Despite the almost complete absence of Jews from Java throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Jewish characters figured consistently, and sometimes prominently, in Javanese manuscript literature produced and circulated during this period. In this article I discuss the portrayal of Jewish protagonists in Javanese literature, with special attention paid to their appearance in two 18th-century manuscripts: Samud (MS. LOr. 4001) and Serat Pandhita Raib (MS. MN 297). Comparing these two texts allows an appreciation of the complex and ambiguous roles played by Jews and Judaism in the Javanese imagination. It also provides insight into the ways the Jew was constituted as an 'Other' against whom Javanese Muslims could define their own identity and history.