Jacob Ṣemaḥ, Humanist

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Jacob ema (ca. 1578-1667), an erudite physician-kabbalist, was raised amongst the conversos of Viana de Caminha in northwest Portugal. He fled the country in his mid-thirties to live openly as a Jew, arriving first in Salonica. ema was responsible for the consolidation of the Lurianic literary corpus in the second third of the seventeenth century. His contribution, I argue, should be situated in the broader context of a scholarly curriculum vitae that began decades before his flight from Portugal, as ema embraced Jewish life as a humanist. Coupled with his natural gifts and genius, ema's humanist education served him remarkably well in his new life.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)93-116
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Jewish Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Jacob ema
  • Lurianic Kabbalah
  • converso
  • humanism

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Religious studies
  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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