Levi, David

, a learned Jew, and zealous defender of the opinions of that people, was born in London in 1740, and after a regular apprenticeship to a shoemaker, settled in that business; but, not succeeding in it, commenced hat-dresser; and in this new profession, though surrounded with domestic cares, still finding time for study, produced a volume on the “Rites and Ceremonies of the Jews,1783, 8vo. He next published “Lingua Sacra,” 3 vols. 8vo, containing an Hebrew Grammar with points, clearly explained in English, and a complete Hebrew-English Dictionary, which came out in numbers, 1785 1789. This performance, though by no means the most perfect of its kind that might be produced, is a great instance of industry and perseverance in a person who was confined all the time to a mechanical business to supply domestic wants. In 1787 he published his first “Letters to Dr. Priestley,” in answer to his “Letters addressed to the Jews,” inviting them to an amicable discussion of the evidences of Christianity; in which he says, “I am not ashamed to tell you that I am a Jew by choice, and not because I was born a Jew; far from it; for I am clearly of opinion that every person endowed with ratiocination ought to have a clear idea of the truth of revelation, and a just ground of his faith, as far as human evidence can go.” In 1789 he published his second “Letters to Dr. Priestley,” and also “Letters to Dr. Cooper, of Great Yarmouth,” in answer to his one great argument in favour of Christianity from a single prophecy; 2. to Mr. Bicheno; 3. to Dr. Krauter; 4. to Mr. Swain; 5. to Anti-Socinus, alias Anselm Bailey; occasioned by their Remarks on his first Letters to Dr. Priestley. In this year he published the “Pentateuch, in Hebrew and English,” with a translation | of the notes of Lion Socsmaan, and the 613 precepts contained in the law, according to Maimonides. At the end of the same year, at the earnest request of the most considerable of the Portuguese Jews, he undertook to translate their prayers from Hebrew into English; which he accomplished in four years (though confined to his bed by illness twenty-seven weeks), the last of six volumes appearing in 1793. The first volume of his “Dissertations on the Prophecies” was also published in 1793; and in 1794 his Translation of the Service for the two first Nights of the Passover, as observed by all the Jews at this day, in Hebrew and English. In 1795 he published “Letters to Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, M. P. in answer to his Testimony of the Authenticity of the Prophecies of Richard Brothers, and his pretended mission to recall the Jews.A second volume of his “Dissertations on the Prophecies” appeared in 1796, which he intended to complete in six volumes; and of which, in May 1797, more than half of the third volume was printed. In the beginning of 1797 he published a “Defence of the Old Testament,” in a series of letters addressed to Thomas Paine, in answer to his Age of Reason, part II. For the German Jews he translated their Festival Prayers, as he had done those of the Portuguese, in 6 vols. 8vo; a labour of four years. By all the synagogues in London Mr. Levi was regularly employed to translate the prayers composed on any particular occasion, as those used during the king’s illness in 1788, and the thanksgiving in 1789; with various others for the use of the several synagogues. He wrote also a sacred ode in Hebrew, 1795, on the king’s escape from assassination. On Nov. 14, 1798, he had a violent stroke of the palsy, which nearly deprived him of the use of his right hand. He died in July 1799, in the fifty-ninth year of his age, and was interred in the Jews’ burial-ground near Bethnal-green, with a Hebrew epitaph, of which the following is a translation “And David reposed with his fathers, and was buried. Here lieth a correct and proper person, of perfect carriage, who served the Lord all his days, turned away from evil, and was supported by his own industry all the days of his life; Rabbi David the son of Mordecai the Levjte, of blessed memory, who departed for the rtext world on the Sabbath night, 3d of Ab., and was buried with good reputation on Monday the fourth; the days of his life were 59 years. May his soul be | enveloped with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Mayest tbon come to the grave at full age.1


Europ. Mag. 1799. —Gent. Mag. 1801. Lysons’s Eaviroos, SuppL vol.