17th centuary

PuritansIn England at this time the Puritans gained control. Strict and literalistic, they had taught themselves Hebrew so that they could read the Bible in its original language. They even gave their children Hebrew names.

The Puritans, of course, would become the founders of America. If one looks at the names on the Mayflower Compact one will see that almost all 200 names there are biblical. There was even a vote taken whether the spoken language in the New World should be Hebrew or English. Many felt that since it was a type of entry into the “Promised Land” for them they wanted to speak the “Holy Tongue.”

This is why some of the oldest institutions of higher education in the United States have seals or mottos with Hebrew. Even though the Puritans were far from being lovers of the Jews, the fact that they had an affinity for Hebrew and the Bible allowed them to think on some level about religious freedoms for Jews. Later when the early settlers provided rules for religious freedom they included the Jews, even though there were so few Jews to avail themselves of those opportunities. Nevertheless, the United States was really the first country in the world that had rules where religious discrimination against Jews was not sanctioned.

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One Response to 17th centuary

  1. petehutcheon says:

    It’s interesting you should say that, the venerable Bede thought much the same about the Anglo-Saxon’s in England, he saw parallels with the Jews returning to the promised land, even to the point that their were 5 English peoples just as their were 5 Jewish tribes. I address this in my blog on Bede’s purposes in writing about the past. I also talk a little about what you are talking about in my blog on early modern Europeans image of their self when encountering the ‘exotic’, ‘savage’ and ‘monstrous’ races.

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