Jacob the Jew, Isaac Casaubon and forced apostasy in England in the Middle Ages

Thursday, 26 November, 2015 - 5:17 pm


As we celebrate the holiday of Chanukah, I am delighted to present the following essay on the subject of forced conversion in Oxford in the Middle Ages - a theme that is connected also to the historic setting of Chanukah, when Jews were forced to abandon their Jewish faith for Greek Hellenism in the 2nd century BCE. 


The history of the Jews of Oxford includes many important figures who contributed enormously to the University of Oxford[1]. A less known fact however is that for most of the history of the university, Jews were either not allowed to reside in England or were not admitted to the university, whether as a student or academic. The establishment of Merton College, one of the first colleges at Oxford, was in 1264 and Jews were first officially admitted to the university around 600 years later in 1854 when the requirement to sign up to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England in order to graduate from the university was repealed in the University Reform Act of 1854.


Despite the official centuries-long restriction on non-Christians studying or working at Oxford University, Jews are known to have somehow found work at the university, whether formally or informally, as Jews or converts to Christianity. Jews of Oxford may be placed in three categories: Jews who identified as members of the Jewish community. This includes as far back as Isaac Abendana in the 17th century, Moritz Steinschneider and Selig Newman in the 19th century, and famous figures like Albert Einstein, Boris Chain and Isaiah Berlin in the 20th century, among many others. This also includes a number of Jews who gained teaching positions at the university before the return of Jews to England in 1656, usually serving in an external role as instructors of Hebrew at Magdalen College and assistant librarians at the Bodleian library. In December 1607, Thomas Bodley instructed his assistant Thomas James ‘to gette the helpe of a Jewe, for the Hebrewe catalogue, for it can not be done without him’[2]. In addition, there was one academic, Professor James Joseph Sylvester (1814-1897), who as a student entered Cambridge University but did not graduate, due to his refusal to accept the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England upon graduation. He was later appointed Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford University in 1883.


A second category is Jews who converted to Christianity to gain a position at the university. This includes John of Bristol, Philip Ferdinand, Jacob Wolfgang and Alfred Edersheim, among others. A third category, although rare, is a Christian who converted to Judaism - Robert of Reading, known as Haggai the Jew, who married a Jewish woman in Oxford in the 13th century. He was subsequently burned at the gate of Osney Abbey in 1266 when he refused to revert to the Christian faith. The subject of this essay relates to the second category - Jews who converted to Christianly - and centres round a Jew in the Middle Ages who appears to have shown interest in converting to Christianity and gaining a position at the university, only to change his mind at the last moment, causing a great commotion at the university. We will present this fascinating story of Jacob the Jew, known as Jacob Barnett, and question the possible reasoning from a Jewish point of view, as to why, a man respected for his vast Jewish learning, would wish to convert to Christianity, then reconsider and flee Oxford on foot at great risk.


Jacob the Jew


In the biography of French Huguenot scholar Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614), Walter Farquhar Hook writes[3] about a Jew called Jacob Barnett, known as ‘Jacob the Jew’, who came to England from Germany before the readmission of the Jews to England by Oliver Cromwell. Jacob somehow gained a position at the university to teach Hebrew around 1609, where he met French Huguenot scholar Isaac Casaubon. Casaubon was deeply impressed by Jacob’s vast knowledge of the Talmud and Midrash, stating he had never met such a learned Jew before, and employed him as his personal teacher of Hebrew at Oxford.


Casaubon subsequently left Oxford to London and took Jacob with him as his personal tutor. At some point, however, Casaubon, for some reason, was unable to keep Jacob any longer as ‘his inmate’ and we find that Jacob, seemingly out of distress, intimated to Casaubon that he would be willing to accept Christian baptism. To assist Jacob, Casaubon sent letters of recommendation to the Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford, the Vice Chancellor of the University was notified, even the king of England was informed, and the University set a date to have Jacob converted in a great ceremony before the whole University at the University Church of St Mary's.


However, the day before the ceremony was due to take place, Jacob changed his mind and fled the town on foot. The proctors instructed the university police to pursue Jacob and they captured him on the road to London and imprisoned him in Bocardo Prison at Oxford’s Northgate. With short notice, we are told, impressing all those present, the preacher of the university church changed his sermon from one of baptism to the subject of the perfidy of the Jews. While in prison, Jacob was subjected to taunting and torture by university academics and officials and it was only when Casaubon came to his defense, arguing that to decline Baptism is not a crime in English Law, that Jacob was released, but not without being banished from the university precinct and, according to some historians[4], from England altogether.


The question this essay would like to address is what does Jacob’s choice to convert to Christianity followed by his change of mind and fleeing reflect in considerations of Jewish law pertaining to apostasy? Can one point to merely an overwhelming anxiety when confronted with the formidable choice to go through with the conversion or were there possibly particular circumstances that from a Jewish legal point of view indicate a possible reasoning for Jacob’s change of mind? In addition, from the perspective of Jewish law, what would be the significance of his fleeing on foot when he would have likely been aware of the strong possibility they would pursue him?


I would like to suggest that his behaviour appears to reflect a pattern of thinking expressed by a person who seems to have had a broad knowledge of Jewish law, as attested to by Isaac Casaubon. If Isaac’s view of him as a person with vast knowledge of Jewish law is correct, it’s possible to argue that the circumstances pertaining to his conversion was possibly a factor that played a role in forcing him to reconsider conversion at the last moment despite provoking the ire of the university community and authorities.


Conversion under compulsion in Jewish law


The assumption of the above story is that the prospected conversion of Jacob as many others during the Middle Ages was out of a degree of compulsion. Jews had limited rights for centuries in Christian Europe. In many cases their right to exist was only to the extent of their economic usefulness to the king they served, as in 12th - 13th century England, and for extensive periods they had no rights of residence at all, as after the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290 until their readmission in 1656, similar to the subsequent expulsions of Jews from France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Portugal and other places. The basic assumption therefore is a Jew living in England in the early 17th century (before the readmission of the Jews in 1656 under the protectorate government) desiring to convert to Christianity would almost certainly have been due to the circumstances that did not allow for the existence of an identified Jew in their midst. Although there was an intermittent presence of Jews in England during the expulsion period, one would have to have been in one of the following categories: from the converts who remained behind after the expulsion, a rabbi who would be visiting at the invitation of Tudor Hebraists, a member of the Morrano Jewish community in London or a merchant from abroad[5]. Shortly before Jacob came to England there took place in 1594 the execution of a secret Jew from Sephardic origin, Rodrigo Lopez, who was physician and was convicted by Elizabeth I following conviction for high treason, while being taunted for being a Jew by his prosecutors. It would have been equally hostile being a Jew in the beginning of the 17th century during the reign of king James I & VI, who had a particularly negative theological attitude towards Jews, as expressed in the books that he wrote[6].


We may therefore consider the story of Jacob, from a Jewish legal point of view, as a case of conversion under a degree of duress, even though his conversion may not have been under pain of death. Jewish law recognizes the definition of duress also when a person’s life might not be in mortal danger but subject to perceived fear of punishment[7], as indicated by the Talmudic case of idol worship out of fear ‘ha’oved m’yirah’, for which a person is exempt of punishment. In the case of Jacob, he had arrived in England for what seems to have been a valid purpose – to teach Hebrew - whereby he was given permission to be a Jew and reside in Oxford working at the university. Having moved to London, however, and subsequently lose the protection of Isaac Casaubon with no rights to be any longer in England, his interest to convert would have been likely under duress. To understand how this bears on the possible thinking process of Jacob, we must first understand the broader Jewish legal concept of duress and degrees of apostasy in Jewish law.


Permission to violate the law when life is in danger


Jewish law recognizes the mitigating circumstances of compulsion when considering the culpability of a person violating Jewish law. According to Jewish law, if a person’s life is in danger if he does not violate the law, he may do so. This is implied in the book of Leviticus[8] “You shall therefore keep My statutes, and My ordinances, which if a man do, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” From the statement ‘he shall live by them’, the Talmud[9] derives the principle that a person is commanded to live by the law but not die by it, in the event his life is in danger if he keeps the law.


Exception of three cardinal sins


There is however an important exception to this principle: the three cardinal sins of idolatry, incest, which includes adultery, and murder. The Talmud states[10]:


Rabbi Johanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon b. Jehozadak: By a majority vote, it was resolved in the upper chamber of the house of Nithza in Lydda (Diaspolis) that in every other law of the Torah, if a man is commanded: 'Transgress and suffer not death' he may transgress and not suffer death, except idolatry, incest, which includes adultery and murder.


The view that one should be prepared to surrender one’s life rather than give up one’s Jewish faith is consistent with the fate of countless Jews who died for their faith, whether it was the ten martyrs at the hands of the Romans, the Jews of York in 1190, the inquisition in Spain, and many other cases. This would have possibly been a primary consideration of Jacob, whether he should surrender his faith and convert or leave his destiny to fate. He first consented to conversion in violation of this principle but then retracted. What does this vacillation reflect? As a learned Jew, he would have likely known both before and after his change of mind about the exception of the three cardinal sins from the rule regarding the principle of the importance of life over the violation of the law.


Is duress an excuse to avoid punishment for idolatry?


The source for the exemption of liability for violation of a law under duress is the Biblical law regarding a victim of rape[11]. Jewish law stipulates that it does not view a girl culpable for improper relations when performed under duress. This case of mitigation of liability becomes extended to govern all of Jewish law with the principle ‘ones rachmanah patrei’ (the Torah exempts liability for compulsion).


The question however arises regarding idolatry. If one serves idolatry under compulsion with warning and witnesses, is one liable? This dispute between the medievalists was settled only in the 16th century. Maimonides is of the opinion that if a person serves idolatry under duress, although one should ideally surrender his life, if one does not do so, they are not liable for punishment. Maimonides writes in Mishneh Torah[12]:


When anyone about whom it is said: "Sacrifice your life and do not transgress," transgresses instead of sacrificing his life, he desecrates God's name. If he does so in the presence of ten Jews, he desecrates God's name in public, nullifies the fulfillment of the positive commandment of the sanctification of God's name, and violates the negative commandment against the desecration of God's name. Nevertheless, since he was forced to transgress, he is not punished by lashing, and, needless to say, is not executed by the court even if he was forced to slay a person. The punishments of lashes and execution are administered only to one who transgresses voluntarily, when the transgression is observed by witnesses, and when a warning was given, as [Leviticus 20:5] states concerning one who gives his children to the worship of Molech: "I will turn My face against that person." The oral tradition teaches that we can infer: "that person" and not one who is forced to transgress, who transgresses inadvertently, or who transgresses because of an error. If, concerning the worship of false gods, which is the most serious of sins, a person who is forced to worship is not liable for karet (excision), nor, needless to say, execution by a court, how much more so does this principle apply regarding the other mitzvot of the Torah? Similarly, regarding forbidden sexual relations, [Deuteronomy 22:26] states: "Do not do anything to the maiden."


Rabbi Moses Hakohen of Lunel of the 13th century, known by his acronym Remach, in his commentary on Maimonides[13] challenges Maimonides and suggests that in the case of idolatry if there is forewarning and witnesses he is liable even under duress[14]. He draws his reasoning from the Mishnaic law[15]: ‘If a person defecates to Baal Pe’or this is its service’. The Talmud points out[16] that he is liable even though his intention was only to disgrace it. The same is the case, Remach argues, if a person serves idolatry under duress; he remains liable if he is forewarned that he is punishable. These two opinions are brought also in the Talmudic commentary of prominent Catalan Rabbi Menachem Meiri (1249 -1310), known as Meiri[17], but he concludes that the view of Rabbi Moses HaKohen that he is liable does not seem correct. He does not however give any reasoning for this conclusion.


In the 16th century Rabbi Joseph Caro (1488-1575) defends the view of Maimonides in his commentary to the Mishneh Torah, Kesef Mishneh. He argues[18] that the Mishnaic ruling that one is liable for defecating in denigration of the Pe’or is not referring to capital punishment – the usual punishment for intentional idolatry – but rather a sin offering that is customarily bought as atonement for an unintentional sin. Furthermore, he argues, the value of forewarning the idolater is questionable as it is undermined by the subsequent idolatry worship under duress. Any intentionality that the forewarning achieves becomes undone at the time of the compulsion to serve idolatry. Rabbi Joseph Karo, in defense of Maimonides’ view of lack of culpability for forced idolatry, appears to be the final word on the matter. It is therefore difficult to argue that Jacob Barnett vacillation regarding conversion reflects this particular medieval legal dispute pertaining to the capital liability for forced apostasy in Jewish law. At the time of Jacob’s story it was no longer a dispute, as the opinion of the Remach had been rejected, with the prevalent ruling that a person converting under compulsion, although ideally should be prepared to surrender one’s life, is nevertheless not punished for not doing so. Furthermore, according to Spanish Rabbi Isaac ben Sheshet Perfet, known by his acronym Rivash (1326 – 1408), the Talmud rules that even if a person serves idolatry without any belief but rather from fear that a person may harm him he is exempt from punishment[19].


Forced convert or apostate?


I would like to propose another possible consideration pertaining to Jacob’s behaviour. Although the Talmud and Jewish law recognise the mitigating circumstances of compulsion in relation to punishment, even in the case of idolatry, there is still the question regarding the status of such a person. Is he considered an apostate or not?


Jewish law distinguishes between the positive injunction to surrender one’s life in the face of forced conversion in order ‘to sanctify G-d’s name’ and the violation of the negative law ‘not to serve idolatry’. Theses two concepts are rooted in two separate Biblical sources: the law to sanctify G-d’s name is rooted in the book of Leviticus[20] “And ye shall not profane My holy name; but I will be sanctified among the children of Israel: I am the Lord who sanctifies you”; the law against idolatry is in Exodus[21] “Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them”.


By having these two concepts rooted in two separate sources Jewish law is making the following distinction: it is possible to neglect the positive commandment of sanctifying G-d’s name through the practice of idolatry, while not necessarily violating the negative injunction against serving idolatry itself. This is the legal reasoning for the case of compulsion to serve idolatry: while the person is neglecting to sanctify G-d’s name by surrendering one’s life, he is not technically violating the law against serving idolatry when done under duress. In other words, the state of becoming as apostate in Jewish law is only when done by one’s own volition, not due to any perceived threat to life or possibility of physical harm.


No change to full status as Jew in Jewish law


Medieval Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet, known as Rashba (1235-1310), articulates this in what became an oft quoted responsa[22]:


If a person is forced to convert from fear even though he is sinning he is a Jew. Even though he should have surrendered his life and not transgressed, as it states (Leviticus 22:32): “and I shall be sanctified among the people of Israel”, nevertheless, since it was from fear so that they would not kill him, the Bet Din does not hold the person responsible, because he converted from fear not to be killed - as it states (Leviticus 18:5) “And you shall live by them’ and not die by them”. He is thus considered a Jew and his ritual slaughtering is permitted and wine does not become forbidden if he touches it.


The same is the view of Maimonides in his Epistle of Apostasy[23] (Igeret Hashmad):


Returning to the subject of Spanish Jewry, Maimonides maintains that it is not incumbent upon a Jewish person to sacrifice their life not to convert to Islam. This is because conversion to Islam is purely a verbal declaration. One who does give up life, however, receives great reward and is indeed considered a martyr. Conversely, Maimonides concludes, even one who is obligated to sacrifice life not to convert to Islam, but does not rise to the challenge of martyrdom, and abandons Judaism under duress, is not considered an apostate and does not deserve any degradation or punishment. This is similar to a woman who is betrothed to a man and is raped by another. The woman is not held accountable although she could have given her life and been spared the act of adultery. This is very different to the Talmudic discussion concerning idolaters who abandon the Jewish faith willingly. The Jews of Spain are all in the category of forced converts and are not considered responsible for their actions. They are permitted to testify in a Jewish court of law and may be a witness in a marriage or on a bill of divorce.


The text of the Rashba is quoted verbatim in a responsa by 14th century Spanish Rabbi Isaac ben Sheshet Perfet, known by his acronym Rivash (1326 – 1408)[24] and the law is further codified in the 16th century code of Jewish Law - Shulchan Aruch[25]:


A convert that becomes an apostate out of fear, and so too a Jew that sins out of fear that he will be killed, is still considered a Jew, and his ritual slaughter is still permitted, and he does not cause wine to be forbidden with his touch.


It would then appear, in the story of Jacob, that since Jacob perceived his life to be in danger or that he would be subject to intolerable suffering, due to the ban of Jews in England at that time, his conversion was under duress, and would have served as mitigating circumstances not only in relation to punishment for not surrendering his life to avoid a capital sin, but also regarding his status as an apostate. While he was neglecting to sanctify G-d’s name, he would not however been considered to be technically serving idolatry, as it was under duress, and thus not considered apostasy in Jewish law.


While the above distinction may reflect Jacob’s possible reasoning why he may have been ready to convert it does not seem to explain his change of mind not to convert. What would have been his fear that led him to change his decision at such short notice, since in any event he would not be considered an apostate? For this purpose we must consider the circumstances of his proposed conversion further.


Public and private conversions: Not sanctifying or profaning?


While the Biblical law does not seem to make a distinction between public abandonment of one’s Jewish faith and private conversion, the Talmud does makes this precise distinction. It draws this distinction from a repetitive scriptural verse[26]: “And you shall not profane My holy name; but I will be sanctified among the children of Israel: I am the Lord who sanctifies you”. The Talmud suggests the reason the verse repeats itself in the negative “you shall not profane”, in addition to the positive “I will be sanctified”, is to imply there may be a circumstance where the person violates one but not the other. The Talmud[27] suggests this refers to the distinction between public abandonment of one’s faith under duress and conversion under duress in private. When converting under duress in private one is neglecting the positive commandment “I will be sanctified”, whereas in public one is violating also the negative “you shall not profane My holy name”.


Jacob’s public conversion


Based on the distinction between private and public conversion, I would like to suggest that this might be a reflection of the consideration of Jacob when he changed his mind not to convert. When he initially intimated to Isaac Casaubon that he would be willing to convert, he intended it to be a private affair. While this is certainly not permitted according to Jewish law, even while under duress, the duress nevertheless serves as mitigating circumstances not only from holding him accountable for apostasy – violating the negative commandment “Though shall not serve them” - but also to not violate the negative injunction “you shall not profane My holy name”.


However, once he became aware that his conversion was set to take place in a public ceremony, in front of the whole university, presided over by the Vice Chancellor, this would have certainly been considered a public affair. As a learned Jew, as attested by Isaac Casaubon, he might have possibly been aware of the limitations of the mitigating circumstances of compulsion when a conversion is performed in public. While he may have been prepared to neglect the positive law “to sanctify G-d’s name” when he thought it would be in private, he may have been unwilling to violate the negative injunction “not to profane G-d’s name” by going thorough with a conversion in public.


Fleeing from conversion


In the final analysis, I would like to argue that Jacob’s change of mind may reflect also a more severe consideration pertaining to apostasy in Jewish law. His behavior may reflect not just a desire to avoid profaning G-d’s name, once Jacob realized the conversion would be a public ceremony, but also the possibility that he would in fact have become an apostate by going through with the conversion. This is indicated by the interesting fact that not only did Jacob change his mind but also chose to flee Oxford on foot.


An omission in an Oxford Maimonides manuscript


An ambiguity arises in the law of apostasy pertaining to a Jew who is in a situation where he is forced to convert but there is a possibility to flee if he so chooses and not convert. While the option to flee may exist, it is not always a simple decision to make as it sometimes involves extreme challenges and mortal danger. The question therefore is whether a person who may flee to avoid conversion but does not do so becomes an apostate according to Jewish law by his own volition – through choosing not to flee - or remains a forced convert? Is neglecting to flee sufficient to make the person later culpable for wanton apostasy or does the person remain a forced convert because the actual conversion is under duress?


In the standard printed edition of Mishneh Torah, Maimonides rules the following[28]:


One who could, however, escape and flee from under the power of a wicked king and fails to do so is like a dog who returns to lick his vomit. He is considered as one who worships false gods willingly. He will be prevented from reaching the world to come and will descend to the lowest levels of Gehinnom.


This version of Maimonides seems to date back to early copies of the Mishneh Torah, as it is referenced in the responsa of 14th century Rabbi Shimon ben Tzemach Duran, known by his acronym Tashbatz (1361–1444). He points out that Maimonides maintains that the forced convert who can flee but doesn’t is only punished by Heaven but not in an earthly court of law, though he suggests that such a person invalidates wine by touching as he constitutes an apostate for all practical purposes. This view is also articulated by Rabbi Menachem Meiri, who writes[29]:


If a person can flee and avoid transgressing the sin of idolatry and does not, he is considered deliberately transgressing even if there is the opinion that he does not become punished in such circumstances.


Based on this version of Maimonides, one may hypothesise a further consideration pertaining to Jacob changing his mind not to convert. The fact that he attempted to flee indicates that he was of the opinion that he was in fact able to flee and therefore had he not attempted to flee he would have be considered an apostate according to Maimonides. By attempting fleeing only to be caught seems to verify that Jacob’s subsequent conversion would have indeed reflected a genuine situation of force and therefore not designate him an apostate.


Omitted text


This possible reflection of Jacob regarding the importance of attempting to flee is however complicated by the fact that the text about the necessity to flee if the person is able to do so is strikingly omitted in the authoritative version of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah manuscript[30] in the Bodleian Library, authenticated by Maimonides’ own signature, as well in the Berlin manuscript of the Mishneh Torah. It appears that 14th century Rabbi Isaac ben Sheshet Perfet, known as Rivash, also did not have the text concerning fleeing of Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah, as he quotes Maimonides regarding the exemption of liability of a forced convert but ignores any quotation of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah on the subject of fleeing.


Epistle of Apostasy - Igeret Hashmad


While the authoritative edition of Maimonides’ manuscript omits the text about fleeing, in his Epistle of Apostasy, known in Hebrew as Igeret Hashmad, where he defends Spanish Jewry from the accusation of apostasy for converting to Islam under duress, he does talk about the need to flee. He writes that he considers Jews who remain in Spain under such circumstances to be bordering on deliberate abandonment of the Jewish faith (karov l’meizid)[31]. He continues: If Jews feel they must remain in Spain, they should live covertly and stay as much as possible indoors, to avoid total assimilation. He concludes by strongly advising that Jews should flee countries that prohibit Jewish beliefs and escape even under dangerous travel conditions to a country where to be conspicuously Jewish is permitted. He adds that they should not be distressed for leaving behind beloved family members, nor should they feel concerned that they are forfeiting their possessions by fleeing the country, as these matters are insignificant when considering the importance of retaining one’s Jewish belief.


The text regarding fleeing in the Igeret Hashmad is also quoted by the Rivash who further expounds that those who don’t flee and remain in a state of a forced convert lose their presumed status of being a Jew until investigated and found either to be keeping the Jewish law in private[32] or being unable to escape[33]. The Rivash further innovates that if a person can flee but chooses not to in order to inspire his family to stay committed to the Jewish faith in private, while this is an insufficient justification to stay, as Maimonides points out, he is not viewed as an apostate[34]. The reason for this is that we take into consideration the person’s righteous intentions, as he thinks he is doing a Mitzvah by saving his family from apostasy[35].




In conclusion, based on the text of Maimonides in the printed edition of Mishneh Torah, apart from the Bodleian and Berlin manuscript, and the Epistle of Apostasy, we may suggest a possible reasoning reflected in the behavior of Jacob pertaining to his change of mind and fleeing on foot. According to the above analyses, Jacob appears to have not necessarily been so perturbed by the publicity of his conversion, albeit a violation of profaning G-d’s name - though unpunishable under duress, as to the fear of becoming an apostate. Presuming he was aware of the obligation to flee apostasy in Jewish law, his change of mind and fleeing seems to reflect a determination not to become an apostate, since according to Maimonides and the Rivash, if Jacob had not fled when he thought it was possible, with no apparent family to take care of as a mitigating cicumstance, he would have in fact been considered an apostate – a line which to his credit, unlike so many others in similar circumstances, he was not willing to cross.

[1] Oxford Jewish Personalities, Eli Brackman,

[2] The History of the University of Oxford, Vol. IV, Seventeenth-Century Oxford, Oriental Studies, p. 459, edited by Nicholas Tyacke

[3] Chapter 8

[4] Marcus Roberts, "The strange story of Jacob Barnet". Retrieved 22 Nov, 2015.

[5] Trials of the Diaspora, Anthony Julius, p. 245

[6] ‘Basilikon Doron’ (1599); 'The True Law of Free Monarchies' (1598)

[7] Kesubos 33b

[8] 18:5

[9] Avodah Zarah 54a

[10] Sanhedrin 74a

[11] Deuteronomy 22:26

[12] Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah 5:4

[13] Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah 5:4; Hilchot Sanhedrin ch. 2

[14] The manuscript of the commentary of Rabbo Moses Hakohen is in the Oppenheimer collection at the Bodleian Library, Neubauer 617:2

[15] Sanhedrin 60b

[16] Sanhedrin 64a

[17] Sanhedrin 75a

[18] Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah 5:4

[19] Ruling opinion of Rava, Sanhedrin 61a. This interpretation of the Talmud by the Rivash differs from Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Avodat Kochavim 3:6) who explains ‘serving from fear’ refers to fear of the deity. Rivash argues this interpretation is untenable because that is the very practice of idolatry – the belief that the worship or absence of worship will bring benefit or harm (ibid. Kesef Mishneh).

[20] 22:32

[21] 5:9

[22] Responsa vol. 7 ch. 41

[23] In Igeret Hashmad it is referring to conversion to Islam but the reasoning is the same that when conversion is under duress one does not become an apostate and is not punishable.

[24] Sha’alat uTeshuvot Rivash ch. 4 & 11

[25] Yoreh Deah 119:10

[26]  Leviticus 22:32

[27] Avodah Zara 54a

[28] Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah – Foundation of the Torah 5:4

[29] Sanhedrin 75a

[30] Huntington 80

[31] There is an inconsistency in Maimonides as in Yesodei HaTorah he writes the convert is as an intentional convert if he does not flee, whereas in the Igeret Hashmad he writes ‘close’ to intentional.

[32] Sha’alat uTeshuvot Rivash ch. 4

[33] Sha’alat uTeshuvot Rivash ch. 11

[34] Ibid

[35] Sanhedrin 26b

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