MANASSEH BEN ISRAEL

(1604-1657)

MANUEL MENDES SOEIRO, was born in the island of Madeira, as a son of Gaspar Rodrigues Nunes, an anuss (Jew forced to convert to Christianity).

After appearing in an auto-de-fe in Lisbon, as a penitent, the father escaped with his family to Amsterdam, where he took the name of Joseph Ben-Israel. Joseph was the name of one of the sons of the patriarch Jacob (Israel) also known as Joseph of Egypt, who had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Those were the names that Gaspar Rodrigues Nunes, alias Joseph Ben-Israel, gave to his two sons.

Manasseh became a member of the Hevrah for Talmud Torah at the age of 12, began to frequent the yeshivot when he was 14, made his first public oration in Portuguese when he was 15 and at 17 wrote his first book, Safah Berurah, an umpublished grammatical work.

In 1622 he succeeded R. Isaac Uzziel as preacher to the Neveh Shalom congregation.

He founded the earliest Hebrew printing press in Amsterdam (1626), where he published works in Hebrew, Spanish and Portuguese for the remainder of his life.

Penei Rabbah, his index to the Midrashim, appeared in 1628. The first part of his Conciliador (1632, in Spanish, afterward in Latin), reconciling apparently discordant biblical passages, gained him a great reputation in Christian circles. The remaining three parts appeared in Spanish only (1641, 1651).

Many of his works were largely directed to non-Jews: The Creatione, De Termino Vitae, De Resurrectione Mortuorum, De Fragilitated Humana – all in Latin.

For the sake of the Portuguese anussim he wrote and published Thesouro dos Dinim, a code of Jewish Law.

Other works were: Piedra Gloriosa, Nishmat Hayyim, The Hope of Israel (Esperanza de Israel), the last being a description of the reported discovery of the Lost Ten Tribes in South America.

In an effort to solicit the goodwill of the English parliament toward the return of the Jews to England, Manasseh dedicated to them the Latin edition of his Esperanza.

Find a book in the following list. When you click on it, you will be transfered to the site of UVA. Please locate there the book you wish to read. Those are publications by Menasseh Ben Israel’s printing house:

Sefer ha-yirah
Ethics and ascetics by Jona Gerondi. Amsterdam. Menasseh Ben Israel, 5387 ( = 1627).
Edited by Salom ben Jozef Gallego, author of a
Hebrew poem on f.1v.
Begun 17 Tevet 5387 (5 January 1627), finished 17 Shevat 5387 (3 February 1627).
116 ff. 16°

   

Ma'aneh lashon
Hebrew grammar by Isaac Uziel.
Spanish translation (in Hebrew characters) of grammatical terminology by Uziel's pupil Isaac Nehemiah on the last two pages.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5387 (= 1627).
Finished 11 Sivan 5387 (26 May 1627).
16 ff. 8°.

Sefer imrey no'am
Miscelaneous prayers by Jozeph Shalom ben Shalom Gallego.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5388 [5387] (= 1627).
Finished 2 Av [5387?] (15 July 1627?).
Corrected by Saul Levi Mortera.
166 ff. 8°.

Humas de Parasioth y Aftharoth
Pentateuch and Readings from the Prophets, in Spanish.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5387 (= 1627).
Begun 1 Shevat 5387 (18 January 1627). On second title page: 1 Heshvan 5388 (11 October 1627).
338 ff. 8°

Sefer peney rabah
Concordance by Menasseh Ben Israel.
Finished 1 Adar Sheni 5388 (6 March 1628).
Financed by Ephraim Bueno and Jonah Abarbanel. With commendatory poems by Isaac Aboab.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5388 (= 1628)
Two parts.
78 ff. 4°

Sefer 'elim and Ma'ayan ganim
By Joseph Solomon Delmedigo.
Mathematical questions by Zerah ben Nathan and solutions by the author.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5388-89 (= 1628-29).
First part finished 8 Elul 5389 (27 August 1629).
With mathematical illustrations and illustrations of astronomical instruments.
Portrait of the author, engraved by W. Delff after a painting by C. Duyster in second part

 

Mahzor. Orden de Ros Asanah y Kipur
Prayerbook for New Year and Day of Atonement.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5390 (= 1630).
234 ff. 8°.

Orden de los cincos Tahanioth
Printed by order of Efraim Bueno and Yonah Abravanel.
Amsterdam: 5390 (= 1630).
222 ff. 8°.

Hebrew Bible, unvocalized
Amstelodami. Sumptibus Henrici Laurentii 1630.
612 pp. 8°.

Pentateuch with Targum, Five Scrolls and the Haftaroth
Printed and corrected in Amsterdam at Menasseh ben Josef Ben Israel.
Amstelreodami. Sumptibus Henrici Laurentii 1631.
256 ff. 4°.

Orden de los Mahamadoth
Printed by order of David Pardo and Shalom ben Joseph Gallego.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5391 (= 1631).
126 ff. 12°.

Seder arba Ta'aniyyot
Prayers for Fasting. Sephardic rites.
Printed on request of David Pardo and Shalom ben Joseph Gallego.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5391 (= 1631).
116 ff. 8°.

Mishnayot
Unvocalized. 2 parts.
Title in Latin: Misnaioth sive Textus Thalmudicus a variis mendis, quibus priores editiones scatebant, repurgatus. Accedunt breve in margine notae.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5393 (= 1633).
Part I: 113 ff.
Part II: 155 ff.
8°.

Conciliador o de la conveniencia de los Lugares de la S. Escriptura que repugnantes entre si parecen
Title varies

Part I: Francofurti [= Amsterdam], s.n., 1632. 412 [15] pp. 4°.
Part II: Amsterdam, Nic. de Ravesteyn, 5041 [*5401] (= 1641). [15] 195 [21] pp. 4°.
Part III: Amsterdam, Semuel ben Israel Soeiro, 5410 (= 1650). [11] 208 [6] pp. 4°.
Part IV: Amsterdam, Semuel Ben Israel Soeiro, 5411 (= 1651). 201 [7] pp. 4°.

Conciliator sive de convenientia locorum S. Scripturae, quae pugnare inter se videntur
Latin translation of the first part of Menasseh Ben Israels "Conciliador ..." by Dionysius Vossius. Amsterdam 1633.
With a preface by the author and a commendatory poem in Latin by Dr. Zacutus Lusitanus, dated 31 August 1633.
[7] 240 ff. 4°
Bibl.Ros. 1891F6: On title-page:
Amstelodami, auctoris typis et impensis.
Bibl.Ros. 19F8: On title-page:
Francofurti [Amstelodami], auctoris typis et impensis

There is another edition of this book, entitled:
Menasseh Ben Israel, Primo questionum in Genesis. In Constantinopolus [Amsterdam], ex officina Iohanni Benjamini de Montibus, Anno Domini 1641.
The contents are the same as those of the 1633 edition, but there is no preface.

19b23/Tratado del Temor Divino
Extracto del doctissimo libro llamado Ressit hohma, traduzido nuevamente del Hebrayco, a nuestro vulgar idioma. By Elia ben Moses Vidas. Translated by David de Ishac Coen de Lara.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5393 (= 1633).
Dedicated to David de Lima, sonnet by Josseph Frances dedicated to the translator and preface by De Lara.
210 pp. 4°.

Siddur berakha. Orden de bendición
Hebrew and Spanish texts opposite each other.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5394 (= 1634).
96 ff. 16°.

Tehillim. Psalterium Hebraeum
Ex recensione doctissimi Hebraei, R. Menasseh Ben Israel.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 1634.
Sumptibus Henrici Laurenti.
140 ff. 12°.

Zekher rav
By Benjamin Musaphia. Adaptation of the biblical story of Creation in which the stems of all Hebrew words have been used once.
This is the only edition with a preface.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5395 (= 1635).
36 ff. 24°.

De Creatione Problemata XXX:
cum summarijs singulorum problematum, & indice locorum Scripturae, quae hoc opere explicantur.
Amstelodami, typis & sumptibus auctoris, 1635.
The printer's mark represents a socalled magical square, divided into 9 little squares; the consonanhave been arranged in such a way that horizontally as well as vertically the same three Psalm words can be read: Psalm 85 verse 11

Sefer Tehillim. Psalms
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5395 (= 1635).
90 ff. 24°.
There is also another edition consisting of 94 leaves including 'Sumptibus Iansonii' on the title page.

Bible (vocalized)
Corrected by Menasseh Ben Israel. Ordered and financed by Hendrik Laurentius.
Title in Latin. Preface by Menasseh Ben Israel, both in Hebrew and in Latin.
Four parts, all parts have separate title pages.
497 ff. 4°.


Minhagim
Rites throughout the year in Poland, Ruthenia, Lithuania, Bohemia, Moravia and Germany.
By Aisik Tyrnan.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 1635.

De Resurrectione Mortuorum Libri III
By Menasseh Ben Israel.
Menasseh Ben Israel: Amstelodami, typis et sumptibus auctoris, 1636.
Dedicated to Laurentius Reael and Albertus Conradus van der Burch, dated Amsterdam 20 February 1636.
352 pp. 8°.

Seder ma'amedot
Daily readings from Bible, Mishnah and Talmud.
5396 (1636). Hitherto unknown.
32 ff. 4°.

Orden de la oraciones del mes, Hilhoth sechita
Amsterdam, Industria y despesa de Menasseh Ben Israel. 1 Chesvan 5397 (= 30 October 1636).
Dedicated to Henrique Hoffiser, dated 1 April 1636.
548 ff. 24°.

Pitron Halomot
Interpretations of dreams, by Salomo Almoli.
Printed on request of Isaac, son of Dr. Eliau Montalto.
Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5397 (= 1637)
63 ff. 8°.

'Esrim we'arba'ah
Hebrew Bible, vocalized.
Amstelodami, typis Menasseh Ben Israel, sumptibus Joannis Janssonii.
Fin. Sivan 5398 (= juni 1638).
Part I: 112 ff.; part II. 167 ff.; part III. 94 [4] ff.
8°.

Shevet Yehudah
Chronicle on the persecutions of the Jews by Solomon Ibn Verga.
Amsterdam, Menasseh Ben Israel 5398 (= 1638).
62 ff. 8°.


Hamishah Humshey Torah
Pentateuch including three Targumim.
Requested by Salomoh ben Jacob and Jacob ben Jehudah Noach ha-Cohen from Naarden.
2 parts. Amsterdam: Menasseh Ben Israel, 5398-5400 (= 1638-40).
Part I: 166 ff., part II: 291 ff. 4°.

Tseror hahayim. De termino vitae: libri tres
By Menasseh Ben Israel.
Amsterdam. Typis et sumptibus authoris, 1639.
Dedicated to the managing directors of the West India Company, dated 25 June 1639.
312 pp. 12°.

Menasse Ben Israels vvelkomst
Menasse Ben Israels VVelkomst, uyt sijns Volcks naem, aen de Hoogh-gebooren, Prince van Oranjen Frederic Henric, als hy met de Doorluchtigste Koningin Henriette Maria, Gemalin des Hoogh-gebiedende Karolvs, Koninghs van Engelandt, Vrankrijck ende Yrlandt, onse Synagoge besocht. Wt het Latijn overgeset, t'Amsterdam, voor Roelof Ioosten Boeckbinder in de Baefjes-steegh, Anno 1642.
This 'Welcome' has been bound together with other printed items and a manuscript.
[6][62] pp. 4

De la fragilidad humana, y inclinacion del hombre al peccado
By Menasseh Ben Israel.
Amsterdam. Por industria y despeza del Author. 1642.
Two parts. Part I: [9] 36 pp., part II: [3] 47 pp

Dissertatio de fragilitate humana ex lapsu Adami
By Menasseh Ben Israel.
Amstelodami, [ex off. Menasseh Ben Israel], Sumptibus auctoris, 1642.
Dedicated to Gerebrandus ab Anslo with a preface by the author.

Mishnayot
Unvocalized. 2 parts.
Corrected by Menasseh Ben Israel.
Amsterdam, Elijah Aboab, 5403 - 04 (= 1643 -44).

Part I: 207 ff. 24°. Bibl. Ros. 20D5.

Part II: 289 ff. 24°. Bibl. Ros. 20D6.

Perush Rashi
Rashi's Commentary on the Pentateuch.
Corrected by Menasseh Ben Israel.
Amsterdam, Eliau Aboab, 5404 (= 1644).
111 ff. 4°.

Mizmor letodah, Psalm of gratitude
By David ben Menahem Hacohen.
The very rare first Yiddish book printed in Amsterdam.
The text in Ashkenazic half-cursive types (the socalled 'waybertaytsh' types); each page surrounded by a decorative border.
Rhymed Yiddish version of biblical stories from Genesis to Exodus 22 and four scrolls: Song of Songs, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Esther.

Thesouro dos Dinim, que o povo de Israel he obrigado saber e observar
By Menasseh Ben Israel.
[Amsterdam], 5405-07 (= 1645-47).
5 parts (1 binding)
857 pp. 8°.

Seder ha-ma'amadot
With an explanation by Abraham Saraval and a foreword by Abraham ben Jehudah Leib Saraval, the Commentator.
Amsterdam. Joseph Ben Israel, 5406 (= 1646).
149 ff. 8°.

Psalterium Hebraeum
Ex Recensione doctissimi Hebraei R. Menasseh Ben Israel.

Mishnayot
Vocalized.
Amsterdam, Joseph Ben Israel, 5406 (=1646)
Prefaces by Menasseh Ben Israel and Jacob Juda ben Abraham Leon (Templo), who vocalized the text.
2 parts. 247 pp. 8°.

Hamishah Humshey Torah
Pentateuch with five scrolls and Haftaroth.
Amsterdam. Joseph Ben Israel, 5406-07 (= 1646 - 47).
Edition includes Targum Onkelos.
440 + 98 pp. (231 ff). 12°.

Taytshe Apteyk
Yiddish translation of part of the text attributed to Machir.
Amsterdam. Joseph Ben Israel, 5407 (= 1647).
13 pp. 8°.

Sefer ma'ayaney ha-yeshu'ah
Commentary on the Book of Daniel by Isaac Abarbanel.
Latin title: Commentarius ... Rabbi Ishak Abarbanel super Danielem prophetam.
Amsterdam 5407 (= 1647).
92 [2] ff. 4°


Sefer ha-'emunot we-ha-de'ot
Jewish philosophy of religion by Saadiah Gaon.
Latin title: Scepher Aemunot sive liber de Capitibus Fidei auctore celebri R. Scehadiah; principe olim Iudaeorum in Persia.[Met titelvignet.]
Amsterdam. Joseph Ben Israel, 5408 (= 1647).
[53 ff.] 4°.

Theosoro de preceptos
Adonde se encierran las joyas de las seys cientos y treze preceptos, que encommendo el Senor a su Pueblo Israel. Por Ishac Atias.
With preface and "Introducion".
Amsterdam: Samuel Ben Israel Soeyro, 5409 (= 1649).
[12] 138 ff. 4°

Miqveh Yisra'el. The hope of Israel
By Menasseh Ben Israel. With dedication, preface and list of consulted works.
Amsterdam, Semuel Ben Israel Soeiro, 5410 (= 1650).
[14] 126 pp. 8°.
Bibl. Ros. 1895H44.

Machzor de las oraciones del año
Machzor de las oraciones del año ..., Dispuesto y reformado por Menasseh Ben Israel.
Amsterdam, Samuel Ben Israel Soeyro, 5410 (= 1650).
Part II: 146 ff. 8°.
Bibl. Ros. 20H7.
Part III: 232 ff. 8°

Orden de las Bendiciones
Amsterdam, Samuel Ben Israel Soeyro, 5410 (= 1650).
36 ff. 8°

Sefer Nishmath hayyim
Libri quattuor de immortalitate animae.
On the immortality of the soul. By Menasseh Ben Israel.
Hebrew text, dedication and table of contents in Latin.
Amstelodami, apud aut. fil. Samuel Abarbanel Soeyro, 1651.
176 ff. 4°.

Sefer toldot Aharon
Index of biblical references in the Babylonian Talmud. By Aron Pesaro.
159 ff. 4°.

Sefer toldot Ja'akow
Index of biblical references in the Jerusalem Talmud. By Jacob Ben Aron Sasportas.
32 ff. 4°.

Amsterdam, Samuel Ben Israel Soeyro, 5412 (= 1652).

Humas o cinco libros de la Ley Divina
Juntas las Aphtarot del ano.
Compuesta por Menasseh Ben Israel y por su orden impresa. Amsterdam, 5415 ( = 1655). Aftarot 5414 ( = 1654).
Part I: 456 pp. 8°.
Part II: 132 pp. 8°.

'Even yeqarah. Piedra Gloriosa o de la Estatua de Nebuchadnesar
Con muchas y diversas authoridades de la S.S. y antiguos sabios.
By Menasseh Ben Israel.
Amsterdam, 5415 (=1655).
[12] 264 pp. 12°.

Meqor Hayyim
Commentary on the sections 1-32 of the first part (Orach Chajim) of Joseph Karo's Shulhan 'Arukh. By Chajim ben Abraham ha Cohen, from Aleppo.
Amsterdam, 5415 (= 1655).
84 ff. 4°.

To his Highnesse The Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland
The Humble Adresses of Menasseh Ben Israel ...
[Amsterdam? 1651?].
4 ff. + 26 pp. 4°

 

 

 

Bibliography about Manasseh Ben Israel:

Roth, Cecil - Life of Menasseh ben Israel (1934);

Roth, Cecil - Mag Bibl, index; idem, in:

Lipman, V.D. (ed.), Three Centuries of Anglo-Jewish History (1961), 1–25;

Lehmann, Nova Bibl, index;

Kayserling, Meyer (Moritz) Bibliotheca espanola-portugueza-judaica (Fr., 1890, repr. 1962 and 1971).

Wolf, Lucian - Menasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell (1901);

Wilensky, Michael - Shivat ha-Yehudim le-Angliyyah (1944);

    Yaari, Mi-Beit Defuso shel Menasheh ben Yisrael (1947).

     

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