THE TERM “Jesuit” was first used to describe a member of the Society of Jesus in 1559 . It did not originate from within the Society, but from outsiders. Whether intended derisively or respectfully, “Jesuit” does appear to have been inspired.
We find in the Bible (Numbers 26:44) the mention of “Jesuites.” These Jesuites were the progeny of Jesui, whose name in Hebrew, Yishviy, means “level.” The Jesuits certainly levelled the Protestant menace.
Jesui was a great-grandson of Abraham. His father was the Israelite tribal chieftan Asher (Asher, “happy”). At Genesis 49:20, Asher's posterity is divinely prophesied to “yield royal dainties (ma-adanim, 'delights').” Their uniquely privileged access to the
minds and wills of kings has certainly enabled the Jesuits to yield copious harvests of royal delights.
But in fulfilling their scriptural prophecy, the Jesuits seem to have alienated themselves from people who use the English language. This does not disappoint St. Ignatius. “Let us hope,” he once wrote, “that the Society may never be left untroubled by the
hostility of the world for very long.”
America's first indigenous dictionary was compiled by Noah Webster and published in 1828. His American Dictionary of the English Language reflects the place held by Jesuits in the opinion of a public whose senior citizens had brought forth the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (Webster himself was fortyone
when the Constitution was ratified):
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