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MODERN theologians may be well acquainted with commentators on the Holy Scriptures, in the Greek, Latin, or European languages; but the greater portion have rarely read those written by Jews, "the peculiar people,"1 to whose custody the lively oracles of God were entrusted, and whose Sages may reasonably be supposed to have correctly understood the import of the sacred charge.
Those learned men, from their scientific knowledge of the Hebrew language, both in its literal and philosophical construction, have developed, in their interpretations of many difficult passages of the Bible, a depth of research and power of ratiocination, which is perfectly amazing to the few who can follow their close train of reasoning respecting causes and effects in the moral world as deduced from the texts of Scripture, and cannot fail to prove highly interesting to the many who are desirous of properly understanding Holy Writ.
In undertaking to lay before the English reader a faithful version of the words and quotations of Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel as contained in his celebrated work, "The Conciliator," the Translator is actuated by the desire of giving publicity in this country to a name venerated among the Jews on account of his many virtues, great piety, and extensive learning. In the prosecution of this labour, the Translator is further gratified by the reflection that this learned and good man was the author of an able refutation (under the title of Vindicia Judæorum) of the crimes ignorantly imputed to the Jews in the Middle Ages; accusations which have recently been renewed for the vilest purposes against their persecuted descendants in the East; but, by the spirited conduct of the Jews throughout the world, assisted by every true Christian, and the powerful support of almost every enlightened and liberal government, have been proved, through the philanthropic exertions of Sir Moses Montefiore, to be utterly groundless.
So far from the present work being in the least calculated to give umbrage to Christian readers, in regard to any particular exposition which they are taught to understand in a different sense to what is received by Jews, our Author is particularly solicitous to avoid any such possibility; and his humble
1 Deut. 14: 2.
interpreter need only state, in corroboration of the assertion, his own words in the introduction to Question 5, of Isaiah.
Although these prophecies are interpreted differently by various commen-
The annexed testimonials of Father Moreri and the learned Grotius, are corroborative proofs of the general utility of the work to every biblical scholar.
The Translator has endeavoured to preserve as much as possible the authorized version of the passages explained or quoted; but, in some instances, deviations will be found, arising from a strict adherence to the Hebrew text being absolutely necessary for the elucidation of the subject.
Should the number of any verse quoted, be found not to agree with the numbering of the English version, it arises from the difference between that and the Hebrew Bible: for example, in the latter the title of a Psalm is invariably numbered verse 1, but the English commences with the following one by this observation, the one quoted will easily be traced.
Instead of following the Author in giving a list of works and writers quoted in the two volumes, the Translator had deemed it advisable (although attended with great labour, and not originally intended) to add biographical notices of them, the selection being made from the most approved Hebrew, Latin, French, and English biographical works; the knowledge of the periods when the numerous Hebrew authors wrote being highly necessary for their due appreciation.
Aware that a work begun and completed amidst the interruptions and troubles of anxious commercial pursuits, must needs claim indulgence for defects, yet, under the hope that his desire to serve the best interests of mankind will be kindly met, since his ambition soars no higher than to have given a tolerably correct translation, he confidently submits it to the public. May the blessing of the God of Israel accompany this attempt to open to the view of many, the hidden stores of Hebrew literature, and vindicate the learning and wisdom of numerous Rabbins, whose writings, as a modern author2 correctly observes, are often despised by persons who are unacquainted with them.
2 Finn's Sephardim, p. 240.
OPINIONS ON THE ORIGINAL WORK.
CELUI où il paroît plus d'érudition Juive, est intitulé en Espagnol El Conciliador, imprimé l'an 1632 à Francfort. Il tâche de concilier dans ce livre les passages de l'Ecriture, qui semblent se contradire; et s'y sert des témoignages des Rabbins, tant anciens que nouveaux. Il est aussi quelquefois Philosophe et Cabaliste; mais il ne laisse pas de s'appliquer à la lettre, et cet ouvrage peut n'être pas moins utile aux Chrétiens qu'aux Juifs. On voit même qu'il a lû les livres des Chrétiens, dont il se sert, mais plus rarement. Ceux qui aiment la Littérature des Juifs, trouveront de quoi se satisfaire dans cet Ouvrage, qui en est rempli.-Dict. Hist. de Père Moreri, édit. 1718, Vol. 4, p. 185.
This Work shews that its Author had a profound and intimate acquaintance with the Old Testament Writings, and it procured for him the esteem and admiration of all the learned, as well Christians as Jews.
It was recommended to the notice of Biblical Scholars by the learned Grotius.-Rees's Cyclopædia.
This Work, which he afterwards finished, gained him the admiration and esteem of all the learned both Jews and Christians; and it must be owned that no Rabbi, either before or since, ever discussed those difficult points with so much erudition and solidity.-History of the Jews, p. 436.