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The Lost tribes of Israel, rediscovered in South America

Menasseh ben Israel imprint
Explore the work of Menasseh Ben Israel, rabbi, scholar, philosopher, diplomat and Hebrew printer, through books in the Cecil Roth Collection.
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Biography of Menasseh ben Israel
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Vindication of the Jews crop
Early printed witnesses to Menasseh ben Israel’s mission to England, including Christian responses.
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Roth_723
Apologia por la noble nacion de los Iudios y hijos de Israel
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Mikveh Yisra’el, Esto es, Esperança De Israel: : Obra con suma curiosidad conpuesta
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Light of the Jews
Arise Evans, Light for the Iews
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William Prynne, Short demurrer to the Jewes long discontinued remitter into England:
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Manasseh ben Israel, Vindiciae Judeorum
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Birkbeck 32.4
Margaret Fox, A loving salutation to the seed of Abraham among the Jewes
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Untitled
Imprints from Menasseh’s press and its Christian publishers, in Spanish, Portuguese and Hebrew (with Latin) with those of his Jewish competitors.
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Hamishah Humshe Torah: Menasseh ben Israel’s Liturgical Bible: Pentateuch, Five Scrolls and the Prophetic Portions (1)
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Hamishah Humshe Torah: Menasseh ben Israel's Liturgical Bible: Pentateuch, Five Scrolls and the Prophetic Portions (3)
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TheTratado del Temor Divino: A mystical treatise on the fear of God
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Esrim ve-arba’ah: Complete Hebrew Bible
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Thesouro dos dinim: que o povo de Israel, he obrigado saber, e observar: A Treasury of [religious] Laws which the people of Israel is obligated to know and keep.
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Hamishim derushim yekarim; va-yikra et shemo Giv’at Sha’ul: Fifty precious sermons by Amsterdam’s senior rabbi
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Sefer Asarah ma’amarot: The book of ten [kabbalistic] Addresses
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Shevet Yehudah: The Sceptre of Judah
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Untitled
This section is devoted to Menasseh as author in the context of Jewish-Christian intellectual contacts in Holland.
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The Conciliator (1)
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Conciliador, o de la conveniencia de los Lugares de la S. Escriptura que repugnantes entre si parecen: The Conciliator (2)
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Strong Room for. 8vo 1633/MAN_001
the Latin translation of the Conciliator
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De creatione problemata XXX: Thirty problems concerning Creation
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De resurrectione mortuorum libri III: Three books on the resurrection of the dead (1)
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De resurrectione mortuorum libri: Three books on the resurrection of the dead (2)
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De resurrectione mortuorum libri: Three books on the resurrection of the dead (3)
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Of the term of life
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Sefer Nishmat hayim: treatise on the immortality of the soul
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Retrato del tabernaculo de Moseh: Portrait of the Tabernacle of Moses
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Retrato del tabernaculo de Moseh: Portrait of the Tabernacle of Moses (2)
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Retrato del tabernaculo de Moseh: Portrait of the Tabernacle of Moses (3)
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Research Resources on Menasseh ben Israel
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Copyright University of Leeds

In 1650, Menasseh wrote a treatise on the Lost Tribes of Israel (Roth Collection 633), who had allegedly been rediscovered in South America. It was printed by his son Samuel ben Israel Soeiro, who managed the press between 1650 and 1652.

His treatise responds to an earlier work: the ‘Relacion De Aharon Levi, alias, Antonio de Montezinos’. Menasseh’s work reprints Montezinos’ text in its first 16 pages. Montezinos and Menasseh had met in Amsterdam in 1644.

Montezinos created a sensation with his travel report, which identified Peru as Ophir, Indian language words as Hebrew, and Indian tribes as the Lost Tribes of Israel. The idea had a long life in European literature.

Montezinos’ Jewish Indian theory was given guarded support in Menasseh’s book. That Menasseh’s work created a stir at the time is shown by the appearance of a simultaneous English translation, printed in London by one “R.I” for Hannah Allen at the Crown in Popeshead Alley. Its lengthy title was:

‘The hope of Israel: written by Menasseh ben Israel, a Hebrew divine, and philosopher. Newly extant, and printed in Amsterdam, and dedicated by the author to the High Court, the Parliament of England, and to the Councell of State. Translated into English, and published by authority. In this treatise is shewed the place wherein the ten tribes at this present are, proved partly by the strange relation of one Anthony Montezinus, a Jew, of what befell him as he travelled over the Mountaines Cordillære, with divers other particulars about the restoration of the Jewes…‘

The work was translated into English again in 1652, this time by Moses Wall, and published by Chapman as:

‘The Hope of Israel, written by Menasseh ben Israel; an Hebrew divine and philosopher; newly extant and printed in Amsterdam and dedicated by the author to the high court, the Parliament of England, and to the Councell of State; whereunto are added in this second edition some discourses upon the point of the conversion of the Jewes.’

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