Tree of Hebrew learning

Hebrew prayer book

This Treasure is paired with: Hebrew prayer book (Hebrew studies)

  • John Bereblock
  • 1566
  • Oxford
  • Manuscript

This handwritten guidebook is thought to have been presented to Elizabeth I on her first official visit to Oxford. The text by Thomas Neal imagines a verse dialogue in which the Chancellor (Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester) describes the University and college buildings to the Queen. Neal was Regius Professor of Hebrew, and in this opening poem, illustrated by Bereblock, he asks the Queen to continue the royal support for Hebrew studies begun by her father Henry VIII.

 

Translation

Do you see this tree, standing strong on its roots firmly planted?
How in every direction it spreads its boughs as it grows?
This tree represents Hebrew studies. Its boughs have grown with pride, Elizabeth, from your coins.
God the Creator first planted it in the Garden of Eden, and ordered humanity to speak in Hebrew.
It was brought here at length by your glorious father. Its roots must be watered at your hands, Elizabeth: a filial duty.
It is right, therefore, that the tree should present you with these fruits, since its cultivation (o ruler most grand) is at your expense.

(Olivia Thompson, 2017)