This article explores how The Excellences of the Hebrews (Las excelencias de los hebreos, Amsterdam, 1679) of Isaac Cardoso shows the influence of the author’s Hispano-Portuguese origin and defends Judaism against anti-Semitic attacks in ways that would have been impossible were he to have written the book on the Iberian Peninsula. Specifically, the article examines how, through examples from Iberian Jewish history, the Excellences validates Judaism as a religion and people “apart” at a time when both were in eclipse on the Iberian Peninsula. In so doing, it shows the extent of Cardoso’s Jewish knowledge despite the fact of his having lived half his life deprived of this identity, as well as how awareness of the unjust treatment of Jews in Spain and Portugal contributed to his emergent Jewish sense of self.

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