The New International Encyclopædia/Manasseh Ben-Israel
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MANASSEH BEN-ISRAEL (1604-57). A Hebrew scholar and Cabbalist. He was born at Lisbon and educated at Amsterdam, where his father had removed to escape persecution. At the age of eighteen he took the place of his former instructor, Rabbi Isaac Uzziel, in the Amsterdam synagogue. In 1626 he set up a Hebrew printing-press at Amsterdam, and in 1632 published the first volume of his Conciliador, a learned harmony of the Pentateuch. Its author was recognized as a great Hebrew scholar and among his correspondents were Vossius, Grotius, and Huet. In 1656 Manasseh came to England to obtain permission from Parliament for the re-establishment of the Jews in England, banished from that country since the time of Edward I. (1290). Parliament refused to pass the measure, but Cromwell favored it, and unofficially permitted a large number of Jews to settle in London. Manasseh died at Middleburg on his way home. His wide learning, the services he rendered his people, the renown he enjoyed among men not of his race, his piety and amiability, have made him a venerated figure in Jewish history. Besides the Conciliador, he published editions of the Talmud and Bible in Hebrew; also Esperanza de Israel (1650); Pedro Glorioso (1655); and Vindiciæ Judæorum, which appeared at London in 1656 during his stay in England.