In 1650, writing as a member of the Jewish diaspora in Amsterdam, Menashe ben Israel stirred excitement by endorsing the idea that descendants of the lost tribes of Israel secretly dwelled in America. Situating Menashe's work within the social and cultural specificities, and challenges, of acculturated Iberian Jews in Amsterdam, this article argues that his portrayal of the lost tribes is an attempt to mirror the collective experience of the "Hebrew nation." In the context of loss and rebuilding, Menashe suggests a hermeneutic equation between the lost tribes and the Sephardic ex-conversos that bolstered his community's self-perception and served as a declaration of the resilience of Judaism. The Hispanic experience informed Menashe's text; the author overtly appropriated images, tropes and narratives of the culture of imperial Spain. The Israelite tribes, fashioned as warlike and brave people in the image of the conquistadores, became Jews who adamantly refused to surrender their religious traditions and identities.


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pp. 124-150
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