Short nomenclator or vocabular in English and Hebrew: Nomenclatura hebraica: composed alphabetically for the use and benefit of my pupils in particular and for the advantage of those who are desirous to obtain the knowledge of the Hebrew tongue in general, which may be that great help to understand not only ye sacred oracles in their original, but even any Jewish author (so far as concern owns) as also it may give great insight in ye tongue to those, as to compose it, a work altogether new, [ca. 1735]

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About this Item

Creator
Monis, Judah , 1683-1764
Type
Grammars.
Language
Hebrew, English
Origin
Massachusetts
Description
.03 cubic foot (1 volume), 27, [1] p. ; 17 cm.
Date
1735
Repository
Harvard University Archives
Identifier
colonialnorthamerica.library.harvard.edu/006120524

Content Notes

Headed on the first page with the words "Nomenclatura hebraica," this handwritten volume is a vocabulary with the Hebrew word in the left column, and the English translation on the right. While the book is arranged in sections by letter, individual entries do not appear in strict alphabetical order. The small vocabulary varies greatly and includes entries like enigma, excommunication, and martyr, as well as cucumber and maggot. There are translations of the astrological signs at the end of the volume. Poem written at the bottom of the last page in different hand: "Women when good the best of saints/ that bright seraphick lovely/ she, who nothing of an angel/ wants but truth & immortality./ Verse 2: Who silken limbs & charming/ face. Keeps nature warm."
  • by Judah Monis.

Biographical Notes

Judah Monis (1683-1764), a Jewish scholar and educator, was an instructor of Hebrew at Harvard College between 1722 and 1760. Monis was born on February 4, 1683, likely in Italy or the Barbary States. He immigrated to New York City in the early 1700s, and later moved to Massachusetts. Monis converted to Christianity and, on April 30, 1722, the Harvard Corporation appointed Monis an "instructor of the Hebrew Language." In 1723, Monis received an AM from Harvard, becoming the first Jewish person to receive an advanced degree in the colonies. In the 17th and early 18th centuries, Harvard's undergraduate curriculum included regular Hebrew course work to facilitate close reading and interpretation of the Old Testament and rabbinical writings, and Monis compiled a Hebrew Grammar textbook for students. Students initially copied Monis's Hebrew Grammar by hand into personal notebooks, but by 1726, Monis began working to raise money to publish the textbook. Finally, in 1735, with the financial support of the Corporation, Monis published the first Hebrew textbook in America: "Dickdook leshon gnebreet, A Grammar of the Hebrew tongue." Monis taught at Harvard for almost forty years, but his teaching responsibilities waned over time and Monis struggled with a reputation as an ineffective teacher and disciplinarian. Monis retired from Harvard in 1760 and died on April 25, 1764.