Ezekiel Margoliouth 1816-1894
Ezekiel was a very remarkable man, a typical Jew, and a typical Jewish believer. As an Hebraist he was equal to any of his day. He had a profound knowledge of the Talmud, rare even amongst Talmudists. It was, however, in the composition of modern Hebrew that his chief talent lay, and competent scholars often spoke enthusiastically of the elegance of his rabbinic writings. As with Dr. Moses Margoliouth, he was a native of Suwalki in Poland, where he was born in November 1816. His father, Abraham, had been thirty-three years chief rabbi of the town, and his mother could trace twelve rabbis amongst her ancestors.
It was natural that Ezekiel should study the Talmud and practice all the precepts of the rabbis with the utmost vigour. After he had become bar mitzvah, he studied with his father, and later on went to Brody, in order to perfect himself in rabbinic lore. There he met enlightened Jews, and often disputed with R. Solomon Kluger. He began to study the Bible, and philosophical works in Hebrew, like those of Maimonides; his desire for knowledge being fostered under Michael Perl of Tarnopol, the first Jewish reformer in Galicia. Later on he went ot the rabbinical seminary at Warsaw, were he first met missionaries of the London Jews Society, through whom he was irresistibly drawn to Christ, His Person, and his teachings. At the age of twenty-seven he confessed faith in Christ as his saviour, though his wife, whom he had married the previous year, for a long time refused to become a Christian.
He then came over to England, where she afterwards joined him, and in 1848, also became a Christian. In the same year he entered the Operative Jewish Converts’ Institution to learn bookbinding. In 1852 he was appointed a missionary of the LJS in London, and worked as such almost to the end of his life.
It was not as a popular preacher that he excelled, though his faith in, and knowledge of the Word of God always profoundly attracted his audiences. His chief labours were literary, and in these he had no rival. His “Derech Emunah” and “Nethivoth Olam” in Hebrew, are masterpieces. His greatest work was the revision of the New Testament in Hebrew in 1865. On May 2, 1894, he passed away in a gentle and peaceful death, greatly mourned both for himself and for the loss of his learning and piety. His son was the Rev. Professor David S. Margoliouth, D. Lit., Laudian Professor of Arabic at Oxford University, and examining chaplain to the Bishop of Liverpool.
Bernstein, A. Jewish Witnesses for Christ. 1909, London; New edition 1999 by Keren Ahvah Meshichit, Jerusalem.