From a young age, he was troubled with doubts and questions. At the age of 10 he discovered the differences between Jews and Christians and began to wonder who the Messiah of the Jews was, and who Jesus of the Christians could be. When he dared to bring these to his teacher, and was not satisfied with his answers, his teacher gave him the book “Toldot Yeshua”, attempting in this way to stifle the questioning of his young heart. However, contrary to his teacher’s intention the book aroused the boy’s curiosity. The book seemed to him so full of malice, that he began to be curious about Jesus himself and what is written of him in the Christian bible. Thanks to a Christian woman who worked at his aunt’s as a seamstress, he was able to procure a New Testament. He read it avidly, in secret, and with much pleasure. He set himself to study the Torah and the prophets in order to discover for himself God’s truth.
Thus he continued for several years, always in hiding, and in fear of being found out. Sometimes he hinted at the deep thoughts of his hearts to those he hoped would help him, but received no help. He began to pray earnestly to God, asking that God reveal the truth to him.
In his young adulthood he resolved to study more deeply, and spent all his leisure hours in reading the Jewish sources. He was unsatisfied with what he saw in Jewish law and tradition, and in particular failed to understand how the great Day of Atonement could save him.
Lapidoth became a merchant and was obliged to travel often. However, one advantage of his travels was that he was able the better to come into contact with Christians and learn more of their faith. He began attending places of Christian worship, and conversing with Christians.
His feelings were so strong that he knew he could not possibly marry just any Jewish girl. Under pressure from his family, he was obliged to consider marriage, but time after time he rejected the marriage proposals offered him – until by God’s grace he met Sarah de Jonge, a Jewish girl who, like him, had serious doubts and was seeking God’s truth. They married, and eventually brought 13 children into the world.
During the French Revolution a series of misfortunes and failed investments brought about his financial downfall. He had been quite well to do, and now found himself completely ruined and unable to provide for his growing family. He tried again and again to recover his economic standing, to no avail. But in the heart of this adversity, Lapidoth and his wife turned to Messiah. The path they chose was not easy. They were obliged to leave their home and live further away, in Vianen, where perhaps family pressure would not be as strong. In 1804 they finally met with Reformed ministers in Vianen, who were convinced of their sincerity in seeking the Lord and endeavoured to minister to them. Their families deserted them when their inclination to Christianity became too clear to ignore, and the family came into great need – it was only much later that their Christian friends realised how great that need had been. It was two years later, on the occasion of the birth of their 13th child, that the couple determined to take the public step of baptism.
The familiy all together, with great joy, determined to follow their Messiah, and as was customary in that day and age, to be baptised into the Christian church. First the parents and the three eldest children, and then the 10 younger ones were baptised publicly in 1805.
The ministers of the Reformed church testified of the family:
” Since the autumn of 1801 when he and his family came to live here, we have known this family, of Jewish origin, as decent people, of a very orderly and irrprehensible conduct, and particularly in their numerous children, we have observed the visible good effects of an intelligent domestic education. …What is known to us of their character, their course of life, and their present circumstances, gives us all reason to consider the step they have taken as the consequence of an honest conviction and hearty participation, and thus affords us occasion to rejoice at their conversion to the kingdom of our Lord, whilst we recommend them, and all who may read this, to the mercy of our Lord.”
The Converted Jew, or, An Account of the Conversion to Christianity of Mr. Lapidoth and Family, and of the Baptism of Himself, His Wife and Thirteen Children, Who Were Publicly Baptized, According to the Rites of the Dutch Church, at Vianen, in Holland, March 18, 1805. Hartford: Printed by Lincoln & Gleason, 1807
Adams, Hanna. History of the Jews, pp 297-298