Orobio, Isaac De Castro

Orobio, Isaac De Castro a Spanish physician, noted as a philosopher and polemic against Christianity, was born at Braganza about the year 1620. His parents, who were Jews, though outwardly professing Romanism, educated him in Judaism. Balthasar Orobio — this was his name while in the Church — studied

the scholastic philosophy at the University of Alcala de 'Honores, in which his acquisitions were so considerable that he was appointed lector in metaphysics in the University of Salamanca. He afterwards applied himself to the study of medicine, which he practiced at Seville. Upon suspicion of Judaism he was cast into the prisons of the Inquisition, where during three years he underwent torture worthy of the barbarity of that infamous. tribunal, and which often, according to his own declaration, so perplexed his understanding as to make him ask himself, "Am I really Don Balthasar Orobio, who walked about freely in Seville, who lived at ease, and had the blessing of a wife and children?" Sometimes he thought that his past life had been nothing but a dream, and that the frightful dungeon where he was had been his birthplace, as, according to all appearance, it was destined to see him die. At other times, as he had a very metaphysical mind, he formed arguments and then resolved them, thus performing the parts of opponent, respondent, and moderator at the same time. In this way he amused himself, and constantly denied that he was a Jew. After appearing twice or thrice before the inquisitors, he was treated as follows: At the bottom of a sub-terraneous vault, lighted by two or three small lamps, he appeared before two persons. One was the judge, and the other the secretary of the Inquisition, who asked him to confess the truth, declaring that, in case of a criminal's denial, the holy office would not be deemed the cause of his death if he should expire under the torture, but it must be attributed to his own obstinacy. Then the executioner stripped off his clothes, tied his hands and feet with a strong cord, and set him on a low stool, while he passed the cord through some iron rings fixed in the walls; then, drawing away the stool, he remained suspended by the cord, which the executioner drew tighter and tighter to make him confess, until a surgeon assured the court he could not bear more without expiring. These cords put him to exquisite torture by cutting into the flesh, and making the blood burst from under his nails. To prevent the cords tearing off the flesh, of which there was danger, bands were girded about the breast, which were drawn so tight that he would not have been able to breathe if he had not held his breath while the executioners put the bands around him. By this device his lungs were enabled to perform their functions. During the severest, of his sufferings he was told that was but the beginning of his torments, and that he had better confess before they proceeded to extremities. Orobio adds that the executioner, being on a small ladder, to frighten him, frequently let it fall against his shin-bones. The staves, being sharp, caused him dreadful pain. However, all the tortures of the holy office were insufficient to wrest from him the avowal of his true sentiments, which would have drawn down upon him the most cruel punishment. He was at length set at liberty, left Spain for France, and was appointed by Louis XIV as professor of medicine at Toulouse. But weary, at length, of the necessity under which he lay of concealing the religion which he believed to be the true one, and which, without doubt, the ill-treatment received from Christians had rendered more dear, he went to Amsterdam, where, after having received circumcision, he made an open profession of Judaism taking the name of Isaac. He died in the year 1687. It was in the city of Amsterdam that Orobio had his famous conferences with the theologian Philip de Limborch (q.v.), who, persuaded of the force of his own arguments in favor of the Christian religion, published them, together with the objections of Orobio: De veritate religionis Judicae cum confutatione religionis Christianae, in three treatises, under the title of Philippi a Limborch amica collatio cumr erudito Judaeo (Tergow, 1687; Basle, 1740). Orobio wrote, Certamen philosophicum propugnatae veritatis divince ac naturalis adversus Joh. Bredenburgii principia (Latin and Dutch, Amsterd. 1684, 1703, and 1731): — Respuesta a un Predicante sobre lt perpetua observancia de la divina Ley: — Explicacion del capitulo liii d' Ysaias: — Explicacion paraphrastica de has lxx Semanas de Daniel: — Una epistola invectiva contra un Judio philosopho medico, que aegava la ley de Mose y siendo Atheista alfectava la ley de Naturalezza: -Israel venge, ou exposition naturelle des propheties Hebraiquesu ls ues Chretiens appliquent a Jesus leur pretendu Messie (translated from the Spanish into French by Henriquez, Lond. 1770). With regard to the last work, it has been supposed by De Rossi that it was not written by Orobio himself, but only compiled from his works by Henriquez, who is mentioned as the translator; and it is remarkable that neither Basnage nor Wolf, who appear to have had his works as published in Spanish before them, enumerates any treatise with this title. The work Israel Venge has been translated into English by Miss Anna Maria Goldsmid (Lond. 1839), and also in the same year by the late Dr. A. M'Caul (q.v.), under the title Israel Avenged, to which edition is appended a reply from the pen of this able British apologist of Christianity. See Furst, Bibl. Jud. 3:54 sq.; Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. 1:646 sq.; 3:551 sq.; De Rossi, Dizionario storico degli autori Ebrei, p. 253 sq. (Germ. transl. by Hamburger); Bibliotheca Judaica antichiristiana, No. 122, etc. (Parma, 1800); Basnage, Histoire des Juifs, p. 743 sq. (Taylor's transl.); Schudt, Judische Denkwurdiqckeiten, 1:124, 159 sq.; Kalkar, Israel u. die Kirche, p. 36; Limborch, Historia Inquisitionis, vol. ii, ch. 18; vol. iv, ch. 29; Joh. Clericus, Bibliotheca universalis, 7:289 sq.; Lindo, History of the Jews in Spain and Portugal. p. 370; Adams, History of the Jews (Bost. 1812), 2:91) Da Costa, Israel and the Gentiles, p. 430 sq.; Finn, Sepharitidim' (Lond. 1841), p. 443 sq.; Frankel, Monatsschrift (1867), p. 321-330; Kayserling, Gesch. d. Juden in Portugal (Leips. 1867), p. 302 sq.; Jost, Gesch. d. Judenth. u. s. Sekten, 3:233; Gratz, Gesch. d. Juden, 10:202 sq., note 1, p. x sq.; Rodriguez de Castro, Bibliotheca Espanola, 1:606; Fabricius, Delectus Argumentorum et Sytlabus Scriptorun, etc. (Hamb. 1725), p. 359, 614; Huie, History of the Jews (Edinb. 1841), p. 198 sq. (B. P.)

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