Manasseh ben-Israel

(1604–67)
   Amsterdam rabbi. Manasseh was the son of a Marrano family in Portuguese Madeira, and was baptized Manoel Dias Soeiro. Soon after his birth his parents settled in Amsterdam. There they became openly Jewish, the father adopting the name of Joseph ben-Israel. Manasseh became the rabbi of a local synagogue at eighteen, and at twenty-two established the first Hebrew printing press in the Netherlands, publishing works in Hebrew and Spanish. He was an accomplished theologian and linguist. His El Conciliador (1632) published first in Spanish and then in Latin, reconciled seemingly conflicting passages in the Old Testament. It attracted considerable attention in non-Jewish circles and was particularly admired by the great Dutch scholar Grotius. Many of his subsequent books were written mainly for non-Jews, and one of them was illustrated by REMBRANDT, who painted his portrait. Manasseh spent much of his life trying to find new places where Jews might settle. At first he turned to Brazil where he had commercial interests in partnership with his brother-in-law. But when the country was attacked by the Portuguese in 1645, the Jews were no longer safe there. In 1650 he published The Hope of Israel (in Latin and Spanish), which discussed the supposed discovery of the Lost Ten Tribes in South America. The work appeared in three English editions, and sparked off discussion on the possibility of the return of the Jews to England. In Manasseh’s view this would fulfil messianic prophecy. He therefore saw the success of the Puritan cause in England as a hopeful sign. He sent a petition to the Council of State in London.
   CROMWELL favoured the petition, for practical rather than messianic reasons, and invited Manasseh to England. On 31 October 1655 he appeared before the Council of State, laying stress on the economic and social advantages to be gained from re-admitting the Jews. A conference on the subject was convened, but dissolved by Cromwell when it raised obstacles under popular pressure. The Jews who had accompanied Manasseh to London lost hope and returned to their homes on the continent. He stayed in London, however, publishing there in 1656 his Vindiciae Judaeorum (‘Vindication of the Jews’), which he wrote in response to the anti-Jewish pamphlets circulating in London at the time.
   When the Marrano community in London were given authority for a Jewish synagogue and cemetery, Manasseh was delighted. He obtained a Sefer Torah from Amsterdam, but it was returned in November 1656 - possibly because of a rift between Manasseh and the London Jewish leaders. He had a decidedly quarrelsome nature, and had previously been censured by the community wardens in Amsterdam. Manasseh returned to Holland in October 1657, deeply distressed at what he considered the failure of his mission. Cromwell remained on friendly terms with him and granted him a pension of Ј100 a year. Although EDWARD I’s 1290 edict of expulsion was not formally revoked as Manasseh had hoped, the resumption of open Jewish worship achieved the same practical result. The edict has actually not been revoked to this day.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Manasseh ben Israel — orig. Manoel Dias Soeiro born 1604, Lisbon? died Nov. 20, 1657, Middelburg, United Provinces of the Netherlands Portuguese born Dutch Hebrew scholar and Jewish leader. He was born to a family of Marranos whom persecution drove to Amsterdam. A… …   Universalium

  • Manasseh ben Israel — (1604 57)    Dutch rabbi. Born a marrano in Madeira, he was taken to Amsterdam as a child. He succeeded Isaac Uziel as preacher to the Neveh Shalom congregation in 1622. In 1626 he founded the earliest Hebrew printing press in Amsterdam and… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Manasseh ben Israel — orig. Manoel Dias Soeiro (1604, ¿Lisboa?–20 nov. 1657, Middelburg, Provincias Unidas de los Países Bajos). Líder judío holandés, estudioso del hebreo, de origen portugués. Nació en el seno de una familia de marranos cuya persecución los llevó a… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • MANASSEH-BEN-ISRAEL —    a Jewish rabbi, born at Lisbon; settled at Amsterdam; wrote several works in the interest of Judaism (1604 1659) …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • MANASSEH (Menasseh) BEN ISRAEL — (1604–1657), Amsterdam scholar, printer and diplomat. Manasseh, who was born a Marrano in Lisbon or La Rochelle, was baptized as Manoel Dias Soeiro. According to an unreliable document of the Portuguese Inquisition, he was born on the island of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Menasseh Ben Israel — Engraved portrait by Salomo d Italia, 1642 Born 1604 Madeira Island, Portugal Died 1657 Middleburg, Nether …   Wikipedia

  • Menasse ben Israel — Kupferstich von Salom Italia, 1642 Menasse ben Israel (* 1604 in Lissabon oder La Rochelle; † 20. November 1657 in Middelburg, Niederlande) war ein sephardischer Jude, Gelehrter, Diplomat …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • ISSERLES, MOSES BEN ISRAEL — (1525 or 1530–1572), Polish rabbi and codifier, one of the great halakhic authorities. His full family name, Isserel Lazarus was shortened to Isserles, but he is usually referred to as the Rema (acronym of Rabbi Moses Isserles). Isserles was born …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Ben — /ben/, n. a male given name, form of Benjamin. * * * (as used in expressions) Akiba ben Joseph Alfasi Isaac ben Jacob Alkalai Judah ben Solomon Hai Abba Mari ben Moses ben Joseph Israel ben Eliezer Ben Ali Zine el Abidine Ben Bella Ahmed Ben… …   Universalium

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