Menasseh, Ben Israel

, a celebrated rabbi, not un-: known in this country, was born in Portugal about 1604. His father, Joseph Ben Israel, a rich merchant, having suffered greatly both in person and property, by the Portuguese inquisition, made his escape with his family into Holland, where this son was educated, under the rabbi Isaac Uriel, and pursued his studies with such diligence and success, that at the age of eighteen he was appointed to succeed his tutor as preacher and expounder of the Talmud in the synagogue of Amsterdam, a post which he occupied with high reputation for many years. He was not quite twenty-eight years of age when he published in the Spanish language the first part of his work entitled “Conciliador:” of which was published a Latin version, in the following year, by Dionysius Vossius, entitled “Conciliator, sive de Convenientia Locorum S. Scriptune, quas pugnare inter se videntur, opus ex vetustis et recentioribus omnibus Rabbinis magna industria ac fide congestum;” a work which was recommended to the notice of biblical scholars by the learned Grotius. The profits of his situation as preacher and expounder, being inadequate to the expences of a growing family, he engaged with his brother, who was settled at Basil, in mercantile concerns; and also set up a printing-press in his own house, at which he printed three editions of the Hebrew Bible, and a number of other books. Under the protectorate of Cromwell he came over to England, in order to solicit leave for the settlement of the Jews in this country, and actually obtained greater privileges for his nation than they had ever enjoyed before in this country; and in 1656 published an “Apology for the Jews,” in the English language, which may be seen in vol. II. of the “Phcenix,” printed from the edition of 1656. At the end of it in the Phoenix is a list of his works, published, or ready for the press. He likewise informs us that he had at that time printed at his own press, above sixty other books, amongst which are many Bible^ in Hebrew and Spanish, &e. He died at | Amsterdam about 1659. The rabbi was esteemed as well for his moral virtues as for his great learning, and had been long in habits of correspondence and intercourse with some of the most learned men of his time, among whom were the Vossii, Episcopius, and Grotius. The following are his principal works independently of that already noticed: 1. An edition of the Hebrew Bible, 2 vois. 4to, 2. The Talmud corrected, with notes. 3. “De Resurrectione Mortuorum.” 4. “Esperanza de Israel,” dedicated to the parliament of England in 1650: it was originally published in Spanish, and afterwards translated into the Hebrew, German, and English, one object of which is to prove that the ten tribes are settled in America. Of his opinions in this some account is given in the last of our references. 1

1 Moreri. Modern Universal Hist. vol. XI. p. 154, e lit. 178l t