[PENTATEUCH] LEESER, ISAAC (trans). The Law of God [titled in Hebrew and English].
Philadelphia: C. Sherman, 5605 [1845-46]. First edition of the first Jewish translation of the Pentateuch into English. 5 volumes, contemporary purple pebble-grained morocco gilt, all edges marbled, each lower cover (as a Hebrew book, this is functionally the upper cover) stamped with the name of Solomon Nunes Carvalho. 8 7/8 x 5 1/2 inches (25 x 14 cm); x pp., 175 ff.; 168 ff.; 153 ff.; 149 ff.; 135 ff., 136-147 pp. Spines faded, some quite minor wear to extremities, a sound and generally attractive set. Internally quite clean, a few tiny holes at the beginning of the third volume where two leaves were pinned together, each volume touchingly inscribed at the head of the English-language title "To my beloved wife from her affectnt husband," the first volume with a later family annotation.
An exceptionally interesting association copy of an important piece of American Judaica. Solomon Nunes Carvalho was a noted American painter, photographer, traveller and inventor, who travelled with Fremont on his fifth expedition through Kansas, Colorado and Utah. His photographs of the region are some of the finest of the period, based on those images that survive. He published an account of that journey Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West; with Colonel Fremont's Last Expedition (1860).
Isaac Leeser (1806-1868) was the hazzan of Congregation K.K. Mikveh Israel and the translator of the Pentateuch and other major American editions of important Judaica. He married Solomon Nunes Carvalho and Sarah Miriam Solis on October 15, 1845 in Philadelphia. His is the first translation of the five books of the Torah by a Jewish translator into English, and bears the text in Hebrew and English on facing pages. Previous editions published by Jews in England had used the King James translation as a basis, which included religiously objectionable sections. Leeser's translation includes a vocalized Hebrew text of each of the Five Books of Moses together with an English translation and notes, as well as the haftarot (prophetic readings).
Goldman 7; Hills 1273; Rosenbach 569.
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