Menasseh Israel, ben

First name
Last name
Israel, ben
Date of Birth
Date of Death
Born in
Died in

Menasseh ben Israel was a rabbi, publicist, diplomat and translator. He founded (1626) the first Hebrew printing firm (Emeth Meerets Titsm’h), and persuaded Lord Protector Cromwell to readmit Jewish refugees officially to settle in England. He had contacts with the messianic exegete Isaac de la Peyrère and Isaac Vossius, Queen Christina of Sweden, and the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn. See: Menasseh ben Israel, 1989; Bodian, 1999; ODNB.

On 15 January 1650, Menasseh ben Israel signed the dedication section of his book Esperança de Israel (The Hope of Israel). The work centers around the location of the ten lost tribes of ancient Israel—enslaved and deported from the northern kingdom of Israel in the eight century BCE after the conquest by the Assyrians—which, during the end of the first millennium, was often seen as a cleverly composed concept of the pending coming of the messiah (See: Den Boer, 1983, p. 46, no. 28).  Menasseh dedicated the book to the college of governors of the Portuguese-Israelite congregation Beth Jacob. Most notably, the list of seven Parnassim also contains the name of Michael d'Espinosa. This not only underlines the stature and reputation of Spinoza's father in the Sephardi community of Amsterdam, but it may also be conjectured that Michael knew rabbi Menasseh ben Israel personally. Spinoza (then only aged about 18) may have been familiar with rabbi Menasseh as well (by then most certainly a prominent figure in the Sephardi community) and with the books produced by his printing company. Contacts between them (if any) are not documented. Esperança de Israel was reissued in Dutch (1666), Yiddish (1691) and Hebrew (1698). The Yiddish and Hebrew versions were published without the dedication of 1650. Spinoza owned a copy of the first Spanish edition. It is virtually certain that he inherited the book from his father’s library (cf. Offenberg, Spinoza’s Library, p. 320, no. 116; Musschenga and Van Sluis, p. 68).


Alias: Manous Diaz Soeiro.


Michael Espinosa, d'


Queen Christina of Sweden


Isaac Peyrère, de la


Isaac Vossius


Joseph Solomon Delmedigo