London: Thomas Ilive, 1714. First edition. Hardcover. Small quarto.  272pp. 9.5x7.5". Original brown mottled calf boards with blind stamped decorative ruling and motifs on the covers. Spine with gilt lettering and ruling over a red label and raised bands. Gilt tooling along the edges of the boards. Illustrated Spanish title page bordered with elaborate decorative engravings.
This is a first edition of Matteh Dan which has been considered Rabbi David Nieto's magnum opus. Organized in the form of a dialogue in five parts, the book acts as a defense of Rabbinic Judaism and the Jewish Oral Law against the views of the Karaites and theological/ ideological attacks during the period from some ex-marranos. In doing so Neito provides a detailed analysis of the nature of Talmudic disputes between the rabbis of the Mishnah and Gemarah. Nieto regarded this work as a supplement to the famous "Kuzari" of Judah Halevi, the purpose of which was to demonstrate the veracity of the Written Law, while the object of his own work was to prove the validity of the Oral Law. In parallel fashion to the original Sefer Ha-Kuzari, which took the form of a supposed dialogue between a rabbi and the pagan King of the Khazars, Nieto's work also takes the form of a dialogue. The first unpaginated section includes a dedication statement and a preface.
Text in Spanish, in a two column format. Historiated woodcut initials, decorative headpieces, tailpieces and vignettes throughout the text, as well as a number of tables, charts, calendars and some small illustrated figures.
Binding with some rubbing to extremities, some scratches to the covers, and some light cracking along the hinges of the spine. Binding tight overall. Title page with three holes cut-out, leaving the text and engraving mostly unaffected. Light sporadic foxing and water stains throughout. Small wormholes to the bottom margin towards the end of the book. Binding in good, interior in good+ condition overall. g to g+. Item #43891
David Nieto (1654 – 1728) was a Sephardic rabbi who was an acclaimed multidisciplinary scholar. He served as head of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community in London from 1704 until the time of his death. He was succeeded by his son, Isaac Nieto.
* Reference: Roth, "Magna Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica". p.330 B11, #10.
The book was also published in a bilingual Spanish-Hebrew edition, with two title pages, printed the same year as this edition.