Dissertations on the Prophesies of the Old Testament, David Levi, London, 1793.

LeviDissertations01David Levi was one of the earliest Anglo-Jewish scholars, bilingual in Hebrew and English, and a fierce defender of the Jews.   He was born to poor immigrant parents in London in 1742 and worked as a shoemaker, then as a hatter, then as a printer.  He was very well read and wrote about Judaisn for both Christians and Jews.

His first published work, A Succinct Account of the Rites and Ceremonies of the Jews (1782), tried to explain Judaism to Jews and to correct Christian misconceptions about Judaism. Next, he translated the prayer books of both the Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews.  In 1787 he translated the Five Books of Moses into English and also published a Hebrew grammar and dictionary, and a guide to the Hebrew language.

In 1786,the famous chemist, philosopher and theologian Joseph Priestley published his Letter to the Jews, urging them to convert.  David Levi published a lengthy and robust answer, which led to many arguments with Christian clergy. This led to this Dissertation on the Prophecies of the Old Testament which he printed and published himself.  It is to some extent an anti-Christian polemic.  This is the first volume.

Cecil Roth includes this book in his great bibliography, Magna Bibliotheca Anglo Judaica, but lists only a later two-volume edition printed in 1817.  My book is dated 1793 (see the dedication below) and appears to be unknown to Roth.

David Levi’s Protestant friend Henry Lemoine  published an obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine in October 1801, describing him as “the Pride of Israel’s Busy Tribe.”.

A second edition of David Levi’s Ashkenazi Machzorim (Festival Prayer Books) was published in 1807, and I have written previously about Rosh Hashana (New Year) and Shavuos (Pentecost).

if you scroll down to the end of the excerpted scans, there is a list of books by David Levi printed at the end of the volume.


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