“””The Messiah promised in the Sacred Scripture came a long time ago””: the Cambridge Platonists’ attitudes towards the readmission of the Jews, 1655—56″

In November 1655, at the instigation of the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, twenty-eight men were invited to meet the Committee of Council to consider “the proposals of Manasseh [s»V] Ben Israel for the Jews”.1 Menasseh had come to England from Amsterdam at Cromwell’s invitation and had pre sented the Council with a petition requesting that the Jews be given legal per mission to reside in England, under a schedule of conditions, reversing their forcible expulsion of 1290. The ensuing Whitehall Conference met four times during December but failed to achieve a consensus; in the absence of any formal recommendation on a course of action, Menasseh’s petition was neither granted nor rejected. Yet Cromwell continued to favour Jewish re admission and informally protected the small community of Jewish mer chants who had been settled in the East End of London for some years. In the longer term, that community played a

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