First Edition of the First Complete Translation of the Old Testament by a Jewish Translator into English
BIBLE IN ENGLISH. Twenty-Four Books of the Holy Scriptures. Carefully translated according to the Masoretic Text, on the Basis of the English Version, after the best Jewish Authorities; and supplied with short Explanatory Notes. By Isaac Leeser. (Hebrew) "For it shall not be forgotten out of the mouth of his seed." Dent. xxxi, 21. Philadelphia: [Isaac Leeser] , 1853.
First edition of the first complete translation of the Old Testament by a Jewish translator into English, building upon Leeser's 1845 translation of the five books of the Pentateuch translation in 1845-1846. Folio (11 x 8 1/2 inches; 279 x 215 mm). iv, [1]-1011 pp. Title-page and preface leaf remargined and silked.

Full modern calf. Boards ruled in blind. Spine with black calf spine label, lettered in gilt. New endpapers. Boards with some minor scuffing. Title-page and "Preface" leaf remargined and silked. The final twenty-four leaves with silk reinforcement to tip of fore-edge margin. Some minor occasional toning. Otherwise a very good copy.

"Having published a five-volume Pentateuch-cum-haftarot (lections from the Prophets) translation in 1845-1846, as well as a complete, vocalized and accentuated Hebrew Bible in 1848 (the first such edition published in the U.S.), he proceeded, from April 1852 to September 1853, to extend his translation efforts to the entire Hebrew Bible. The result was his Twenty-Four Books of the Holy Scriptures, the first translation of all of Tanakh into English by a Jew, complete with short explanatory notes. Leeser explained in the preface to his magnum opus that he undertook the project in order to provide Anglophone Jewry with a vernacular version of the Bible “which has not been made by the authority of churches in which they can have no confidence” (pp. iii-iv). The book achieved wide popularity among English-speaking Jews (and even some Gentiles), especially in America, and went through multiple editions." (Sotheby's)

"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. Leeser was not fully equipped for this work, for he was no specialist in Hebrew philology, nor a master if Jewish learning in general, and he was quite conscious of his shortcomings, but he was inspired. He says in his preface: 'I thought in all due humility that I might safely go to task, confidently relying upon that superior aid which is never withheld from the inquirer after truth.' He made good use of the various German translations by Jews of the collective commentary known as the Biur (vol. III, sec. 81), 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. His prime consern was to supply the traditional interpretation when necessary and the retention of the Jewish spirit, at times even at the expense of beauty of style. The translation went through numerous editions, and 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, History of Jewish Literature, 1090).

HBS # 68506 $6,500