Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate/Volume 2/Number 4/Interview of a Jew

The following is an extract from a private letter written by an intimate acquaintance and friend of ours, to his brother, resident in the state of N. Y. The deep interest felt for the scattered remnants of Judah, is such, that every item touching this afflicted people, must be received with eagerness. We have not room for the whole letter, but it will appear in our next.

Kirtland Ohio, February 1, 1836.


Those who are favored with light are bound, more or less, to communicate, at least a portion to their fellow men; and as we are required to respect our own flesh, the kindred ties which bind the human heart are inseparable, in the bosoms of men of God, and have the first claim in all cases where their salvation is concerned. This fact is so evident from scripture and analogy, that I need not occupy this sheet with arguments upon the subject.

I am not however, under the necessity of saying to you, that duty to the Lord requires you to believe this particular form of doctrine, neither to disbelieve the other; but have reason to be thankful that it has pleased God to give us both hearts and minds which were willing to forsake that which was old and ready to vanish away, or rather, to exchange it for that which is new and everlasting.

In one of my private letters to you, some time since, I promised a short detail of a conversation I held in the city of New York, last fall, with a very learned and intelligent Jew, upon the subject of the Messiah, and of the return and glories of Israel, in the last days; and owing to a constant press of business, since my return, up to this hour, I have been prevented from redeeming my pledge.

For your better understanding, I will just say, that a part of my business in the city, was to purchase a quantity of Hebrew books,—Bibles, Lexicons, &c. and was refer[r]ed, particularly, to a gentleman, of whom I am about to write, for information and advise as to such as were genuine and correct, as myself was unacquainted with that language, and in consequence of my frequent interviews during my purchase, and the kindness and warmth with which I was as frequently received, I must say, for a stranger I had become quite intimate, so much so that I conversed upon whatever subject I wished, with freedom.

After finishing my business I had designed taking the ten o'clock (A. M.) boat, which intersected with the rail road and stage line, to Philadelphia; but owing to some little delay was prevented. I had previously engaged by promise to call on my aged friend, the Jew, at 8 o'clock the same morning, and carry some letters to relatives of his resident in Ohio; and at the time, informed him that I might providentially be disappointed in my wish to return home via Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

page 253He said—"For your sake, I hope you may not be disappointed; but for mine, I hope you may, and if you are, you will return via the Lake, in which case you will not leave the city till 5 o'clock P. M. and if you are destined to take the latter route I feel to press upon you to give me a promise of calling on me again, when, you will be relieved from concern and perplexity attendant on purchasing books of so much importance, and we each the more freely converse upon subjects of moment and interest."

I must confess, that though I expected to leave at 7 o'clock, yet, the feeling manner with which this aged and learned Rabbi addressed me, excited in my bosom a desire greater than ever, to visit him again, and I accordingly gave him my word upon those conditions, without any hesitancy.

After finishing the remaining part of my business, I returned to fulfil my engagements with my aged friend; and after the usual salutations, seated ourselves for further conversation. I listened with intense interest to his relation of the prophets, and of the arrangement of the several books of the holy scriptures. Finally, it came my turn to speak, and I addressed him more particularly upon the literal fulfilment of certain of the prophets, in substance, as follows:

You being a Jew by faith, and brought up in the Jews' religion, of course do not believe that that personage, who by many was called the Messiah, who was on earth some eighteen hundred years since, was the one spoken of by the prophet, for whom the house of Israel looked, and through whom, or by whose power, they expected redemption?

Jew. "I do not."

Certainly, we are not to be held accountable for disbelieving without evidence; but as an individual, I have a testimony, which with myself, amounts to a certainty. Indeed, I can say, in truth, that I know him to have been and to be, the true Messiah.

Jew: Very well, I do not say you have not,—I cannot say you have not; but I can say, I have not; and I presume there is no question or item which can be agitated upon that all—important subject that I have not carefully examined; and from a close and candid perusal of the prophets, have come to the firm conclusion, that I am justifiable in my belief. Yet, in saying this, do not understand me to have the least objection to your believing as you wish—most certainly I have none."

Then you still look for a Messiah to come that has not yet come?

Jew: I do—I believe the prophets"

My aged friend, although as I said, that I have an infallible evidence that the Messiah has already come, and in the precise manner which the prophets prescribe, yet, since you have affirmed that on them rests your evidence that he has not come, certainly I will appeal to them with pleasure. But first, will you be so kind as to answer this query?

Admit, for a moment, your belief to be correct—say the Messiah has not made his appearance—that all the heavenly hosts are waiting with that anxiety and reverence becoming superior beings, to shout the fulfilment of the word of Jehovah long since given to his holy prophets, that the Deliverer of Israel, the King of Jacob, has now come: admit this, and when he comes will he suffer afflictions of body, or death?

Jew:—"I conclude not."