Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy (16 November 2017, 27 Heshvan, 5778)
Drawing of Manasseh ben Israel by Rembrandt. Manasseh negotiated with Cromwell for the re-admission of the Jews to England. The Jews had been expelled from England in 1290. Some Jews may have stayed. Others returned. Jews had been found in England at least from the time of Henry-8. Henry attempted to use his influence with the Spanish in the Netherlands to mitigate the persecution of Jews by the Inquisition. His daughter Elizabeth-1 spoke Hebrew and had a Jewish female confidante who left England after refusing to change her religion. Elizabeth also had a Jewish doctor who was executed after being accused (probably falsely) of trying to poison her. During the rulership of Oliver Cromwell and his successor Charles-2 the subject of formal re-admission of Jews was discussed. In both cases the conclusion was reached that there was no need for formal re-admission since there was no real prohibition. The Jews would be better off without any legal recognition since that way no prejudicial regulations would be enacted against them. The Rulers by conniving at the Jews coming back without formal announcement lessened fiction with nay-sayers of various kinds.
All accounts regarding the re-admission of the Jews that I have read seem to make the same points:
The Jews had been expelled in 1290. The Expulsion in its time may not have been entirely legal.
There was no real legal barrier to the Jews coming back.
Resettlement of the Jews in England
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Menasseh ben Israelâ€™s son Samuel had arrived in England accompanied by trader David Dormido in 1653 ... The rabbi came to England in September 1655 with three other local rabbis, where they were lodged as guests of Cromwell.... As a consequence, a national conference was summoned at Whitehall in the early part of December, which included some of the most eminent lawyers, clergymen, and merchants in the country. The lawyers declared no opposition to the Jews' residing in England, but both the clergymen and merchants were opposed to readmission....
Note the above phrase:
"The lawyers declared no opposition to the Jews' residing in England."
There was NO legal barrier.
On the Jewish side the return to England was important since it involved the Future Redemption. The Biblical Commentators Rashi and Nachmanides understood that the Ten Tribes were in Zaraphath meaning France (Rashi on Obadiah 1:2). Nachmanides ('Sefer Ha-Geulah') said that the Ten Tribes were in Zaraphath meaning said he, the ends of the far north. Abarbanel opined that the term encompassed both France and England.
Don Isaac ben Yehudah Abarbanel (1437-1508), Commentary on the Book of Obadiah:
"Zeraphath is France ..and let you not err just because Zeraphath [i.e. France] is spoken of and Angleterre [i.e. England] is not recalled, for there too did the exiles go, for lo and behold, that island is considered a part of Zarephath and in the beginning belonged to it and in their ancient books they call it the Isle of Zarephath [i.e. of France] even though it later separated itself from Zarephath [France] and became a kingdom in its own right. ....And maybe the intention is too to those Children of Israel who completely left Religion due to the weight of troubles and persecutions and they remain in France and in Spain in their thousands and tens of thousands, huge communities. They shall return and request the LORD their God.."