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Antonio de Montezinos

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Antonio de Montezinos was a Portuguese traveler and a Marrano Sephardic Jew who in 1644 persuaded Menasseh Ben Israel, a rabbi of Amsterdam, that he had found one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel living in the jungles of the "Quito Province" (that is, the Pichincha Province) of Ecuador.[1] This supposed discovery gave a new impulse to Menasseh's Messianic hopes. Menasseh wrote a book about this narrative, The Hope of Israel. In it Menasseh argued, and for the first time tried to give scholarly support in European thought and printing to the theory that the native inhabitants of America at the time of the European discovery were actually descendants of the [lost] Ten Tribes of Israel.[2] The book was originally written in Hebrew (Mikveh Israel) or in Latin (Spes Israelis) around 1648, but its publication in English in 1650 in London caused great controversy and polemics in England.[3] The novel theory was never proven, but it held European imagination for a long time in the centuries to come and had its followers later in America too.


Edited by Karlis
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