Morocco, Samuel Israeli of

Morocco, Samuel Israeli Of a Jewish convert to Christianity, and an author of considerable distinction, who lived at the close of the 11th century, is said to have come to Toledo from Fez, in Africa, about the year 1085, where he became a convert to Christianity. Before his conversion was completed he addressed a letter to rabbi Isaac, a Jew in the kingdom of Morocco in which he says, "I would fain learn of thee, out of the testimony of the law and the prophets, and other Scriptures, why the Jews are thus smitten. Is this a captivity wherein we are, which may be properly called the perpetual anger of God, because it has no end; for it is now above a thousand years since we were carried captive by Titus? And yet our fathers, who worshipped idols, killed the prophets, and cast the law behind their back, were punished only with a seventy-years' captivity, and then brought home again. But now there is no end of our calamities, nor do the prophets promise any." This famous epistle, אגרת, which was originally written in Arabic, and gives in twenty- seven chapters an ample refutation of Jewish objections to the Christian faith, was translated from the Hebrew into the Latin by the Dominican Alfonso de Buen Hombre in 1329, under the title, Tractatulus multum utilis ad convincendum Judaeos de errore suo, quem habent de Messia adhuc venturo, et de observantia legis Mosaiae, and often since, and has been inserted in the Bibliotheca Patrum, 18:1519; into Italian by G.A. Brunati (Trident. 1712); into German by W. Link (Altenburg, 1524), and inserted in Luther's works, 5:567-583; and often since; by E. Trautmann (Goslar, 1706); by F.G. Stieldorff (Trier, 1833); into English by Th. Calvert, under the title, Demonstration of the true Messiah, by R. Samuel, a converted Jew (s.1.e.a.). A Spanish translation of this letter still remains in MS. in the library of the Escurial. Soon after his conversion rabbi Samuel appears to have returned to Morocco, whence his surname, and there to have held a conference on religion with a learned Mohammedan, of which his account, still in MS., is also to be found in the library of the Escurial. Comp. Furst, Bibl. Judaica, 2:152 sq.; De Rossi, Dizionario storico degli autori Ebrei, page 208 (Germ. transl. by Hamberger); Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. 3:1100-1106; Da Costa, Israel and the Gentiles, page 311; Adams, History of the Jews, 2:40. (B.P.)

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