Manasseh ben Israel

Manasseh ben Israel,

1604–57, Jewish scholar and communal leader, b. Portugal. Early in his life he settled in Amsterdam, where he became a rabbi and started (1627) the first Hebrew press there. He is best known for his efforts to obtain the readmission of Jews into England, where they had been forbidden to live since 1290; he managed to obtain Oliver Cromwell's unofficial assent for Jews to settle in London. His Conciliador, an elaborate discussion of hundreds of conflicting passages in the Old Testament, was intended to make Judaism more understandable and acceptable to the Christian world. He wrote in five languages.


See biography by C. Roth (1934); L. Wolf, Menasseh Ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell (1910).

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Manasseh ben Israel, in his 15th century work The Conciliator, which seeks to reconcile contradictions within the Bible, combines the approach in Seder Olam with this view.
The first book is Manasseh ben Israel's Nishmat Hayyim published in Amsterdam, 1652.(16)The theme of this book was the immortality of the soul, and Manasseh ben Israel used these stories as supporting evidence for the major argument of his book.
Benayahu, in his Toldot ha-Ari, suggested that this "letter" was published as a broadsheet that was circulated widely.(23)His evidence for this assumption is a statement from Manasseh ben Israel's book, Nisbmat Hayyim.
The Amsterdam Chief Rabbi Manasseh Ben Israel took advantage of the revolutionary situation in England and complained in a letter to the Lord Protector that the English, by not allowing Jews in the country, were actually preventing the return of Christ.
The theme of Christian-Jewish relations and the exchange of ideas continues in a study of Manasseh Ben Israel (the Amsterdam rabbi), Henry More, and Johannes Hoornbeeck on the preexistence of the soul, a topic of more than passing interest to More and his Cambridge Platonist colleagues.
Until Manasseh Ben Israel's mission to Cromwell prompted W.H.'s Anglo-Judaeus, histories recounting the Lopez case do so as part of a general chronicling of plots against the Queen.(51)