< Back

Menasseh Ben Israel's Marriage Banns

Rev. S. Levy

<plain_text><page sequence="1"></page><page sequence="2">MENASSEH BEN ISRAEL'S MARRIAGE BANNS. 255 Menasseh Ben Israel's Marriage Banns. By the Bev. S. Levy, M.A. Wednesday, August 15, 1923, was the three-hundredth anniversary of the issue of the civil banns for the celebration of two marriages in Amsterdam, of great interest to students of Anglo-Jewish history. On August 15, 1623, civil permission to marry was granted to Jonas Bravenel and Hester Sohiere, the sister of Menasseh ben Israel; and on the same day similar banns were issued to Menasseh ben Israel for his marriage with Rachel Bravenel, the sister of Jonas Bravenel. Persons not belonging to the Dutch Reformed Church, viz. Jews, Catholics, and Dissenters, desirous of contracting marriage, were bound to appear before the magistrate in his capacity as Commissary for Matrimonial Affairs. The names of the parties to the intended marriage were entered in the " Puy boeken," " puy " meaning " front." This procedure was necessary in order to ensure the civil legality of the marriage. Before the erection of the Stadhuis on the Dam in 1653, the Com? missaries held their see in one of the benches of the New Church. As this bench was painted red, the procedure of applying for marriage banns came to be popularly known as " passing before the red bar." The banns of Jonas Bravenel and Hester Sohiere, and Menasseh ben Israel and Rachel Bravenel, are preserved in the " Stadhuys-boeck van 10 April, 1621?31 Augustus, 1624," kept in " Oud-archief der gemeente Amsterdam." The entry for the marriage of Jonas Bravenel and Hester Sohiere comes first, and is dated August 15, 1623. The entry for the marriage of Menasseh ben Israel and Rachel Bravenel immediately follows, and is undated. The date only occurs in the register for the first act of the day, and is not repeated for any other entries under the same date. The entry following that of Menasseh ben Israel and Rachel Bravenel is dated August 17, 1623. It is, therefore, quite safe to assume that the date of the banns of Menasseh ben Israel and Rachel Bravenel is</page><page sequence="3">256 MENASSEH BEN ISRAELIS MARRIAGE BANNS. the same as that of the entry of the banns of Jonas Bravenel and Hester Sohiere, viz. August 15, 1623. Mr. J. M. Hillesum, of Amsterdam, in an essay entitled " Waar werd Menasseh ben Israel geboren ? " has effectively disposed of the theory that the item in the document, " Menasseh ben Israel of Rochelle" implies that Menasseh ben Israel was born at Rochelle. This detail simply means that Menasseh ben Israel was then living at Rochelle?Rochelle being his latest domicile for purposes of civil registration of marriage. Mr. Hillesum also conclusively proves the accuracy of the old tradition that Menasseh ben Israel was born at Lisbon. In the civil banns of Jonas Bravenel and Hester Sohiere, the sister of Menasseh ben Israel, Hester is definitely described as " van Lisbonne" A facsimile and transcription of the original document in Dutch containing the marriage banns of Menasseh ben Israel and Rachel Bravenel are appended herewith, together with an English translation. TEXT. Compareerden als voor [en] Manasse ben Ysrahel van Rochelle, out 19 Jaeren, geassis [teer] t mit zijn suster Hester Sohiere, woon [ende] op de Nieuwe houtmarckt ? ende Rachel Bravenel van Guymerens, out omtr-[ent] 21 Jaeren, geassis [teer] t met haer broeder Jonas Bravenel woon-[ende] aen de Zuijderkerck, Versoeckende Hare drie Sondaeghsche uytroepinghen omme naer deselve de voorsz trouwe te solemniseren, ende in alles te voltrecken, soo verre daer anders gheene wettighe verhinderinghen voor en valle. Ende naer dat sy byde waerheydt verklaerden, dat se vrye Persoonen waren, ende malkanderen in den bloede. Waer door een Christelijck Huwelijck mochte verhindert worden, niet en bestonden, zijn Hun Hare gheboden verwillighet. Menasseh ben Israel raguel barbanel. TRANSLATION. Appeared as before Manasse ben Ysrahel of Rochelle, aged 19 years, assisted by his sister, Hester Sohiere, living on the new timber</page><page sequence="4">MENASSEH BEN ISRAEl/s MARRIAGE BANNS. 257 market, and Eachel Bravenel, of Guymerens, aged about 21 years, assisted by her brother, Jonas Bravenel, living by the south church, Desiring their banns to be read out on three Sundays in order, that thereafter the aforesaid, marriage be celebrated and accomplished in everything, provided there be otherwise no lawful impediment thereto. And after they had both solemnly declared that they were free persons, and that as regards blood relationship there were no circum? stances whereby a Christian marriage would be prevented, banns were granted to them. Menasseh ben Israel. raguel barbanel. VOL. X; 3</page></plain_text>