One of the greatest Jewish scholars of medieval times, Maimonides, born in 1135 to 1138, was a Sephardic Jew who wrote the 14-volume Mishneh Torah, subtitled, Book of the Strong Hand, a code of Jewish religious law completed in 1180. The book still carries a great deal of canonical weight in contemporary Jewish religious thought, particularly as it relates to the codification of Talmudic law, even though through the ages many scholars criticized it. Maimonides was also an exponent of the Oral Torah, which includes laws not contained in the Five Books of Moses (the Written Torah). Notably, he was not a supporter of mysticism, only a kind of intellectual mysticism, which seems discernible in his various works.

A polymath, Maimonides was also known as a philosopher, historian, scientist and physician, in both Jewish and Islamic kingdoms or domains. Nevertheless, when the Muslims conquered Córdoba, located in the southern part of what is now Spain, the Muslim authorities gave all Jews three choices: conversion, death or exile. Born in Córdoba and still residing there, Maimonides chose exile and eventually settled in Egypt, where he became a renowned authority of the Jewish community.

Maimonides died 1204 and was buried in Fustat, Egypt. Interestingly, legend has it that Maimonides was a descendant of King David, but he never stated that he was.

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