Introduction Franz Kobler
"The Vision Was There"
Part One
Part Two 

Franz Kobler
"The Vision Was There.
A History of the British Movement for the Restoration of the Jews to Palestine"

London, 1956
Part One

Britain, Zionism,
and the Creation
of the State of Israel


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     THE earliest literary reflections on the Restoration of the Jews can be found as far back in English literature as the great Franciscans, Duns Scotus and William of Occam, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The teaching of John Wycliffe, the champion of Reformation, contains ideas to be developed later in the Doctrine. But the question of the Restoration of the Jews did not become a subject of special theological inquiries in England until the last decades of the Elizabethan era.
    In 1585 Francis Kett, a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, published a tract, The glorious and beautiful Garland of Man's Glorification containing the godly misterie of heavenly Jerusalem, with a dedication to Queen Elizabeth. Three years later, Edmund Scambler, Bishop of Norwich, summoned Kett to his court and charged him with heresy. Under the Articles of Heretical Pravity, Kett was alleged to be a millenarian who maintained that Jesus and the Apostles were then in Judaea gathering there God's people and that the faithful must go to Jerusalem. In Kett's view Christ was "not God but a good man who suffered once for the world", and will "be made God after his second resurrection". Kett was condemned to death and burnt alive on January 14, 1589.
       In Kett's unitarianism the element tending to a Restoration of the Jews can be clearly discerned. That the gathering of God's people was understood literally to mean Israel becomes perfectly clear from a Latin tract published in 1590 by the prominent scholar Andrew Willet under the title De Universali and Novissima Judaeorum Vocatione. Willet foretold and advocated the general conversion of the Jews in the sense of Paul's prophecy in Romans xi, but rejected the idea that they could regain the earthly government in their own country. He expicitly criticised Kett for his belief in Israel's return and even compared him to Solomon Molko, "that infamous man" who had "indulged in the heresy of the belief in the return of the Israelites too much" and having "proclaimed himself King Solomon, suffered due punishment for such a great blasphemy". Willet found that Francis Kett was "by a most just sentence condemned to death by fire and flames" for a similar heresy.
      Willet's tract must be regarded as the first known document in which the Restoration of the Jews was dealt with at length by an English author. But soon it was to become apparent that neither Kett's execution nor Willet's arguments were able to suppress the new belief. The strongest impulse in this direction came from the outstanding theologian Thomas Brightman (1562-1607) who, by the directness of his approach to the central point of the question, may indeed be regarded as the father of the British Doctrine of the Restoration of the Jews. His mystical work Apoclypsis Apocalypseos was published posthumously in Latin in Basle in the year 1609; its first English edition, entitled A Revelation of the Revelation, appeared in Amsterdam in 1615.
     The main subject of Brightman's work was the overthrow of the Antichrist whom he identified with papal Rome. This event was to be followed by the destruction of the Turks and by the "Calling of the Jews" who would become a Christian nation but would also return to Palestine, thus restoring their kingdom. "Shall they return to Jerusalem again?" Bright-man asks. "There is nothing more certain: the prophets do everywhere confirm it and beat upon it." Brightman based his argument on Revelation xvi, 12, where the sixth Angel, pouring out his vial, dries the river Euphrates that the way of the Kings of the Orient might be prepared. He declared the Jews themselves identical with the Kings of the Orient and the drying up of the Euphrates as a providential, analogy to the miracle at the Red Sea. This interpretation became a widely held tenet of the Restoration doctrine. Like the early Christian father Lactantius, Brightman predicted that "the whole East shall be in obedience and subjection unto the Jews, so that this people are not called kings unworthily". Brightman gives exact calculations, based mostly on the Book of Daniel, of the time when the apocalyptic event would happen. The year 1650 was regarded by him as the beginning of the apocalyptic period expected to last until 1695. Brightman also dealt with all these questions in another work, A most comfortable Exposition of the last and difficult part of the Prophecies of Daniel -wherein the restoring of the Jews and their calling to the faith of Christ, after the overthrow of their last enemies, is set forth in lively colours. . , published in 1614 in Latin and in 1635 in an English translation. This book, being chiefly meant for the Jews, was based exclusively on Daniel and the Song of Songs.
        One of the first followers of Brightman was Giles Fletcher (1549-1611), an eminent Elizabethan who served as "a faithful agent" of Queen Elizabeth I at the court of Ivan the Terrible. One of the fruits of his stay in Russia was a treatise devoted to the question of the Lost Tribes of Israel, published sixty years after his death, under the title Essay upon some probable grounds that the present Tartars near the Caspian Sea, are the Posterity of the ten tribes of Israel.

       Fletcher gives many reasons for his assumption, that the Tartars bordering on the territories near the Caspian Sea may be the posterity of the Ten Tribes of Israel and did not - hesitate to identify the rediscovered Tribes with the "Kings of the Orient". He attributed the title "Kings of the Orient" to the Ten Tribes only, to whom would fall the privilege of re-establishing the Kingdom in the Holy Land. The scattered children of Judah and Benjamin would, however, by the example of those other Tribes, be encouraged to leave their various domiciles for Judaea, and without other nations placing obstacles in their way. Fletcher's essay has certain striking similarities with a curious contemporary print, News from Rome, translated from Italian into English, that spoke of an Hebrew people, so far unknown, coming from the Caspian Mountains to recover the Land of Promise.
         The theologian Thomas Draxe, another of Brightman's contemporaries, in The World's Resurrection or the, Calling, of the Jews -A familiar Commentary upon' the eleventh Chapter of Saint Paul to the Romans (1608), considered it "as a marvellous work of God, not without mystery, that the Jews dispersed in all countries, should still continue such a distinct and unconfounded nation, and so constant in the keeping of their laws, rites and ceremonies". For Draxe, too, conversion was the essence, of that mysterious event termed "Calling of the Jews", but he did not reject the idea of Israel's earthly restoration. In a later work, An Alarm to the Last Judgment (1615), Draxe spoke even more explicitly of the earthly restoration. There is no doubt that he, in the meantime, had accepted more readily the ideas of Brightman's Revelation of Revelation.
        Soon afterwards the work of another outstanding Elizabethan appeared which was destined to give a powerful impetus to the development of the Restoration Doctrine. The title of this work was The World's Great Restauration, or the Calling of the Jews, and (with them) of all the Nations and Kings of the earth, to the faith of Christ. It appeared anonymously in 1621 and was dedicated, in Hebrew and English, "to Judah and the Children of Israel that joined with him, and to Joseph (the valiant tribe of Ephraim) and all the House of Israel that joined with him".
    Unlike Brightman and Draxe, the author of this book, who remained anonymous for a time, was a layman and writer. Born in 1558, Sir Henry Finch, Serjeant-at-law, enjoyed so great a repute in the field of jurisprudence that Francis Bacon chose him as collaborator in his attempt at codifying the statute laws. Finch was also many times Member of Parliament for Canterbury and St. Albans. In the Introduction to the book the publisher, William Gouge, himself a well-known scholar and preacher, praised Finch as a man "who bath dived deeper into the mysteries than I can do", emphasising particularly "his great understanding of the Hebrew tongue".

      The image of a rebuilt New Jerusalem had already been painted by Finch in an earlier book, An Explanation of the Song of Solomon, called Canticles, published in 1615. But in The World's Great Restauration he went into great detail concerning a "full restauration of the Jews". While basing his assumptions on an interpretation which betrays a trained legal mind, there is no doubt that Thomas Brightman was Finch's teacher in the art of Scriptural interpretation. What lent a distinctive character to Finch's predictions was the blend of religion and politics expressed by him in the vision' of the restored Jewish Commonwealth. A perfect theocracy, the ideal of the epoch, is here visualised and projected into a redeemed Land of Israel. "They shall live in safety and continue to stay there for ever. The land shall be more fertile than it was, the country more populous than before, there shall be no separation of the Ten Tribes from the other two, but all make an entire kingdom and a most flourishing Commonwealth."
       Finch's apocalyptic vision reaches its climax in the Epistle Dedicatory which bears out the basic conversionist tendency of the book, praise and blame of the Jews being put in acutely contrasting juxtaposition. Finch makes the alleged offence committed against Jesus responsible for the calamities which have befallen the Jews during the dispersion, but he predicts a great change which is about to be performed by the Lord:

       Out of thee shall come gems and precious stones
       shining above the Topaze. Ezraes, Nehemies, Mordecaes,
       builders of a better Temple than that which thou bast
       doated upon so long.. . All the gentiles shall bring
       their glory into thy empire, and fall down before thee. . . .

       Thus Finch's book culminated in a sublime millenarian vision: it aroused hopes of an imminent upheaval, the completeness of which could surely not go further than did this imaginary raising of the most helpless of peoples to glory and boundless power crowned by the redemption of mankind. This was indeed a revolutionary book. Small wonder that it provoked violent opposition in the period of absolutism in Church and State. James I was then king of England and the persecution of the Calvanists was in full swing. There were among the persecuted sectarians also John Traske and his followers who advocated a strict observance of the Sabbath. On the Continent of Europe, the defeat of Frederick, King of Bohemia and son-in-law of James I, had just happened. In the war which was to last thirty years, the Catholic Empire with Spain's assistance was advancing. This meant incidentally that the bulwark against Turkey was gathering strength. Finch's prediction that the end of Turkey was near at hand, was perhaps more than a guess. The religious as well as the political implications of Finch's book were realised by the witty and well-read scholar on the throne who himself was an author of various theological works. A clash between the visionary lawyer and "the wisest fool in Christendom" was inevitable.
         The King took the book of the Serjeant-at-law, whose anonymity was soon pierced, as a personal libel. There was no doubt that he, too, was meant to be included among the Gentile kings of the earth who would bow down before the ruler of the Jewish kingdom: Finch and his publisher were  thrown into gaol in March 1621. Finch, then 63 years of age, was examined before the High Commission and released several weeks later, having disclaimed "the opinion which His Majesty thinks is asserted in his book", and after an apology "for having written so unadvisedly". Gouge, too was forced to eat humble pie before his release was granted. Finch (and James I) died in 1625, and the following year saw the birth of Sabbatai Zevi.
       The appearance of The World's Great Restauration was marked not only by the arrest of its originators but also by a striking reaction in Parliament, in the pulpit and at Oxford University. In the course of a debate in 1621 on a parliamentary Bill concerning the Sabbath, the alteration of the name "Sabbath" to "Lord's Day" was proposed and agreed, because -as Sir Edward Coke put it- "Many were inclined to Judaism and dream that the Jews shall have regiment and that kings must lay down their crowns to their feet". The Church, too, reacted strongly. William Laud, later Archbishop of Canterbury, himself preached against Finch, heaping biting sarcasm on the book and its author. John Prideaux, professor of theology at Oxford, in a Latin Discourse on the Calling of the Jews delivered at the university in 1621, roundly denounced Jewish restoration as part of a scheme aimed at Jewish supremacy.

       But at the same time some remarkable signs indicated that Laud and Prideaux were quite mistaken in assuming that the new Doctrine had been killed by their denunciation. Joseph Mede or Mead (1586-1638), after Brightman's death the most celebrated champion of millenarianism, did not conceal his agreement with the ideas expressed by Sir Henry Finch. There are unmistakable references to the Restoration of the Jews in Mede's own writings, especially in the Clavis Apocalyptica, which was to become a text-book of millenarianism. A striking trace of the ideas developed by Finch may also be found in Francis Bacon's Nova Atlantis (English version 1629). Bacon, perhaps in token of sympathy with his esteemed former collaborator, even alluded to Finch's vision in his story of the Jews living in Bensalem, told by a Jew named Joabin, a merchant of Bensalem: "And for the country of Bensalem this man would make no end of commending it, being desirous by tradition among the Jews there to have it believed that the people thereof were of the generation of Abraham by another son, whom they call Nachoran; ...and that when the Messiah should come, and sit on his throne at Jerusalem, the King of Bensalem should sit at his feet, whereas other Kings should keep a great distance".

        This reflection of the Restoration idea in one of the greatest literary documents of the epoch is an indication that it had taken root in the spiritual life of England. The work of the first English advocates of the Restoration doctrine was completed. It was done by men who had been born in the Elizabethan era. Although the greater part of the pertinent literary documents appeared during the reign of James I, the Golden Age of England was really the cradle of the British Movement for the Restoration of the Jews to Palestine.
The unfortunate experiences of Francis Kett, Finch and others had taught the followers of their teaching discretion. The hour for a revival of the Restoration Movement struck only in 1640, the year in which the Great Rebellion was set in motion. The then dead pioneers of the Restoration idea gained the posthumous support of a new generation. Above all, Thomas Brightman's works were reprinted, and even a special tract, with the portrait of the "man bright in prophecy", was published in 1641. In this it was shown "how all that which Mr. Brightman has foretold has been fulfilled and is yet fulfilling". The historian of the epoch, Thomas Fuller, refers to this development when, in his Pisgah Sight of Palestine (1650) he speaks of those "protestant divines who concur with the modern Jews in their belief that they shall be restored to a flourishing Commonwealth in Canaan". He also alluded to Sir Henry Finch as the author who "so enlarged the future amplitude of the Jewish state (sic) that thereby he occasioned a confining to himself".

     But Finch's ordeal could no longer deter his disciples. Originally confined to individual scholars, the anticipation of a Restoration of the Jews became an increasingly general notion in England in the forties of the seventeenth century. The most provocative expression of the Restoration idea was sounded by the Fifth Monarchy Men who looked forward to the establishment of a new World Monarchy. One of the founders and principal leaders of the Fifth Monarchy Men, John Archer, became a protagonist of the idea. The rise of the Kingdom, which Archer, in his book The personal reign of Christ upon earth (1642), predicted for 1666 -expected bye many to be a year of miracles ("anus mirabilis") -would, in his view, be preceded by the deliverance of the Israelites in 1650 or 1656: "The cities of the Tribes shall be built again, especially Jerusalem, which shall be the most eminent City then in the World...." In The Land of Promise and the Covenant thereof, an anonymous writer appealed to "those that teach a deliverance of the Jews of all countries to the Land of Canaan"; Robert Maton in a manifesto, Israel's Redemption, emphatically restated his faith in "the Jews' miraculous conversion and their return into their own Land". Other outstanding spokesmen of the Restoration idea were the renowned learned divines, Nathaniel Holmes and James Durham, and also Henry Jessey, Baptist and founder of the earliest Welsh Church, who in The Glory of Judah and Israel paid enthusiastic tribute to the Jewish people, and was the first to collect funds for needy Palestinian Jews in Great Britain.
       Between the vision of a restored Jerusalem as the heart of the world and a purely spiritual Zion there were many shades and nuances whose various meanings overlapped, so that it is often difficult to distinguish between them. Oliver Cromwell himself, for example, spoke of the prophecies "that He will bring His people again from the depths of the sea, as once he led Israel through the Red Sea", but he added immediately: "And it may be God will bring the Jews home to their station from the isles of the sea and answer the expectations as from the depths of the sea." The identification of the English people with Israel found its most ecstatic expression in the rebellion organised by Thomas Vernier against Cromwell in 1657 and promptly put down. In a contemporary manifesto the rebels pledged solemnly that they would not "sheathe their swords again until Mount Zion becomes the joy of the whole earth". Thomas Tarry, a London goldsmith, was one of several men who not only prophesied the impending Restoration of the Jews but actually conducted themselves as Heaven-sent redeemers. They originated a movement which, under the name of British-Israelites, was to acquire a surprising importance much later on. In a tract published in 1650, Tarry describes himself as a descendant of the tribe of Reuben and High Priest of the Jews. Shortly afterwards he was drowned when he set out in a small boat in order to call the Jews of Holland to organise an expedition to reconquer the Holy Land.

     In the same year, 1650, Joshua Garment proclaimed John Robins King of Israel and announced that within twenty days before Michaelmas he would "divide the seas and bring -as Moses the Jews of the world home to Judaea". An army 144,000 strong was to be equipped for the purpose. The year 1657, which sealed the fate of the Fifth Monarchy Men, proved unlucky for Robins who, with his followers, was imprisoned in Clerkenwell.
      Two works of unusual literary and moral merit present an extreme contrast to the extravagant happenings as well as to all the eccentric utterances of the restorationists during this agitated period. One of them, though written in England, came from the pen of an eminent intellectual leader of foreign stock -Johann Amos Comenius (Koniensky), the Czech pioneer educationalist, last Bishop of the Bohemian Brethren. He had lived in exile for many years and was invited to England in 1641 to effect reforms in education. In 1642, in the stormy atmosphere of the Civil War, he wrote in Latin his philosophical treatise The Way of Light which Was published 25 years later in Amsterdam. Some 270 more years were to pass before an English translation appeared in 1938. Centuries ahead of his own time, Comenius drafted detailed plans for the spread of enlightenment: universal books, universal schools, and a universal language. By these means, Comenius hoped to bring about "the destruction of the kingdoms of darkness and victory and triumph for Light and Truth". This coming age was to be the second age of the Messiah and events preceding it were to include the Restoration of the Jews to come about when all nations, led to embrace a single faith, would turn towards the light of a divinely restored Zion. The fact that a philosophical treatise, in which one of the most illustrious thinkers of his era expounded his far-sighted ideas, included the Restoration of the Jews as one of the basic problems, provides striking evidence of the firm hold which the Restoration idea had taken in the philosophy of the time
     The other work, published anonymously in 1648, also in Latin, under the title Novae Solymae Libri Six, presents in the form of a Utopian novel a full and delightful picture of a restored Jerusalem imbued with new life by a regenerated nation. Though the author's object was to describe an ideal commonwealth, the book is informed with love of the people and the Land of Israel.
      The setting is a newly erected Jerusalem about fifty years after the return of the Jewish people. This event, as Jacob, an Elder of the community, explains to three visitors, was brought about "by Divine mercy . . . when by a heavenly impulse we acknowledged the true Messiah and became his disciples with unwonted zeal". Although the author thus accepts conversion as a prerequisite of Restoration with all the traditional concepts of Israel's guilt, expiation and sudden enlightenment, the spirit which he imparts to the restored commonwealth is that of a universal religion resulting from a synthesis of Judaism and Christianity rather than a Christianised Judaism. "Do not think, my sons," Jacob instructs the newcomers, "that we disdain to borrow anything that is really good, because of its origin with nations alien to us..." In similar dialogues the new commonwealth -a model republic- is fully described. The prophetic vision of the author strikes the modern reader particularly when the new Patriarch declares: "It is fitting in every true republic that we take special care of the young, and in this the providence of God has not made our endeavours ineffectual, for it is well known that a more beautiful and talented progeny has grown up among us since our restoration".
      Nor does the author ever let the reader forget that the story is set in Palestine. It is in the harbour of Jaffa that they disembark on their way to Jerusalem, and the aspect of the city satisfied both the rules laid down by Ezekiel, xlviii, 31, and the dictates of contemporary architecture. Several Latin poems on Biblical themes add to the Jewish colouring of the novel. Thus the poem chanted by the citizen of Nova Solyma on Mount Zion is less a Christian hymn than a song of Zion.
      The fate of the book was no less unusual than its contents. Neglected by its contemporaries, it was completely forgotten-for 250 years. Credit for its rescue from oblivion is due to Walter Begley, who in 1902 (strangely enough the year in which Theodor Herzl published his Altneuland) edited an English translation of the work in two volumes, with an introduction and notes, under the title Nova Solyma -The Ideal City; or Jerusalem Regained. Begley argued that the author of the novel could be none other than, John Milton himself. This view was refuted by Stephen K. Jones (The Authorship of Nova Solyma. The Library, 1920), who established that the author was Samuel Gott, born on January 20, 1613. Gott was Milton's contemporary, sat in Parliament from 1645 to 1659, and was in 1663 Justice of the Peace at Battle. Only two of his works posterior to Nova Solyma are known: The True Happiness of Man, a collection of essays, and The Divine History of the World.
    Although Begley's attribution of Jerusalem Regained to the author of Paradise Regained has proved erroneous, Nova Solyma shares with Milton's writings the blending of English Hebraism with the humanistic spirit. Gott's synthesis was evident also in his presentation of the Restoration idea. He was the first Englishman to liberate it from the narrow bonds of the theological tract and to clothe it in a literary, indeed, an artistic form. This notable transmutation was effected by yet another synthesis: the combination of the English predilection for Utopias with the English yearning for the Restoration of the Jews. Nova Solyma is not a "Nowhere" like Thomas More's Utopia, nor a "Somewhere" like Bacon's Nova Atlantis -it is, beyond doubt, Zion itself. It is Israel -gathered and restored- that lives there in a model commonwealth conceived in the spirit of Puritan Christianity and Miltonian humanism. In the twilight of the fateful year 1648, while in Eastern Europe the Jewish masses were set in motion by an outbreak of the most cruel persecution, there shone for a moment -though unnoticed by the Jews, and scarcely observed by the Gentiles- the mirage of a revived Land of Israel.
The millenarian philosophy which swept over England was not confined to the British Isles. The continent of Europe, tormented for decades by devastating wars, proved likewise a fertile soil for eschatological expectations. In Central Europe, in France as well as in Holland, these expectations inspired some of the visionaries to include in their speculations their hope for the return of the Children of Israel to the Holy Land. It is against this background that also an outstanding Jewish exponent of eschatology, Menasseh ben Israel, the famous Rabbi of Amsterdam, has to be seen. In 1650, he published a book, The Hope of Israel, which was destined to make history by linking the Messianism of the British Puritans with genuine Jewish Messianism and theological speculation with practical politics. Far from being merely the reaction of an individual Jew, this book contained the answer of Israel to the call of the rising Restoration Movement.
     Through personal contact with frequent visitors from England and by an extensive correspondence with the Puritans, Menasseh ben Israel, had acquired a thorough knowledge of the British Restoration Movement. He knew that some of his Puritan friends shared with him his interest in the fate of the Ten Tribes of the Israelite Kingdom. With the rising expectations of the approaching Millennium this question had assumed a more and more topical character. For, since the return to the Holy Land had been promised to the whole people of Israel (and not to Judah and Benjamin alone), the Restoration, as many believed, could not take place unless the Lost Tribes participated in it.
      Just at that time, i.e., in 1644, Antonio de Montezinos, scholar and traveller, a Marrano from Portugal who had assumed the name Aaron Levi upon his return to Judaism, came back from a voyage to South America and reported that he had met natives in the Cordilleras who recited the Shema Israel and observed Jewish rites. Even before this exciting news provoked a heated literary debate in England, Menasseh ben Israel had taken notice of Aaron Levi's report first made known in Amsterdam. He considered this intelligence to be of a providential significance. A long time before he had pondered over the hidden meaning of Daniel xii, 7, "And when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people all these things shall be finished ", in connection with Deut. xxviii, 64, stating expressly that the scattering will be "from one end of the earth even to the other". The passage seemed plainly to indicate that the dispersion of the children of Israel over the face of the earth was an essential pre-condition of Israel's and of the world's redemption. If the descendants of the Lost Tribes had in fact been found in the New World, then all the prerequisites of redemption would appear to be present--on condition that the only inhabited country in the world not yet open to Jews would re-admit them. That country was England.
     A formal petition for the repeal of the banishment had been presented by the Baptists Johanna Cartwright and her son Ebenezer, residents of Amsterdam, in 1648 and, in the same year, Edward Nicholas, in his Apology for the Honourable Nation of the Jews, and all the sons of Israel implored his countrymen to show themselves "compassionate and helpers of the afflicted Jews". Although without any practical result, these efforts strengthened Menasseh ben Israel in his intention to prove that the Restoration of the Jews, the great ideal of the English "heralds of Israel's kingdom", was basically inseparable from the readmission of the Jews to England. An additional motive was the tragic fact that a new country of asylum was desperately heeded, for the increasing stream of Marrano fugitives from the Peninsula was already being swollen by the Jewish masses fleeing before Chmielnitzky's raging Cossacks.

    Thus, Menasseh ben Israel expounded his claim that all the divinely-ordained conditions which must precede the Restoration of the Jews and the coming of the Messiah and his realisation of the Kingdom of Heaven would only be fulfilled with the readmission of Jews to England.
     Menasseh's book The Hope of Israel appeared simultaneously in Spanish, Latin and English. The Latin and English versions were "dedicated by the Author to the High Court, the Parliament of England, and the Council of State". The dedication left no doubt that the book was not merely a theological treatise but a state document. Moreover, in the preface addressing the "most renowned Fathers" directly, Menasseh expressed clearly the purpose of the book:

". . . the eyes of all are turned upon you that they may see whither all these things tend, which the great Governor of all kings seems to bring upon the world by so great changes . . and so all those things which God is pleased to have foretold by the prophets, do and shall obtain their accomplishment. All which things of necessity must be fulfilled, that so Israel at last being brought back to his own place; peace which is promised under the Messiah may be restored to, the world ; and concord, which is the only Mother of all good things."

     How exactly the book had caught the prevailing mood of the English public was evident from its tremendous success. Within a short time a second English edition (soon to be followed by a third one) appeared. This was published by the Puritan Moses Wall with an appendix, containing also the text of correspondence exchanged by the editor and Sir Edward Spenser, the author of an answer to Menasseh ben Israel's appeal. The correspondents represented the two contrasting schools of thought concerning the question whether restoration also comprised the re-establishment of an earthly kingdom or whether it was to be understood merely as the conversion of the Jews to the faith in Jesus Christ. In his reply to Spenser, Moses Wall declared: "I do firmly believe and feare not to confesse it; that the Jews shall be called as a Nation, both Judah and Israel, and shall return to their own land, and have an earthly Kingdome again".
      His book won for Menasseh ben Israel recognition as the uncontested political leader of the Jews. This is how he came to play a leading part in the negotiations for the readmission of the Jews to England. Accompanied by a delegation of the Amsterdam community, Menasseh ben Israel arrived in London in October 1655. Before starting for England, he had written a kind of supplement to The Hope of Israel entitled The Precious Stone or the Image of Nebuchadnezzar, or the Fifth Monarchy, which Rembrandt illustrated with four engravings. In it, the Fifth Monarchy is identified with the kingdom of the Messiah, the Jewish kingdom destined to "save" the world. With him he took to England the historic pamphlet The Humble Address of Menasseh ben Israel, a Divine, and Doctor of Physick, in behalfe of the Jewish Nation, which was addressed "To His Highnesse the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland". It was an eloquent appealfor permission to be granted to the Jews to settle in England, to enjoy freedom of religion, self-administration, and the right to engage in commerce and in various trades. In his Humble Address, Menasseh ben Israel referred to the great economic benefits which would accrue to the Commonwealth from the settlement of Jewish merchants in London, but he also dwelt on the Messianic argument of The Hope of Israel, linking the Restoration of the Jews with their readmission to England.
      The publication of the Humble Address was followed by heated debates and a stream of tracts and leaflets. Among those to whom restoration meant only one thing -conversion to, Christianity- the refusal of the "stiff-necked" people to change its religion had exacerbated prejudice against the Jews, while others like John Dury in his pamphlet A Case of Conscience whether it be lawful to admit Jews into a Christian Commonwealth? spoke up for the Jews. The most interesting and, as it were, compromising contribution to the conflict of ideas is to be found in James Warrington's famous work The Commonwealth of Oceana, published in 1656. In his far-sighted blueprint, Harrington suggested that the island of Panopea, part of the Commonwealth of Oceana, an obvious reference to Ireland, should become the national home of the Jews gathered from dispersion. (Harrington's recognition of the Jewish aptitude for agriculture is striking.) This earliest territorialist settlement plan suffered the same fate as most of its many successors -it was ignored.
      The struggle for the readmission of the Jews reached its climax at the unique Whitehall conference which met on December 4, 1655, publicly to consider (and give) judgment on Menasseh ben Israel's petition. The findings of the conference, in spite of Cromwell's most eloquent plea for the rights of the Jews, were negative. Although the lawyers confirmed that there was no legal objection to the return of the Jews, the conference was unable to agree on the conditions of the return. Disappointed and angry, Cromwell closed the proceedings on December 18, 1655.
      But the debate continued to rage elsewhere. A multitude of new tracts and rejoinders encumbered Menasseh's lodgings in the Strand. None of them hurt him so deeply as the acid pamphlet A Short Demurrer to the Jewes Long Discontinued Remitter into England by the celebrated William Prynne, obviously designed to prevent the Council of State from taking action favourable to the Jews. Menasseh replied in a slender and dignified volume entitled Vindiciae Judaeorum. Where the pleas of the Puritan sympathisers and Oliver Cromwell's passionate oratory had failed, there was little chance of the Amsterdam Rabbi's learned arguments succeeding. It seemed that his great efforts had been wasted.
     Yet an unlooked-for partial success heralded Menasseh's ultimate victory. The war between England and Spain which broke out in 1656 cleared up the legal status of the Marranos resident in England. When the property of one of them had been confiscated by the authorities as belonging to an "enemy alien", the Marranos realised the deadly danger which threatened all of them. Encouraged by Menasseh's campaign, they decided to meet the peril by confessing openly their Hebrew origin in an address requesting permission to meet for their private devotions in their houses without molestation and to have a burial place for their dead. Menasseh ben Israel headed the list of the signatories of this petition. The Marranos thus won the right to reside in England as Jews, and as time went on more and more individual Jews were given permission to reside in England. Less than a decade after the Humble Address, the restored Stuart, Charles II, sanctioned the readmission of Jews to England.
       In 1657 Menasseh ben Israel made up his mind to leave. It was probably shortly before his departure from London that he received that memorable Latin letter (unearthed by Cecil Roth) which Henry Oldenburg, former Consul of the Hanseatic City of Bremen and subsequently Secretary of the Royal Society, at that time tutor to Richard Jones (Lord Ranelagh), sent him from France on August 4, 1657. It was a tribute to Menasseh ben Israel and at the same time Oldenburg's confession of love for the Jewish people and of his firm belief in its Restoration. The special purpose of the letter was to inform Menasseh about an unpublished work which was dedicated to the Hebrew people, and bore the title They that arouse the Dawn. In it, the author expounded "The significance and the fulfilment of those magnificent and ample prophecies relating to the glorious restoration of the Jews in their own land". Oldenburg declared he would be prepared to discuss the matter privately with Menasseh and to expound his views at greater length. Written by the man whom the intellectual elite of England were soon to entrust with their representation, the letter is above all a testimony to the solid hold the Restoration doctrine had taken in the spiritual life of England.
      It is not known whether Menasseh ben Israel answered Oldenburg's letter, or even if it ever reached him. He died on November 12, 1657, on the way home. Not having lived to see the final triumph of his long campaign, his last hour might have seemed to him to be clouded by failure. Fortunately for posterity, he was mistaken. Not only had his work been instrumental to the readmission of the Jews to England, but history was to show how sound had been Menasseh ben Israel's instinct which guided him to lay the Jewish people's road to the Land of Israel via the British Isles.
     While Menasseh ben Israel had been toiling to secure the readmission of the Jews to England, Sabbatai Zevi, the youthful mystic of Smyrna, lived through a period of studies, ascetic exercises, bold deeds and wanderings. In 1648, which corresponded with the Hebrew year 5408, prognosticated in the Zohar as the year when the Messiah would appear, Sabbatai, then twenty-two years old, had publicly pronounced, before a crowd of worshippers in the synagogue of Smyrna, the Ineffable Name of God and thus, by implication, assumed the Messiahship. Excommunicated, he had been forced to leave his native city, but soon a group of devoted followers gathered around the self styled Messiah.
       It is an astonishing but undeniable fact that Sabbatai was influenced not only by Jewish mysticism but also by the millenarian ideas of the Puritans. In the home of his father, Mordecai Zevi, whom a large English trading house had appointed their commercial agent, young Sabbatai heard the stories of English merchants about the Puritans who loved and studied the Scriptures, identified themselves with the Jews and looked forward to the Restoration of Israel. Their information provided strong confirmation of Sabbatai's own dreams and boosted his confidence in his mission. But the most precious gift he received from England was the tidings of the Fifth Monarchy Men and their certain, expectations that the year 1666 would inaugurate the Millennium. This Puritan prediction fitted perfectly into Sabbatai's own personal experiences and expectations. The birth-pangs of the approaching Messianic Age had indeed begun in 1648 (The "Messianic Year") with the appearance of a new enemy of Israel, the terrible Cossack Chmielnitzki, and the appalling sufferings he had caused to the Jewish people. There could therefore be no doubt that the deliverance itself would take place at another pre-ordained date. Nothing seemed more logical than to expect the dawn of this blessed happening after a further eighteen years. In this manner, the "wonderful year", a certainty for the Fifth Monarchy Men, became for Sabbatai Zevi a fixed goal, the apogee of his physical and spiritual life. Thus, in the same way as the Restoration Movement was inseparably linked with the readmission of the Jews to England, English millenarianism stood at the very cradle of the Sabbatian movement.
      As 1666 drew near, a spate of fantastic rumours came flooding in from the East. Thousands had seen the "Messiah" in Asia Minor, in Egypt, in Salonica, and in the Holy Land. In 1665 a message from his spokesman prophet Nathan Ghazati startled the world. Sabbatai Zevi would take the Sultan's crown and place it on his head. On the heels of the message came reports of Sabbatai's triumphal entry into Smyrna, of the exaltation of the crowd which greeted him with cries "Long live our King, the Messiah". Presently similar cries were heard from Kiev to Venice, from Leghorn to Hamburg, from Salonica to Amsterdam. Delirious with joy and ecstatic hope, the Jews made preparations for departure.
     The tiny Jewish community of London, only just established, did not offer a favourable soil for the growth of a mass movement. Yet even these newcomers were stirred into a feverish expectation. But the excitement of London's non-Jewish population caused by reports and rumours about Sabbatai Zevi at the approach of the critical year was in some respects even more striking than that of the Jews. One leaflet after another dealing with the Messianic event appeared and was sold out immediately. The most fascinating of them was A New Letter from Aberdeen, sent to a Person of Quality, published by R.R. and dated 26th October, 1665. The correspondent is anxious to acquaint the addressee with "the proceedings of the Israelites, in this juncture of time, wherein scarce anything else, is either talked of, or looked after, in comparison of them".  The major item of news which he conveys to London is about a ship which had called at Aberdeen, bound for Amsterdam, with Jews on board bearing written reports about the victorious encounters of the Jews with the Turks. The writer even states that the sails the ship, made of white branched satin, bore in red characters the inscription THESE ARE OF THE TEN TRIBES OF ISRAEL.
      All these products of the printing press are strongly reminiscent of the eccentric literature disseminated by the Fifth Monarchy Men who, after the execution of Venner and his band, disappeared from the historical scene. But the millenarian ideas of which they had been the most radical promoters were not extinguished. The expectation of the "annus mirabilis" had been born in London. Now, with the decisive year at hand, London looked forward to its outcome with an interest unsurpassed in any other capital. "Lift up your Heads, this is the Wonderful Year", reads the inscription of a pamphlet, published in the form of a letter " written by the French Ambassador at Constantinople to his brother, the French Resident of Venice ", dated 26th February, 1666, which announced that in the month of June of that year "The Redemption of Israel will be published throughout the whole World".
      Nor were merely the simple and credulous affected by these predictions. Samuel Pepys, the most reliable and least eccentric of witnesses, not only recorded the reactions of some London Jews to the expected glorification of the Messiah but also expressed the general mood of the city in one significant sentence:    "... and certainly this year of 1666 will be a year of great action; but what the consequences of it will be, God knows". An even more revealing record of these stirring days has been left by Henry Oldenburg. Since 1661, Oldenburg, by then Secretary of the Royal Society, had been corresponding with the excommunicated philosopher Baruch Spinoza, whom he held in the highest esteem. On December 4, 1665, Oldenburg addressed a letter in Latin to Spinoza containing this passage:

Now to politics. Everyone here talks of: the rumour that the Israelites, who had been scattered more than two thousand years, are about to return to their native land. Only few here believe it, but many desire it. You will tell your friend what you hear and think about it. As for me, I cannot believe it so long as the news is not confirmed by trustworthy men in Constantinople, which. is mainly interested in the matter. I should like to know what the Amsterdam Jews have heard of this, and how they are affected by the news which, if confirmed, should cause all things in the world to be changed.
      The passage is more than a picture of London on the eve of the Wonderful Year; we have here an exact account of the Restoration Movement as it looked towards the close of the first epoch, extending from the end of the Elizabethan era to the Restoration of the Stuarts. Interest in the return of scattered Israel to its homeland was general, though only a minority believed in the immediate realisation of the Messianic hope. But the Restoration of the Jews had become the subject of current political debate. Oldenburg's use of the term "politics" in connection with the question of Jewish Restoration is a clear symptom of the transformation which the desire for Restoration, originally a religious concern only, had begun to undergo.
       A passage at the end of the third section of Spinoza's Theological-Political Tractate could well have been prompted by Oldenburg's letter:

The symbol of circumcision, therefore, is, I believe, so potent that I am convinced it alone will keep this nation alive for ever. I would go so far as to believe that, if the foundations of their religion have not enfeebled their minds, they may, if the occasion presents itself amid the changes to which human affairs are liable, even raise their empire anew, and that God may elect them a second time.
     The Tractate appeared in 1670. In the interval that had elapsed since Oldenburg's letter, Sabbatai Zevi had in fact disembarked at Constantinople early in 1666, but instead of causing the Sultan to fall he became his prisoner. In his gaol at Gallipoli he was worshipped as before, crowds of pious pilgrims journeying to do him homage. On September 14, 1666, Sabbatai Zevi became a Moslem and assumed the name Mehmed Effendi, yet the devotion of his followers withstood even this shock and the Sabbatian movement continued after his death in 1675 far beyond the end of the seventeenth century.
       Spinoza, in his seclusion, remained unmoved by- these turbulent happenings. Yet the lines from the Tractate bear eloquent witness to the fact that Spinoza shared with his antipode, Sabbatai Zevi, and with Menasseh ben Israel, the third Jewish representative man of that period, the belief in the future Restoration of the Jewish people.

 Introduction Franz Kobler
"The Vision Was There"
Part One

Part Two 

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Biblical Proofs
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