Don Profeit Ya'qob ben Makhir Ibn Tabin

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Don Profeit Ya'qob ben Makhir Ibn Tabin (ibn Tibbon)

Birthdate: (76)
Birthplace: Montpellier, Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Death: circa 1312 (68-84)
Montpellier, Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Jacob ben Abba Mari ben Simson Anatoli and Bat Samuel Ibn Tibbon
Husband of unknown bat Moshe Ibn Tibbon
Father of Isaaq ben Yaqob de Lattes of Perpignan
Half brother of Mrs. Don Avraham Daughter of Jacob ben Abba Mari and Shimon Duran de Lunel

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About Don Profeit Ya'qob ben Makhir Ibn Tabin

Jacob ben Makhir Ibn Tabin (also known as Prophatius; 1236–1312), grandson of Samuel, was a distinguished Jewish physician who worked in the medical faculty of the University of Montpellier. Jacob translated many Arabic versions of Greek works into Hebrew, such as Euclid's Elements and Ptolemy's Almagest, as well as certain significant Arabic works by al-Ġazzālī and others. His own Quadrant contains a table of eleven fixed stars which are to be used in the construction of the quadrant instrument of his own invention. Jacob also wrote a book of astronomical tables giving the ascensions of certain stars at Paris, and an Almanach perpetuum.

Jacob ben Machir was also known as Don Profeit/Profiat Tibbon and Profatius Judaeus. He spent his youth with his relatives in Montpellier (Provence), where he surely learned Arabic. In the context of the polemics between Maimonidean and anti-Maimonidean thinkers, he helped to prevent the imposition in Montpellier of the law forbidding the study of philosophy to those below a certain age. He lived most of his life in Lunel, where he did most of his translations and probably practiced medicine.

Jacob's main interest seems to have been astronomy and astronomical instruments. His new quadrant (quadrans novus, also known as quadrans Judaicus) incorporated in a quarter circle all the applications of the classic astrolabe. His astronomical works were influential during the Renaissance and were referred to by scientists such as Copernicus and Kepler. Most of his translations are still in manuscript.

Writings in Hebrew

Rova Israel; Almanach perpetuum (radix 1300-1301)

Translations (Arabic to Hebrew)

Averroes (?), Artis logicae compendium (1289); Averroes, Epitome historiae animalium Aristotelis (1302-1303); Al-Ghazālī, Speculationis trutinam; Euclid, Elementa (1256); Qusṭā ibn Lūqā, Liber operationis sphaerae (1256); Ḥunayn Ibn Isḥaq, Euclid's Data (1272); Thābit ben Qurra's version of Autolykos of Pitane (?), De motu sphaera (1273); Isḥaq ben Ḥunayn, Sphericorum Menelai Alexandrini;Ibn al-Haytham, Opus astronomicum (1271); Ibn al-Saffār, Explicatio astrolabii;Jābir ibn Aflaḥ, Almagest compendium; Azarchiel, De tabula dicta çafiha (?)

Translations (Arabic to Latin)

Azarchiel, De astrolabio (with John of Brescia, 1263); De regimine sanitatis (1299); Azarchiel, De tabula dicta çafiha (with John of Brescia, 1263)

Josefina Rodríguez Arribas


Boffito, Giuseppi, and C. Melzi d'Eril. Almanach Dantis Aligherii sive Profacii Judaei Montispessulani (Florence: Olschki, 1908).

---. Il Quadrante d'Israel (Florence: Libreria Internazionale, 1922).

Harper, Richard I. "Prophatius Judaeus and the Medieval Astronomical Tables," Isis 62.1 (1971): 61-68.

Millás Vallicrosa, Jose María. Tractat de l'assafea d'Azarquiel (Barcelona: Facultat de filosofia i lletres, 1933).

Steinschneider, Moritz. "Prophatii proemium in Almanach," Bulletino di Bibliografia e di Storia delle scienze mathematiche e fisiche 9 (1876): 595-614.

C. Sirat, A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages, 1985.

Cite this page

Josefina Rodríguez Arribas. "Ibn Tibbon, Jacob ben Machir." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online, 2013. <>

"Ibn Tibbon." Religion Past and Present. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. Jim Harlow. 10 September 2013 <>

[ 'Jacob ben Machir ibn Tibbon (Hebrew: יעקב בן מכיר ׳ן תיבון‎), of the Ibn Tibbon family, also known as Prophatius.

Provençal, Jewish astronomer; born, probably at Marseilles, about 1236; died at Montpellier about 1304. He was a grandson of Samuel ben Judah ibn Tibbon. His Provençal name was Don Profiat Tibbon; the Latin writers called him Profatius Judæus. Jacob occupies a considerable place in the history of astronomy in the Middle Ages. His works, translated into Latin, were quoted by Copernicus, Reinhold, and Clavius. He was also highly reputed as a physician, and, according to Jean Astruc ("Mémoires pour Servir à l'Histoire de la Faculté de Médecine de Montpellier," p. 168), was regent of the faculty of medicine of Montpellier. In the controversy between the Maimonists and the anti-Maimonists Jacob defended science against the attacks of Abba Mari and his party; the energetic attitude of the community of Montpellier on that occasion was due to his influence. Jacob became known by a series of Hebrew translations of Arabic scientific and philosophical works, and above all by two original works on astronomy. His translations are:

  • 1. the Elements of Euclid, divided into fifteen chapters;
  • 2. the treatise of Qusta ibn Luqa on the armillary sphere, in sixty-five chapters;
  • 3. Sefer ha-Mattanot, the Data of Euclid;
  • 4. a treatise of Autolycus on the sphere in movement;
  • 5. three treatises on the sphere of Menelaus of Alexandria;
  • 6. Ma'amar bi-Tekunah, or Sefer 'al Tekunah, in forty-four chapters;
  • 7. a treatise on the use of the astrolabe
  • 8. compendium of the Almagest of Ptolemy
  • 9. Iggeret ha-Ma'aseh be-Luaḥ ha-Niḳra Sofiḥah,
  • 10. preface to Abraham bar Ḥiyya's astronomical work;
  • 11. an extract from the Almagest on the arc of a circle;
  • 12. "Ḳiẓẓur mi-Kol Meleket Higgayon," Averroes' compendium of the Organon (Riva di Trento, 1559);
  • 13. Averroes' paraphrase of books xi-xix of Aristotle's history of animals;
  • 14. Mozene ha-'Iyyunim, from Ghazali.

The two original works of Jacob are: (1) a description of the astronomical instrument called the quadrant (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS. No. 1054), in sixteen chapters, the last of which shows how to construct this instrument. This was translated several times into Latin; (2) astronomical tables, beginning with March 1, 1300 (Munich MS. No. 343, 26). These tables were translated into Latin and enjoyed great repute.

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Don Profeit Ya'qob ben Makhir Ibn Tabin's Timeline

Montpellier, Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Age 76
Montpellier, Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Age 76
Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales, Languedoc-Roussillon, France