“THE FIRST ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE PENTATEUCH IN AMERICA”: ISAAC LEESER’S 1845 HEBREW-ENGLISH BIBLE
(HEBREW BIBLE) LEESER, Isaac. The Law of God. Edited, and with Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised. Philadelphia: Printed by C. Sherman, for the editor, 5605 (1845). Five volumes. Octavo, modern three-quarter black morocco. $18,500.
First edition of the “first English translation of the Pentateuch in America,” the 1845 Hebrew-English Bible by one of the most prominent and influential figures in American Jewish history. Five handsomely bound volumes.
Named hazan (cantor) of Congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia in 1829, Leeser's "contributions to every area of Jewish culture and religion made him a major builder of American Judaism." The publication of his Pentateuch was the first time that any portion of the Bible was published in America under Jewish auspices. "The translation of the Bible was Leeser's great literary achievement and represented many years of patient labor and devotion to a task which he considered sacred… He made good use of the various German translations by Jews of the collective commentary known as the Biur and of other Jewish exegetic works. As a result his translation though based in style upon the King James version can be considered an independent work for the changes he produced are numerous and great… until the new Jewish Publication Society version was issued in 1917, it was the only source from which many Jews not conversant with Hebrew derived their knowledge of the Bible in accordance with Jewish tradition" (Waxman, 1090). Printed in Hebrew and English, with corresponding text on facing pages. Rosenbach 569. Wolf and Whiteman, 373. Later gift inscription on half title of Volume II.
A few leaves with marginal paper repairs in Volume II. Internally clean, bindings attractive and fine. A very nice, complete copy of this scarce and important work.