among scholars; and when Reuchlin was at Rome and desired to perfect his knowledge of Hebrew literature, Cardinal Domenico Grimani advised him to apply to Obadiah.

Equally high was Obadiah's reputation as a casuist. Meïr Katzenellenbogen consulted him on legal questions, and Joseph Colon invoked his authority. At the request of Israel ben Jehiel Ashkenazi, rabbi of Rome, Obadiah issued a decision in the case of Donina, daughter of Samuel Ẓdarfati, the renowned physician of the pope. About 1525 Obadiah left Rome and led for some time a wandering life. From several letters of that epoch addressed to his brother Hananeel at Bologna it would appear that Obadiah was in poor circumstances. Finally he settled at Bologna, where he founded a yeshiva which he conducted until his death.

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  • Judaism
  • Italy
Lived in
  • Emilia-Romagna

on July 23, 2013


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