This tract by William Prynne (1600–1669), shown here in its second edition (Roth Collection 778), was a hostile response to Menasseh ben Israel’s petition to Oliver Cromwell ‘To His Highnesse the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, the humble addresses of Menasseh Ben Israel, a divine, and doctor of physic, in behalf of the Jewish nation.’
Menasseh’s petition was originally published in Amsterdam in 1651. It was then reprinted in London in 1655. Leeds University Library holds an 1868 reprint.
Menasseh believed that the rule of the Puritans gave a unique opportunity to reverse the expulsion of the Jews from England. He was familiar with their Millenarian tendencies and beliefs in the Second Coming of Christ. Menasseh sought to convince Cromwell that a resettlement of the Jews would hasten universal redemption.
Prynne’s tract is in the form of a demurrer, a legal argument which admits the facts of an opponent’s point but dismisses it as irrelevant. Prynne, a conservative Puritan lawyer and opponent of Cromwell, mixed his learning with gross stereotypes. The text was reused in 1753 by later opponents of Jewish naturalisation.