Antonio de Montezinos, also known as Aharon Levi,[1] 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.[2] 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 tried to give learned support 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.[3] 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.[4]


  1. ^ Storch, Tanya (2006-01-01). Religions and Missionaries Around the Pacific, 1500-1900. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 149–. ISBN 9780754606673. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  2. ^ Kochan 1984, p. 885
  3. ^ In Menasseh's own words in his introduction to the book: "But I having curiously examined whatever has hitherto been written upon this subject find no opinion more probable, or more agreeable to reason, than that of our Montezinos, who says, that the first inhabitants of America were the Ten Tribes of the Israelites, whom the Tartars conquered and drove away; who after that (as God would have it) hid themselves behind the Cordillera Mountains." Mechoulan and Nahon (eds.), op. cit., p. 101. The last geographic reference is supposedly to the South American mountain range of the Andes.
  4. ^ Wilensky 1951, p. 401.