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Anglo-Judaica in the Catalogue of the British Museum Hebrew Manuscripts

I. Abrahams

<plain_text><page sequence="1">ANGLO-JUDAICA IN BRITISH MUSEUM. lxxv 14. Anglo-Judaica in the Catalogue of the British Museum Hebrew Manuscripts Apart from substantial aids to the history of the Jews in England, to be found in the general collections of the British Museum (see Jacobs and Wolf, Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica, London, 1888, Preface), there are some items of Anglo-Jewish interest in the Rev. G. Margoliouth's valuable " Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the British Museum/' of which Part III. has recently been completed. The following brief notes indicate some of the more significant of these Anglo-Judaica which attracted my attention during a study of Mr*. Margoliouth's great work. (1) Several manuscripts are described as the gift of Solomon da Costa. Thus No. 3 (Add. 1407) is a scroll of the Pentateuch presented on June 2, 1759. Similarly he gave No. 95 (Add. 4709), a MS. con? taining various parts of the Scripture. On the upper cover of the binding of this MS. is the owner's name: " Solomon da Costa Athias, London, 1719." The same benefactor presented No. 135 (Add. 4708), a vellum copy of the Latter Prophets. See also entry (9) below. Then, again, No. 30 (Add. 8132), the Book of Esther, was presented on May 11, 1822, by David Israel Brandon; No. 31 (Add. 11691), also containing Esther, was given by D. Mocatta on March 19, 1840. Nos. 45, 47, 49, and 51, fine specimens of modern Hebrew writing, were originally in the possession of Sir Moses Montefiore. Among those from whom the Museum acquired MSS. are named Dr. Neubauer and Dr. Lowy. (2) On the 16th of Marheshvan 5503 ( = November 13, 1742) Samson Segre covenants with Jacob London and Isaac Berechiah Kanton to print the Or Sarua " in Amsterdam, London, or some other printing press possessing similar excellent type." The witnesses to the contract are Jacob Foa and Raphael Luzzatto. The Jacob London was probably</page><page sequence="2">lxxvi MISCELLANIES. Jacob b. Judah London, born in London early in the eighteenth century, a traveller in Holland and Italy. He was a scholar of parts and editor of several publications. This entry is in No. 530 (Or. 2859). As owner of No. 632 (Add. 19666) is written (year 1845) Abraham Asher b. Isaac London. (3) A Polish scribe, Aaron b. Moses, born in Novogroden, came to London, and in 1714 wrote No. 652 (Harley 5713) for Humphrey Wanley, Librarian to the Earl of Oxford. It contains selections from the Prayer Book, Tobit, and the Scroll of Antiochus. It is a handsome work, and is illuminated. See also entry (8) below. (4) On fol. 185 b of No. 667 (Harl. 5701) is a quotation from Maharil, " who has seen a reason in Mid rash Yelamdenu why one does not say in Angla ( = Anglia?) the Selihah beginning ijrrjtf hltt" (5) Ephraim Luzzatto's Hebrew poems are contained in No. 940 (Add. 27004). The MS., however, is of little import, since it was copied by Joseph Almanzi in 1827 from the second London edition of 1768. None the less Almanzi's habit of making copies of rare MSS. and prints is one which deserves the flattery of imitation by others. The same Codex contains the well-known account by Moses Edrehi of the Ten Tribes and the Biver Sambatyon. Moses Edrehi lived during the latter part of his life in England (possibly in Edinburgh; see Jewish Encyclopedia, s.v.), and printed in London in 1834 his quaint Historical Account, as entertaining for its astonishing English as for its naive acceptance of legend for fact. In this same Codex (No. 940) there is a note written by Almanzi in 1847, copying a Tiberias Jew's Hebrew note (of which the date is not clearly given, though it cannot have been earlier than 1839, when the British occupation of Aden began) which may be summarised thus: " Recently I was in Aden, and, when about to leave, I went to get my passport signed with a man who could speak English. The Governor asked me to take a chair, and conversed with me as to my country and business. I told him that I was an envoy from Tiberias engaged in collecting money from our brethren. He answered: ' Why goest thou not to the newly-found kingdom of Israel, which I discovered. I have already written to London on the subject. These Jews are near here.' ... He also told me that there is a kingdom of Israel in China."</page><page sequence="3">ANGLO-JUDAICA IN BRITISH MUSEUM. lxxvii (6) There are several references to Christian Hebraists, as in No. 987 to Bulstrade Whitelock, No. 994 to Dr. Rudd and P. Smart. See also entries in (10) below. There is, further, the curious seven? teenth-century Hebrew Grammar of Richard Paxton, who in 1676 wrote this rhymed entry: " Richard Paxton his book God give him grace on it to looke and when he['s] deade the bells shall knowle God save his body and his soule" (No. 1000, Sloane 3385). On the other hand, No. 995 (Add. 4377) is an eighteenth-century MS., which contains "A Scheme whereby any Person of the meanest Capacity may in a very short time perfect himself in the Hebrew Language, without the assistance of a Master." At the end there is this statement: " This Scheme, with the verbs in Buxtorff's Hebrew Grammar and Lexicon, is sufficient to answer the Title; as many Gentlemen have experienced to their entire Satisfac? tion. Invented by Moses Marcus." From the title page, as well as from the Preface to the English translation of Carpzov's Defence of the Hebrew Bible (London, 1729), it may be gathered that Moses Marcus was a Jew converted to Christianity. (7) No. 1045 (Harley 3427-8). Two paper volumes, consisting of 269 and 230 leaves, dated 5394 ( = 1634). Mr. Margoliouth fully describes the work (pp. 377-378), and alludes to the ascription of its authorship to Menasseh ben Israel in these terms : " Porta Veritatis," a controversial work in Latin directed against the tenets of the Christian religion, and laying special stress on the merits of Judaism. The author was probably Manasseh b. Israel. On the title page of vol. i. (fol. 1) is the following (besides some scriptural verses) : "Porta Veritatis sive Compendiaria via ad Beatitudi nem. Authore Jacob Aben Amram Judseo (forte Manasseh ben Israelis). Anno ab or be condito 5394." The wide learning (including references to both ecclesiastical and classical authors) shown in the treatise, as also the manner of addressing highly-placed persons . . . would seem to favour the idea that this is an early work of Manasseh b. Israel (1604?57), probably copied immediately after composition. The pseudonym Jacob Aben Amram would have been chosen from prudential motives, and the conjectural form in which the author's real name appears might not have been considered sufficient to neutralise the pseudonymous character of the work. Manasseh b. Israel was always careful to avoid attacks on Christianity in works published under his name.</page><page sequence="4">Ixxviii MISCELLANIES. This last fact would rather militate against the theory that the " Porta Veritatis" was written by Menasseh, who cannot be charged with lack of courage in expressing his opinions. The problem of this attribution will no doubt be discussed by those more familiar than I am with Menasseh's Latin style. So far as I have observed, the " Porta Veritatis " is not ascribed to Menasseh by Kayserling; but the latter's silence would be due to ignorance of the existence of the manuscript as much as to doubt as to its authorship. Towards the end of the Introduction (fol. 21) comes the division of the treatise into three parts: on the Divine Unity, on the Eternity of the Law and the Election of Israel, On the Messiah. " Primus Art(iculus) de simplicissima, et omnino immultiplicabili unitate Dei, rejecta scilicet distinctione personarum. Secundus, de perpetua dura tione legis Moysaicae: et aeterna electione populi Israel, nempe Judaeorum. Tertius, de unico, eoque futuro adventu Messiae, puri-hominis de virile semine David " (quoted by Mr. Margoliouth, p. 378). (8) No. 1049 (Harley 7013). Ten letters, " partly in Hebrew, partly in Yiddish, and partly in a mixture of both," followed by a document in Spanish (but written in the Hebrew character). Mr. Margoliouth (p. 399) explains that the first five, and the seventh and eighth letters are addressed to Aaron Moses, Sofer (Scribe). The first three (dated 1713) "were sent to London (in the first it is stated that he ' livth in shoemakeroo near al gat')." The fourth letter (apparently dated ten years later) was sent to Dublin. "The fifth, seventh, and eighth (the first two without date, the third 1715) were sent from Amsterdam to London." The next letter (1714) " was sent to D^n TOD from Amsterdam to London." The Hebrew letter was addressed to Simon Ockley of Cam? bridge (Adams Professor of Arabic 1711-1720). "The writer mentions that he had received a letter from the friend he was addressing by the hand of one *pY. The Spanish document at the end of the series (dated 1715 and addressed from Gibraltar) is described on the side as 4 A testimonial of a Jewish priest in favour of another.'" On the Aaron Moses here alluded to, see the notes on "Eabb Aaron, Sophair of Dublin" in Transactions J. H. S.9 vol. v. p. 234.</page><page sequence="5">ANGLO-JUDAICA IN BRITISH MUSEUM. lxxix The same scribe is probably referred to in the item extracted under entry (3) above. The name in the ninth letter may be Hess or Haes, and in the Hebrew letter to Ockley, Joseph Yaes or Vos. (9) No. 1053 (Harley 4710-11). Two small paper documents, dated London 1759, containing the list of Hebrew MSS. (Add. 4707-9) and printed books presented to the British Museum in the year named by Solomon da Costa. The printed books are 180 in number, collected by Charles IL, and purchased by the donor in his youth. On Solomon da Costa and his enthusiasm as a collector, see Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. iv. p. 292. (10) Briefly, attention may be drawn to such points as these : (a) On fol. 1 b of a fifteenth-century Latin MS. (No. 1058, Add. 19668) is the entry "Friderici Mieg, jam vero Samuelis Andreae 1664 Emi a R. Jacobo Abendana pret. 6 " (p. 429). On the intimacy between J. F. Mieg and Isaac Abendana see Trans. J. H. S., viii. pp. 99, 101, and the reference given at the latter place. (b) Items (No. 1062) from the " Correspondence of Dr. John Covell" (1638-1722) of Cambridge, on whom see Trans. J. H. S., v. pp. 184 seq., and viii. p. 119; (i.) Latin tract on the study of Hebrew, entitled :*" nK*np, h.e. Programma quo SS. Theologiae studiosi c/&gt;tAo-vAcottoi ad Privatas Praelectiones Hebraicas Linguae Sanctae amanter et officiose invitantur." At end: " Dat. e museo meo Cantabrigiae sub Bicipitis Aquilae signo in Angiportu Delphini, anno aeris Messiani mdclxxxviii " (quoted by Mr. Margoliouth, p. 435); (ii.) " Some Account of the Jews, Karaims, and Rabanaim "; (iii.) List of twenty-seven Karaite works. (c) Some exciting references to the Hefes family, Gorizia 1761-2, members of which are alluded to in Ephraim Luzzatto's Hebrew poems, printed for the first time in London in 1766. (d) Important references (No. 1140) to Kennicott's collations of Hebrew Bibles (p. 567-8) for American Hebraists; interesting are the allusions to Cooper, President of King's College, New York, and to Joseph Simpson, of the same city. With regard to the oaken board with inscriptions, from the ancient synagogue of Old Cairo (No. 1145), it may be well to remind readers of the Ark from the same place now in the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. (e) Some Hebrew translations (No. 1156) of parts of the Koran</page><page sequence="6">lxxx MISCELLANIES. (from the Italian), made in India. The books and MSS., now in Cambridge, brought from India by the Rev. Claudius Buchanan a century ago, give further evidence of the interest of Indian Jews in the literature of religions other than their own. (11) No. 1095 (Or. 1434). A series of thirteen marriage documents, dated between 1804-1814. They are all London documents, and I may add a further point to the information given by Mr. Margoliouth. As may be seen from the descriptions by the officials, these Kethuboth belong to the New Syna? gogue. A full note on these will be published by the Rev. S. Levy, M.A., in our Transactions. Hence it is superfluous to enter into fuller details here. (12) Nos. 1177-1206. A series of Anglo-Jewish Charters, mostly of the thirteenth century. Most of these have already been published by Mr. M. D. Davis in his Hebrew Deeds of English Jews before 1290 ; London, 1888. There are six documents (Nos. 1179, 1196, 1197, 1200, 1204, and 1206) not included in Mr. Davis' collection. The whole have now been re-collated, and some notes are in preparation for our Transactions by the Society's President, the Rev. Dr. H. P. Stokes. It is hoped that the Latin documents, which in many cases accompany the Hebrew entries, will also be published by him for the Society. No. 1203 (Add. Ch. 1998) does not really belong to this series. It is a marriage document, the parties being Israel b. Jacob b. Joseph Ferrares and Gimulya d. of Maseud b. Jacob Benadi. Dated 1786, Gibraltar. There is a coloured design of some artistic pretensions. The bridegroom signs besides the witnesses. I. Abrahams. November, 1915.</page></plain_text>