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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