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THE FIRST JEWISH TRANSLATION OF THE PENTATEUCH INTO ENGLISH (JUDAICA.) The Law of God. 5 volumes. 12mo, contemporary embossed calf, moderate wear; minor wear and finger soiling to contents, Volume II lacking free endpapers; 1881 gift inscription on front flyleaf. Philadelphia: C. Sherman, 5605 [1845-46]
First edition. This is the first translation of the five books of the Torah by a Jewish translator into English, with text in Hebrew and English on facing pages. Previous editions published by Jews in England had simply utilized the King James translation.
The translator was Isaac Leeser (1806-1868), who worked without assistance. In his preface, he apologizes for any errors: "How can it be expected that I should escape, when I have no Jewish compositors, and have necessarily to be often away when the work goes to press?" Despite these obstacles, Leeser doubted that "the precious word of God ever appeared among us in a more beautiful form than the volumes in which I am now engaged." Leeser avoided reliance on earlier English translations, though he made some use of German translations, and noted that "the arrangement is strictly Jewish. My intention was to furnish a book for the service of the Synagogue, both German and Portuguese." Goldman 7; Hills 1273; Rosenbach 569.