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HISTORY OF THE JEWS


HISTORY OF THE
JEWS

BY
PROFESSOR H. GRAETZ

VOL. III

From the Revolt against the Zendik (511 C. E.) to
the Capture of St. Jean d'Acre by the
Mahometans (1291 C. E.)

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PHILADELPHIA
The Jewish Publication Society of America


Copyright, 1894,
By the Jewish Publication Society of America.


iii

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I. page
THE DECAY OF JUDÆA, AND THE JEWS IN DISPERSION.
The Zendik Religion—King Kobad and Mazdak the Reformer—Revolt of the Jews—Mar-Zutra—Revival of the Schools—The Saburaïm—The Talmud committed to writing—Tolerance of Chosru II—The Christianization of Judæa—The Jews under Byzantine Rule—Justinian—Persecution of the Samaritans—Benjamin of Tiberias—Attack on Tyre—The Emperor Heraclius 1
500–628 C. E.
CHAPTER II.
THE JEWS IN EUROPE.
Growth of the Jews in Europe—The Communities in Constantinople and Italy—Theodoric—Isidore of Seville—Pope Gregory I—The Jews of France—Chilperic and Dagobert—Avitus—The Jews in Spain—Controversies between Jews and Christians 24
510–640 C. E.
CHAPTER III.
THE JEWS OF THE ARABIAN PENINSULA.
Happy condition of the Jews in Arabia—Traditions as to their original settlements—Yathrib and Chaibar—The Jewish-Arabic tribes—The Benu-Nadhir, the Benu-Kuraiza, and Benu-Bachdal—The Benu-Kainukaa—The Jews of Yemen—Their power and influence—Conversion of Arabian tribes to Judaism—Abu-Kariba, the first Jewish-Himyarite king—Zorah Dhu-Nowas—Samuel Ibn-Adija—Mahomet—His indebtedness to Judaism—Mahomet's early friendliness to the Jews and subsequent breach with them—His attacks on the Jewish tribes—The War of the Fosse—The position of the Jews under the Caliphs 53
iv500–662 C. E.
CHAPTER IV.
THE AGE OF THE GEONIM.
The Conquests of Islam—Omar's Intolerance—Condition of the Jews in Babylonia—Bostanaï—The Princes of the Captivity and the Geonim—Dignity and Revenues of the Prince—Communal Organization—Excommunication—Julian of Toledo and the Jews—The Moslems in Spain—The Jews and Arabic Literature—The Assyrian Vowel-system—The Neo-Hebraic Poetry: José ben José—Simon ben Caipha—Employment of Rhyme—Jannaï—Eleazar Kaliri—Opposition to the Study of the Talmud—The False Messiah Serenus, the Syrian—The Jews in the Crimea and the Land of the Chazars—The False Messiah Obadia Abu-Isa 86
640–760 C. E.
CHAPTER V.
RISE OF KARAISM AND ITS RESULTS.
Anan ben David, the founder of Karaism—His life, writings, and influence—Hostility to the Talmud—Anan's innovations—Karaite reverence of Anan—The Exilarchate becomes elective—Adoption of Judaism by the Chazars—King Bulan and Isaac Sinjari—Bulan's Jewish successors—Charlemagne and the Empire of the Franks—The Jews and Commerce—Jewish Envoy sent to the Caliph Haroun Alrashid—Spread of the Jews in Europe—The Caliphs and the Jews—The study of philosophy—Sahal—The Kalam—Mutazilists and Anthropomorphists—Judah Judghan—The Shiur Komah—The Akbarites—Moses the Persian 127
761–840 C. E.
CHAPTER VI.
FAVORABLE CONDITION OF THE JEWS IN THE FRANKISH DOMINIONS, AND THE DECAY OF THE EXILARCHATE IN THE EAST.
The Jews under Louis le Débonnaire—The Empress Judith and her Veneration for Judaism—Agobard, Bishop of Lyons—Conversion of Bishop Bodo—Amolo's effort against the Jews—Charles the Bald—Troubles in Béziers and Toulouse—Decree against the Jews in Italy—Boso of Burgundy—Basilius—Leo the Philosopher—Decline of the Exilarchate—The Geonim acquire Additional Influence—The Prayer Book of Amram—Mar-Zemach—Literary and Scientific Activity of the Jews—Decay of Karaism—Dissensions at Pumbeditha 160
v814–920 C. E.
CHAPTER VII.
THE GOLDEN AGE OF JEWISH SCIENCE: SAADIAH AND CHASDAÏ.
Judaism in the Tenth Century—Saadiah, the Founder of Religious Philosophy—Translation of the Bible into Arabic—Saadiah opposes Karaism—The Karaite Solomon ben Yerucham—Saadiah and the School at Sora—Saadiah retires from Sora—His Literary Activity—Extinction of the Exilarchate—Sahal and other Karaite writers—Jews in Spain—The School at Cordova—Dunash ben Tamim—Chasdaï—His services to Judaism—Menachem ben Saruk—Chasdaï and the King of the Chazars 187
928–970 C. E.
CHAPTER VIII.
THE RISE OF JEWISH-SPANISH CULTURE, AND THE DECAY OF THE GAONATE.
The Gaon Sherira and his son Haï—Sherira's Historical Letter—The Jewish Congregations in Spain—Jewish Culture in Andalusia—The Disciples of Menachem and Dunash—Jehuda Chayuj—Contest between Chanoch and Ibn-Abitur—Jacob Ibn-Jau—The Jews of France—Nathan the Babylonian and Leontin—The Jews of Germany—Gershom and his Ordinances—The Emperor Henry II—The Caliph Hakem—The Jewish Communities of Northern Africa—Chananel, the Son of Chushiel, and Nissim bar Jacob Ibn Shahin—The Jerusalem Talmud—Haï Gaon—His Character and Importance—Samuel bar Chofni—Chiskiya, the Last Gaon—Samuel Ibn-Nagrela—Jonah Ibn-Janach 231
970–1050 C. E.
CHAPTER IX.
IBN-GEBIROL AND HIS EPOCH.
Solomon Ibn-Gebirol—His early life—His poems—The statesman Yekutiel Ibn-Hassan befriends him—Murder of Yekutiel—Bachya Ibn-Pakuda and his moral philosophy—The Biblical critic Yizchaki ben Yasus—Joseph ben Chasdaï, the Poet—Death of Samuel Ibn Nagrela—Character of his son Joseph and his tragic fate—Death of Ibn-Gebirol—The French and German communities—Alfassi—Life and works of Rashi—Jewish scholars in Spain—King Alfonso 265
vi1027–1070 C. E.
CHAPTER X.
THE FIRST CRUSADE.
The position of the Jews in Germany previous to the Crusades—The community of Speyer and Henry IV—The Martyrs of Treves and Speyer—Emmerich of Leiningen and the Martyrs of Mayence—Cruel persecutions at Cologne—Suffering of the Jews in Bohemia—Pitiful death of the Jews of Jerusalem—Emperor Henry's justice towards the Jews—Return of Converts to Judaism—Death of Alfassi and Rashi 297
1096–1105 C. E.
CHAPTER XI.
ZENITH OF THE SPANISH-JEWISH CULTURE: JEHUDA HALEVI.
The Jews under the Almoravides—Joseph Ibn-Sahal, Joseph Ibn-Zadik—Joseph Ibn-Migash—The Poets Ibn-Giat, Ibn-Abbas, Ibn-Sakbel and Ibn-Ezra—Abulhassan Jehuda Halevi—His Poems and Philosophy—The Chozari—Incidents of his Life—Prince Samuel Almansur—Jehuda Halevi's Pilgrimage to Jerusalem—His Death 311
1105–1148 C. E.
CHAPTER XII.
PERSECUTIONS DURING THE SECOND CRUSADE AND UNDER THE ALMOHADES.
Condition of the Jews in France—The Second Crusade—Peter the Venerable and the Monk Rudolph—Bernard of Clairvaux and the Emperor Conrad—Protectors of the Jews—Persecutions under the Almohades—Abdulmumen and his Edict—The Prince Jehuda Ibn-Ezra—The Karaites in Spain—Jehuda Hadassi—The historian Abraham Ibn-Daud and his Philosophy—Abraham Ibn-Ezra—Rabbenu Tam 347
1143–1170 C. E.
CHAPTER XIII.
SURVEY OF THE EPOCH OF MAIMUNI (MAIMONIDES).
The Jews of Toledo—Ibn-Shoshan, Ibn-Alfachar—The Poet Charisi—Sheshet Benveniste—Benjamin of Tudela—The Jews of Provence—The Kimchis—The Communities of Béziers, Montpellier, Lünel, and Toulouse—Persecutions of Jews in Northern France—The Jews of England—Richard I—The viiJews of York—The Jews of Germany—Ephraim ben Jacob—Süsskind—Petachya the Traveler—The Jews of Italy and of the Byzantine Empire—Communities in Syria and Palestine—The Jews of Bagdad—Mosul—The Pseudo-Messiah, David Alroy—The Jews of India—Conversion to Judaism of Tartars—The Jews of Egypt 382
1171–1205 C. E.
CHAPTER XIV.
MAIMUNI (MAIMONIDES).
Early years of Maimuni (Maimonides)—His journey to Fez—Letter of Consolation of Maimun (father of Maimonides)—Maimuni and the Jewish Converts to Islam—The Maimun Family in Palestine and Egypt—Maimuni's Commentary on the Mishna—Saladin and the Jews—Letter of Maimonides to Yemen—The Mishne-Torah of Maimuni—Controversies with reference to this Work—Joseph Ibn-Aknin—Maimuni as a Physician—Maimuni attacked by Samuel ben Ali—Maimuni and the Jews of Provence—The More Nebuchim and its importance—Death of Maimonides 446
1171–1205 C. E.
CHAPTER XV.
NEW POSITION OF THE JEWS IN CHRISTIAN LANDS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY.
Effects of the Death of Maimuni—Abraham Maimuni, the son of Maimuni—Hostility of the Papacy against the Jews—Pope Innocent III—The Albigenses—Emigration of Rabbis to Palestine—The Lateran Council and the Jewish Badges—Synod of Rabbis at Mayence—The Dominicans and the Rise of the Inquisition—King Jayme of Aragon and his Physician Benveniste—Stephen Langton and the Jews of England—Gregory IX and Louis IX of France—The Jews of Hungary 494
1205–1232 C. E.
CHAPTER XVI.
THE MAIMUNIST CONTROVERSY AND THE RISE OF THE KABBALA.
The Opposition against Maimuni—Maimunists and anti-Maimunists—Meïr Abulafia—Samson of Sens—Solomon of Montpellier—Excommunication of the Maimunists—David Kimchi's energetic Advocacy of Maimuni—Nachmani—His viiiCharacter and Work—His Relations to Maimuni, Ibn-Ezra, and the Kabbala—Solomon of Montpellier calls in the aid of the Dominicans—Moses of Coucy—Modern date of the Kabbala—Azriel and Ezra—Doctrines of the Kabbala—Jacob ben Sheshet Gerundi—The Bahir—Three Parties in Judaism—Last flicker of the Neo-Hebraic Poetry—The Satirical Romance: Al-Charisi and Joseph ben Sabara 522
1232–1236 C. E.
CHAPTER XVII.
PUBLIC DISCUSSIONS, AND THE BURNING OF THE TALMUD.
Pope Gregory IX—Emperor Frederick II and the Jewish Scholars, Jehuda Ibn-Matka and Jacob Anatoli—The Jewish Legislation of Frederick of Austria—The Martyrs of Aquitaine and Gregory IX—Louis IX of France and his Enmity to the Jews—Attacks on the Talmud—The Apostate Nicholas-Donin—Disputation at the French Court between Yechiel of Paris and Nicholas-Donin—Judah of Melun—The Talmud burnt at Paris—The Church and Jewish Physicians—Moses Ibn-Tibbon and Shem-Tob Tortosi—Papal Bull acquitting Jews of the Blood-accusation—The Last French Tossafists—The Jews of England—The Jewish Parliament—Alfonso the Wise and the Jews of Spain—Meïr de Malea and his Sons—The Jewish Astronomers Don Judah Cohen and Don Zag Ibn-Said—The Jews of Aragon—De Penyaforte and the Apostate Pablo Christiani—The First Censorship of the Talmud—Nachmani's Disputation with Pablo—Influence of Nachmani—The Karaites 563
1236–1270 C. E.
CHAPTER XVIII.
THE AGE OF SOLOMON BEN ADRET AND ASHERI.
Martyrs in Germany—The Jews of Hungary and Poland—The Council at Buda—The Jews of Spain and Portugal—Solomon ben Adret, his character and writings—Raymund Martin's anti-Jewish Works—New antagonism to the Maimunist Philosophy—David Maimuni—Moses Taku—Meïr of Rothenburg—The Jews of Italy—Solomon Petit—Rudolph of Habsburg—Emigration of Jews from the Rhine Provinces—Sufferings of the English Jews—Expulsion of the Jews from England and Gascony—Saad Addaula—Isaac of Accho 610
1270–1306 C. E.

1

HISTORY OF THE JEWS.


CHAPTER I.
THE DECAY OF JUDÆA AND THE JEWS IN DISPERSION.

The Zendik Religion—King Kobad and Mazdak the Reformer—Revolt of the Jews—Mar-Zutra—Revival of the Schools—The Saburaïm—The Talmud committed to writing—Tolerance of Chosru II—The Christianization of Judæa—The Jews under Byzantine Rule—Justinian—Persecution of the Samaritans—Benjamin of Tiberias—Attack on Tyre—The Emperor Heraclius.

500–628 C. E.

Hardly had the Jews recovered from the long and horrible persecution to which they had been subjected by King Firuz, when they were overtaken by fresh storms, which subverted the work of three centuries. Firuz had been followed by his brother, who reigned a short time, and was succeeded by Kobad (Kovad, Cabades). The latter was a weak king, not without good qualities, but he allowed himself to become the tool of a fanatic, and was prevailed upon to institute religious persecutions. There arose under this monarch a man who desired to reform the religion of the Magi and make it the ruling faith. Mazdak—for that was the name of this reformer of Magianism—believed that he had discovered a means of promoting the promised victory of Light over Darkness, of Ahura-Mazda over Angromainyus. He considered greed of property and lust after women the causes of all evil among men, and he desired to remove these causes by introducing community of property and of women, even allowing promiscuous intercourse among those2 related by ties of consanguinity. In Mazdak's opinion it was on the foundation of communistic equality that the edifice of Zoroaster's doctrine could most safely be raised. As he led a virtuous and ascetic life, and was very earnest in his endeavors to reform, he soon succeeded in gaining numerous adherents (about the year 501), who availed themselves of these advantageous liberties, and called themselves Zendik, or true believers of the Zend. King Kobad himself became Mazdak's faithful disciple and supporter. He issued a decree commanding all the inhabitants of the Persian Empire to accept the doctrines of Mazdak, and to live in accordance therewith. The lower classes became the most zealous of Zendiks; they promptly appropriated the possessions of the rich and such of the women as pleased them. Thus there arose a confusion of the ideas of right and wrong, of virtue and vice, such as had never been known in the history of nations. Finally, the Persian nobles dethroned this communistic king, and threw him into prison; but when Kobad escaped from confinement and, by the aid of the Huns, was again placed in possession of his dominions, they were unable to prevent Mazdak's adherents from renewing their licentious conduct. Many children born during Kobad's reign were of doubtful paternity, and no one could be certain of the peaceful enjoyment of his property.

The Jews and Christians naturally did not escape the communistic plague, and although only the rich suffered from the legalized robbery of the Zendiks, the community of women struck a terrible blow at all classes. Chastity and holding sacred the marriage vows had, from the first, been characteristic virtues of the Jews, and by Talmudic law, they had become even more deeply rooted in their natures. They could not endure the thought of their wives and maidens exposed to violation, and the purity of3 their families, which they treasured as the apple of their eye, threatened with defilement. They appear therefore to have opposed an armed resistance to the licentious attacks of the Zendiks. An insurrection of the Jews, which broke out at this juncture, was in all probability organized for the purpose of resisting this intolerable communism. At the head of this insurrection stood Mar-Zutra II, the youthful Prince of the Captivity, who, to judge from the fact alone that legend has embellished his birth and deeds with wonderful details, must have been a remarkable personage.

Mar-Zutra, born in about 496, was the son of Huna, a learned Prince of the Captivity, who, after the death of the tyrant Firuz, was invested with the dignity of the Exilarchate (488–508). At the time of his father's death, Mar-Zutra was still a young boy. During the period of his minority, the office of Prince of the Captivity was held by Pachda, his sister's husband, who does not seem to have been inclined to yield this dignity to the lawful heir. Mar-Zutra's grandfather, Mar-Chanina, in company with his grandson, sought the court of the Persian king, and in 511, presumably by means of valuable presents, succeeded in effecting Pachda's deposition and Mar-Zutra's investiture. It was this young prince who now arose, sword in hand, to protect his brethren. The immediate cause of the insurrection is said to have been the murder of Mar-Isaac, the president of one of the academies. Mar-Zutra's forces consisted of four hundred Jewish warriors, with whose help he probably succeeded in expelling Mazdak's rapacious and lustful adherents from the territory of Jewish Babylonia, and in resisting this shameless violation of most sacred rights. He is further said to have accomplished such brilliant feats of arms that the troops which had been sent by the king to quell the insurrection were unable to withstand him. Mar-Zutra is even said to have won4 independence for his people, and to have laid the non-Jewish inhabitants of Babylonia under tribute. Machuza, near Ctesiphon, became the capital of a small Jewish state, with the Prince of the Captivity for its king.

The independence thus conquered by Mar-Zutra lasted nearly seven years; the Jewish army was finally overcome by the superior numbers of the Persian host, and the Prince of the Captivity was taken prisoner. He and his aged grandfather, Mar-Chanina, were executed, and their bodies nailed to the cross on the bridge of Machuza (about 520). The inhabitants of this town were stripped of their possessions, and led into captivity, and it is probable that this was not the full extent of the persecution. The members of the family of the Prince of the Captivity were compelled to flee. They escaped to Judæa, taking with them Mar-Zutra's posthumous heir, who also bore the name Mar-Zutra. He was educated in Judæa, and there became a distinguished scholar. On account of Kobad's persecution, the office of Prince of the Captivity in Babylonia remained in abeyance for some time. The Talmudical academies were closed, for the teachers of the Law were persecuted and compelled to hide. Two of the leading men, Ahunai and Giza, fled, and the latter settled on the river Zab. Other fugitives probably directed their steps towards Palestine or Arabia. Kobad's revenge for an insurrection provoked by fanaticism dealt a severe blow at the public life of the Babylonian Jews, which centered in the two academies, at Sora and Pumbeditha. However, the persecution does not seem to have extended over the whole of Persia, for Jewish soldiers served in the Persian army which fought against the Greek general Belisarius, and the Persian captain had so great a regard for them that he requested a truce in order that they might peacefully observe the feast of Passover.

5 After Kobad's death, the persecution of the Babylonian Jews ceased. His successor, Chosroes Nushirvan, was not, indeed, well-disposed towards them, and imposed upon them and the Christians a poll-tax from which only children and old men were exempt; yet this tax was not an indication of intolerance or hate, but simply a means of filling the imperial treasury.

As soon as peace was restored the representatives of the Babylonian Jews hastened to re-establish their institutions, to re-open the academies, and, as it were, to re-unite the severed links in the chain of tradition. The fugitive Giza, who had remained in hiding by the river Zab, was called to preside over the academy at Sora; the sister academy at Pumbeditha chose Semuna as its head. A third name of this period has been transmitted to posterity, that of Rabaï of Rob (near Nahardea), whose position and office are, however, not clearly known. These men, with their associates and disciples, devoted their whole activity to the Talmud. It was the sole object of the attention of all thoughtful and pious men of that period; it satisfied religious zeal, promoted tranquillity of mind, and was also the means of acquiring fame, and thus furthering both spiritual and temporal aims. The persecution of the Law endeared and sanctified it, and the Talmud was the sacred banner around which the entire nation rallied.

But the disciples of the last Amoraïm had lost all creative power, and were unable to continue the development of the Talmud. The subject-matter and the method of teaching were both so fully defined that they were incapable of extension or of amplification. The stagnation in Talmudical development was more marked than ever before. The presidents of the academies were content to adhere to the ancient custom of assembling their disciples during the months of Adar (March) and Ellul (September),6 giving them lectures on the traditional lore and the methodology of the Talmud, and assigning to them themes for private study. At the utmost they settled, according to certain principles, many points of practice in the ritual, the civil law and the marriage code, which had until then remained undetermined, or concerning which there was a difference of opinion in the academies. Their purpose was to render the exhaustless material of the Talmud, which discussion and controversy had deprived of all definiteness, available for practical use. In order to prevent the decay of religious living, it was necessary that all doubt and uncertainty should cease; the judges stood in need of fixed principles by which to decide the cases brought before them, and all were ignorant of authoritative precepts by which to regulate their religious conduct. The establishing of the final rules for religious and legal practice after careful consideration of the arguments pro and con conferred upon the post-Amoraïc teachers the name of Sabureans (Saburaï). After the various opinions (Sebora) were reviewed, they were the ones that established the final, valid law. The activity of the Sabureans really began immediately after the completion of the Talmud, and Giza, Semuna and their associates merely worked along the same lines; their intention was to develop a practical code rather than the theory of the Law. They did not arrogate to themselves the authority to originate. First of all, Giza and Semuna, the presidents of the academies, engaged in the work of committing the Talmud to writing. They availed themselves partly of oral tradition, partly of written notes made by various persons as an aid to memory.

As everything which proceeded from the Amoraïc authorities appeared of importance to their successors, they gathered up every utterance, every anecdote which was current in learned circles, so that posterity might not be deprived of what they7 deemed to be the fulness of wisdom. They made additions for the purpose of explaining obscure passages. In this form, as edited by the Sabureans, the contemporary communities and posterity received the Talmud.

The era of the Sabureans witnessed the beginnings of an art without which the sacred writings had remained a sealed book,—the introduction of a system of vowel-points, by means of which the text of Holy Writ became intelligible to the unlearned. This art owes its origin to a faint breath of "scientific research" wafted from dying Greece. Justinian had closed the schools of philosophy in Greece, and the last of her wise men sought refuge in Persia. From them the science of grammar was communicated to the Syrian Christians, these in turn roused in their Jewish neighbors the spirit of emulation in the investigation of the Scriptures, and this led to the adoption of vowel-points and accents.

The names of the immediate successors of Giza and Semuna have been preserved neither by the chronicles nor by tradition; they were forgotten in the persecution with which the academies were again visited. In this century Magianism contended with Christianity for the palm of intolerance. Judaism was an abomination to both, and the priests of these two religions, of which the one preached the victory of light, and the other the rule of brotherly love, used weak kings as the instruments of horrible persecutions.

Chosroes Nushirvan's son, Hormisdas (Ormuz) IV, was unlike his great father in every respect. His tutor and counselor, Abuzurj-Mihir, the Persian Seneca, is said to have invented the game of chess for this weakly monarch, in order to teach him the dependence of the king on the army and the people. During this philosopher's lifetime the true character of Hormisdas was hidden, but immediately upon8 his retirement the Nero-like nature of the king broke out, and overstepped the bounds of prudence and moderation.

Led by the Magi, who attempted to arrest the approaching dissolution of their religion by persecuting the adherents of other beliefs, he vented his wrath upon the Jews and the Christians of his empire. The Talmudical academies in Sora and Pumbeditha were closed, and as under Firuz and Kobad, many of the teachers of the Law again emigrated (about 581). They settled in Firuz-Shabur (near Nahardea), which was governed by an Arabian chieftain, and was, therefore, less exposed to espionage. They continued their labors in Firuz-Shabur, and new academies arose in that town, the most distinguished being that of Mari.

Hormisdas' cruel reign, however, was of short duration; the Persians became dissatisfied and refractory, and the political enemies of Persia entered its territory, and possessed themselves of the country. The empire of the Sassanians would have become the prize of some successful invader, had it not been saved by the efforts of the brave general Bahram Tshubin. But when the foolish monarch went so far as to reward the deliverer of his country with ingratitude and to dismiss him, Bahram rose against the unworthy king, dethroned him, and threw him into prison, in which he was afterwards murdered (589). At first, for the sake of appearances, Bahram governed in the name of Prince Chosru, but soon he threw off all disguise and ascended the Persian throne. The Jews of Persia and Babylonia hailed Bahram as their deliverer. He was for them what the Emperor Julian had been for the Jews of the Roman empire two hundred years before; he put an end to their oppression and favored their endeavors. For this reason they espoused his cause with great devotion, assisted him with money and troops, and supported9 his tottering throne. Without the aid of the Jews, it is probable that he would have experienced great difficulty in retaining it for any length of time, for after some hesitation the Persian nation turned towards Chosru, the lawful heir to the throne. Only the army for the most part remained faithful to Bahram, and the Jews, doubtless, provided for the maintenance and the pay of the troops. The re-opening of the academies in Sora and Pumbeditha is undoubtedly to be attributed to the favor of Bahram in return for the devotion of the Persian Jews. Chanan of Iskia returned from Firuz-Shabur to Pumbeditha, and restored the ancient academic organization; it is also probable that the academy of Sora, which enjoyed by far the greater repute, elected a president at this time, although his name is not mentioned in the chronicles.

Bahram's rule was brought to a sudden end. The Byzantine emperor Mauritius, to whom the fugitive Prince Chosru had fled, sent an army to his aid, with which the loyal Persians united to make war upon Bahram. The Jews paid with their lives for their adherence to the usurper. At the capture of Machuza, a town containing a large Jewish population, the Persian general Mebodes put the greater part of the Jews to death. They probably fared no better in the other cities into which Chosru's victorious army penetrated. Bahram's army was vanquished, and he himself compelled to take refuge with the Huns. Chosru II, surnamed Firuz, ascended the throne of his ancestors. This prince, who was both just and humane, resembled his grandfather Nushirvan rather than Hormisdas, his father; he did not hold the Jews to account for their participation in the revolt. Throughout his long reign (590–628), the two academies enjoyed uninterrupted prosperity. Chanan was succeeded by Mari bar Mar, who had founded an academy in Firuz-Shabur, and the president of Sora during the10 same period was a teacher of similar name, Mar bar Huna (609 to about 620), during whose administration the fortunes of the Jews of Palestine alternated from victory to defeat. The successors of these teachers were Chaninaï in Pumbeditha and Chananya in Sora; they lived to see the victorious advance of the Arabs and the end of the Persian rule. The last of the Sassanian kings, of whom there were ten in the short period of twelve years, had no leisure to devote to the affairs of the Jewish population of their shattered empire; the Jewish community in Babylonia continued, therefore, to exist in its ancient order, with the Prince of the Captivity at its head. During the half-century that elapsed between the re-opening of the academies under Bahram and the Arab conquest of Persia (589–640), three Resh-Galutas are mentioned by name: Kafnaï, Chaninaï, and Bostanaï. The last of these belongs to the ensuing epoch, in which, aided by favorable circumstances, he succeeded in again investing the dignity of Prince of the Captivity with substantial power.

The position of the Jews in Judæa during the sixth century was so terrible that a complete cessation of intellectual pursuits ensued. Like their co-religionists of the Byzantine empire, they were without political standing; the laws of the younger Theodosius were still in force, and were applied with increased severity by Justin I. The Jews were excluded from all posts of honor, and were forbidden to build new synagogues. The successors of this emperor, as narrow-minded as he and even harder of heart, enforced the anti-Jewish laws rigorously. The spirit which animated the rulers of the Eastern Empire against the Jews is shown by an utterance of the Emperor Zeno, the Isaurian upstart. In Antioch, where, as in all the great cities of the Byzantine empire, there existed the race-course (stadium) and the factions of the two colors, blue11 and green, one of those disturbances which seldom ended without bloodshed had been fomented by the latter party. Upon this occasion the partisans of the green murdered many Jews, threw their bodies into the flames, and burned their synagogues. When the Emperor Zeno was informed of this occurrence, he exclaimed that the sole fault of the partisans of the green was that they had burned only the dead Jews, and not the living ones as well! The bigoted populace, whom the disputes of the clergy and the color-factions had demoralized, saw in their ruler's hatred of the Jews a tacit invitation to vent their rage upon them. The inhabitants of Antioch had always been inimical towards the Jews. When, therefore, a notorious charioteer of Constantinople, Calliopas by name, came to Antioch, and joining the party of the green, occasioned a riot, the Jews again felt the brutal barbarity of this faction. Its partisans had repaired to Daphne, near Antioch, in order to celebrate some festival, and there, without any sufficient motive, they destroyed the synagogue and its sanctuaries, and brutally murdered the worshipers (507).

Meanwhile how much of the land of their fathers still remained in the hands of the Jews? Christianity had made itself master of Judæa, and had become the heir of Judaism. Churches and monasteries arose in the Holy Land, but its former masters were subjected to all sorts of persecution whenever they attempted to repair a dilapidated synagogue. Bishops, abbots and monks lorded it over Palestine, and turned it into a theater of dogmatic wranglings over the simple or dual nature of Christ. Jerusalem had ceased to be a center for the Jews; it had become a thoroughly Christian city, the seat of an archbishop, and inaccessible to its own sons. The law forbidding Jews to enter the Holy City, which had been revived by Constantine, was, after the death of Julian, most rigorously12 enforced by the authorities. Tiberias, the stately city on the lake, alone maintained its academical rank, and under the presidency of Mar-Zutra III and his descendants, it became a seat of authority for the Jews of other countries. Even the Jewish king of Arabia voluntarily submitted to the exhortations addressed to him from Tiberias. But Christianity had acquired a hold even there, and Tiberias was also the seat of a bishopric. The mountain cities of Galilee were inhabited by Jews, who probably followed the same occupations as their forefathers, namely, agriculture and the cultivation of the olive.

Nazareth, the cradle of Christianity, where the most beautiful women in all Palestine were to be found, seems to have been mostly populated by Jews, as it had not been raised to the rank of a bishopric. Scythopolis (Bethsan), which became the capital of Palæstina Secunda during this century, and Neapolis (Shechem), the capital of the Samaritans since Samaria had become Christian, had Jewish inhabitants. But in all these cities, with the exception of Nazareth, the Jews seem to have been in the minority, insignificant in comparison with the number of the Christians.

There probably existed an educational system among the Jews of Palestine, but it must have been inadequate and unimportant, since, with the exception of Mar-Zutra, not even the names of the teachers are known. Until the time of Justinian the Jews of Palestine and the Byzantine empire, whatever may have been their civil disabilities, enjoyed complete religious liberty; the emperors did not interfere in the affairs of the heart. Justinian was the emperor who, besides imposing greater civil restrictions, first interfered in matters of conscience. It was he who promulgated the disgraceful law that Jewish witnesses were not to be allowed to testify against Christians, and that they were to be considered competent witnesses13 only in their own cases (532). Compared with the Samaritans, the Jews were a favored class, for the evidence of the former had no validity whatever, and they were not even allowed to dispose of their property by will. This was an act of revenge against the Samaritans, who had several times risen in revolt against the imperial power, and on one occasion had set up a king in the person of Julian ben Sabar (about 530). As the Jews had not taken part in this insurrection, they were favored to a certain extent. Meanwhile, however, Justinian also published an anti-Jewish law. Although the Jews and Samaritans were excluded, like all heretics, from offices of honor, they were obliged by law to assume the onerous and expensive decurionate (magisterial office), without being permitted, however, to enjoy the privileges attached to it, namely, exemption from exile and flogging. "They shall bear the yoke, although they sigh under it; but they shall be deemed unworthy of every honor" (537).

Justinian was one of those rulers who, in spite of narrowness of mind and wickedness, have their own opinions on religious matters, and desire to assert them without regard for their subjects' peace of mind. Justinian wished to carry out his views concerning the Christian celebration of Easter, and he therefore forbade the Jews to celebrate the Passover before the Easter of the Christians. The governors of the provinces had strict orders to enforce this prohibition. Thus, whenever the Jewish feast of the Passover preceded the Christian Easter, in the year before leap-year, the Jews incurred heavy fines for holding divine service and eating unleavened bread (about 540).

Other invasions were made by Justinian on the territory of religious affairs. A Jewish congregation, probably in Constantinople or Cæsarea, had been for some time divided against itself. One party wanted the reading of the portions of the Pentateuch14 and the Prophets to be followed by a translation into Greek, for the benefit of the illiterate and the women. The pious members, on the other hand, especially the teachers of the Law, entertained an aversion to the use of the language of their tormentors and of the Church in divine service, probably also on the ground that no time would be left for the Agadic exposition. The dispute became so violent that the Grecian party laid the matter before the emperor, and appealed to him, as judge, in the last instance. Justinian of course pronounced judgment in favor of the Greek translation, and recommended to the Jews the use of the Septuagint or of Aquila's translation in their divine service. He also commanded that in all the provinces of his empire the lessons from the Holy Scriptures be translated into the vernacular. Thus far Justinian was in the right. It is true that he also forbade, under threat of corporal punishment, the excommunication of the Greek party or party of innovation by those that clung to the old liturgical system; but even this may be regarded as an act of justice, as the emperor desired to guarantee liberty in matters connected with the liturgy. But another clause of the same rescript proves unmistakably that in this matter he was consulting the interests of the Church alone, laboring, as he did, under the delusion that the use of a Greek translation in the synagogical services, especially of the Septuagint, Christian in coloring, would win over the Jews to the Christian faith. He decreed that all the Jewish congregations of the Byzantine empire, naturally including those which entertained no desire in this direction, should use a Greek or Latin translation of the lessons for each Sabbath, and he forbade the use of the Agadic exposition, which had been customary until then. Justinian desired to suppress the national conceptions of the Holy Scripture in favor of a translation15 which had been altered in many places to suit the purposes of Christianity.

It was probably Justinian who forbade the recital of the confession of faith, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is one," in the synagogues, because it seemed a protest against the doctrine of the Trinity. He also forbade the prayer, "Holy, holy, holy," because the Jews added an Aramaic sentence, by way of explanation, in order that this prayer might not, as the Christians held, be taken as a confirmation of the Trinity. Finally, he forbade the reading of the prophet Isaiah on the Sabbath, so that the Jews might be deprived of this source of comfort for their present sorrows and of hope for future happiness.

The service in the synagogue was to be a means of converting the Jews, and the spirit of Judaism, manifesting itself in Agadic expositions and homilies, was to be made to yield to Christian doctrines, the path to which was to be leveled by a method of interpretation showing Christ to be prefigured in the Old Testament. It appears, therefore, that the despotic Justinian by no means proposed to grant liberties to the synagogue, but that he desired, on the contrary, to impose a species of restraint. He was very zealous in exacting obedience to this decree, and he commanded his minister, Areobindus, to communicate the edict concerning the translation of the lessons read in the synagogue to all the officers of the provinces, and to enjoin upon them to watch strictly over its rigorous execution (February 13th, 553).

This malignant decree was, however, followed by no serious consequences; the need of a translation of the Bible was not sufficiently pressing among the Jews to oblige them to make use of one. The party which desired to introduce a translation stood isolated, and it was not difficult to conduct divine service in the customary manner and to escape the notice of the authorities in those instances in which16 the congregation was at peace. The preachers continued to make use of the Agada, even introducing covert attacks upon anti-Jewish Byzantium into their sermons. "'There are creeping things innumerable' (Psalm civ) signifies the countless edicts which the Roman empire (Byzantium) publishes against us; the 'small and great beasts' are the dukes, governors, and captains; whosoever of the Jews associates himself with them shall become an object of scorn." "As an arrow is not perceived until it has pierced the heart, so it is with the decrees of Esau (Byzantium). His shafts come suddenly, and are not felt until the word is spoken for death or imprisonment. Their writings are 'the arrow that flieth by day.'" In this strain the teachers of the Law preached in Judæa.

The Jews of Palestine had but little cause to be satisfied with Justinian's rule, which oppressed them doubly with its extortionate taxation and its religious hypocrisy. Stephanus, the governor of Palæstina Prima, doubtless no better than the majority of officials in Justinian's time, helped to irritate the Jews, by whom he was thoroughly hated. The time was past, however, when the Jews could angrily shake the galling yoke from their necks, and take up arms against their oppressors. The Samaritans, who had been hard pressed since the days of the Emperor Zeno, were more passionate and venturesome, but their numerous insurrections resulted in forging new chains for them, especially since the days of their short-lived king, Julian, when they had so ruthlessly massacred their hated enemies, the Christians. They were compelled, with even greater rigor than the Jews, to embrace Christianity, and all who refused to submit forfeited the right of disposing of their property. Although Sergius, bishop of Cæsarea, declared that the obstinacy of the Samaritans had decreased, and that they embraced Christianity with ever-increasing sincerity, and17 although he succeeded in inducing Justinian to mitigate the severity of the harsh laws which had been promulgated against them, they nevertheless concealed in their hearts the deepest hatred toward their tormentors.

On the occasion of a chariot-race in Cæsarea, the capital, where the jealousy of the color-factions against one another never allowed an event of that kind to pass off without a riot, the Samaritans threw off all restraint, and fell upon the Christians. The Jewish youth made common cause with them, and together they massacred their Christian opponents in Cæsarea and destroyed their churches. Stephanus, the governor, hastened to the aid of the Christians, but the Samaritans pressed him and his military escort so hard that he was obliged to take refuge in his official residence. Eventually they killed him in his own house, and spread terror throughout the city and the surrounding country (July, 556). The Samaritans probably counted upon the support of one of their countrymen, Arsenios by name, the all-powerful favorite of Empress Theodora, with whose secret commissions he was entrusted. Stephanus' widow hurried to Constantinople to acquaint the emperor with this disturbance and the death of her husband, whereupon Justinian ordered Amantius, the governor of the East resident in Antioch, to intervene with an armed force.

Amantius found it easy to execute this command, as the movement was not serious, but few of the Samaritans and Jews of Palestine being concerned in it. Punishment was meted out only to the guilty, but was in keeping with the spirit of the times, and consisted of beheading, hanging, loss of the right hand, and confiscation of property.

Justinian's successor, Justin the Younger, appears to have made no change in the anti-Jewish laws. Although he renewed the oppressive enactments of his predecessor against the Samaritans, whom18 he deprived of the right to dispose of their property by testament or by deed, there is no edict of his which was prejudicial to the Jews. Under the two excellent emperors, Tiberius and Mauritius, no mention is made of the Jews. It is not until the accession of the usurper Phocas, who renewed the times of Caligula and Commodus, that a disturbance occurs, in the course of which the Jews were carried away to a deed of brutal violence, which proves that the arbitrariness of the officials and the arrogance of the clergy must have caused intolerable suffering among them.

In Antioch, hatred had existed between Jews and Christians for centuries, and had been intensified by constant friction. Suddenly the Jews fell upon their Christian neighbors, perhaps at the races in the circus, and retaliated for the injuries which they had suffered; they killed all that fell into their hands, and threw their bodies into the fire, as the Christians had done to them a century before. The Patriarch Anastasius, surnamed the Sinaite, an object of special hate, was shamefully abused by them, and his body dragged through the streets before he was put to death. When the news of this rebellion reached Phocas, he appointed Bonosus governor of the East, and Cotys, commander of the troops, and charged them to bring the rebels to account. But the Jews of Antioch fought so bravely that the Roman army could obtain no advantage over them. It was only when the campaign was renewed with numerous troops collected from the neighboring country that they succumbed to the Roman generals, who killed part of them, mutilated others, and sent the rest into exile (September and October, 608).

The misdeeds of the Emperor Phocas afforded the Jews an unexpected opportunity to give vent to their deep resentment. He had dispossessed his predecessor Mauritius, and this provoked the Persian19 king, Chosru II, the son-in-law of the latter, to attack the Roman possessions in the East. A Persian host inundated Asia Minor and Syria, in spite of the fact that Heraclius, the newly elected emperor, sent news to the Persian king of Phocas' well-merited chastisement, and begged for peace.

A division of the Persian army under the general Sharbarza descended from the heights of Lebanon in order to wrest Palestine from the Byzantine scepter. On hearing of the weakness of the Christian arms and of the advance of the Persian troops, the Jews of Palestine felt a fierce desire for battle. It seemed to them that the hour had come for revenge upon their twofold enemy, Roman and Christian, for the humiliations which they had borne for centuries. Tiberias was the hotbed of this warlike movement, and it was started by a man named Benjamin, who possessed a prodigious fortune, which he employed in enlisting and arming Jewish troops. A call was issued to all the Jews of Palestine to assemble and join the Persian army, and it met with a ready response. The sturdy Jewish inhabitants of Tiberias, of Nazareth, and of the mountain cities of Galilee, flocked to the Persian standard. Filled with rage, they spared neither the Christians nor their churches in Tiberias, and probably put an end to the bishopric. With Sharbarza's army they marched on Jerusalem, in order to wrest the Holy City from the Christians. The Jews of southern Palestine joined their countrymen, and with the help of the Jews and a band of Saracens, the Persian general took Jerusalem by storm (July, 614). Ninety thousand Christians are said to have perished in Jerusalem; but the story that the Jews bought the Christian prisoners from the Persians, and killed them in cold blood is a pure fiction.

In their rage, however, the Jews relentlessly destroyed the Christian sanctuaries. All the churches and monasteries were burned, and the Jews undoubtedly20 had a greater share in this deed than the Persians. Had not Jerusalem—the original possession of the Jews—been torn from them by violence and treachery? Did they not feel that the Holy City was as foully desecrated by the adoration of the cross and of the bones of the martyrs as by the idolatries of Antiochus Epiphanes and Hadrian? The Jews seem to have deluded themselves with the hope that the Persians would grant them Jerusalem and the surrounding territory whereon to establish a commonwealth.

With the Persians, the Jews swept through Palestine, destroyed the monasteries which abounded in the country, and expelled or killed the monks. A detachment of Jews from Jerusalem, Tiberias, Galilee, Damascus, and even Cyprus, undertook an incursion against Tyre, having been invited by the four thousand Jewish inhabitants of that city to fall upon the Christians on Easter-night and to massacre them. The Jewish host is said to have consisted of 20,000 men. The expedition, however, miscarried, as the Christians of Tyre had been informed of the impending danger. They anticipated their enemies, seizing their Jewish fellow-citizens and throwing them into prison; then they awaited the arrival of the Jewish troops, who found the gates closed and fortified. The invading Jews revenged themselves by destroying the churches around Tyre. As often, however, as the Christians of Tyre heard of the destruction of a church, they killed a hundred of their Jewish prisoners, and threw their heads over the walls. In this manner 2000 of the latter are said to have met their death. The besiegers, disheartened by the death of their brethren, withdrew, and were pursued by the Tyrians.

The Palestinian Jews were relieved of the sight of their enemies for about fourteen years, and the immediate result of these wars filled them with joy.21 No doubt many a Christian became converted through fear, or because he despaired of the continuance of Christianity. The conversion of a monk who of his own free will embraced Judaism was a great triumph for the Jews. This monk had spent many years in the monastery on Mount Sinaï in doing penance and reciting litanies. Suddenly he was assailed by doubts as to the truth of Christianity. He alleged that he had been led to this change by vivid dreams, which showed him on one side Christ, the apostles, and the martyrs enveloped in gloomy darkness, while on the other side were Moses, the prophets, and the holy men of Judaism, bathed in light. Weary of this internal struggle, he descended from Mount Sinaï, crossed the desert to Palestine, and finally went to Tiberias, where he declared his settled determination to embrace Judaism. He offered himself for circumcision, adopted the name of Abraham, married a Jewess, and henceforward became a zealous advocate of Judaism and a vehement opponent of his former religion.

Meanwhile the hope which the Jews had placed in the Persian conquerors had not been fulfilled. The Persians did not deliver up to them the city of Jerusalem, and did nothing to promote the rise of a free Jewish commonwealth, besides which they probably oppressed the Jews with taxes. There thus arose great discord between the allies, which ended in the Persian general's seizing many of the Jews of Palestine and banishing them to Persia. This only served to increase the discontent of the Jews, and induced them to change their opinions and to lean more towards the Emperor Heraclius. This prince, who underwent the rare transformation, by which a dull coward is in a night changed into an enthusiastic hero, was anxious to conciliate his Jewish enemies in order to use them against his chief opponent. He therefore entered into a formal alliance with the Jews, the negotiations for which22 were probably conducted by Benjamin of Tiberias. This treaty secured for them immunity from punishment for the injuries which they had inflicted on the Christians, and held out to them other advantages which have not come down to us (about 627).

Heraclius' victories, coupled with Chosru's incapacity, and the revolt which Syroes, the son of the latter, had raised against his father, won back for the Greek emperor all those provinces which were on the point of being permanently constituted Persian satrapies. After the conclusion of peace between Heraclius and Syroes, who dethroned and killed his aged father, the Persians quitted Judæa, and again the country fell under Byzantine rule (628). In the autumn of the same year the emperor proceeded in triumph to Jerusalem. On his journey he touched at Tiberias, where he was hospitably entertained by Benjamin, who also furnished the Byzantine army with the means of subsistence. In the course of conversation the emperor asked him why he had shown such hatred towards the Christians, to which Benjamin ingenuously replied, "Because they are the enemies of my religion."

When Heraclius entered the Holy City he was met by the vehement demand of the monks and the Patriarch Modestus for the extirpation of all the Jews of Palestine, at once a measure of revenge for their past treatment of the Christians, and a safeguard against the recurrence of the outrage if similar incursions should happen. The emperor protested, however, that he had solemnly and in writing promised immunity from punishment to the Jews, and to violate this pledge would make him a sinner before God and a traitor before men. The fanatical monks replied that the assassination of the Jews, far from being a crime, was, on the contrary, an offering acceptable to God. They offered to take the entire responsibility for the sin upon their own shoulders, and to appoint a special23 week of fasting by way of atonement. This argument convinced the bigoted emperor and sufficed to quiet his conscience; he instituted a persecution of the Jews throughout Palestine, and massacred all that failed to conceal themselves in the mountains or escape to Egypt.

There still existed Jewish congregations in Egypt, even in Alexandria itself, whence the Jews had been expelled by the fanatic Cyril in the beginning of the fifth century. A certain Jew of Alexandria, Urbib by name, celebrated for his wealth and generosity, during a pestilential famine charitably fed the needy without distinction of religion. The Jews of Alexandria, moved by warm sympathy for their suffering co-religionists, fraternally welcomed the unhappy fugitives from Judæa, the victims of monkish fanaticism. Heraclius seized upon this occasion to renew the edicts of Hadrian and Constantine, by which the Jews were forbidden to enter Jerusalem or its precincts (628).


24

CHAPTER II.
THE JEWS IN EUROPE.

Growth of the Jews in Europe—The Communities in Constantinople and Italy—Theodoric—Isidore of Seville—Pope Gregory I.—The Jews of France—Chilperic and Dagobert—Avitus—The Jews in Spain—Controversies between Jews and Christians.

510–640 C. E.

The Jews of Europe had no history, in the proper sense of the word, until a conjunction of fortunate circumstances enabled them to develop their powers, and to produce certain works whereby they wrested the pre-eminence from their brethren in the East. Until then there are only chronicles of martyrdom at the hands of the victorious Church, monotonously repeated with but little variation in all countries. "Dispersed and scattered throughout the world," says a celebrated author of this period, "the Jews, though subject to the Roman yoke, nevertheless live in accordance with their own laws." The only point of interest is the manner in which the Jews settled in the European states, and lived unmolested, in friendly intercourse with their neighbors, until Christianity gradually encompassed them, and deprived them of the very breath of life. In the Byzantine empire, in Ostrogothic Italy, in Frankish and Burgundian Gaul, in Visigothic Spain, everywhere we are confronted with the same phenomena. The people, even the barons and the princes, were entirely free from intolerance, felt no antipathy against the Jews, and associated with them without prejudice; to the higher clergy, however, the prosperity and comfort of the Jews appeared as a humiliation of Christianity. They desired the fulfillment of the curse which the founder of Christianity25 is said to have pronounced on the Jewish nation, and every anti-Jewish, narrow-minded thought which the fathers of the Church had uttered against them was to be literally fulfilled by embittering their life. At the councils and synods, the Jewish question occupied the clerical delegates quite as fully as dogmatic controversies and the prevailing immorality, which was continually gaining ground among the clergy and the laity, in spite, or perhaps in consequence of, ecclesiastical severity and increased austerity in observances.

It is remarkable, however, that the Roman bishops, the recognized champions of Christianity, treated the Jews with the utmost toleration and liberality. The occupants of the Papal throne shielded the Jews, and exhorted the clergy and the princes against the use of force in converting them to Christianity. This liberality was in truth an inconsistency, for the Church, following the lines of development prescribed by the Council of Nice, had to be exclusive, and therefore hard-hearted and given to persecution. It could only say to Jew, Samaritan, and heretic: "Believe as I believe, or die," the sword supplying the lack of argument. But who would not prefer the benevolent inconsistency of Gregory the Holy to the terrible consistency of the bloodthirsty kings Sisebut and Dagobert, who, ecclesiastically speaking, were more Catholic than the Pope? But the toleration of even the most liberal of the bishops was not of much consequence. They merely refrained from proselytizing by means of threats of banishment or death, because they were convinced that in this manner the Church would be peopled with false Christians, who would curse it in their inmost hearts. But they did not hesitate to fetter and harass the Jews, and to place them next to the serfs in the scale of society. This course appeared absolutely just and pious to almost all the representatives of26 Christianity during the centuries of barbarism. Those nations, however, which were baptized in the Arian creed showed less intolerance of the Jews. The more Arianism was driven out of Europe, and the more it gave way before the Catholic religion, the more the Jews were harassed by proselytizing zeal. Their valiant resistance continually incited fresh attacks. Their heroic constancy in the face of permanent degradation is, therefore, a noble trait which history ought not to conceal. Nor were the Jews devoid of all knowledge in those illiterate times. They were certainly better acquainted with the records of their religion than the inferior clergy, for the latter were not capable of reading their missal.

Our survey of the settlement of the Jews in Europe begins, on our way from Asia, with the Byzantine empire. They lived in its cities before Christianity had begun its world-conquest. In Constantinople the Jewish community inhabited a separate quarter, called the brass-market, where there was also a large synagogue, from which they were, however, expelled by one of the emperors, Theodosius II or Justinus II, and the synagogue was converted into the "Church of the Mother of God."

The holy vessels of the ruined Temple, after having been transported from place to place, had at last been deposited at Carthage, where they remained for nearly a century. It was with pain that the Jews of the Byzantine capital witnessed their removal to Constantinople by Belisarius, the conqueror of the empire of the Vandals. The Jewish trophies were displayed in triumph along with Gelimer, the Prince of the Vandals and grandson of Genseric, and the treasures of that unfortunate monarch. A certain Jew, filled with profound grief on seeing the living memorials of Judæa's former greatness in the hands of her enemies, remarked to a courtier that it was not advisable to deposit them27 in the imperial palace, for they might bring misfortune in their train. They had brought misfortune to Rome, which had been pillaged by Genseric, and they had brought down adversity upon his successor, Gelimer, and his capital. It would therefore be better to remove these holy relics to Jerusalem, where they had been wrought by King Solomon. No sooner had the Emperor Justinian been informed of this observation than his superstitious mind began to be fearful of the consequences, and he accordingly removed the Temple vessels in haste to Jerusalem, where they were deposited in a church.

In Greece, Macedonia, and Illyria the Jews had been settled a long time, and although the Christian emperors persecuted them, and laid them under considerable restraint, they nevertheless allowed them autonomy in communal affairs, and the application of their own system of jurisprudence in civil suits. Every community had a Jewish overseer (ephoros), who had the control of the market prices, weights and measures. In Italy the Jews are known to have been domiciled as early as the time of the Republic, and to have been in enjoyment of full political rights until these were curtailed by the Christian emperors. They probably looked with excusable pleasure on the fall of Rome, and exulted to see the ruling city of the world become the prey of the barbarians and the mockery of the whole world, and felt that the lamentation over Jerusalem could be literally applied to Rome as well: "She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary?" After the Gepidæ and the Heruli, by whom Rome had been temporarily enslaved, came the Goths, who threw the name of Rome into oblivion by founding the Ostrogothic empire under Theodoric (Dioterich) of the house of the Amali.

The Jews also had to bear a share of the28 calamities which the savage swarms of barbarian tribes brought upon the Roman world. With the adoption of Christianity the Germanic and Sclavonic hordes learnt also intolerance from the Romans, their teachers, and in their rude minds it assumed even more hateful forms. The Jewish preachers of this time had to complain of new foes. "See, O Lord, how many are mine enemies! If Esau (Rome) hateth Jacob," thus the Agadists expressed themselves, "he hath at least some specious ground, for he was robbed of his birthright; but what hath Israel done to the barbarians and the Goths?" But of what could the barbarians rob the Jews? They had long since forfeited their political independence, and their spiritual fortune was secure against destruction. Rome, however, was robbed by the barbarians of its crown, and clothed with the dress of the slave.

Rome did not remain the political center of Italy, Ravenna, in alternation with Verona, being the residence of the Ostrogothic emperors. In these cities, as also in Rome, Milan, and Genoa, Jewish communities existed at this period. The Jews were also well represented in Lower Italy, especially in the beautiful town of Naples, in Palermo, Messina, and Agrigentum, on the island of Sicily, and in Sardinia. In Palermo there lived Jewish families of ancient nobility, who bore the name of Nasas (Nassi). The laws governing the Italian Jews were the decrees of Theodosius, which gave them autonomy in the management of the internal affairs of their communities, but forbade the building of new synagogues, the assumption of judicial offices and military rank, and the possession of Christian slaves. The last point frequently led to friction between the clergy and the Jews. The repeated invasions of the barbarian tribes and the numerous wars had increased the number of prisoners, and the Jews carried on a brisk trade in29 slaves, although they were not the only slave merchants. The depopulated cities and the desolate fields rendered the slave-market a necessity. Laborers were thus obtained for agriculture and the business of daily life. The Jewish slave-owners made a practice of converting their slaves to Judaism, partly because there was a Talmudical ordinance which directed that they should either be circumcised, or, if they resisted, be sold again, and partly in order not to be hindered in the exercise of religious duties by the presence of foreign elements in the house. The slaves themselves preferred to remain with their Jewish masters, who, with few exceptions, treated them humanely, regarded them as members of the family, and shared their joys and sorrows.

Although the restrictions of the Theodosian code had the force of law, it may be questioned whether they were really carried into effect. The bishops of the apostolic see, who had learnt political shrewdness from the Roman statesmen, were too prudent to be fanatic. The Pope Gelasius had a friend, a Jew of Telesina, who bore the title of "the most illustrious" (clarissimus), and at his intercession his relative Antoninus was warmly recommended by the Pope to the bishop Secundinus. A charge having been brought against a Jew named Basilius, of selling Christian slaves from Gaul, he pleaded that he only sold heathen slaves, and that it was impossible to prevent a few Christians from being included among a number of other slaves; this excuse was accepted by Pope Gelasius.

When Italy became Ostrogothic under Theodoric, the Jews of that country were placed in a peculiar position. Hostile outbreaks were not infrequent during this reign, but at bottom they were not directed against the Jews, but against this hated Arian monarch. Theodoric, although an Arian, was by no means favorably disposed towards the30 Jews, whose conversion he desired. On a certain occasion, he had his counselor and minister Cassiodorus write the following to the community of Milan: "Why dost thou seek temporal peace, O Judah, when because of thine obduracy thou art unable to find eternal peace?" The Jews of Genoa having requested permission to put their synagogue into better repair, Theodoric sent them the following reply: "Why do you desire that which you should avoid? We accord you, indeed, the permission you request, but we blame the wish, which is tainted with error. We cannot command religion, however, nor compel any one to believe contrary to his conscience." He permitted the Jews neither to erect new synagogues, nor to decorate old ones, but simply allowed them to repair such as were falling into decay.

The Ostrogothic ruler was zealous in preserving internal peace and in upholding the laws, and accordingly he was just to the Jews whenever any undeserved injury was inflicted upon them. The Catholics entertained a secret hate of the Arians, and with the deepest resentment saw Arianism on the throne, while the Catholic Church was merely magnanimously tolerated: they seized upon every opportunity of thwarting Theodoric, when it could be done with impunity. On one occasion, when a few slaves rose against their Jewish masters in Rome, the mob gathered, burnt the synagogue, ill-treated the Jews, and plundered their property, in order to laugh Theodoric's edicts to scorn. Theodoric, having been informed of this, bitterly reproached the Roman Senate, which was now but the shadow of its former self, for permitting such misconduct, and imperiously charged it to discover the culprits and oblige them to make compensation for the damage they had done. As the leaders of the riot were not discovered, Theodoric condemned the Roman commune to make compensation.31 This severity roused the entire Catholic Church against him.

It is creditable to the Italian Jews of this period that, in spite of the general deterioration and demoralization, the political and ecclesiastical literature of the times imputes no other crimes to them than obduracy and unbelief. Their religion shielded them from the prevailing wickedness. Cassiodorus, who became a monk after resigning all his dignities, composed among other works a homiletic exposition of the Psalms, in which he makes frequent reference to the Jews, apostrophizing them, and endeavoring to convert them. It is characteristic of this period that Cassiodorus,—who, besides Boëthius, was the only notability of the sixth century possessing a certain philosophic culture—designated the Jews by the most opprobrious names. It would be easy to compile a dictionary of abusive words from his writings; he called them "scorpions and lions," "wild asses," "dogs and unicorns."

In spite of the antipathy of the leaders of opinion, the Jews of Italy were happy in comparison with their brethren of the Byzantine empire. Theodoric's successors, his beautiful and accomplished daughter Amalasuntha, and her husband and murderer Theodatus, a weakling with philosophical pretensions, followed his principles. The Jews supported King Theodatus with tenacious fidelity, even when he himself had given up all hope. The Jews of Naples risked their lives rather than come under Justinian's scourge. Belisarius, the conqueror of the Vandal empire, the laurel-crowned hero, trembled at Justinian's wrath, and allowed himself to be used as the blind tool of the latter's tyranny; he had already subjugated the whole of Sicily and the southern extremity of the Italian peninsula, and now was swiftly approaching Naples, the largest and most beautiful city of Lower Italy. On his summons to the inhabitants to surrender, the Neapolitans divided32 into two factions. But even the war party was not disposed to sacrifice itself for the Ostrogoths, who were hated in Italy. The Jews alone, and two lawyers, Pastor and Asclepiadotus, who had been raised to fame through the influence of the Ostrogothic kings, opposed the surrender of the city to the Byzantine general. The Jews, who were wealthy and patriotic, offered their lives and their fortunes for the defense of the city. In order to allay the fear of scarcity of provisions, they promised to supply Naples with all necessaries during the siege. The Jews, unaided, defended that part of the city which was nearest the sea, and fought with such bravery, that the enemy did not venture to direct their attacks against that quarter. A contemporary historian (Procopius) has raised a glorious monument to the heroic bravery of the Jews of Naples.

Having one night, by means of treachery, penetrated into the city, the enemy almost made themselves masters of it (536), but the Jews, with the courage of lions, still continued the struggle. It was only at break of day, when the enemy had overwhelmed them with numbers, and many of their own side had been killed, that the Jews quitted their posts. It is not related how the surviving Jewish combatants fared—certainly no better than their confederates Asclepiadotus and Pastor, who fell victims to the fury of the people. Now occurred that which the Italian Jews had anticipated with horror; they came under the rule of the Emperor Justinian, whose anti-Jewish ideas place him in a class with Hadrian, Constantine, and Firuz. Italy, ruler of the world, sank to the rank of a province (Exarchate) of the Byzantine empire, and the Jews of Italy trembled before the exarch of Ravenna.

This situation, however, did not continue long. Justinian's successors were obliged to abandon a great part of Italy forever to the powerful and33 uncouth Lombards (589), who, half heathen, half Arian, troubled themselves but little about the Jews. At all events there are no exceptional laws for the Jews to be met with in the Longobard code. Even when the Lombards embraced the Catholic faith, the position of the Jews in Italy remained bearable. The heads of the Catholic Church, the Popes, were free from extreme intolerance. Gregory I (590–604), called the Great and the Holy, who laid the foundation of the power of Catholicism, gave utterance to the principle that the Jews should be converted only by means of gentle persuasion and not by violence. He conscientiously maintained their rights of Roman citizenship, which had been recognized by various emperors. In the territory which was subject to the papal sway in Rome, Lower Italy, Sicily, and Sardinia, he steadfastly persisted in this course, in the face of the fanatical bishops, who regarded the oppression of the Jews as a pious work. His pastoral letters are full of earnest exhortations, such as the following: "We forbid you to molest the Jews or to lay upon them restrictions not imposed by the established laws; we further permit them to live as Romans and to dispose of their property as they will; we only prohibit them from owning Christian slaves."

But greatly as Gregory abhorred the forcible conversion of the Jews, he exerted himself to win them for the Church by other means. He did not hesitate to make an appeal to cupidity, and remitted a portion of the land-tax to such of the Jewish farmers and peasants as embraced Christianity. He did not, indeed, deceive himself with the belief that the converts who were obtained in this manner were loyal Christians; he counted, however, upon their descendants. "If we do not gain them over," he wrote, "we at least gain their children." Having heard that a Jew named Nasas had erected an altar34 to Elijah (probably a synagogue known by this name) in the island of Sicily, and that Christians met there to celebrate divine service, Gregory commanded the prefect Libertinus to raze the building, and to inflict corporal punishment on Nasas for his offense. Gregory vigorously persecuted such of the Jews as purchased or possessed Christian slaves. In the Frankish empire, where fanaticism had not yet made its way, the Jews were not forbidden to carry on the slave trade. Gregory was indignant at this, and wrote to King Theodoric (Dieterich) of Burgundy, Theodebert, king of Austrasia, and also to Queen Brunhilde, expressing his astonishment that they allowed the Jews to possess Christian slaves. He exhorted them with great warmth to remove this evil, and to free the true believers from the power of their enemy. Reccared, the king of the Visigoths, who submitted to the papal see, was flattered beyond measure by Gregory for promulgating an edict of intolerance.

In the Byzantine empire and in Italy, Christianity had from the very first shown more or less hostility to Judaism, but in the west of Europe, in France and Spain, where the Church established itself with difficulty, the situation of the Jews assumed a different and much more favorable aspect. The invasions of the barbarians had completely changed the social order existing in these countries. Roman institutions, both political and ecclesiastical, were nearly effaced, and the polity of the empires established by heathen or half Christianized nations was not built up on the basis of Church law. It was a long while before Catholicism gained a firm footing in the west of Europe, and the Jews who had settled there enjoyed undisturbed peace until the victorious Church gained the upper hand.

The immigration of the Jews into these important and wealthy provinces took place probably as early35 as the time of the Republic or of Cæsar. The Jewish merchants whose business pursuits brought them from Alexandria or Asia Minor to Rome and Italy, the Jewish warriors whom the emperors Vespasian and Titus, the conquerors of Judæa, had dispersed as prisoners throughout the Roman provinces, found their way voluntarily or involuntarily into Gaul and Iberia. The presence of the Jews in the west of Europe is a certain fact only since the second century.

The Gallic Jews, whose first settlement was in the district of Arles, enjoyed the full rights of Roman citizenship, whether they arrived in Gaul as merchants or as fugitives, with the peddler's pack or in the garb of slaves; they were treated as Romans also by the Frankish and Burgundian conquerors. The most ancient legislation of the Franks and Burgundians did not consider the Jews as a distinct race, subject to peculiar laws. In the Frankish kingdom founded by Clovis, the Jews dwelt in Auvergne (Arverna), in Carcassonne, Arles, Orleans, and as far north as Paris and Belgium. Numbers of them resided in the old Greek port of Marseilles, and in Béziers (Biterræ), and so many dwelt in the province of Narbonne that a mountain near the city of that name was called Mons Judaicus. The territory of Narbonne belonged for a long time to Visigothic Spain, and for this reason the Jewish history of this district reflects all the vicissitudes of the Jews on the further side of the Pyrenees.

The Jews of the Frankish and Burgundian kingdoms carried on agriculture, trade, and commerce without restraint; they navigated the seas and rivers in their own ships. They also practised medicine, and the advice of the Jewish physicians was sought even by the clergy, who probably did not care to rely entirely on the miraculous healing powers of the saints and of relics. They were also36 skilled in the use of the weapons of war, and took an active part in the battles between Clovis and Theodoric's generals before Arles (508).

Besides their Biblical names, the Jews of Gaul bore the appellations which were common in the country, such as Armentarius, Gozolas, Priscus, or Siderius. They lived on the best of terms with the people of the country, and intermarriages even occurred between Jews and Christians. The Christian clergy did not scruple to eat at Jewish tables, and in turn often entertained the Jews.

The higher ecclesiastics, however, took umbrage, because the Jews refused, at Christian banquets, to eat of certain dishes, which the precepts of their religion forbade them to enjoy. For this reason the council of Vannes (465) prohibited the clergy from taking part in Jewish banquets, "because they considered it undignified that Christians should eat the viands of the Jews, while the latter refused to eat of Christian dishes, thus making it appear as though the clergy were inferior to the Jews." But this decision of the council was of no avail; canonical severity was powerless to check this friendly intercourse. It became necessary to re-enact this ecclesiastical prohibition several times. Thus, in spite of their separation from Judæa and Babylonia, the centers of Judaism, the Jews of Gaul lived in strict accordance with the precepts of their religion. Wherever they settled they built their synagogues, and constituted their communities in exact agreement with the directions of the Talmud.

The friendly relations existing between the Jews and the inhabitants of Gaul underwent no change even when the country, by reason of Clovis' conversion, came under the rule of the Catholic Church. Clovis was, indeed, a bloodthirsty butcher, but not a fanatic. The clergy were under obligations to him, because he had abandoned heathenism for Christianity, and he did not need to yield to them37 in any way. As he left an hereditary kingdom to his successors, they were not placed in painful situations and dilemmas, as were the elective kings of the Visigoths, and were not obliged to make concessions or sacrifices to the Church. Among the Franks, therefore, heathen customs remained long in vogue, and the Jews were permitted to live according to their religion without molestation. It is true that many ecclesiastical fanatics exerted themselves to convert the Jews by every means in their power, even using ill-treatment, and many severe resolutions were passed at their councils. But these persecutions remained isolated, even when they were countenanced by one or another of the zealous kings. Burgundy, however, ever since King Sigismund had embraced the Catholic faith (516), and felt bound to elevate oppression of the Arians and the Jews into the policy of the state, was more hostile to the Jews than the rest of France. It was this king who first raised the barrier between Jews and Christians. He confirmed the decision of the council of Epaone, held under the presidency of the bloodthirsty bishop Avitus, forbidding even laymen to take part in Jewish banquets (517).

A spirit of hostility to the Jews gradually spread from Burgundy over the Frankish countries. As early as the third and fourth councils at Orleans (538 and 545), severe enactments were passed against them. Not only were the Christians commanded not to take part in Jewish banquets, and the Jews forbidden to make proselytes, but the latter were even prohibited from appearing in the streets and public squares during Easter, because "their appearance was an insult to Christianity." Childebert I of Paris embodied this last point in his constitution (554), and thus exalted the intolerance of the clergy into a law of the state. This feeling of hostility, however, was not prevalent38 among Childebert's contemporaries. The Frankish empire was divided among several monarchs, who, although related, mortally hated one another; this division had the effect of confining intolerant practices to single provinces. Even ecclesiastical dignitaries of high rank continued to maintain friendly intercourse with the Jews, without fearing any danger to the Church. But fanaticism is naturally contagious; when it has once gained a firm footing in a country, it soon obtains ascendancy over all minds, and overcomes all scruples. In the Frankish empire the persecution of the Jews proceeded from a man who may be regarded as the very incarnation of Jew-hatred. This was Avitus, Bishop of Arverna, whose see was at Clermont; what Cyril had been to the Jews of Alexandria, Avitus was to the Jews of Gaul.

The Jewish population of his bishopric was a thorn in his side, and he accordingly roused the members of his flock against it. Again and again he exhorted the Jews of Clermont to become converts, but his sermons meeting with no response, he incited the mob to attack the synagogues, and raze them to the ground. But even this did not content the fanatic; he offered the Jews the choice between presenting themselves for baptism and quitting the city. Only one Jew received baptism, thus making himself an object of abhorrence to the whole community. As he was going through the streets at Pentecost in his white baptismal robe, he was sprinkled with rancid oil by a Jew. This seemed a challenge to the fanatic mob, and they fell upon the Jews. The latter retreated to their houses, where they were attacked, and many of them killed. The sight of blood caused the faint hearts to waver, and five hundred of the Jews besought Bishop Avitus to accord them the favor of baptism, and implored him to put an end to the massacre at once. Such of them as remained true to their religion fled to39 Marseilles (576). The Christian population celebrated the day of the baptism of the five hundred with wild rejoicing, as though the cross might pride itself on a victory which had been won by the sword. The news of the occurrence in Clermont caused great joy among the fanatics. Bishop Gregory of Tours invited the pious poet Venantius Fortunatus to celebrate in song the achievement of Avitus. But the Latin verses of this poet, who had emigrated to France from Italy, instead of glorifying Avitus, raised a monument of shame to his memory. They indicate quite clearly that the Jews of Clermont suffered innocently, and became converts to Christianity out of sheer desperation. Thus the effects of the ever-growing fanaticism made themselves felt in many parts of France. The Council of Mâcon (581) adopted several resolutions which aimed at assigning an inferior position in society to the Jews. They were neither to officiate as judges nor to be allowed to become tax-farmers, "lest the Christian population appear to be subjected to them." The Jews were further obliged to show profound reverence to the Christian priests, and were to seat themselves in their presence only by express permission. All who transgressed this law were to be severely punished. The edict forbidding the Jews to appear in public during Easter was re-enacted by this council. Even King Chilperic, although he bore no particular good-will to the Catholic clergy, emulated the example set by Avitus. He also compelled the Jews of his empire to receive baptism, and himself stood sponsor to the Jewish neophytes at the baptismal font. But he was content with the mere appearance of conversion, and offered no opposition to the Jews, although they continued to celebrate the Sabbath and to observe the laws of Judaism.

The later Merovingian kings became more and more bigoted, and their hatred of the Jews consequently40 increased. Clotaire II, on whom had devolved the rule of the entire Frankish empire (613), was a matricide, but was nevertheless considered a model of religious piety. He sanctioned the decisions of the Council of Paris, which forbade the Jews to hold magisterial power or to take military service (615). His son Dagobert must be counted among the most anti-Jewish monarchs in the whole history of the world. Many thousands of Jewish fugitives who had fled to the Frankish empire to escape from the fanaticism of Sisebut, king of the Visigoths, roused the jealousy of this sensual monarch, who was ashamed of being considered inferior to his Visigothic contemporary and of manifesting less religious zeal. He therefore issued a decree, wherein he declared that the entire Jewish population of the Frankish empire must either embrace Christianity before a certain day, or be treated as enemies and be put to death (about 629).

The more the authority of the Merovingian fainéants, as they have been called, declined, and the more the power of the politic and cautious stewards, Pepin's descendants, rose, the greater was the exemption from persecution and torture enjoyed by the Jews. The predecessors of Charlemagne seem to have felt that the Jews were a useful class of men, whose activity and intellectual capabilities could not but be advantageous to the state. The slave trade alone remained a standing subject of legislation in the Councils; but in spite of their zeal they were unable to abolish the traffic in human beings, because their condemnation applied to only one phase of the trade.

The Jews of Germany are to be regarded merely as colonies of the Frankish Jews, and such of them as lived in Austrasia, a province subject to the Merovingian kings, shared the same fate as their brethren in France. According to a chronicle, the most ancient Jews in the Rhine district are said to41 have been the descendants of the legionaries who took part in the destruction of the Temple. From the vast horde of Jewish prisoners, the Vangioni had chosen the most beautiful women, had brought them back to their stations on the shores of the Rhine and the Main, and had compelled them to minister to the satisfaction of their desires. The children thus begotten of Jewish and Germanic parents were brought up by their mothers in the Jewish faith, their fathers not troubling themselves about them. It is these children who are said to have been the founders of the first Jewish communities between Worms and Mayence. It is certain that a Jewish congregation existed in the Roman colony, the city of Cologne, long before Christianity had been raised to power by Constantine. The heads of the community and its most respected members had obtained from the heathen emperors the privilege of exemption from the onerous municipal offices. The first Christian emperor, however, narrowed the limits of this immunity, exempting only two or three families. The Jews of Cologne enjoyed also the privilege of exercising their own jurisdiction, which they were allowed to retain until the Middle Ages. A non-Jewish plaintiff, even though he were a priest, was obliged to bring his suit against a Jew before the Jewish judge (bishop of the Jews).

While the history of the Jews in Byzantium, Italy, and France possesses interest for special students, that of their brethren in the Pyrenean peninsula rises to the height of universal importance. The Jewish inhabitants of this happy peninsula contributed by their hearty interest to the greatness of the country, which they loved as only a fatherland can be loved, and in so doing achieved world-wide reputation. Jewish Spain contributed almost as much to the development of Judaism as Judæa and Babylonia, and as in these countries, so every spot42 in this new home has become classic for the Jewish race. Cordova, Granada, and Toledo are as familiar to the Jews as Jerusalem and Tiberias, and almost more so than Nahardea and Sora. When Judaism had come to a standstill in the East, and had grown weak with age, it acquired new vigor in Spain, and extended its fruitful influence over a wide sphere. Spain seemed to be destined by Providence to become a new center for the members of the dispersed race, where their spirit could revive, and to which they could point with pride.

The first settlement of the Jews in beautiful Hesperia is buried in dim obscurity. It is certain that they went thither as early as the time of the Roman Republic, as free men, to take advantage of the rich resources of this country.

The victims of the unhappy insurrections under Vespasian, Titus, and Hadrian were also dispersed to the extreme west, and an exaggerated account relates that 80,000 of them were carried off to Spain as prisoners. They probably did not remain long in slavery; the sympathy of their free brethren undoubtedly hastened to ransom them, and thus fulfil the most important of the duties prescribed by Talmudical Judaism to its adherents. How numerously the Jews had settled in some parts of Spain is shown by the names which they conferred upon these localities. The city of Granada was called the city of the Jews in former times, on account of its being entirely inhabited by them: the same name was also borne by the ancient town of Tarragona (Tarracona), before its conquest by the Arabs. In Cordova there existed a Jewish gateway of ancient date, and near Saragossa there was a fortress which at the time of the Arabs was called Ruta al Jahud. In the neighborhood of Tortosa a gravestone was found with both a Hebrew and a national name. This memorial was inscribed in three languages—Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; the Jews must, therefore, have emigrated43 at an early period from a Greek district to the north of Spain, and acquired the Latin language, without forgetting that of the Holy Writings.

Pride of ancestry, which was a characteristic of the Jews of this country as of the other Spaniards, was not content with the fact that the Jewish colony in Spain had possessed the right of citizenship long before the Visigoths and other Germanic tribes had set their tyrannous iron foot in the land, but desired to lay claim to even higher antiquity for it. The Spanish Jews maintained that they had been transported hither after the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonian conqueror, Nebuchadnezzar. Certain Jewish families, the Ibn-Dauds and the Abrabanels, boasted descent from the royal house of David, and maintained that their ancestors had been settled since time immemorial partly in the district of Lucena, and partly in the environs of Toledo and Seville. The numerous Spanish-Jewish family of Nasi also traced back its pedigree to King David, and proved it by means of a genealogical table and seals. The family of the Ibn-Albalias was more modest, and dated its immigration only from the destruction of the Second Temple. A family tradition runs to the effect that the Roman governor of Spain begged the conqueror of Jerusalem to send him some noble families from the capital of Judæa, and that Titus complied with his request. Among those thus transported was a man named Baruch, who excelled in the art of weaving curtains for the Temple. This Baruch, who settled in Merida, was the ancestor of the Ibn-Albalias.

Christianity had early taken root in Spain. In fact a council of bishops, priests, and the subordinate clergy met at Illiberis (Elvira, near Granada) some time before Constantine's conversion. The Jews were nevertheless held in high esteem by the Christian population as well as by the heathens. The Iberians and Romans who had been converted44 to Christianity had not yet discovered in the Jews a race repudiated by God, a people whose presence was to be shunned. They associated with their Jewish neighbors in perfect freedom. The newly-converted inhabitants of the country, who often heard their apostle preach about Jews and Judaism, had no conception of the wide gulf dividing Judaism from Christianity, and as often had the produce of their fields blessed by pious Jews as by their own clergy. Intermarriages between Jews and Christians occurred quite as frequently in Spain as in Gaul.

The higher Catholic clergy, however, could not suffer this friendly intercourse between Jews and Christians to continue; they perceived it to be dangerous to the newly-established Church. To the representatives of the Church in Spain is due the honor—if honor it be—of first having raised a barrier between Jew and Christian. The Council of Illiberis (about 320), at whose head was Osius, Bishop of Cordova, forbade the Christians, under pain of excommunication, to hold friendly intercourse with the Jews, to contract marriages with them, or to allow them to bless the produce of their fields. The seed of malignant hatred of the Jews, which was thus first sown by the Synod of Illiberis, did not, however, produce its poisonous fruit until much later. When the migrating Germanic hordes of the Suevi, Vandals, and Visigoths first laid waste this beautiful country, and then chose it for their home, the Catholics of the land were obliged to bear the yoke of political and religious dependence, for the Visigoths, who had taken lasting possession of the peninsula, happened to have been converted to the Arian faith. On the whole, the Visigothic Arians were tolerably indifferent to the controversy of the creeds, as to whether the Son of God was the same as, or similar to, the Father, and whether Bishop Arius ought to be45 regarded as orthodox or heretical. But they thoroughly hated the Catholic inhabitants of the country, because in every Catholic they saw a Roman, and consequently an enemy. The Jews, on the other hand, were unmolested under the Arian kings, and besides enjoying civil and political equality, were admitted to the public offices. Their skill and knowledge, which gave them the advantage over the uncivilized Visigoths, specially fitted them for these posts. The favorable condition of the Jews in Spain continued for more than a century, beginning with the time when this country first became a province of the Toletanic-Visigothic empire, and extending over the later period, when, under Theudes (531), it became the center of the same. The Jews who dwelt in the province of Narbonne, and in that district of Africa which formed part of the Visigothic empire, also enjoyed civil and political equality; some of them rendered material service to the Visigothic kings. The Jews that lived at the foot of the Pyrenees defended the passes leading from Gaul into Spain against the invasions of the Franks and Burgundians, who longed to possess the country. They were regarded as the most trusty guardians of the frontier, and their martial courage gained for them special distinction. The Visigothic Jews must have remained in communication, either through Italy or through Africa, with Judæa or Babylonia, from which countries they probably received their religious teachers. They adhered strictly to the precepts of the Talmud, abstained from wine made by non-Jews, and admitted their heathen and Christian slaves into the covenant of Abraham, as ordained by the Talmud. While their brethren on the other side of the Pyrenees were greatly oppressed, and forcibly converted to Christianity, or compelled to emigrate, they enjoyed complete liberty of religion, and were further granted the privilege, which was denied the Jews in46 all the other countries of Europe, of initiating their slaves into their religion.

But as soon as the Catholic Church obtained the supremacy in Spain, and Arianism began to be persecuted, the affairs of the Jews of this country assumed an unfavorable aspect. King Reccared, who had abjured the Arian creed at the Council of Toledo, was the first to unite with the Synod in imposing restrictions on the Jews. They were prohibited from contracting marriages with the Christians, from acquiring Christian slaves, and from holding public offices; such of their children as were born of intermarriages were to be forcibly baptized (589). They were thus made to assume an isolated position, which pained them all the more as they were animated by a sense of honor, and until now had lived upon equal terms with their fellow-citizens, having, in fact, been privileged more than the Catholics. Most oppressive of all was the restraint touching the possession of slaves. Henceforward the Jews were neither to purchase Christian slaves nor to accept them as presents, and if they transgressed the order and initiated the slaves into Judaism, they were to lose all rights in them. The whole fortune of him that circumcised a slave was forfeited to the state. All well-to-do people in the country possessed slaves and serfs, who cultivated their land and provided for the wants of the house; the Jews alone were to be deprived of this advantage. It is conceivable that the wealthy Jews who owned slaves exerted themselves to obtain the repeal of Reccared's law, and to this end they proffered a considerable sum of money to the king. Reccared, however, refused their offer, and for this deed was commended beyond measure by Pope Gregory, whose heart's desire was fulfilled by this law (599). Gregory compared the Visigothic monarch to David, king of Israel, "who refused to accept the water which his warriors had brought him at the47 risk of their lives, and poured it out before the Lord." In the same manner, he contended, Reccared had sacrificed to God the gold which had been offered to him. At the same time Reccared confirmed a decision of the Council of Narbonne, forbidding the Jews to sing Psalms at their funeral services,—a custom which they had probably adopted from the Church.

Although Reccared desired to enforce these restrictive laws against the Jews, it was nevertheless not very difficult for the latter to evade them. The peculiar constitution of Visigothic Spain afforded them the means of escaping their pressure. According to this constitution the king was not an all-powerful ruler, for the Visigothic nobles, who possessed the right of electing him, were absolutely independent in their own provinces. Neither they nor the people at large shared the fanaticism of the Church against the Jews. They accorded them, as in the past, the right of purchasing slaves, and probably also bestowed offices upon them. In twenty years Reccared's laws against the Jews had fallen into complete disuse. His successors paid but little attention to the matter, and were on the whole not unfavorably disposed towards the Jews.

At this period, however, a king of the Visigoths was elected, who, liberal in other respects, and not uncultured, was a scourge for the Jews of his dominions, and, in consequence, prepared a grievous destiny for his empire. Sisebut, a contemporary of the Emperor Heraclius, was, like the latter, a fanatical persecutor of the Jews. But while some excuse may be found for Heraclius's conduct in the revolt of the Jews of Palestine, and in the fact that he was compelled to adopt this course by the blind fury of the monks, Sisebut acted thus without any provocation, of his own free will, and almost contrary to the wish of the Catholic clergy. At the very commencement of48 his reign (612), the Jews engaged his attention. His conscience was troubled by the fact, that in spite of Reccared's laws, Christian slaves still served Jewish masters, and were initiated into Judaism, to which faith they willingly adhered. He therefore renewed these laws, and commanded the ecclesiastics and the judges, as well as the entire population of the country, to see that in future no Christians stood in servile relations to the Jews, but he went further in this direction than Reccared; the Jews were not only prohibited from acquiring any slaves, but were forbidden to retain those whom they possessed. Only those Jews who embraced Christianity were permitted to own slaves, and they alone were allowed to advance a claim to the slaves left by their Jewish relatives. Sisebut solemnly exhorted his successors to maintain this law. "May the king who dares abolish this law"—thus ran the formula of Sisebut's curse—"incur the deepest disgrace in this world, and eternal torments in the flames of hell." In spite of this severity and of Sisebut's earnest exhortations, this law appears to have been as little enforced at that period as under Reccared. The independent nobles of the country extended their protection to the Jews, either for their own interest or out of defiance to the king. Even many of the priests and bishops seem to have supported the Jews, and to have concerned themselves but little about the king's command. Sisebut therefore enacted a still severer decree. Within a certain period all the Jews of the land were either to receive baptism or to quit the territory of the Visigothic empire. This order was strictly executed. The weak, who clung to their property or loved the land which their fathers had inhabited time out of mind, allowed themselves to be baptized. The stronger-minded, on the other hand, whose conscience could approve of no compromise, emigrated49 to France or to the neighboring continent of Africa (612–613). The clergy, however, were by no means satisfied with this forced conversion, and one of their principal representatives reproached the king with having indeed "exhibited zeal for the faith, but not conscientious zeal." With this fanatical persecution Sisebut paved the way for the dissolution of the Visigothic empire.

Sisebut's rigorous laws against the Jews lasted no longer than his reign. They were repealed by his successor, Swintila, a just and liberal monarch, whom the oppressed named the "father of his country." The exiled Jews returned to their native land, and the proselytes reverted to Judaism (621–631). In spite of their baptism the Jewish converts had not abandoned their religion. The act of baptism was deemed sufficient at this period, and no one inquired whether the converts still retained their former customs and usages. The noble king Swintila was, however, dethroned by a conspiracy of nobles and the clergy, and a docile tool, Sisenand by name, raised to his place. Under this monarch the clergy again acquired the ascendancy. Once again, at the Council of Toledo (633), the Jews became the object of synodal attention. At the head of this council stood Isidore, archbishop of Hispalis (Seville), a well-informed and equitable prelate, but infected with the prejudices of his time. The synod proclaimed the principle that the Jews ought not to be made to embrace Christianity by violence and threats of punishment; nevertheless Reccared's laws against them were re-enacted. The full severity of the ecclesiastical legislation was, however, directed against the Jews who had been forcibly converted under Sisebut, and had reverted to their religion. Although the clergy themselves had criticized the method of their conversion, they nevertheless considered it a duty to keep within the pale of Christianity the Jews that had once50 received the holy sacrament, "in order that the faith may not be dishonored." Religion was regarded at this period merely as a lip-confession. The synod which sat under Sisenand decided, therefore, that the Jews who had been baptized should be forcibly restrained from the observance of their religion, and withdrawn from the society of their co-religionists, and that the children of both sexes should be torn from their parents and thrust into monasteries. Those discovered observing the Sabbath and the Jewish festivals, contracting marriages according to the Jewish rites, practising circumcision, or abstaining from certain foods, in obedience to the precepts of Judaism, were to expiate their offenses by forfeiting their freedom. They were to be reduced to slavery, and presented to orthodox Christians chosen by the king. According to this canonical legislation, the forcibly converted Jews and their descendants were not to be admitted as witnesses, because "those that have been untrue to God cannot be sincere to man"; this was the conclusion reached by ignorance in session. In comparison with this severity, the treatment of the Jews that had remained steadfast to their faith appears quite merciful.

Even these, however, the clergy exerted themselves to alienate from Judaism. Isidore of Seville wrote two books against the Jews, wherein he attempted to prove the doctrines of Christianity by means of passages from the Old Testament, naturally in that tasteless, senseless manner which had been employed since the commencement of the polemic warfare against Judaism by the Fathers. The Spanish Jews, in order to confirm themselves in their ancestral faith, were induced to take up the controversy, and to refute this specious proof. The learned men among them replied with counter treatises, written probably in Latin. Their superior knowledge of the Biblical records made their51 victory easy. In answer to the principal rejoinder, that the scepter had departed from Judah, and that the Christians, who possessed kings, thus formed the true people of Israel, the Jews pointed to a Jewish kingdom in the extreme East, which they asserted was ruled over by a descendant of David. They alluded to the Jewish-Himyarite empire in southern Arabia, but this was governed by a dynasty which had been converted to Judaism.

These resolutions of the fourth Council of Toledo and Sisenand's persecution of the Jewish converts do not appear to have been carried out with all the proposed severity. The Visigothic-Spanish nobles took the Jews more and more under their patronage, and against them the royal authority was powerless. At this period, however, a king resembling Sisebut ascended the Visigothic throne. Chintila assembled a general council, and not only did he obtain from them a confirmation of all anti-Jewish clauses contained in the existing laws, but enacted that no one should be allowed to remain in the Visigothic empire who did not embrace the Catholic religion. The ecclesiastical assembly adopted these propositions with joy, and exulted over the fact that "by the piety of the king, the unyielding infidelity of the Jews would at last be destroyed." They appended the canonical law, that in future every king, before his accession, should be compelled to take a solemn oath not to allow the converted Jews to violate the Catholic faith, nor to favor their unbelief, but strictly to enforce the ecclesiastical decisions against them (638).

A second time the Jews were obliged to emigrate, and the converts, who still clung to Judaism in their secret hearts, were compelled to sign a confession to the effect that they would observe and obey the Catholic religion without reserve. But the confession thus signed by men whose sacred convictions were outraged, was not and could not be52 sincere. They hoped steadfastly for better times, when they might be able to throw off the mask, and the elective constitution of the Visigothic empire soon made this possible. The present situation lasted only during the four years of Chintila's reign (638–642).


53

CHAPTER III.
THE JEWS OF THE ARABIAN PENINSULA.

Happy condition of the Jews in Arabia—Traditions as to their original settlements—Yathrib and Chaibar—The Jewish-Arabic tribes—The Benu-Nadhir, the Benu-Kuraiza, and Benu-Bachdal—The Benu-Kainukaa—The Jews of Yemen—Their power and influence—Conversion of Arabian tribes to Judaism—Abu-Kariba the first Jewish-Himyarite king—Zorah Dhu-Nowas—Samuel Ibn-Adija—Mahomet—His indebtedness to Judaism—Mahomet's early friendliness to the Jews and subsequent breach with them—His attacks on the Jewish tribes—The War of the Fosse—The position of the Jews under the Caliphs.

500–662 C. E.

Wearied with contemplating the miserable plight of the Jews in their ancient home and in the countries of Europe, and fatigued by the constant sight of fanatical oppression, the eyes of the observer rest with gladness upon their situation in the Arabian peninsula. Here the sons of Judah were free to raise their heads, and did not need to look about them with fear and humiliation, lest the ecclesiastical wrath be discharged upon them, or the secular power overwhelm them. Here they were not shut out from the paths of honor, nor excluded from the privileges of the state, but, untrammeled, were allowed to develop their powers in the midst of a free, simple, and talented people, to show their manly courage, to compete for the gifts of fame, and with practised hand to measure swords with their antagonists. Instead of bearing the yoke, the Jews were not infrequently the leaders of the Arabian tribes. Their intellectual superiority constituted them a power, and they concluded offensive and defensive alliances, and carried on feuds. Besides the sword and the lance, however, they handled the ploughshare and the lyre, and in54 the end became the teachers of the Arabian nation. The history of the Jews of Arabia in the century which precedes Mahomet's appearance, and during the period of his activity, forms a glorious page in the annals of the Jews.

The first immigration of Jewish families into the free peninsula is buried in misty tradition. According to one account, the Israelites sent by Joshua to fight the Amalekites settled in the city of Yathrib (afterwards Medina), and in the province of Chaibar; according to another, the Israelite warriors, under Saul, who had spared the beautiful young son of the Amalekite king, and had been repudiated by the nation for their disobedience, returned to the Hejas (northern Arabia), and settled there. An Israelite colony is also supposed to have been formed in northern Arabia during the reign of David. It is possible that under the powerful kings of Judah, seafaring Israelites, who navigated the Red Sea on their way to Ophir—the land of gold—established trading stations, for the trade with India, in Mariba and Sanaa (Usal), the most important commercial towns of southern Arabia (Yemen, Himyara, Sabea), and planted Jewish colonies there. The later Arabian Jews said, however, that they had heard from their forefathers that many Jewish fugitives had escaped to northern Arabia on the destruction of the First Temple by Nebuchadnezzar. But there can be no doubt that the persecution of the Jews by the Romans was the means of establishing a Jewish population in the Arabian peninsula. The death-defying zealots who, after the destruction of the Second Temple, fled in part to Egypt and to Cyrene, in order to continue there the desperate struggle against the thraldom of Rome, also passed in straggling bands into Arabia, where they were not compelled to hide their love of freedom or to abandon their warlike bearing.

From these fugitives sprang three Jewish-Arabic55 tribes—the Benu-Nadhir, the Benu-Kuraiza, and the Benu-Bachdal, the first two of which were descended from Aaron, and therefore called themselves Cohanim (Al-kahinani). Another Jewish family—the Benu-Kainukaa—were established in northern Arabia, and their mode of living was different from that of the Nadhir and Kuraiza. These tribes had their center in the city of Yathrib, which was situated in a fruitful district, planted with palms and rice, and watered by small streams. As the Jews were often molested by Bedouins, they built castles on the elevated places in the city and the surrounding country, whereby they guarded their independence. Although originally the sole rulers of this district, they were afterwards obliged to share their power and the possession of the soil with the Arabs, for, about the year 300, two related families, the Benu-Aus and the Chazraj (together forming the tribe of Kaila), settled in the same neighborhood, and sometimes stood in friendly, sometimes in hostile relations to the Jews.

To the north of Yathrib was situated the district of Chaibar, which was entirely inhabited by Jews, who constituted a separate commonwealth. The Jews of Chaibar are supposed to have been descendants of the Rechabites, who, in accordance with the command of their progenitor, Jonadab, the son of Rechab, led a nomadic and Nazarite life; after the destruction of the First Temple, they are said to have wandered as far as the district of Chaibar, attracted by its abundance of palms and grain. The Jews of Chaibar constructed a line of castles or fortresses, like the castles of the Christian knights; the strongest of them was Kamus, built upon a hill difficult of access. These castles protected them from the predatory incursions of the warlike Bedouins, and enabled them to offer an asylum to many a persecuted fugitive. Wadil-Kora (the valley of the villages), a fertile plain a day's journey56 from Chaibar, was also inhabited exclusively by Jews. In Mecca, where stood the sanctuary of the Arabs, there probably lived but few Jews.

They were numerously represented, however, in southern Arabia (Yemen), "the land," its inhabitants boasted, "the very dust of which was gold, which produced the healthiest men, and whose women brought forth without pain." But unlike their brethren in Hejas, the Jews of Arabia Felix lived without racial or political cohesion, scattered among the Arabs. They nevertheless in time obtained so great an influence over the Arab tribes and the kings of Yemen (Himyara), that they were able to prevent the propagation of Christianity in this region. The Byzantine Christian emperors had their desires fixed upon these markets for Indian produce. Without actually meditating the subjection of the brave Himyarites (Homerites), they desired to gain their friendship by converting them to Christianity; the cross was to be the means of effecting a commercial connection. It was not until the end of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth century that the Christian envoys succeeded in converting to Christianity an Arab prince and his tribe, whose capital was the commercial town of Najara.—Arabia owned only half the island of Yotabe (now Jijbân), in the Red Sea (60 miles to the south of the capital, Aila); a small Jewish free state had existed there since time immemorial.

In consequence of their Semitic descent, the Jews of Arabia possessed many points of similarity with the primitive inhabitants of the country. Their language was closely related to Arabic, and their customs, except those that had been produced by their religion, were not different from those of the sons of Arabia. The Jews became, therefore, so thoroughly Arabic that they were distinguished from the natives of the country only by their religious belief. Intermarriage between the two nations tended to heighten57 the similarity of their characters. Like the Himyarites, the Jews of southern Arabia applied themselves more particularly to the trade between India, the Byzantine empire, and Persia. The Jews of northern Arabia, on the contrary, led the life of Bedouins; they occupied themselves with agriculture, cattle breeding, transport by caravan, traffic in weapons, and probably also the calling of robbers. The Arabian Jews likewise possessed a patriarchal, tribal constitution. Several families were united under one name, and led by a chieftain (shaïch), who in times of peace settled controversies and pronounced judgment, and in war commanded all the men able to bear arms, and concluded alliances with neighboring tribes. Like the Arabs, the Jews of the peninsula extended their hospitality to every one who entered their tents, and held inviolable faith with their allies; but they shared also the faults of the original inhabitants of the peninsula, avenging the death of one of their number with rigorous inflexibility, and hiding in ambush in order to surprise and annihilate their enemy. It would sometimes happen that a Jewish tribe, having entered into an alliance with an Arabian clan, would find itself opposed to a kindred tribe which had espoused another cause. But even though Jews were at feud with each other, their innate qualities moderated in them Bedouin ferocity, which never extended mercy to a foe. They ransomed the prisoners of a kindred tribe with which they happened to be at war, from the hands of their own allies, being unwilling to abandon them as slaves to heathens, "because," said they, "the redemption of such of our co-religionists as are prisoners is a religious duty." Besides being equal to the Arabs in bravery, the Jews also contended with them for the palm in poetry. For in addition to manliness and courage, poetry was cultivated among the Arab nobles; it was fostered by the chieftains, and richly rewarded by the Arab58 kings. Next to the warrior, the poet was the man most honored in Arabia; for him all hearts and tents opened wide. The Jews of Arabia were likewise able to speak with elegance the Arabic language, and to adorn their poetry with rhymes.

The knowledge of their religion, which the Arabian Jews had brought with them in their flight from Judæa, and that which afterwards came to them from the academies, conferred upon them superiority over the heathen tribes, and soon made them their masters. While but few Arabs, before the latter part of the seventh century, were familiar with the art of writing, it was universally understood by the Jews, who made use, however, of the square, the so-called Assyrian characters. As the few Arabs that succeeded in learning to write generally employed the Hebrew characters, it would appear that they first acquired the art of writing from the Jews. Every Jew in Arabia was probably able to read the Holy Scriptures, for which reason the Arabs called the Jews the "nation of writing" (Ahl' ul kitab).

In the form in which it was transmitted to them, that is to say, with the character impressed upon it by the Tanaim and the Amoraim, Judaism was most holy to the Arabian Jews. They strictly observed the dietary laws, and solemnized the festivals, and the fast of Yom-Kippur, which they called Ashura. They celebrated the Sabbath with such rigor that in spite of their delight in war, and the opportunity for enjoying it, their sword remained in its scabbard on that day. Although they had nothing to complain of in this hospitable country, which they were able to regard and love as their fatherland, they yearned nevertheless to return to the holy land of their fathers, and daily awaited the coming of the Messiah. Like all the Jews of the globe, therefore, they turned their face in prayer towards Jerusalem. They were in communication59 with the Jews of Palestine, and even after the fall of the Patriarchate, willingly subordinated themselves to the authorities in Tiberias, whence they received, as also from the Babylonian academies probably, religious instruction and interpretation of the Bible. Yathrib was the seat of Jewish learning, and possessed teachers of the Law (Achbâr, Chabar) who expounded the Scriptures in an academy (Midras). But the knowledge of the Bible which the Arabian Jews possessed was not considerable. They were acquainted with it only through the medium of the Agadic exegesis, which had become familiar to them in their travels or had been brought to them by immigrants. For them the glorious history of the past coalesced so completely with the Agadic additions that they were no longer able to separate the gold from the dross. Endowed with poetical fancy, the Arabian Jews on their side embellished the Biblical history with interesting legends, which were afterwards circulated as actual facts.

The Jews of Arabia, enjoying complete liberty, and being subjected to no restraint, were able to defend their religious opinions without fear, and to communicate them with impunity to their heathen neighbors. The Arab mind, susceptible to intellectual promptings, was delighted with the simple, sublime contents of the Bible, and by degrees certain Jewish conceptions and religious ideas became familiar and current in Arabia. The Arabian Jews made their neighbors acquainted with a calendar-system, without which the latter were completely at sea in the arrangement of their holy seasons; learned Jews from Yathrib taught the Arabs to insert another month in their lunar year, which was far in arrear of the solar year. The Arabs adopted the nineteen-years cycle of the Jews (about 420), and called the intercalary month Nasi, doubtless from the circumstance that the Jews were accustomed60 to receive their calendar for the festivals from their Nasi (Patriarch).

The Jews even succeeded in instructing the Arabs in regard to their historical origin, concerning which their memories were void, and in their credulity the latter accepted this genealogy as the true one. It was of great consequence to the Jews to be regarded and acknowledged by the Arabs as their kinsmen, and too many points of social interest were bound up with this relationship for them to allow it to escape their attention. The holy city of Mecca (Alcharam), the chief city of the country, was built round an ancient temple (Kaaba, the Square), or more properly, round a black stone; for all Arabs it was an asylum, in which the sword durst not quit the sheath. The five fairs, the most important of which was at Okaz, could be frequented only in the four holy months of the year, when the truce of God prevailed. Whoever desired to take advantage of these periods and to enjoy security of life in the midst of a warlike people, not over-scrupulous in the matter of shedding blood, was obliged to establish his relationship to the Arabs, otherwise he was excluded from these privileges.

Happily, the Arabian Jews bethought them of the genealogy of the Arabs as set forth in the first book of the Pentateuch, and seized upon it as the instrument by which to prove their kinship with them. The Jews were convinced that they were related to the Arabs on two sides, through Yoktan and through Ishmael. Under their instruction, therefore, the two principal Arabian tribes traced back the line of their ancestors to these two progenitors, the real Arabs (the Himyarites) supposing themselves to be descended from Yoktan; the pseudo-Arabs in the north, on the other hand, deriving their origin from Ishmael. These points of contact granted, the Jews had ample opportunity to multiply the proofs of their relationship. The Arabs61 loved genealogical tables, and were delighted to be able to follow their descent and history so far into hoary antiquity; accordingly, all this appeared to them both evident and flattering. They consequently exerted themselves to bring their genealogical records and traditions into unison with the Biblical accounts. Although their traditions extended over less than six centuries on the one side to their progenitor Yarob and his sons or grandsons Himyar and Kachtan, and on the other, to Adnan, yet in their utter disregard of historical accuracy, this fact constituted no obstacle. Without a scruple, the southern Arabians called themselves Kachtanites, and the northern Arabians Ishmaelites. They readily accorded to the Jews the rights of relationship, that is to say, equality and all the advantages attending it.

The Arabs were thus in intimate intercourse with the Jews, and the sons of the desert, whose unpoetical mythology afforded them no matter for inspiration, derived much instruction from Judaism. Under these circumstances many Arabs could not fail to develop peculiar affection for Judaism, and some embraced this religion, though their conversion had not been thought of by the Jews. As they had practised circumcision while heathen, their conversion to Judaism was particularly easy. The members of a family among the Arabs were indissolubly bound to one another, and, according to their phylarchic constitution, the individuals identified themselves with the tribe. This brought about, that when a chieftain became a Jew, his whole clan at once followed him, the wisest, into the fold of Judaism. It is expressly recorded about several Arabian tribes that they were converted to Judaism; such were the Benu-Kinanah, a warlike, quarrelsome clan, related to the most respected Koraishites of Mecca, and several other families of the tribes Aus and Chazraj in Yathrib.

62 Especially memorable, however, in the history of the Arabs is the conversion to Judaism of a powerful king of Yemen. The princes or kings of Yemen bore the name of Tobba, and at times ruled over the whole of Arabia; they traced their historical origin back to Himyar, their legendary origin to Kachtan. One of these kings, who went by the name of Abu-Kariba Assad-Tobban, was a man of judgment, knowledge, poetical endowments, and of valor which incited him to conquest. Abu-Kariba therefore undertook (about 500) an expedition against Persia and the Arabian provinces of the Byzantine empire. On his march he passed through Yathrib, the capital of northern Arabia, and not expecting treachery from the inhabitants of the town, left his son there as governor. Hardly, however, had he proceeded further, when he received the sad intelligence that the people of Yathrib had killed his son. Smitten with grief, he turned back in order to wreak bloody vengeance on the perfidious city, and after cutting down the palm trees, from which the inhabitants derived their principal sustenance, laid siege to it with his numerous band of warriors. A Jewish poet composed an elegy on the ruined palm trees, which the Arabs loved like living beings, and the destruction of which they bewailed like the death of dear relatives. The Jews rivaled the Chazraj Arabs in bravery in resisting Abu-Kariba's attack, and finally succeeded in tiring out his troops. During the siege, the Himyarite king was seized with a severe illness, and no fresh water could be discovered in the neighborhood to quench his burning thirst. Two Jewish teachers of the Law from Yathrib, Kaab and Assad by name, took advantage of Abu-Kariba's exhaustion to betake themselves to his tent, and persuade him to pardon the inhabitants of Yathrib and raise the siege. The Arabs have woven a tissue of legend about this interview, but it is certain63 that the Jewish sages found opportunity to discourse to Abu-Kariba of Judaism, and succeeded in inspiring him with a lively interest for it. The exhortations of Kaab and Assad raised his sympathy to so high a pitch that he determined to embrace the Jewish faith, and induced the Himyarite army to do likewise.

At his desire the two Jewish sages of Yathrib accompanied him to Yemen, in order to convert his people to Judaism. This conversion, however, was not easy, for a nation does not cast off its opinions, usages and bad habits at will. There remained as many heathens as Jews in the land; they retained their temples, and were allowed to profess their religion unmolested. Altogether the Judaism which the king of Yemen professed must have been very superficial, and cannot have influenced to an appreciable extent the customs or the mode of living of the people. A prince of the noble tribe of the Kendites, a nephew of the king of Yemen, Harith Ibn-Amru by name, also embraced the Jewish faith. Abu-Kariba appointed him as viceroy of the Maaddites on the Red Sea, and also gave him the government of Mecca and Yathrib. With Harith a number of the Kendites went over to Judaism. The news of a Jewish king and a Jewish empire in the most beautiful and fertile part of Arabia was spread abroad by the numerous foreigners who visited the country for the purpose of trade, and reached the Jews of the most distant lands. It was asserted that they had settled there before the destruction of the First Temple and the fall of the Israelite kingdom.

Abu-Kariba's reign did not last long after his adoption of Judaism. His warlike nature prevented him from maintaining peace, and prompted him to engage in bold enterprises. It is said that in one of these campaigns he was slain by his own soldiers, who were worn out with fatigue and weary marches.64 He left three sons, Hassan, Amru, and Zorah, all of whom were minors.

Zorah, the youngest (520–530), was nicknamed Dhu-Nowas (curly-locks) on account of his fine head of hair. He was a zealous disciple of Judaism, and for that reason gave himself the Hebrew name Yussuf. But his zeal for the religion of which his father had also been an enthusiastic advocate continually involved him in difficulties, and brought misfortune to him, his kingdom, and the Jews of Himyara. King Zorah Yussuf Dhu-Nowas had heard how his co-religionists in the Byzantine kingdom suffered from daily persecution. He felt deeply for them, and wished therefore by retaliation to force the Byzantine emperors to render justice to the Jews. When some Roman (Byzantine) merchants were traveling on business through Himyara, the king had them seized and put to death. This spread terror among the Christian merchants who traded with the country whence come the sweet perfumes and the wealth of India. It also caused the Indian and Arabian trade to decline. In consequence of this, Dhu-Nowas involved his people in an exhausting war.

A neighboring king, Aidug, who still adhered to heathenism, reproached the Jewish king for his impolitic step in destroying the trade with Europe. The excuse Dhu-Nowas made was that many notable Jews in Byzantium were innocently put to death every year. This, however, made no impression upon Aidug. He declared war against Dhu-Nowas and defeated him in battle (521). As the outcome of his victory, Aidug is said to have embraced Christianity. Dhu-Nowas was not killed in this battle, as the Christian authorities relate, but made another effort, and through his impetuosity entangled himself in new difficulties. Najaran, in Yemen, was inhabited chiefly by Christians; it had, too, a Christian chief, Harith (Aretas) Ibn-Kaleb, who was a65 feudatory of the Jewish-Himyaritic kingdom. Harith probably did not perform his feudal duties in the war against Aidug, or he may have committed other acts of insubordination. One account relates that two young Jews were murdered in Najaran, and that the chief Harith was cognizant thereof. The Jewish king was therefore much displeased; at any rate, Dhu-Nowas had a pretext for chastising the ruler of Najaran as a rebel. He besieged the town, and reduced the inhabitants to such straits that they were forced to capitulate. Three hundred and forty chosen men, with Harith at their head, repaired to Dhu-Nowas's camp to sign the terms of peace (523). There, it is said, the king of Himyara, although he had assured the men of immunity from punishment, determined either to force them to accept Judaism or to put them to death. As they refused to renounce their faith, it is reported that they were executed, and their bodies thrown into the river. The entire account is so completely legendary that it is impossible to discover any historical fact. This much is certain: Dhu-Nowas levied a heavy tribute on the Christians in the kingdom of Himyara as a reprisal for the persecution of his co-religionists in Christian countries.

The news of the events in Najaran spread like wildfire; the number of the victims was exaggerated, and the punishment of the rebels was stigmatized as a persecution of the Christians on the part of a Jewish king. An elegy was composed on the martyrs. Simeon, a Syrian bishop, who was traveling to northern Arabia, did his utmost to rouse up enemies against Dhu-Nowas. Simeon believed the exaggerated account which had been circulated. He sent an incisive letter to another bishop who lived near Arabia, imploring him to set the Christians against the Jewish king, and to incite the Nejus (king) of Ethiopia to war against him. He also proposed to imprison the teachers of Judaism66 in Tiberias, and to compel them to write to Dhu-Nowas to put a stop for their sake to the persecution of the Christians. The Emperor Justin the First, a weak and foolish old man, was also asked to make war on the Jewish king. But his people were engaged in a war against the Persians, and he therefore replied, "Himyara is too far from us, and I cannot allow my army to march through a sandy desert for so great a distance. But I will write to the king of Ethiopia to send troops to Himyara."

Thus, many enemies conspired to ruin one who had attempted to assist his co-religionists in every way. Dhu-Nowas's most formidable enemy was Elesbaa (Atzbaha), the Nejus of Ethiopia, a monarch full of religious zeal. He beheld with jealousy the crown on the head of a Jew, and required no persuasion to fight, for the Jewish kingdom had long been a thorn in his side. Elesbaa equipped a powerful fleet, which the Byzantine Emperor, or rather young Justinian, his co-regent, re-inforced with ships from Egypt. A numerous army crossed the narrow strait of the Red Sea to Yemen. The Christian soldiers were united with this army. Dhu-Nowas, it is true, took measures to prevent the landing of the Ethiopian army by barring the landing-places with chains, and gathering an army on his side. The army of Himyara, however, was inferior in numbers to that of Ethiopia, but the king relied on his faithful and courageous cavalry. The first engagement terminated disastrously for Dhu-Nowas. The town of Zafara (Thafar) fell into the hands of the enemy, and with it the queen and the treasures. The Himyaran soldiers lost all courage. Yussuf Dhu-Nowas, who saw that there was no escape, and who was unwilling to fall into the hands of his arrogant foe, plunged, with his steed, from a rock into the sea, his body being carried far away (530). The victorious Ethiopians raged in Himyara with fire and sword, plundering, massacring, and taking the67 unarmed prisoners. They were so enraged at the Jews in Himyara that they massacred thousands as an atoning sacrifice for the supposed Christian martyrs of Najaran. Such was the end of the Jewish kingdom of Himyara, which arose in a night and disappeared in a night.

About this time the Jews of Yathrib fell into strife with the neighboring tribes of Arabia. The Jews in Yathrib, on account of their intimate relation with the king of Himyara, whose authority extended over the province, ruled over the heathen, and a Jewish chief was governor. The Arabians of the Kailan race (Aus and Chazraj) hated the rule of the Jews, and seized the opportunity of rebelling when the Jews could not rely on assistance from Himyara. An Arabian chief of the Ghassanid race, Harith Ibn Abu Shammir, who was closely related to the Kailan race, was invited to lead his troops towards Yathrib. This brave and adventurous prince of Arabia, who was attached to the Byzantine court, accepted the invitation. In order not to arouse the suspicions of the Jews, Ibn Abu Shammir gave out that he intended going to Himyara. He encamped near Yathrib, and invited the Jewish chiefs to visit him. Many of them came, expecting to be welcomed with the prince's usual generosity, and to be loaded with presents. But as they entered the tent of the Ghassanid prince, they were one by one murdered. Thereupon Ibn Abu Shammir exclaimed to the Arabs of Yathrib: "I have freed you from a great part of your enemies; now it will be easy for you to master the rest, if you have strength and courage." He then departed. The Arabs, however, did not venture to engage openly with the Jews, but had recourse to a stratagem. During a banquet, all the Jewish chiefs were killed, as well as Alghitjun or Sherif, the Jewish prince. Deprived of their leaders, the Jews of Yathrib were easily conquered by the Arabians, and they were obliged68 to give up their strongholds to them (530–535). It was a long time before they could get over the loss of their power and the sense of defeat. The insecurity of their lives taught them dissimulation, and they gradually placed themselves under the protection of one or another tribe, and so became dependents (Mawâli) of Aus and Chazraj. They hoped for the coming of the Messiah to crush their enemies.

Harith Ibn Abu Shammir, the Ghassanid prince, on his return from Yathrib, commenced a feud with a Jewish poet, who thereby became renowned throughout Arabia. Samuel Ibn-Adiya (born about 500 and died about 560), whose martial spirit was shown in the attacks of the Ghassanids, won immortality through his friendship with the most celebrated poet of Arabia in the time before Mahomet. His biography gives an insight into the life of the Jews of Arabia of that time. According to some, Samuel was descended from the heathen race of the Ghassanids; according to others, he was of Jewish origin, or to be more correct, he had an Arabian mother and a Jewish father. Adiya, his father, had lived in Yathrib until he built a castle in the neighborhood of Taima, which, from its many colors, was called Al-ablak, and has been immortalized in Arabic poetry. Samuel, the chief of a small tribe, was so respected in Hejas that the weaker tribes placed themselves under his protection. Ablak was a refuge for the persecuted and exiled, and the owner of the castle defended those under his roof at the risk of his life.

Imrulkais Ibn Hojr, the adventurous son of the Kendite prince, and at the same time the most distinguished poet of Arabia, was hemmed in on all sides by secret and open enemies, and could find shelter nowhere except in Samuel's safe retreat. The Jewish poet, the lord of the castle, was proud to afford a refuge to Arabia's most celebrated writer,69 whose fame and adventures were known throughout the peninsula. Imrulkais took his daughter and what remained of his retinue to Ablak, and lived there for some time. As the Kendite prince had no prospect of obtaining the assistance of the Arabs to avenge the murder of his father, and to regain his paternal inheritance, he endeavored to win over Justinian, the Byzantine Emperor. Before starting on his journey, he charged Samuel with the care of his daughter, his cousin, and of five valuable coats of mail and other arms. Samuel promised to guard the persons and the goods entrusted to him as he would the apple of his eye. But these arms brought misfortune on him. When the Ghassanid prince was in Hejas he went to Ablak, Samuel's castle, and demanded the surrender of Imrulkais' arms. Samuel refused to surrender them according to his promise. Harith then laid siege to the castle. Finding it impregnable, however, the tyrant had recourse to a barbarous expedient to compel Samuel to submit. One of Samuel's sons was taken outside the citadel by his nurse, and Harith captured him, and threatened to kill him unless Samuel acceded to his request. The unfortunate father hesitated for only a moment between duty to his guest and affection for his son; his sense of duty prevailed, and he said to the Ghassanid prince: "Do what you will; time always avenges treachery, and my son has brothers." Unmoved by such magnanimity, the despot slew the son before his father's eyes. Nevertheless, Harith had to withdraw from Ablak without accomplishing his object. The Arab proverb, "Faithful as Samuel," used to express undying faith, originated from this circumstance.

Many blamed him for the sacrifice of his son; but he defended himself in a poem, full of noble sentiments, courage and chivalrous ideas:—

70

Oh, ye censurers, cease to blame the man
Who so oft has defied your censure.
You should, when erring, have guided me aright,
Instead of leading me astray with empty words.
I have preserved the Kendite coats of mail;
Another may betray the trust confided him!
Thus did Adiya, my father, counsel me in by-gone days:
"O Samuel, destroy not what I have built up!"
For me he built a strong and safe place, where
I ne'er feared to give defiance to my oppressor.

Before his death (about 560) Samuel could look back with pride on his chivalrous life and on the protection he had afforded the weak. His swan-song runs:—

Oh, would that I knew, the day my loss is lamented,
What testimony my mourners would afford me;
Whether they will say "Stay with us! For
In many a trouble you have comforted us;
The rights you had you ne'er resigned,
Yet needed no reminder to give theirs to others."

Shoraich, his son, followed in his father's footsteps. He was a brave and noble man. On one occasion Maimun Asha, the celebrated Arabic poet, whose ungovernable temper raised many enemies against him, was pursued by an adversary, and having been captured, he was, by chance and without being recognized, taken with other prisoners to Taima, the castle of Shoraich. Here, in order to obtain his release, he sang a poem in praise of Samuel:—

Be like Samuel, when the fierce warrior
Pressed heavily around him with his array;
"Choose between the loss of a child and faithlessness!"
Oh, evil choice which thou hadst to make!
But quickly and calmly did he reply:
"Kill thy captive, I fulfil my pledges."

Towards the end of the sixth century, the Jews of Yathrib had nearly recovered from the oppressive blows dealt them by their neighbors in Arabia. Their rulers, the Aus and Chazraj, had exhausted themselves in bloody feuds which lasted twenty71 years, whilst their allies suffered less. In consequence of another war between the same tribes, the Jews again rose to importance in Yathrib.

Judaism not only won over to its side many tribes in Arabia, and taught the sons of the desert certain indispensable arts, but it also inspired the founder of a religion, who played an important part in the great drama of the world's history, and whose influence survives to this day. Mahomet, the prophet of Mecca and Yathrib, was, it is true, not a loyal son of Judaism, but he appreciated its highest aims, and was induced by it to give to the world a new faith, known as Islam, founded on a lofty basis. This religion has exercised a wonderful influence on the course of Jewish history and on the evolution of Judaism. In the peaceful meetings in Mecca, his birthplace, at the public markets, and on his travels, Abdallah's son heard much spoken of the religion which acknowledges the belief in one God, who rules the world. He heard much of Abraham, who devoted himself to the service of God, and of religion and morality, which gave the disciples of Judaism the advantage over infidels. Mahomet's mind, at once original and receptive, was powerfully impressed by all this. Waraka Ibn-Naufal, a celebrated Meccan, and a descendant of the noble Khoraish race, was a cousin of Chadija, Mahomet's wife, and he had embraced Judaism and knew Hebrew well. He certainly imbued Mahomet with a love for the religion of Abraham.

Mahomet's first doctrines were strongly tinged with Jewish coloring. He first conceived them when suffering from epilepsy, and he communicated them to his friends, pretending that they were revealed to him by the angel Gabriel. First and foremost he proclaimed the simple but fundamental principle of Judaism: "There is no God but Allah"; later his pride led him to add as an integral part of the confession of faith, "and Mahomet is his prophet."72 Judaism may justly consider his teachings a victory of its own truths and a fulfilment of the prophecy that "one day every knee will bend to the only God, and every tongue will worship Him," for Mahomet taught the unity of God, that there are no gods beside Him (anti-trinity), and that He may not be represented by any image. He preached against the dissolute idolatry which was practised with 300 idols in the Kaaba; he declaimed against the immorality which was openly and shamelessly practised amongst the Arabs; he condemned the revolting practice of parents who from fear or in order to be rid of them drowned their new-born daughters, and he declared that there was nothing new in all these changes, but that they were commanded by the faith of the ancient religion of Abraham. A similar thing had happened at the time when Paul of Tarsus first made known to the Hellenes the history and principles of Judaism.

The best teachings in the Koran are borrowed from the Bible or the Talmud. In consequence of the difficulties which Mahomet for several years (612–633) had to encounter in Mecca on account of these purified doctrines, there grew around the sound kernel a loathsome husk. Mahomet's connection with the Jews of Arabia assisted not a little in determining and modifying the teachings of Islam. Portions of the Koran are devoted to them, at times in a friendly, at times in a hostile spirit.

When Mahomet failed in obtaining a hearing in Mecca, the seat of idolatrous worship in Arabia, and even ran the risk of losing his life there, he addressed himself to some men from Yathrib, and urged them to accept his doctrines. These men were more familiar with Jewish doctrines than the Meccans; they found in Mahomet's revelations a close analogy to what they had often heard from their Jewish neighbors. They, therefore, showed themselves inclined to follow him, and caused him73 to be invited to Yathrib, where his teachings were likely to be favorably received on account of the numerous Jews residing there. As soon as he came there (622, the year of expatriation—Hejira), Mahomet took care to win over the Jews of Yathrib and to set forth his aims, as though he desired to bring about the universal recognition of Judaism in Arabia. When he saw the Jews fasting on the day of Atonement, he said, "It becomes us more than Jews to fast on this day," and he established a fast-day (Ashura). Mahomet entered into a formal alliance for mutual defense with the Jewish tribes, and instituted the custom of turning towards Jerusalem in prayer (Kiblah). In the disputes between the Jews and his disciples (Moslems), which were submitted to his judgment, he behaved leniently to the Jews. For this reason Mahomet's disciples preferred to bring the matters in dispute before a Jewish chief, because they expected more impartiality from him than from Mahomet. Mahomet for a long time employed a Jewish scribe to do his correspondence, he himself being unable to write. These advances on the part of a man of so much promise were very flattering to the Jews of Medina. They looked upon him to some extent as a Jewish proselyte, and expected to see Judaism through him attain to power in Arabia. Some of them followed him devotedly and were his faithful allies (Ansar); amongst them was a learned youth, Abdallah Ibn-Salâm, of the race of Kainukaa. Abdallah and other Jews assisted Mahomet in propagating the Koran. The unbelieving Arabs frequently reproached him, saying that he was an ear (accepted anything as truth), that it was not the angel Gabriel who was teaching him, but a mortal man. Nevertheless, though Abdallah Ibn-Salâm and other Jewish Ansars supported him, they were far from abandoning Judaism on this account, and continued to observe the Jewish commandments, and Mahomet was at first not offended by this conduct.

74 But only a small number of the Jews of Medina joined the band of believers, particularly when they perceived his selfish efforts, his haughtiness, and his insatiable love of women. They bore in their hearts too high an ideal of their ancient prophets to place this enthusiast, who longed after every beautiful woman, on an equal footing with them. "See him," said the Jews, "he is not satisfied with food, and has no other desire than that of being surrounded by women. If he is a prophet, he should confine himself to his duties as a prophet, and not turn to women." Other Jews said: "If Mahomet is a prophet, he should appear in Palestine, for only in that place God appears unto his elect." The Jews also objected to him, saying, "You pride yourself on being of Abraham's faith, but Abraham did not use the flesh and milk of camels." Mahomet's chief opponents on the Jewish side were Pinehas Ibn-Azura, a man of caustic wit, who seized every opportunity to make Mahomet appear ridiculous; furthermore, the far-famed Kaab Ibn-Asharaf, the offspring of an Arab father and a Jewish mother; a poet, Abu-Afak, an old man more than a hundred years old, who endeavored to arouse hate against Mahomet amongst the ignorant Arabs; and Abdallah, the son of Saura, who was looked upon as the most learned Jew in Hejas. Pinehas is the author of a witty answer to Mahomet's invitation to the Jewish tribe of Benu-Kainukaa to accept Islam. Mahomet, in his epistle, had used the words: "Lend yourselves unto God as a beautiful pledge." Pinehas answered, "God is so poor that He borrows from us!" Thus the Jewish opponents of Mahomet placed a ridiculous meaning on his sayings and revelations, and treated him contemptuously, not anticipating that the fugitive from Mecca, who had come to Medina for assistance, would shortly humble and in part destroy their tribes, and that he would control the destiny of75 many of their co-religionists in times to come. They relied too much on their own courage and strength, and forgot that the most dangerous enemy is he whom one disregards too much. Mahomet, indeed, with sly dissimulation, at first accepted the contempt bestowed on him by the Jews with apparent equanimity. He advised his disciples, "Fight only in a becoming manner with the people who believe in the Holy Writ (Jews), and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and to you. Our God is the same as yours, and we are faithful to Him." But the mutual discontent made it difficult to maintain peace permanently. On the one side, the Jews did their best to alienate Mahomet's followers. They succeeded in prejudicing the first man in Medina, the Chazrajite Abdallah Ibn-Ubey, against Mahomet, so that he remained antagonistic to Mahomet to the end of his days. This man was about to be elected king of his town, but through the arrival of Mahomet he had been cast into the shade. On the other side, his followers urged him to declare to what extent he held to Judaism. They saw that his disciples amongst the Jews still continued to observe the Jewish laws, and to abstain from camel's flesh, and they said to him, "If the Torah be a divine book, then let us follow its teachings." Since Mahomet was thoroughly an Arab, he could not join Judaism, and he perceived that the Arabs would not conform to religious customs which were quite strange to them. So it only remained for him to break with the Jews definitely. He thereupon published a long Sura (called the Sura of the Cow), full of invectives against the Jews. He altered the position assumed in prayer, and decreed that the believers should no longer turn their faces towards Jerusalem, but towards Mecca and the Kaaba. He discarded fasting on the day of Atonement (Ashura), and instituted instead the holy month Ramadhan,76 as had been customary among the Arabs from very ancient times. He was obliged to withdraw much of what he had in the beginning given out as God's revelation. Mahomet now asserted that the Torah had contained many allusions to his appearance and calling as a prophet, but that the Jews had expunged the passages. At first he declared that the Jews were possessed of the true faith; later on he said that they honored Ezra (Ozaïr) as the son of God, just as the Christians did Jesus, and that the Jews were consequently to be regarded as infidels. His hatred against the Jews, who refused to accept his prophecies, and saw through his designs, continually widened the breach between them and him.

Although he hated the Jews in his innermost heart, yet he did not venture to provoke them by acts of violence, because his authority was not sufficiently great, and the Jews outnumbered his followers. But after the battle at Bedr (in the winter of 624), when the small body of Mahometans gained a victory over the numerous Koraishites, the situation changed. Mahomet, whose power was greatly increased through this victory, exchanged the attitude of a humble prophet for that of a fanatical tyrant, to whom any measure, even assassination, was a justifiable means of freeing himself from his enemies. However, he was prudent enough to avoid becoming involved in disputes with the powerful Jewish tribes; he began with the weak and defenseless. A poetess, Asma, daughter of Merwan, who was of Jewish descent, and married to an Arab, was murdered at night whilst asleep (because she had composed satires against the false prophet), and he commended the murderer. Thereupon the Jewish tribe Kainukaa experienced his religious wrath. It was the weakest of the Jewish-Arabian tribes, and to it belonged that Pinehas Ibn-Azura, whose sarcastic wit had made Mahomet appear in a ridiculous77 light. The pretext was of the slightest kind. A Mahometan had killed a Jew on account of a poor practical joke, and the Kainukaa avenged his death. Mahomet thereupon challenged them to profess Islam, or to accept war as the alternative. They replied: "We are, it is true, for peace, and would gladly maintain our alliance with you; but since you desire to make war upon us, we will show that we have no fear." They reckoned upon the assistance of the tribes of Nadhir and Kuraiza, who were their co-religionists, and withdrew to their fortresses at Medina. Mahomet collected his troops, and besieged the Kainukaa. Had the numerous Jews of northern Arabia, Nadhir, Kuraiza, and those of Chaibar, who, like the Kainukaa, were threatened, come to their assistance, and had they, before it was too late, made an offensive and defensive alliance, they would have been able to crush Mahomet and his straggling followers, on whose fidelity, moreover, he could not entirely rely. But the Jews, like the Arabs, were divided, and each tribe had only its own interests in view. The Kainukaa fought desperately for fifteen days, expecting re-inforcements from their co-religionists. But as these did not come, they surrendered to the enemy. Mahomet had all the Jews of Kainukaa put in chains with the intention of killing them; but a word from Abdallah Ibn-Ubey, their ally, made him draw back with alarm from his purpose. Abdallah laid hold of his shirt of mail, and said: "I will not let you go until you promise me to spare the captives; for they constitute my strength; they have defended me against the black people and the red people." To which Mahomet replied: "Let them be free; may God condemn them, and Abdallah with them!" The Jews of Kainukaa, 700 in number, were obliged to leave their possessions behind, and they set out for Palestine in a most destitute condition (February, 624). They settled in Batanea, whose chief town was Adraat,78 where they were probably received in a fraternal manner by their co-religionists, who, at this time, were free from the Byzantine yoke.

After the victory over the Kainukaa, Mahomet communicated to the Moslems a revelation against the Jews, which deprived them of every protection: "O ye believers, choose ye not Jews and Christians as allies; they may protect themselves. He who befriends them is one of them; God tolerates no sinful people." This exclusion was less harmful to the Christians, as they were not numerously represented in northern Arabia, and generally kept themselves neutral. The Jews, on the contrary, who were accustomed to independence, and who were full of warlike courage, became involved in numerous disputes by this act of outlawry. Their former allies for the most part renounced them, and at Mahomet's bidding, took spiteful vengeance on them.

With this mutual, deadly hatred existing between Mahomet and the Jews, it is said that the Benu-Nadhir invited him one day to their castle of Zuhara with the intention of hurling him from the terraces and thus ending his life. At that time their chief was Hujej Ibn-Achtab. Mahomet accepted the invitation, but watched the movements of the Jews. Suspecting that they desired his death, he stole away and hastened to Medina. The Jews of Nadhir paid dearly, it is said, for this treacherous project. Mahomet gave them the choice of quitting their homes within ten days, or of preparing for death. The Nadhir were resolved at first to avoid war and to emigrate, but encouraged by Abdallah, who promised them assistance, they accepted the challenge which had been thrown down. They, however, waited in vain for the assistance promised to them. Mahomet commenced operations against them, and uprooted and burnt the date-trees which supplied them with food. His own people rebelled79 at this proceeding, for to these unscrupulous warriors a palm was holier than a man's life. After several days of siege, the Nadhir were obliged to capitulate, and the terms were that they should depart without arms, and that they should take only a certain portion of their possessions—as much as a camel could carry.

They thereupon emigrated to the number of six hundred, some of them going to their countrymen in Chaibar, and some settling in Jericho and Adraat (June-July, 625). The war against the Nadhirites was, later on, justified by Mahomet through a revelation of the Koran, which read: "All in the heavens and earth praise God; He is the most honored, the most wise. He it is who drove out the unbelievers amongst the people of the Book from their dwelling places (Kainukaa), to send them to those who had already emigrated. You thought not that they would go forth, they themselves thought that their strong places would protect them from God himself, but God attacked them unexpectedly, and threw terror into their hearts, so that their houses were destroyed with their own hands, as well as laid waste by believers." The exiled Benu-Nadhir, who had remained in Arabia, did not accept their misfortune quietly, but exerted themselves to form a coalition with the enemies of Mahomet in order to attack him with combined forces. Three respected Nadhirites, Hujej, Kinanah Ibn-ol-Rabia, and Sallam Ibn Mishkam, incited the Koraishites in Mecca, in alliance with the mighty tribe of the Ghatafan and others, to make war against the haughty tyrannical prophet, who was daily becoming more powerful and more cruel. The enemies of Mahomet in Mecca, though filled with rage against him, were first incited by the Jews to join battle with him.

Through the activity of the Nadhirites the Arabian tribes were induced to join in the war. They found it more difficult, however, to induce their co-80religionists, the Benu-Kuraiza, to take part. Kaab-Ibn-Assad, the governor of Kuraiza, at first would not receive the Nadhirite Hujej, who had desired his protection, because his tribe had made an alliance with Mahomet and the Moslems, and he was so guileless as to rely on Mahomet's word. Hujej managed to convince him of the danger which threatened the Jews, and to persuade him that the victory of so many allies over the less numerous Moslems was certain. The Benu-Kuraiza yielded to his arguments. Ten thousand of the allied troops took the field, and intended to surprise Medina. Mahomet, forewarned by a deserter, would not allow his army, which was inferior in numbers, to fight a pitched battle. He fortified Medina by surrounding it with a deep ditch and other defenses. The Arabs, accustomed to fight in single combat, vainly discharged their arrows against the fortifications. Mahomet succeeded finally in sowing the seeds of mutual distrust among the chief allies, viz., the Koraishites, the Ghatafan and the Jews.

The "War of the Fosse" terminated favorably for Mahomet, and very unhappily for the Jews, upon whom the whole of his wrath now fell. On the day after the departure of the allies, Mahomet, with 3000 men, took the field against Kuraiza, announcing that he was thus obeying an express revelation. His next step was to arouse the enthusiasm of his followers in the cause of the war. "Let him that is obedient offer up his prayers in the neighborhood of Kuraiza," was the formula with which he exhorted them. The Jews, unable to resist in a battle, retired to their fortresses, which they put into a state of defense. Here they were besieged by Mahomet and his troops for twenty-five days (February-March, 627). Food then began to fail the besieged, and it became necessary to think of capitulation. They besought Mahomet to81 treat them as he had treated their brethren, the Nadhirites, viz., allow them to withdraw with their wives, their children, and a portion of their property. The vindictive prophet, however, refused their request, and demanded unconditional surrender.

Nearly 700 Jews, amongst them the chiefs Kaab and Hujej, were ruthlessly slaughtered in the market-place, and their bodies thrown into a common grave. The market-place was thenceforth called the Kuraiza Place. And all this was done in the name of God! The Koran makes reference to it in the following verse: "God drove out of their fortresses those of the people of the Book [the Jews] who assisted the allies, and he cast into their hearts terror and dismay. Some of them you put to flight, some you took captive; he has caused you to inherit their land, their houses, and their wealth, and a land which you have not trodden; for God is almighty." The women were bartered for weapons and horses. Mahomet wished to retain one of the captives, a beautiful girl, Rihana by name, as his concubine; she, however, proudly rejected his advances. Only one of the Kuraiza remained alive, a certain Zabir Ibn-Bata, and he only by the intercession of Thabit, one of his friends. Full of joy, the latter hastened to the aged Zabir, to tell him of his fortune. "I thank thee," said the Jewish sage, who lay in fetters; "but tell me what has become of our leader Kaab?" "He is dead," answered Thabit. "And Hujej Ibn-Achtab, the prince of the Jews?" "He is dead," he again replied. "And Azzel Ibn-Samuel, the fearless warrior?" "He, too, is dead," was his answer again. "Then I do not care to live," said Zabir. The old man begged that he might die by the hands of his friend. His wish was granted.

A year later came the turn of the Jews in the district of Chaibar, a confederacy of small Jewish states. This war, however, was protracted into a82 long campaign, because the province had a number of fortresses which were in a good state of repair, and were well defended. The exiled Nadhirites in Chaibar roused their comrades to vigorous resistance. The Arab races of Ghatafan and Fezara had promised assistance. The leading spirit of the Chaibarites was the exiled Nadhirite, Kinanah Ibn Rabia, a man who possessed indomitable firmness and courage. He was called the King of the Jews, and was abetted by Marhab, a giant of Himyarite extraction. Mahomet, before the beginning of the war, turned in prayer to God, beseeching him to grant a victory over the Jews of Chaibar. The war, in which Mahomet employed 14,000 warriors, lasted almost two months (Spring 628).

The war against Chaibar assumed the same character as that which was waged against the other Jewish tribes. It was begun by the cutting down of the palm trees, and the siege of the small fortresses, which surrendered after a short resistance. Mahomet met the most vigorous resistance at the fortress Kamus, which was built on a steep rock. The Mahometans were several times beaten back by the Jews. Abu-Bekr and Omar, Mahomet's two bravest generals, lost their distinction as unconquered heroes before the walls of Kamus. Marhab performed wonderful feats of valor, to avenge the death of his brother, who had fallen earlier in the war.

When Mahomet sent his third general, Ali, against him, the Jewish hero addressed him thus: "Chaibar knows my valor, I am Marhab the hero, well armed and tried in the field." He then challenged Ali to single combat. But his time had come. He fell at the hands of his peer. After many attempts, the enemy succeeded in effecting an entrance into the fortress. How the captives fared is not known. Kinanah was captured and put on the rack in order to force him to discover his hidden83 treasures. But he bore pain and even death without uttering a word. After the fortress had fallen, the Jews lost courage, and the other fortresses surrendered on condition that the garrisons should be allowed to withdraw. They were subsequently allowed to take possession of their lands, and only had to pay as an annual tribute one half of their produce. The Mahometan conquerors took possession of all the movable property, and returned home laden with the spoils of the Jews. Fadak, Wadil-Kora and Taima also submitted. Their inhabitants, according to agreement, were allowed to remain in their land. The year 628 everywhere was distinguished by fatalities for the Jews. It marks the victory of Mahomet over the Jews of Chaibar, the decay of the last independent Jewish tribes, and the persecution of the Jews of Palestine by the Emperor Heraclius, who had, for a short time, again taken up arms. The sword which the Hasmoneans had wielded in defense of their religion, and which was in turn used by the Zealots and the Arabian Jews, was wrung from the hands of the last Jewish heroes of Chaibar, and henceforth the Jews had to make use of another weapon for the protection of their sanctuary.

Mahomet had brought two pretty Jewish women with him from the war at Chaibar: Safia, the daughter of his inveterate enemy, the Nadhirite Hujej, and Zainab, the sister of Marhab. This courageous woman bethought herself of an artifice, whereby she might avenge the murder of her co-religionists and relatives. She pretended to be friendly towards him, and prepared a repast for him. Mahomet unsuspectingly ate of a poisoned dish which she had set before him and his companions. One of them died from the effects. But Mahomet, who, not having found the dish to his taste, had scarcely tasted it, was saved alive, but suffered for a long time, and felt the effects of84 the poison to the hour of his death. Questioned as to the reason of her action, Zainab coolly replied, "You have persecuted my people with untold afflictions; I therefore thought that if you were simply a warrior, I could procure rest for them through poison, but if you were really a prophet, God would warn you in time, and you would come to no harm."

Mahomet thereupon ordered her to be put to death, and commanded his troops to use none of the cooking utensils of the Jews before they had been scalded. The rest of the Jews did not even now give up the hope of freeing themselves of their arch-enemy. They intrigued against him, and made common cause with some ill-disposed Arabs. The house of a Jew, Suwailim, in Medina was the appointed meeting-place for the malcontents, whom Mahomet and his fanatic followers named "the hypocrites" (Munafikun). A traitor betrayed them, and Suwailim's house was burnt to the ground. The Jews in Arabia felt real joy at Mahomet's death (632), because they, like others, believed that the Arabs would be cured of their false belief that he was a higher being endowed with immortality. But fanaticism, together with the love of war and conquest, had already taken possession of the Arabians, and they accepted the Koran as a whole, alike its revolting features and the truths borrowed from Judaism, as the irrefragable Word of God. Judaism had reared in Islam a second unnatural child. The Koran became the book of faith of a great part of humanity in three parts of the world, and, being full of hostile expressions against the Jews, it naturally urged on the Mahometans to acts of hostility against the Jews. This is paralleled by the effect which the Apostles and the Evangelists produced upon the Christians. So great was the fanaticism of the second Caliph, Omar, a man of a wild and energetic nature, that he broke the85 treaty made by Mahomet with the Jews of Chaibar and Wadil-Kora. He drove them from their lands, as he did also the Christians of Najaran, in order that the holy ground of Arabia might not be desecrated by Jews and Christians.

Omar assigned the landed property of the Jews to the Mahometan warriors, and a strip of land near the town of Kufa, on the Euphrates, was given them in return (about 640). But as no evil in history is quite devoid of good consequences, the dominion of Islam furthered the elevation of Judaism from its deepest degradation.


86

CHAPTER IV.
THE AGE OF THE GEONIM.

The Conquests of Islam—Omar's Intolerance—Condition of the Jews in Babylonia—Bostanaï—The Princes of the Captivity and the Geonim—Dignity and Revenues of the Prince—Communal Organization—Excommunication—Julian of Toledo and the Jews—The Moslems in Spain—The Jews and Arabic Literature—The Assyrian Vowel-system—The Neo-Hebraic Poetry: José ben José—Simon ben Caipha—Employment of Rhyme—Jannaï—Eleazar Kaliri—Opposition to the Study of the Talmud—The False Messiah Serenus, the Syrian—The Jews in the Crimea and the Land of the Chazars—The False Messiah Obadia Abu-Isa.

640–760 C. E.

Scarcely ten years after Mahomet's death the fairest lands in the north of Arabia and the northwest of Africa acknowledged the supremacy of the Arabs who, with the sword in one hand and the Koran in the other, swept across the borders of Arabia with the cry: "There is no God but Allah, and Mahomet is his prophet." Although there was no distinguished man at the head of the Arab troops, they conquered the world with far greater speed than the hosts of Alexander of Macedon. The kingdom of Persia, weakened by old age and dissension, succumbed to the first blow, and the Byzantine provinces, Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, whose inhabitants had but little sympathy with the intriguing court of Constantinople, did not offer the slightest resistance to the Arabs.

Medina, an oasis in the great desert, a spot unknown to the different nations, became the lawgiver for millions, just as Rome had been in olden times. The various peoples that had been conquered, had no choice but to recognize Mahomet as a prophet and be converted to Islam, or to pay tribute. The87 Emperor Heraclius had taken Palestine from the Persians only ten years before it was again lost. Jews and Samaritans both helped the Arabs to capture the land, in order that they might be freed from the heavy yoke of the malignant Byzantine rule. A Jew put into the hands of the Mussulmans the strongly-fortified town of Cæsarea, the political capital of the kingdom, which is said to have contained 700,000 fighting men, amongst whom were 20,000 Jews. He showed them a subterranean passage, which led the besiegers into the heart of the town. The Holy City, too, after a short siege, had to yield to the Mahometan arms. The second successor of Mahomet, the Caliph Omar, took personal possession of Jerusalem (about 638), and laid the foundation-stone of a mosque on the site of the Temple. Bishop Sophronius, who had handed over the keys of Jerusalem to Omar, untaught by the change of fate which he had himself experienced, is said to have made arrangements with the Caliph, in capitulating, that the Jews be forbidden to settle in the Holy City. It is true that Jerusalem was looked upon by the Mussulmans as a holy place, and pilgrimages were made thither by them. It was also called the Holy City (Alkuds) by them, but it was to remain inaccessible to its sons. Omar is said to have driven out both Jews and Christians from Tiberias. Thus ceased the literary activity of the school of that place. They, however, received permission to settle there again under the succeeding Caliphs.

Rising Islam was as intolerant as Christianity. When Omar had driven the Jews out of Chaibar and the Christians out of Najaran, he gave instructions to his generals against the Jews and Christians. These orders were called "the covenant of Omar," and contained many restrictions against the "peoples of the Book" (Jews and Christians). They were not allowed to build new houses of worship,88 nor to restore those that were in ruins. They had to sing in subdued tones in the synagogues and churches, and were compelled to pray silently for the dead.

They dared not hinder their followers from accepting Islam, and were compelled to show marks of respect to Mussulmans whenever they met them. Further, they were not allowed to fill judicial or administrative offices. They were forbidden to ride on horses, and had to wear marks whereby they could easily be distinguished from the Moslems. Jews and Christians were not allowed to make use of a signet-ring, which was considered a mark of honor. Whilst the Mahometans were exempt from taxes, and at most only had to pay a slight contribution for the poor, Jews and Christians had to pay a poll-tax and ground-rent.

In spite of this fact, the Jews felt themselves freer under the new rule of Islam than they did in the Christian lands. The restrictive laws of Omar were not carried out even during Omar's lifetime, and though the fanatic Mussulmans scorned the Jews for their religion, they did not despise them as citizens, but showed great honor to worthy Jews. The first Mahometans treated the Jews as their equals; they respected them as friends and allies, and took an interest in them even as enemies. The Asiatic and Egyptian Jews consequently treated the Mahometans as their liberators from the yoke of the Christians. A mystical apocalypse makes a distinct reference to the joy experienced at the victory of Islam. Simeon bar Yochaï, who was looked upon as a mystic, foretells the rise of Islam, and bewails the same in the prayer which runs as follows: "Have we not suffered enough through the dominion of the wicked Edom (the Roman-Christian dominion), that the dominion of Ishmael should now rise over us?" Metatoron, one of the chief angels, answers him: "Fear not, son of man!89 God sets up the kingdom of Ishmael only in order that it may free you from the dominion of the wicked Edom. He raises up a prophet for them, he will conquer countries for them, and there will be great hatred between them and the sons of Esau" (the Christians). Such were the sentiments of the Jews with regard to the conquests of the Mahometans.

The Jews in the ancient Babylonian district (called Irak by the Arabs) attained a great measure of freedom through the victories of the Mahometans. During their campaigns against the last Persian kings, the Jews and the Nestorian Christians, who had been persecuted under the last Sassanian princes, had rendered them much assistance. The Jews and the Chaldean Christians formed the bulk of the population near the Euphrates and the Tigris. Their assistance must have been opportune, as we find even the fanatical Caliph Omar bestowing rewards and privileges upon them. It was, doubtless, in consequence of the services which they had rendered that the Mahometan generals recognized Bostanaï, the descendant of the Exilarch of the house of David, as the chief of the Jews. Omar respected Bostanaï so highly that he gave him a daughter of the Persian king Chosru in marriage. She had been taken prisoner, together with her sisters (642)—a singular turn of fate! The grandson of a race that boasted descent from the house of David married a princess whose ancestors traced their descent from Darius, the founder of the Persian dynasty. Bostanaï was the first Exilarch who was the vassal of the Mahometans.

The Exilarch exercised both civil and judicial functions, and all the Jews of Babylonia formed a separate community under him. Bostanaï also obtained the exceptional permission to wear a signet-ring (Gushpanka). By this means he was able to give his documents and decrees an official character.90 The seal, in reference to some unknown historical allusion, bore the impress of a fly. Bostanaï must have been an important personage in other respects, since legends cluster about him, and would make his birth itself appear a miraculous event. The Judæo-Babylonian community, which had acquired some importance through Bostanaï, obtained its real strength under Ali, the fourth Caliph, Mahomet's comrade and son-in-law, the hero of Chaibar.

Omar had died at the hands of an assassin (644), and his successor, Othman, had been killed in an insurrection (655). Ali was nominated Caliph by the conspirators, but he had to struggle against many bitter opponents. Islam was divided into two camps. The one declared for Ali, who resided in the newly-built town of Kufa; the other for Moawiyah, a relative of the murdered Caliph Othman.

The Babylonian Jews and Nestorian Christians sided with Ali, and rendered him assistance. A Jew, Abdallah Ibn-Sabâ, was a spirited partisan of Ali. He asserted that the succession to the Caliphate was his by right, and that the divine spirit of Mahomet had passed to him, as it had from Moses to Joshua. It is said that when Ali took the town of Firuz-Shabur or Anbar, 90,000 Jews, under Mar-Isaac, the head of a college, assembled to do homage to the Caliph, who was but indifferently supported by his own followers (658). The unhappy Ali valued this homage, and, doubtless, accorded privileges to the Jewish principal. It is quite probable that from this time the head of the school of Sora was invested with a certain dignity, and took the title of Gaon. There were certain privileges connected with the Gaonate, upon which even the Exilarch did not venture to encroach. Thus a peculiar relation, leading to subsequent quarrels, grew up between the rival offices—the Exilarchate and the Gaonate. With Bostanaï and Mar-Isaac, the Jewish officials recognized by the91 Caliph, there begins a new period in Jewish history—the Epoch of the Geonim. After Bostanaï's death dissension arose among his sons. Bostanaï had left several sons by various wives, one of them the daughter of the Persian king. Perhaps her son was his father's favorite, because royal blood flowed in his veins, and he was probably destined to be his successor. His brothers by the Jewish wives were consequently jealous of him, and treated him as a slave, i. e., as one that had been born of a captive non-Jewess, who, according to Talmudic law, was looked upon as a slave, so long as he could not furnish proof that either his mother or himself had been formally emancipated. This, however, he could not do. The brothers then determined to sell the favorite, their own brother, as a slave. Revolting as this proceeding was, it was approved by several members of the college of Pumbeditha, partly from religious scruples, partly from the desire to render a friendly service to Bostanaï's legitimate sons. Other authorities, however, maintained that Bostanaï, who was a pious man, would not have married the king's daughter before he had legally freed her, and made her a proselyte. In order to protect her son from humiliation, one of the chief judges, Chaninaï, hastened to execute a document attesting her emancipation, and thus the wicked design of the brothers was frustrated; but the stain of illegitimacy still attached to the son, and his descendants were never admitted to the rank of the descendants of the Exilarch Bostanaï.

Bostanaï's descendants in the Exilarchate arbitrarily deposed the presidents of the colleges, and appointed their own partisans to the vacant places. The religious leaders of the people thus bore Bostanaï's descendants a grudge. Even in later times, an authority amongst the Jews had to defend himself with the words: "I am a member of the house of the Exilarch, but not a descendant of the sons of Bostanaï,92 who were proud and oppressive." The vehement quarrels about the Caliphate, between the house of Ali and the Ommiyyades, were repeated on a small scale in Jewish Babylonia. The half-century from Bostonaï and the rise of the Gaonate till the Exilarchate of Chasdaï (670 to 730) is in consequence involved in obscurity. Few also of the Geonim who held office and of the presidents of the colleges during this period are known, and their chronological order cannot be ascertained. After Mar-Isaac, probably the first Gaon of Sora, Hunaï held office, contemporaneously with Mar-Raba in Pumbeditha (670 to 680). These presidents issued an important decree with respect to the law of divorce, whereby a Talmudical law was set aside. According to the Talmud, the wife can seek a divorce only in very rare cases, e. g., if the husband suffers from an incurable disease. Even if the wife were seized with an unconquerable aversion to her husband, she could be compelled by law to live with him, and to fulfil her duties, on penalty of losing her marriage settlement, and even her dowry, in case she insisted upon the separation. Through the domination of Islam circumstances were now changed. The Koran had somewhat raised the position of women, and empowered the wife to sue for a divorce. This led many unhappy wives to appeal to the Mahometan courts, and they compelled their husbands to give them a divorce without the aforesaid penalties. It was in consequence of the events just related that Hunaï and Mar-Raba introduced a complete reform of the divorce laws. They entirely abrogated the Talmudical law, and empowered the wife to sue for a divorce without suffering any loss of her property-rights. Thus the law established equality between husband and wife. For the space of forty years (680 to 720), only the names of the Geonim and Exilarchs are known to us; historical details, however, are entirely wanting. During this time, as a93 result of quarrels and concessions, there arose peculiar relations of the officials of the Jewish-Persian kingdom towards one another, which developed into a kind of constitution.

The Jewish community in Babylonia (Persia), which had the appearance of a state, had a peculiar constitution. The Exilarch and the Gaon were of equal rank. The Exilarch's office was political. He represented Babylonian-Persian Judaism under the Caliphs. He collected the taxes from the various communities, and paid them into the treasury. The Exilarchs, both in bearing and mode of life, were princes. They drove about in a state carriage; they had outriders and a kind of body-guard, and received princely homage.

The religious unity of Judaism, on the other hand, was embodied in the Gaonate of Sora and Pumbeditha. The Geonim expounded the Talmud, with a view to a practical application of its provisions; they made new laws and regulations; administered them, and meted out punishment to those that transgressed them. The Exilarch shared the judicial power with the Gaon of Sora and the head of the college of Pumbeditha.

The Exilarch had the right of nomination to offices, though not without the acquiescence of the college. The head of the college of Sora, however, was alone privileged to be styled "Gaon"; the head of the college of Pumbeditha did not bear the title officially. The Gaon of Sora together with his college, as a rule, was paid greater deference than his colleague of Pumbeditha, partly out of respect to the memory of its great founders, Rab and Ashi, partly on account of its proximity to Kufa, the capital of Irak and of the kingdom of Islam in the East. On festive occasions, the head of the college of Sora sat at the right side of the Exilarch. He obtained two-thirds of certain revenues for his school, and performed the duties of the Exilarch94 when the office was vacant. For a long time, too, only a member of the school of Sora was elected president of the school of Pumbeditha, this school not being permitted to elect one from its own ranks.

Now that the Exilarch everywhere met with the respect due a prince, he was installed with a degree of ceremony and pomp. Although the office was hereditary in the house of Bostanaï, the acquiescence of both colleges was required for the nomination of a new Exilarch, and thus there came to be a fixed installation service. The officials of both the colleges, together with their fellow-collegians, and the most respected men in the land, betook themselves to the residence of the designated Exilarch. In a large open place, which was lavishly adorned, seats were erected for him and the presidents of the two schools. The Gaon of Sora delivered an address to the future Exilarch, in which he was reminded of the duties of his high office, and was warned against haughty conduct toward his brethren. The installation always took place in the synagogue, and on a Thursday. Both officials put their hands upon the head of the nominee, and declared amidst the clang of trumpets, "Long live our lord, the Prince of the Exile."

The people, who were always present in great numbers on the occasion, vociferously repeated the wish. All present then accompanied the new Exilarch home from the synagogue, and presents flowed in from all sides. On the following Saturday evening there was a special festive service for the new prince. There was a platform in the shape of a tower erected for him in the synagogue. This was decked with costly ornaments that he might appear like the kings of the house of David in the Temple, on a raised seat, apart from the people. He was conducted to divine service by a numerous and honorable suite. The reader chanted the prayers with the assistance of a well-appointed choir.

95 When the Exilarch was seated on his high seat, the Gaon of Sora approached the Exilarch, bent the knee before him, and sat at his right hand. His colleague of Pumbeditha having made a similar obeisance, took his seat on the left. When the Law was read, they brought the scroll to the Exilarch, which was looked upon as a royal prerogative. He was also the first one called to the reading of the Law, which on ordinary occasions was the prerogative of the descendants of the house of Aaron. In order to honor him, the president of the college of Sora acted as interpreter (Meturgeman), expounding the passage that had been read.

After the Law was read, it was customary for the Prince of the Exile to deliver an address. But if the Exilarch was not learned, he delegated this duty to the Gaon of Sora. In the final prayer for the glorification of God's name (Kadish, Gloria), the name of the Exilarch was mentioned: "May this happen in the lifetime of the Prince." Thereupon followed a special blessing for him, the heads of the colleges and its members (Yekum Purkan), and the names of the countries, places and persons, far and near, that had advanced the welfare of the colleges by their contributions. A festive procession from the synagogue to the house or palace of the Exilarch, and a sumptuous repast for the officials and prominent personages, which often included state officers, formed the conclusion of this peculiar act of homage to the Exilarch.

Once a year, in the third week after the Feast of Tabernacles, a kind of court was held at the house of the Exilarch. The heads of the college, together with their colleagues, the presidents of the community, and many people besides, came to see him at Sora, probably with presents. On the following Sabbath the same ceremonial took place as at the nomination. Lectures were delivered during this court week, which was afterwards known as "the Great Assembly," or the "Feast of the Exilarch."

96 The Exilarch derived his income partly from certain districts and towns, and partly from irregular receipts. The districts Naharowan (east of the Tigris), Farsistan, Holwan—as far as the jurisdiction of the Exilarch extended—even during the period of decadence, brought him an income of 700 golden denarii ($1700). We can easily imagine how great his revenue must have been in palmy days. The Exilarch also had the right of imposing a compulsory tax upon the communities under his jurisdiction, and the officials of the Caliph supported him in this because they themselves had an interest in it.

The president of the college of Sora was the second in rank in the Judæo-Babylonian community. He was the only one who held the title of Gaon officially, and he had the precedence over his colleague of Pumbeditha on all occasions, even though the former were a young man and the latter an aged one. Meanwhile, the school of Pumbeditha enjoyed perfect equality and independence with respect to its internal affairs, except when one or another Exilarch, according to Oriental custom, made illegal encroachments upon it.

Next to the president came the chief judge, who discharged the judicial duties, and was, as a rule, his successor in office. Below these were seven presidents of the Assembly of Teachers, and three others who bore the title of Associate or scholar, and who together seem to have composed the Senate in a restricted sense. Then came a college of a hundred members, which was divided into two unequal bodies, one of seventy members representing the "great Synhedrion," the other of thirty forming the "smaller Synhedrion." The seventy were ordained, and consequently qualified for promotion; they bore the title of Teacher. The thirty or "smaller Synhedrion" do not seem to have been entitled to a seat and vote, they were simply candidates for the higher dignity. The members of the97 college generally bequeathed their offices to their sons, but the office of president was not hereditary.

This peculiarly organized council of the two colleges by degrees lost its strictly collegiate character, and acquired that of a deliberative and legislative Parliament. Twice a year, in March and September (Adar and Elul), in accordance with ancient usage, the college held a general meeting, and sat for a whole month. During this period the members occupied themselves also with theoretical questions, discussing and explaining some portion of the Talmud, which had been given out beforehand as the theme. But the attention of the meeting was principally directed to practical matters. New laws and regulations were considered and decreed, and points which had formed the subject of inquiry by foreign communities, during the preceding months, were discussed and answered. Little by little the replies to the numerous inquiries addressed to them by foreign communities on points of religion, morals, and civil law, came to occupy the greater part of the session. At the end of the session all opinions expressed by the meeting on the points submitted for their consideration were read over, signed by the president, in the name of the whole council, confirmed with the seal of the college (Chumrata), and forwarded by messenger to each community with a ceremonious form of greeting from the college. It was customary for the various congregations to accompany their inquiries with valuable presents in money. If these presents were sent specially to one of the two colleges, the other received no share; but if they were remitted without any precise directions, the Soranian school, being the more important, received two-thirds, and the remainder went to the sister-college. These presents were divided by the president among the members of the college and the students of the Talmud.

Over and above such irregular receipts, the two98 colleges derived a regular income from the districts which were under their jurisdiction. To Sora belonged the south of Irak, with the two important cities Wasit and Bassora, and its jurisdiction extended as far as Ophir (India or Yemen?). In later times the revenues of these countries still amounted to 1500 gold denars (about $3700). The northern communities belonged to Pumbeditha, whose jurisdiction extended as far as Khorasan.

The appointment of the judges of a district was, in all probability, the duty of the principal of the college, in conjunction with the chief judge and the seven members of the Senate-council. Each of these three heads of the Babylonian-Jewish commonwealth accordingly possessed the power of appointing the judges of his province, and the communities were thus either under the Prince of the Captivity or the Soranian Gaonate, or were dependent on the college of Pumbeditha. When a judge was appointed over a certain community he received a commission from the authorities over him. He bore the title of Dayan, and had to decide not only in civil but also in religious cases, and was therefore at the same time a rabbi. He chose from amongst the members of the community two associates (Zekenim), together with whom he formed a judicial and rabbinical tribunal. All valid deeds, marriage contracts, letters of divorce, bills of exchange, bills of sale, and deeds of gift, were also confirmed by this rabbi-judge. He was, at the same time, the notary of the community. For these various functions he received—first, a certain contribution from every independent member of the community; secondly, fees for drawing up deeds; and, thirdly, a weekly salary from the vendors of meat. The children's schools, which were in connection with the synagogue, were probably also under the supervision of this rabbi-judge.

The communal constitution in Jewish Babylonia99 has served as a model for the whole Jewish people, partly until the present time. At the head of the community stood a commission entrusted with the public interests, and composed of seven members, who were called Parnesé-ha-Keneset (Maintainers of the Community). A delegate of a Prince of the Captivity, or of one of the principals of the colleges, was charged with the supervision of public business, and also possessed the power of punishing refractory members. The punishments inflicted were flogging and excommunication. The latter, the invisible weapon of the Middle Ages, which changed its victims to living corpses, was, however, neither so often nor so arbitrarily exercised by the Jews as by the Christians; but even among them it fell with terrible force. Those who refused to comply with religious or official regulations, were punished with the lesser excommunication. It was mild in form, and did not entail the total isolation of the person excommunicated, and affected the members of his own family still less. But whosoever failed to repent within the given respite of thirty days, and to make application to have the excommunication annulled, incurred the punishment of the greater ban. This punishment scared away a man's most intimate friends, isolated him in the midst of society, and caused him to be treated as an outcast from Judaism. No one was allowed to hold social intercourse with him, under penalty of incurring similar punishments. His children were expelled from school, and his wife from the synagogue. All were forbidden to bury his dead, or even to receive his new-born son into the covenant of Abraham. Every distinctive mark of Judaism was denied him, and he was left branded as one accursed of God. The proclamation of the ban was posted up outside the court of justice, and communicated to the congregation. Although this punishment of excommunication and its consequences were extremely horrible, it was nevertheless,100 at a time when the multitude was not open to rational conviction, the only means of preserving religious unity intact, of administering justice, and of maintaining social order.

The Jewish commonwealth of Babylonia, notwithstanding its dependence on the humors of a Mahometan governor and the caprice of its own leaders, seemed nevertheless to those at a distance surrounded with a halo of power and greatness. The Prince of the Captivity appeared to the Jews of distant lands, who heard only confused rumors, to have regained the scepter of David; for them the Geonim of the two colleges were the living upholders and the representatives of the ideal times of the Talmud. The further the dominion of the Caliphate of the house of Ommiyyah was extended, to the north beyond the Oxus, to the east to India, in the west and the south to Africa and the Pyrenees, the more adherents were gained for the Babylonian Jewish chiefs. Every conquest of the Mahometan generals enlarged the boundaries of the dominion under the rule of the Prince of the Captivity and the Geonim. Even Palestine, deprived of its center, subordinated itself to Babylonia. The hearts of all Jews turned towards the potentates on the Euphrates, and their presents flowed in freely, to enable the house of David to make a worthy appearance, and the Talmudical colleges to continue to exist in splendor. The grief for their dispersion to all corners of the earth was mitigated by the knowledge that by the rivers of Babylon, where the flower of the Jewish nation in its full vigor had settled, and where the great Amoraim had lived and worked, a Jewish commonwealth still existed. It was universally believed by the Jews that in the original seat of Jewish greatness the primitive spring of ancient Jewish wisdom was still flowing. "God permitted the colleges of Sora and Pumbeditha to come into existence twelve years before the destruction of the101 Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, and vouchsafed them His special protection. They never suffered persecution at the hands of the Romans or the Byzantines, and have known neither coercion nor bondage. From thence will proceed the deliverance of Israel, and the dwellers in this happy corner of the earth will be spared the sufferings that are to usher in the age of the Messiah." Such was the view held by all who had not seen the Babylonian settlement with their own eyes.

It was accounted an honor for a dead person to be mentioned at a memorial service at the colleges. For this purpose a special day was set apart in each month of assembly, during which no business was transacted by the colleges; the members mourned for the benefactors of the colleges that had died during the past year, and prayed for the peace of their souls (Ashkabá). Later on it became customary to forward lists of the dead, even from France and Spain, in order that they might also be thus honored.

The Jews of Spain, to whom so brilliant a part is allotted in Jewish history, drained the cup of misery to the dregs, at the very time when their brethren in Irak obtained almost perfect freedom and independence. Some of them had been obliged to emigrate; others were compelled to embrace Christianity, and were required by the king Chintila, solemnly to declare in writing their sincere adherence to the Catholic faith and their entire repudiation of Judaism. But although they had been forcibly converted, the Jews of Visigothic Spain nevertheless clung steadfastly to their prohibited religion. The independent Visigothic nobles, to a certain extent, protected them from the king's severity, and no sooner were the eyes of the fanatical Chintila closed in death than the Jews openly reverted to Judaism under Chindaswinth, his successor (642–652). This monarch was at open enmity with the clergy, who102 desired to restrain the power of the throne in favor of the Church, but was well affected towards the Jews.

His son, Receswinth, however, who was altogether unlike him, adopted an entirely different policy. Either from fanaticism, or in order to ingratiate himself with the clergy, at that time hostile to the throne, he proposed in an ecclesiastical council (which was at the same time a parliament) to deal rigorously with the Jews, more especially with such of them as had formerly feigned to be Christians. In his speech from the throne, Receswinth made the following appeal to the members of the council: "It is because I have learnt that my kingdom is polluted by them as by an epidemic that I denounce the life and the behavior of the Jews. For while the Almighty has entirely freed the country from heresy, a disgraceful desecration of the churches still continues. This shall either be reformed by our piety or rooted out by our severity. I mean that many of the Jews still persist in their old unbelief, while others, although purified by baptism, have relapsed so deeply into the errors of apostasy that their blasphemy seems even more abominable than the sin of those who have not been baptized. I adjure you, therefore, to decree against the Jews, without favor or respect of persons, some measure which shall be agreeable to God and to our faith." The Council of Toledo (the eighth), however, passed no new law against the Jews, but simply confirmed the canonical decisions of the fourth Council of Toledo. The Jews were, it is true, allowed to remain in the country, but could neither possess slaves, nor hold any office, nor appear as witnesses against Christians. But far harder was the fate of those who, during the persecutions, had pretended to embrace Christianity. They were compelled to remain within the pale of the Church, and to abjure Judaism once again. Flight was impossible, for severe punishments were decreed against all who renounced103 Christianity, or hid themselves anywhere, or attempted to leave the country. Even the abettors of, or accessories to, the flight of converts incurred heavy punishment. Those, however, who desired to continue outwardly in their pretended faith, but who still clung to Judaism in their inmost hearts, were required to subscribe anew to a renunciation of their religion (placitum Judæorum).

On February 18th, 654, the Jews of the capital Toletum (Toledo) signed a confession of the purport that they had already promised, it was true, under king Chintila, to remain steadfast to the Catholic faith, but that their unbelief and the erroneous opinions which they had inherited from their fathers had prevented them from acknowledging Christ as their Master. Now, however, they voluntarily promised for themselves, their wives, and their children that, in future, they would not observe the rites and ceremonies of Judaism. They would no longer hold culpable intercourse with unconverted Jews, neither would they intermarry with near relations (children of brothers and sisters), nor take Jewish wives, nor observe Jewish marriage-customs, nor practice circumcision, nor keep the Passover, the Sabbath, nor any other Jewish festivals; they would no longer observe the dietary laws—in a word, they would henceforward disregard the laws of the Jews and their abominable customs. On the other hand, they would honestly and devoutly profess a religion in conformity with the gospel and the apostolic traditions, and observe the precepts of the Church without deceit or pretense. One thing, however, was impossible, namely, that they should partake of pork; they were entirely unable to overcome their abhorrence of it. They promised, however, to partake freely of anything which might have been cooked with pork. Whoever among them should be guilty of a violation of this promise was to be put to death by fire or by stoning at the hands104 of their companions or their sons. To all of this they swore "by the Trinity." It is probable that the forced converts in the other cities of the Visigothic-Spanish empire were obliged to give similar written assurances. At the same time they were still compelled to pay the tax levied on the Jews, for the Treasury could not afford to lose by their change of faith.

As king Receswinth was well aware, however, that the independent nobles of the country afforded the Jews their protection, and allowed such of them as had been converted by force to live according to their convictions, he issued a decree forbidding all Christians to befriend the secret Jews, under penalty of excommunication and exclusion from the pale of the Church. But these measures and precautions by no means accomplished the intended result.

The secret Jews, or as they were officially termed, the Judaizing Christians, could not tear Judaism out of their hearts. The Spanish Jews, surrounded as they were by perils of death, early learnt the art of remaining true in their inmost soul to their religion, and of escaping their Argus-eyed foe. They continued to celebrate the Jewish festivals in their homes, and to disregard the holy-days instituted by the Church. Desirous of putting an end to such a state of things, the representatives of the Church issued a decree, which aimed at depriving this unfortunate people of their home life; they were henceforward compelled to spend the Jewish and Christian holy-days under the eyes of the clergy, in order that they might thereby be obliged to disregard the former and to observe the latter (655).

When, after a long reign, Receswinth died, the tormented Jewish converts took part in a revolt against his successor, Wamba (672–680). Count Hilderic, Governor of Septimania, a province of Spain, having refused to recognize the newly-elected105 king, raised the standard of revolt. In order to gain adherents and means, he promised the converted Jews a safe refuge and religious liberty in his province, and they, taking advantage of the invitation, emigrated in numbers. The insurrection of Hilderic of Nismes assumed greater proportions, and at first gave hopes of a successful issue, but the insurgents were eventually defeated. Wamba appeared with an army before Narbonne, and expelled the Jews from this city. At the council which he convened (the eleventh) the Jews did not form the subject of any legislation; they seem, on the contrary, to have enjoyed a certain amount of freedom during his reign, and to have made some efforts towards their self-preservation.

In order, on the one hand, to prove that, although they were unable to reconcile themselves to Christianity, they were not entirely bereft of reason, as their enemies had declared at the councils and also in their writings; and, on the other hand, in order to keep their ancestral belief alive both in themselves and in such of their brethren as only partly belonged to the Christian faith, certain talented Jews set themselves to compose anti-Christian treatises, probably in Latin. One point alone is known of the arguments advanced in these polemical writings. The authors referred to a tradition relating that the Messiah would not appear before the seventh cycle of a thousand years, counting from the creation of the world; the first six cycles corresponded to the six days of the creation, and the seventh would be the universal Sabbath, the reign of the Messiah. But as, according to their method of reckoning, hardly five thousand years had elapsed from the creation to the birth of Jesus, it was impossible, they maintained, that the Messiah had appeared. This objection must have been forcibly urged by the Jewish writers, for many Christians were thereby made to waver in their faith.

106 This partial liberty of religion, thought, and speech, was suppressed by Wamba's successor, who gained possession of the throne by treacherous means. Erwig, who was of Byzantine origin, and who possessed to the full the deceitfulness and unscrupulousness of the degenerate Greeks, caused Wamba to assume the cowl, and proclaimed himself king. In order to have his usurpation recognized as lawful succession, Erwig found himself obliged to make some concessions to the clergy, and accordingly he handed the Jews over to them as victims. With assumed earnestness, he addressed the council which was assembled to crown him, and in a fanatical speech, submitted for confirmation a series of laws against the Jews. The portion of the royal speech which was directed against the Jews ran as follows: "With tears streaming from my eyes, I implore this honorable assembly to manifest its zeal, and free the land from this plague of degeneracy. Arise, arise, I cry unto you; put to the test the laws against the apostasy of the Jews which we have just promulgated."

Of the seven-and-twenty paragraphs which Erwig submitted to the council for ratification, one alone related to the Jews; the rest were leveled at those forced converts who, despite their promises to persist in the Christian faith, and the severe punishment that followed in case of detection, were still unable to abandon Judaism. Erwig's edict made but short work of the Jews. They were commanded to offer themselves, their children, and all persons under their control, for baptism within the space of a year, otherwise their property would be confiscated, one hundred lashes would be inflicted on them, the skin torn off their head and forehead to their everlasting shame, and they themselves driven out of the country. On the converted Jews, fresh hardships were imposed. They were now not only107 obliged to spend the Christian and Jewish holy-days under the eyes of the clergy, but were further subjected to clerical control in all their movements. Whenever they set out upon a journey, they had to present themselves before the ecclesiastical authorities of the place, and obtain a certificate from them, setting forth the time they had lived there, and attesting that their conduct had been in rigorous conformity with Church law during that period. At the same time, unless they could prove that they had led a blameless, Christian life, they were incompetent to hold any office, even to act as village bailiff (vilicus, actor) over Christian slaves. They always had to carry about with them a copy of the laws which had been passed against them, so that they might never be able to plead ignorance in excuse. The ecclesiastical and royal judges were instructed to watch strictly over the execution of these orders, and all Christians were forbidden to accept any presents from converted Jews.

The council, at the head of which was Julian, the Metropolitan of Toledo, a man of Jewish descent, passed all Erwig's proposals, and enacted that these laws, as ratified by the decision of the synod, were by general acknowledgment inviolable for all time. Two days after the prorogation of this council, the Jews, both those that had remained true to their religion and those that had been converted, were called together, the laws were read to them and their rigid observance strictly enjoined (January 25th, 681). A third time the converted Jews were compelled to abjure Judaism and to draw up a confession of faith—with the same sincerity, of course, as under Chintila and Receswinth.

But the Visigothic-Spanish Jews fared still worse under Erwig's successor, Egica. He did not drive them out of the country, it is true, but he did what was worse, he restricted their rights. He prohibited the Jews and the Judaizing Christians from possessing108 landed property and houses; moreover, they were forbidden to repair to Africa, or to trade with that continent, or to transact business with any Christians whatever. They were compelled to surrender all their real estate to the Treasury, and were indemnified, probably not too liberally, for the same (693). Only those that were really converted were left unfettered by these restrictions.

The Jews were driven to despair by this new law, which it was impossible to evade, as their real estate was actually confiscated; they accordingly united in a perilous conspiracy against their unrelenting foe. They entered into an alliance with their more fortunate brethren in Africa, with the intention of overthrowing the Visigothic empire, and were probably aided by the boldly-advancing Mahometans and the malcontent nobles of the country (694). The attempt might easily have succeeded, for, owing to dissension, unnatural vices and weakness, the country was far advanced in a state of ruin and dissolution. But the conspiracy of the Jews was discovered before it had matured, and severe punishment was inflicted not only on the culprits, but on the whole Jewish population of Spain, including that of the province of Septimania (together with Narbonne). They were all sentenced to slavery, presented to various masters, and distributed throughout the country, their owners being prohibited from setting them free again. Children of seven years of age and upwards were torn from their parents and given to Christians to be educated. The only exception made was in favor of the Jewish warriors of the narrow passes of the Gallic province, who formed a bulwark against invasion. They were indispensable, and their bravery protected them from degradation and slavery, but even they were compelled to change their religion.

The Spanish Jews continued in this state of109 degradation until Egica's death. When his son Witiga followed him to the grave, the last hours of this empire were evidently at hand. The Jews of Africa, who at various times had emigrated thither from Spain, and their unlucky co-religionists of the Peninsula, made common cause with the Mahometan conqueror, Tarik, who brought over from Africa into Andalusia an army eager for the fray. After the battle of Xeres (July, 711), and the death of Roderic, the last of the Visigothic kings, the victorious Arabs pushed onward, and were everywhere supported by the Jews. In every city that they conquered the Moslem generals were able to leave but a small garrison of their own troops, as they had need of every man for the subjection of the country; they therefore confided them to the safe-keeping of the Jews. In this manner the Jews, who but lately had been serfs, now became the masters of the towns of Cordova, Granada, Malaga, and many others. When Tarik appeared before the capital, Toledo, he found it occupied by a small garrison only, the nobles and clergy having found safety in flight. While the Christians were in church, praying for the safety of their country and religion, the Jews flung open the gates to the victorious Arabs (Palm-Sunday, 712), receiving them with acclamations, and thus avenged themselves for the many miseries which had befallen them in the course of a century since the time of Reccared and Sisebut. The capital also was entrusted by Tarik to the custody of the Jews, while he pushed on in pursuit of the cowardly Visigoths, who had sought safety in flight, for the purpose of recovering from them the treasure which they had carried off.

Finally, when Muza Ibn-Nosair, the Governor of Africa, brought a second army into Spain and conquered other cities, he also delivered them into the custody of the Jews. It was under these favorable conditions that the Spanish Jews came under the110 rule of the Mahometans, and like their co-religionists in Babylonia and Persia, they were esteemed the allies of their rulers. They were kindly treated, obtained religious liberty, of which they had so long been deprived, were permitted to exercise jurisdiction over their co-religionists, and were obliged, like the conquered Christians, to pay only a poll-tax (Dsimma). Thus were they received into that great alliance, which, to a certain extent, united all the Jews of the Islamite empire into one commonwealth.

As the Mahometan empire grew in size, the activity of its Jewish inhabitants increased in proportion. The first Caliphs of the house of Ommiyyah, by reason of their continual wars with the descendants and comrades of Mahomet, with the fanatical upholders of the letter of the Koran, and with the partisans of the spiritual Imamate (high-priesthood), had become entirely free from that narrow-mindedness and mania for persecution which characterized the founder and the first two Caliphs. The following rulers of the Mahometans, Moawiyah, Yezid I., Abdul-Malik, Walid I., and Suliman (656–717), were far more worldly than spiritual; their political horizon was extensive, and they fettered themselves but little with the narrow precepts of the Koran and the traditions (Sunna). They loved Arabic poetry (Abdul-Malik was himself a poet), held knowledge in esteem, and rewarded the author quite as liberally as the soldier who fought for them. The Jewish inhabitants of Mahometan countries soon adopted the Arabic language. It is closely related, in many of its roots and forms, to Hebrew, with which language all of them were more or less familiar, and they needed a knowledge thereof, as it was the indispensable medium of communication. The enthusiasm which the Arabs felt for their language and its poetry, the care which they took to keep it pure, accurate111 and sonorous, had their effect upon the Jews, and taught them to employ correct forms of speech. During the six hundred years which had elapsed since the fall of the Jewish nation, the Jews had lost the sense of beauty and grace of expression; they were negligent in their speech, careless of purity of form, and indifferent to the clothing of their thoughts and emotions in suitable terms. A people possessed of an imperfect delivery, using a medley of Hebrew, Chaldee, and corrupt Greek, was not in a position to create a literature, much less to enchain the wayward muse of poetry. But, as already mentioned, the Jews of Arabia formed an exception. They acquired from their neighbors correct taste, and the art of framing their speech pleasantly and impressively. The Jewish tribes of Kainukaa and Nadhir, which had emigrated to Palestine and Syria, the Jews of Chaibar and Wadil-Kora, who had been transplanted to the region of Kufa and the center of the Gaonate, brought with them to their new home this love and taste for the poetical Arabic tongue, and gradually instilled them into their co-religionists. Hardly half a century after the occupation of Palestine and Persia by the Arabs, a Babylonian Jew was able to handle the Arabic language for literary purposes: the Jewish physician, Messer-Jawaih of Bassorah, translated a medical work from the Syriac into Arabic. Henceforward the Jews, together with the Syrian Christians, were the channels through which scientific literature reached the Arabs.

The enthusiasm of the Arabs for their language and the Koran evoked in the hearts of the Jews a similar sentiment for the Hebrew tongue and its holy records. Besides this, the Jews were now obliged to make closer acquaintance with the Scriptures, in order that they might not be put to the blush in their controversies with the Mahometans. Until now the talented men among them had turned112 their attention exclusively to the Talmud and the Agadic exposition, but necessity at last compelled them to return to the source, the Bible.

As soon, however, as it was desired to recover what had been lost for centuries, and to return with ardor to the study of Biblical literature, a need manifested itself which first had to be supplied. In supplying the Biblical text with the vowel signs invented in Babylonia or in Tiberias, it was necessary to proceed in such passages, as had not become familiar by frequent reading in public, according to grammatical rules. The Punctuators were obliged to be guided partly by tradition and partly by their sense of language. In this manner there arose the rudiments of two branches of knowledge: one treating of the above-mentioned rules of the Hebrew language, the other of the science of orthography, together with the exceptions as handed down by tradition (Massora). This apparently unimportant invention of adding certain strokes and points to the consonants thus led to the comprehension of the Holy Scriptures by the general public and the initiation of a more general knowledge of Judaism. By its help the holy language could now celebrate its revival; it was no longer a dead language employed only by scholars, but might become a means of educating the people. The auxiliary signs tended to break down the barrier between the learned (Chacham) and the unlearned (Am-ha-Arez).

An immediate consequence of contact with the Arabs and the study of the Holy Writ was the birth of neo-Hebraic poetry. Poetical natures naturally felt themselves impelled to make use of the copious Hebrew vocabulary in metrical compositions and polished verse, in the same manner as the Arabs had done with their language. But while the Arabic bards sang of the sword, of chivalry, of unbridled love, bewailed the loss of worldly possessions, and attacked with their satire such of their enemies as113 they could not reach with the sword, the newly-awakened Hebrew poetry knew of but one subject worthy of enthusiasm and adoration, God and His providence, of but one subject worthy of lament, the destitution and sorrows of the Jewish nation. The new-born Hebrew poetry, however different in form and matter from that of the Bible, had a religious foundation in common with it. The psalm of praise and the soul-afflicting dirge of lamentation were taken by the neo-Hebraic poets as their models. But a third element also claimed attention. Since the state had lost its independence, learning had become the soul of Judaism; religious deeds, if not accompanied by knowledge of the Law, were accounted of no worth. The main feature of the Sabbath and festival services was the reading of portions of the Law and the Prophets, the interpretation thereof by the Targumists and the explanation of the text by the Agadists (preachers of homilies). Neo-Hebraic poetry, if it was to reach the hearts of the people, could not be entirely devoid of a didactic element. The poet's only scene of action was the synagogue, his only audience, the congregation assembled for prayer and instruction, and his poetry, therefore, necessarily assumed a synagogical or liturgical character.

The poetical impulse was strengthened by practical necessity. The original divine service with its short and simple prayers was no longer sufficient. It was extended, it is true, by the recitation of psalms and appropriate liturgical compositions, but even this did not fill up the time which the congregation would gladly have spent in the house of God. This was especially felt on the New Year's festival and on the Day of Atonement, which were dedicated to deep devotion, and during the greater part of which the congregation remained in the house of prayer, contrite, and imploring forgiveness and redemption. It was evident that the divine service114 must be amplified, and more matter for meditation provided. In this manner arose the synagogical, or, as it was also called, the poetanic composition. At the head of the succession of neo-Hebraic poets stands José bar José Hayathom (or Haithom), whose works are not without true poetic ring, although devoid of artistic form. The date and nationality of this poet are entirely unknown, but it appears probable that he was a native of Palestine, and that he lived not earlier than the first Gaonic century.

José b. José took as the subject of his poems the emotions and memories which move a Jewish congregation on New Year's Day. On this occasion, the birthday of a new division of time, on which, according to Jewish ideas, the fate that the year has in store for men and communities is decided, God is extolled in a sublime poem as the mighty Master, the Creator of the world, the just Judge and the Redeemer of Israel. This poem, which was attached to the old prayers for the prescribed blowing of the cornet, and was intended to interpret them, embraces in a small compass the story of Israel's glorious past, its oppressed present, and promised future. José's poem is at once a psalm of triumph and of lamentation, interwoven with penitential prayers and words of hope. The resurrection is described in a few striking, picturesque lines.

Another and longer of José's poems has for its theme the ancient worship in the Temple on the Day of Atonement, which an attentive nation had once followed in devotional mood, and the description of which was well calculated to awaken the great memories of the glorious times of national independence (Abodah). It is a sort of liturgical epic, which describes simply, and without any lyrical strain, the creation of the universe and of man, the ungodliness of the first generation, Abraham's recognition of God, the election of his posterity as115 God's peculiar people, and the calling of Aaron's family to the service of the Temple. Arrived at the priesthood of Aaron, the poet, following the account of the Mishna, goes on to describe the duties of the high-priest in the Temple on the Day of Atonement, and concludes with the moment when the high-priest, accompanied by the whole nation, joyful and assured by visible signs of forgiveness, leaves the Temple for his home,—a beautiful fragment of the past, which has always awakened a powerful echo in the hearts of the Jewish people.

Elevation of thought and beauty of language are the characteristics of José b. José's poetry. His New Year's sonnets and Temple epic have become parts of the divine service of certain congregations, and have served as models for others. His verses are unrhymed and without meter, a proof of their great antiquity. The only artificial feature of his poetical works is the alphabetical or acrostic commencement of verses, for which several of the Psalms, Jeremiah's Lamentations, and the post-talmudical prayers served as models. In the first fruits of the new Hebraic poetry, form is completely subservient to the subject-matter. There has been preserved from ancient times another Abodah, ascribed to a poet named Simon ben Caipha. It appears to have been written in imitation of that of José b. José, but is greatly inferior to its model. However, it was honored by being adopted by the synagogue of the Gaonate. To the name of Simon Caipha, which sounds like the Jewish name of the apostle Peter, a peculiar legend is attached: The apostle, who supports the foundation of the Catholic Church, is represented as having written this Abodah in order to declare in the opening part his truly Jewish acknowledgment of God's unity, and to renounce his adherence to Jesus, as though the disciple who three times denied his Master had desired in this liturgical poem to attest his unbelief.

116 It was impossible that Jewish liturgical poetry could long remain satisfied with this simplicity of form. Little by little the Jews became acquainted with the poetry of the Arabs, the agreeable sound of its rhymes captivated them, and they were led to regard rhyme as the perfection of poetry. The poetanists, therefore, if they would be well received, could not afford to neglect this artistic device, and they assiduously devoted themselves to its cultivation. As far as is known, the first poet who introduced rhyme into the neo-Hebraic poetry was a certain Jannai, probably an inhabitant of Palestine. He composed versified prayers for those special Sabbaths which, either by reason of historical events connected with them, or of being a time of preparation for the approaching festivals, were possessed of particular importance. The Agadic discourses, which had been introduced on these Sabbaths, do not seem to have pleased the congregations any longer, because the preachers were unable to find new and attractive matter; they seem, indeed, to have read out the same discourses in a given order from year to year.

The poems of Jannai and his fellow-workers aimed at giving the substance of these Agadic expositions in the form of agreeable verse. Hence, Jannai's productions are versified Agadas. But as he was not enough of a poet to reproduce the elevated and striking passages of Agadic literature, as his rhymes were heavy and labored, and as he also burdened himself with the task of commencing his verses with consecutive letters of the alphabet, and of interweaving his name into them, his poems are dull, clumsy, and unwieldy.

Altogether neo-Hebraic poetry gained nothing during its earlier years by the introduction of rhyme. Eleazar ben Kalir or Kaliri (of Kiriat-Sepher), one of the first and most prolific of the poetanic writers, and a disciple of Jannai, was just as clumsy and117 harsh as his master, and his style was even more obscure. He wrote over 150 liturgical pieces, including hymns for the festivals, penitential prayers for the holy-days, songs of lamentation for the principal fasts, and various other compositions which cannot be classed under distinct heads. Kaliri put into most artificial verses a large portion of the Agadic literature, but only a few of his compositions have any poetical value, and none possesses beauty. In order to overcome the difficulties which were presented by the allusions to the Agada, by the use of rhyme, of the alphabetically arranged initial words and the interweaving of his name, Kaliri was obliged to do violence to the Hebrew language, to set at defiance the fixed rules which govern the use of words, and to create unprecedented combinations. In place of word-pictures, he often presents to his reader obscure riddles, which it is impossible to solve without a thorough acquaintance with the Agadic writings. Nevertheless, Kaliri's poetic compositions made their way into the liturgies of the Babylonian, Italian, German, and French Jews; the Spaniards alone, guided by delicate feeling for language, refused to adopt them. Kaliri was honored as the greatest of the poetanic writers, and tradition has glorified his name.

By the introduction of these compositions, the liturgy acquired an altered character. The translation of the portions of the Law which were read out to the congregation, and the Agadic expositions thereof, which, as the Jews of the Islamic empire adopted the Arabic language, had become unfamiliar to the multitude, gradually disappeared from the divine service, and their places were filled by metrical compositions (Piyutim) which answered the same purpose, and at the same time possessed the advantage of a poetical character. By this means considerable extension was given to the divine service. The reader supplanted the preacher. Singing was118 introduced into the synagogue, as the poetical prayers were not recited, but chanted (Chazanuth). Special tunes were introduced for the various prayers. But the poetanic compositions were not adopted by all congregations as part of their divine service. The Talmudical authorities were at first opposed to their adoption, for the reason that they were usually interpolated between the various divisions of the principal prayer, and in this manner destroyed the continuity and coherence of its separate parts.

The return to the source of the Bible had the result of kindling a poetic flame in artistic natures; but, at the same time, it fanned into existence a wild spirit which at first brought trouble, schism, and malediction in its train, although afterwards it became a source of purification, vigor, and blessing to the Jews. The origin of this movement, which divided the Jewish commonwealth of the east and west into two camps, dates from the first Gaonic century.

The Babylonian Talmud held sway over the Jewish community in Babylonia; it was not only a code, but also the constitution for the community of which the Prince of the Captivity and the two presidents of the Talmudical colleges were the chief dignitaries. By the expansion of the Islamic dominion from India to Spain, from the Caucasus far down into Africa, the authority of the Talmud was extended far beyond its original bounds; for the most distant congregations placed themselves into communication with the Geonim, submitted points of religion, morals, and civil law to them for advice, and accepted in full faith their decisions, which were based on the Talmud. The Babylonian-Persian communities felt themselves in nowise hampered by the Talmudical ordinances, which were of their own creation, and had sprung up in their midst, the outcome of their views, morals, and119 customs, the work of their authorities. The African and European communities were too unlearned in the Bible and the Talmud to be able to express an opinion on the matter. They accepted the decisions of the Geonim as law, without greatly troubling themselves as to their agreement with the Bible.

Not so, however, with the Arabian Jews who had emigrated from Arabia to Palestine, Syria and Irak, the Benu-Kainukaa, the Benu-Nadhir, and the Chaibarites. They were sons of the desert, men of the sword, soldiers and warriors, accustomed from their childhood to a free life and to the development of their strength; men who cultivated social intercourse with their former Arabic allies and fellow-soldiers, in whose midst they again settled after the conquest of Persia and Syria. Judaism was indeed dear to them, for they had sacrificed liberty, country, fame and wealth in its cause, and had resisted Mahomet's importunities, and had not allowed themselves to be converted to Islam. But between the Judaism which they practised in Arabia, and the Judaism taught by the Talmud, and set up as a standard by the colleges, there lay a deep gulf. To conform to Talmudical precepts, it would have been necessary for them to renounce their genial familiarity with their former comrades, and to give up their drinking-bouts with the Arabs which, despite their interdiction by the Koran, the latter greatly loved. In a word, they felt themselves hampered by the Talmud.

The Jews of Arabia, who came into close contact with the Mahometans, and were, therefore, frequently involved in controversy as to whether Judaism was still possessed of authority or had been superseded by Islam, were obliged, so as not to be at a loss in such discussions, to familiarize themselves with the Bible. They in that way probably discovered that much of what the Talmud and the colleges declared to be religious precept, was not120 confirmed by the Bible. But from whatever cause this aversion to Talmudical precepts may have arisen, it is certain that it first had its origin in the Arabian Jewish colony in Syria or Irak. It is related, in an authentic source, that during the first part of the eighth century, many Jews allowed themselves to be persuaded to abandon Talmudical Judaism and to conform only to the precepts of the Bible.

The leader of this movement was a Syrian, Serene (Serenus) by name, who called himself the Messiah (about 720). He promised the Jews to put them into possession of the Holy Land, having first, of course, expelled the Mahometans. This attempt to regain their long-lost independence was perhaps occasioned by the fanatical Caliph Omar II (717–720). That bigoted prince, who had been raised to the throne by the intrigues of a zealous reader of the Koran, had re-enacted the restrictive laws of his predecessor, Omar I (the covenant of Omar), which had fallen into oblivion under the politic Ommiyyades. After his accession to the throne, he wrote to his governors as follows: "Do not pull down a church or a synagogue, but do not allow new ones to be built within your provinces." Omar devoted himself to making proselytes, holding out attractive promises to the new converts, or unceremoniously compelling both Jews and Christians to embrace Islam. It was probably for this reason that the Jews were disposed to support the false Messiah, and to lend credence to his representations that he would make them free again in the land of their fathers, and exterminate their enemies. Upon his banner Serene inscribed the release from Talmudical ordinances; he abolished the second day's celebration of the festivals, the prescribed forms of prayer, and the laws of the Talmud relating to food: he permitted the use of wine obtained from non-Jews, and sanctioned marriage between persons of nearer relationship than was121 allowed by the Talmud, as also celebration of marriages without a marriage-contract. It is probable that this hostility towards the Talmud gained him many adherents.

Serene's fame spread as far as Spain, and the Jews of that country resolved to abandon their property and to place themselves under the leadership of the pseudo-Messiah. Hardly ten years after the Jews of Spain had been delivered from the yoke of the Visigoths by the conquests of the Mahometans, they, or at least many of them, were desirous of again abandoning their newly-acquired fatherland. It appears that they were dissatisfied with the rule and administration of the Mahometan governors. As they had rendered signal services to the Arabs in the conquest of the Peninsula, they probably expected particular consideration and distinction, and instead of this they were impoverished equally with the Christians. Serene's fate was miserable, as indeed he deserved. He was captured and brought before the Caliph Yezid, Omar II's successor, who put an end to his Messianic pretensions by propounding insidious questions to him, which he was unable to answer. Serene is said, however, to have denied before the Caliph that he had had any serious designs, but that he only intended to make game of the Jews; whereupon the Caliph handed him over to the Jews for punishment. Many of his adherents, repenting of their easy credulity, desired to rejoin the communities from which they had severed themselves by infringement of the Talmudical ordinances. The Syrian communities were doubtful, however, whether they ought to re-admit their repentant brethren into their midst, or whether they ought not to be treated as proselytes. They referred the matter, therefore, to Natronaï ben Nehemiah, surnamed Mar-Yanka, the principal of the college at Pumbeditha, and successor of Mar-Raba (719–730). Natronaï's decision122 concerning the reception of Serene's adherents was conceived in a liberal spirit, and ran as follows: According to the laws of the Talmud, there is nothing to prevent them from being re-admitted by the communities and being treated as Jews; but they are to declare openly in the synagogues their sorrow and repentance, and to promise that their future conduct shall be pious and in accordance with the precepts of the Talmud, and in addition they are to suffer the punishment of flogging. At that time there were also other apostates, who went so far as to disregard the Biblical precepts concerning the Sabbath, the ritual for slaughtering cattle, the eating of blood, and the intermarrying of near relations. It is not known, however, in what country these people lived. Without declaring either for Christianity or Islam, they had entirely severed their connection with Judaism. When some of these sought re-admission into the fold of Judaism, Natronaï was again asked for his opinion. He said, "It is better to take them under the wings of God than to cast them out."

At about this time the Jews of the Byzantine empire were subjected to severe persecution, from the effects of which they did not for a long time recover, and this, too, at the hands of a monarch from whom they had least expected hostile treatment. Leo, the Isaurian, the son of rude peasant parents, having had his attention drawn by the Jews and the Arabs to the idolatrous character of the image-worship which obtained in the churches, had undertaken a campaign with the intention of destroying these images. Being denounced, however, before the uncultivated mob as a heretic and a Jew by the image-worshiping clergy, Leo proceeded to vindicate his orthodoxy by persecuting the heretics and the Jews. He issued a decree commanding all the Jews of the Byzantine empire and the remnant of the Montanists in Asia Minor123 to embrace the Christianity of the Greek Church, under pain of severe punishment (723). Many Jews submitted to this decree, and reluctantly received baptism; they were thus less steadfast than the Montanists, who, in order to remain faithful to their convictions, assembled in their house of prayer, set fire to it, and perished in the flames. Such of the Jews as had allowed themselves to be baptized were of the opinion that the storm would soon blow over, and that they would be permitted to return to Judaism. It was, therefore, only outwardly that they embraced Christianity; for they observed the Jewish rites in secret, thereby subjecting themselves to fresh persecutions. Thus the Jews of the Byzantine empire pined away under unceasing petty persecution, and for a time they are hidden from the view of history.

Many Jews of the Byzantine empire, however, escaped compulsory baptism by emigration. They quitted a country in which their forefathers had settled long before the rise of that Church which had so persistently persecuted them. The Jews of Asia Minor chose as their home the neighboring Cimmerian or Tauric peninsula (the Crimea), whose uncivilized inhabitants, of Scythian, Finnish and Sclavonian origin, practised idolatry. These Alani, Bulgarians and Chazars were, however, not jealous of men of other race and of a different belief who settled in their vicinity. Thus, side by side with the Jewish communities which had existed from early times, there arose new communities on the shores of the Black Sea and the Straits of Theodosia (Kaffa), and in the interior, in Sulchat (Solgat, now Eski-Crimea), in Phanagoria (now Taman), and on the Bosporus (Kertch), which lies opposite. From the Crimea the Greek Jews spread towards the Caucasus, and the hospitable countries of the Chazars on the west coast of the Caspian Sea and at the mouth of the Volga (Atel). Jewish communities124 settled in Berdaa (Derbend), at the Albanian Gates, in Semender (Tarki), and finally in Balanyiar, the capital of the land of the Chazars. By their energy, ability and intelligence, the Greek-Jewish emigrants speedily acquired power in the midst of these barbarian nations, and prepared the way for an important historical event.

Hardly thirty years after the fall of the false Messiah, Serene, an anti-Talmudical movement, coupled with Messianic enthusiasm, was again set on foot, but this time on a different scene. The prime mover was a fantastic and warlike inhabitant of the Persian town of Ispahan, one Obaiah Abu-Isa ben Ishak. He was not an ignorant man; he understood the Bible and the Talmud, and was capable of expressing his thoughts in writing. It is said that he was made aware of his call to an exalted vocation by a sudden cure from leprosy. Abu-Isa did not proclaim himself to be the Messiah, but asserted that he was the forerunner and awakener (Dâï) who was to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. His views concerning the office of precursor of the Messiah were, indeed, altogether peculiar. He taught that five forerunners would precede the Messiah, and that each one would be more perfect than his predecessor. He considered himself the last and most perfect of the five, and of equal merit with the Messiah. He assumed his vocation in good earnest, and announced that God had called him to free the Jewish race from the yoke of the nations and of unjust rulers.

The Messianic precursor of Ispahan found many partisans, 10,000 Jews, it is said, gathering around him for the purpose of aiding him in his work of deliverance. To them Abu-Isa expounded a form of Judaism differing in some respects from that accepted at the time; the points of difference, however, are not known. He entirely abolished divorce, even in the case of adultery. He augmented the125 three daily periods for prayer by four new periods, citing in support of this innovation the verse of a psalm: "Seven times a day do I praise thee." Abu-Isa retained the forms of prayer as prescribed by the Talmud, and in no way disturbed the existing order of the calendar. He explained his own peculiar system of religion in one of his works, in which he prohibits the use of meat and wine by his followers, but pronounces the abrogation of sacrificial worship.

Abu-Isa desired to accomplish his Messianic task of liberation with sword in hand. He accordingly made soldiers of his followers, and rode at their head like a general. There could have been no more favorable moment for an attempt to regain liberty by open force. In all the provinces of the Mahometan empire the spirit of rebellion against Mervan II, the last Caliph of the Ommiyyad dynasty, was aroused. Ambitious governors, dissatisfied partisans, the Abassides, who laid claim to the supreme power, all these antagonistic elements conspired to overthrow the house of Ommiyyah, and turned the wide dominions of the empire into a battlefield of fierce passions. During this period of rebellion, Abu-Isa and his band seem to have begun their work of deliverance in the neighborhood of Ispahan. They probably strengthened their position during the disturbances consequent upon the severe defeat sustained by Mervan's general on the Euphrates (at Kerbella, August, 749).

Finally, Abu-Isa fell in battle; his followers dispersed, and the Jews of Ispahan had to suffer for his revolt. His adherents, however, loyally cherished his memory; under the name of Isavites or Ispahanites they continued to exist until the tenth century, forming the first religious sect to which Judaism had given birth since the fall of the Jewish state. The Isavites lived in accordance with their master's teaching, observing some points of Talmudical Judaism, while disregarding many others.

126 During this time, however, no extraordinary movement occurred in the center of Jewish religious life; everything continued on the old lines, the principals of the colleges and the Geonim succeeded each other without leaving any perceptible traces behind them. They had no suspicion that a new spirit was abroad in Judaism, which would shake it to its very foundations.


127

CHAPTER V.
RISE OF KARAISM AND ITS RESULTS.

Anan ben David, the founder of Karaism—His life, writings, and influence—Hostility to the Talmud—Anan's innovations—Karaite reverence of Anan—The Exilarchate becomes elective—Adoption of Judaism by the Chazars—King Bulan and Isaac Sinjari—Bulan's Jewish successors—Charlemagne and the Empire of the Franks—The Jews and Commerce—Jewish Envoy sent to the Caliph Haroun Alrashid—Spread of the Jews in Europe—The Caliphs and the Jews—The study of philosophy—Sahal—The Kalam—Mutazilists and Anthropomorphists—Judah Judghan—The Shiur Komah—The Akbarites—Moses the Persian.

761–840 C. E.

It is as little possible for an historical event to be evolved, as for a natural birth to occur without labor. For a new historical phenomenon to struggle into existence, the comfortable aspect of things must be destroyed, indolent repose in cherished custom disturbed, and the power of habit broken. This destructive activity, although at first painful, is eventually favorable to the growth of healthy institutions, for thereby all vagueness is dissipated, all pretense destroyed, and dim reality brought more clearly to light. Opposition, the salt of history, which prevents corruption, had been wanting in Jewish history for several centuries, and religious life had been molded in set forms, and had there become petrified. Pauline and post-apostolic Christianity in its day supplied just the opposition required. It abrogated the standard of the Law, did away with knowledge, substituted faith, and thus produced in the evolution of Judaism a disposition to cling firmly to the Law, and to develop a system of religious teachings which should deal with the minutest details. The Talmud resulted from this movement of opposition; it was the sole128 prevailing authority in Judaism, and succeeded in supplanting the Bible in the estimation of the people. Even the study of the Talmud, which had possessed a refreshing and enlightening influence in the time of the Amoraim, had degenerated in the following century and in the first Gaonic period into a mere matter of memory, entirely devoid of any power of intellectual fructification. A free current of air was wanting to clear the heavy atmosphere. Opposition to the Talmud, the password of the two heralds of the Messiah, Serene and Abu-Isa, had left no lasting impression, partly because the movement, accompanied by fanatical agitation in favor of a pretended Messiah, led to no other result than the undeceiving of its partisans, and partly because it had been set on foot by obscure persons, possessed of neither importance nor authority. If this one-sidedness was to be overcome, if the Bible was to be re-instated in its rights, and religious life to regain its spirituality, it was necessary that opposition to it, which up till then had been manifested only in narrow circles, should be imparted to a more extended public by some moderate reformer invested with official character. Until this movement proceeded, not from some out-of-the-way corner, but from the region which at that time formed the center of Jewish life, it was impossible for it to be taken up by the multitude, or to produce any regenerative effects. The required agitation was set on foot by a son of the Prince of the Captivity, of the house of Bostanaï, and produced lasting effects.

It appears that the Exilarch Solomon died (761–762) without issue, and that the office ought to have been conferred on his nephew, Anan ben David. The biography of this man, who exercised so profound an influence upon Jewish history, and whose adherents exist at the present day, is quite unknown, and the facts have been entirely distorted in consequence of the schism which occurred later on. While129 his disciples honor him as a pious and holy man, who, "if he had lived at the time when the Temple was still standing, would have been vouchsafed the gift of prophecy," his opponents cannot sufficiently disparage him. But even they admit that Anan was exceedingly well read in the Talmud, and that he employed its style with great ability. It is also certain that the son of the Exilarch held that certain decisions of the Talmud possessed no religious authority, and that his anti-Talmudical tendency was known, at all events, to the representatives of the two academies, who directed the election of the Exilarch. The Gaonic office was at that time held by two brothers, sons of Nachman: that of Sora by Judah the Blind (759–762), and that of Pumbeditha by Dudaï (761–764). These two brothers united with their colleges to prevent Anan from succeeding to the dignity of Exilarch, and to choose in his stead his younger brother Chananya (or Achunaï). But Anan did not stand entirely alone; of elevated rank, he naturally had friends. His expectation of succeeding to a position of authority, whose sway was acknowledged by all the Jewish communities of the East at least, had doubtless attracted many ambitious, greedy and parasitical followers. But he also possessed adherents among those who refused more or less openly to regard the Judaism of the Talmud as true Judaism, and who welcomed Anan as a powerful champion. The Ananite party were not sparing in their efforts to obtain the nomination of their chief by the Caliph Abu Jafar Almansur, who, they supposed, was favorably disposed towards them; but their opponents gained the day. They are said to have attempted the life of Anan, and to have accused him of planning a rebellion against the Caliph, who thereupon threw him into prison, where, the legend goes on to relate, a Mahometan was incarcerated. Both of them were to have been hanged, but Anan's companion in misfortune advised130 him to explain to the Caliph that he did not belong to the same sect as his brother Chananya. Thereupon Almansur is said to have liberated him, because, according to Anan's adherents, he regarded him with kindness, according to his adversaries, in consequence of handsome presents of money, and permitted him to emigrate with his followers to Palestine.

One thing only among all these doubtful statements is certain, namely, that Anan was obliged to leave his country and settle in Palestine. In Jerusalem he built his own synagogue, which was still standing at the time of the first crusade. It is likewise certain that, in consequence of the mortifying slight cast upon him by the Gaons, Anan became hostile to the Gaonate, and directed all his animosity against the Talmud, the principal source of its importance. He displayed, in fact, a fierce hostility to the Talmud and its supporters. He is reported to have said that he wished that all the adherents of the Talmud were in his body, so that by killing himself he might at the same time make away with them. He considered everything in the Talmud reprehensible, and was desirous of returning to the Bible in the ordering of religious life. He reproached the Talmudists with having corrupted Judaism, and accused them at the same time, not only of adding many things to the Torah, but also of disregarding many of its commandments, which they declared to be no longer obligatory. Many things which, according to the text of the Bible, ought to have been binding for all time, they set aside. The advice which he impressed on his followers was "to seek industriously in the Scripture." On account of this return to the letter of the Bible (Mikra), the system of religion which Anan founded received the name of the Religion of the Text, or Karaism.

Anan expounded his views concerning religious131 commandments and prohibitions in three works, one of which was a commentary on the Pentateuch, certainly the very first of all productions of this class. Anan's works have not survived the lapse of time; the original character of Karaism is thus enveloped in complete obscurity. This only is clear, that in his hostility to the Talmud the founder of the Karaite sect increased rather than lessened the religious duties of life, enforced many observances which time and custom had long abolished, and in his blind eagerness to change the Talmudical exposition of the Law, often fell into ridiculous exaggerations. He made use of the Talmudical, or more properly the Mishnaic rules of interpretation, and with their help considered himself entitled, equally with the old teachers (of the Mishna), to deduce new laws of religion. The most important alterations were those made in the dates of the festivals, the Sabbath, in the laws of marriage, and the dietary regulations. Anan abolished the fixed calendar, which had been established in the middle of the fourth century; but finding no grounds in the Bible for this innovation, he was obliged to refer back to the time of the Second Temple and the Tanaites. As in former times, the beginning of every month was to be fixed by observation of the new moon. The leap years were not to follow in a regular series, according to the nineteen-years cycle, but were to be determined by repeated examination of the condition of the crops, especially at the time of the ripening of the barley. This was not so much an absolute innovation as a renewal of a method of regulating the festivals, the untenableness of which in the state of dispersion of the Jewish nation is evident. This variability of the calendar offered but little difficulty to Anan and his followers in Palestine, but it shows little foresight for the future. As had been formerly done by the Sadducees, Anan fixed the Feast of Pentecost fifty days after the Sabbath following the Passover.

132 In the strict observance of the Sabbath, Anan far outstripped the Talmud. He pronounced it unlawful to administer any medicines on the Sabbath, even in the case of dangerous illness, or to perform the operation of circumcision, or to leave the house in those cities where the Jews did not live separate from the non-Jewish population; he did not allow any warm food to be eaten, nor even a light or fire to be kindled on the eve of the Sabbath by the Jews themselves, or by others for their use. Anan introduced the custom among the Karaites of spending the Sabbath-eve in entire darkness. All these alterations and many others he pretended to deduce from the letter of the Bible. He made the laws relating to food severe beyond all measure, and he extended the prohibition of marriage to relatives who, according to the Talmud, were allowed to intermarry, so that the marriage of uncle and niece and of step-brothers and sisters, who were absolutely unrelated to one another, was regarded by him as incest. Compared with this exaggerated severity, of what importance was the abolition of the phylacteries (Tephillin), of the festal plants at the Feast of Tabernacles, and of the festival of Dedication, instituted in remembrance of the time of the Hasmoneans, and of other trifles? As his opponents rightly affirmed, he set up a new and much stricter Talmud. Religious life was thus invested by Anan with a gloomy and unpoetical character. The forms of prayer, which had been employed during many centuries, some of which had been in use in the Temple, were forbidden by the founder of this sect to be used in the synagogue, and they were banished, together with the prayers of the poetanim. Instead of them, only Biblical selections, made without taste, were to be read out in the manner of a litany in the Karaite synagogues. As the Jews of the Islamic empire were possessed of their own jurisdiction, Anan's innovations dealt133 also with points of civil law. In opposition to the text of the Bible, he placed the female heirs on an equal footing with the males with reference to property inherited from parents, while on the other hand he denied to the husband the right of succeeding to the property of his deceased wife.

But although Anan gave great impetus to the study of the Bible, the system of vowel points having been already introduced, thus enabling all men to read the Scriptures, nevertheless the age in which he lived was neither ripe enough nor his mind sufficiently comprehensive to enable him to produce a healthy, independent exposition of the text. He himself was obliged, in order to establish his innovations, to have recourse to forced interpretations, such as would hardly have been proposed by the Talmudists whom he reviled. In rejecting the Talmud, he broke the bridge connecting the Biblical past with the present. The religion of the Karaites is thus no natural growth, but an entirely artificial and labored creation. Anan had no regard for the customs and sentiments of the people. As his system of religion depended on the interpretation of the Scripture, Karaism naturally was unsettled in character. A new explanation of the text might threaten the very foundations of religious life, for what had been lawful might become unlawful, and vice versâ. Anan was as devoid of the power of appreciating poetry as of understanding history. The sacred prophetic and poetic literature was of no further use to him than to prove the existence of some law or some religious command. He closed the gates of the sanctuary on the newly-awakened poetical impulse.

It is singular that Anan and his followers justified their opposition to the Talmud by the example of the founder of Christianity. According to their idea, Jesus was a God-fearing, holy man, who had not desired to be recognized as a prophet, nor to134 set up a new religion in opposition to Judaism, but simply to confirm the precepts of the Torah and to abrogate laws imposed by human authority. Besides acknowledging the founder of Christianity, Anan also recognized Mahomet as the prophet of the Arabs. But he did not admit that the Torah had been repealed either by Jesus or by Mahomet, but held it to be binding for all time.

It is impossible to ascertain the number of Anan's adherents who followed him into exile. His disciples called themselves, after him, Ananites and Karaites (Karaim, Bene Mikra), while to their adversaries they gave the nickname of Rabbanites, which is equivalent to "Partisans of Authority." At first the irritation existing between the two parties was extremely violent. It is hardly necessary to say that the representatives of the colleges placed the chief of the party and his adherents under a ban of excommunication, and excluded them from the pale of Judaism. But on their side, the Karaites renounced all connection with the Rabbanites, entered into no marriage with them, refused to eat at their table, and even abstained from visiting the house of a Rabbanite on the Sabbath, because they considered that the holy day was desecrated there. The Rabbanites pronounced the Karaites heretics, preached against them from the pulpit, especially against their custom of spending the Sabbath-eve in darkness, and refused to allow the followers of Anan to take part in the prayers. The Karaites, on the other hand, could not sufficiently abuse the two colleges and their representatives. They applied to them the allegory of the prophet Zachariah, of the two women who carried Sin in a bushel to Babylon, and there founded a dwelling-place for her. "The two women are the Geonim in Sora and Anbar (Pumbeditha)." This satire, which probably originated with Anan, became current among the Karaites, and they135 never called the two colleges otherwise than "the two women."

Thus, for the third time, the Jewish race was divided into two hostile camps. Like Israel and Judah, during the first period, and the Pharisees and Sadducees in the time of the Second Temple, the Rabbanites and Karaites were now in opposition to each other. Jerusalem, the holy mother, who had witnessed so many wars between her sons, again became the scene of a fratricidal struggle. The Karaite community, which had withdrawn from the general union, acknowledged Anan as the legitimate Prince of the Captivity, and conferred this honorable title on him and his descendants. Both parties exerted themselves as much as possible to widen the breach.

After Anan's death, his followers, out of reverence, introduced memorial prayers for him into the Sabbath service. They prayed for him thus: "May God be merciful to the Prince Anan, the man of God, who opened the way to the Torah, and opened the eyes of the Karaites; who redeemed many from sin, and showed us the way to righteousness. May God grant him a good place among the seven classes who enter into Paradise." This service, in memory of Anan, is still in use with the Karaites of the present day.

It is impossible, however, for impartial judgment to endorse this encomium, for it is impossible to discern in Anan any greatness of mind. He was not a profound thinker, and was entirely devoid of philosophical knowledge. He had so mean a conception of the soul that, in painful adherence to the letter of the Bible, he designated the blood as its seat. But he was also inconsistent in his opposition to Talmudical Judaism, for he allowed not a few religious laws to continue in force that could no more be traced to a Biblical origin than the institutions which he rejected.

136 After Anan's death the Karaite community conferred the leadership on his son, Saul. Anan's disciples, who called themselves Ananites, differed on various points with their master, especially with regard to the prescribed mode of killing birds. Thus, immediately after Anan's death, the enduring character which he had desired to impart to religious life was destroyed, and there arose divisions which increased with every generation. This schism caused the Karaites to study the Bible more closely, and to support and strengthen their position against one another, and against the Rabbanites, from Holy Writ. It was for this reason that the study of the Bible was carried on by the Karaites with great ardor. With this study went hand in hand the knowledge of Hebrew grammar and of the Massora, the determination of the manner of reading the Holy Scripture. There sprang up many commentators on the Bible, and altogether a luxuriant literature was produced, as each party, thinking it had discovered something new in the Bible, desired to have its authority generally acknowledged.

While the Karaites thus were extremely active, the Rabbanites were most unfruitful in literary productions. A single work is all that is known to have appeared in those times. Judah, the blind Gaon of Sora, who has already been mentioned, and who had done much to oppose Anan's claim, composed a Talmudical Compendium, under the title "Short and Established Practice" (Halachoth Ketuoth). In this work Judah collected and arranged, in an orderly manner, the subjects which were scattered through the Talmud, and indicated briefly, omitting all discussions, what still held good in practice. To judge from a few fragments, Judah's Halachoth were written in Hebrew, by which means he rendered the Talmud popular and intelligible. For this reason the work penetrated to the most distant Jewish communities, and became137 the model for later compositions of a similar description.

The Karaite disturbances also contributed to lessen the authority of the Exilarch. Until the time of Anan the academies and their colleges had been subordinate to the Prince of the Captivity, and to the principals of the schools chosen or confirmed by him; at the same time, however, they had no direct influence over the appointment to this office when it became vacant. But having once succeeded in dispossessing Anan of the Exilarchate, the Gaons determined that this power should not be wrested from their hands, and accordingly from this time exercised it on the ground that they could not allow princes of Karaite opinions to be at the head of the Jewish commonwealth. The Exilarchate, which had been hereditary since the time of Bostanaï, became elective after Anan, and the presidents of the academies directed the election. On the death of Chananya (Achunaï), and hardly ten years after Anan's defection from Rabbanism, a struggle for the Exilarchate broke out afresh between two pretenders, Zaccaï ben Achunaï and Natronaï ben Chabibaï. The latter was a member of the college under Judah. The two heads of the schools at this period, Malka bar Acha, of Pumbeditha (771–773), and Chaninaï Kahana ben Huna, of Sora (765–775), united to bring about the overthrow of Natronaï, and succeeded in procuring, through the Caliph's attendants, his banishment from Babylonia. He emigrated to Maghreb (Kairuan), in which city there had existed ever since its foundation a numerous Jewish population. Zaccaï was confirmed in the office of Exilarch. The Exilarchate continued to become more and more dependent on the Gaonate, which often deposed obnoxious princes, and not infrequently banished them. But as the Exilarchs, when they arrived at power, attempted to free themselves from this state of dependence,138 there occurred collisions which exerted an evil influence on the Babylonian commonwealth.

At about the same time as Karaism sprang into existence, an event occurred which only slightly affected the development of Jewish history, but which roused the spirits of the scattered race and restored their courage. The heathen king of a barbarian people, living in the north, together with all his court, adopted the Jewish religion. The Chazars, or Khozars, a nation of Finnish origin, related to the Bulgars, Avars, Ugurs or Hungarians, had settled, after the dissolution of the empire of the Huns, on the frontier between Europe and Asia. They had founded a kingdom on the Volga (which they called the Itil or Atel) at the place near which it runs into the Caspian Sea, in the neighborhood of Astrakhan, now the home of the Kalmucks. Their kings, who bore the title of Chakan or Chagan, had led these warlike sons of the steppe from victory to victory. The Chazars inspired the Persians with so great a dread that Chosroes, one of their kings, found no other way of protecting his dominions against their violent invasions than by building a strong wall which blocked up the passes between the Caucasus and the sea. But this "gate of gates" (Bab al abwab, near Derbend) did not long serve as a barrier against the warlike courage of the Chazars. After the fall of the Persian empire, they crossed the Caucasus, invaded Armenia, and conquered the Crimean peninsula, which bore the name Chazaria for some time. The Byzantine emperors trembled at the name of the Chazars, flattered them, and paid them a tribute, in order to restrain their lust after the booty of Constantinople. The Bulgarians, and other tribes, were the vassals of the Chazars, and the people of Kiev (Russians) on the Dnieper were obliged to pay them as an annual tax a sword and a fine skin for every household. With the Arabs, whose near neighbors they gradually became, they carried on terrible wars.

139 Like their neighbors, the Bulgarians and the Russians, the Chazars professed a coarse religion, which was combined with sensuality and lewdness. The Chazars became acquainted with Islam and Christianity through the Arabs and Greeks, who came to the capital, Balanyiar, on matters of business, in order to exchange the products of their countries for fine furs. There were also Jews in the land of the Chazars; they were some of the fugitives that had escaped (723) from the mania for conversion which possessed the Byzantine Emperor Leo. It was through these Greek Jews that the Chazars became acquainted with Judaism. As interpreters or merchants, physicians or counselors, the Jews were known and beloved by the Chazar court, and they inspired the warlike king Bulan with a love of Judaism.

In subsequent times, however, the Chazars had but a vague knowledge of the motive which induced their forefathers to embrace Judaism. One of their later Chagans gives the following account of their conversion: The king Bulan conceived a horror of the foul idolatry of his ancestors, and prohibited its exercise within his dominions, without, however, adopting any other form of religion. He was encouraged by a dream in his endeavors to discover the proper manner of worshiping God. Having gained a great victory over the Arabs, and conquered the Armenian fortress of Ardebil, Bulan determined to adopt the Jewish religion openly. The Caliph and the Byzantine emperor desired, however, to induce the king of the Chazars to embrace their respective religions, and with this intention sent to Bulan deputations with letters and valuable presents, and men well versed in religious matters. The king thereupon arranged for a religious discussion to take place before him between a Byzantine ecclesiastic, a Mahometan sage, and a learned Jew. The champions of the three140 religions disputed the whole question, however, without being able to convince one another or the king of the superior excellence of their respective religions as compared with the other two. But as Bulan had remarked that the representatives of the religion of Christ and of Islam both referred to Judaism as the foundation and point of departure of their faiths, he declared to the ambassadors of the Caliph and the Emperor that, as he had heard from the opponents of Judaism themselves an impartial avowal of the excellence of that religion, he would carry out his intention of professing Judaism as his religion. He thereupon immediately offered himself for circumcision. The Jewish sage who was the means of obtaining Bulan's conversion is supposed to have been Isaac Sanjari or Sinjari.

It is possible that the circumstances under which the Chazars embraced Judaism have been embellished by legend, but the fact itself is too definitely proved on all sides to allow any doubt as to its reality. Besides Bulan, the nobles of his kingdom, numbering nearly four thousand, adopted the Jewish religion. Little by little it made its way among the people, so that most of the inhabitants of the towns of the Chazar kingdom were Jews; the army, however, was composed of Mahometan mercenaries. At first the Judaism of the Chazars must have been rather superficial, and could have had but little influence on their mind and manners. A successor of Bulan, who bore the Hebrew name of Obadiah, was the first to make serious efforts to further the Jewish religion. He invited Jewish sages to settle in his dominions, rewarded them royally, founded synagogues and schools, caused instruction to be given to himself and his people in the Bible and the Talmud, and introduced a divine service modeled on that of the ancient communities. So great was the influence which Judaism exercised on the character of this uncivilized race, that while the141 Chazars that remained heathens, without a twinge of conscience sold their children as slaves, those of them that had become Jews abandoned this barbarous custom. After Obadiah came a long series of Jewish Chagans, for according to a fundamental law of the state only Jewish rulers were permitted to ascend the throne. Neither Obadiah nor his successors showed any intolerance towards the non-Jewish population of the country; on the contrary, the non-Jews were placed on a footing of complete equality with the other inhabitants. There was a supreme court of justice, composed of seven judges, of whom two were Jews for the Jewish population, two Mahometans and two Christians for those who were of these religions, and one heathen for the Russians and Bulgarians. For some time the Jews of other countries had no knowledge of the conversion of this powerful kingdom to Judaism, and when at last a vague rumor to this effect reached them, they were of opinion that Chazaria was peopled by the remnant of the former ten tribes. The legend runs thus: Far, far beyond the gloomy mountains, beyond the Cimmerian darkness of the Caucasus, there live true worshipers of God, holy men, descendants of Abraham, of the tribes of Simeon and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who are so powerful that five-and-twenty nations pay them tribute.

At about this time—in the second half of the eighth century—the Jews of Europe also emerged a little from the darkness which had covered them for centuries. Favored by the rulers, or at least neither ill-treated nor persecuted by them, they raised themselves to a certain degree of culture. Charlemagne, the founder of the empire of the Franks, to whom Europe owes its regeneration and partial emancipation from barbarism, also contributed to the spiritual and social advancement of the Jews in France and Germany. By the creation142 of the German-Frankish empire—which extended from the ocean to the further side of the Elbe, and from the Mediterranean to the North Sea—Charlemagne transferred the focus of history to Western Europe, whereas hitherto it had been at Constantinople, on the borderland between Eastern Europe and Asia. Although Charlemagne was a protector of the Church, and helped to found the supremacy of the papacy, and Hadrian, the contemporary Pope, was anything but friendly to the Jews, and repeatedly exhorted the Spanish bishops to prevent the Christians from associating with Jews and heathens (Arabs), Charlemagne was too far-seeing to share the prejudices of the clergy with respect to the Jews. In opposition to all the precepts of the Church and decisions of the councils, the first Frankish emperor favored the Jews of his empire, and turned to account the knowledge of a learned man of this race, who journeyed to Syria for him, and brought back to France the products of the East. While other monarchs punished the Jews for purchasing Church vessels or taking them as pledges from the clergy or the servants of the Church, Charlemagne adopted the opposite course; he inflicted heavy punishment on the sacrilegious ecclesiastics, and absolved the Jews from all penalties.

The Jews were at this period the principal representatives of the commerce of the world. While the nobles devoted themselves to the business of war, the commoners to trades, and the peasants and serfs to agriculture, the Jews, who were not liable to be called upon to perform military service, and possessed no feudal lands, turned their attention to the exportation and importation of goods and slaves, so that the favor extended to them by Charlemagne was, to a certain extent, a privilege accorded to a commercial company. They experienced only the restraint put upon all merchants in the corn and wine trade; the Emperor considered143 it dishonest to make a profit on the necessaries of life. This somewhat materialistic value set upon the Jews marks, however, great progress from the narrow-mindedness of the Merovingian monarchs, the Gunthrams and the Dagoberts, who saw nothing in the Jews but murderers of God. But Charlemagne also manifested deep interest in the spiritual advancement of the Jewish inhabitants of his empire. In the same way as he had cared for the education of the Germans and the French by inviting learned men from Italy, so also he earnestly desired to place a higher culture within the reach of the German and the French Jews. With this intention he removed a learned family, consisting of Kalonymos, his son Moses, and his nephew, from Lucca to Mayence (787), hoping besides to make the Jews independent of the academies of the Levant.

Charlemagne's embassy to the powerful Caliph Haroun Alrashid, to which was attached a Jew named Isaac, is familiar to every student of history (797). Although at first probably Isaac accompanied the two nobles, Landfried and Sigismund, only in the character of interpreter, he was nevertheless admitted into Charlemagne's diplomatic secrets. Thus, when the two principal ambassadors died on the journey, the Caliph's reply and the valuable presents which he had forwarded, fell into Isaac's sole charge, and he was received in solemn audience by the Emperor at Aix. The Emperor is also said to have requested the Caliph, through his embassy, to send him from Babylonia a learned Jew for his country, and Haroun is reported to have sent him a man answering his requirements. This man was a certain Machir, whom Charlemagne placed at the head of the Jewish congregation of Narbonne. Machir, who, like Kalonymos of Lucca, became the ancestor of a learned posterity, founded a Talmudical school at Narbonne.

Owing to their favorable position in the Frankish-144German Empire, in which they held land, the Jews were permitted to undertake voyages and carry on business, and were harassed neither by the people nor by the really religious German ecclesiastics; they were also enabled to abandon themselves to their inclination for travel, and thus spread through many of the provinces of Germany. In the ninth century, numbers of them dwelt in the towns of Magdeburg, Merseburg, and Ratisbon. From these points, they penetrated further and further into the countries inhabited by the Slavonians on the further side of the Oder as far as Bohemia and Poland. Meanwhile, in spite of the favor which Charlemagne extended to them, he, like the best men of the Middle Ages, found it difficult to treat them on an entirely equal footing with the Christians. The chasm, which the Fathers of the Church had placed between Christianity and Judaism, and which had been widened by individual ecclesiastics and the synods, was far too deep to be overleapt by an emperor who was devotedly attached to the Church. Charlemagne himself maintained, on one point, a difference between Jew and Christian, and perpetuated it in the peculiar form of the oath which was imposed on the Jews who were witnesses against, or accusers of, a Christian. They were required, in taking an oath against a Christian, to surround themselves with thorns, to take the Torah in their right hand, and to call down upon themselves Naaman's leprosy and the punishment of Korah's faction in witness of the truth of their statement. If there was not a Hebrew copy of the Torah at hand, a Latin Bible was held to be sufficient. It is impossible not to admit, however, that to allow the Jews to testify against a Christian was in itself a deviation from the ordinances of the Church.

In the East, at the beginning of the ninth century, the Jews were also reminded, in a disagreeable145 manner, that they had to expect scorn and oppression even from the best rulers. The reigns of the Abassid Caliphs, Haroun Alrashid and his sons, are regarded as the most flourishing period of the Caliphate of the East, but it is at this very time that Jewish complaints of oppression rise loudest. It is possible that in re-enacting Omar's law against the Christians (807), Haroun also made it applicable to the Jews; for they were compelled to wear a distinctive badge of yellow on their dress, in the same way as the Christians were obliged to wear blue, and they had to use a rope instead of a girdle. When, after his death (809), his two sons, Mahomet Alemin and Abdallah Almamun, for whom their father had divided the Caliphate into two parts, engaged in a destructive civil war, throughout the whole extent of the great empire, the Jews, especially those in Palestine, experienced severe persecution. The Christians, however, were their companions in misfortune. During the four years (809–813) of this fratricidal struggle, robbery and massacre seem to have been the order of the day. The sufferings were so terrible, it seems, that a preacher of those times declared them to be a sign of the speedy coming of the Messiah. "Israel can only be redeemed by means of penitence, and true penitence can only be evoked by suffering, affliction, wandering, and want," declared this orator by way of consolation of his afflicted congregation. In the civil war raging between the two Caliphs, he fancied he saw the approaching destruction of the Ishmaelite rule and the approach of the Messianic empire. "Two brothers will finally rule over the Ishmaelites (Mahometans); there will then arise a descendant of David, and in the days of this king the Lord of Heaven will found a kingdom which shall never perish." "God will exterminate the sons of Esau (Byzantium), Israel's enemies, and also the sons of Ishmael, its adversaries." But146 these, like many others, were delusive hopes. The civil war, indeed, shook the Caliphate to its foundations, but did not destroy it. Alemin was killed, and Almamun became the sole ruler of this extensive empire.

It was during Almamun's reign (813–833) that the Caliphate of the East flourished most luxuriantly. As he was imbued with tolerance, it was possible for the sciences and a certain form of philosophy to develop. Bagdad, Kairuan in northern Africa, and Merv in Khorasan, became the centers of science, such as Europe did not possess until many centuries later. The genius of the Greeks celebrated its resurrection in Arabic garb. Statesmen competed with men of leisure for the palm of erudition. The Jews did not remain unaffected by this enthusiasm for science. Investigation and subtle inquiry are indeed part of their innermost nature. They took earnest interest in these intellectual activities, and many of their achievements gained the approbation of the Arabs. The history of Arab civilization has several Jewish names recorded in its annals. Sahal, surnamed Rabban (the Rabbanite, the authority on the Talmud), of Taberistan on the Caspian Sea (about the year 800), was celebrated as a physician and a mathematician. He translated into Arabic the Almagest of the Greek astronomer Ptolemy, the text-book of astronomy during the Middle Ages, and was the first to note the refraction of light. His son Abu-Sahal Ali (835–853) is placed among those that advanced the study of medicine, and was the teacher of two Arabic medical authorities, Razi and Anzarbi.

With even more ardor than that with which they had applied themselves to medicine, mathematics and astronomy, the Mussulmans prosecuted the study of the science of religion, a sort of philosophy of religion (Kalâm). It was invested with as much importance as the affairs of state, and exercised a147 certain influence on politics. The expounders of the Koran, in trying to explain away the grossly sensual references to God, and to reconcile the contradictions contained in that work, developed ideas which projected far beyond the restricted horizon of Islam. Many commentators, by reason of their rationalistic explanations, came into conflict with the champions of the text, and were branded by them as heretics. The Mutazilists (heretics) laid great stress upon the unity of God, and desired that no definite attributes should be ascribed to him; for thereby the essence of God appeared to them to be divided into parts, and several beings to be included in the idea of God, whose unity was thus negatived. They further asserted the freedom of the human will, because the unconditional predetermination by God, which the Oriental mind believes, and the Koran confirms, was incompatible with divine justice, which rewards the good and punishes the bad. They believed, however, that they still stood on the same ground as the Koran, although, of course, going far beyond it, and in order to bring their doctrine into harmony with the blunt sayings of their religious book, they employed the same method as the Alexandrian-Jewish philosophers of religion had used to reconcile the Bible with Greek philosophy; they adopted an allegorical interpretation of the text. This interpretation was employed for the purpose of bridging over the gulf existing between the rationalistic idea of God and the irrational idea as taught by the Koran. The rationalistic Mutazilist theology of the Mahometans, although denounced at first as heretical, steadily gained ascendancy; the schools of Bagdad and Bassora rang with its doctrines. The Caliph Almamun exalted it into the theology of the court, and condemned the old simple views of religion.

The adherents of orthodoxy were horrified by this license of interpretation, for the text of the148 Koran, in an underhand way, was forced into conveying an opposite meaning, and simple faith lost all support. They, therefore, adhered strictly to the letter and to the natural meaning of the text. Some of them went still further. They took, in their literal meaning, all the expressions concerning God, however gross they might be, which occurred in the Koran, or were used by tradition, and constructed a most vile theology. Mahomet expressed a revelation thus: "My Lord came to meet me, gave me his hand in greeting, looked into my face, laid his hand between my shoulders, so that I felt his cold finger-tips," and the orthodox school accepted all this in revolting literalness. This school (Anthropomorphists) did not hesitate to declare that God was a body possessed of members and a definite form; that he was seven spans high, measured by his own span; that he was in a particular spot—upon his throne; that it was permissible to affirm of him that he moves, mounts his throne and descends from it, stops and rests. These and still more blasphemous descriptions of the Supreme Being, in the same grossly materialistic strain, were given by the orthodox Mahometan teachers of religion, in order to show their adherence to the letter of the Koran in contradistinction to the Rationalists.

The Jews of the East lived in so close a connection with the Mussulmans that they could not fail to be affected by these tendencies. The same phenomena were repeated, therefore, in Jewish circles, and the variance between Karaites and Rabbanites assisted in transferring the Islamic controversies to Judaism. The official supporters of Judaism, however, the colleges of Sora and Pumbeditha, held aloof from them. Entirely absorbed in the Talmud, and its exposition, they either took no notice at first of the violent agitation of mind prevailing, or else refused to yield to it. But outside149 of the colleges men were actively interested in these new methods, and Judaism was pushed through another process of purification.

The faint ray of philosophy which fell into this world of simple blind faith, ignorant of its own beliefs, produced a dazzling illumination. The Karaites for the most part were of Mutazilist (rationalistic) tendency, while the Rabbanites, on the contrary, having to defend the strange Agadic statements concerning God, were antagonistic to science. But as the religious edifice of Karaism was not finished, there arose new sects within its pale, with peculiar theories and varying religious practices.

The first person known to have imparted the Mutazilist tendency of Islamic theology to Judaism was Judah Judghan, the Persian, of the town of Hamadan (about 800). His adversaries relate of him that he was originally a camel-herd. He himself pretended to be the herald of the Messiah, and when he had gained adherents, unfolded to them a peculiar doctrine, which he asserted had been made known to him in a vision.

In opposition to the ancient traditional views, in accordance with which the Biblical account of God's deeds and thoughts must be taken literally, Judah Judghan asserted that we ought not to represent God with material attributes or anthropomorphically, for he is elevated above all created things. The expressions which the Torah employs in this connection are to be taken in a wholly metaphorical sense. Nor may we take for granted that, by virtue of His omnipotence and omniscience, God predetermines the acts of man. Much rather ought we to proceed from God's justice, and assume that man is master of his actions, and possessed of free will, and that reward and punishment are meted out to us according to our merit. While Judah of Hamadan was possessed of liberal views concerning theoretical questions, he recommended150 the severest asceticism in practice. His adherents abstained from meat and wine, fasted and prayed frequently, but were less strict with respect to the festivals. His followers, who long maintained themselves as a peculiar sect under the name of Judghanites, believed so firmly in him that they asserted that he was not dead, but would appear again, in order to bring a new doctrine with him, as the Shiites believed of Ali. One of his disciples, named Mushka, was desirous of imposing the doctrine of his master on the Jews by force. He marched out of Hamadan with a troop of comrades of similar sentiments, but, together with nineteen of his followers, was killed, in the neighborhood of Koom (east of Hamadan, southwest of Teheran), most probably by the Mussulmans.

Judah Judghan attached more importance to an ascetic mode of living than to the establishing of the philosophical basis of Judaism, and was therefore rather the founder of a sect than a religious philosopher. A contemporary Karaite, Benjamin ben Moses of Nahavend (about 800–820), spread the Mutazilist philosophy among the Karaites. Benjamin Nahavendi is regarded by his fellow-Karaites as an authority, and is honored by them as greatly as Anan, their founder, although he differed from the latter on many points. Benjamin was entirely permeated with the conceptions of the Mutazilists. He was scandalized, not only by the physical and human characteristics of God contained in the Scripture, but also by the revelation and the creation. He could not rest satisfied with the idea that the spiritual Being had created this earthly world, had come into contact with it, had circumscribed himself in space for the purpose of the revelation on Sinai, and uttered articulate sounds. In order not to abandon his elevated idea of God, and at the same time to preserve the revelation of the Torah, he adopted the following notion, as others had done151 before him: God had himself created only the spiritual world and the angels; the terrestrial universe, on the other hand, had been created by the angels, so that God ought to be regarded only as the mediate creator of the world. In the same way the revelation, the giving of the Law on Sinai, and the inspiration of the prophets were all the work of an angel only. Certain disciples adopted Benjamin's views, and formed a peculiar sect, called (it is not known for what reason) the Makariyites or Maghariyites.

While Benjamin Nahavendi, as is generally acknowledged, deviated widely from the Jewish system with respect to religious philosophy, he approached the Rabbanites on the subject of morals; he adopted many Talmudical ordinances, and left it to the free choice of the Karaites to reject or adopt them as their standard. In order to enforce obedience to the laws, Benjamin Nahavendi introduced a species of excommunication, which differed only slightly from the excommunication of the Rabbanites. When an accused person refused to obey the summons served on him, and attempted to evade judgment, he was to be cursed on each of seven successive days, and then excommunication pronounced on him. The excommunication consisted in the prohibition of intercourse with all the members of the community, who also were forbidden to greet him, or to accept anything from him; he was to be treated in all respects like one deceased, until he submitted. If he obstinately disregarded the decree, it was lawful to hand him over to temporal justice. Although Benjamin Nahavendi inclined to Rabbanism on certain points, he adhered firmly, nevertheless, to the Karaite principle of unrestrained research in the Bible. One ought not to tie one's self down to the authorities, but to follow one's own conviction; the son may differ from the father, the disciple from the master, as soon as they152 have reasons for their different views. "Inquiry is a duty, and errors occasioned by inquiry do not constitute a sin."

In the same manner as the orthodox Mahometan teachers of religion worked counter to the unrestrained subtlety of the Mutazilists, and, falling into the opposite extreme, conceived the divinity as possessed of a bodily form, so also did the Jewish adherents of the orthodox doctrine go astray, and, regarding the rationalistic innovation as a defection from Judaism, they conceived the most absurd ideas concerning the materiality of God. They even desired to accept in their most literal sense the Biblical expressions, "God's hand, God's foot, his sitting down, or walking about." The Agadic exposition of the Scripture, which occasionally made use of material, tangible figures, adapted to the comprehension of the people, promoted the acceptance of this anti-Jewish theory. This theory, the creation of an imbecile, gained adherents by reason of its mysterious nature. It gives a minute, corporeal description of the Deity, measures his height from head to foot by the parasang-scale, speaks in blasphemous detail of God's right and left eye, of his upper and lower lip, of his beard and of other members, which it would be sacrilegious even to mention. In order, however, not to prejudice the sublimity and majesty of God, this theory enlarges each organ to enormous proportions, and considers that justice has been done to the case when it adds that the scale by which the members are measured considerably exceeds the whole world (Shiur-Komah). To this God, whom it thus dissected and measured, the theory assigned a special house in heaven with seven halls (Hechaloth). In the uppermost hall, God is seated upon an elevated throne, the proportions of which are measured by the same enormous scale. The halls are populated by this materialistic theory with myriads of angels, to some of whom are153 assigned names formed by the arbitrary combination of Hebrew and foreign words into barbarous sounds. The chief angel, however, is a certain Metatoron, and the theory adds, after the example of the Christian and Mahometan authors, that he was Enoch or Henoch, originally a man, but transported by God into heaven, and converted into flames of fire. With evident pleasure the theory dwells upon the description of this abortion of a morbid fancy. It even dared place him at the side of the Divinity, and call him the "little God."

This theory, which was a compound of misunderstood Agadas, and of Jewish, Christian, and Mahometan fantastic notions, clothed itself in mysterious obscurity, and pretended to be a revelation. In order to answer the inquiry whence it had acquired this wisdom which enabled it to scoff at Judaism, in other words, at the Bible and the Talmud, it quotes alleged divine instructions. As there is no nonsense, however apparent, which cannot find adherents when earnestly and impressively enunciated, this doctrine of mystery, which was based upon a grossly material conception of God, found many followers. Its adepts called themselves "Men of Faith." They boasted of possessing the means of obtaining a view of the divine household. By virtue of certain incantations, invocations of the names of God and the angels, and the recitation of certain prayer-like chants, combined with fasting and an ascetic mode of living, they pretended to be able to perform supernatural deeds. For this purpose they made use of amulets and cameos (Kameoth), and wrote upon them the names of God or the angels with certain signs. Miracle-working was a trifle to these mystics. They asserted that every pious man had the power of performing miracles, if he only employed the proper means. To this end they wrote a number of works on the theory and practice of the esoteric doctrine; for the154 most part they contained downright nonsense, but here and there they rose to poetry. But this mystical literature only gave hints; the adepts would surrender the real key to a knowledge of the divine secrets and to the power of performing miracles only to certain persons, in whose hand and forehead they pretended to discover lines that proved them to be worthy of this favor.

This mystical doctrine flourished chiefly in Palestine, where the real study of the Talmud was languishing; little by little it made its way into Babylonia. This became apparent on the occasion of the election of a principal of the Pumbeditha academy (814). The best claim to this office was that advanced by a certain Mar-Aaron (ben Samuel), by reason of his erudition and on account of his having acted up till then as chief judge. Nevertheless, preference was given to the claim of a rival, the aged Joseph bar Abba, who was far inferior to him in learning; the reason of this preference being that the latter was an adept in mysticism, and was believed to be favored with the intimacy of the prophet Elijah. One day when this same Joseph bar Abba was presiding at a public meeting, he exclaimed with rapture, "Make room for the old man who is just coming in." The eyes of all present were immediately turned to the entrance, and those to the right of the principal respectfully stepped aside. They saw no one enter, however, and were therefore all the more positively convinced that the prophet Elijah had entered invisible, had seated himself on the right of his friend Joseph, and had been present during the whole of his discourse. After that time no one dared occupy the place at the side of the principal of the Pumbeditha academy, for it had been honored and hallowed by Elijah, and it became the custom to leave it vacant.

Joseph's successor, Mar-Abraham ben Sherira155 (816–828), was likewise a mystic. It was said that he could foresee the future from the rustling of palm leaves on a calm day.

More liberal views, and even Karaism, found a way into the halls of learning, just as mysticism had done before. Through these opposed views quarrels naturally arose, which came to light when the office of Exilarch was to be filled. In the year 825 there was to be the election of a new Prince of the Exile. For this office there were two candidates, David ben Judah and Daniel. The latter was inclined to Karaism, and perhaps just on this account found in southern Babylonia many supporters who gave him their votes. The Babylonians in the north, who belonged to Pumbeditha (Anbar), decided in favor of David, as he doubtless belonged to the orthodox party. The quarrel was carried on with much virulence. The mystic Abraham ben Sherira was deposed in consequence, and Joseph ben Chiya appointed in his place. It is not known by which party this was brought about. But Abraham had followers in Pumbeditha, who gave him their support, and refused allegiance to the rival Gaon. The quarrel could not be decided by their own authorities, and both parties appealed to the Caliph Almamun to confirm the Exilarch of their choice. Almamun, however, at that time was engaged in a dispute about the Eastern Church. He had been called upon to decide between two claimants for the Chaldæo-Christian Patriarchate, and wanted to rid himself of such litigation. He therefore declined to interfere in the internal affairs of the Jews and Christians, and decreed that in future each party should be empowered to elect its own religious chief. If ten Jews wished to elect an Exilarch, ten Christians an Archbishop, or ten Fire-worshipers a Chief Priest, they had the power to do so. This decree was unsatisfactory to both parties, inasmuch as it left the quarrel undecided;156 it is not certain how it ended. So much, however, is known: David ben Judah asserted his authority, and filled the post for about ten years (till 840).

In the school of Sora also quarrels broke out (827). The quarrel between the chiefs lasted for a long time in the school of Pumbeditha. Eventually a compromise was effected. There were to be two Gaons holding office together, who should share equally the title and the revenue. Abraham, however, was to have the privilege of delivering the address at the general assemblies.

One day both heads of the school at Pumbeditha met in Bagdad at an installation ceremony, at which it was customary to give an address. The capital of the Caliphate had at this time a numerous Jewish community and several synagogues. Bagdad, which was nearer to Pumbeditha than to Sora, belonged to the district of the School of Pumbeditha. Its president was there given the preference to him of Sora.

When the lecture was to begin, and it was proclaimed aloud, "Hear what the heads of the schools are about to say," those present burst into tears on account of the disunion in their midst. The tears of the multitude had so mighty an effect upon Joseph ben Chiya that he arose, and publicly tendered his resignation in favor of his opponent.

He received an insulting blessing as the reward of his noble resolve. "May God give you a share in the world to come," said his opponent, who now assumed his position. It was only after Abraham's death (828), that the noble Joseph was re-installed as Gaon of Pumbeditha (828–833).

All disputes had ceased in the school of Sora, but they soon broke out again, and created such confusion, that Sora was without a Gaon for two years (837–839). We are in the dark as to the true reason of all this discord, but it is probable that the rise of Karaism had something to do157 with it. However much the Rabbanites hated the Karaite sect, and though they declared it heretical, and kept away from it, yet they adopted several of its teachings, and imitated it in others.

But if Anan's sect had sown the seeds of dissension amongst the followers of the more ancient sect, it was itself not by any means free therefrom. The principal dogma of Karaism was unlimited freedom in exegesis, and the regulation of religion according to the result of honest inquiry. The result was that every Karaite constructed his Judaism according to his own interpretation of the text. Religious practice was regulated according to the clever or silly ideas of the expositor. Moreover, exegesis was yet in its infancy. The knowledge of the Hebrew language, the basis of a healthy, rational exegesis, was still scanty, and arbitrariness had every opportunity of asserting itself. Every one believed himself to be in possession of the truth, and when he did not condemn them, pitied those who did not share his views. We have a sad picture of the condition of Karaism scarcely a century after Anan's death. New sects, too, arose from it, the founders of which had strange ideas about some customs of Judaism. Musa (or Mesvi) and Ishmael, from the town of Akbara (seven miles east of Bagdad), are said to have held peculiar views about the observance of the Sabbath. What these views were we do not now know, but they approached the doctrines of the Samaritans. The two Akbarites further declared that the Pentateuchal prohibition against eating certain parts of the fat of an animal only referred to the sacrifices, and that it was permissible to use them otherwise. Musa and Ishmael found followers who lived according to their doctrines. These formed a sect within Karaism, and called themselves Akbarites.

Simultaneously with these there arose another false teacher, Abu-Amran Moses, a Persian from158 the little town of Safran (near Kerman-Shah in Persia), who had emigrated to the town of Tiflis in Armenia. Abu Amran Altiflisi propounded other views, which he believed were based upon the text of the Bible. He, like the other Karaites, wished to have the marriage of an uncle with his niece considered among the prohibited unions. He had peculiar views about the calendar, differing both from those of the Karaites and those of the Rabbanites. There was to be no fixed calendar, nor was the month to commence when the new moon became visible, but at the moment of its eclipse. Moses, the Persian, denied bodily resurrection, and introduced other innovations which are not known in detail. His followers formed themselves into a peculiar sect, under the name of Abu-Amranites or Tiflisites, and continued to exist for several centuries.

Another Moses (or Mesvi), from Baalbek in Syria, continued the schism, and departed still more from Karaism. He affirmed that the Feast of Passover must always happen on Thursday, and the Day of Atonement on the Sabbath, because this day is designated in the Bible as "the Sabbath of Sabbaths." In many points, Moses of Baalbek differed from both the Karaites and the Rabbanites. He enacted amongst his sect that in praying they should always turn to the west, instead of turning in the direction of the Temple. He, too, formed a sect called by his name, which continued to exist for a long time.

As Karaism had no religious center, and no spiritual court to represent its unity, it is quite natural that there could be no sympathy between one Karaite community and another. And so it happened that the people of Khorasan observed the festivals in a manner different from that of the other Karaites.

In the principles which the Karaites by and by159 were forced to lay down, in order, in a measure, to put a stop to the individualistic tendencies of their adherents, who were always forming new sects, they recognized the authority of tradition. They accepted the laws for slaughtering and the manner of fixing the beginning of each month, under their rule that a great many customs, not prescribed in either the Law, the Prophets or the Hagiographa, yet universally observed among the members of the Jewish race, were obligatory as religious practices. This rule of agreement or analogy was later called by them tradition (Haatakah) or hereditary teaching (Sebel ha Yerusha). In practice, however, they were arbitrary, inasmuch as they retained one custom as traditional, while they rejected others possessed of equal claims to be considered traditional. The rule of analogy led Karaism into new difficulties, especially as regards the marriage of certain blood-relations. They fell from one difficulty into another. They held that the affinity between a man and his wife was, according to the Bible, continuous. Consequently step-children should not be allowed to intermarry. But they went still further. The affinity between a man and his wife continues, they said, even if the marriage is dissolved. If in such a case the husband or the wife marries again, the affinity extends to the new families, although they are unknown to each other. Hence the members of the family of the first husband cannot intermarry with the members of the second husband's family. This affinity continues to the third and fourth generations. Thus the circle of affinity was considerably enlarged. The authors of this system of artificial relationship called it "handing over" (Rikkub, Tarkib). Why they should have stopped at the fourth generation it is difficult to see, but it appears that they feared the ultimate consequences. Such was the confusion in which Karaism had enveloped itself in its endeavor to break with the past.


160

CHAPTER VI.
FAVORABLE CONDITION OF THE JEWS IN THE FRANKISH DOMINIONS, AND THE DECAY OF THE EXILARCHATE IN THE EAST.

The Jews under Louis le Débonnaire—The Empress Judith and her Veneration for Judaism—Agobard, Bishop of Lyons—Conversion of Bishop Bodo—Amolo's effort against the Jews—Charles the Bald—Troubles in Béziers and Toulouse—Decree against the Jews in Italy—Boso of Burgundy—Basilius—Leo the Philosopher—Decline of the Exilarchate—The Geonim acquire Additional Influence—The Prayer Book of Amram—Mar-Zemach—Literary and Scientific Activity of the Jews—Decay of Karaism—Dissensions at Pumbeditha.

814–920 C. E.

The Jews of Europe had no knowledge of the split in Judaism in the East, of the struggle between the Exilarchate and the Gaonate, or of the rivalry of the heads of the schools. Babylonia, the seat of the Gaonic schools, was looked upon by them almost in the light of a heaven upon earth, as a place of eternal peace, and of the knowledge of God. A decision from Pumbeditha was considered an important event, and was read with the greatest respect. Such a decision was obeyed more willingly than a papal bull among the Catholics, because it was given without the assumption of authority. The western nations, as yet in their childhood with respect to literature, were under guardianship as regards religion—the Christians under the papal throne, the Jews under the Gaonic schools.

It is true, some prominent Jews in France and Italy occupied themselves with the study of mysticism and the Agada, but they regarded themselves as dependent upon the Eastern authorities.

161 The favorable condition of the Jews in the Frankish dominions, under Charles the Great, continued under his son Louis (814–840), and, under these advantageous circumstances, an impulse towards intellectual activity manifested itself. They showed so much zeal in the cause of Judaism that they even inspired Christians with love for it. The successor of Charles the Great, the generous but weak Louis, in spite of his religious inclination, which obtained for him the name of "the Pious," showed extraordinary favor to the Jews. He took them under his special protection, shielding them from injustice, both on the part of the barons and of the clergy. They enjoyed the right of settling in any part of the kingdom. In spite of numerous decrees to the contrary, they were not only allowed to employ Christian workmen, but they might even import slaves. The clergy were forbidden to baptize the slaves of Jews to enable them to regain their freedom. Out of regard for them the market day was changed from the Sabbath day to Sunday. The Jews were freed from the punishment of scourging, and had the jurisdiction over Jewish offenders in their own hands. They were, moreover, not subject to the barbarous ordeals of fire and water. They were allowed to carry on their trades without let or hindrance, but they had to pay a tax to the treasury, and to render account periodically of their income. Jews also farmed the taxes, and obtained through this privilege a certain power over the Christians, although this was distinctly contrary to the provisions of canonic law.

An officer (Magister Judæorum) was appointed whose duty it was to watch over the rights of the Jews, and not permit them to be encroached upon. In the time of Louis this office was filled by a man named Eberard. One is almost tempted to believe that the remarkable favor shown to the Jews by the pious emperor was mainly due to commercial162 motives. The international commerce which Charlemagne had established, and which the counselors of Louis wished to develop, was mostly in the hands of Jews, because they could more easily enter into commercial relations with their brethren in other lands, as they were not hampered by military service. But there was a deeper reason for the extraordinary favor shown to the Jews, not only to the Jewish merchants, but also to the Jews as such—the bearers of the purified knowledge of God.

The empress Judith, Louis' second consort, was most friendly to Judaism. This beautiful and clever queen, the admiration of whose friends was equaled only by the hostility of her foes, had great respect for the Jewish heroes of antiquity. When the learned abbot of Fulda, Rhabanus Maurus, wished to win her favor, he could find no more effectual means than to dedicate to her his work on the books of Esther and Judith, and to compare her to both these Jewish heroines. The empress and her friends, and probably also the treasurer Bernhard, the real ruler of the kingdom, became patrons of the Jews, because of their descent from the patriarchs and the prophets. "They ought to be honored on this account," said their friends at court, and their view was shared by the emperor. Cultured Christians refreshed themselves with the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus and the Jewish philosopher Philo, and read their works in preference to those of the apostles. Educated ladies and courtiers openly confessed that they esteemed the Jewish lawgiver more highly than they did their own. They even went so far as to ask the Jews for their blessing. The Jews had free access to court, and held direct intercourse with the emperor and those near him. Relatives of the emperor presented Jewish ladies with costly garments in order to show their appreciation and respect.

163 As such favor was shown them in higher circles, it was only natural that the Jews of the Frankish dominions (which also included Germany and Italy) should enjoy wide toleration, perhaps more than at any other period of their history. The hateful canonical laws were tacitly annulled. The Jews were allowed to build synagogues, to speak freely about the meaning of Judaism in the hearing of Christians, and even to say that they were "descendants of the patriarchs," "the race of the just," "the children of the prophets." They could fearlessly give their candid opinion about Christianity, the miracles of the saints, the relics, and image worship. Christians visited the synagogues, and were edified by the Jewish method of conducting divine service, and, strangely enough, were better pleased with the lectures of the Jewish preachers (Darshanim) than with those of their own clergy, although the Darshanim could hardly have been able to reveal the deep tenor of Judaism. So much, however, is certain: the Jewish preachers delivered their sermons in the vernacular. Clergymen in high station were not ashamed to adopt their expositions of Holy Writ from the Jews. The abbot Rhabanus Maurus of Fulda confessed that he had learnt several things from the Jews which he made use of in his commentary to the Bible, dedicated to Louis of Germany, who afterwards became emperor.

In consequence of the favor shown to the Jews at court, some Christians conceived a liking for Judaism, looked upon Judaism as the true religion, found it more convincing than Christianity, respected the Sabbath, and worked on Sunday. In short, the reign of Emperor Louis the Pious was a golden era for the Jews of his kingdom, such as they had never enjoyed, and were destined never again to enjoy in Europe. But as the Jewish race has had enemies at all times, these were not lacking to the French164 Jews of this epoch, especially as they were in favor at court, were beloved by the people, and could openly declare their religious views. The followers of strict Church discipline saw in the violation of the canonical laws, in the favor shown to the Jews and in the liberty which was then being vouchsafed to them, the ruin of Christendom. Envy and hatred were concealed under the cloak of orthodoxy. The patrons of the Jews at court, with the empress at their head, were hated by the clerical party, which strove to rule the emperor, and which now transferred its anger against the liberal court party to the Jews.

The exponent of clerical orthodoxy and of hatred against the Jews at this time, was Agobard, Bishop of Lyons, whom the Church has canonized. A restless and passionate man, he calumniated the empress Judith, rebelled against the emperor, and incited the princes to revolt. He supported the disloyal sons of the emperor, especially Lothaire, against their father. He was called the Ahithophel who incited Absalom against his father David. This bishop wished to limit the liberty of the Jews, and to reduce them to the low position they had held under the Merovingian kings.

An insignificant occurrence gave him the desired opportunity. The female slave of a respected Jew of Lyons ran away from her master, and to regain her freedom she allowed herself to be baptized (about 827). The Jews, who saw in this act an encroachment on their chartered rights and on their property, demanded the surrender of the runaway slave. On Agobard's refusal to grant this, the Jews turned to Eberard, the Magister Judæorum, who threatened to punish the bishop, if he persisted in his refusal to restore her to her master.

This was the beginning of a contest between Agobard and the Jews which lasted for several years. It gave rise to many quarrels, and ended165 in the deposition of Agobard. He did not care so much about this slave, as about the maintenance and assertion of the canonical laws against the Jews. But he now encountered a serious difficulty. Incited, on the one hand, by his hatred of the Jews, restrained, on the other, by his fear of punishment, he did not know how to act. Perplexed, he turned to the representatives of the Church party at court, whom he knew to be enemies of the empress and her favorites, the Jews. He urged them to induce the emperor to restrict the liberty of the Jews. They appear to have proposed something of the sort to the emperor. The friends of the Jews at court, in the meantime, sought to frustrate the plans of the clergy. The emperor summoned the bishops and the representatives of Judaism to settle the points in dispute. Agobard, however, was so full of rage at the meeting that, as he himself says, "he roared rather than spoke." He then had an audience with the emperor. When the bishop appeared before Louis, the latter looked at him so fiercely that he could not utter a word, and heard nothing but the order to withdraw. Ashamed and confused, the bishop returned to his diocese. However, he soon recovered from his confusion, and plotted anew against the Jews. Agobard delivered anti-Jewish speeches, and urged his parishioners to break off all intercourse with the Jews, to do no business with them, and to decline entering their service. Fortunately, their patrons at court were active on their behalf, and did their best to frustrate the designs of the fanatic priest. As soon as they were informed of his action they obtained letters of protection (indiculi) from the emperor, sealed with his seal, and these they sent to the Jews of Lyons.

A letter was likewise sent to the bishop commanding him, under a severe penalty, to discontinue his anti-Jewish sermons. Another letter was sent to the governor of the Lyons district, bidding166 him render the Jews all assistance (828). Agobard took no notice of these letters, and spitefully alleged that the imperial decree was spurious—in fact, could not possibly be genuine. Thereupon Eberard, the Magister Judæorum, sent to him, telling him of the emperor's displeasure on account of his disobedience. But he remained so obstinate, that the emperor had to send two commissioners, Gerrick and Frederick, men in high standing at court, armed with full power to bring this stubborn and seditious bishop to reason. What means they were empowered to employ against him we do not know, but they must have been severe, because the few priests who had taken part in Agobard's agitation did not venture to show themselves. It is significant that the people of Lyons did not at all side with their bishop against the Jews.

The Jew-hater Agobard did not rest in his efforts against the Jews. He determined to oppose the court party which favored the Jews, and to win over the emperor by an appeal to his conscience. Perhaps he was acquainted with the plans of the conspirators, Wala, Helisachar, and Hilduin, who desired to incite the sons of the emperor's first marriage against the empress and the chief chancellor Bernhard, because these had induced the emperor to effect a new division of the kingdom in favor of Judith's son. Agobard henceforth divested himself of all timidity, and became quite resolute, as though he anticipated the speedy downfall of the party that favored the Jews. He first appealed to the bishops, and entreated them to reproach the king with his sin, and persuade him to reduce the Jews to the humble position they had occupied at the time of the Merovingians. Only one of Agobard's letters to the prelates is extant, the one to Bishop Nibridius of Narbonne. It is full of bitterness against the Jews, and is interesting on account of the fanaticism of the writer, and the167 confession he makes therein. Amongst other things he complains that the Christians, despite their efforts, could not succeed in winning over to Christianity a single Jewish soul, whilst the Christians, joining Jews at their meals, partook also of their spiritual food. Although Agobard's bitter hatred of the Jews is chiefly to be considered a manifestation of his own feelings, it cannot be denied that it was in entire harmony with the teachings of the Church. He justly appeals to the sayings of the apostles and to the canonic laws. The inviolable decrees of the councils, too, were on his side. Agobard, with his gloomy hatred, was strictly orthodox, whilst Emperor Louis with his mildness was inclined to heresy. But Agobard did not venture to spread this opinion openly. He rather suggested it in his statement that he could not believe it to be possible that the emperor had betrayed the Church to the Jews. His complaint was echoed in the hearts of the princes of the Church.

A number of bishops assembled at Lyons for the purpose of discussing the best method of humbling the Jews, and disturbing their hitherto peaceful existence. They also considered how the emperor might best be influenced to adopt their resolutions. It was resolved at the meeting that a letter should be handed to the emperor, setting forth the wickedness and the danger of favoring the Jews, and specifying the privileges which ought to be withdrawn (829). The letter of the synod, as we have it now, is signed by three bishops, and is entitled, "Concerning the Superstitions of the Jews." Agobard wrote the preface, in which he explains his position in the quarrel. In it, after accusing the Jews, he blamed their friends as being the cause of all the evil. The Jews, he said, had become bold through the support of the commissioners, who had given out that the Jews were not so bad after all,168 but were very dear to the emperor. From the standpoint of faith and of the canonic laws the argument of Agobard and the other bishops was irrefutable, and had Emperor Louis the Pious set store by this logic, he would have had to extirpate the Jews, root and branch. Fortunately, however, he took no notice of it. This happened either because he knew Agobard's character, or because the letter containing the accusations against the Jews never reached him. Agobard's fear that the letter would be intercepted by the friends of the Jews at court may have proved well founded. The Jew-hating bishop of Lyons, however, had his revenge. In the following year (830), he took part in the conspiracy against the empress Judith, by joining the sons, who nearly succeeded in dethroning their father. Agobard was thereupon deprived of his office, and had to seek safety in Italy, but Louis soon restored him to his office, after which Agobard left the Jews unmolested.

Till the end of his life Louis remained well disposed toward the Jews. This is the more surprising as he felt very much hurt when one of his favorites became a convert to Judaism, which might easily have embittered him against them. The conversion of Bishop Bodo, who had hitherto occupied a high position, created a great sensation in its time. The chronicles speak of this event as they would of some extraordinary natural phenomenon. The event, indeed, was accompanied by peculiar circumstances, and was a great shock to pious Christians. Bodo, or Puoto, descended from an old Alemannic race, a man as well informed in temporal as in spiritual affairs, had become an ecclesiastic, and occupied the rank of a deacon. The emperor favored him, and in order to have him constantly near him, made him his spiritual adviser. Entertaining strict Catholic opinions, Bodo desired to go to Rome in order to receive the blessing of the Pope, and to make a169 pilgrimage to the graves of the apostles and the martyrs. He was given leave of absence, but in Rome, the stronghold of Christianity, Bodo conceived a strong liking for Judaism. Perhaps the favor shown to the Jews and Judaism at Louis' court had suggested to him a comparison of the two faiths, and his investigation may have led him to recognize the merits of Judaism. Besides, the immoral life of the clergy in the Christian capital, which had given rise to the satire about Pope Joan, who had defiled the chair of Peter, filled him with disgust, and attracted him to the purer religion of Judaism.

He himself wrote later, that he, in company with other divines, had used the churches for grossly immoral purposes. Christian orthodoxy, without inquiring into the true reason for Bodo's change of faith, had a ready answer, viz., that Satan, the enemy of mankind and of the Church, had led him to it. Bodo, without stopping at the court or in France, journeyed from Rome to Spain, and there formally became a Jew, giving up for the new faith his fatherland, his position, and his friends. He was circumcised in Saragossa, assumed the name of Eleazar, and let his beard grow (August, 938). He married a Jewess in Saragossa, and appears to have entered the military service of an Arab prince. He now conceived such hatred against his former co-religionists, that he persuaded the Mahometan conqueror not to tolerate Christians in his dominions, but to compel them to adopt either Islam or Judaism. Thereupon the Spanish Christians are said to have appealed to the emperor of the Frankish empire and to the bishops to use their utmost endeavors to get this dangerous apostate into their power. The emperor Louis was deeply moved by Bodo's conversion. He did not, however, allow the Jews to suffer on account of his grief, but continued to protect them against injustice. Of this we have a clear proof in170 his action in reference to a lawsuit which came under his notice some months after Bodo's conversion. It is probable that with Louis the Pious originated the theory, current throughout the later period of the Middle Ages, and doubtless inspired by benevolent desires, that the emperor is the natural patron of the Jews, and that they, being his wards, are inviolable.

With the death of the emperor Louis, the golden age of the Jews in the Frankish dominions came to an end, and their good fortunes were not renewed for a considerable time. Southern Europe, disturbed by anarchy, and ruled by a fanatic clergy, did not offer a favorable field for the development of Judaism. It is true that Charles the Bald, the son of Louis by Judith, who caused so much confusion in the Frankish dominions, that the subsequent division of the kingdom into France, Germany, Lorraine, and Italy ensued, was not hostile to the Jews (843). He appears, indeed, to have inherited from his mother a certain preference for Judaism. He had a Jewish physician, Zedekiah, to whom he was much attached, but whose skill in medicine was regarded, by the ignorant and superstitious people, as magic and the work of the devil, and also a Jewish favorite, whose political services won from his royal master the praise, "My faithful Judah."

Under Charles the Bald, as under his predecessor, the Jews enjoyed equal rights with the Christians. They were allowed to carry on their business unhindered, and also to possess landed property. Some of them controlled the tolls. But they had implacable enemies among the higher clergy. They had angered the dignitaries of the Church too much by their humiliation of Agobard, and the clergy, though they spoke constantly of love and kindness, would not allow the Jews to enjoy their advantages.

The bitterest enemy of the Jews was Agobard's disciple and successor, Bishop Amolo of Lyons.171 He had imbibed hatred of the Jews from his master; and he was not alone in this, for Hinkmar, the bishop of Rheims, a favorite of Emperor Charles, the archbishop of Sens, the archbishop of Bourges, and others of the clergy shared his anti-Jewish sentiments. At a council held by these prelates at Meaux (not far from Paris) in 845, for the purpose of exalting the spiritual power at the expense of the royal authority, and of repressing the riotous living of many clergymen, it was resolved to re-enact the old canonical laws and anti-Jewish restrictions, and to have them confirmed by Charles. The members of the council did not mark the limit of the revival of old restrictions, but on the list, similar to Agobard's, containing the spiteful ordinances from which the king was to select those to be enforced anew, were included some that dated from the time of the first Christian emperor Constantine. It also mentioned the decree of Emperor Theodosius II, according to which no Jew was allowed to occupy any office or position of honor. The decrees of the various councils and the edict of the Merovingian king Childebert, were also cited, by which the Jews were not permitted to occupy the positions of judges and farmers of taxes, nor show themselves on the streets during Easter week, and were required to pay the utmost respect to the clergy. They even cited synodal decrees which had been passed outside of France, and therefore had never been invested with the force of law, and also the inhuman Visigothic synod decrees, which had been directed more especially against baptized Jews who still clung to Judaism. The members of the council also mentioned the Visigothic synodal decrees, which prescribed that the children of converted Jews should be torn from their parents and placed amongst Christians. In conclusion, they laid stress upon the point that Jewish and Christian slave dealers should be compelled to sell heathen slaves172 within Christian territory, so that they might be converted to Christianity.

The prelates thought that they could cajole Charles into yielding to their wishes by representing to him that the Northmen's invasion was divine chastisement for his sinfulness. But Charles was not so humbled by state troubles as to allow laws to be dictated to him by a fanatic and ambitious clergy. Although his favorite, Hinkmar, took part in the council, he had the meeting dissolved. Later on, however, he summoned the members again for a new session, under his own supervision, at Paris (14 Feb., 846). The improvement of Church affairs was to be considered. They had to omit three quarters of the eighty decrees of the council of Meaux, amongst them the proposed anti-Jewish regulations. Thus neither under the Carlovingians nor under later rulers, was the degradation of the Jews in France decreed by law. Charles imposed upon the Jewish merchants a tax of eleven per cent. on the value of all merchandise sold, whilst the Christians had to pay only ten per cent.

Amolo and his colleagues could not forget the defeat they had suffered at the council of Meaux, where their plan to humble the Jews had been frustrated. Agobard's successor sent a letter to the spiritual authorities, reminding them that they ought to use their influence with the princes to deprive the Jews of all their privileges. Amolo's letter, full of virulence and calumny against the Jewish race, is a worthy appendix to Agobard's letter to Emperor Louis on the same subject. Much therein is borrowed from the latter. Towards the end of his letter, Amolo expresses his deep regret that the Jews in France were enjoying the rights of free speech, and that many Christians were well disposed toward them. The Jews were even allowed to have Christian servants to work in their houses and fields. He complains, too, that many Christians173 openly declare that the sermons of the Jewish preachers please them better than those of the Christian clergy, making it seem the fault of the Jews that the Christian clergy could not attract audiences. He also reproached the Jews with the fact that a noble Church official had gone over to Judaism, and now thoroughly hated Christianity. Amolo invited all the bishops of the country to do their utmost to re-introduce the old canonic restrictions against the Jews. He enumerated a number of anti-Jewish princes and councils that had insisted on the legal humiliation of the Jews, just as Agobard and the members of the council of Meaux had done before. Amolo, above all, reminded them of the pious Visigothic king, Sisebut, who had forced the Jews to adopt Christianity. "We dare not," ends his malignant letter, "either by our suavity, flattery, or defense, encourage the complacency of the Jews, who are accursed, and yet blind to their own damnation."

At the time, Amolo's virulent letter had as little effect as Agobard's letter and the decree of the council of Meaux. But gradually the poison spread from the clergy to the people and the princes. The division of France into small independent states, which refused allegiance to the king, was another unfavorable circumstance. Its effect was to leave the Jews at the mercy of the fanatical clergy and the tyranny of petty princes.

How malicious was the spirit animating the French clergy, can be judged from the fact that the successive bishops of Béziers were in the habit of preaching vehement sermons from Palm Sunday until Easter Monday, exhorting the Christians to avenge themselves on the Jews of the town, because they had crucified Jesus. The fanatical mob thus incited armed themselves with stones to attack the Jews. The mischief was repeated year after year for centuries. The Jews of Béziers often defended174 themselves, and on these occasions much damage was inflicted on both sides. The Jews of Toulouse, too, for a long time had to suffer numerous indignities. The counts of this town had the privilege of publicly giving the president of the Jewish community a box on the ears on Good Friday. This was no doubt meant as vengeance upon the Jews for Jesus' death; no doubt too in fulfilment of the precept, "Thou shalt love thine enemies." There is a story which tells of a chaplain called Hugh, who begged that he might be allowed to perform the office, and he dealt the victim so violent a blow, that he fell lifeless to the ground. Those who wished to find a justification for this barbarity alleged that the Jews on one occasion either had betrayed, or had intended to betray the town of Toulouse to the Mahometans. Later, the box on the ears was commuted to an annual money payment by the Jews. The great grandson of Louis the Pious, Louis II, son of Lothaire, was so influenced by the clergy, that as soon as he had the government of Italy in his own hands (855), he decreed that all the Italian Jews should quit the land where their ancestors had lived long before the arrival of the Germans and Longobards. No Jew should dare show himself after the 1st of October of that year. Any Jew that appeared in the street might be seized, and peremptorily handed over for punishment. Fortunately for the Jews this decree could not be carried out; for Italy was then divided into small districts, whose rulers, for the most part, refused obedience to the emperor of Italy. Mahometans made frequent irruptions into the land, and were often called in to help the Christian princes against each other, or against the king. This anarchy was the safeguard of the Jews, and the decree remained in abeyance.

Under Charles' successors, when the power of the king decreased greatly, and the bigotry of the175 princes increased, things came to such a pass that Charles the Simple granted all the lands and vineyards of the Jews in the Duchy of Narbonne to the Church, in order to show his great zeal for his religion (899–914). The French princes gradually accustomed themselves to think that the protection which the emperors Charles the Great and his son Louis had afforded the Jews, involved the inference that the wards and their property belonged absolutely to the guardian. This thought, at least, underlies the act by which the usurper Boso, king of Burgundy and Provence, who was greatly influenced by the clergy, presented the Jews as a gift to the Church, i. e., he considered them in every respect as his bondmen. This arbitrary treatment of the Jews came to an end only with the rule of the Capets.

Like their brethren in Western Europe, the Jews in the East, in the Byzantine dominion, had to suffer sad persecution. Despite forced baptism, and the oppression of the Emperor Leo the Isaurian, the Jews again spread over the whole Byzantine Empire, more especially over Asia Minor and Greece. Many Greek Jews occupied themselves with the cultivation of mulberry trees and with silk spinning. The Greek Jews in other respects were subject to all the restrictions imposed by the former rulers, and like the heathen and heretics, were not permitted to hold office. They were, however, granted religious freedom. Basilius, who ascended the throne in about 850, was comparatively a just and mild ruler. Yet he was resolved to bring the Jews over to Christianity. He therefore arranged that religious discussions should take place between Jewish and Christian clergymen, and decreed that the Jews should either prove by irrefutable arguments that their religion was the true one, or confess that "Jesus was the culmination of the Law and the Prophets."

176 Basilius, foreseeing that these discussions would probably lead to no results, promised appointments of honor to those who should prove themselves open to conversion. It is not known what punishment was inflicted on those unwilling to be converted, but they doubtless had to suffer severe persecution. Many Jews accepted or pretended to accept Christianity. Scarcely was Basilius dead (886), when they threw off the mask as they had done in Spain, France, and in other countries where they had been oppressed, and returned to the religion to which in reality they had never for a moment been unfaithful. But they had made a mistake. Basilius' son and successor, Leo the Philosopher—a title cheaply purchased in those times—excelled his father in intolerance. He decreed that those who had re-adopted the Jewish customs should be treated as apostates, that is, punished with death (about 900). Nevertheless, after the death of this emperor, the Jews returned to live in the Byzantine Empire, as they had done after the death of Leo the Isaurian.

In the lands of the Caliphate, especially in Babylonia (Irak), at that time the center of Jewish life, the Jews gradually lost the favorable position which they had hitherto enjoyed, although the intolerance of the Mahometan rulers was mild compared with that of the Christian princes. In the East, too, they were the prey of caprice, for the Caliphs resigned their power in favor of the vizirs, and thus deprived themselves of all power. The Caliphs after Al-Mamun became more and more the tools of ambitious and greedy ministers and generals, and the Oriental Jews frequently had to buy the favor of these ephemeral lords at a high price. The Caliph Al-Mutavakkil, Al-Mamun's third successor, renewed the laws of Omar against the Jews, Christians, and Magi, and compelled them to wear a characteristic dress, a yellow scarf over their177 dress, and a thick cord instead of a girdle. He, moreover, changed the synagogues and churches into mosques, and forbade the Mahometans to teach Jews and Christians, or to admit them to offices (849–856). A tenth part of their property had to be given to the Caliph; they were forbidden to ride upon horses, and were allowed to make use only of asses and mules (853–854). The Exilarchs had lost a part of their power, when Al-Mamun decreed that they should no longer be officially recognized and supported, and they lost still more through the fanaticism of Al-Mutavakkil. By and by they ceased to be officials of the state, invested with certain powers, and had to content themselves with the position which the Jewish communities gave them out of respect for old and dear memories.

As the Exilarchate declined, the respect increased for the school of Pumbeditha, because it was near the capital of the Bagdad Caliphate, whose Jewish community of influential men came under its jurisdiction. Pumbeditha now rose from the subordinate position into which it had been forced. It put itself on an equal footing with the sister academy of Sora, and its presidents likewise assumed the title of Gaon. It next made itself independent of the Exilarchate. Formerly the head of the school and the faculty of Pumbeditha had to go once a year to pay homage to the Exilarch, but now, if the Exilarch wished to hold a public assembly, he had to repair to Pumbeditha. This was probably brought about by the chief of the school, Paltoi ben Abayi (842–858), who heads the list of important Geonim, and who was noted for his free use of the Cherem (Excommunication). Dissensions about the succession to the Gaonate were not wanting during this period, although the Exilarchs could not make their influence felt.

178 A Gaon of Sora, Natronaï II, son of Hillaï (859–869), kept up a prolific correspondence with foreign communities in the Arabic language. His predecessors had employed a mixture of Hebrew and Chaldee as the medium of their communications. Natronaï II also corresponded with the Jewish-Spanish community at Lucena, whose members doubtless understood Arabic better than Hebrew. He opposed the Karaites as bitterly as the Geonim had done at the time of the rise of this sect, "because they despised the words of the sages of the Talmud, and set up for themselves an arbitrary Talmud of their own." His pupil and successor, Mar-Amram ben Sheshna (869–881), was the compiler of the liturgical order of prayers in use amongst European Jews. At the request of a Spanish community, preferred by their religious leader, Isaac ben Simeon, he collected everything that the Talmud and the custom of the schools had ratified concerning prayer and divine service (Siddur Rab Amram). The form which the prayers had assumed in the course of time was by him declared to have the force of fixed law. Every one that deviated from it was considered a heretic, and excluded from the community of Israel. The poetical compositions for the festivals were not yet in general use at this time, and Mar-Amram left the selection to the taste of the individual.

During Mar-Amram's Gaonate, there were two successive heads of the schools in Pumbeditha, Rabba ben Ami (869–872), of whom nothing is known, and Mar-Zemach I. ben Paltoi (872–890), who heads the list of literary Geonim. Hitherto, the leaders of the school had occupied themselves with the exposition of the Talmud, with the regulation of the internal affairs of the communities, and with answering questions which were submitted to them. The one or the other of them, it is true, made a collection of Agadic sayings, but for literary179 activity, they either had no leisure, or opportunity, or inclination. But when the zeal for the study of the Talmud increased in the different communities in Egypt, Africa, Spain and France, and students of the Talmud spent their time in studying obscure and difficult passages, they often had to appeal to the schools for the solution of their difficulties. Their questions soon concerned only theoretical points, and the Geonim found it necessary to write treatises on certain portions of the Talmud, instead of simple and short answers. These books were used by students as Talmudical handbooks. The Gaon Zemach ben Paltoi, of Pumbeditha, arranged an alphabetical index of difficult words in the Talmud, under the title of "Aruch." In it he shows acquaintance with the Persian language. This dictionary forms the first contribution to the constantly growing department of Talmudical lexicography. The second literary Gaon was Nachshon ben Zadok of Sora (881–889), Zemach's contemporary. He, too, wrote a book giving explanations of difficult words in the Talmud. Nachshon made himself famous through his discovery of a key to the Jewish calendar. He found that the order of the years and festivals repeat themselves after a cycle of two hundred and forty-seven years, and that the forms of the years can be arranged in fourteen tables. This key bears his name; it is known as the cycle of Rabbi Nachshon.

The third author of this time was Rabbi Simon of Cairo, or Misr, in Egypt, who, although not an official of the Babylonian school, was in a position to compose a code embracing all religious and ceremonial laws (about 900). This work, directed against the Karaites, bears the title "The Great Halachas" (Halachoth gedoloth), and forms a supplement to Jehudaï's work of a similar nature. The history of the post-exilic period till the destruction of the Temple was also written at this time; its180 author is unknown. It is written in Arabic, and is based partly upon Josephus, partly upon the Apocrypha, and partly upon tradition. It is called "The History of the Maccabees" or "Joseph ben Gorion." In later times an Italian translated it into Hebrew, and in its expanded form it bears the title Josippon (Pseudo-Josephus), and this work served to awaken in the Jews, who were ignorant of the original sources of Jewish history, interest in their glorious past.

The literary activity of the official heads of Judaism in the two schools confined itself to Talmudical subjects. They had no idea of scientific research, would have condemned it, in fact, as a leaning to Karaite doctrine. Outside of the Gaonate, in Egypt and Kairuan, there was a scientific movement among the Rabbanites, weak at first, but increasing in strength every year. The Rabbanite thinkers must have felt that so long as Talmudic Judaism maintained a hostile position towards science, it could not hold its own against the Karaites. Biblical exegesis and Hebrew philology formed the special studies of the Karaites, and in connection with these was developed a kind of philosophy, though only as an auxiliary science. It was in this branch that, towards the end of the ninth century, several Rabbanites emulated them. Famous amongst these was Isaac ben Suleiman Israeli (845–940). He was a physician, philosopher, and Hebrew philologist. He was an Egyptian, and was called to Kairuan about the year 904 as physician to the last Aghlabite prince, Ziadeth-Allah. When the founder of the Fatimide dynasty, Ubaid-Allah, the Messianic Imam (Al-Mahdi, who is said to have been the son of a Jewess), conquered the Aghlabite prince, and founded a great kingdom in Africa (909–933), Isaac Israeli entered his service, and enjoyed his full favor. Israeli had a great reputation as a physician, and had many pupils.181 At the request of the Caliph Ubaid-Allah, he wrote eight medical works, the best of which is said to be that on fever. His medical writings were translated into Hebrew, Latin, and part of them into Spanish, and were zealously studied by physicians. A Christian physician, the founder of the Salerno school of medicine, made use of his researches, and even republished some of his works without giving credit to Israeli for them. He was thus an important contributor to the development of medical science, but as a philosopher he did not do much. His work on "Definitions and Descriptions" shows scarcely the rudiments of philosophical knowledge.

His lectures must have made a greater impression than his writings. He instructed two disciples, a Mahometan, Abu-Jafar Ibn-Aljezzar, who is recognized as an authority in medicine; and a Jew, Dunash ben Tamim, who continued the work of his master. Isaac Israeli lived to be more than one hundred years old, and survived his patron the Caliph Ubaid-Allah, whose death was hastened by his disregard of the advice of his Jewish physician. When Isaac Israeli died, about 940, his example had made a place in the Rabbanite studies for the scientific method that shaped the activity of succeeding generations.

Whilst the Rabbanites were making the first attempt to follow a scientific method, the Karaites were disporting on the broad beaten path of Mutazilist philosophy. Although young in years, Karaism showed signs of advanced old age. All its strength was given to Biblical exposition, combined with philology, but even here it made no progress. In the central community of the Karaites, in Jerusalem, it assumed an ascetic character. Sixty Karaites agreed to leave their homes, their property and their families, live together, abstain from wine and meat, go poorly clad, and spend their time in fasting and prayer. They adopted this182 mode of living, as they said, with the object of promoting Israel's redemption. They called themselves the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem (Abele Zion), and every one of them added to his signature the term "The Mourner." It was through them that the religious life of the Karaites took on an ascetic tinge. They not only observed the Levitical laws of purity in the strictest manner, but they shunned intercourse with non-Jews. They would not buy bread from them, nor eat anything they had touched. The more rigorous the Karaites became, the more they looked upon the Rabbanites as reprobates and sinners, whose houses it was a sin to visit. The Karaites gradually spread from Babylonia and Judæa to Egypt on the one side and to Syria on the other, and northwards as far as the Crimea. There were large Karaite communities in Alexandria and Cairo, and also in the Crimea, on the Bosporus (Kertch), Sulchat and Kaffa (Theodosia). The zeal of individuals contributed much to spread Karaism. By means of disputations, sermons, and letters, they endeavored to secure followers amongst the Rabbanites. Like every other essentially weak sect the Karaites relied upon propaganda, as though numbers could atone for lack of real strength. There was amongst them a certain proselytizer, a cunning man, Eldad by name, who related wonderful adventures, and made a great stir in his day. Eldad's romantic travels throw a lurid light upon the Jewish history of the time. He belongs to that class of deceivers who have a pious end in view, know how to profit by the credulity of the masses, and can easily catch men in a web of falsehood. The Geonim themselves were almost deceived into believing his pretended traditions, which he affirmed had been received direct from Moses.

Meanwhile, the institution to which the memories of the former political independence of Judaism183 were attached was rapidly approaching dissolution. The Exilarchate fell into disregard through the rivalry of the school of Pumbeditha, and also lost the revenue which was its mainstay. Even though questions from abroad continued to be directed to the Geonim of Sora, the sister academy was considered even in Babylonia to be the chief authority, and to have most influence. This influence was increased still more through the choice as Gaon of Pumbeditha of Haï ben David (890–897), who had hitherto held the post of rabbi and judge in the capital of the Caliphate. It was just at this time, at the end of the 9th century, that the Jews again enjoyed a high position in the Caliphate, under the Caliph Al-Mutadhid (892–902). His vizir and regent Ubaid-Allah Ibn-Suleiman appointed Jews and Christians alike to state offices.

The community of Bagdad gained most through the favor shown to the Jews by the vizir. As Haï had occupied his post in the capital for a long time, and had made himself popular in the community, he was elected Gaon of Pumbeditha by the influential members. Their object was to make the school of Pumbeditha of greater importance, and the academy at Sora declined more and more. Haï's successors, who, like himself, had commenced their career with the rabbinate of Bagdad, worked in the same spirit, and were assisted by the powerful members of the community in the effort to make Pumbeditha the center of the Babylonian community and of Judaism generally, and to put an end to the Exilarchate as well as to the school of Sora. One of them was Mar Kohen-Zedek II. b. Joseph (held office 917–936). He was passionate and energetic, and was one of those who are, indeed, free from personal selfishness, but seek an increase of power for the community, regardless of every other consideration. As soon as he entered upon his office, Kohen-Zedek demanded that the school of Pumbeditha184 should have the greater share of the revenue which was contributed by the various communities. He based his demand upon the fact, that the pupils of the college at Pumbeditha were more numerous than those at Sora, and therefore deserved greater consideration. So many quarrels arose between the two schools in consequence of this demand that several important people found it necessary to interfere. A compromise was made, and it was agreed that in future the money should be equally divided, whereby the academy at Sora lost the last trace of its superiority. Kohen-Zedek then endeavored to deprive the Exilarchate of its little remnant of power. The Exilarch at the time was Ukba, a man of Arabic culture, who wrote poems in Arabic. Kohen-Zedek demanded that the appointment of judges in the communities of Khorasan should be vested in, and the revenues derived from the same, should be devoted to, the school of Pumbeditha. Ukba would not give up any portion of his dignity, and appealed to the Caliph. But Kohen-Zedek had friends at Bagdad, who had influence at court, and these succeeded in inducing the Caliph Al-Muktadir (908–932), or rather the vizir Ibn Furat, since the Caliph spent his time in riotous living, to deprive Mar-Ukba of his post, and banish him from Bagdad. The Exilarch went to Karmisin (Kermanshah, east of Bagdad), and Kohen-Zedek rejoiced that the Exilarchate was now destroyed. The weak president of Sora, Jacob ben Natronaï, permitted all these usurpations without interfering.

Meanwhile matters took a favorable turn for the banished Exilarch, by which he was able to frustrate the plans of Kohen-Zedek. Just at this time there came to Kermanshah the young and pleasure-seeking Caliph. The banished Exilarch Ukba frequently met him, and greeted and praised him in well-measured Arabic verses. His verses pleased185 Al-Muktadir's secretary so well that he had them copied, and called to the attention of the Caliph the many changes rung by the Jewish poet upon the one simple theme, allegiance.

Poetry was prized so much amongst the Arabs, that no conqueror, however uncouth, was insensible to it. Al-Muktadir sent for the poetical Exilarch, was pleased with him, and finally asked him what favor he could confer upon him. Ukba wished for nothing more eagerly than to be restored to his office. This the Caliph granted him. He now returned, after a year's absence, to Bagdad, to the astonishment of his opponent, and re-assumed his high position (918). Poetry had saved him. Kohen-Zedek and his party, however, did not allow him to enjoy his triumph long. Through bribery and intrigue they again effected his deposition, and he was banished. In order that he might not again be restored to favor, he was exiled beyond the limits of the Eastern Caliphate to the recently founded kingdom of the Fatimides—to Kairuan in Africa. Here, where the physician and philosopher, Isaac Israeli, was greatly respected, he was received with open arms, and held in high esteem. The community of Kairuan treated him as the Exilarch, set up a raised place for him in the synagogue, and caused him to forget the troubles he had suffered in the land of his fathers (919).

Kohen-Zedek had opposed the Exilarchate rather than Ukba personally; he now took care that no successor should be appointed to the Exilarchate, which he desired to extinguish. His contemporary Gaon in Sora, Jacob ben Natronaï, was either too weak or too much hampered to interfere. So the office of Exilarch was left vacant for a year or two. However, hated as the Exilarchate was by the representatives of the Pumbeditha college, the people were warmly attached to the house of David, about which traditions and memories clustered. They186 clamored for the restoration of the office. Thereupon the Gaon of Sora took courage, and refused any longer to be a weak tool in the hands of Kohen-Zedek. The people vehemently demanded that David ben Zaccaï, a relative of Ukba, be made Exilarch, and the whole college of the school of Sora paid homage to him in Kasr, where he lived (921). Kohen-Zedek and the college of Pumbeditha refused to recognize him. David ben Zaccaï was as resolute and ambitious as his opponent, and determined to assert his authority. By virtue of his power, he deposed Kohen-Zedek, and named his successor. Once more complications arose, this time dividing the school of Pumbeditha against itself. This bickering deeply pained the better class of the people; however, the disputes between the Exilarchate and the Gaonate, affecting the whole of the Jewish-Babylonian community, lasted nearly two years.

Nissi Naharvani, a blind man, who was respected by everybody for his piety, and who felt regret at this state of affairs, undertook to effect a reconciliation. Late one night he groped about till he found his way to the room of Kohen-Zedek, who was astonished at the sudden appearance of the venerable blind man at such an hour, and was persuaded by him to come to terms. Nissi then also induced the Exilarch to yield. David and Kohen-Zedek met, with their respective followers, in Sarsar (half-a-day's journey south of Bagdad), made peace, and Kohen-Zedek accompanied the Exilarch as far as Bagdad (Spring, 921). David in turn recognized Kohen-Zedek as the legitimate Gaon of Pumbeditha. Kohen-Zedek, who had not succeeded in his plan to extinguish the Exilarchate, lived to see the school of Sora, which had been humbled by him, rise again from its low position, and have fresh splendor shed upon it by a stranger from a foreign land, so that for several years it cast the school of Pumbeditha into the shade.


187

CHAPTER VII.
THE GOLDEN AGE OF JEWISH SCIENCE: SAADIAH AND CHASDAÏ.

Judaism in the Tenth Century—Saadiah, the Founder of Religious Philosophy—Translation of the Bible into Arabic—Saadiah opposes Karaism—The Karaite Solomon ben Yerucham—Saadiah and the School at Sora—Saadiah retires from Sora—His Literary Activity—Extinction of the Exilarchate—Sahal and other Karaite writers—Jews in Spain—The School at Cordova—Dunash ben Tamim—Chasdaï—His services to Judaism—Menachem ben Saruk—Chasdaï and the King of the Chazars.

928–970 C. E.

With the decay of the Carlovingian rule, the last spark of spiritual life was extinguished in Christian Europe. The darkness of the Middle Ages became thicker and thicker, but the spiritual light of Judaism shone forth in all its splendor.

The Church was the seat of monastic ignorance and barbarity, the Synagogue was the place of science and civilization. In Christianity every scientific effort was condemned by the officials of the Church as well as by the people, as the work of Satan; in Judaism the leaders and teachers of religion themselves promoted science, and endeavored to elevate the people. Far from condemning knowledge, the Geonim considered it as an aid and supplement to religion. For three centuries the teachers of Judaism were for the most part devotees of science, and this position was first assumed during this epoch. Two men especially, one in the east and the other in the west, made science a principle of Judaism. They were the Gaon Saadiah and the statesman Chasdaï.

With them begins a new period of Jewish history, which we may confidently call the scientific epoch. The spring-time of Israel's history returned, and in188 its pure atmosphere the sweet voice of poetry again made itself heard. Contemporary writers scarcely noticed that a remnant of Jewish antiquity, the Exilarchate, was now at an end. It was soon forgotten in the new life that had just made itself visible. Just as the religious life had freed itself from the Temple of sacrifice, so now it gradually withdrew from the influence of the temple of learning on the banks of the Euphrates, and established a new center for itself. The first half of the tenth century became, through the concurrence of favorable circumstances, a turning-point in the progress of Jewish history.

Jewish history was gradually transferred to European ground. Judaism assumed, so to speak, a European character, and deviated more and more from its Oriental form. Saadiah was the last important link in its development in the East; Chasdaï and the scientific men whom he influenced became the first representatives of a Judæo-European culture.

Saadiah (Arabic, Said) ben Joseph, from the town Fayum in Upper Egypt (892–942), was the founder of scientific Judaism amongst the Rabbanites, and the creator of religious philosophy in the Middle Ages. He was a man of extensive knowledge who had absorbed the learning of the Mahometans and Karaites, and impregnated it with Talmudic elements. More remarkable even than his knowledge was his personality. His was a religious spirit and deep moral earnestness. He had a decided character, and belonged to those who know how to render account of their actions, and who persevere in carrying out what they think right. Little is known of his youth. There were few, if any, great Talmudical scholars in Egypt at that time, and the fact that Saadiah became famous in this branch of literature speaks well for his mental power. He was more at home in the Karaite literature than previous Rabbanites had been. In his twenty-third year189 (913) he made a fierce attack upon the Karaites, which was felt by them for centuries afterwards. He wrote a book "In Refutation of Anan." The contents of this book are unknown, but it is probable that Saadiah attempted to prove in it the necessity of tradition, and also to expose Anan's inconsistencies. He adduced seven arguments in proof of the necessity of tradition, which, weak as they are, were afterwards accepted for the most part by the Karaites. He wrote another book in which he showed the absurdity of the boundless extension of relationship in the Karaite law. He characterized Anan as "an ambitious man, who possessed too much boldness and too little fear of God," and who rejected Talmudic Judaism only in order to avenge a personal slight.

Before he had arrived at maturity, he undertook a more difficult task, fraught with important consequences for Judaism. Hitherto, the Karaites had devoted special attention to the Scriptural text, whereas the Rabbanite teachers had, to a certain extent, neglected it, because the Talmud satisfied all the needs of their religious life.

The Karaites had composed numerous expositions of the Bible, the Rabbanites but few. Saadiah, who felt this want, undertook to translate the Bible into Arabic, the language understood, at this time, from the extreme West to India. To this translation he added notes, for three reasons. He wished to make the Bible accessible to the people. He thought that thereby the influence of Karaism, which sought to refute Talmudic Judaism through its exegesis, would be counteracted. Finally, he wished to remove the misconceptions of the people, and conquer the perversity of the mystics, who rendered the words of the Bible literally, and thus gave an unworthy description of the Godhead. He favored the philosophical idea which conceives God in His exaltedness and holiness to be a spirit.190 His translation was to satisfy both reason and Talmudical tradition. This was the basis of his view of Judaism. Teachings of the Talmud are as divine as those of the Bible, and neither the Bible nor tradition may be contrary to reason. According to Saadiah, the contradictions are only on the surface, and he sought by his translation and exposition to remove this illusion. To carry out this aim, he adopted interpretations of the text which are arbitrary and forced.

Out of deference to his Mahometan readers, Saadiah made use of Arabic characters, which were seldom employed by the Jews who wrote Arabic. Although Saadiah shows great mental power and independence in his translation, his renderings cannot be highly praised. The very fact that he does not allow the text to speak its own language, and that he wished to find at one time the Talmudical tradition, at another a philosophical meaning in the words and the context, necessarily prevented him from giving a true exposition. He impressed the exegesis of Scripture into the service of tradition and of the philosophy of the time, and made the text imply more than the meaning of the words allowed. At the same time that he wrote his translation, Saadiah composed a kind of Hebrew grammar in the Arabic language. He also composed a Hebrew lexicon (in Hebrew, Iggaron). Even here he often missed the truth as to the grammar and etymology of the words. His exegetical and grammatical works are of importance in so far as they broke fresh ground in Rabbanite studies, and introduced exegesis and philology as new departments. Even his mistakes proved instructive in later times.

In his exposition of the first book of the Pentateuch, Saadiah again challenged the Karaites. The dispute arose out of his endeavor to prove that the Karaite calendar was not in accordance with Scripture. In attacking Karaism, he had disturbed a191 hornets' nest, and aroused a host of opponents. The Karaites had hitherto waged war against Talmudic Judaism without meeting with opposition. They were, therefore, greatly disturbed when a Rabbanite, endowed with intellect and knowledge, entered the lists against them. A lively contest arose, which served its purpose in awakening scientific interest. Saadiah's chief opponent was the Karaite Solomon ben Yerucham (Ruchaïm). This Karaite (born in Fostat in 885, died in 960), who lived in Palestine, and was only a few years older than Saadiah, did not rise above mediocrity. He was of a violent and acrid nature, and imagined that he could settle scientific questions by scoffing and abuse. When he returned from Palestine to Egypt, and perceived the impression that Saadiah's written and oral attacks upon Karaism had made even in Karaite circles, he was filled with rage against the young and spirited Rabbanite author, and determined to write a double refutation—in Hebrew for the educated, and in Arabic for the masses generally. In his Hebrew reply, which consists of eighteen doggerel verses alphabetically arranged (Milchamoth), he treats Saadiah like a child. The whole work breathes nothing but slander and coarseness. In fact, the Karaite polemic writings generally deserve consideration more on account of the method by means of which they seek to cover up their mistakes, than on account of their contents or their form. Ben-Yerucham's composition took the shape of a letter to the Karaite communities in Egypt.

Ben-Yerucham was not the only Karaite who sought to defend the sect against Saadiah's attacks. The various writers vied with one another in the fierceness of their attacks upon the young Rabbanite by whom their anti-Talmudic creed was threatened with destruction. If the Karaite authors expected to silence Saadiah by means of abuse192 they were mistaken. He refuted their arguments, substantiated his assertions, and was always on the alert to take up arms. He wrote two other polemic treatises against Karaism in Arabic, the one "Distinction" (Tamgiz), and one against Ibn Sakviyah, who had entered the lists in defense of the Karaites. Saadiah's works carried his fame to the communities of the African and Eastern Caliphate. The venerable Isaac Israeli read his writings with avidity, and his pupil, Dunash ben Tamim, fairly devoured them. At the seat of the Gaonate, too, he was favorably known, and the attention of the leaders was directed to him.

The school of Sora was in a sad state of decadence, and was so deficient in learned men, that the Exilarch David ben Zaccaï found it necessary to invest a weaver named Yom-Tob Kahana ben Jacob, with the honor of the Gaonate, but he died in his second year of office (926–928). The Gaon of Pumbeditha, Kohen-Zedek, who did his best to establish his college as the exclusive authority, made an agreement with the Exilarch, to whom he had become reconciled, to close the school of Sora, to transplant the members to Pumbeditha, and to appoint a titular Gaon of Sora, who should have his seat in Pumbeditha. The son of a Gaon, named Nathan ben Yehudaï, was invested with this titular dignity, but he died suddenly. His sudden death seems to have been taken as a condemnation of the intention to abolish the old college at Sora. The Exilarch David then determined to fill up the vacancy and to restore the ancient school of Sora. He had two candidates in view: Saadiah, and Zemach ben Shahin, an obscure member of the old nobility. The Exilarch appealed to the blind Nissi Naharvani to assist him in his choice. His advice was the more disinterested as he himself had declined the honor. Nissi voted for Zemach, but not because he had any personal dislike to Saadiah; on the193 contrary, he manifested much love for him. "Saadiah surpasses all his contemporaries in wisdom, piety, and eloquence," he said of him, "but he is very independent, and shrinks from nothing." Nissi justly feared that Saadiah's inflexible spirit would be the cause of disputes and dissensions between him and the Exilarch. Nevertheless, David decided for Saadiah. He was called from Egypt to Sora, and formally installed as Gaon (May, 928). It was an exceptional circumstance that a foreigner who had not studied in the Talmudic schools, and had not passed step by step through the various offices should, at a bound, attain to the highest honor next to the Exilarchate. Besides, Saadiah was more known for his scientific work than for his Talmudic scholarship. With his call to office, Babylonia in a sense resigned the supremacy which for seven centuries it had held over all other lands. This supremacy was now enjoyed by another country, and philosophy was placed on a level with the Talmud. The spirit of inquiry that had been banished from the halls of the schools with Anan, the founder of Karaism, made a solemn return into those halls with Saadiah.

Saadiah invested the college of Sora with new splendor by his character and fame. During his presidency Pumbeditha was thrown into the shade. He sought to fill up the gaps that had arisen in the academy. He appointed worthy young men to academic offices, and was faithful to the duties of his position. What must have been his feelings when he entered for the first time the halls of learning where the great authorities, the Amoraïm, had taught before him! Soon, however, he no doubt became conscious of the fact that there existed but the smallest remnant of that former greatness, and that the high-sounding titles and dignities were mere semblances of things long since sunk into oblivion. The Exilarchate, the head of194 the Judæo-Babylonian community, was without intrinsic excellence, and was constantly at variance with the schools. Not being officially recognized at court, the Exilarchate had to purchase its existence from courtiers and ephemeral rulers, and was threatened with extinction, whenever its opponents should offer a larger sum. The money needed to maintain the Exilarchate was forcibly exacted from the people. Alike in the Exilarchate and in the academic colleges, corruption and oppression were the order of the day, the only object in view being to maintain the authority of the chiefs. Eloquence, virtue, piety, were wanting in the hearts of the leaders. The Exilarch David once sent his sons to levy an extraordinary contribution from the different communities; and when the congregation at Fars (Hamadan?) refused it, David excommunicated them, denounced them to the vizir, who accused them before the Caliph, when a heavy fine was imposed upon them. The Geonim had not a word to say against all this! Saadiah himself had to be silent; he had not been in office long enough to protest. His eminence had raised him many enemies who were eager for his downfall. Not alone Kohen-Zedek was jealous of him, because Pumbeditha was thrown into the shade, but a young man from Bagdad, Aaron (Caleb) Ibn-Sarjadu, learned, rich, and influential, distrusted and opposed him. Saadiah observed the great defects in the Jewish communal life in Babylonia in silence. He wished first to be on firmer footing. His sense of justice was, however, too deeply wounded, when he was expected to take part in the iniquities of the representative of the Jewish community. He could no longer restrain himself, and now revealed his inflexible character.

An unimportant circumstance revealed the moral corruption of the Jewish Babylonian chiefs. There was a lawsuit about a large inheritance, which had195 not been conscientiously decided by the Exilarch David. His decision was influenced by the prospect of great gain. To make his decree legal and unimpeachable, David demanded the signatures of the two Geonim to the document prepared by him. Kohen-Zedek signed without objection; Saadiah, however, would not countenance the injustice. On being pressed by the parties, he gave the reason for his refusal. The Exilarch David, who now was doubly interested in obtaining his signature, sent his son Judah to ask him to sign the document without delay. Saadiah calmly replied that the Law forbade him to do such things, as it is said, "Ye shall not respect persons in judgment." Once more David sent his son to Saadiah to threaten him with deposition in case he still refused. Judah at first assumed a quiet demeanor, and begged Saadiah not to be the cause of quarrels in the community. When, however, he found him determined, he raised his hand against Saadiah, and vehemently demanded his signature. Saadiah's servants soon removed Judah, and locked the door of the meeting hall. David ben Zaccaï, who felt himself insulted, deprived the Gaon of his office. He excommunicated him and appointed a young man, Joseph ben Jacob ben Satia, as his successor. Saadiah, however, was not the man to be terrified by force. He, in turn, declared David to be no longer Exilarch, and named Josiah Hassan as Prince of the Captivity (930). Two factions immediately arose in Babylonia, the one for Saadiah, the other for David. On Saadiah's side were ranged the members of the academy of Sora and many respected and learned men of Bagdad, amongst whom were the sons of Netira. Opposed to him were Aaron Ibn-Sarjadu and his party, and probably also Kohen-Zedek and the members of the college of Pumbeditha. Both parties appealed to the Caliph Al-Muktadir, and bribed his favorites and courtiers196 to gain him over to their side. Ibn-Sarjadu spent 10,000 ducats to effect Saadiah's deposition. The Caliph wished to hear both parties, and ordered a formal trial to take place in Bagdad under the presidency of the vizir, who was assisted by many important men. The dispute was not settled. This was probably owing to the fact that the Caliph Al-Muktadir was constantly changing his vizirs during the last two years of his reign, and to the disturbed state of the capital during this time (930–932). Saadiah asserted his authority as Gaon, though there was a rival Gaon in the person of Joseph ben Satia. There were likewise rival Exilarchs, David and his brother Josiah Hassan.

It was only when Al-Muktadir was killed in a rebellion (October, 932), and Kahir, who was so poor that he was obliged to borrow clothes for the ceremony of installation, became Caliph, that David's party, which could pour more money into the empty treasury, gained the victory. In order to bring about the downfall of his opponent, the Exilarch squandered the money that had been extorted from the various communities. Saadiah was soon forbidden by the Caliph to continue in office, perhaps also to stay in Sora (commencement of 933). The rival Exilarch Hassan was banished to Khorasan, where he died. Saadiah now lived in retirement in Bagdad for four years (933–937). His health had suffered severely through the constant quarrels and the annoyance he had received, and he became melancholy. But this did not interfere with his intellectual activity. It was during his retirement that his best works, bearing the stamp of freshness and originality, were written.

He wrote Talmudic treatises, composed poetical pieces and prayers in prose, full of religious fervor. He also arranged a prayer book (Siddur), after the manner of Amram, collected the rules of the calendar (Ibbur), wrote a polemic against the Massoret,197 Aaron ben Asher, of Tiberias, and was in general particularly prolific in literary composition during this period. The greatest of his works, however, are his two philosophical writings, the one a commentary on the "Book of the Creation" (Sefer Yezirah), the other his magnum opus on Faith and Creed. Both these works are in Arabic. Saadiah was the first to set up a tolerably complete system of religious philosophy. The Karaite teachers, it is true, were fond of lengthy philosophical disputations, which they frequently introduced on most unsuitable occasions, but they were never able to develop a complete and perfect religious system, and the Arabs, too, had as yet no systematic philosophy. Saadiah, by his own unaided intellectual power, built up a Jewish philosophy of religion, although he borrowed his method of treatment and his philosophical themes from the Arabic Mutazilist school. His composition on the Ten Commandments, in which he strove to bring them into relation with the Ten Categories of the Aristotelian philosophy, belongs to his earlier and less excellent efforts.

He wrote his work on the philosophy of religion, Emunoth we-Deoth, in 934. Its object was to oppose and correct the erroneous views of his contemporaries as to the meaning of Judaism; on the one hand were the opinions of the unbelievers, who degraded it; and on the other, those of the ignorant people, who condemned all speculating on religious subjects as involving a denial of God. "My heart is sad," he writes in the introduction, "by reason of my people, who have an impure belief and a confused idea of their religion. Some deny the truth, clear as daylight though it be, and boast of their unbelief. Others are sunk in the sea of doubt, and the waves of error close over their heads, and there is no swimmer strong enough to stem the tide and rescue them. As God has given me the capacity198 of being useful to them, I consider it my duty to lead them to the right path. Should any one object and ask, 'How can we attain a true belief through philosophic thought, when many consider this as heresy and unbelief?' I would reply, 'Only the stupid do so, such as believe that every one who goes to India will become rich, or that the eclipse of the moon is caused by a dragon's swallowing the disc of the moon, and similar things.' Such people need not trouble us. Suppose, however, that one were to quote the warning of the Talmud against philosophical speculation, 'If any one searches into the mystery of eternity and space, such a person does not deserve to live,' we should reply that the Talmud could not have discouraged right thinking, since Scripture encourages us to it. The warning of the sages was intended to keep us only from that one-sided speculation which does not take into account the truth of Scripture. Limitless speculation can give rise only to error, and should it even eventually lead to truth, it has no firm foundation, because it rejects revelation, and puts doubt into its place. But when philosophy works hand in hand with faith, it cannot mislead us. It confirms revelation, and is in a position to refute the objections that are made by unbelievers. The truth of revealed Judaism may be premised, since it was confirmed through visible signs and miracles. Should, however, some one object that if speculation arrives at the same conviction as revelation, the latter is superfluous, since human reason could arrive at the truth without divine interposition, I should reply that revelation is necessary, inasmuch as, without it, men would have to go a long way round to reach clearness through their own thought. A thousand accidents and doubts might hinder their progress. God, therefore, sent His messengers to us in order to save us all this trouble. We thus have a knowledge of Him direct, confirmed by miracles."

199 Unbelief had already made such progress in the Eastern Caliphate, in consequence of the teachings of the Mutazilist school of philosophy, that an Arabic poet, Abul-Ala, a contemporary of Saadiah, who had rebuked the weaknesses of his time, said, "Moslems, Jews, Christians and Magi are steeped in error and superstition. The world is divided into two classes, those that have intelligence but no belief, and those that believe but have no understanding." In Jewish circles, many began to criticise the responses of the Geonim, and no longer looked upon them as oracular utterances. This criticism was not restricted to the decisions of the Geonim or the Talmud, but went so far as to doubt the trustworthiness of the Bible, and the very fact of revelation.

The unbelief of this time was best illustrated by the Rabbanite Chivi Albalchi, from the town of Balch in ancient Bactria. Chivi wrote a work against the Bible and revelation, in which he propounded two hundred objections against them. Some of these objections are of the same kind as those used even now by opponents of the Bible. Chivi was the first thoroughly consistent, rationalistic critic of the Bible. He had followers in his time; and teachers of the young spread his heretical views in the schools. In combating Chivi's unorthodox opinions, the two opponents, Saadiah and Solomon ben Yerucham, met on common ground. Saadiah, whilst yet in Egypt, had written a book in refutation of Chivi's doctrines. In his philosophy of religion he especially kept in view this tendency, hostile to revelation, and sought to expose its weakness. He likewise did not lose sight of the objections made against Judaism by Christianity and Islam.

Whilst Saadiah was developing thoughts for the elevation of future generations, he was still under the ban of excommunication. He had, therefore, no sphere of action but that of an author. But200 circumstances had changed meanwhile. The just Caliph Abradhi was now on the throne, in the place of the cruel and avaricious Kahir, who had decreed Saadiah's deposition. His vizir Ali Ibn-Isa was favorably inclined towards Saadiah. The Gaon Kohen-Zedek, who had made common cause with the Exilarch, had died in 936. His successor, Zemach ben Kafnaï, was a harmless man. So David had only Aaron Ibn-Sarjadu to assist him in his quarrel; the people, however, in increasing numbers, sided with Saadiah. It happened that an important lawsuit had to be decided; one party proposed the banished and deposed Gaon as judge, whilst the opposite party proposed the Exilarch. David, in his rage, had personal violence done to the man that had appealed to Saadiah. This act of violence caused the more ill-feeling, as the person so maltreated was not under the jurisdiction of the Exilarch, and had a perfect right to choose his judge without interference from the Exilarch.

Respected members of the community now took counsel as to the best means of putting an end to the contention between the Prince of the Exile and the Gaon. The peacemakers met at the house of an influential man in Bagdad, Kasser ben Aaron, the father-in-law of Ibn-Sarjadu, and impressed upon him the fact that the quarrel had already exceeded all bounds, that the community had been split into two camps, and that these things had been followed by the saddest consequences. Kasser assured them of his co-operation in restoring peace, and succeeded in overcoming the hostility of his son-in-law towards Saadiah. The peacemakers thereupon went to David, and argued with him till he yielded. When Kasser was sure that the Exilarch was inclined to reconciliation, he hastened to inform Saadiah of it. The whole community of Bagdad joined in the rejoicing. Some accompanied David, others Saadiah, until they met. The enemies201 embraced each other, and henceforward were the firmest of friends. The reconciliation was so complete that Saadiah accepted David's hospitality for several days. The latter restored him to his office, with many marks of honor.

The academy of Sora regained some of its former glory through Saadiah, and threw its sister academy into the shade. In the latter, two men, otherwise unknown, successively filled the post of Gaon. The questions from home and foreign communities were again sent to Sora, and Saadiah answered them without delay, although his health was severely impaired, and he was suffering from incurable melancholy. The responses which have been preserved are numerous; they were probably composed in the last year of his Gaonate. Many of them are in Hebrew, though most of them are in Arabic. His magnanimity was displayed in his conduct toward the family of his opponent, David. When the latter died, in 940, his son Judah, through Saadiah's influence, was elected in his stead, though he filled the post for only seven months, leaving a son twelve years old, whom Saadiah appointed his successor. He received the grandson of his former enemy into his house, and adopted him. Meanwhile a distant relative, a member of the Bene-Haiman family, from Nisibis, was to fill the office. He had scarcely been appointed before he had a quarrel with a Moslem. Witnesses testified that he had spoken disparagingly of Mahomet. For this offense he was put to death. When the last representative of the house of the Exilarch, who had been brought up by Saadiah, was raised to the princedom, Moslem fanaticism raged also against him. It was determined to assassinate him whilst he was riding in his state carriage, because the mere shadow of princely power among the Jews was disliked. The Caliph tried to prevent his murder, but in vain. Thus died the last of the Exilarchs, and202 the representatives of Judaism, in order to allay this fanatical hatred, determined to leave the office vacant.

Thus, after an existence of seven centuries, ended the Exilarchate, which had been the sign of political independence for Judaism. Just as the dignity of the Patriarchate had ceased in Judæa through the intolerance of the Christian emperors, so the Exilarchate now ceased through the fanaticism of the Mahometans. The two schools alone remained to represent the unity of the Jews, but even these were soon to vanish. With Saadiah's death (942), darkness settled upon the academy of Sora. It is true that he left a son, Dossa, who was learned both in the Talmud and in philosophy—the author of several works—but he was not appointed his father's successor. Joseph ben Satia, who had been deposed, was again made the chief of the school. He, however, was not able to maintain its superiority over the sister academy, which having at its head Aaron Ibn Sarjadu, the former opponent of Saadiah, again rose to importance.

Ibn Sarjadu, a rich merchant of Bagdad, had not gone through a regular course of academic instruction. He was chosen on account of his riches, as well as for his knowledge and energy. He occupied his position for eighteen years (943–960). He possessed a good philosophical education, wrote a philosophical work, and a commentary to the Pentateuch. Like Kohen-Zedek, Ibn Sarjadu endeavored to exalt the school of Pumbeditha at the expense of that of Sora. Questions were addressed to him from foreign countries. The school of Sora consequently, neglected and impoverished, received none of the revenue, and therefore could not train new pupils, who turned to richer Pumbeditha. This decline and decay of the school induced its chief, Joseph ben Satia, to abandon it, and to emigrate to Bassora (about 948). The school that had been203 founded by Rab was now closed, after it had continued in existence for seven hundred years. The people of Sora felt this so much that they made an energetic attempt to restore it. Four young men were sent abroad to awaken interest in the school, and to get contributions for it. But they did not attain their object. It seemed that fate was against them. They were captured at Bari, on the coast of Italy, by a Moorish-Spanish admiral, Ibn-Rumahis. They were transported, one to Egypt, another to Africa, a third to Cordova, and the fourth to Narbonne. Instead of assisting to raise the school of Sora, these four Talmudists unwittingly contributed to the downfall of the Gaonate.

The copies of the Talmud in Sora, which were now no longer used, were, later on, transferred to Spain. Babylonia, so long the center of Judaism, had to yield its supremacy in favor of a foreign place. The decay of one of the Babylonian schools, and the decline of interest that followed upon it, were utilized by the Karaites to make converts amongst the Rabbanites. They did this with such zeal that they thought they were about to strike the death-blow to Rabbanism. As long as Saadiah, the mighty champion of Rabbanism, lived, they did not venture to do anything to expose themselves to his criticism. But after his death, when they perceived that there was no man of any importance to stand in the breach, they hoped to obtain an easy victory. Saadiah's opponent, Solomon ben Yerucham, immediately hastened from Palestine to Babylonia, in order to prove to the followers of Saadiah, that he had misrepresented facts in his defense of the Talmudists. Thus he expected to bring over the Rabbanites to Karaism.

But a more vehement, zealous and cunning proselytizer was Abulsari Sahal ben Mazliach Kohen, an inhabitant of Jerusalem, who belonged to the ascetic section of the Karaite community. Abulsari Sahal204 had a thorough knowledge of Arabic and Hebrew, and wrote in a much more elegant style than any of his contemporaries. He compiled a Hebrew grammar, commentaries to several books of the Bible, and also a compendium of religious duties under the title "Mizvoth." However, he did not write anything of great consequence. The Karaites seem to have had no ability to get beyond beginnings; certainly not Sahal, who was possessed by sombre, monkish piety. To his co-religionists, nevertheless, he appeared in the light of a great teacher. Sahal also wrote a refutation of Saadiah's attacks upon Karaism. It was, doubtless, considered an honorable thing amongst the Karaites, to win one's spurs in combat with this great champion. Sahal appears to have delivered his lectures against the Rabbanites in Bagdad. He called upon the people to renounce tradition, and to refuse obedience to the schools, "which were the two women of whom the prophet Zechariah speaks, and who carried sin and left it in Babylon." Sahal implored his hearers to renounce the indulgences that their Rabbanite teachers allowed them, such as keeping oil in camel-skins, purchasing bread from Christians and Mahometans, and leaving their houses on a Sabbath.

Sahal's attacks upon the Rabbanites were too offensive to remain unanswered. An influential Rabbanite seems to have forced him into silence by aid of the government. Saadiah's pupil, Jacob ben Samuel, stung to the quick by the abuse which Sahal and other Karaites had heaped upon his master, took up the cudgels in his behalf. He delivered speeches in the streets and in the public places against Karaism and the proselytizer Sahal. The latter, however, did not remain silent. In a passionate letter to Jacob, written in beautiful Hebrew, he continued his attacks, and gave a faithful picture of the state of Karaism and Rabbanism205 in his time, leaving out neither the light nor the shade of both sides. After the versified attack and the reproaches for Jacob's incorrect Hebrew and the injury done to Judaism by the Rabbanites, Sahal proceeds:

I am come from Jerusalem in order to warn the people, and to bring them back to the fear of God. Would that I had the power of going from town to town to awaken the people of the Lord. You think that I came here for the sake of gain, as others come who grind the faces of the poor; but I came in the name of God, in order to bring back the thoughts of the people to true piety, and to warn them not to rely on human institutions, nor to listen to the sayings of the two evil women (the Gaonic schools). How shall I not do it, since my heart is moved by the irreligion of my brethren, who are walking in the wrong path, who impose a heavy yoke upon the ignorant people, who oppress them and rule over them through excommunication and persecution, who call to their aid the power of the Mahometan officials, who compel the poor to borrow money on interest, in order to benefit by it and to be able to bribe the officials? They feed themselves, but not their flocks, and they do not teach the word of God in the proper way. If any one asks them the reason for anything they do, they antagonize him. Far be it from me that I should be silent, when I see that the leaders of the community, who say that they constitute the Synhedrion, eat without compunction with non-Jews. How shall I be silent, when I perceive that many of my people make use of idolatrous practices? They sit on the graves of the departed and invoke the dead, and pray to Rabbi José the Galilean, saying, "O heal me, and make me fruitful." They make pilgrimages to the shrines of the pious dead, light candles there, and burn incense. They also make vows that they may be cured of their diseases. O that I had the power to go everywhere and to proclaim it aloud, to admonish men in the name of the Lord, and to deter them from their evil course. And now, O House of Israel, have mercy on your souls, and choose the right path. Do not object and say that the Karaites, too, differ among themselves as regards religious duties, and that you are in doubt with whom to find truth. Know, therefore, that the Karaites do not wish to exercise authority; they only desire to stimulate research. You ask, What should the ignorant do who is unable to search the Holy Scriptures? I tell you that such a one has to rely upon the results arrived at by the investigator and the expounder of Holy Writ.

At the end, Sahal prophesied that God would destroy the yoke of the two women, as it is written in the prophets: "Then and then only will the sons of Israel be reconciled and united, and the Messiah come."

Another prolific Karaite author from Bassorah, Jephet Ibn-Ali Halevi (950–990), wrote polemics206 against the same Jacob ben Samuel. Jephet was considered a great teacher by the Karaites. He was a grammarian, commentator and expounder of the Law, but he was not free from the errors of the members of his creed. His style was bombastic and diffuse, and like them, he was superficial and literal-minded. The want of Talmudic dialectics is severely missed in the Karaite authors, for it rendered them tedious talkers. Jephet's absurd polemic against Saadiah's pupil bears this stamp of superficiality and insipidity, and it never displays the beautiful Hebrew style of his contemporary and friend Sahal.

Solomon ben Yerucham, who continued to write till a very old age (certainly till 957), composed commentaries to the Pentateuch and the Hagiographa, and other works no longer known. He was a sworn enemy to philosophical research. In his commentary on the Psalms, he bitterly complains that Jews occupy themselves with heretical writings, whose authors and teachers he curses severely.

"Woe to him," he cries, "who leaves the Book of God and seeks others! Woe to him who passes his time with strange sciences, and who turns his back upon the pure truth of God! The wisdom of philosophy is vain and worthless, for we do not find two who agree upon a single point. They propound doctrines which directly contradict the Law. Amongst them there are some who study Arabic literature instead of always having the word of God in their mouths."

What a contrast there is between Saadiah and his Karaite opponent! The one studied philosophy, and took it into the service of Judaism; the other (without any knowledge of it) declared it heretical, and allowed his Judaism to become petrified. The Rabbanites entered into the temple of philosophy, and the Karaites shunned it as an infected house.

The zeal with which the Karaites sought to exalt their creed over Rabbanism had the desired effect of spreading it widely about the middle of the tenth207 century. They penetrated to Spain, and attained influence in Africa and Asia. We know that the Egyptian Rabbanites accepted much from the Karaites. Moses and Aaron ben Asher, a father and son of Tiberias, exercised a powerful influence at this period (890–950). They were grammarians and Massorets. They wrote on the Hebrew accents and Biblical orthography, but in so clumsy a style and such miserable verse, that their observations are for the most part incomprehensible. But these insignificant works were of no importance, while considerable value attached to the copies of the Bible, which were corrected by them with the greatest care and exactness according to the Massoretic rules, which they had mastered completely. The Ben-Asher copies of the Bible were looked upon as models both by the Karaites and the Rabbanites, and treated as sacred. New copies were afterwards made from these in Jerusalem and Egypt. The Massoretic texts of the Bible now in use are largely derived from Ben-Asher's original copies, because the Rabbanites afterwards overlooked the fact that the scribe was a Karaite.

Saadiah, on the contrary, who had known Ben-Asher, the son, was dissatisfied with these Massoretic works, and wrote a very keen polemic against him. In addition to Saadiah, Ben-Naphtali raised objections against the results of Ben-Asher's Massoretic investigations, though mostly on insignificant points. Nevertheless, the text of the Bible according to the Massorets of Tiberias maintained its superiority. The old Eastern signs for vowels and accents to the Bible text were changed, extended and improved, by the Massoretic school of Ben-Asher.

With the decay of the Exilarchate and of the school of Sora, Asia lost the leadership of Judaism. If Pumbeditha, under Aaron Ibn-Sarjadu, flattered itself that it possessed the supremacy, it was deceived.208 After Ibn-Sarjadu's death, internal quarrels prepared for its destruction. Nehemiah, the son of Kohen-Zedek, who had been the rival of Ibn-Sarjadu, but had not met with success, obtained the post of head of the school through cunning (960). The college, however, led by the chief Judge Sherira ben Chananya, opposed him. There were a few members and rich laymen who supported Nehemiah, but his opponents refused to recognize him during the whole period of his office (960–968). During the time that the two parties were contending for the Gaonate of Pumbeditha, and with it for the religious authority over the Jews, the four men who had been sent from Sora to collect contributions from the various communities, and who had been taken captive, had founded new schools in Egypt, Africa (Kairuan), Spain and France, and thereby separated these communities from the Gaonate. These four men who caused the seeds of the Talmudic spirit to blossom in various places were: Shemaria ben Elchanan, who was sold by the admiral Ibn-Rumahis in Alexandria, and then being ransomed by the Jewish community, finally reached Misr (Cairo). The second was Chushiel, who was sold on the coast of Africa, and came to Kairuan. The third was probably Nathan ben Isaac Kohen, the Babylonian, who perhaps reached Narbonne. The fourth was Moses ben Chanoch, who underwent more dangers than the other three. He was the only one of the four who was married. His beautiful and pious wife and his young son had accompanied him on his journey, and were taken prisoners together with him. Ibn-Rumahis had set eyes upon the beautiful woman, and designed to violate her. The wife, however, asked her husband in Hebrew whether those that were drowned could hope for resurrection, and when he answered in the affirmative, and confirmed his answer by a verse from the Bible, she threw herself into the sea and209 was drowned. In deep sorrow and in the garb of the slave, Moses ben Chanoch with his little son was carried to Cordova, where he was ransomed by the Jewish community. They did not imagine that with him Spain obtained the supremacy over the Jews of all other countries. Moses did not betray his deep knowledge of the Talmud to the community into whose midst he had been cast, so that he might not derive any advantage from his knowledge of the Law. He, therefore, at first behaved like any ordinary captive. Moses soon made his way to the school of Cordova, the president of which was Nathan. He was a rabbi and also judge, and possessed but slight Talmudical knowledge, but was regarded as a shining light in Spain. Moses sat near the door in the corner like an ignorant listener. But when he perceived that Nathan, in expounding a passage in the Talmud, made a childish mistake, he modestly ventured to make some objections, in which he betrayed his scholarship. The audience in the school was astounded to find so thorough a Talmudist in the ill-clad captive who had just recovered his freedom.

Moses was called upon to explain the passage in question, and also to solve other difficulties. He did this in a thorough manner, to the intense delight of all present. On that very day Nathan declared before those who were under his jurisdiction, "I can no longer be your judge and rabbi. That stranger, who is now so miserably clothed, must henceforth take my place." The rich community of Cordova immediately chose Moses for their rabbinical chief, gave him rich presents and a salary, and placed a carriage at his disposal. When the admiral Ibn-Rumahis heard that his prisoner was so precious to the community of Cordova, he wished to retract the sale in order to get a higher ransom. The Jews appealed to the just Caliph, Abdul-Rahman III, through the Jewish statesman210 Chasdaï, and represented to him that they would be able, through Rabbi Moses, to sever themselves from the Gaonate of the eastern Caliphate. Abdul-Rahman, who, to his intense regret, had seen considerable sums of money yearly taken out of his land for the Gaonate, i. e., to the land which was hostile to him, was glad that a place would now be founded in his own kingdom for the study of the Talmud, and signified to the admiral the wish that he desist from his demand. Thus Cordova became the seat of an important school that was independent of the Gaonate. Moses' former fellow-prisoners also were recognized by the communities of Kahira and Kairuan as eminent scholars, and founded important Talmudical schools in Egypt and in the land of the Fatimide Caliphate. These men undesignedly severed the communities of Spain and of Mahometan Andalusia from the Gaonate. The state of politics and culture eminently fitted Spain or Mahometan (Moorish) Andalusia to become the center of united Judaism, and to take the leadership which Babylon had lost. Egypt was no longer an independent kingdom, but only a province of the Fatimide Caliphate, which had conquered it through the policy of a Jewish renegade. In addition to this, Egypt did not offer a favorable field for higher civilization, but continued to be what nature had made it, the granary of the world. The empire of the Fatimides in north Africa, whose chief town was Kairuan (afterwards Mahadia), at least afforded the principal conditions for the development of Judaism, and might well have become one of its chief centers. The rich community of Kairuan took the liveliest interest in the study of the Talmud, as well as in scientific efforts. Even before Chushiel's arrival they had had schools, and a chief who bore the title of Resh-Kalla or Rosh. Just as they had befriended and honored the banished Exilarch Ukba, they now bestowed211 the title Rosh on Chushiel, and enabled him to give a stronger impulse to the study of the Talmud. The latter educated two pupils during his office (950–980), and they were afterwards recognized as authorities. These were his son Chananel and a native, Jacob ben Nissim Ibn-Shahin. The physician and favorite of the first two Caliphs, Isaac Israeli, had sown the seeds of Jewish science, which was developed by a pupil of his who likewise obtained court favor.

This pupil, Abusahal Dunash ben Tamim (900–960), the head of Jewish science in the Fatimide dominions, was physician to the third Fatimide Caliph, Ishmael Almansur Ibnul' Kaim, perhaps also to his father. Dunash was held in such favor by this ruler that he dedicated to him one of his works on astronomy. Dunash ben Tamim came from Irak, perfected himself in his youth under Isaac Israeli in Kairuan, learning from him medicine, languages, and metaphysics. Dunash ben Tamim was accomplished in the whole circle of sciences then known, and wrote books on medicine, astronomy and mathematics. He also classified the sciences; in his opinion, mathematics, astronomy, and music rank lowest; next come physics and medicine; highest of all is metaphysics, the knowledge of God and the soul. The Arabs thought so highly of Dunash that they said that he had became a convert to Islam, doubtless in order that they might count him amongst their own, but he certainly remained faithful to Judaism to the end of his life. He corresponded with the Jewish statesman Chasdaï, for whom he composed an astronomical work on the Jewish calendar.

Meanwhile, though Dunash was not a genius, he was able to give the community of Kairuan, and through them to a wider circle, a more scientific understanding of Judaism. The Fatimide Caliphate, however, was not calculated to become a seat of212 culture for the Jews. The fanatic Fatimide dynasty—raised to power through an enthusiastic missionary, who saw in the Caliph of the house of Ali a kind of embodied divinity, and founded by a deluded deceiver who considered himself the true Imam and Mahdi (priest)—could not logically tolerate Judaism. The successors of the first Fatimide Caliph used, just as the successors of the first Christian Emperor had done, the sword as the means of spreading religion. Soon there came to the throne a Fatimide who repaired what his ancestors had in their indulgence neglected, and preached the doctrines of the divine Imamate with bloody fanaticism. In such surroundings Judaism could not flourish; it required a more favorable situation.

The European Christian countries were still less fit to become the center of Judaism than were the Mahometan kingdoms of Egypt and northern Africa. At that time the greatest barbarity prevailed there, and circumstances were not at all favorable to the development of science and literature. The literary status of the Jews was very low, and the historical reports are therefore silent on the Jewish communities of Europe. Here and there in Italy appeared Talmudical scholars, as in Oria (near Otranto), but scarcely any of them rose above mediocrity. Though the Italian Jews never attained superiority, they were diligent and faithful disciples of foreign teachers. In Babylonia they laughed at "the wise men" of Rome or Italy. Even Sabbataï Donnolo, the head of Jewish science in Italy at the time of Saadiah, could scarcely be described as a moderate scholar. This man is known rather through his career than through his works. Sabbataï Donnolo (913–970) of Oria was taken prisoner when the Mahometans of the Fatimide kingdom pressed forward across the straits of Sicily, invaded Apulia and Calabria, plundered the town of Oria, and either murdered the inhabitants or took them away as213 captives (9th of Tammuz—4th July, 925). Donnolo was twelve years old at this time. Ten of the chief citizens were put to death, and Donnolo's parents and relations were transported to Palermo and Africa. He himself was ransomed in Trani. Orphaned and without friends, the young Donnolo was thrown upon his own resources. He studied medicine and astrology, in both of which he made himself proficient. He now became physician to the Byzantine viceroy (Basilicus) Eupraxios, who ruled Calabria in the name of the emperor. He became rich through his medical practice, and spent his money in buying up works on astrology and in traveling. In his journeys Donnolo went as far as Bagdad. He embodied the result of his researches in a work published in 946. But little wisdom was contained in this book, if we are to judge by the fragments that still remain to us. The author, however, put so high a value upon it, that he thought that through it the name Sabbataï Donnolo of Oria would be handed down to posterity.

Meanwhile, unimportant though Donnolo was compared with his contemporaries Saadiah and others, he appears to have been far superior to the head of the Catholics at this time. This was his countryman, Nilus the Younger, whom the Church has canonized. The relations of the two Italians—the Jewish physician and the abbot of Rossana and Grotto Ferrata—serve as a standard by which we can estimate the condition of Judaism and Christianity in Italy in the middle of the tenth century.

Donnolo had known Nilus from his youth; perhaps they had suffered together when southern Italy was plundered. The Jewish physician once noticed that the Christian ascetic was very ill, owing to excessive mortification. He generously offered him a remedy. The holy Nilus, however, declined his offer, remarking that he would not take the medicine of a Jew, lest it be said that a Jew had cured214 him—the holy one, the worker of miracles—for that would lead the simple-minded Christians to place more confidence in the Jews.

Judaism ever strove towards the light, whilst monastic Christianity remained in the darkness. Thus in the tenth century there was only one country that offered suitable soil for the development of Judaism, where it could blossom and flourish—it was Mahometan Spain, which comprised the greater part of the peninsula of the Pyrenees.

Whilst Christian Europe sank into a state of barbarism, from which the Carlovingians endeavored to free it, and the Eastern Caliphate was in the final stage of its decay, the Spanish Caliphate, under the sons of Ommiyya, was in so flourishing a condition, that it almost makes us forget the Middle Ages. Under Abdul-Rahman III (An-Nasir), who was the first to enjoy the full title of the Caliphs, "Prince of the Faithful" (Emir-Al-Mumenin), Spain was the exclusive seat of science and art, which were everywhere else proscribed or neglected. With him began the classical period of Moslem culture, a period of prosperity and vigor, which could be attained only under the rule of noble princes free from prejudice against the votaries of other religions.

Specially honored in Spain were the favorites of the Muses—the poets. A successful poem was celebrated more than a victorious battle, which itself became the subject of poetry. Every nobleman, from the Caliph down to the lowest provincial Emir, was anxious and proud to number learned men and poets among his friends, for whom he furnished the means of a livelihood. Scientific men and poets were appointed to high offices, and entrusted with the most important state affairs.

This spiritual atmosphere could not fail to have its effect upon the Jews, with their naturally emotional and responsive natures. Enthusiasm for science and poetry seized them, and Jewish Spain215 became "the home of civilization and of spiritual activity—a fragrant garden of joyous, gay poetry, as well as the seat of earnest research and clear thought." Like the Mozarabs, the Christians who lived amongst the Mahometans, the Jews made themselves acquainted with the language and literature of the people of the land, and often surpassed them in knowledge. But whilst the Mozarabs gave up their own individuality, forgot their own language—Gothic Latin—could not even read the creeds, and were ashamed of Christianity, the Jews of Spain, through this contact with Arabs, only increased their love and enthusiasm for their mother-tongue, their holy law, and their religion. Through favorable circumstances Jewish Spain was in a position at first to rival Babylonia, then to supersede it, and finally to maintain its superiority for nearly five hundred years. Three men were the founders of the Judæo-Spanish culture: (i) Moses ben Chanoch, the Talmudical scholar, who had been carried captive to Cordova; (2) The first Andalusian grammarian, Menachem ben Saruk; (3) and the creator of the artistic form of Jewish poetry, Dunash Ibn-Labrat. This culture, however, unfolded through one man, who by means of his high endowments, his pure character and prominent position, was enabled to give it the proper impulse. This man was Abu-Yussuf Chasdaï ben Isaac Ibn-Shaprut (915–970), a member of the noble family of Ibn-Ezra. He was the first of a long succession of high-minded persons who made the protection and furthering of Judaism the task of their lives.

Chasdaï was quite modern in his character, entirely different from the type of his predecessors. His easy, pliant, and genial nature was free both from the heaviness of the Orientals and the gloomy earnestness of the Jews. His actions and expressions make us look upon him as a European, and through him, so to speak, Jewish history216 receives a European character. His ancestors came from Jaen; his father Isaac, who probably lived at Cordova, was wealthy, liberal, and in a measure, a Mæcenas. The son inherited from him a love of science, and the worthy application of riches. He attained only a theoretical knowledge of medicine, but in literature, as well as in diplomacy, he was a master. Not only did he know Hebrew and Arabic well, but he also knew Latin, then understood only by the clergy amongst the Spanish Christians.

The Caliph Abdul-Rahman III, who stood in diplomatic relations with the small Christian courts of northern Spain, perceived Chasdaï's value and usefulness, and appointed him as interpreter and diplomatist (940). At first Chasdaï only had to accompany the principal ambassadors to the Spanish Christian courts. But the more able he proved himself, the more was he honored and advanced. On one occasion Chasdaï's diplomacy proved very useful. He once induced a king of Leon (Sancho Ramirez) and a queen of Navarra (Toda), together with the clergy and other great people, to visit Cordova, in order to conclude a lasting treaty of peace with Abdul-Rahman. The Caliph rewarded his services by appointing him to various offices. Chasdaï was, in a certain sense, minister of foreign affairs. He had to receive foreign ambassadors and their presents, and to give them presents from the Caliph in return. He was, at the same time, the minister of trade and finance, and the revenue that arose from the various taxes and tolls that went to the treasury, passed through his hands. In spite of all this Chasdaï had no official title. He was neither vizir (the Hagib of the Spanish Arabs) nor the secretary of state (Katib). For the Arabs at first also had a strong prejudice against the Jews, in consequence of which they did not allow them to be included amongst the state217 officials. The dawning culture of Mahometan Spain was not yet sufficiently advanced to overcome the anti-Jewish sentiments of the Koran.

Even the just and noble prince who in his time was the greatest ornament of the throne, dared not throw off these inborn prejudices. It remained for the Jews themselves to overcome them gradually through their spiritual superiority. Chasdaï inspired a favorable opinion of his co-religionists amongst the Andalusian Moslems, and was able, through his personal intercourse with the Caliphs, to shield them from misrepresentation. And so a Jewish poet was able to say of him:

"From off his people's neck he struck the heavy yoke;
To them his soul was given, he drew them to his heart;
The scourge that wounded them, he destroyed,
Drove from them in terror the cruel oppressor.
The Incomparable vouchsafed through him
Crumbs of comfort and salvation."

This praise is by no means exaggerated. Chasdaï was indeed a comforter and deliverer to all the communities far and near. His high position and wealth rendered him useful to his brethren. His deep religious feeling caused him to see that he must thank God for the high estimation in which he was held, and that it was not due to his own deserts; he therefore felt a call to be active in the cause of his religion and his race. He was, to some extent, the legal and political head of the Jewish community of Cordova. The Babylonian school, which received many contributions from him, gave him the title "Head of the School" (Resh-Kallah), although he knew less of the Talmud than the Nathan who had resigned his position in favor of Moses. He corresponded with Dunash ben Tamim, whom he asked to work out some astronomical calculations on the Jewish calendar. He also corresponded with Saadiah's son Dossa, and requested him to send him a biography of his218 father. The ambassadors of many nations, who either sought the favor or the protection of the Caliph, brought him presents in order to secure his interest in their cause. From them he always asked particulars as to the condition of the Jews, and obtained favors for his brethren.

Chasdaï played an important part in two embassies from the mightiest courts of Europe. The Byzantine empire, oppressed on all sides, had remained lifeless for several centuries, and was now in need of foreign assistance. The weak and pedantic Emperor Constantine VIII, the son and brother of the emperors who had caused the Jews so much trouble, sought a diplomatic alliance with the mighty Moslem conqueror of Spain, in order to gain an ally against the Eastern Caliphate. He therefore sent a magnificent embassy to Cordova (944–949) with rich presents, amongst which was a beautiful copy of a Greek medical work by Dioscorides on simple remedies, which the Caliph and his medical college greatly desired to obtain. The ambassadors from the most anti-Jewish court were received by the Jewish statesman and introduced to the Caliph. But the work upon which the Arabic physicians and naturalists had set so high a value was a sealed book to them. Abdul-Rahman, therefore, begged the Byzantine emperor to send him a scholar who understood both Greek and Latin. Constantine, who wished to show his good-will to the Mahometan court, sent a monk named Nicholas as interpreter. Amongst all the physicians of Cordova, Chasdaï was the only one who understood Latin, and he was, therefore, requested by the Caliph to take part in the translation. Nicholas translated the original Greek into Latin, and Chasdaï re-translated it into Arabic. Abdul-Rahman was pleased with the completion of a work which, according to his thinking, lent great splendor to his reign. Chasdaï also had a peculiar rôle to play219 in the embassy which was sent by the powerful German emperor Otto I to the court of Cordova. Abdul-Rahman had previously sent a messenger to Otto, and in a letter had made use of certain unseemly expressions against Christianity. The Andalusian ambassadors had to wait several years before they were admitted to an audience with the emperor. After they had been received, the German emperor sent an embassy, at whose head was the abbot John of Gorze (Jean de Vendières), and a letter, in which there were harsh expressions against Islam. The Caliph, who suspected something of the kind, asked Chasdaï to find out for him the contents of the diplomatic letter. Chasdaï treated with John of Gorze for several days, and although the latter was very clever, Chasdaï outwitted him, and learnt from him the purport of the letter. Thereupon Abdul-Rahman kept the German envoys waiting for a whole year before admitting them to an audience. He would have kept them waiting still longer, had not Chasdaï and the Mozarab Bishop of Cordova induced John of Gorze to procure a new and unobjectionable document from the emperor (956–959).

Chasdaï, who, from his elevated position, was accustomed to deal with public affairs on a large scale, was deeply grieved when he thought of the state of the Jews, of their dependent and suffering position, their dispersion, and their want of unity. How often must he have heard Mahometans and Christians pronounce that most powerful argument against Judaism, "Inasmuch as the scepter hath departed from Judah, God hath rejected it!" Even Chasdaï shared the restricted view of the time, viz., that a religion and a people without a country, a king, a court, sovereignty, and subjects, has neither stableness nor vitality.

The rumor of the existence of an independent Jewish community in the land of the Chazars, which220 had penetrated to Spain, roused his interest. Eldad's appearance in Spain, several decades before Chasdaï's birth, had given probability to the vague tradition, but, on the other hand, rendered it improbable through the exaggeration that the ten tribes were still in existence in all their strength. Chasdaï never failed to make inquiries about a Jewish kingdom or a Jewish ruler when embassies came to him from far or near. The news of a Jewish community in the land of the Chazars, which he received from ambassadors from Khorasan, was very welcome to him, especially when he learnt that a Jewish king was on the throne there. He now heartily wished to enter into communication with this king. He rejoiced when the news was confirmed by the Byzantine ambassadors, who gave him the additional information that the reigning king of the Chazars was called Joseph, and that they were a powerful and warlike nation. This information served only to increase his desire to enter into close communication with the Jewish kingdom and its ruler. He therefore sought a trustworthy messenger who could take charge of his letter of homage, and at the same time bring back further particulars. After several vain attempts, he succeeded in effecting the desired communication. In an embassy of the Slavonic king from the Lower Danube there were two Jews who had to act as interpreters in Cordova. Chasdaï gave the Slavonic ambassadors a letter to the king of the Chazars. This letter, in beautiful Hebrew prose, with introductory verses, written by Menachem ben Saruk, is a priceless document for the history of the time. The author, in his pious wishes and in his humble bearing, skilfully permitted his statesmanship and a sense of his own worth to be seen. Chasdaï's letter fortunately reached the hands of King Joseph, through the instrumentality of a man Jacob ben Eleazar from the land of Nemes (Germany). Joseph was the eleventh221 Jewish prince since the time of Obadiah, the founder of Judaism in that country. The country of the Chazars even at that time (960) still possessed great power, although it had already lost several districts or feudatory lands. The residence of King Joseph was situated on an island in the Volga, and included a golden tent-like palace having a golden gate. The kings had to oppose the Russians, who had become more powerful since the immigration of the Waragi, and who had always coveted the fruitful country of the Chazars. They found it necessary to keep a standing army so as to be able to attack the enemy at a moment's notice. In the tenth century there were 12,000 regular soldiers, partly cavalry, provided with helmets and coats of mail, and partly infantry armed only with spears. The decaying Byzantine empire was forced to respect the kingdom of the Chazars as a great power, and to recognize the Jewish ruler as "the noble and illustrious king." Whilst the Byzantine emperors used to seal their diplomatic letters to the Pope and to the Frankish emperors with a golden bull of light weight (two solidi), they made it one-third heavier when they wrote to the kings of the Chazars. Whoever is acquainted with the pedantic etiquette of this unstable court will at once recognize how much of fear was expressed by this mark of honor. The Chazar kings took great interest in their foreign co-religionists, and made reprisals for wrong done to the Jews. The king expressed his joy at receiving Chasdaï's letter, and corrected the false impression that the land of the Chazars had always been inhabited by Jews. "The Chazars were rather of heathen origin," he wrote in his answer, and narrated how his great ancestor Bulan had been converted to Judaism. He went on to enumerate the successors of Bulan, all of whom had Jewish names. He then describes the extent222 of his dominions, and the various peoples that were subject to him. As regards the hopes of a Messianic redemption which he also cherished, he remarks that neither he nor his people knew anything definite. "We set our eyes upon Jerusalem," he says, "and also upon the Babylonian schools. May God speedily bring about the redemption." "You write," he says, "that you long to see me. I have the same longing to make the acquaintance of yourself and your wisdom. If this wish could be fulfilled, and I might speak to you face to face, you should be my father and I would be your son, and I would entrust the government of my state to your hands."

When Joseph wrote this letter, he could boast of the peaceful state of his kingdom. But circumstances changed in the course of a few years. One of Rurik's descendants, the Russian Prince Sviatislav of Kief, formerly almost a subject of the Chazars, made a formidable attack upon the country, and captured the fortress of Sarkel (965). The conqueror grew more powerful, and, a few years later, in 969, the same Sviatislav took the capital, Itil (Atel), and also captured Semender, the second town of the Chazars. The Chazars took to flight, some going to an island in the Caspian Sea, others to Derbend, and yet others to the Crimea, in which many members of the same race lived, and which henceforth received the name of "the Land of the Chazars." Its capital was Bosporus (Kertch). Thus did the kingdom of the Chazars decline, and Joseph was its last king who possessed any power. When Chasdaï received his letter, his patron, Abdul-Rahman, had died. His son Alhakem, a more zealous patron of science and poetry even than his father, now sat upon the throne. More peacefully disposed than his father, he honored Chasdaï, whom he made an important state official, and whose superior talents he employed as freely as his father had done.

223 Imitating the example of two Caliphs, who respected genius, Chasdaï protected the Jews, and to him is credit due for having given the impulse to the Jewish-Andalusian culture. He gathered around him at Cordova a band of talented philosophers and poets, who in turn immortalized him in their works and poems. "In Spain far and wide, wisdom was cherished in Chasdaï's time. His praise was sung by eloquent tongues." Only two of the philosophers and poets of this time became famous, Menachem ben Saruk and Dunash ben Labrat. Both of these made the Hebrew language, which they considerably enriched, the object of deep research. They went far beyond all their predecessors that had worked at philology, the Karaites and even Saadiah.

Dunash ben Labrat in his works developed a symmetry and harmony of expression in the holy language such as was scarcely conceivable by his predecessors. He was the first to employ meter in Hebrew poesy, which he made melodious through the introduction of the strophe. Dunash was blamed by Saadiah for this as though he had made an unheard-of innovation. Saadiah thought that violence was done to the Hebrew language thereby. However, the new Hebrew poetry was enriched through the efforts of the Jewish-Andalusian writers. Hitherto, poetical compositions had been of a synagogal character, always gloomy, and never assuming a joyful tone. Even hymnal poetry was not devoid of this characteristic, and continued halting and rugged like Kaliri's. In didactic and controversial poems a miserable doggerel was used, as in the verses of Solomon ben Yerucham, of Abu-Ali Jephet, of Ben-Asher and Sabbataï Donnolo. Chasdaï, however, gave the poets an opportunity of changing their subjects. His imposing person, his high position, his deeds, and his princely liberality had an inspiring influence upon the poets, and224 whilst they sang his praises in animated strains, they breathed new life into the apparently dead Hebrew language, rendering it harmonious and capable of development. Of course, the Jewish-Andalusian poets took the Arabs as their model. They in truth do not deny that "Arab became the teacher of Eber." But Dunash and others, who imitated him, did not slavishly adhere to their Arab pattern, nor adopt its unnatural meter, but they selected its beauties and imitated them. The verses at the beginning of this flourishing period of poetry were brisk and lively in their measure, and yet the Hebrew poetry of the epoch of Chasdaï did not entirely cast off its fetters, nor change its high-flown style. "The poets in Chasdaï's time first began to chirp," as the inimitable critic of a later time remarks. The favorite themes of the new Hebrew poesy now became panegyric and satire, but it did not lose sight of liturgical poetry, which it also adorned with the beauty of meter.

Little is known of the life and character of the first two founders of the Andalusian-Jewish culture. As far as can be gathered from existing sources, Menachem ben Saruk, of Tortosa (born 910, died 970), was in needy circumstances from his earliest years; at any rate, his patrimony was too small to maintain him. Chasdaï's father Isaac was interested in him, and took care that pecuniary difficulties should not destroy the germ of poetry which was latent in him. His favorite occupation was the study of the Hebrew language; he made use of the works of his predecessors, but he did not acquire his noble Hebrew style from them—that was inborn.

When Chasdaï attained his high position, he invited the favorite of his father, with flattering words and glowing promises, to come to Cordova. Menachem became Chasdaï's court poet, and was warmly attached to him, praising him in every kind of verse, and, as he himself affirms, "exhausted225 poetry in singing Chasdaï's praises." Chasdaï encouraged him to write on the philology of the Hebrew language, and to endeavor to ascertain its various forms, and to investigate the meanings of words. Menachem in consequence wrote a complete Hebrew dictionary (Machbereth), with some grammatical rules, in which he corrected his predecessors in many respects. Brought up amidst surroundings by which harmonious and impressive speech was prized, the grammarian of Tortosa valued language in general very highly, and the Hebrew language in particular, and it was the aim of his work to discover the peculiar refinements of this language. Menachem ben Saruk was the first to distinguish clearly the pure roots in the Hebrew language, and to separate them from the formative prefixes and suffixes—a theory which now appeared for the first time, and which had been misapprehended by previous grammarians. This misapprehension, indeed, had led them into using malformed and ill-sounding words in their verses. Menachem, in his lexicographical work, puts the various forms under each root, and often expounds their meanings with surprising clearness and nicety. In cases where he gives a peculiar explanation according to his understanding of the Biblical verse, he often shows healthy thought and refined taste, and there is a marked step forward in exegesis from Saadiah to Menachem. Now and again he gave explanations which were opposed to Talmudic tradition and the ideas of the time. His lexicographical work was much read and used, because it was written in Hebrew. It found its way into France and Italy, supplanted the works of Saadiah and the Karaites, and, for a long time, was the guide-book for Bible expositors. But grand and flowing as Menachem's Hebrew prose is, his verse is unattractive and awkward; he did not understand how to handle Hebrew meter. He was, however, supplemented by his rival, Dunash ben Labrat.

226 This poet (also called Adonim) came from Bagdad, and was younger than Menachem (born 920, died 970). He afterwards lived in Fez, and was likewise invited to Cordova by Chasdaï. Dunash appears to have been wealthy, and was thus able to be freer and more independent than the grammarian of Tortosa. He was a man of spirited and reckless disposition, who did not weigh his words, and was well qualified for literary controversy. He, too, possessed a deep knowledge of the Hebrew language, and was a far more successful poet than Menachem. As has been mentioned, he was the first of the Rabbanite circle in Spain to introduce meter into the new Hebrew poetry, to which he thereby gave a fresh charm. He was, however, bold and venturesome. He criticised Saadiah's exegetical and grammatical works in a polemic (Teshuboth), assuming rather a harsh tone, although he was personally acquainted with the author, and was perhaps his pupil. As soon as Menachem's dictionary reached him, Dunash determined to write an unsparing criticism of it, and to bring its mistakes to light. His review was witty but scornful. Dunash did not keep within the limits of scientific discussion, but used it to promote his own interests. He dedicated his critical works against Menachem to the Jewish statesman, whom he flattered so abjectly in some prefatory verses, that we can hardly fail to see that his object was to gain over the Jewish Mæcenas to his side, and to injure Menachem in the eyes of the latter.

Dunash's flattery of the Jewish statesman and his coarse polemic against Menachem are not wanting in power. The admiration of Chasdaï for Ben-Saruk was diminished when he perceived that Dunash was a better poet, and at least as good a philologist. When various calumniators who wished to ingratiate themselves with the Jewish prince, traduced Menachem before him, Chasdaï's227 favor was withdrawn from the latter, and changed into direct hostility. In what their defamations consisted is not known.

Menachem appears to have died before his rival Dunash, and his pupils undertook to justify him. Jehuda ben Daud, Isaac Ibn G'ikatilia, and Ben-Kafren (Ephraim) were the most important of these. They, too, dedicated their polemical writings to the Jewish minister, and sent him a panegyric and a satire against Dunash. Chasdaï seems to have just returned from a diplomatic victory which he had won for the Caliph Alhakem. The followers of Menachem celebrated his triumph: "The mountains greet the protector of learning, the prince of Judah. All the world rejoices at his return, for whenever he is absent, darkness sets in, the haughty rule and fall upon Judah's sons. But Chasdaï brings back peace and order. God has appointed him prince, and granted him the king's favor, whereby He exalted him above all the nobles."

Menachem's defenders endeavored to appeal to Chasdaï's love of truth, and to make him the arbiter against Dunash, "who set himself up as the chief of commentators, who knows neither law nor limit of change, and who desecrates and spoils the holy language through his foreign meter." The study of the Hebrew language was carried on in Spain by means of severe contention and virulent satire. The pupils of Dunash continued the quarrel. The followers of Menachem and Dunash hurled witty lampoons against each other, which fact contributed largely towards making the Hebrew language at once pliant and rich.

As Chasdaï Ibn-Shaprut had given an impulse to various poets and writers by means of encouragements and rewards, so also he founded a home in Spain for the study of the Talmud. Jewish science in Europe had not yet attained a sufficiently firm228 footing to enable it to dispense with the fostering care of a protector. Moses ben Chanoch, too, who had been chosen to collect contributions for the school of Sora, and who had been brought as a slave to Cordova and there redeemed, found a patron in Chasdaï, and the two Caliphs who were friendly to science beheld with pleasure the study of the Talmud springing up in their realms, because it would tend to sever their Jewish subjects from the Caliphate of Bagdad. Moses could have come to Spain at no more favorable time for establishing firmly the study of the Talmud, without which the literary activity just springing up could not have made progress. Just as the Spanish Moors had busied themselves with the task of casting the Caliphate of Bagdad into the shade, in the hope of monopolizing all political and literary distinctions, so the Spanish Jews longed to obscure the Babylonian schools, and to transfer to the school which Moses had opened in Cordova the supremacy which the former had hitherto enjoyed, owing to the deeper knowledge of the Talmud there.

They consequently treated Moses with great deference, surrounded him with splendor, and recognized him as their head. Religious questions which had hitherto been sent to the Babylonian schools, henceforth were directed to Moses. From all parts of Africa, eager students flocked to his school. There now arose a strong desire for thorough Talmudical knowledge, which would enable them to dispense with the Babylonian teachers. Chasdaï gave orders for copies of the Talmud to be bought at his expense in Sora, where many lay idle and unused. These he distributed amongst the pupils, whom he doubtless furnished with means of subsistence. Thus Cordova became the Andalusian Sora, and the founder of the school there had the same significance for Spain as Rab had for Babylon. Although he bore the modest title of judge229 (Dayan), he yet performed the various functions of a Gaon. He ordained rabbis for the various communities, as it appears, by the ceremony of laying on the hands (Semicha); he expounded the Law, the highest appeal was made to him in legal cases, and he could excommunicate rebellious members of the community. All these functions devolved upon the rabbis in later times.

Thus Spain became in many ways the center of Judaism. Several apparently accidental events contributed to this result, and the aroused self-importance of the Spanish Jews did not allow this supremacy to depart from their midst; in fact, they took the greatest pains to assert and to deserve it. The prosperity of the Cordova Jewish community made it possible for them to make the Andalusian capital the center of all undertakings. Cordova numbered several thousand rich families, well able to vie with the Arabs in display. They clothed themselves in silk, wore costly turbans, and drove in splendid carriages. They rode on horses, and adopted the manners of chivalrous society, which distinguished them from the Jews of other lands. It cannot be denied, however, that some of them owed their wealth to their trade in Slavonian slaves. These they sold to the Caliphs, who gradually formed their body-guard from them.

After Moses' death (965) the community of Cordova was threatened with a division on account of the succession. On the one side was Moses' son Chanoch, who, when a child, had shared his parent's captivity, and had seen his mother throw herself into the sea. His rival was Joseph ben Isaac Ibn-Abitur, who was the distinguished pupil of Moses. He possessed sound knowledge of Arabic literature, was a tolerable poet, and a native of Spain. But Chanoch possessed no attainments except knowledge of the Talmud, and the advantage of being the son of a man who had been highly esteemed.

230 The two rivals were equally distinguished for their piety and their character. There were consequently two parties—the one siding with the native, who was the representative of culture, the other with Moses' son. Meanwhile, before the strife had taken a serious turn, Chasdaï exerted his powerful influence in favor of Chanoch. The latter thus became rabbi of Cordova and the authority for the Jewish-Spanish communities. As long as the Jewish minister of Alhakem lived, Chanoch's right to the rabbinate remained unchallenged. Chasdaï Ibn-Shaprut died during the lifetime of the noble Caliph (970), and left behind him an illustrious name, and both Jews and Mahometans vied with each other in perpetuating it for posterity.


231

CHAPTER VIII.
THE RISE OF JEWISH-SPANISH CULTURE, AND THE DECAY OF THE GAONATE.

The Gaon Sherira and his son Haï—Sherira's Historical Letter—The Jewish Congregations in Spain—Jewish Culture in Andalusia—The Disciples of Menachem and Dunash—Jehuda Chayuj—Contest between Chanoch and Ibn Abitur—Jacob Ibn Jau—The Jews of France—Nathan the Babylonian and Leontin—The Jews of Germany—Gershom and his Ordinances—The Emperor Henry II.—The Caliph Hakem—The Jewish Communities of Northern Africa—Chananel, the Son of Chushiel, and Nissim bar Jacob Ibn-Shahin—The Jerusalem Talmud—Haï Gaon—His Character and Importance—Samuel bar Chofni—Chiskiya, the last Gaon—Samuel Ibn-Nagrela—Jonah Ibn-Janach.

970–1050 C. E.

When an institution of historic origin is doomed to sink into oblivion, the most strenuous exertions of men cannot save it; and though they succeed by generous sacrifices in deferring the time of its extinction, its continuance is at best like that of a man in a trance.

So it happened to the Babylonian Gaonate, once so full of life. After the most cultured communities of Spain and Africa had withdrawn their support, and had made themselves independent of it, its fate was sealed. It was in vain that the two men who successively adorned the school of Pumbeditha by their virtue and knowledge, made a strenuous effort to give it new life. They only succeeded in staying the death of the Gaonate for somewhat more than half a century, but they were unable to restore its vitality. These two men—father and son, the last distinguished presidents of the school of Pumbeditha—were Sherira and Haï (Haaja), to whom later generations gave the name of "the fathers and teachers of Israel."

232 Sherira, son of the Gaon Chanina (born 920, died 1000), was of distinguished parentage both on his father's and his mother's side, several members of both families having filled the office of Gaon. He boasted that he could trace his descent to the line of the Exilarchs before Bostanaï. The seal of the Sherira family bore the impress of a lion, which is said to have been the coat-of-arms of the Jewish kings.

Sherira was a Gaon of the old school, who valued the Talmud above everything, and steered clear of philosophical ideas. He was sufficiently acquainted with the Arabic language to use it in answering questions which were directed to him by the Jewish communities in Moslem countries. He preferred, however, to make use of the Hebrew and Chaldee languages, and had no taste for Arabic literature. His literary activity was entirely devoted to the Talmud and cognate subjects. He did not trouble himself much about Biblical exegesis, but his moral earnestness makes us overlook his lack of higher culture. As a judge, he always endeavored to elicit the truth and to decide accordingly. As head of the school, he spared no pains to spread instruction far and near, hence his decisions are voluminous. But Sherira kept most conscientiously to Talmudic precedents in framing his decisions; and on one occasion severely criticised a master who taught his young slave the Bible, and when he had grown up, allowed him to contract an illegal marriage with another slave, because this was contrary to the decision of several Talmudical teachers. Sherira was versed in theosophy, which had but few followers at his time.

Sherira is especially distinguished on account of his "Letter," which is the main authority for the history of the Talmudical, post-Talmudical, and Gaonic periods of Jewish history. Jacob ben Nissim (Ibn-Shahin), a pupil of the Chushiel who had been233 taken captive to Africa, and who taught the Talmud in Kairuan, sent a letter of inquiry in the name of the community of Kairuan to Sherira. In it the following questions were propounded: "In what way was the Mishna written down? If the traditional law is of remote origin, how does it happen that only authorities of a comparatively recent period are known to us as bearers of the same? In what order were the various books of the Mishna compiled?" Jacob also asked about the order of the Saboraim and the Geonim, and about their respective terms of office. Sherira wrote an answer (987) half in Hebrew and half in Chaldee, in which he threw light upon several dark portions of Jewish history. The chronicle of the Saboraim and Geonim as given by him is our guide for this epoch. Sherira in this "Letter" answers the questions put to him with the simple straightforwardness of the chronicler. But his opinions about the Exilarchs of the line of Bostanaï, and about some of his contemporaries, e. g., about Aaron Ibn-Sarjadu, are not altogether unbiased. We have to thank the Gaon Sherira for the preservation of the facts of Jewish history from the period of the conclusion of the Talmud till his own time. It was not in his power to produce an historical work of a critical character, nor, indeed, was this possible for the genius of the Middle Ages.

In spite of his incessant activity as head of the school, he was unable to prevent the decay of the school of Pumbeditha. The zeal for the study of the Talmud and scientific activity had cooled in the Babylonian countries. The academy had so few scholars at this time that Sherira was compelled to promote his young son Haï, when only sixteen years old, to the high office of chief judge. The respect for the Gaon had vanished. Malicious persons had Sherira arraigned before the Caliph Alkadir on some unknown charge, probably growing234 out of the rigor of his administration (997). In consequence of this, father and son were deprived of their liberty, all their property was confiscated, and there was not enough left to them for a bare livelihood. They were, however, liberated at the intercession of an influential man, and restored to their dignity. Sherira soon after, on account of old age, abdicated in favor of his son (998), and died a few years later.

His son Haï, although he was only 30 years old, was so popular that to the reading of the Law on Sabbath, as a mark of honor to him, the portion of the Pentateuch was added in which Moses prays for a worthy successor, and instead of the usual prophetic lesson, the story of David anointing his successor was read, and in conclusion the words, "And Haï sat on the throne of Sherira his father, and his kingdom was firmly established."

We turn gladly from the decay of the internal organization of the Jews in the East to the vitality of the communities on the Guadalquiver and the Guadiana. Vigorous forces and spiritual currents of most varied character asserted themselves everywhere, and produced the brilliant efflorescence of Jewish culture. There arose in the Jewish communities of Andalusia intense zeal for the various branches of knowledge, and an eager desire for creative activity.

The seed which had been sown by Chasdaï, the Jewish Mæcenas, by the study of the Talmud under Moses the Babylonian, and by the poetical and philological works of Menachem and Dunash, produced the fairest fruit. Many-sided knowledge was considered among the Spanish Jews, as well as among the Andalusian Moslems, a man's most beautiful ornament, and brought its possessor honor and riches. Following the example of Abdul-Rahman the Great, the Moslems admitted Jews to state offices, owing to their superior insight and business235 capacity; thus we find both Jewish consuls and Jewish ministers at Mahometan and Christian courts. These emulated the conduct of Chasdaï in encouraging learning and poetry. The knowledge of the period was neither one-sided nor barren; on the contrary, it was full of healthy life, useful and productive. The cultured Jews of Andalusia spoke and wrote the language of the country as fluently as their Arab fellow-citizens, who were as proud of the Jewish poets as the Jews themselves.

The Andalusian Jews were equally active in Bible exegesis and grammar, in the study of the Talmud, in philosophy and in poetry. But the students in any one of these departments were not narrow specialists. Those who studied the Talmud were indifferent neither to Biblical lore nor to poetry, and if not poets themselves, they found pleasure in the rhythmic compositions of the new Hebrew poesy. The philosophers strove to become thoroughly versed in the Talmud, and in many instances rabbis were at the same time teachers of philosophy.

Nor were science and art looked upon by the Spanish Jews as mere ornaments, but they exalted and ennobled their lives. Many of them were filled with that enthusiasm and ideality which does not allow the approach of any kind of meanness. The prominent men, who, either through their political position or their merits stood at the head of Jewish affairs in Spain, were for the most part noble characters imbued with the highest sentiments. They were as chivalrous as the Andalusian Arabs, and excelled them in magnanimity, a characteristic which they retained long after the Arabs had become degenerate. Like their neighbors, they had a keen appreciation of their own value, which showed itself in a long string of names, but this self-consciousness rested on a firm moral basis. They took great pride in their ancestry, and certain families, as those of Ibn-Ezra, Alfachar, Alnakvah,236 Ibn-Falyaj, Ibn-Giat, Benveniste, Ibn-Migash, Abulafia, and others formed the nobility. They did not use their birth as a means to obtain privileges, but saw therein an obligation to excel in knowledge and nobility, so as to be worthy of their ancestors. The height of culture which the nations of modern times are striving to attain, was reached by the Jews of Spain in their most flourishing period. Their religious life was elevated and idealized through this higher culture. They loved their religion with all the fervor of conviction and enthusiasm. Every ordinance of Judaism, as prescribed in the Bible and as explained in the Talmud, was considered holy and inviolable by them; but they were equally opposed to stolid bigotry and to senseless mysticism. Although they often carried their investigation to the borders of unbelief, yet there is scarcely one of the Jewish-Spanish thinkers who crossed these bounds, nor did extravagant mysticism find favor with them during the flourishing period. No wonder, then, that the Jews of Spain were looked upon as superior beings by their uncultured brethren in other lands—in France, Germany, and Italy—and that they gladly yielded them the precedence which had formerly been enjoyed by the Babylonian academies. Cordova, Lucena, and Granada soon took the place of Sora and Pumbeditha. The official chief of the Jews in Andalusia was Chanoch, of whom we have already spoken (940–1014). He succeeded his father in the rabbinate. His rival, Joseph ben Isaac Ibn-Abitur (Ibn-Satanas or Santas), a member of a respected Andalusian family, was as learned in the Talmud, and excelled him in the extent of his secular knowledge. Ibn-Abitur wrote in verse. Among other things he composed synagogue poetry for the Day of Atonement, but his verse is harsh, awkward, and altogether devoid of poetic charm. He had not profited by the poetry of Dunash. Joseph Ibn-237Abitur understood the Arabic language so well that he was able to translate the Mishna into that language. The Caliph Alhakem had expressed a wish to possess a translation of the work containing the sources of Jewish tradition, and Ibn-Abitur gratified that wish to his satisfaction. The refined Caliph probably only desired to increase his library (which was of such proportions that the catalogue took up twenty-four volumes) by the addition of the Mishna, which was so highly valued by the Jews. The men most distinguished in philology and Hebrew poetry during the period after Chasdaï were the pupils of Menachem and Dunash. They carried on a controversy in epigrams, in prose and verse. Of these, Isaac Ibn-G'ikatilia was a poet, and Jehuda Ibn-Daud a Hebrew grammarian. The latter, whose Arabic name was Ibn-Zachariah Yachya Chayuj, descended from a family which came from Fez, was the first to place Hebrew philology on a firm basis, and may be regarded as the first scientific grammarian. Chayuj, too, was the first to recognize that Biblical Hebrew roots consist of three letters, and that several consonants (the liquids, semi-vowels, and the sounds produced by the same organ) become assimilated and change into vowels. He thereby made it possible to know the different forms and their changes, and to apply this knowledge to poetry. Chayuj thus brought about a complete reform in the Hebrew language, and illumined the darkness wherein his predecessors, amongst them Saadiah, Menachem, and Dunash, and to a greater extent the Karaites, had been lost. Chayuj wrote his grammatical works in Arabic; on this account they remained unknown to the Jews out of Spain, who retained the imperfect systems of Menachem and Dunash in their philological studies.

Although the rabbinate of Cordova was merely an honorary office, and Chanoch derived no income238 from it, nevertheless it gave rise to contention after Chasdaï's death. The followers of Joseph Ibn-Abitur, amongst whom were the numerous Ibn-Abitur family, and the brothers Ibn-Jau, silk manufacturers, who were employed at court, endeavored to put their favorite at the head of affairs. The greater portion of the Jews of Cordova clung to Chanoch. The quarrel became too serious to be peaceably settled, and each party appealed to the Caliph on behalf of its favorite. Seven hundred influential men, partisans of Chanoch, betook themselves, in festive apparel, several days in succession to Az-Zahra, Alhakem's residence, not far from Cordova, in order to obtain the Caliph's favor for their rabbi.

The opposition party made up in zeal what it lacked in number. Alhakem decided in favor of the majority, and confirmed Chanoch in his rabbinate. But as Ibn-Abitur would not relinquish his claim, he was excommunicated by the victorious party. In spite of this he did not abandon hope. He appealed in person to the Caliph. He hoped to gain him over through his knowledge of Arabic literature, and through his service in translating the Mishna, and so effect a reversal of the decree. But his hopes were vain. The Caliph addressed him in the words: "If my subjects scorned me, as the community of Cordova scorns you, I would abdicate my kingdom. My only advice to you is to emigrate." The wish of the Caliph appeared to Ibn-Abitur a command, and he left Cordova (975). When he saw that he could not gain any followers in Spain, he set sail for Africa, traversed Maghreb, the Fatimide dominion, and probably also Egypt, without finding favor anywhere. Meanwhile, however, affairs suddenly took a favorable turn for Ibn-Abitur. One of his chief supporters was raised to a high position, and used his influence on his behalf. This was the silk manufacturer, Jacob Ibn-239Jau, whose checkered career bears witness to the arbitrariness dominant in the Spanish Caliphate after the death of the last just and cultured Caliph, Alhakem (976).

The title of Caliph appears to have descended to his son Hisham, a sickly youth, but the chief power lay in the hands of Mahomet Almansur, the terror of the Christians in the mountains of northern Spain and of the Africans in their fortresses. Under this Mahometan "Major Domus," Jacob Ibn-Jau, the supporter of Ibn-Abitur, obtained great respect and considerable power over the Jewish-Spanish community. The circumstances of his good fortune are rather extraordinary. Jacob Ibn-Jau and his brother Joseph supplied the court with costly embroidered silk. Their goods were admired and sought after. Their business brought them into contact with Almansur, and on one occasion they found a considerable sum of money in the court of his palace, which had been lost by some provincials who had been ill-treated. The brothers Ibn-Jau spent the money in presents for the young Caliph and Almansur, so as to obtain their favor, and procure the recall of the banished Ibn-Abitur. Their attempt succeeded. In 985, Almansur appointed the elder brother Jacob as prince and chief judge of the various Jewish communities in the kingdom of the Andalusian Caliphate on both sides of the strait, from Segelmessa in Africa as far as the Douro. He had the sole right to appoint judges and rabbis in the communities, and to determine the taxes for state purposes and for communal wants. Jacob Ibn-Jau held court, as it were, had eighteen pages in his retinue, and drove about in a state carriage. The community of Cordova, proud of the distinction shown to one of its own members, recognized him as its chief, paid homage to him, made his office hereditary, and the poets sang his praises.

240 As soon as Ibn-Jau was appointed chief of the Jews of the Andalusian Caliphate, he tried to realize the purposes for which he had sought the favor of the court. He gave Chanoch notice to discontinue his rabbinical functions, threatening that, in case he disobeyed, he would be set adrift at sea in a ship without a rudder, thus returning to the place whence he had come. Ibn-Jau next made preparations to recall his favorite, Ibn-Abitur, and to invest him with the dignity of the rabbinate. But before he could do that, the ban of excommunication had to be removed, and for this act the consent and approval of the whole community were required. Out of regard for Ibn-Jau, who was respected at court, all the members of the community, amongst whom were his former opponents, sent a flattering letter to Ibn-Abitur, inviting him to accept the rabbinate of Cordova. Chanoch was deposed. When the community of Cordova, and especially his friends, had made preparations to meet Ibn-Abitur in a worthy manner, they received a letter from him which speedily undeceived them. He inveighed, in harsh terms, against their reckless treatment of his opponent. He praised Chanoch in unmeasured terms, saying that in all his wanderings he had never met with a man like him in virtue and piety, and at the same time he advised the community of Cordova to re-instate him in his office.

Meanwhile Ibn-Jau could not maintain his authority. His patron, Almansur, deposed him, and cast him into prison, the reason of his condemnation being his probity and disinterestedness. The regent (Hajib) had believed that the Jewish prince would use his power over the communities of the western Caliphate for the purpose of extorting money, and would make him the recipient of rich presents; but Ibn-Jau did not burden the community, and, consequently, could not satisfy Almansur's avarice. For this he was deprived of his241 liberty. After he had been imprisoned for a year he was set free by the Caliph Hisham, and restored to his former dignity (987). Since, however, Almansur was unfavorable to him, he was practically powerless. When Ibn-Jau died, one of Chanoch's relatives hastened to convey the news to him, thinking that he would receive it with joy. But this noble rabbi wept at the death of his enemy, and said, "Who will now care for the wants of the poor like him who has just departed? I cannot take his place, for I myself am poor."

Chanoch lived to see the beginning of the decadence of Cordova, and the first general persecution of his co-religionists in Germany, Africa, and in the East. He was killed by the fall of the reading-desk in the synagogue on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (September, 1014).

The condition of the Jews in France and Germany at this time shows how dependent their spiritual life was upon external circumstances.

During the feeble rule of the last Carlovingians, and even under the first Capets in France, when the temporal and spiritual vassals became more powerful than the kings, and also under the Saxon emperors, the Jews were oppressed, and their literary activity almost entirely checked. The canonical laws had long before this debarred them from filling offices. They did not seek honor, but only desired to be allowed to live quietly, and to observe their religion. But the chiefs of the Church disturbed their peaceful condition without any profit to themselves. In the French territory, the chief power lay in the hands of the barons and the clergy. The power of the kings was as yet limited on all sides, and could not protect the Jews from tyrannical caprice. Only the fanatical clergy had entertained prejudices of a theological nature against the Jews, but their zeal aroused the hatred of the people against the Jews. The people, uncouth, brutish,242 and slaves to superstition, looked upon the sons of Israel as a cursed race, unworthy of compassion. They accused the Jews of employing evil spells against Christians. When the king, Hugh Capet, died of a dangerous illness (996), after having been treated by a Jewish physician, the people gave credence to the report that the Jews had murdered him. The chroniclers, too, looked upon this as a fact, and entered it upon their annals.

The Jews, it is true, had fields and vineyards, but they lacked personal safety, which could be granted only by a strong government. In the south of France, in Provence and Languedoc, where the king's power was insignificant, the fate of the Jews was still more dependent upon the caprice of the counts and viscounts. In one place they possessed landed property and salt mines, and were even allowed to become bailiffs (Bailli); in another they had to submit to be treated as bondmen. The chief community was that of Narbonne. There had been a Talmudical school there since the time of Charles the Great, but it does not seem to have been well supported. There suddenly appeared on the scene a Talmudist from the school of Sora, who instilled true zeal for the study of the Talmud into the Jews of southern France. This may have been Nathan bar Isaac, the Babylonian, but more probably it was his pupil Leon or Leontin (Jehuda ben Meïr), who, although he left no works behind him, was yet the first founder of the scientific study of the Talmud, which henceforth flourished in France and Germany. His famous pupil, Gershom, confessed that he owed all his knowledge to Leon.

The Jews in Germany at this time of the Saxon emperors did not suffer oppression, though they were not specially favored. The feudal system which existed in Germany forbade them to possess landed property, and thus compelled them to be tradesmen. Jew and merchant were synonymous243 in Germany. The rich were bankers, those of moderate means borrowed money in order to visit the fair at Cologne, for which loan they had to pay a low, reasonable interest. The German emperors continued the custom, which had been introduced by the first Carlovingians, of exacting a fixed tribute from the Jews. When Otto the Great wished to grant a subsidy to the newly-built church at Magdeburg, he made it a present of the revenue he derived from "the Jews and other merchants" (965). Otto II likewise presented "the Jews of Merseburg" to the bishop of that town in 981. In the retinue of this emperor was an Italian Jew, Kalonymos, who was greatly attached to him, and on one occasion assisted him at the risk of his own life (982). But the much praised rule of the Ottos gave the Jews subject to them no chance of raising themselves from their lowly position. The Christian peoples had learnt much from the Arabs, but they had not learnt to encourage science amongst members of religions different from their own. The German Jews in consequence, although they led more moral and industrious lives than their Christian brethren, were not more cultured. They had not even any Talmudical teachers of note of their own, but got them from abroad. Their first Talmudical authority was Gershom. He, together with his brother Machir, spread the seeds of Talmudic knowledge from the south of France to the Rhine, and gave it an importance that it had not obtained even in the Gaonic schools.

Gershom ben Jehuda (born 960, died 1028) was born in France, and emigrated for some unknown reason to Mayence. As was mentioned, he was a pupil of Leon. In Mayence, Gershom founded a school which soon attracted numerous pupils from Germany and Italy. The respect for Gershom was so great that he was named "The Light of the Exile." He expounded the Talmud to his pupils244 with a lucidity unattained by any of his predecessors, and his commentaries to the Talmud are also distinguished for clearness and directness.

Gershom was the first commentator of the vast Talmud, and he who knows the difficulty of such a work will appreciate how much energy, devotion, and patience were required for it. He was at once recognized as an authority by the German, French, and Italian communities. Questions were submitted to him, and unwittingly he became the rival of the last Gaon Haï, although he looked upon him with the reverence of a disciple. Through a peculiar combination of circumstances those who respected the Gaonate most, contributed to its decay. Gershom's commentaries on the Talmud, written in Hebrew, had the result that the Gaonic school could be dispensed with, and thus severed the German communities and those of northern France from it. Any one who chose to do so could obtain a deep knowledge of the Talmud without first seeking aid from Babylonia. Gershom also busied himself with the Massora, and made a place for its study, which until then had been pursued only in Mahometan countries, in Germany and in France.

Gershom became even more famous through his decrees than through his commentaries. They produced a very wholesome effect upon German and French Judaism. Amongst other things he forbade polygamy, practiced even among European Jews, allowing it in extreme cases only. He decreed further that the consent of the wife was necessary for a divorce, whilst, according to the Talmud, the husband could give her a bill of divorce against her wish. He also made an important rule about the carrying of letters, viz., that the bearer must not read a letter, even though it be not sealed. In those times intercourse with one's friends was carried on by means of travelers who happened245 to be going in the direction required. Hence this regulation was of the utmost importance. Those who transgressed this decree were to be laid under the ban of excommunication. Although these and other institutions were without synodal formality, and the author of them was in no way invested with official authority, yet, so great was the respect felt for Gershom, that they were received by the German and French communities like the decrees of a synhedrion, and scrupulously obeyed.

Contemporary with this authority of the German-French communities, there lived in Mayence a man whose merits were, until recently, unappreciated. This man was Simon ben Isaac ben Abun, of French descent, from Le Mans. He was learned in the Talmud, and wrote an original work (Yessod) on it. He was, besides, a versatile and prolific Hebrew poet (Poetan), and wrote a number of liturgical compositions in the style of Kaliri, as heavy and ungraceful as his, in which he introduced the Agadic literature, often in an enigmatical way. Simon ben Isaac was wealthy, and was thus able to avert the storm which had gathered, and was threatening to break over the Jews of Germany.

In the eleventh century occurred the first persecutions of the Jews in Germany. It is possible that the conversion of a churchman to Judaism, which the chroniclers mentioned in their annals as an unlucky event, roused the anger of the clergy against the Jews. The convert, whose name was Wecelinus, was chaplain to Duke Conrad, a relative of the emperor. After his conversion to Judaism (1005), Wecelinus wrote a lampoon on his former religion, bearing witness to his own great hatred of Christianity, and to the coarseness of the taste of the time. The emperor Henry, however, was so angry at the conversion of the chaplain, that he commissioned one of his clergy to write a reply. This he did, and it was couched in equally coarse and undignified246 language. Some years later (1012), the emperor decreed that the Jews should be expelled from Mayence, as a punishment for their refusal to be baptized. The decree was probably not confined to Mayence, but applied to other communities. The poet, Simon ben Isaac, composed dirges, lamenting the expulsion, as though it were a terrible persecution, intended to uproot Judaism from the hearts of its followers.

Gershom, too, though by no means a poet, gave utterance to his grief at the severe persecution of Henry II in penitential hymns. "Thou hast made those who despise Thy Law," he says, "to have dominion over Thy people; they bow down to senseless images, and would compel us, too, to worship them. They urge Thine inheritance to change Thee for a God of their own making. They are determined no longer to call Thee God, and to overthrow Thy word. If I say, 'Far be it from me to forsake the God of my fathers,' they gnash their teeth, put forth their hand for plunder, and open their mouth in scoffing. Thy people are driven from their homes, they raise their eyes in longing to Thee." During this persecution many Jews became Christians, either to save their lives or their possessions. Among them was Gershom's son. When the latter died a Christian, his hapless father observed the mourning ceremonials for him as for one who had died a Jew.

Simon ben Isaac, by his zeal, and probably by bribing the officials with large sums of money, succeeded in staying the persecution, and even in obtaining permission for the Jews to settle again in Mayence. Those Jews who had been compelled to submit to baptism now gladly returned to their religion, and Gershom protected them from the scorn of their brethren on account of their temporary apostasy, by threatening to excommunicate any one who reproached them.

247 The grateful community was anxious to perpetuate the memory of Simon. It was done by mentioning his name in the synagogue every Sabbath, and adding, "that he had exerted himself on behalf of his brethren, and that through him persecutions had ceased." The name of Gershom was likewise perpetuated, because "he had enlightened those in exile through his decrees."

The school that had been founded by Gershom in Mayence flourished for more than eighty years, and became the center of Talmudic activity for Germany, France and Italy. At the same time, about the end of the fourth century of the Hejira, when the Karaites expected the coming of the Messiah, persecution broke out against the Jews in the East and in Egypt, and lasted longer than that in Germany. The German Jews had been persecuted because they did not believe in Christ and the saints; the Eastern Jews were now oppressed because they would not believe in Mahomet and the immaculate Imam, in the heavenly guide (Mahdi).

This persecution was originated by the mad Egyptian Caliph Hakim, a Mahometan Caius Caligula, who believed that he was the incarnation of the divine power, and the vicegerent of God on earth. Hakim persecuted all who dared doubt his divinity—Mahometans, Jews, and Christians, without distinction. At first he decreed that if the Jews of his dominion did not become converts to the Shiitic Islam, they would have to wear round their necks the picture of a calf in commemoration of the golden calf of their ancestors in the wilderness. In addition, they were to be distinguished from the believers by their external appearance, as ordained by Omar. Those who transgressed were to be punished by exile, and by the loss of all their possessions (1008). A similar regulation was enacted against the Christians. When Hakim heard that248 the Jews evaded his decree by wearing a golden image of a calf, he added a further clause, viz., that they should wear in addition a block of wood six pounds in weight, and have little bells attached to their garments that they might be known at a distance as unbelievers (1010). He afterwards ordered the churches and synagogues to be destroyed, and drove both Jews and Christians out of his kingdom (1014). The Fatimide dominions at that time were very extensive. They embraced Egypt, northern Africa, Palestine and Syria, and since Hakim had adherents also in the Caliphate of Bagdad, there were but few places of refuge open to the Jews. Many, therefore, outwardly conformed to Islam, while waiting for better times to come. The persecution lasted till the Mahometans themselves grew tired of the half-witted Caliph, and assassinated him (1020).

Northern Africa, too, which had enjoyed a brief efflorescence under Isaac Israeli, Dunash ben Tamim, and the alien R. Chushiel, produced its last set of great men in the latter part of the eleventh century, and then sank into oblivion. Its two great authorities were Chananel, the son of Chushiel, the immigrant, and Nissim bar Jacob Ibn-Shahin (1015–1055). They lived in the same place, and are usually named together, but they do not appear to have been on friendly terms with each other. On the contrary, there appears to have been the same rivalry between them as there had been between Chanoch and Ibn-Abitur, Nissim, like the latter, being a native, and Chananel, like the former, the son of an alien. We are not even certain which of the two was the official rabbi of Kairuan; both of them, however, presided over the school. Chananel, in addition, had a large business; whilst Nissim was so poor that he had to be supported by the Jewish minister in Granada. They, however, showed remarkable similarity in their ideas; they pursued249 the same studies, and wrote works on the same subjects, but Chananel made use of the Hebrew language, and Nissim of Arabic.

A new element in the study of the Talmud, which established it on a firmer basis than that on which the Geonim had been able to place it, was added by the labors of these two men. The Jerusalem Talmud, although more ancient than the Babylonian, had suffered considerably by the fate to which books as well as men are exposed. Whilst the Babylonian Talmud was known and studied in the East to the boundaries of Khorasan and India, and in the West to the end of the ancient world, its companion remained for a long time unknown outside of its birthplace. The former had commentators, who explained and expounded it thoroughly; the latter was for a long time neglected. In consequence of the connection of northern Africa with Palestine, brought about through its conquest by the Fatimide Caliphs, the Jewish teachers of the two lands came into contact with each other, and the Talmud of the Holy Land (as it was called) became known in Kairuan. The two great Talmudists, Chananel and Nissim, were the first in Talmudic circles to busy themselves with it. In their Talmudical writings, which consisted partly of commentaries, explanations of separate words and the subject-matter, and partly of practical decisions, they gave prominence to the Jerusalem Talmud. Both wrote commentaries to the Pentateuch, in which they followed the path marked out by Saadiah for rational exposition of difficult passages in the Pentateuch.

They were both in constant communication with Babylonia on the one hand and with Spain on the other, and formed, so to speak, the link between the two lands. They lived to see the utter extinction of the Gaonate, but after their death the school of Kairuan sank into complete insignificance. One250 of its pupils, who afterwards became famous as a rabbinical authority, owed his fame solely to his emigration to Spain.

The institutions, too, and the traditions of Babylonian-Persian Judaism showed manifest signs of decay at this time. They possessed, it is true, two men of extraordinary ability, viz. Haï and Samuel ben Chofni, but these were not in a position to stay its dissolution, and could only throw a dim light upon the dying Gaonate.

Haï (or Haya, born 969, died 1038), who had in his eighteenth year been raised to the highest office next to the Gaon, at the age of thirty years succeeded his father Sherira in the Gaonate of Pumbeditha. At his installation the high honor was accorded him of having his name mentioned when a portion from the Prophets was publicly read, and he was compared to King Solomon. Foreign communities, as well as the Babylonians, showed him the highest respect. His character was noble, and he was a man of independent thought. He was versed in all branches of science as they were then taught, and displayed great literary activity. Haï reminds one of Saadiah, whom he took as his model, and whom he defended from attacks, but he was essentially a Talmudist, whereas Saadiah was a religious philosopher. Like him Haï was a thorough Arabic scholar, and made use of that language in many of his letters, and in numerous scientific treatises. Like the Gaon of Fayum he was free from that narrow-minded exclusiveness which permits men to see the truth only in their own religion, and causes them to look upon everything outside as untrue. He was on friendly terms with the head of the Eastern Christians of Bagdad, and on one occasion, when in his exegetical lectures he chanced upon a difficult passage, he did not hesitate to consult the Patriarch (Mar-Elia I.).

251 In his explanation of rare and archaic words in the Bible, Haï boldly sought assistance from the Koran and the old traditions of the Mahometans in order to confirm their meaning. He was an unprejudiced sage, who loved the light and avoided darkness. He often had disputations with Mahometan theologians about the relation between Judaism and Islam, and is said often to have silenced them by his eloquence. His main study, however, was the Talmud. In this he resembled his father Sherira, but his study was productive of better results. He wrote a terse commentary, in which he explained the words in the most difficult portions of the Mishna and the Talmud.

Haï treated of the civil law of the Talmud, of contracts, loans, boundaries and oaths, with systematic precision. He did this as no one before him had done, and he therefore became the model and authority for later generations. He did not enter upon the field of metaphysics, but although he was not a philosopher, he had sound opinions on mysticism. Surrounded with a halo of religion, a mystic belief often appears reasonable to those of weak reasoning powers, but Haï perceived its deceptive character.

The belief in miracles has, in every country, at all times, and in all creeds, befogged the intellect of unthinking men, and robbed them of the ability to form a rational view of divine wisdom and of life. This belief was fostered by the Jews in many ways, and took as firm a hold on them, as it had on the Christian and the Mahometan world. It was especially prevalent in Palestine and Italy. Its devotees believed that any one who is truly pious can perform at will miracles as great and surprising as those of the prophets of old. They thought, however, that for this purpose it is necessary to pronounce certain magical formulæ, consisting of various combinations of the letters in the name of God. Haï's true252 religious insight prompted him to write indignantly against this belief, which, despite the fact that his father was not free from it, he considered a desecration of religion. A pupil of Jacob ben Nissim of Kairuan once asked Haï what he thought of the magical power of the names of God, which, many boasted, they could use. Haï answered briefly and sensibly:—"If any one by the mere use of formulæ could perform miracles, and thereby alter the course of nature, wherein lay the distinction of the prophets?" God gave the prophets the power of temporarily altering the laws of nature that they might prove themselves His true messengers. Now, if pious persons could do the same, and if there happened to be many of them, miracles would become daily occurrences, and the motion of the sun from west to east would appear no more extraordinary than its common motion in the opposite direction—in short, miracles would cease to be miracles. "It is wrong," said Haï, "to make use of the name of God for such purposes," and he warned the people against this practice, in which there is much doubt and little truth; and a man must be indeed foolish who believes everything.

Haï was universally acknowledged as an authority, and through his influence the school of Pumbeditha somewhat recovered its prestige. The great scholars Nissim and Chananel of Kairuan, the community of Fez, the vizir Samuel Nagid, Gershom of Mayence, the authority of the German Jews, and the other authorities of the communities of three parts of the world, submitted questions to him, and honored him as the chief representative of Judaism. He was called "the father of Israel." The Exilarchate had been practically extinct since the death of the grandson of David ben Zaccaï, and Haï stood at the head of Judaism. No fitter man could have been found to represent it. Unlike the former Geonim of Pumbeditha, who all looked253 askance at the sister academy, unlike his father, who felt a keen delight when Sora was without a chief, Haï did his best to give it a leader in the person of Samuel ben Chofni, who filled his office during Haï's Gaonate. Samuel was his father-in-law, and his equal in learning and character. He wrote several systematic works on the ritual, and a commentary on the Pentateuch, in which he set forth the same philosophical views about the unity of God as the followers of the Mutazilist school. His commentary on the Pentateuch, indeed, is not very much praised. It was, like the Karaite commentaries, diffuse, and contained discussions on irrelevant questions. But although his exegetical works mark no distinct progress, yet they show the important fact that the Geonim followed the scientific lines laid down by Saadiah. Samuel ben Chofni's interpretations of the Bible are all rationalistic. He always endeavors to explain the miraculous events narrated in the Bible as if they were natural. He explained the story of the witch of Endor, and of Balaam, as dreams. Like Saadiah, he attacked Karaism, the occasion being a keen controversy which broke out at that time between the Karaites and the Rabbanites. Samuel ben Chofni died four years before his son-in-law Haï (1034), and thus ended the line of the Geonim of Sora.

This school does not appear to have made any effort to continue after his death. The times were in every way unfavorable to the Gaonate, and it was impossible for it to regain its pristine vigor. When Haï died, in 1038, mourned by all the Jews, and eulogized by the greatest poet of the time, Ibn-Gebirol, and by his admirer Chananel, in Africa, the time for the dissolution of the school of Pumbeditha had also come. It is true that the college immediately chose a successor, who acted at once as Gaon and as Exilarch, it seems only in order to have the two offices buried together in the same grave with his person.

254 Chiskiya, the great grandson of the quarrelsome Exilarch David ben Zaccaï, was appointed head of the school. But the glory which it was thought he would shed upon the school could not make itself visible. Chiskiya had many implacable enemies who were jealous of his elevation. They slandered him at court, for what reason or under what pretext is unknown. The political power of the Eastern Caliphate was at that time in the hands of Jelal Addaulah. He had wrested from the phantom caliph the title of "King of kings," and exacted tribute from both Jews and Christians. The great Sultan may have made use of the just or unjust complaint against Chiskiya for his own profit. The last Gaon was imprisoned, tortured probably, that he might discover his treasures, robbed of all his property, and then executed (1040). Thus the Gaonate came to an end through the oppression of the weak Caliphate. Babylonia had played its part in Jewish history, and for a long time it sank into complete oblivion. Chiskiya's two sons were also in danger of arrest, but they escaped, and after traveling about for a long time, settled in Spain, where they were respected as the last members of the House of David, and under the name Ibn-Daudi, devoted themselves to the cultivation of the muses.

Jewish Spain thus became the heir of Judæa, Babylonia, and northern Africa, and greatly increased its inheritance for succeeding generations. There the exiled sons of the Jewish-Chazar princes, and of the Exilarchs, found a refuge. At the head of the community of Andalusia was Samuel Ibn-Nagrela (or Nagdela), a man distinguished for wisdom, virtue and position, the first of the succession of Jewish teachers coming after the Geonim. He united in his person all the virtues of the three men who had made Jewish Spain famous. He was like Chasdaï, a generous chief and a patron of255 learning, like Moses ben Chanoch, a thorough Talmudist, and like Dunash ben Labrat, a poet and grammarian.

The life of Samuel (Ishmael) Halevi Ibn-Nagrela was remarkable. He was born in Cordova (in 993), whither his father had emigrated from Merida, and studied the Talmud in the school of Chanoch. Jehuda Chayuj, the father of Hebrew philology, instructed him in the subtleties of the Hebrew language, and the Andalusian capital, which was then the center of culture, offered him sufficient opportunity to make himself master of Arabic. When he was 20 years old, in consequence of civil war, he and many others were obliged to quit Cordova. The Barbary chieftain, Suleiman, having defeated the Arabs and the Sclavonian body-guard of the Caliphs in battle, destroyed the beautiful buildings of the capital with African fury, permitted the women to be violated, and reduced the richest families to beggary (April, 1013).

The noble Jewish families emigrated to Granada, Toledo, and even to Saragossa, to escape this persecution. Samuel Ibn-Nagrela settled in the port of Malaga.

He had a small business, and at the same time pursued Talmudic and linguistic studies. Besides Hebrew, Arabic and Chaldee, he understood four languages, including Latin, Castilian and the Berber tongue. Unlike most other Jews, who wrote Arabic in Hebrew characters, Ibn-Nagrela was a master of Arabic calligraphy, an art highly esteemed among the Arabs. To his knowledge of languages and calligraphy he owed the high position which he held, and which had not been attained by any Jew since the destruction of the Jewish state.

Civil wars and the ambition of the Emirs had broken up the empire of the Ommiyyade Caliphs into small principalities. Andalusia, after the fall of the last Ommiyyades, was subdivided like Germany256 and Italy of the past. The Arab historians call the regents of this period the "Kings of Anarchy." One race of Berbers, the Sinhajas, founded a kingdom of their own in the south of Spain, under a leader named Maksen (1020). Granada, largely populated by Jews, became the capital of this kingdom, and Malaga was also a part of it. In Malaga, Abulkasim Ibn-Alarif, the vizir of Habus, the second king of Granada, had a palace next to Samuel's little shop. This brought good fortune to the poor scholar, and raised him above want, and ultimately exalted him to a height worthy of his greatness.

A slave of the vizir who frequently furnished information to her master, regularly had her letters written by the poor Jew. These letters displayed so much linguistic and calligraphic skill that the vizir Ibn-Alarif became anxious to know the writer. He had Ibn-Nagrela called into his presence, and took him into his service as his private secretary (1025). The vizir soon discovered that Samuel possessed great political insight, and consulted him on all important affairs of state, and as his advice was always sound, the vizir at length undertook nothing without Samuel's approval.

When Ibn-Alarif fell ill, King Habus was in despair as to what to do about his complicated relations with neighboring states. The dying vizir referred him to his Jewish secretary, confessed that his successful undertakings had been mainly due to Samuel's wise suggestions, and advised Habus to employ him as a counselor. The Berber king of Granada, who had fewer prejudices against the Jews than the Arab Mussulmans, raised Samuel Ibn-Nagrela to the dignity of minister (Katib), and put him in charge of the diplomatic and military affairs (1027). Thus the shopkeeper of Malaga lived in the king's palace, and had a voice in all matters concerning the Pyrenean peninsula. For257 a Mahometan who chose a vizir ruled, but did not govern. This was the affair of the chief minister, who was answerable to the king with his life. Habus had no reason to regret his choice. His kingdom flourished under the rule of the wise and active Jewish vizir. Samuel knew how to occupy the king, and how to please him. He composed a poem of praise to Habus in seven different languages. Diplomatic, wise, and always master of himself, Ibn-Nagrela knew how to employ circumstances, and had the art of disarming his opponents. He drew a masterly picture of a worthy governor, which seems to have been his own guide: "He whose counsel is as pure as sunlight, who is free from base desires, whose eyes do not close in sleep, whose thoughts are firm as towers, whom dignity encompasses like shining armor, who knows how to subdue the will of others, and keeps aloof from what brings disgrace, is worthy to rule." His wisdom and piety preserved him from the pride peculiar to those that have risen from low estate, making them hateful. The gentleness with which he opposed his enemies is shown by an anecdote. Near the palace of Habus there lived a Mussulman seller of spices, who no sooner beheld the Jewish minister in the company of the king, than he overwhelmed him with curses and reproaches. Habus, indignant at such conduct, commanded Samuel to punish this fanatic by cutting out his tongue. The Jewish vizir, however, knew how to silence him who cursed. He gave him money, and converted the curses into blessings. When Habus again noticed the seller of spices, he was astonished at the change, and questioned Samuel about it. He replied, "I have torn out his angry tongue, and given him instead a kind one." The seller of spices, however, was not his only enemy; there were several others, and very dangerous ones. The fanatical Mahometans beheld in the elevation of an unbeliever258 to so high a rank a mockery of their religion. It aroused their displeasure to see the numerous Jews of the kingdom of Granada hold their heads aloft as though on an equality with the Moslems. Two officers of state, Ibn-Abbas and Ibn-Abi Musa, plotted to depose him. But their plots failed, and they were condemned to death. Fortune ever smiled on this Jewish vizir, although he was at one time in danger of losing his position and his life. When King Habus died in 1037 there arose two parties in Granada, who rallied round two princes. Most of the Barbary grandees, and some of the influential Jews, Joseph Ibn-Migash, Isaac ben Leon, and Nehemia Ashkafa, sided with the younger son, Balkin (or Bologgin); a smaller party (amongst them Samuel) desired that the elder son, named Badis, should be the successor. The influential party were ready to hail Balkin as king, when he abdicated in favor of his brother. Badis became king (October, 1037), and Samuel not only retained his former position, but became the actual king of Granada, as the pleasure-loving Badis gave but little attention to affairs of government. Later on Balkin repented of his generosity to his brother, and put obstacles in the way of his government. Badis therefore hinted to the physician of Balkin to refrain from giving him medicine during an illness, and this led to his death. After his death the government of Badis and the position of Ibn-Nagrela remained undisturbed. Balkin's partisans were forced to leave Granada, and amongst them the three Jews mentioned above. They emigrated to Seville, and were there received in a friendly manner by the king of that country, Mahomet Aljafer, who was an opponent of the king of Granada. One of the fugitives, Joseph Ibn-Migash, was raised by the king of Seville to a high position, and became the ancestor of a prominent personage. It is interesting to see in the writings of a contemporary259 historian the form used by the Jewish minister in the royal decrees addressed to the Mahometan people. Samuel, or as he was called, Ismael Ibn-Nagrela, did not shrink from using the formulæ of Moslem rulers. He opened with the words, Chamdu-l-Illahi (praised be God), and added, when mentioning the name of Mahomet, the sentence, "May God pray over him and bless him." He exhorted those to whom the circulars were addressed to live according to the principles of Islam; and in general his ordinances were couched in the Mahometan style.

Without doubt both Habus and Badis permitted the Jewish vizir to exercise authority over the Jewish congregations of Granada, similar to that which Chasdaï and Ibn-Jau had possessed in Cordova. Samuel was named chief and prince (Nagid) of the Jews, and this title is used by Jewish authors. The minister of state was also the rabbi; he presided over the school, where he delivered lectures on the Talmud to his disciples. He gave judicial decisions on religious questions, and in fact completely filled the functions of a rabbi of the time. The same pen which wrote the decrees of the government was used for treatises and discourses on the Talmud. Samuel Nagid compiled a methodology of the Talmud (Mebo ha-Talmud), in which he clearly explained the technical expressions of the Talmud. As an introduction, he added a list of the bearers of tradition from the men of the Great Assembly through the successive authorities of the Tanaite, Amoraite, Saburaite, and Gaonic schools down to Moses and Chanoch, his teachers. He afterwards composed a commentary to the whole Talmud for religious practices, which was afterwards highly prized, and was recognized as the standard authority (Hilchetha Gabriatha). Samuel Ibn-Nagrela was also a neo-Hebraic poet, and employed both rhyme and meter skilfully. He composed prayers in the form260 of psalms, full of religious depth and submission, and called the collection the Young Psalter (Ben Tehillim). He wrote thoughtful aphorisms and parables, the fruit of his deep observation of men and manners, and called this composition the younger book of Proverbs (Ben Mishle). Last he compiled a book of philosophy modeled on that of the Preacher (Ben Kohelet). The latter, written when he had attained an advanced age, was the most successful of his works, and is full of deep thought and eloquence. He also composed epigrams and songs of praise, but his poetic compositions, both secular and spiritual, are heavy and dull, full of thought, but devoid of beauty of form. It became proverbial to say, "Cold as the snow of Hermon, or as the songs of the Levite Samuel."

It is not remarkable that a man of such pure integrity and deep appreciation of wisdom and religion should spread blessings around him, should advance science and poetry, and should support learning with princely generosity. Samuel was in communication with the most prominent men of his time, in Irak, Syria, Egypt, and Africa, especially with the last of the great Geonim, Haï and with Nissim. He gave rich gifts to the learned, he had copies of books made to be presented to poor students, arousing dormant talents and becoming the protector of his countrymen, far and near. The greatest poet of the time, Ibn-Gebirol, he comforted in his distress. A writer of the following generation aptly describes him in the words, "In Samuel's time the kingdom of science was raised from its lowliness, and the star of knowledge once more shone forth; God gave unto him a great mind which reached to the spheres and touched the heavens, so that he might love knowledge and those that pursued her, and that he might glorify religion and her followers."

261 The position of the Jews in a country in which one of them held the reins of government was naturally high. In no country of the world did they enjoy so complete an equality as in the city of Granada. It was as a ray of sunshine after days of gloom. They were, in fact, more highly favored by the ruling race, the Berbers, than the Arab population, who bore the yoke of the Sinhajas with silent anger, and whose glances were always directed to the neighboring city of Seville, in which a king of pure Arab race wore the crown.

The minister of state and rabbi, Ibn-Nagrela, also occupied himself with researches into the structure of the holy language, but this was his weak point. He did not get beyond the rules laid down by Chayuj. He was so partial to this master that he could not appreciate new efforts. Samuel composed twenty-two theses on Hebrew grammar. Only one, however, Sefer-ha Osher, the "Book of Riches," is worthy of mention. The rest were only polemic treatises directed against the great Hebrew linguist, Ibn Janach, towards whom Samuel was unfriendly. Ibn Janach, the greatest Hebraist of his time—no less an ornament of Spanish Judaism than the vizir Ibn-Nagrela—deserves a special page in Jewish history, more especially because for a long time he was unknown and then misunderstood. Jonah Marinus (in Arabic, Abulvalid Mervan Ibn-Janach, born about 995, died 1050), was educated in Cordova, where after the death of Chasdaï all hearts were filled with enthusiasm for knowledge and a devoted love for the holy language. Isaac Ibn-G'ikatilia, of the school of Menachem, taught him Hebrew grammar, and Isaac Ibn-Sahal was his teacher in prosody. He studied medicine in the high school of Cordova, founded by the Caliph Alhakem. In his youth Ibn-Janach, like everybody at that period, made verses, which even later on, when his taste was developed, did not appear to262 him entirely bad. But he gave up versifying in order to devote himself entirely to the study of the Hebrew language in all its ramifications. He lived entirely for this study, and obtained such mastery of it that up to the present day he has not been surpassed. Posterity has learnt much from Ibn-Janach, but students of the Hebrew language can yet learn much more. Like his opponent Ibn-Nagrela, he also was compelled to leave Cordova after its destruction by Suleiman of Barbary (1013), when he settled in Saragossa. The Jews of Saragossa were for the most part still laboring under the delusion that rabbinical Judaism would be injured by research, and especially by grammatical investigations. Ibn-Janach nevertheless devoted himself to the study of the structure of the Hebrew language and to the explanation of the text of the Bible. He also pursued the study of medicine both theoretically and practically; but his chief attention was directed to a thorough exegesis of the Bible, and grammatical research with him was not an end in itself, but simply the means for a better comprehension of Holy Writ. Ibn-Janach, in his researches, reached conclusions not discovered by Chayuj. The alterations which on this account he necessarily had to make in the grammatical system of Chayuj, were made modestly and with due recognition of its merits. He had the greatest admiration for the founder of Hebrew philology, but like Aristotle, "his love of truth was greater than his love of Plato." This independence of Chayuj's teaching aroused the anger of the latter's followers, chief amongst whom was Samuel Ibn-Nagrela, and the disputes that arose ended in bitter personalities. The two chief exponents of the Jewish culture of this period, the noble-minded prince and the master of the Hebrew language, thus became bitter, irreconcilable enemies.

263 Feeling the approach of old age, which with Plato he calls "the mother of forgetfulness," Ibn-Janach devoted himself to his greatest work, wherein he summed up his researches, and deposited the treasures of his soul life. Ibn-Janach was not only the creator of the science of Hebrew syntax, but he also developed it almost to perfection. None before him, and but few since his time, have entered into all the niceties of the holy language with so much discrimination as Ibn-Janach. He first drew attention to the ellipses, and to the misplacement of letters and verses in the Holy Scriptures, and he was sufficiently daring to explain that various dark and apparently inexplicable expressions were due to the change of a letter or a syllable. He explained over two hundred obscure passages by means of the supposition that the writer had substituted an inappropriate word for a more fitting one. By the insertion of the correct word, Ibn-Janach often gives the intended meaning to a number of verses which up to his time had been interpreted in a childish way. He was the first rational Bible critic. Although convinced of the divinity of Holy Writ, he did not, like others, rate the language so highly as to accept sheer nonsense; but he assumed that, even though inspired, words addressed to mankind must be interpreted according to the rules of human language. Ibn-Janach did not, indeed, assert that the copyists and punctuators had altered or corrupted the holy literature from want of understanding, but that being human they had erred. He justly called his chief work (which with five others he wrote in Arabic) "Critique" (Al Tanchik), and divided it into two parts—into grammar with exegesis ("Al-Luma', Rikmah"), and lexicon ("Kitab Al-Assval").

Although Ibn-Janach had many enemies amongst those who belittled him, and amongst those who condemned him as a heretic on account of his264 scientific treatment of the Bible, yet in his work he never mentions them in anger, and, in fact, had he been the only one concerned, the world would never have known of the enmity of Samuel Ibn-Nagrela towards him. Ibn-Janach was not unacquainted with philosophy. He refers to Plato and Aristotle in a scholarly manner. He also wrote a book on logic in the Aristotelian spirit. But he was opposed to metaphysical researches into the relation of God to the world, and first principles, speculations with which his countrymen, and especially Ibn-Gebirol, concerned themselves, because he considered that such matters did not lead to any definite knowledge, and that they undermine belief. Ibn-Janach was a clear thinker, and opposed to any extravagant or eccentric tendency. He was the opposite of the third of the triumvirate of this period, his townsman Ibn-Gebirol, with whom his relations apparently were not of the pleasantest kind.


265

CHAPTER IX.
IBN-GEBIROL AND HIS EPOCH.

Solomon Ibn-Gebirol—His early life—His poems—The statesman Yekutiel Ibn-Hassan befriends him—Murder of Yekutiel—Bachya Ibn-Pakuda and his moral philosophy—The Biblical critic Yizchaki ben Yasus—Joseph ben Chasdaï, the Poet—Death of Samuel Ibn-Nagrela—Character of his son Joseph and his tragic fate—Death of Ibn-Gebirol—The French and German communities—Alfassi—Life and works of Rashi—Jewish scholars in Spain—King Alfonso.

1027–1070 C. E.

An ideal personage, richly endowed, a poet, and at the same time a great thinker, was Solomon Ibn-Gebirol (Jebirol), in Arabic, Abu Ayub Sulaiman Ibn-Yachya (born 1021, died 1070). His father, Judah, who lived in Cordova, appears to have emigrated with Ibn-Nagrela, during the disturbances that befell the city, to Malaga. In this place was born and bred the Jewish Plato, by whom many hearts have been warmed, and from whom many minds have gained light. It appears that Ibn-Gebirol lost his parents early, and that they left him without means. His tender, poetical soul grew sad in his loneliness; he withdrew from the outer world, and became absorbed in self-contemplation. Poetry and a faith resting upon a philosophical basis seem, like two angels, to have shadowed him with their wings, and to have saved him from despair. But they could not bring joy to his heart; his thoughts remained serious, and his songs have a mournful strain.

At an age when other men still indulge in the frivolities of youth, Ibn-Gebirol was a finished poet, outshining all his predecessors. His poems show that words and rhymes, thoughts and metaphors,266 readily and exuberantly came to him. He improved the Hebrew meter and softened its tones. The poetic muse, which had been personified neither in Biblical nor in neo-Hebraic poetry, he depicted as a dove with golden wings and a sweet voice. In his desolation and distress the young poet found a comforter and protector in a man whom his poems have immortalized. Yekutiel Ibn-Hassan or Alhassan appears to have had a high position in Saragossa, under King Yachya Ibn-Mondhir, similar to that held by Samuel Ibn-Nagrela in Granada. This distinguished man kindly protected the desolate poet, supported him and soothed him with his friendship. Ibn-Gebirol poured forth the praises of his patron, under whose protection his heart was taught a more cheerful philosophy of life. At this time his muse sang the praises of his patrons and friends, and his pictures of nature are bright, graphic and spirited.

But fate did not long permit him to enjoy these privileges, and before he had begun to feel the joy of living, his protector was snatched away from him. Abdallah Ibn-Hakam plotted against the king, his cousin, attacked and murdered him in his palace, and took possession of the treasures. The king's favorites were not spared by the conspirators, and Yekutiel Ibn-Alhassan was imprisoned and afterwards killed. Northern Spain was plunged into grief over the tragic end of the well-beloved Yekutiel. Ibn-Gebirol's grief was without bounds, and his elegy on his benefactor is touching, withal a model of lofty poetry. The poem numbers more than two hundred verses, and is a memorial both of the departed and of the poet. Ibn-Gebirol again fell a prey to melancholy after this incident, and his poetry henceforth reflects the gloom in which his mind was shrouded. But what would have borne down another, stimulated him to fresh flights, and he now approached the summit of his267 poetic and literary greatness. Versifying was so easy to him that in his nineteenth year (1040) he wrote a Hebrew grammar with all its dry rules in four hundred verses, hampering himself, moreover, by acrostic tricks, and the repetition of the same rhyme throughout (Anak). In the introduction to this poem Ibn-Gebirol describes the holy language as one favored by God, "in which the angel choirs daily praise their Creator, in which God revealed the Sinaitic Law, the prophets prophesied and the psalmists sung." He blamed his countrymen, the men of Saragossa, the blind community, for their indifference to pure Hebrew. "Some speak Idumæan (Romance), and some the language of Kedar" (Arabic). His versified Hebrew Grammar was intended to awaken love for the language of the Bible, and at the same time to teach the laws of the language.

In Saragossa, Ibn-Gebirol composed a work on moral philosophy (1045), which, without possessing the depth of his later philosophical works, is remarkable for the peculiar spirit which pervades it, and for the intimate acquaintance with the masters of philosophy evinced by this young man. By the side of the sayings of Holy Writ and ethical sentences from the Talmud, Ibn-Gebirol put the favorite sayings of the "divine Socrates," of his disciple Plato, of Aristotle, of Arabic philosophers, and more especially those of a Jewish philosopher, Alkuti (perhaps Chepez Alkuti). It is surprising how so young a writer could have had so deep an insight into the condition of the human soul and into worldly affairs. Ibn-Gebirol's writings contained scornful criticism of various personages in the community of Saragossa, whom he no doubt desired to offend. They must have felt his castigation the more keenly, as he said, "I need not mention names, for they are sufficiently well known." He describes the haughty, who look down upon their fellow-citizens, and268 always consider their own counsel the best, and those who, filled with hate, bear words of love on their lips. The pamphlet seems, in fact, to have been a challenge to his opponents in Saragossa. Ibn-Gebirol, in consequence of its publication, was turned out of Saragossa (in 1045) by the influential men whom he had embittered.

In return, he describes the town as a second Gomorrha in a mournful, heart-rending lamentation, the beautifully rhythmical cry of distress uttered by despair. Whither he next went is not known. The unfortunate young poet was so inconsolable that he determined, in his indignation, to leave Spain altogether, and to go to Egypt, Palestine and Babylonia. In a poem he encourages his soul in the resolve to shake off the dust of Spain. He calls to memory the example of the patriarchs and of the greatest prophet, who left their native lands and went to foreign climes. He thus apostrophizes Spain:

"Woe to thee, land of my foes,
In thee I have no portion,
Whether joy or sorrow be thy lot."

He did not, however, carry out his determination to emigrate, but wandered about in Spain, meeting with real or imaginary misfortunes. He complained of the inconstancy of the times and of his friends, and poured forth his plaints in beautiful verses:

"Blame me not for my heavy-flowing tears,
But for them were my heart consumed,
My wanderings have bereft me of all strength,
A fly could now with ease bear me up."

The tutelary genius of the Spanish Jews, Samuel Ibn-Nagrela, appears to have taken an interest in Ibn-Gebirol, and to have found a refuge for him. For this kindness Ibn-Gebirol extolled Nagrela in melodious lines. Under the powerful protection of the Jewish minister he occupied himself with269 philosophical studies, which held the place next to poetry in his heart. If poetry was his beloved, philosophy was a mother to him. He thus sings:

"How shall I forsake wisdom?
I have made a covenant with her.
She is my mother, I her dearest child;
She hath clasped her jewel about my neck.
Shall I cast aside the glorious ornament?
While life is mine, my spirit shall aspire
Unto her heavenly heights.
I will not rest until I find her source."

As Ibn-Gebirol, whilst yet a child, created the most difficult artistic forms of Hebrew poetry, and handled them with sportive ease; so while still a youth, he built up a system attempting to solve the deepest problems which concern the human understanding. What is the highest aim of man? What is the nature and origin of the soul, and whither does it go when it leaves its earthly dwelling? How is the highest Being to be conceived, and how did He, being One and perfect, bring forth the manifold, corrupt and defective things of a visible world? These and many other questions Ibn-Gebirol attempted to answer, to satisfy not the believing heart, but the critical human mind, to show it its true place in the universe, to direct its attention to the invisible spirit-world above, and to the world of matter beneath, and induce it to seek the link binding them together. In the exposition of his system Ibn-Gebirol reveals a superabundant wealth of ideas, and a depth of subtle thought, so that the thinker must concentrate all his attention in order to be able to follow out his reasoning. To him, however, these extremely complicated thoughts, encircling the whole world from its very origin, and the whole range of beings down to lifeless stone, were so comprehensible that for everything he found the most fitting word and the most suitable image. Indeed, one portion of these thoughts he poured forth in a poem in the form of a prayer270 (Kether Malchuth), which for sublimity, elevated tone, and truth has no equal. It is true that the leading ideas of Ibn-Gebirol's system had been expressed by earlier philosophers, but he formed into one organic whole a confused mass of scattered thoughts. He developed his system in a work entitled, "The Fountain of Life" (Mekor Chayim, Fons Vitæ), written in Arabic, which he handled with as much ease as Hebrew. A Christian emperor destroyed the temple of philosophy in Athens, and exiled its last priests. Since that time philosophy had been outlawed in Europe; at least, it was little known there, and had been compelled to find a home in Asia. The Jewish thinker, Ibn-Gebirol, was the first to transplant it again to Europe, and he built an altar to it in Spain, where it found a permanent habitation.

Like Plato of a poetical nature, Ibn-Gebirol borrowed the dialogue form of composition from the Greek philosopher. His system is developed in the course of a lively conversation between a master and his disciple. He thereby avoided the usual dryness of metaphysical studies, which makes them unenjoyable. He paid so little attention to Judaism in his system, that unless the reader knows that he was a sincere Jew, thoroughly devoted to his faith, he cannot discover it in his writings. The philosophy of Ibn-Gebirol, therefore, found little favor in Jewish circles, and exercised very little influence. Jewish thinkers found the tenor of his philosophy foreign to their own mode of thinking, and the form of demonstration too involved, the explanations too fitful, the method of presentation too lacking in system, and the whole not satisfying. Ibn-Gebirol's system aroused all the more attention among the Arabs and the Christian schoolmen. A century after its appearance, his chief work was translated into Latin by the combined labor of a Christian priest and a baptized Jew. Several prominent271 scholastic writers subscribed to the views of Ibn-Gebirol, whom they called Avicebrol or Avicebron. Others opposed them, but all considered them. In later times, the Kabbala borrowed some formulæ from him.

Another Jewish philosopher of this time, which was so rich in great men, pursued a course different from Ibn-Gebirol's. He stood entirely upon Jewish ground, but he also introduced foreign elements into his system. Bachya (Bechaya) ben Joseph Ibn-Pakuda (Bakuda) was a model of earnest piety and altruistic morality. He established an entirely original moral theology of Judaism. Bachya was one of those natures whose energy of spirit and powerful moral force, if favored by the circumstances of the time, effect reformations. Of the details of the life of this moral philosopher absolutely nothing is known, not even the part of Spain in which he lived. We identify him wholly with his work, "Guide to the Duties of the Heart," which he wrote in Arabic. The sum and substance of its teachings is that nothing is of so much importance as that our conduct be ruled entirely by most serious religious convictions and godlike holiness of purpose. Biblical exegesis, grammar, poetry, speculative philosophy, all the pursuits with which the scholars of the age busied themselves are, according to Bachya, subordinate branches, hardly worthy of serious attention. The study of the Talmud even has no very great merit in his eyes. Bachya Ibn-Pakuda's aim was the spiritualization of Judaism. The duties which conscience demands are of infinitely greater importance to him than the ritual duties prescribed by the legal code. Like the Christian teachers of the first century, he distinguished in Judaism between the purely religious and moral injunctions and the ceremonial laws, attaching greater importance to the first than to the second.

272 The complete surrender to the demands of a godly, self-denying, holy life, which is the summum bonum of Bachya, remained no abstract theory with him, but was exemplified in his whole being, changing conscientiousness in him to overscrupulousness. Too subtle spiritualization of religion led Bachya to practise rigid asceticism, which appeared to him to be the highest degree of wisdom attainable by man. Judaism, according to his view, inculcates frugality and abstemiousness. The patriarchs, from Enoch to Jacob, received no laws setting limits to their pleasure, as they were unnecessary, their souls being able to overcome the lusts of the flesh. But their descendants, the Jewish nation, were commanded to be abstemious, because they had become corrupt by their intercourse with the Egyptians, and conceived a desire for luxury, when they obtained an accession of wealth at the time of the capture of the land of Canaan. For this reason the law of the Nazarite was instituted. The more degenerate the Jewish nation became, the more certain individuals, especially the prophets, felt themselves impelled to withdraw from communion with society and from worldly affairs, and to retire into seclusion and lead a contemplative life. This example men ought to follow. It is indeed impossible that all men should relinquish the world and its activity, because utter desolation would ensue, which was never intended by God. There must, however, be a class of exemplary persons, who shall deny themselves intercourse with the world (Perushim), and who shall serve as patterns to mankind to show how the passions can be curbed and controlled. Bachya came near extolling monasticism, toward which the Middle Ages, both in the Mahometan and in the Christian world, markedly inclined. Although well versed in philosophy, he would have passed his days, a Jewish hermit, in retirement from the world and in a contemplative life of meditation, like his273 younger contemporary, the Mahometan philosopher Alghazali, or he would have imitated the "Mourners for Zion" among the Karaites, were it not that the basis for such extravagant excesses was wanting in rabbinical Judaism.

The first rabbinical epoch was fertile in original minds, also producing a character whose course tended to shake violently the firm basis of Judaism. Abu Ibraham Isaac Ibn-Kastar (or Saktar) ben Yasus, with the literary title Yizchaki, was a man whose profound knowledge of philosophy and medicine was also celebrated among the Arabs. Born at Toledo (982, died 1057), he was appointed physician to Mujahid, the Prince of Denia, and his son Ali Ikbal Addaula. Ben Yasus composed a Hebrew grammar, under the name of "Compositions," and another work with the title of "Sefer Yizchaki," in which he displayed remarkable boldness in his Biblical explanations. He asserted especially that the portion of the Pentateuch in Genesis which treats of the kings of Edom was not written by Moses, but was interpolated some centuries later, a critical statement unique in the Middle Ages, and not advanced until very recently.

It would be wrong to pass over in silence a poet, who, for flight of fancy, depth of thought, and beauty of expression, may claim equality with Solomon Ibn-Gebirol, but of whose poems only a single one is extant, "an orphaned song," as he himself called it. Abu Amr Joseph ben Chasdaï was probably born in Cordova. His two brothers, who were compelled by the troubles of the wars in Spain to leave home, dwelt under the protection of the statesman, Samuel Ibn-Nagrela. Respect and thankfulness towards their noble patron induced Joseph ben Chasdaï to write an elevated, artistic, and highly imaginative poem, in which he eulogized Samuel and his young son Joseph with enthusiastic warmth (about 1044–1046). Samuel, who would274 never accept anything, not even a gift of praise, without making some return, wrote, in praise of Joseph ben Chasdaï, a similar poem in the same meter, but not possessing the same poetical beauty. Joseph ben Chasdaï left a son, who later obtained in Saragossa a position similar to that of Ibn-Nagrela in Granada.

Samuel, the pride of the Spanish Jews, who, as his biographer says, bore four crowns, the crown of the Law, of the priesthood, of renown, and pre-eminently that of magnanimity, was the soul of the Jewish congregation for over a quarter of a century, and died deeply lamented by his contemporaries (1055). He was buried at the gate of Elvira, in Granada, and his son erected a magnificent monument to him. A still finer monument was built for him by Solomon Ibn-Gebirol in a few pregnant lines:

"Thy home is now within my heart,
Whence ne'er shall thy firm tent depart.
There I seek thee, there I find thee,
Near as my soul art thou to me."

Samuel's noble son, Abu Hussain Joseph Ibn-Nagrela (born 1031), was a worthy successor to all the honors and titles of his father. King Badis appointed him his vizir, and the Jewish community in Granada acknowledged him, although but twenty-four years of age, as their rabbi and chief (Nagid). His father had placed him under learned tutors from different countries, and in his youth he displayed extraordinary maturity of mind. Joseph, who, like his father, was well acquainted with Arabic literature, became during his father's lifetime secretary to the heir-apparent Balkin. When he was eighteen years old, his father chose a wife for him, and he did not seek her among the wealthy and noble families of Andalusia. She was the learned and virtuous daughter of the poor Nissim of Kairuan. Joseph was heir to all the greatness of his father,275 and though rich and surpassingly handsome, he lived, in the prime of his youth, with a moderation that presented a marked contrast to the debauchery of the Mahometan nobles. In his capacity as minister, Joseph worked for the welfare of the state, and ruled as independently as his father. He supported science and its votaries, and so great was his liberality and so lofty his nobility of soul, that even Arab poets sang his praises. "Greet his countenance," said a Mahometan of him, "for in it wilt thou find happiness and hope. Never has a friend found a flaw in him." When the sons of the last Gaon, descended from the Prince of the Captivity, fled to Spain, Joseph Ibn-Nagrela received them hospitably, and assisted them in finding a new home in Granada. The young Jewish vizir, like his father, was the head of a college, and delivered lectures on the Talmud.

In two things only did Joseph's conduct differ from his father's; he promoted his co-religionists too conspicuously to positions of state, and behaved haughtily to his subordinates. A near kinsman of his was installed in the office next beneath his own. By these acts Joseph aroused the hatred of the Berbers, the ruling population in Granada, against himself and the Jews. They envied his truly princely splendor. He had a palace which was paved with marble. Certain occurrences during his administration transformed the hatred into fierce anger. Between the heir-apparent Balkin and his former secretary Joseph there was mutual antipathy. Suddenly Balkin died, it was thought by poisoning. King Badis thereupon had some of the servants and wives of the prince executed as guilty of his death. The remainder fled in fear of a similar punishment (1064). It was popularly believed, however, that Joseph had administered the poison to the prince. An incident, in which Joseph revealed himself at once as a humane man, and as276 a diplomatist devoted to his master, appears to have lost him the favor of Badis. Between the Berbers who held the sovereign power in Granada and other places in Spain and the original Arabs, there raged so fierce a racial hatred that every town of mixed population was divided into two camps. On one occasion King Badis learnt that the Berber ruler in Ronda had been slain in consequence of a conspiracy of the Arabs organized by the king of Seville, and on this account he was filled with mistrust towards the Arabs of his capital. He feared at every moment that he, like his kinsman, would fall a victim to a conspiracy. He thereupon concocted a fiendish plot; he ordered his army to massacre all the Arabs of his capital during divine service on a Friday. This plan he communicated to his Jewish minister, without whose advice he did nothing, adding that his determination was so firmly made that no objections would avail to cause him to desist from his purpose, and that he expected Joseph to maintain the deepest silence about his project. Joseph, however, considered this murderous plan as a baleful political mistake, and omitted nothing whereby he might persuade the bloodthirsty monarch to abandon his design. He asked the king to consider that the plot might miscarry, and the Arabs of the town and of the suburbs might rush to arms in self-defense, and that, even if the whole Arab population were destroyed without resistance, the danger would not disappear, but rather become magnified; for the neighboring states, which, like Seville, were wholly Arab, would be excited to deadly fury, and enter upon a war of revenge against the murderers of their kinsmen. "I see them even now," said Joseph with energy; "even now do I behold them hurrying towards us, burning with rage, each one brandishing his sword over thy head, O king. Foes, countless as the waves of the sea, hurl themselves against thee, and thou and277 thine army are powerless." Thus spake the Jewish statesman.

Badis, nevertheless, persisted in his resolve, and issued his commands to the generals of his army. Joseph alone deemed it his duty to abstain from taking part in the mischievous design of the king against his Arab subjects, and determined to frustrate the plot even at the risk of his own life. Through the medium of certain women, on whom he could rely, he sent secret instructions to the chief Arabs of the capital, warning them not to attend the mosque on the following Friday, but to keep themselves concealed. They understood the hint and obeyed it. On the appointed Friday the troops were drawn up in readiness near the palace. The spies of Badis found in the mosque only Berbers and a few Arabs of the lower classes. Badis was thus obliged to abandon his plan; but his anger turned against his minister, whom he suspected of betraying his trust, and he reproached him bitterly for it. Joseph denied the charge of having warned the Arabs, and maintained that the plan had been revealed by the mysterious, unnecessary military preparations. Finally, he remarked that the king ought to thank God that he had protected him from impending danger. "The time will come when thou wilt approve of my view of the matter, and wilt readily follow the advice I give thee." A Berber sheik came to the support of the vizir, and Badis was appeased. But dislike lingered in his heart against his Jewish minister, and he was full of suspicion of him. Joseph could maintain his position only by the aid of spies, who reported to him every utterance of the king. The Berber population, however, noticed that the Jewish vizir was now no longer in high favor with their sovereign, and dared enter into plots against him, and follow the dictates of their hatred against him and the Jews. Damaging rumors were continually278 circulated about him. His enemies gained the upper hand. A fanatical Mahometan poet, Abu Ishak al-Elviri, in an inflammatory poem, stimulated the fierce enmity of the Mahometans of Granada against the Jews into energetic action. A passage in it ran as follows:—"Say unto the Sinhajas, to the mighty men of the time, and the lions of the desert, 'Your lord has committed a disgraceful deed, he has given honor to the infidels. He appointed as minister (Katib) a Jew, when he was well able to find one among the Faithful. The Jews buoy themselves up with foolish hopes, make themselves lords, and treat the Moslems with haughtiness. When I entered Granada, I perceived that the Jews possessed the sole authority, and divided the capital and the provinces among themselves. Everywhere one of this accursed tribe is in power.'" This seditious poem was soon in the mouth of all Mahometans; it was the raven's croaking for Joseph's death.

At length, a certain incident unchained the fury of his opponents. The troops of a neighboring prince, Almotassem of Almeria, had invaded the territory of Granada, and they declared that Joseph was in league with their king, and that the army had appeared because he intended to surrender the country to Almotassem. The truth of the matter cannot be discovered now. As soon as the statements of the Almerian soldiery had spread abroad, the Berbers, accompanied by a crowd of the common rabble, hastened on the same day, on a Saturday, to the palace of Joseph. On receiving news of the rising, he concealed himself, and blackened his face, so as to escape recognition. His furious enemies nevertheless recognized him, slew him, and crucified him at the gates of Granada. The young minister met his sad end in the thirty-fifth year of his life (9 Tebet, 30 December, 1066). The rage of the infuriated assassins also spent279 itself on all the Jews in Granada that had not saved themselves by flight. Over one thousand five hundred Jewish families were massacred on that day, and their houses destroyed. Only a few escaped the slaughter, among whom were Joseph's wife, with her young son, Azaria. They fled to Lucena, but so little of their enormous wealth had they been able to save that they were compelled to rely for their support on the congregation of Lucena. Joseph's valuable library was partly destroyed and partly sold. Great was the mourning for the Jewish martyrs of Granada and for the noble Jewish prince. Even an Arabic poet, Ibn-Alfara, who had celebrated Joseph during his lifetime, dedicated an elegy to him, in which these words occur: "Faithfulness is my religion, and this bids me shed a tear for the Jew." His sympathy caused calumnies to be spread against the Mahometan poet at the court of the king of Almeria, who was admonished against extending the hand of friendship to him. The prince, however, replied, "This poet must have a noble heart, since he laments a Jew after his death. I know Moslems who pay no attention to their living co-religionists."

The revolt against Joseph Ibn-Nagrela in Granada was the first persecution of the Jews in the Pyrenean peninsula since its conquest by Islam. It appears to have lasted some time, for the Jews throughout the kingdom of Granada were exiled, and compelled to sell their landed property. It had no effect, however, upon the Jewish inhabitants of other parts of Spain. The princes or kings of each district, who had made themselves independent on the downfall of the caliphate of Cordova, were so hostile towards each other, that the people who were persecuted by one prince were protected by his enemy. The three distinguished Jews who had been banished from Granada were received in a friendly spirit by Almuthadid, king of Seville, and280 Joseph Ibn-Migash I was given a high office. The king of Saragossa, Al-muktadir Billah, a patron of science and poetry, also had a Jewish vizir, Abu Fadhl, a son of the poet Joseph Ibn-Chasdaï who contended with Ibn-Gebirol for the laurels of poetry. This Abu Fadhl Chasdaï (born about 1040) was likewise a poet, but, although acquainted with Hebrew, he wrote only in Arabic verse. The following opinion of him was expressed by an Arabic critic: "When Abu Fadhl wrote poetry one was ready to believe in witchcraft; he did not compose verses, but miracles." Abu Fadhl was also distinguished in other branches of science. He understood the theory and practice of music, but his favorite study appears to have been speculative philosophy. The remarkable qualities of his mind attracted the attention of the king of Saragossa, who made him his vizir (1066).

Not long after these events, Solomon Ibn-Gebirol, the noble philosopher-poet, ended his days on earth. His gloomy spirit appears to have become still more somber through the tragic events in Granada. His last poems were therefore elegiac laments over the cruel fate of Israel: "Wherefore does the slave rule over the sons of princes? My exile has lasted a thousand years, and I am like the howling bird of the desert. Where is the high-priest who will show me the end of all this?" (1068). In the last year of his life, Solomon Ibn-Gebirol complained similarly: "Our years pass in distress and misery; we look for the light, but darkness and humiliation overtake us: slaves rule over us. Till she fell, Babylon held sway over me; Rome, Javan, and Persia then hemmed me in, and scattered me far and wide; and these 461 years (from the time of Hejira) doth Ishmael despoil me." This probably was Ibn-Gebirol's last poem. He spent the last years of his life, after many wanderings, in Valencia, and there he died, not yet fifty years old (1069 or 1070).281 A legend relates that an Arab poet slew him from envy of his masterly powers of song, and buried his body beneath a fig-tree. The tree produced extraordinary blossoms, the attention of passers-by was drawn to it, and thus the murder of the noble poet was discovered.

At the time when Spain showed such an abundance of distinguished men, France and Germany were lacking in great creative minds, and the history of the Jews of these countries presents few interesting features. They lived entirely undisturbed, were landowners, cultivated the vine, occupied themselves with handicrafts and trade, and only had to pay to the prince, in whose territory they dwelt, a kind of Jew-tax.

The French and German Jews doubtless lacked energy and chivalry, but theirs was not a lower grade of culture than that of their Christian compatriots. Their chief occupation on both sides of the Rhine was the study of the Talmud, into which Gershom had initiated them. "They drive away sleep to absorb themselves in the Talmud."

The first Jewish persecution on Andalusian soil by the Mahometan fanatics of Granada alarmed all the communities of Spain, but it did not have the effect of discouraging them, or producing stagnation. The pursuit of science and poetry had become second nature to the Jews of southern Spain, and only frequent and crushing disasters could repress their love. The persecution was neither repeated nor imitated. The people of Granada had murdered the Jewish vizir and several of his nation, which, however, did not hinder other kings or emirs from attracting gifted Jews to their courts, entrusting them with important affairs, and placing the Jews on an equality with the ruling population of the state.

An Arab historian complained that the princes of the Faithful abandoned themselves to sensual282 enjoyments, placed their power in the hands of the Jews, and made them Hayibs, vizirs and private secretaries. The example of the Mahometan courts was followed even by Christian states. They also began to employ Jews in affairs of state, and their ability and faithfulness added greatly to the growth of their power. Thus the position of the Spanish Jews remained for a time wholly unaffected by the success of Christian arms and the gradual dissolution of the Mahometan principalities. They felt as much at home under the dominion of the Cross in Spain, as under that of the Crescent, and were able, unfettered, to satisfy their love of investigation. Their ardor in the domain of science and of poetry, far from cooling, increased, if possible, more and more, and the number of students grew from year to year. Yet it appears that in the period after Ibn-Nagrela and Ibn-Gebirol, poetry, philology, exegesis, and philosophy, although eagerly followed, were superseded by the study of the Talmud, which became, as it were, the central study. The dialectics of the Talmud were revived and cultivated simultaneously in Spain, Africa, and France. The study of the Talmud was so thoroughly prosecuted that the achievements of the Geonim were thrown into the shade. Six men, of whom five bear the name of Isaac, and the other, that of Yizchaki, may be regarded as the principal figures of the second rabbinical age: Isaac Ibn-Albalia, distinguished also for his political position; Isaac Ibn-Giat and Isaac ben Reuben, who were at once Talmudists and writers of liturgical poems; Isaac Ibn-Sakni; Isaac Alfassi and Solomon Yizchaki, the two creators of an independent method of Talmudic study, far surpassing that used by the Geonim.

Isaac ben Baruch Albalia, by means of documents, traced his origin to Baruch, a noble exile from Jerusalem, who is supposed to have been sent by Titus to a proconsul at Merida, in order to carry on in283 Spain the silk culture, in which his family was skilled. Later the Albalias removed to Cordova, and became one of the most distinguished families of the Andalusian capital. Isaac (born 1035, died 1094) early betrayed a gifted mind and a burning thirst for knowledge. His inclinations led him equally to astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, and the Talmud. Samuel Ibn-Nagrela encouraged him in his studies by gifts and books, and his son Joseph endowed him with abundant means. Isaac Ibn-Albalia lived alternately in Cordova and with his noble patron in Granada. He only trifled with poetry, and turned his mind to deeper studies. Isaac Ibn-Albalia had scarcely attained his thirtieth year, when he began a commentary to elucidate the most difficult portions of the Talmud. At the same time (1065) he was writing an astronomical work called Ibbur, on the principles of the Jewish calendar, which he dedicated to his patron, Joseph Ibn-Nagrela. Isaac Ibn-Albalia, who was at the time visiting his friend Joseph, luckily was not injured in the massacre at Granada (1066), and he afterwards made Cordova his permanent abode. Here he became acquainted with the noble prince, Abulkassim Mahomet, a lover of science and poetry. When the latter ascended the throne of Seville, under the name of Al-Mutamed (May, 1069), he summoned Ibn-Albalia to his court at Seville, and made him his astronomer, whose duty it was not so much to observe the motions of the stars as to foretell future events from the position of the constellations. He also appointed Isaac Albalia as chief over all the Jewish communities of his kingdom, which fortunate conquests had made the mightiest in Mahometan Spain. It extended northward as far as Cordova, and eastward to Murcia. Isaac, therefore, like Ibn-Chasdaï, Ibn-Jau, and Ibn-Nagrela, took the rank of prince (Nassi). He was at the same time rabbi over the communities of the284 realm of Seville, and his authority was acknowledged abroad. As his master, Al-Mutamed, was the most illustrious prince in Spain, so Isaac was the most illustrious and learned man among the Spanish Jews. Beautiful Seville became through him the center of Jewish Spain, as Cordova and Granada had been in the past. Al-Mutamed, the last noble ruler of the Arab race in Spain, had another Jewish functionary at his court, Ibn-Misha'l, whom he employed on diplomatic missions.

Of Albalia's contemporary, Isaac ben Jehuda Ibn-Giat (b. 1030, d. 1089), little is known. He belonged to a rich and illustrious family of Lucena (not far from Cordova). Both the Ibn-Nagrelas gave him in his youth many proofs of their respect, and he was devoted to them heart and soul. After the tragic end of Joseph Ibn-Nagrela, Ibn-Giat gave himself much trouble to raise Joseph's son, Abu-nassar Azaria, to the rank of rabbi of Lucena. But death deprived this noble house of its last scion. The community selected Isaac Ibn-Giat as its spiritual chief, on account of his learning and virtues. Liturgical poetry, philosophy, and the Talmud were the three domains sedulously cultivated by him.

Isaac ben Reuben Albergeloni, in his old age, compiled an original work treating of the civil jurisprudence of the Talmud in a systematic way. He also was an earnest religious poet. He composed new "Azharoth" in pithy but awkward language, and adorned his verses with Biblical quotations aptly applied. Isaac Albergeloni is the first Hebrew writer to make use of this mosaic of Biblical verses, which are not quoted for their usual meaning, but woven together in ingenious and unexpected combinations.

Albergeloni in early youth had gone from Barcelona to Denia; at the same time the fourth Isaac (ben Moses) Ibn-Sakni was departing thence, probably because a slight had been put upon him. He285 wended his way to the Orient, and in Pumbeditha was made a teacher of the Law under the title of Gaon. So greatly had the times changed! Whilst the Occident had formerly lent a willing ear to the utterances of the Geonim in the Orient, it was now, scarcely half a century after the death of Gaon Haï, able to send teachers to the country in which had stood the cradle of the Talmud, and a man who found no recognition in Spain was considered an authority by the once proud Pumbeditha.

In knowledge and sharp-witted understanding of the Talmud, these four Isaacs were outstripped by the fifth, Isaac ben Jacob Alfassi, or Alkalaï. Born in Kala-Ibn-Hammad, in the neighborhood of Fez (1013), he was instructed by the last African authorities, Nissim and Chananel, and after their death in 1056 he became the representative of Talmud studies in western Africa. Indifferent to the scientific pursuits which their taste as well as consideration for their material advancement prompted the gifted Jews of Spain and Africa to cultivate, Alfassi devoted all his acumen to a profound study of the Talmud. His was a deeply earnest, independent nature, not content to keep to the beaten track of time-honored customs, but desirous of striking out into new paths. It had hitherto been the custom to follow in practice the rulings of the Geonim, whenever, as frequently occurs, the Talmud records conflicting opinions on a given subject, and to accept their explanations and decisions as norms. Alfassi, however, proceeded from the commentaries to the text itself, and sought with his peculiar acuteness to distinguish all that was incontestable and durable, and of real import, in the Talmud, from that which was doubtful, superficial, and expedient. The opinions of the Gaonic authorities were not final for him. In this spirit he compiled a work, which, in spite of the attacks leveled at it at the time, became a standard book for the entire Jewish286 community. His "Halachoth" abstract from the Talmud only whatever affects conduct, but fix the practical bearings of the laws thus classified with absolute certainty. Alfassi's work consigned to oblivion all similar works compiled in the course of three centuries, since Jehudaï Gaon's time. His name was borne by this work far beyond the straits into Spain where he counted still more admirers than in his native land.

A complete match for Alfassi, however, in knowledge of the Talmud was the Frenchman, Solomon Yizchaki, a man as acute and independent as himself, only less bold and impetuous, but more versatile.

Solomon Yizchaki, known under the name of Rashi, was born in 1040 (died in 1105), at Troyes, in Champagne, in the year in which the last Gaon suffered martyrdom, as if to intimate that the new spirit infused by Rashi would fully compensate for the downfall of the old institution. Rashi's mother was the sister of Simon ben Isaac, highly respected on account of his services to the community of Mayence and his liturgic poetry, and his father was well versed in the Talmud. Thus Rashi had, as it were, drawn his nourishment from the Talmud, and in it he lived and had his being. In order to perfect himself in the study of the Talmud, he frequented the Talmudical school of Mayence, but also attended the lectures of the Talmud teachers in Worms, and of Eliakim in Speyer. Like Akiba he left his home and his wife to devote himself to the study of the Law in foreign parts. He tells in what needy circumstances he pursued this study, "in want of bread, denuded of clothing and fettered by matrimony." Now and then, probably on the festivals, he visited his wife, but he always returned to the German, or as they were then called, Lotharingian centers of learning. At the age of twenty-five (1064) he settled permanently at Troyes.

In his modesty he did not suspect that at that early time he was honored as a master of Talmudic287 lore. In Rashi's earliest decisions which he delivered when a youth, there is no trace of the groping novice, they reveal the hand of the skilful adept, the master of his subject. His teachers, in their letters, lavished on him the most flattering praise. Isaac Halevi, of Worms, wrote to Rashi, "We owe it to you that this age is not orphaned, and may many like unto you arise in Israel."

Undoubtedly the community of Troyes and its vicinity selected him as their rabbi, though we have no proof thereof; but he drew no emoluments from the office. In a time, about which a dispassionate author, in speaking of the prelates under Pope Hildebrand, can say, "No one could become a bishop or an abbot of the empire unless he either was rich or addicted to vice; amongst the priests, he was praised most highly who had the most splendid garments, the most sumptuous table, and the handsomest concubines"—in that time, and also for a long while afterwards, it was considered in Jewish circles a sin and a disgrace for rabbis to accept remuneration for the performance of their duties. The rabbinate in Christian and Moslem countries was an honorary office to be given only to the most worthy; and the rabbi was to be a shining light to the community, not only intellectually, but also in moral character. Sobriety, frugality, indifference to Mammon, were as a matter of course expected of every rabbi. Rashi was the most perfect embodiment of this conception of a rabbi, and Jewish posterity has beheld in him a spotless personification of its ideal. His contemporaries also revered him as the highest authority. From all parts of France and Germany doubtful cases were sent to him to be decided, and his answers testified to his profound knowledge and to his mildness of temper.

After the death of the Talmudical scholars in Lorraine, about 1070, the German and French students288 flocked to Rashi's lecture-room at Troyes; he was looked upon as their worthy successor. He lectured on the Bible and the Talmud. Rashi was so imbued with the spirit of the Talmud that for him it contained nothing obscure. In its elucidation he surpassed all his predecessors, so that it was rightly said that without him the Babylonian Talmud would have been neglected like that of Jerusalem. His explanations of a large number of the Talmudic tractates, which he called "Commentary" (conteros), are models of their kind, simple, concise and lucid. He wrote in the clear idiom of the Talmud, and neither used an unnecessary, nor omitted a necessary word. The explanations of words and things are intended for the beginner as well as for the learned specialist. Rashi gave clearness to the text by placing himself in the position of the reader; by a skilfully chosen expression, he prevented misunderstanding, met objections and anticipated questions. Rashi, as commentator, may be called an artist. He soon supplanted the commentaries of Gershom and his own masters. Rashi also wrote a commentary of equal originality on most of the books of Holy Writ. His tact and his love of truth led him to seize the true meaning of words and passages. But he allowed himself frequently to be guided by the Agadic opinions, on the supposition that the elucidation of verses occurring in the Talmud and in Agadic works was to be taken seriously. Yet he was, to a certain extent, conscious that the simple text (peshat) was opposed to the Agadic mode of explanation (the derasha). In his old age this consciousness deepened, and he told his learned grandson (Rashbam) that he meant to revise his commentaries of the Bible in the spirit of a sober and literal explanation of the text. Rashi towered above the contemporaneous Christian expositors of the Bible, who all believed that Holy Writ contained a fourfold meaning. Rashi's skill289 in exposition appears the more surprising as he was not acquainted with the important achievements of the Spanish school. He was acquainted only with the first part of the Hebrew grammar by Menachem ben Saruk and that by Dunash, and these he took as his guides. Chayuj's and Ibn-Janach's works, however, being written in Arabic, remained unknown to him. Therefore, his grammatical nomenclature is clumsy and frequently obscure. Nevertheless, no commentary of Holy Writ has been so popular as Rashi's, so that at one time many considered his commentary part and parcel of the text, and every one of his words was in turn commented upon and expounded. His mantle fell upon his grandsons and sons-in-law, who were his greatest disciples. For he had no sons, only three daughters, of whom the one was so deeply versed in the Talmud that during her father's illness she read to him all the questions concerning the Talmud that had been sent to him, and wrote down the answers dictated to her. His three daughters were married to men of learning, and gave birth to sons worthy of their ancestry. One of these sons-in-law, Meïr of Rameru, not far from Troyes, was the father of three distinguished sons. Through Rashi and his school, the north of France, Champagne, became the home of Talmudic lore as Babylonia had been of old. It laid down the law for the rest of Europe. The French Talmudical students were in request even in Spain, and were liberally remunerated for their instruction. The leadership, which Jewish Spain had taken from Babylonia, from Rashi's time had to be shared with France. Whilst Spain remained classic ground with respect to Hebrew poetry, linguistic attainments, exegesis and philosophy, it had to yield the palm to France in the study of the Talmud.

At this time there were two men in Spain who occupied themselves exclusively with grammar and290 the study of the Bible, and although they did not particularly enrich these studies, yet they undoubtedly imbued them with fresh vitality. They were Moses ben Samuel Ibn-G'ikatilia, of Cordova, and Jehuda Ibn-Balam, of Toledo (about 1070 to 1100). The former, the disciple of Ibn-Janach, in his exposition of Holy Writ occupied his master's liberal point of view. Some of the Psalms were attributed by Ibn-G'ikatilia to a later period, whilst the common opinion prevailed amongst Jews as well as Christians that the whole psalter was the work of the royal bard. He did not think well of the division of verses by the Massora, and contrary to its directions, joined consecutive verses.

The representatives of the Spanish Jews thus distinguished themselves in science and poetry, while in France great impetus was given to the study of the Talmud. The Jews of the Italian peninsula, however, occupy a very low position in the history of culture at this period. Their poetic effusions, in harsh and barbaric language, whether liturgical or secular in character, lack the true charm of poetry, and their Talmud lore was obtained from foreign parts. Nathan ben Yechiel, of Rome, is the only Italian of that time whose name figures in Jewish literature. He compiled a Talmudic lexicon, under the title of "Aruch," in about 1001 or 1002; it was more complete than the earlier works of similar purpose, but was compiled, with little originality, from these older works, principally from the writings of Chananel, of Kairuan. This lexicon became the key to the Talmud. Kalonymos, of Rome, is also mentioned as a Talmudic authority. Rashi spoke of him with great respect; the community of Worms elected him as rabbi after the year 1096. However, he has left nothing in writing, and seems to have exerted no influence. The historical works of this period are silent respecting the political position of the Italian Jews, a proof that it was not unfavorable.

291 Events of world-wide importance in western Europe, the extensive invasion by Christians of Mahometan Spain, and the first crusade against the Mahometans in the East, brought about important changes for the Jews of western Europe. The changes were chiefly of a deplorable kind, and interrupted their peaceful occupation with the Law. In the fortunes of Spain the Jews played no insignificant part, although their active interference is not conspicuously visible. They were helpful in digging the pit into which their great grandsons were to fall. The first powerful blow at the Islam dominion in the peninsula south of the Pyrenees was dealt by the Castilian king Alfonso VI, who was as brave in combat as he was clever in state affairs, and who placed more reliance on the sword and on diplomatic art, than on the cross and prayer. His purpose, to conquer the Mahometan kingdoms and principalities, was only attainable by fomenting dissensions among the rulers, stimulating rivalry between them, and playing off one against the other, thus weakening them all. To that end he required clever diplomatists, and among his subjects the Jews were the ones best prepared for the work. His knights were too clumsy, and his citizens too ignorant to be fitted for missions of a delicate nature. At the Mahometan courts of Toledo, Seville, Granada, there reigned a refined, cultured, intellectual tone, and frequent allusions were made in conversation to the brilliant history and literature of the Arabs. If an ambassador at these courts wanted to accomplish anything, he was obliged, not only to be acquainted with all the niceties of the Arabic language, but also to be familiar with its literature and the manners of the court. In these respects the Jews were particularly useful. Therefore Alfonso employed Jews on diplomatic missions to the courts of the Mahometan princes. One of them, the Jewish diplomatist at292 the court of King Alfonso, was Amram ben Isaac Ibn-Shalbib, originally Alfonso's private physician. As Ibn-Shalbib was well versed in Arabic, and possessed insight into the political circumstances of that period, the king of Castile appointed him private secretary, and entrusted him with important affairs. Alfonso had another Jewish adviser, Cidellus, who was on such intimate terms with the king, that the latter's reserve was overcome, and he permitted him to speak more freely than any of the Spanish noblemen and grandees of the empire. Alfonso, who was far from being a religious bigot, and who had acquired liberal views from his contact with the Mahometan princes, not only conferred distinctions on certain individuals among the Jews, but cleared the way to dignities and honors for all the sons of Jacob dwelling in his dominions. Alfonso had, indeed, found a certain equality in citizenship existing in many parts of Christian Spain, where custom had superseded the old Visigothic laws. According to the Visigothic code, the Jews were to be treated as outcasts, to be subjected to regulations applying to them alone, and were not to be allowed to act as witnesses. On the other hand, according to the law of custom (fueros), Christians, Jews, and Mahometans of the same town and the same country came under the same law. The Jew had to testify against the Christian on the "Torah." If Jews and Christians had a lawsuit, they had to select a Christian and a Jew as arbitrators (Alkalde). If a man wished to sell his house, two Christians and the same number of Jews had to appraise it. According to another law established by custom (fuero de Nájera), the Jews were treated on an equality with the nobles and the clergy; the same sum was fixed as compensation for the murder of a Jew, a nobleman, and a priest. Down to the smallest details of daily life, the equality between Jews and Christians before the law was made293 manifest. As Alfonso now confirmed these municipal laws, the civil equality of the Jews was legally acknowledged, and the ignominy of the Visigothic legislation against the Jews was effaced. Jews, under certain circumstances, were permitted to enjoy the privilege of duelling, and admitted into military service. Light seemed to be dawning upon the Middle Ages, and Roman-Christian narrow-mindedness, emanating from Theodosius II, seemed about to vanish.

However, the Church, whose foundation was intolerance, was not likely to countenance the promotion of Jews to honorable offices in a Christian land. The head of the Church, Pope Hildebrand, who, under the name of Gregory VII, through his legates and the shafts of excommunication plunged Europe into a condition of ferment and disruption, protested against this state of things. He, the mightiest of the mighty, before whom kings and nations groveled in the dust, wished also to humble the defenseless Jews, and to rob them of the respect and honors which they had acquired by their merit.

Emperor Henry IV had granted the same privileges to the Jews of Worms as to the other citizens of that town. When princes and priests, towns and villages, unmindful of their oath, and excited by the Pope, broke faith with him, and treated him as one under the ban, the town of Worms remained faithful to him. A year later, when Pope Gregory had treated the emperor as a boy, making him do penance in his shirt, he also became eager to humble the Jews. At the Church congress in Rome, in 1078, when the Pope issued for the second time his interdict against the enemies of the papacy, he promulgated a canonical law to the effect that the Jews should hold no office in Christendom, and exercise no supremacy whatever over the Christians. This canonical decision was294 directed principally against Spain, where, owing to the peculiar position caused by continual strife with the Arabs, the Roman Church had asserted a degree of independence. As Gregory wished to force upon King Alfonso foreign bishops, pliant tools in the execution of his will, so he endeavored to arrest the influence of the Jews at the court of Castile. He therefore addressed a vigorous epistle to Alfonso in 1080, in which the following words occur:

"As we feel impelled to congratulate you on the progress of your fame, so at the same time must we deprecate the harm you do. We admonish your Highness that you must cease to suffer the Jews to rule over the Christians and exercise authority over them. For to allow the Christians to be subordinate to the Jews, and to subject them to their judgment, is the same as oppressing God's Church and exalting Satan's synagogue. To wish to please Christ's enemies means to treat Christ himself with contumely."

On the other hand, the Pope was well satisfied with William the Conqueror, King of England and Duke of Normandy, who ratified the decision of the congress in Rouen, that the Jews were not only prohibited from keeping Christian bondmen, but also from having Christian nurses.

But Alfonso had to give his attention to other affairs besides the intolerance of the Church. He troubled himself but little about the decision of the great council in Rome and the autograph letter of the Pope, and retained his Jewish advisers. He was just then revolving in his mind a plan of invading the kingdom of Toledo. In order to accomplish this he had to isolate its governor from the neighboring princes of his faith and race, and to be assured of their neutrality or their co-operation with himself. For that, however, he required his Jewish diplomatists, and could not entertain the idea of satisfying the importunities of the Pope. By an alliance with the noble and valiant king of Seville, Al-Mutamed Ibn-Abbad, in all probability effected by Jewish agents, Alfonso conquered the old and important town of Toledo (1085), the first bulwark295 of the Spanish Mahometans against the aggressive power of the Christians. The victor of Toledo assured to the Jews of this town and the territory appertaining to it, all the liberties which they had enjoyed under the Mahometan rulers. The last unfortunate Mahometan king of Toledo, Yachya Alkader, who had to take refuge in Valencia, had a Jewish confidant in his suite, who remained faithful to him long after his death, whilst his nearest friends betrayed him.

Alfonso did not rest satisfied with the possession of Toledo, which was again elevated to the rank of capital, but wished to make use of the disagreements and petty jealousies of the Mahometan princes for the purpose of making fresh conquests. First of all he determined to attack the territory of the king of Seville, who also ruled over Cordova. He therefore suddenly dropped the mask of friendship, and made demands of Al-Mutamed, such as this noble prince could not in honor concede. With the perilous mission of revealing the true state of affairs to the king of Seville, and of facing him in a firm and defiant attitude, Alfonso entrusted his Jewish councillor of state, Isaac Ibn-Shalbib, instructing him not to pay any regard to the requirements of courtesy. Five hundred Christian knights accompanied Alfonso's Jewish messenger to the court of Seville, in order to lend dignity to his embassy. This commission cost Ibn-Shalbib his life. Acting in the spirit of his master, he spoke in terms so positive, and insisted so unflinchingly on the fulfilment of the demand he was charged to make, that Al-Mutamed fell into a violent passion, and transgressed the law protecting the person of an ambassador, had Ibn-Shalbib killed, nailed to a gibbet, and his followers imprisoned.

The breach which in consequence occurred between Alfonso and the king of Seville induced the latter to join the league of the rest of the Mahometan296 princes, and send for the conqueror of northern Africa, the Almoravide Prince Yussuf Ibn-Teshufin, to aid them against Alfonso. Al-Mutamed spoke the deciding word in favor of this plan. The African hero appeared in response to the invitation, and his presence eventually caused the servitude and downfall of the Andalusian princes.


297

CHAPTER X.
THE FIRST CRUSADE.

The position of the Jews in Germany previous to the Crusades—The community of Speyer and Henry IV—The Martyrs of Treves and Speyer—Emmerich of Leiningen and the Martyrs of Mayence—Cruel persecutions at Cologne—Suffering of the Jews in Bohemia—Pitiful death of the Jews of Jerusalem—Emperor Henry's justice towards the Jews—Return of Converts to Judaism—Death of Alfassi and Rashi.

1096–1105 C. E.

Towards the end of the eleventh century there arose the first contest between Christianity and Islam on other ground than that of Spain. This contest turned the history of the world into new paths, and inserted in the history of the Jews pages dripping with blood. Peter of Amiens' lament about the ill-treatment of pilgrims in Jerusalem, which found a thousandfold echo at the Church congress in Clermont, had aroused piety, chivalry, ambition, and a number of other noble and ignoble passions, expressing themselves in a crusade. A terrible time ensued; but the greatest suffering fell on the German Jews, who had to seal their confession of faith with blood. Before the crusades, the Jews of Germany had dwelt in peace; they were not excluded from the possession of land, nor were they despised and humiliated. When Bishop Rüdiger Huozmann, of Speyer, extended the limits of the town by including the village Old Speyer, he knew no better way of improving the new portion than by allowing the Jews to have privileges and dwellings therein. He allowed the Jews to live under their own laws, and their secular head or their rabbin (Archisynagogus), like the burgomasters,298 decided lawsuits. The Jews could buy slaves, and hire male and female servants from Christians, in opposition to the canonical laws and against the will of Pope Gregory VII. In order to protect them from the mob, Rüdiger gave them a special quarter surrounded by a wall, which they might fortify and defend. These privileges, for which they annually paid 3½ lbs. of gold, were guaranteed to them for all time. Rüdiger adds in the charter that he was granting to the Jews the same favorable conditions that they enjoyed in other German towns. Emperor Henry IV confirmed these privileges, and added other more favorable clauses. This emperor, who, in spite of his thoughtlessness and fickleness, was never unjust, issued a decree (6th February, 1095) in favor of the Jews. No one was permitted to compel either the Jews or their slaves to be baptized. In a lawsuit between Jews and Christians, the process was to be conducted and the oaths administered according to Jewish law, and Jews could not be compelled to undergo ordeals by fire and water. Yet, not long after this, they were mocked at by the holy combatants in the sacred war. The German Jews and those of northern France were just then full of the hope of the coming of the Messiah. A mystic had calculated that the son of David would appear towards the end of the 250th cycle of the moon, between the years 1096 and 1104, and would lead back the sons of Judah to the Holy Land. But instead of the trumpet-blast of the Messianic redemption they heard only the wild cries of the crusaders: "The Jews have crucified our Saviour, therefore they must acknowledge him or die."

The first armies of the crusaders, one led by the pious Peter of Amiens and his eight knights, the other by Gottschalk, did no special harm to the Jews; they plundered Christians and Jews alike. But the hordes that followed, the scum of the299 French, English, and Flemish, in the absence of Mahometans, began the holy work of plundering and murdering with the Jews. It was a shameless mob of men and women, who indulged in every sort of excess. But these blasphemous crusaders were sanctified warriors; their sins, past and future, had been absolved. A monk threw out the inflammatory suggestion that the Jews should be brought to Christianity by force, an inscription, found on the grave of Jesus, having made their conversion the duty of all believers. This plan seemed to the wild crusaders alike profitable, easy to fulfil, and pleasing to God. They reasoned that the Jews were infidels like the Saracens, both deadly enemies of Christianity, and that the crusade could begin on the spot, if the beginning were made with the Jews. When the troops assembled in France and Germany, they were marked by the cross on their garments and by the blood of the Jews. The massacres in France, however, were few in number, although the first gathering of crusaders occurred there. In Germany security reigned at that time, and the Jews of the Rhine district had no suspicion of the sad fate which was about to befall them. However, at the bidding of the head of their congregation, they assembled to pray for their imperiled brethren in France. But these fortunately escaped with but little damage, because the princes and priests energetically took the part of the Jews. Only in Rouen, which belonged to England, the crusaders drove the Jews into a church, and, placing their swords at their breasts, gave them the choice between death and baptism. The persecutions first received a tragic character on German ground.

The hordes which moved through France and Flanders into German territory were led by a French knight, named William the Carpenter, who had begun by plundering his peasants in order to fit out his soldiers. The spirit animating William's300 troops is shown by one instance. They placed a goose and a herd of goats in the van, firmly believing that they would show them the way to Jerusalem. To such the Jewish communities of the Moselle and the Rhine were given over. The emperor Henry was at that time occupied in war with Italy, and the wildest anarchy prevailed in Germany. At the first news of the approach of William, the congregation of Treves was seized with such terror that some of its members killed their own children. Women and girls loaded themselves with stones, and threw themselves into the Moselle in order to escape baptism or disgrace at the hands of the holy murderers. The rest of the community entreated the bishop, Egilbert, for his protection. But this hard-hearted prince of the Church, who perhaps sought to cancel by zeal the imputation of heresy resting upon him, replied: "If you apostatize, I will give you peace and the enjoyment of your property. If you remain hardened, your soul and body shall be destroyed together." The Jews thereupon assembled in council, and determined, on the advice of Micah, one of the learned members of the congregation, to conform outwardly to Christianity. He said to the bishop: "Tell us quickly what to believe, and deliver us from the men that watch at the gate, ready to kill us." The priest recited the Catholic confession of faith, which the Jews repeated, and then baptized them. It was a disgraceful victory which Christianity celebrated over the congregation of Treves, but it did not last long. Thereupon the crusaders went to Speyer, where the congregation had lately had documentary promises of liberty and security. Here some Jews were dragged to the church, and commanded to undergo baptism. They resolutely refused, and were murdered (8th Iyar—3d May, 1096). The remaining Jews fled to the palace of the bishop Johannsen and to the emperor's castle. The301 bishop, more humane and pious than Egilbert, would not countenance such baptism by main force, and opposed the furious mob. The Jews also defended themselves vigorously, and no more of them fell victims to fanaticism. Johannsen caused some of the crusaders to be executed, an act strongly reproved by the monkish chroniclers. They asserted that he was bribed by the Jews. It is not to be wondered at that the Jews shuddered at baptism, and held themselves disgraced if they were borne off unconscious to the font. The Christianity of the eleventh century they could regard only as a terrible form of paganism. The worship of relics and pictures; the conduct of the head of the Church, who absolved nations from a sacred oath, and incited them to regicide; the immoral, dissipated life of the priesthood; the horrible practices of the crusaders—all these things reminded them much more of the practices of idolaters than of the followers of a holy God. As in the days of the Maccabees their ancestors had revolted against the enforced worship of Zeus and its attendant practices, so the German Jews felt towards the Christianity of the times.

The mob which undertook the attack on the congregation of Speyer does not appear to have been very powerful, and could therefore be repulsed. It now awaited re-inforcements, and two weeks later a large body of crusaders—"wolves of the forest," as the Jewish chronicler calls them—entered Worms. The Bishop Allebrandus could not, or would not, give the Jews sufficient protection. It seems, however, that he disapproved of the massacre of the Jews, for he sheltered a part of the community, probably its richest and most respected members, in the palace. The others, left to themselves, at first attempted to resist, but, overcome by numbers, they fell under the blows of their murderers, crying, "The Lord our God is one." Only a few submitted302 to baptism, but the greater number committed suicide. Women killed their tender babes. The fanatics destroyed the houses of the Jews, plundered their goods, and burnt the Scriptures found in the synagogues and houses (on Sunday, 23d Iyar—18th May). Seven days later those that had found protection in the bishop's palace were also attacked. The fanatics either made a raid on the palace, and demanded the surrender of their victims, or Allebrandus himself had offered to the Jews an asylum only in order to convert them through kindness. At any rate, the bishop informed the Jews that he would not shelter them any longer, unless they consented to be baptized. The chief amongst them begged for a short interval for consideration. The fanatics remained outside the palace, ready to lead the Jews to the font or to death. After the appointed time the bishop caused the door to be opened, and found the Jews in their own blood; they had preferred death at the hands of their brethren. On hearing this, the furious mob fell on the survivors, and murdered them, dragging the corpses through the streets. Only a few saved themselves by ostensible conversion to Christianity (Sunday, 1st Sivan—25th May). A youth, Simcha Cohen, whose father and seven brothers had been murdered, desired to avenge himself. He was taken to the church, and when about to receive the sacrament he drew forth a knife, and stabbed the nephew of the bishop. As he had expected, he was murdered in the church. It was only when the crusaders had left the town that the Jewish martyrs, who numbered nearly 800, were buried by Jewish hands. The congregation, which was formed later on, cherished their memory as of martyrs, or saints (Kedoshim), to be venerated and held up as patterns of steadfast faith.

The day after the massacre of the remnant in Worms, the crusaders arrived in Mayence. Here303 their leader was a Count Emmerich, or Emicho, of Leiningen, a close relation of Archbishop Ruthard, an unprincipled, bloodthirsty man. He desired the riches of the Jews of Mayence as much as their blood, and together with the archbishop, an opponent of Henry IV, devised a fiendish plan of extermination. The archbishop invited all the Jews to take shelter in his palace, until the danger had passed. Over 1300 Jews took refuge in the cellars of the building, with anxious hearts and prayers on their lips. But at break of day (Tuesday, Sivan 3d—27th May), Emmerich of Leiningen led the crusaders to the bishop's palace, and demanded the surrender of the Jews. The archbishop had indeed appointed a guard, but the soldiers refused to bear arms against the fanatical pilgrims, who easily penetrated into the palace, and the terrible scene of Worms was repeated. Men, young and old, women and children, fell by the sword of their brethren or their foes. The corpses of thirteen hundred martyrs were eventually conveyed from the palace. The treasures of the Jews were divided between the archbishop and Emmerich. Ruthard had kept sixty Jews hidden in the church, and they were conveyed to the Rhine district; but on the way they also were seized and murdered. Only a few were baptized; two men and two girls—Uriah and Isaac, with his two daughters—were induced by fear to accept baptism, but their repentance drove them to a terrible act of heroism. Isaac killed his two daughters on the eve of Pentecost, in his own house, and then set fire to the dwelling; then he and his friend Uriah went to the synagogue, set fire to it, and died in the flames. A great part of Mayence was destroyed by this fire.

Meanwhile, crusaders, under Hermann the Carpenter, assembled at Cologne on the eve of Pentecost. The members of this oldest congregation of Germany prepared for the worst; but they entreated304 the protection of the citizens and the bishop. Touched with pity for their Jewish fellow-citizens, humane burghers of Cologne received the Jews into their houses. When the furious mob, at break of day on Pentecost (Friday, May 30th), entered the houses of the Jews, they found them empty, and had to spend their fury on stones and wood. They destroyed the dwellings, pillaging the contents and crushing the scrolls of the Law on the very day when the giving of the Law was celebrated. An earthquake which occurred on the day incited the madmen to fresh fury; they considered it as a sign of heaven's approval. One man and his wife fell victims to their rage on this day. The pious man, Mar-Isaac, willingly accepted a martyr's death. He did not desire to escape, and remained in his house, engaged in prayer. He was dragged to the church, and spitting on the crucifix that was held up before him, was killed. The rest of the Jews of Cologne remained unhurt in the houses of the citizens and in the bishop's palace. The noble bishop, Hermann III, whose name deserves to be immortalized, assisted the Jews to depart secretly from the city, and to be safely housed in seven neighboring towns and villages belonging to his diocese. Here they passed three weeks in anxiety, praying and fasting day after day, and when they heard that the pilgrims had come to Neus, one of their cities of refuge, for the feast of St. John (1st Tamuz, 24th June), they fasted on two days in succession. The pilgrims had prepared themselves for renewed massacres by a mass on the day of St. John, and killed all the Jews who had taken refuge in Neus, according to one authority, not indeed very reliable, two hundred in number. One Samuel ben Asher, who had exhorted his brethren to remain firm, and his two sons, were brutally murdered, and their bodies hung to the door of their house.

The pilgrims had at last discovered the refuge of305 the Jews of Cologne, and now hunted them out of their hiding-places. Many ended their lives in the lakes and bogs, following the example of Samuel ben Yechiel, a learned and pious man. Standing in the water, and pronouncing a blessing, he killed his son, a handsome and strong youth, and as the victim said "Amen," all those looking on intoned their "Hear, O Israel," and threw themselves into the water.

The pilgrims continued their work of destruction, and in two months (May-July) twelve thousand Jews are said to have been killed in the Rhenish towns. The rest outwardly accepted Christianity, in the expectation that the just emperor, on his return from Italy, would listen to their complaints. Wherever the savage pilgrims met with Jews the tragic scenes were repeated. The large community of the town of Ratisbon suffered greatly. In connection with the crusades the Jews of Bohemia enter into history; until then they had not felt the pressure of the yoke, Christianity not having as yet attained to power in Slavonic countries. Many amongst them were wealthy, and occupied themselves in the slave-trade, chiefly dealing in Slavs, who were exported to the west of Europe and to Spain. In this way the Jews came into conflict with the priesthood, and Bishop Adalbert of Prague strove against this practice, and collected large sums of money in order to buy the slaves from the Jews. Then the crusades commenced, and transplanted into Bohemian soil the poisonous seed of fanaticism. When the crusaders traversed Bohemia, its powerful duke, Wratislaw II, was occupied in a foreign war, and could do nothing to stem the evil. The miscreant crusaders were, therefore, at liberty to gratify their fanaticism, and drag off the Jews of Prague to baptism or death. Bishop Cosmas preached in vain against such excesses; the crusaders understood Christianity better than the prince of the Church.

306 Fortunately for the Jews of western Europe, and especially of Germany, those filled with this bloodthirsty fanaticism were the mere scum of the people. The princes and citizens were horrified at such deeds of crime, and the higher priesthood, with the exception of Archbishops Ruthard of Mayence and Egilbert of Treves, were on the side of the Jews. The time had not yet arrived when the three powers—the nobility, priesthood, and people—were united in their hatred and persecution of the Jews. When the news came that 200,000 crusaders, under Emmerich and Hermann, had met with a disgraceful end—most of them having been killed in Hungary, whilst a miserable remnant only had returned to Germany—both Jews and Christians felt it to be a judgment of God. Meanwhile Emperor Henry IV had returned from Italy, and at the news of the atrocities perpetrated against the Jews by the crusaders, he gave public expression to his horror, and at the request of the head of the congregation of Speyer, Moses ben Guthiel, he permitted those that had been forcibly baptized to return to Judaism. This was a gleam of joy for the Jews of Germany. The converts did not fail to make use of their liberty to throw off the mask of Christianity (1097). The representatives of the Church, however, were by no means pleased at this proceeding. Even Pope Clement III, who was upheld by the emperor, declaimed against his humanity, which was contrary to the teachings of the Church. "We have heard," he wrote to Henry IV, "that the baptized Jews have been permitted to leave the Church. This is unexampled and sinful; and we demand of all our brethren that they take care that the sacrament of the Church be not desecrated by the Jews." The emperor cared but little about the unholy zeal of the priesthood. Far from forbidding the Jews to return to their religion, he even permitted proceedings to be instituted307 against the kinsmen of Archbishop Ruthard, of Mayence, on account of the theft of the property of the Jewish congregation. The Jews of Mayence in a petition had informed the emperor that Emmerich of Leiningen and his kinsmen, together with the archbishop, had appropriated the treasures deposited by the Jews in the archbishop's palace. None of the accused appeared in answer to this citation to defend himself. Ruthard, whose conscience was not clear, feared the disgrace of exposure, and, as he was in disfavor with the emperor, he fled to Erfurt. Thereupon the emperor confiscated the revenues of the archbishopric (1098). Ruthard revenged himself by joining the enemies of the emperor, who plotted to humiliate him.

The Jews of Bohemia were very unfortunate in this year. Hearing that the emperor had permitted return to Judaism, they abandoned their pretended faith, but feared to remain in a country where they could not obtain justice. They gathered together their property and possessions in order to send them on to a place of safety, and determined to emigrate to Poland or to Pannonia (Austria and Hungary). Wratislaw, the ruler of Bohemia, now returned from his campaign, and heard that the Jews intended sending their riches out of the country. Thereupon he placed them under military surveillance. The elders were called together, and the duke's treasurer announced to them in his lord's name that everything they possessed belonged to him, and that they were endeavoring to rob him: "Ye brought none of Jerusalem's treasures to Bohemia. Conquered by Vespasian, and sold for a mere nothing, ye have been scattered over the globe. Naked ye have entered the land, and naked ye can depart. For your secession from the Church, Bishop Cosmas may judge you." There was nothing to be said against this logic; it was the argument of brutality. The Bohemian Jews308 were plundered, only enough being left to them to stay for the moment the cravings of hunger. With malicious pleasure a contemporary chronicler relates that the Jews were despoiled of more gold than the Greeks had taken from Troy. Still more dreadful was the fate of the Jews of Jerusalem. When the crusading army, under Godfrey of Bouillon, after many attempts had taken the city by storm, and massacred the Mahometans, they drove the Jews, Rabbanites and Karaites, into a synagogue, set fire to it, and burnt all within its walls (July 15, 1099).

Emperor Henry, however, seriously desired to protect the Jews of his empire. Having heard of the horrible scenes of murder in Mayence which had occurred during his absence, he caused his princes and citizens to swear an oath that they would keep the peace with the Jews, and that they would not ill-treat them (1103). The protection thus granted by the emperor to the Jews was of temporary benefit to them, but brought evil results after awhile. They thus became dependent upon the ruler of the land, almost his slaves.

This circumstance was not the only evil result of the first crusade for the German Jews. On the one hand Pope Clement III claimed the converts who had joined the Church to save themselves from death, forgetting that their whole being turned against the Church, and that they regarded their enforced Christianity with contempt and hate. On the other hand, those that had remained Jews kept aloof from the renegades, and would not intermarry nor associate with them, although they had shown their attachment to Judaism by a prompt return to it. These unhappy people were thus regarded as renegades by both sides. When, however, Rashi heard of this narrowness, his true piety protested against it. "Far be it from us," he said, "to reject those that have returned. They acted through fear309 of the sword, and lost no time in returning to Judaism."

Other results of the first crusade were still worse. The German Jews, already inclined to extravagant piety, became yet more bigoted in consequence of their unexampled sufferings. All merriment died out amongst them, and they clothed themselves only in sackcloth and ashes. Though they hated the Catholic Church, they adopted its custom of visiting the graves of martyrs, whom they also called saints (Kedoshim), offered up prayers for the dead, and entreated their intercession with heaven. The Judaism of Germany from that time on assumed a gloomy aspect. The so-called poets, in their penitential prayers and lamentations, rang the changes on only one theme, the fearful troubles and the desolation of Israel. The study of the Talmud formed a counterpoise to the growing tendency of the German Jews to give a penitential character to their religion. This study, as pursued by Rashi, was a protection against unthinking, brooding monasticism. He who desired to find his way through the intricate mazes of the Talmud had to keep his eyes open to facts, and could not permit his mind to grow rusty. The study of the Talmud became balm for the wounds inflicted by the crusading mob on the communities of the Rhine district. The pleasure resulting from creative thought ruled in the schools, and subdued sorrow and despair; and the House of Learning became the refuge of the unfortunate oppressed. The two men who gave the great impulse to Talmudical studies died at the commencement of the twelfth century. They were Isaac Alfassi (died 1103), and Rashi, who died two years later (1105, 29th Tamuz—13th July). Both left a large number of disciples, who spread the study of the Talmud, and both were highly honored by their contemporaries and by posterity. The admiration of the Spaniards for310 Alfassi was expressed, as befitted their high culture, in verses, whilst the German Jews and those of northern France, who occupied a lower stage of culture, commemorated Rashi by extravagant legends. Two young poets, Moses Ibn-Ezra and Jehuda Halevi, composed touching elegies on the death of Alfassi.


311

CHAPTER XI.
ZENITH OF THE SPANISH-JEWISH CULTURE: JEHUDA HALEVI.

The Jews under the Almoravides—Joseph Ibn-Sahal, Joseph Ibn-Zadik—Joseph Ibn-Migash—The Poets Ibn-Giat, Ibn-Abbas, Ibn-Sakbel and Ibn-Ezra—Abulhassan Jehuda Halevi—His Poems and Philosophy—The Chozari—Incidents of his Life—Prince Samuel Almansur—Jehuda Halevi's Pilgrimage to Jerusalem—His Death.

1105–1148 C. E.

The Jews of Spain, even those of Andalusia, could still consider this land of culture as their home. Even under the barbarous Almoravides, who had become masters of the south, they lived in security and peace, for these people were no fanatics. Only on one occasion did a prince of the Almoravides, named Yussuf Ibn-Teshufin, attempt to compel the Jews of his district to accept Islam. He was traveling through Lucena, and noted the populous Jewish community, which through Alfassi had become the most influential in Spain. The prince called together the representatives of the Jews, and announced to them that he had read that Mahomet had bestowed religious liberty on the Jews on condition that their expected Messiah should arrive within 500 years, and that if this space of time after the Hejira passed without his appearance, the Jews must, without opposition, accept Mahometanism; that the Jews of Mahomet's age had accepted the condition, and the time having now elapsed, he (Yussuf Ibn-Teshufin), the leader of the Faithful, expected them to fulfil the condition, or his protection would be withdrawn from them, and they would be outlawed. The Jews of Lucena, however, by gifts of money and through the intercession of his312 wise vizir, Abdallah Ibn-Allah, induced Yussuf to alter his intention.

Under the second ruler of the Almoravide dynasty, Ali (1106–1143), the Jews not only lived in peace, but some of them were entrusted with the collection of the poll-tax from Jewish and Christian inhabitants, and distinguished men received posts of honor at the court. Science and poetry were the qualifications for high dignities. A Jewish physician and poet, Abu Ayub (Solomon Ibn-Almuallem), of Seville, was the court-physician of the Caliph Ali, and bore the titles of prince and vizir. Alcharizi says that his verses rendered eloquent the lips of the dumb, and illuminated the eyes of the blind. The physician Abulhassan Abraham ben Meïr Ibn-Kamnial, of Saragossa, likewise occupied a high post at Ali's court, and also bore the title of vizir. The greatest poets of the time celebrated his nobility of soul, his generosity and his interest in the welfare of his co-religionists: "A prince who treads the earth, but whose aim is in the stars. He hastens like the lightning to do good, whilst others only creep along. The gates of his generosity are open to his compatriots and to strangers. Through his fortune he saved those doomed to death, and rescued the lives of those doomed to destruction. The prince (Ibn-Kamnial) is a protection and a guard unto his people; he dwells in Spain, but his loving-kindness reaches unto Babylon and Egypt." Abu Ishak Ibn-Mohajar also bore the title of vizir, and was similarly immortalized by the poets. The prince Solomon Ibn-Farussal, likewise praised by his contemporaries, appears to have been in the service of a Christian prince, and was entrusted with an embassy to the court of Murcia. Shortly before the battle of Ucles, at which the Mahometan forces obtained a signal victory over those of the Christians, Ibn-Farussal was murdered (1108, 20th Iyar—2nd May). The313 young Jehuda Halevi, who had composed a song of praise for the reception of the vizir, had to change it into an elegy on the mournful news of the vizir's murder.

An astronomical writer, Abraham ben Chiya Albargeloni (b. 1065, d. 1136), occupied a high position under another Mahometan prince. He was a sort of minister of police (Zachib as-Schorta), and bore the title of prince. He was held in high consideration by several rulers on account of his astronomical knowledge, and he debated with learned priests, to whom he demonstrated the accuracy of the Jewish calendar. But he also practised the pseudo-science of astrology, and drew a horoscope of favorable and unfavorable hours of the day. He calculated in the same way that the Messiah would appear in the year 5118 of the world (1358 C. E.).

Thus men of influence and knowledge were not wanting at this period in Spain, but none of them acted as a center, like Chasdaï Ibn-Shaprut and Samuel Ibn-Nagrela, from which might go forth the impetus that would rouse to activity slumbering talents, or mark out the road for literary efforts. The first half of the twelfth century produced a vast number of clever men in Jewish circles, poets, philosophers, Talmudists, and almost all their labors bore the stamp of perfection. The Jewish culture of this period resembled a garden, rich in odorous blossoms and luscious fruits, whose productions, though varied in color and taste, have their root in the same earth. The petty jealousy that rendered Menachem ben Saruk and Ibn-Gebirol unhappy, the inimical feelings existing between Ibn-Janach and Samuel Ibn-Nagrela, between Alfassi and Ibn-Albalia, were banished from this circle. The poets eulogized each other, and cordially praised the men that devoted their powers to other intellectual work. They took the greatest interest in one314 another's successes, consoled one another in misfortune, and regarded one another as members of one family. The cordial feeling which Jewish poets and men of learning entertained for one another is the completest testimony to their nobility of mind.

It is difficult in a history of these times to record and describe all the important personages. There were seven distinguished rabbis in this period, almost all disciples of Alfassi, who, besides studying Talmud, showed taste for poetry and science, and in part devoted themselves to these pursuits. In Cordova, Joseph ben Jacob Ibn-Sahal (born 1070, died 1124), a disciple of Ibn-Giat, was the rabbi. He appears to have met with trouble in his youth, and in his verses he complains that his own efforts have lacked appreciation, and that poetry in general is not honored. To Moses Ibn-Ezra, who was his bosom friend, he wrote a versified letter of lamentation. Ibn-Ezra, who also craved sympathy, consoled him in a poem written in the same rhyme and meter as Ibn-Sahal's. The verses are easy, flowing and smooth, though without much depth.

His successor in the rabbinate of Cordova, Abu-Amr Joseph ben Zadik Ibn-Zadik (born in 1080, died 1148–49), was even more celebrated. Although Ibn-Zadik is known as an expert Talmudist, his works are not Talmudic, but consist of philosophical treatises in the Arabic language. Ibn-Zadik dedicated his religio-philosophical work (Microcosmos) to a disciple who had asked to be instructed about the greatest good for which man can strive. The thoughts developed by Ibn-Zadik are by no means new, they were current in the Arabic philosophy of the times, but were modified by him so as to fit into the system of Judaism. Knowledge of self leads to knowledge of God, to a pure conception of the God-idea, and to the recognition that the world was created out of nothing by the divine315 will. This will is contained in Revelation, in the Torah; God revealed it to man, not on His own account, for He is rich, sufficient unto Himself, and without wants, but to promote man's happiness in the world beyond. The first duty of man, of the Jew, the servant of God, is to cultivate his mind and acquire wisdom and understanding, so that he may honor God in a worthy and spiritual manner, and gain the bliss of future happiness. Ibn-Zadik also remarks that the rites of Judaism, such as the observance of the Sabbath, are consonant with sense and divine wisdom. Man having free will, it is natural that God should mete out to him reward and punishment for his actions. The reward of the soul is its return to its source, the universal soul, and the only conceivable punishment is the sinful soul's failure to attain this end. The soul of the sinner, stained with earthly failings, cannot wing its flight to heaven, but flutters without rest about the world; and this is its punishment. Ibn-Zadik's philosophical work, bearing the stamp of mediocrity, was but little noticed by his contemporaries and successors. His fame as a poet was not great, although his liturgical and other verses are light and pleasing. They are not the outpourings of a poetic soul, but are to some extent a tribute to fashion.

Joseph ben Meïr Ibn-Migash Halevi (born 1077, died 1141) surpassed his contemporaries in mastery of the Talmud. Grandson of an important man at the court of the Abbadides in Seville, and son of a learned father, he became in his twelfth year a disciple of the school of Alfassi, whose lectures he attended uninterruptedly for fourteen years. When Ibn-Migash married (in 1100), Jehuda Halevi composed a glowing epithalamium for the young couple. Before his death Alfassi chose him as his successor, and by that act showed the nobility of his character; for although he left behind him a learned son, he316 preferred as his successor his gifted disciple. The wisdom of choosing a young man of six-and-twenty seems to have been questioned by some of the members of the congregation (Sivan, May, 1103). Joseph Ibn-Migash deserved the praise lavished on him for his intellectual and moral qualities. His descent from an ancient and noble family, his high position as chief of the most respected community, did not affect his modesty, nor did the dignity of his important office strip him of his humility. Mild, however, as was his character, he employed the utmost severity when the welfare of Judaism was in question.

Spain was at this time in an excited state, and split up into parties. In Andalusia the native Arabs were opposed to the victorious Almoravide Berbers, and they attacked each other in secret and in open war; the Christians (the Mozarabs) settled in the neighborhood of Granada conspired secretly against their Mahometan landlords, and summoning the conqueror of Saragossa, Alfonso of Aragon, promised to hand Granada over to him. Christian Spain was no less divided, though Castile and Aragon ought to have been united through the marriage of Alfonso of Aragon and Urraca, Queen of Castile. This unhappy marriage was the cause of anarchy. One party sided with the king, another with the queen, and a third with the young prince Alfonso VII, whose teacher had incited him against his mother and stepfather. Christians and Mahometans were frequently seen fighting under one standard, sometimes against a Christian prince, sometimes against a Mahometan emir. The making and breaking of treaties followed each other in quick succession. Deception and treachery occurred continually, and even the clergy of high position passed from party to party, and fought their former allies, or assisted their former enemies.

317 The Jews of Spain did not remain neutral, and either willingly or perforce joined the one or the other party, as their interests or political opinions dictated. When Mahometans or Christians conspired, they could, in case of discovery, take refuge with their powerful co-religionists. The Jews, however, did not enjoy such protection, and could only hold together for safety. Treachery in their midst was, therefore, most disastrous for them, as the anger of the enraged rulers not only struck the conspirators or their congregation, but the entire Jewish population of the country. When, therefore, a member of the congregation of Lucena on one occasion threatened to betray his co-religionists, the rabbi and judge, Joseph Ibn-Migash, determined to make an example of him. He condemned the traitor to be stoned to death at twilight on the Day of Atonement. Joseph Ibn-Migash left a learned son, Meïr (1144), and a large circle of disciples, amongst whom was Maimun of Cordova, whose son was destined to begin a new era in Jewish history.

In the measure in which the study of the Talmud in Spain grew, Bible exegesis and the study of Hebrew grammar declined. These branches were arrested in their development. But on the other hand, this period was rich in poets. The Hebrew language, during the two centuries since Ben-Labrat, had become smooth and pliable, so that it was no difficult matter to make verses, and employ rhyme and meter. The involved forms developed especially by Solomon Ibn-Gebirol found many imitators. The Arabic custom of writing letters of friendship in verses, adopted by the Spanish Jews, made a knowledge of prosody a necessity: he who did not desire to appear illiterate had to learn how to versify. The number of poems which at this period saw the light of day was legion. Amongst poets worthy of record, who also occupied themselves318 with matters other than poetry, were Judah Ibn-Giat, Judah Ibn-Abbas, Solomon Ibn-Sakbel, and the brothers Ibn-Ezra. They were all surpassed by the prince of poets, Jehuda Halevi, recognized even by his contemporaries as a master of song.

Solomon ben Sakbel, a relative of Rabbi Joseph Ibn-Sahal, unlike Ibn-Giat and Ibn-Abbas, whose muse was serious, used the Hebrew language for light love-verses. The new form of poetry introduced by the Arabic poet, Hariri of Basra, induced Ibn-Sakbel to make a similar attempt in the Hebrew language; he wrote a kind of satirical romance, called Tachkemoni, the hero of which, Asher ben Jehuda, is exposed to disappointments and vicissitudes. The hero tells his adventures in rhymed prose, interspersed with verses; he relates how, together with his love, he had passed a long time in the forest depths, until, tired of the monotony, he longed to join a circle of friends who passed their time in feasting. Attracted by the letter of some unknown fair one, he set out to find her, and was introduced into a harem, the master of which, with grim "Berber mien," threatened him with death. This, however, was only a mask assumed by the maid of his lady-love in order to frighten him. At length he had hopes of attaining his end, but when he meets the supposed mistress, he finds the entire affair to have been the joke of a friend. This poem has no artistic merit, and is only an imitation of his Arab model. The ease with which Ibn-Sakbel employs the Hebrew language, and the skill with which he combines profoundly serious reflections with the lightest banter, are the only features to be admired.

The four brothers Ibn-Ezra, of Granada, were richly endowed; they were noble, learned, and wealthy. Their names were Abu-Ibrahim Isaac, Abu-Harun Moses, Abulhassan Jehuda, and Abuhajaj319 Joseph, the youngest. Their father Jacob had occupied an office under King Habus, or rather under his vizir, Ibn-Nagrela. One might know by their noble character, said a contemporary historian, that these four princely sons of Ibn-Ezra were of David's blood and of ancient lineage. The most celebrated amongst them was Abu-Harun Moses (born 1070, died 1139), who boasted that he was the pupil of his eldest brother. He was the most prolific poet of his time.

A misfortune seems to have aroused his muse. He loved his niece, by whom he was loved in return. The brother, however, refused to give him his daughter, and the other brothers approved the decision. Moses fled from his father's house, and wandered to Portugal and Castile (1100). He was tortured by pangs of love, and time did not heal his wounds. False friends seem to have widened the breach between him and his brothers. His love found expression in verses, and the muse became his comforter. He sought to drown his sorrow in earnest study and to find in knowledge a solace for the loss of his brothers and his beloved. He indeed won friends and admirers who remained true to him until death. A man of high position in Christian Spain, who is represented as a benefactor of the Jews, took an interest in the unhappy Moses, on whom he bestowed his friendship. Moses Ibn-Ezra in many respects resembled Solomon Ibn-Gebirol. He also complained of deception and jealousy and of the hardships and faithlessness of the times. Like the poet of Malaga, his own emotions inspire him; there is no great aim in his poetic effusions. But Moses Ibn-Ezra was neither so tender nor so impressionable as Ibn-Gebirol, nor was he so sad or complaining, but at times sang lively songs, and dallied with the muse. He was far behind Ibn-Gebirol as a poet. His poetry was labored and stilted, his verses often hard, without320 sweetness and freshness, and neither rhythmical nor harmonious. Moses Ibn-Ezra was especially fond of using words of the same sound, with different and often opposite meaning, a habit which he had adopted from the Arabic poets. His command of the Hebrew language, the abundance of his poetical works, and the variety of meters with which he enriched Hebrew poetry are alike admirable. He composed a song-cycle, which he called a string of pearls, composed of 1210 verses in ten divisions; they were dedicated to his patron Ibn-Kamnial. These verses are as varied in form as in contents. The poet in this collection alternately sings the praise of wine, love, and joy, of voluptuous life amidst leafy bowers and the song of birds, complains of the separation from friends, of faithlessness and the approach of old age, incidentally recommends trust in God, and lastly, praises the art of poetry. Moses Ibn-Ezra also composed three hundred poems, in more than ten thousand verses, for special occasions, and also two hundred prayers for New Year and the Day of Atonement, portions of which were incorporated in the ritual of many congregations (of the communities of Spain, Montpellier, Avignon, and of the Romagnoles). But few of his religious poems have true poetic fervor; they are all composed according to the rules of the art, but true beauty is wanting. Moses Ibn-Ezra wrote, in Arabic, a dissertation on the rules of the poetic art, called "Conversations and Recollections," which at the same time is a sort of history of Spanish-Jewish poetry from its first beginnings. This work, dealing also with Arabic and Castilian poetry, is a treasure for the literary history of Spain. The poorest work of Moses Ibn-Ezra is his so-called philosophical treatise, written in Hebrew, wherein he expounds the barren philosophy of the times according to Arabic models.

321 Notwithstanding his comparative insignificance as a philosopher and his mediocrity as a poet, Moses Ibn-Ezra was held in high honor by his contemporaries on account of his facility in writing. He stood on a friendly footing with all important personages of the time, and they praised him in prose and verse, and he likewise praised them. He became reconciled to his brothers, when the love of his youth died in giving birth to a boy (1114). On her deathbed she spoke of him, and her words, which became a holy remembrance to him, inspired him to write an elegy which, imbued with true feeling, was far more poetical than his other works. This elegy Moses Ibn-Ezra sent to his eldest brother, and it was the first step toward their reconciliation. As his brothers departed this earth one by one, the survivor was overwhelmed with grief, and dedicated to their memory verses full of feeling. Moses Ibn-Ezra retained his poetic gift until a great age. Jehuda Halevi wrote a touching tribute to his memory.

The brilliant luminary of this period and its chief exponent was Abulhassan Jehuda ben Samuel Halevi (Ibn-Allevi), born in Old Castile in 1086. In the annals of mankind his name deserves a separate page with a golden border. To describe him worthily, history would need to borrow from poetry her most glowing colors and her sweetest tones. Jehuda Halevi was one of the chosen, to whom the expression, "an image of God," may be applied without exaggeration. He was a perfect poet, a perfect thinker, a worthy son of Judaism, which, through his poetry and thought, was ennobled and idealized.

When Spain shall have discarded its prejudices, and shall no longer estimate the greatness of its historical personages by the standard of the Church, then Jehuda Halevi will occupy a place of honor in its Pantheon. The Jewish nation has long since322 crowned him with the laurel-wreath of poetry, and recognized the wealth of piety and pure morality that he possessed.

"Pure and faithful, ever spotless
Was his song, even as his soul was:
Soul, that when the Maker fashioned,
With his handiwork delighted,
Straight he kissed the beauteous spirit;
And that kiss, in sweetest music
Echoing, thrills through all the singing
Of the poet consecrated."1

His deep moral earnestness was closely united with a cheerful, serene philosophy of life. The admiration which was showered upon him did not destroy his modesty, and despite his devotion to his friends, he still preserved his own peculiar characteristics and the independence of his views. His rich store of knowledge clustered about one center, and however great a poet, in the best sense of the word, he may have been, he was keenly conscious of his own feelings, thoughts, and actions. He prescribed rules for himself, and remained true to them. Deep as were his sentiments, he was far from excess of feeling, or sentimentality.

Jehuda Halevi's biography contains little that is extraordinary. Born in Christian Spain, he attended the college of Alfassi at Lucena, because Castile and the north of Spain were still wanting in Talmudical scholars. When but a youth, as in the case of Ibn-Gebirol, the muse aroused him; not, however, as the latter, with mournful tones, but with pure, joyous strains. He celebrated in song the happy experiences of his friends and comrades, the nuptials of Ibn-Migash, the birth of the first-born in the house of Baruch Ibn-Albalia (about 1100). Fortune smiled upon this favorite of the muses from his youth, and no harsh discord ever issued from his poetical heart. In the south of323 Spain he became acquainted with the noble and cultured family of Ibn-Ezra. When he learnt that Moses Ibn-Ezra had met with a disappointment in love, and had exiled himself, the young poet sought out his older brother-poet to comfort and soothe him with his songs. The latter, struck with surprise at Jehuda's beautiful verses and overflowing sentiments, answered him in poetic productions.

Jehuda Halevi appears to have been in Lucena when Alfassi died, and Joseph Ibn-Migash succeeded him in the office of rabbi (1103). On the occasion of his death Halevi composed a beautiful elegy, and celebrated the accession of his successor in a poem expressing his homage and deep respect. The young man also experienced the pleasure and the pain of love; he sang of the gazelle-like eyes of his beloved, her rosy lips, her raven hair. He complained of her unfaithfulness and of the wounds which rent his heart. His amatory poems breathe the fire of youth, and display rash impetuousness. The southern skies were portrayed in his verses, the green meadows and the blue streams. His early poetry even bears the stamp of artistic polish, of rich fancy and beautiful symmetry, of warmth and loveliness. There is no mere jingle of words, no thoughtless utterance—all manifests harmony and firmness of touch. Jehuda Halevi appears to have completely suppressed the pangs of love, for no traces whatever are to be found thereof in his later life and poems.

Jehuda Halevi not only completely mastered the Hebrew language and the artistic forms of the neo-Hebraic poetry, but he also obtained a thorough knowledge of the Talmud, studied the natural sciences, penetrated even to the depths of metaphysics, and was skilled in all branches of learning. He wrote Arabic elegantly, and was conversant with the new-born Castilian poetry. He obtained a livelihood as a physician, practising medicine on324 his return to his native place. He appears to have been highly esteemed for his medical skill, for on one occasion he wrote to a friend that, living in a large town, he was busily engaged in the practice of his art. But, in spite of his constant care for the bodies of the sick and the dying, he did not forget his own soul, but ever maintained the ideals of his life. The following letter which, when advanced in years (about 1130), he wrote to a friend, is interesting:

"I occupy myself in the hours which belong neither to the day nor to the night, with the vanity of medical science, although I am unable to heal. The city in which I dwell is large, the inhabitants are giants, but they are cruel rulers. Wherewith could I conciliate them better than by spending my days in curing their illness! I physic Babel, but it continues infirm. I cry to God that He may quickly send deliverance unto me, and give me freedom, to enjoy rest, that I may repair to some place of living knowledge, to the fountain of wisdom."

The city of which Jehuda here speaks is Toledo, where he passed the years of his manhood. He longed, however, to depart thence, as Toledo had not yet become a center of Jewish learning.

The whole power of his creative genius was bestowed upon the art of poetry and a thoughtful investigation of Judaism. He had a more correct conception of poetry, which he valued as something holy and God-given, than had his Arab and Jewish contemporaries. He distinctly enunciated the view that the faculty for composing poetry must be innate, original, not acquired. He mocked at those who laid down laws about meter and rhyme, and were very precise on those points. The truly inspired poet carries the laws within him, and will never be guilty of any blunders or inaccuracies. As long as he was young, he dissipated the gold of his rich poetry on light, flimsy themes, and following the example of others, wrote sparkling lyrics, in which he glorified his numerous friends. He sang of wine and pleasure, and composed riddles.325 When his friends rebuked him for this conduct (about 1110), he retorted in youthful insolence,

"Shall one whose years scarce number twenty-four,
Turn foe to pleasure and drink wine no more?"

In these poetic trifles, it delighted him to display his skill in overcoming the difficulties of elaborate and involved meters. Very often he concluded a poem with an Arabic or a Castilian verse. One recognizes in the words and the structure the great master who had the power of presenting a complete picture by a few bold strokes of the pen. His delineations of nature may be placed side by side with the best poetical productions of all languages. We see the flowers bursting forth and blooming; we inhale in deep draughts the balm with which his verse is impregnated. The boughs bend beneath the burden of their golden fruit; we hear the songsters of the air pouring forth their sweet strains of love; he paints sunshine and the pure air with a masterly hand. When he is describing the turbulence of a tempest-tossed sea, he communicates to the reader all the emotions of sublimity and anxiety which he himself felt. But in all this the working of his great soul is not revealed; it was, in a measure, only the tribute which he paid to its human part and to the fashion of the time. Not even his religious poems, which in number were not exceeded by those of his older fellow-poet, Moses Ibn-Ezra, for they amount to three hundred, but which in depth, heartfelt fervor and polish, surpass his as well as those of other predecessors, disclose the true greatness of his poetical genius.

The importance of Jehuda Halevi as a poet lies in those poems that breathe a national-religious spirit. In these his ideas burst from the depths of his heart, his whole being rises upwards in ecstasy, and when he sings of Zion and its past and future glory, when he veils his head in mourning over its326 present slavery, we find the true spirit of his poetry, nothing artificial or simulated, but all pervaded by strong feeling. In all neo-Hebraic poetry Jehuda Halevi's songs of Zion may best be compared with the Psalms. When he is breathing forth his laments for Zion's widowhood, or dreaming of her future splendor, and depicts how she will again be united to her God and her children, we fancy that we are listening to one of the sons of Korah. The muse of Jehuda Halevi, in her maturity, had a lofty purpose; it was to sing of Israel, his God and the sanctuary, his past and his future, and to lament his humiliation. He was a national poet, and hence it is that his songs seize upon the reader with irresistible force. The complaints of Ibn-Gebirol about his own deserted condition can arouse only faint interest; the sufferings of Moses Ibn-Ezra on account of his unfortunate love leave us unaffected; but the affliction of Jehuda Halevi on account of his dearly beloved Zion cannot fail to move every susceptible heart.

The national poetry of Jehuda Halevi is of higher value, since it has its source not in mere poetical sentiments, but in earnest and impassioned conviction. He was not only the perfect poet, he was also the brilliant thinker; in him feeling and thought were completely blended. Poetry and philosophy were intimately united within him, neither being strange, borrowed, or artificially acquired, but each being an innate possession. Just as he gave expression to the national feelings of Israel in his songs of Zion, so he interpreted, if one may say so, the national thoughts of Judaism in an ingenious and spiritual manner. Poetry and philosophy were employed by him only to glorify and spiritualize the inheritance of Israel. He propounded original ideas on the relation of God and the world, of man to his Creator, on the value of metaphysical speculation, of its connection with Judaism, and on the importance327 of this religion as contrasted with Christianity and Islam. All these problems he solved not in a dry, scholastic fashion, but in a lively, interesting, and convincing manner. If in his lyrics we may liken him to a son of Korah, in the development of his thoughts he resembles the author of Job, but he is richer in matter, more profound, more comprehensive. From Job or from Plato, Jehuda Halevi borrowed the form in which his religious philosophical system is presented. He expounds his thoughts in the form of a dialogue, and like the author of Job, combines them with an historic fact, thus giving more intense interest to the theme, and conveying a lasting impression. When certain of his disciples asked him how he could defend rabbinical Judaism, and how reply to the objections hurled against it by philosophy, Christianity, Islam and the Karaites, he produced his answer in a comprehensive, erudite work in the form of a dialogue written in elegant Arabic. As its title denotes, the book was intended to demonstrate the truth of Judaism and to justify the despised religion.

A heathen, who knew nothing of the wisdom of the schoolmen, nor of the three existing religions, but who felt the necessity of uniting himself in a spiritual, affectionate union with his Creator, becomes convinced of the truth of Judaism. This heathen is Bulan, the king of the Chazars, who himself embraced the Jewish faith. Him the Castilian philosopher makes use of to give an historical character to his work, and hence it bears the name of Chozari (wrongly spelt Kusari). The clever preface, written in an appropriate style, stirs the interest of the reader.

An angel repeatedly appeared in a dream to the king of the Chazars, who was a zealous adherent of his idolatrous cult, but a man of pious mind, and addressed him in these very significant words: "Thy intention is good, but not the manner in which328 thou servest God." In order to ascertain with certainty in what manner the Deity should be worshiped, the king applied to a philosopher. The sage, a follower partly of the Aristotelian and partly of the neo-Platonic system, fostered in the king more of disbelief than belief. He told him that God was too exalted to come into any relation whatsoever with man, or to demand any reverential worship.

The king of the Chazars did not feel at all satisfied with this comfortless exposition. He felt that acts intended to honor God must be of absolute value in themselves, and without these, pious and moral thoughts could be of but little merit. It was impossible to understand why, if the form of worshiping God was to be an altogether indifferent matter, Christianity and Islam, which had divided the world between them, should war against each other, and even consider mutual slaughter as holy work whereby paradise might be attained. Both religions, moreover, appeal to divine manifestations and wise prophets, through whose agency the Deity has worked miracles. God must then, in some way, be in relation to mankind. There must exist something mysterious of which the philosophers have no notion. Thereupon the king determined to apply to a representative of the Christian faith and to a Mahometan, in order to learn from them the true religion. He did not think of asking the counsel of the Jews at first, because from their abject condition and the universal contempt in which they were held, the degraded state of their religion was sufficiently apparent.

A priest acted as the exponent of the tenets of the Christian belief to the king. Christianity, he said, believes in the eternity of God and the creation of the world out of nothing, and that all men are descended from Adam; it accepts as true all that the Torah and the Scriptures of Judaism teach,329 but holds as its fundamental dogma, the incarnation of the Deity through a virgin of the Jewish royal house. The Son of God, the Father and the Holy Ghost form a unit. This trinity is venerated by the Christians as a unity, even though the phrase appears to indicate a threefold personality. Christians are to be considered as the real Israelites, and the twelve apostles take the place of the twelve tribes.

The mind of the king was as little gratified by the answer of the Christian as by that of the Philosopher, the reply not being in accordance with the dictates of reason. The Christian, he thought, should have adduced positive, incontrovertible proofs, which would satisfy the human intellect. He, therefore, felt it his duty to seek further for true religion.

Thereupon he inquired of a Mahometan theologian as to the basis of the faith of Islam. The Moslem believe, as he affirmed, in the unity and eternity of God, and in the creatio ex nihilo; but reject anthropomorphic conceptions. Mahomet was the last and most important among the prophets, who summoned all people to the faith, and promised to the faithful a paradise with all the delights of eating, drinking, and voluptuous love, but to the infidels, the eternal fire of damnation. The truth of Islam depends upon the fact that no man is capable of producing so remarkable a book as the Koran, or even a single one of its Suras. To him also the king replied that the fact of the intimate intercourse of God with mortals must rest upon undeniable proofs, which the internal evidence for the divine origin of the Koran does not afford, for even if its diction is able to convince an Arab, it has no power over those who are unacquainted with Arabic.

As both the Christian and the Moslem had referred their religions to Judaism in order to verify the historic basis of each, the truth-seeking king at330 length determined to overcome his prejudice against Judaism, and to make inquiries of a Jewish sage. The latter made the following statement of the tenets of his creed, in reply to the request of the king: "The Jews believe in the God of their ancestors, who delivered the Israelites from Egypt, performed miracles for their sake, led them into the Holy Land, and raised up prophets in their midst—in short, in all that is taught in the Holy Scriptures." Thereupon the king of the Chazars replied, "I was right, then, in not asking of the Jews, because their wretched, low condition has destroyed every reasonable idea in them. You, O Jew, should have premised that you believe in the Creator and Ruler of the world, instead of giving me so dry and unattractive a mass of facts, which are of significance only to you." The Jewish sage replied: "This notion that God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe requires a lengthy demonstration, and the philosophers have different opinions on the matter. The belief, however, that God performed miracles for us Israelites demands no proof, as it depends upon the evidence of undoubted eye-witnesses." Starting from this point, the religious philosopher, Jehuda Halevi, has an easy task to unfold proofs of the truth and divine character of Judaism. Philosophy discards God and religion entirely, not knowing what place to assign to them in the world. Christianity and Islam turn their backs on reason, for they find reason in opposition to the cardinal doctrines of their religions. Judaism, on the contrary, starts from a statement of observed facts, which reason cannot possibly explain away. It is quite compatible with reason, but assigns to reason its limits, and does not accept the conclusions of reason, often degenerating into sophistry, when certainty can be attained in another way.

In his correct view of the value of speculative thought, Jehuda Halevi stood alone in his own time,331 and anticipated many centuries. The thinkers of his time, Jewish, Mahometan and Christian, Rabbi, Ulema and Churchman, bowed the knee to Aristotle, whose philosophical judgments upon God and His relation to the world they placed above Holy Writ, or at least they strained and subtilized the Biblical verses until they expressed a philosophical idea, and thus they became at once believers and sceptics. Jehuda Halevi alone had the courage to point out the limits set by nature to human thought, and to proclaim, "Thus far shalt thou go, and no further." Philosophy has no right to attack well-accredited facts, but must accept them as undeniable truths; it must start with them for bases, bringing to bear its power of co-ordinating the facts and illuminating them by the aid of reason. Just as in the realm of nature the intellect dare not deny actual phenomena when they present themselves, however striking and contrary to reason they may appear, but must strive to comprehend them, so must it act when touching on the question of the knowledge of God. This excellent and irrefutable idea, which of late years, after many wanderings in the labyrinth of philosophy, has at length discovered a way for itself, was first enunciated by Jehuda Halevi. In a poem, which is as beautiful as its matter is true, he thus expresses his opinion of the Greek spirit which studious disciples of philosophy so eagerly affected:

"Do not be enticed by the wisdom of the Greeks,
Which only bears fair blossoms, but no fruit.
What is its essence? That God created not the world,
Which, ever from the first, was enshrouded in myths.
If to its words you lend a ready ear, you
Return with chattering mouth, heart void, unsatisfied."

Judaism cannot, according to this system, be assailed by philosophy at all, because it stands on a firm basis, which the thinker must respect, the basis of historical facts. The Jewish religion entered the world not gradually, little by little, but suddenly,332 like something newly created. It was revealed to a vast multitude—to millions of men—who had sufficient means of inquiring and investigating whether they were deceived by some trickery. Moreover, all the miracles that preceded the revelation on Sinai, and continued to occur during the wandering in the desert, took place in the presence of many people. Not only on one occasion, the beginning of Israel's nationality, was the evident interference of God manifested, but it revealed itself often, in the course of five hundred years, in the outpouring of the spirit of prophecy upon certain individuals and classes. By virtue of this character, of the confirmed authenticity of these facts, Judaism is invested with a certainty greater than that established by philosophy. The existence of God is demonstrated more powerfully by the revelation of Sinai than by the conclusions of the intellect. Jehuda Halevi believed that he had not only cut away the ground from beneath the philosophical views of his time, but that he had also undermined the foundations both of Christianity and Islam, and laid down the criterion by which the true could be distinguished from the false religion. Judaism does not feed its adherents with the hope of a future world full of bliss, but grants them here on earth a glimpse of the heavenly kingdom, and raises, through an enduring chain of indisputable facts, the hope of the immortality of the soul to the plane of absolute certainty.

Whilst thus giving the general principles of Judaism, he had so far not justified it in all its details. In order to do this, Jehuda Halevi propounded a view which is certainly original and ingenious. The truth of the creation, as related in the Torah, being pre-supposed, he starts from the fact that Adam was in soul and body completely perfect when he came from the hand of the Creator, without any disturbing ancestral influences, and the333 ideal, after which man should strive, was set forth in all its purity. All truths which are accessible to the human soul might have been known to Adam without any wearisome study, by his innate consciousness, and he possessed, so to speak, a prophetic nature, and was therefore called the son of God. This perfection, this spiritual and moral endowment, he bequeathed to those of his descendants who, by virtue of their spiritual fitness, were capable of receiving it. Through a long chain of ancestors, with some slight interruptions, this innate virtue passed to Abraham, the founder of the family of the Israelites, and thence to the ancestors of the twelve tribes. The people of Israel thus forms the heart and kernel of the human race, and through divine grace, and especially through the gift of prophecy, it was peculiarly fitted for this position. This ideal nature elevates the possessor; it may be said to constitute the intermediate step between man and the angels. In order to attain and preserve this divine gift, it is necessary to have some place which, by reason of the circumstances of the climate, is of help in promoting a higher spiritual life. For this purpose God selected the land of Canaan. Like Israel, so the Holy Land was specially chosen; it was selected because it lies at the center of the earth. There the rule of God was made manifest by the rise of prophets and by extraordinary blessings and curses, which were supernatural. The precepts and prohibitions which Judaism ordains are means whereby the divinely prophetic nature in the Israelite nation may be nurtured and preserved. To this end the priests of the house of Aaron were appointed, the Temple erected, the sacrificial laws and the whole code established. God alone, from whom all these laws emanated, knows in how far they aid in furthering this great aim. Human wisdom durst not find fault with or change them, because the most unimportant334 alteration might easily cause the grand end to be lost sight of, even as nature brings forth varied productions by slight changes of the soil and climate. The duties of morality, or the laws of reason, do not constitute the peculiarity of Judaism, as many imagine. These are rather the bases on which the commonwealth was established, as even a robber band cannot dispense with justice and fairness if it wishes to hold together. The religious duties are the true essentials of Judaism, and are intended to preserve in the people of Israel divine light and grace and permanent prophetic inspiration.

Though the exact significance of the religious laws is rightly withheld from human understanding, the wisdom of their originator is yet reflected in them. Judaism involves neither the life of a hermit nor ascetic mortification; and, the opponent of brooding melancholy, it desires to see in its followers a joyful disposition. It indicates the limits of the soul's activity and the promptings of the heart, and thus maintains the individual and communal life of the nation in harmonious equipoise. A man deserving to be called pious from a Jewish point of view, does not flee from the world, nor despise life, and desire death in order more quickly to obtain eternal life; he does not deny himself the pleasures of life, but is an upright guardian of his own territory, that is, of his body and soul. He assigns to all the faculties of the body and the soul what is due to each, protects them against want and superfluity, thereby making them docile, and employs them as willing instruments, enabling him to rise to the higher life which emanates directly from the Deity.

After Jehuda Halevi had discovered the great value of religious deeds, it was an easy task for him to prove the superiority of Talmudical Judaism over Karaism, and also to invest it with more resplendent virtues than those distinguishing Islam and Christianity.335 The condition of slavery into which Israel had fallen, whilst scattered among the nations of the earth, is, according to the view of the poet-philosopher, no evidence of its decay, nor a reason for abandoning hope. In the same manner, the temporal power, on which Christians and Moslems equally pride themselves, is no proof of the divinity of their doctrines. Poverty and misery, despised in the eyes of man, are of higher merit with God than inflated pride and greatness. The Christians themselves are not so proud of their mighty princes as of humble men, such as Jesus, who commanded that "whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also," and of their apostles who suffered the martyrdom of humiliation and contumely. The Moslems also take pride in the followers of their Prophet, who endured much suffering on his account. The greatest sufferer, however, is Israel, since he is among men what the heart is in the human organism. Just as the heart sympathetically suffers with every part of the body, so the Jewish nation suffers most keenly for every wrongdoing among the nations, whether consciously or unconsciously perpetrated. The words which the great prophet represents the nations of the world as saying apply to Israel: "He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows." The Jewish people, in spite of the unspeakable agonies it has gone through, has not perished; it may be likened to a person who is dangerously ill, whom the skill of the physician has entirely given up, but who expects to be saved by some miracle. The picture of the scattered, lifeless bones, which at the word of the prophet unite, are clothed with flesh and skin, have new breath breathed into them, and again stand erect, also applies to Israel; it is a complete description of Israel in its despoiled and low condition. The dispersion of Israel is a miraculous, divine plan, devised to impart to the nations of336 the earth the spirit with which Israel is endowed. The race of Israel resembles a grain of seed which, placed in the ground, apparently rots away, and appears to have been absorbed into the elements of its surroundings. But when it buds and blossoms forth, it again assumes its original nature, and throws off the disfiguring husk which envelops it, and finally displays its own vital force according to its kind, till it, step by step, attains its highest development. As soon as mankind, prepared for it by Christianity and Islam, recognizes the true importance of the Jewish nation as the bearer of the divine light, it will also pay due honor to the root, hitherto looked upon with contempt. All mankind will adhere to Israel, and having developed into glorious fruit, will finally enter the Messianic kingdom, which is the true fruit of the tree.

Certainly the exalted significance of Judaism and the people that confess it was never more eloquently preached. Thought and feelings, philosophy and poetry, all combined in this original system of Jehuda of Castile, in order to set up a sublime ideal, the point of union between heaven and earth.

Abulhassan Jehuda did not belong to that class of men who form noble conceptions, and lead a contemptible life. In him thought and deed were identical. As soon as he had come to the conclusion that the Hebrew language and the land of Canaan possessed a peculiarly divine character, that they were consecrated means for a holy purpose, this conviction governed his conduct. The treasures of his poetical genius were left uncultivated for a long time, because he considered it a profanation to employ the Hebrew language in imitating the Arabic measures. The philosopher-poet was firmly convinced, moreover, that the Holy Land bore traces of the divine grace. His poetic soul was filled with the spiritual glory of Palestine. From the decayed splendor of its desolate condition there337 still breathed a higher inspiration. The bitterest pangs of sorrow penetrated his heart at the thought of the sacred ruins. For him the gates of heaven were to be found now as ever at the doors of Jerusalem, and thence poured forth that divine grace which enabled the appreciative mind to attain to happiness and a higher state of repose. Thither would he go, there live according to the dictates of his innermost heart, and there would he be animated by the divine breath. When he began his work on the philosophy of religion, he spoke in mournful tones of the fact that he, like many others, was so insensible to the merits of the Holy Land, that, whilst with his lips he expressed a longing for it, he never attempted to realize this desire. The more, however, he meditated upon the importance of the Holy Land as a place where the divine gift of grace could be obtained, the stronger his determination grew to journey thither and there spend his last days.

This irresistible impulse towards Zion, the favored city, gave birth to a series of deeply impassioned songs, which are as full of true feeling as they are beautiful in form. The songs of Zion, composed by Jehuda Halevi, represent the most excellent fruits of neo-Hebraic poetry, and they may well be compared with the Psalms:

"O city of the world, with sacred splendor blest,
My spirit yearns to thee from out the far-off West;
Had I an eagle's wings, straight would I fly to thee,
Moisten thy holy dust with wet cheeks streaming free."2

338

"In the East, in the East, is my heart, and I dwell at the end of the West;
How shall I join in your feasting, how shall I share in your jest,
How shall my offerings be paid, my vows with performance be crowned,
While Zion pineth in Edom's bonds, and I am pent in the Arab's bound!
All the beauties and treasures of Spain are worthless as dust, in mine eyes;
But the dust of the Lord's ruined house, as a treasure of beauty I prize."

This is the keynote of all the songs of Zion. But in how many and in what various ways does the poet skilfully manipulate his subject! What a wealth of sentiments, images and devices does he develop! The ancient days of Israel are idealized in his verses; the people of his own age at one time appear invested with the thorny crown of a thousand sufferings, and at another with the glittering diadem of a glorious hope. The contents of his lyrics unwittingly penetrate into the soul of the reader, and hurry him to and fro, from pain and woe to hope and rejoicing, and for a long time the deep impression remains, intermingled with feelings of enthusiasm and conviction.

The bard, who was thus inspired by the cause of his nation, busied himself in communicating to his brethren this deep longing for Jerusalem, and in arousing them to arrange some plan of return. One poem, in elevated and lovely strains, encouraged the people, "The Distant Dove," to leave the fields of Edom and Arab (Christendom and Mahometan countries), and to seek its native nest in Zion. But no answering echo was awakened. It was a sublime, ideal conception that enabled the pious poet-philosopher even to dream of so daring a flight.

The soul of Jehuda Halevi was drawn by invisible cords to Israel's ancient home, and he could not detach it from them. When he had concluded his immortal work, the dialogue of the Chozari (about 1141), he entertained serious thoughts of starting on his holy journey. He made no slight sacrifices to this remarkable, if somewhat adventurous, resolve. He exchanged a peaceful, comfortable life for one of disquietude and uncertainty, and left behind his only daughter and his grandson, whom he loved most dearly. He gave up his college which he had established in Toledo, and parted from a circle of disciples whom he loved as339 sons, and who in turn revered him as a father. He bade farewell to his numerous friends, who, without envy, praised him as a distinguished scholar. All this in his estimation was of little value in comparison with his love of God and the Holy Land. He desired to bring his heart as an offering to the sacred place, and to find his grave in sanctified earth.

Provided with ample means, Jehuda Halevi started on his journey, and his passage through Spain resembled a triumph. His numerous admirers in the towns through which he passed outvied each other in attentions to him. With a few faithful companions he took passage on board a vessel bound for Egypt. Confined in the narrow wooden cabins, where there was no room either to sit or to lie down, a mark for the coarse jests of the rough mariners, sea-sick and in weak health, his soul yet lost none of its power to elevate itself into a brighter sphere. His ideals were his most trusty companions. The storm which tossed the ships about on the waves like a plaything, when "between him and death there intervened only a board," unlocked the store of song within his breast. Of the sea he sang songs which for faithfulness of description and depth of feeling have few equals:

"The billows rage—exult, oh soul of mine,
Soon shalt thou enter the Lord's sacred shrine!"3

Delayed by adverse winds, the ship arrived at Alexandria at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (September), and Jehuda betook himself to his co-religionists, with the firm determination to spend but a short time with them, and never to forget the aim of his journey. But as soon as his name became known, all hearts were drawn towards him. The most distinguished man of the Alexandrian340 congregation, the physician and rabbi Aaron Ben-Zion Ibn-Alamâni, who was blessed with prosperity and children, and was himself a liturgical poet, hastened to receive him as a noble guest, showed him the highest honor, and placed his hospitable mansion at the disposal of Halevi and his comrades. Under the careful treatment of cordial friends, he recovered from the effects of his sea-voyage, and expressed his gratitude in beautiful Hebrew verses. The family of Ibn-Alamâni were so urgent in their desire to keep him with them, that in spite of his great longing for Jerusalem, he remained for nearly three months at Alexandria, till the Feast of Dedication. He tore himself away by force from such dear friends, and meant to go to the port of Damietta, where dwelt one of his best friends, Abu Said ben Chalfon Halevi, whose acquaintance he had made in Spain. He was, however, compelled to alter the course of his journey, for the Jewish prince Abu Mansur Samuel ben Chananya, who held a high post at the court of the Egyptian Caliph, sent him a pressing letter of invitation.

Abu Mansur, who dwelt in the palace of the Caliph, appears to have been the head of the Jewish congregations in Egypt, bearing the title of Prince (Nagid). Jehuda Halevi was the less able to decline this flattering invitation, as it was important for him to obtain from the Jewish prince, whose fame was wide-spread, letters of recommendation, facilitating the continuance of his pilgrimage to Palestine. Abu Mansur's hint that he was willing to aid him with large supplies of money, he delicately put aside in a letter, saying, that "God had blessed him so munificently with benefits that he had brought much with him from home, and had still left plenty behind." Soon after, he traveled to Cairo in a Nile boat. The wonderful river awoke in him memories of the Jewish past, and reminded him of his vow. He immortalized his reminiscences341 in two beautiful poems. He was warmly received by the Prince Abu Mansur in Cairo, and basked in the sunshine of his splendor, and sang of his liberality, renown, and of his three noble sons. He made but a brief stay in Cairo, and hastened to the port of Damietta, which he reached on the Fast of Tebeth (December, about 1141, 1142). Here he was well received by many friends, and especially by his old friend Abu Said Chalfon Halevi, a man of great distinction. He dedicated some beautiful poems of thanks to him and his other friends. These friends also attempted to dissuade him from proceeding to Palestine; they pictured to him the dangers which he would encounter, and reminded him that memories of the Divine grace in the early days of the history of the Jews were connected also with Egypt. He, however, replied, "In Egypt Providence manifested itself as if in haste, but it took up a permanent residence for the first time in the Holy Land." At length he parted from his friends and admirers, determined to carry his project into effect. It is not known at what place he next stopped.

In Palestine, at this time, Christian kings and princes, the kinsmen of the hero Godfrey of Bouillon, were the rulers, and these permitted the Jews again to dwell in the Holy Land, and in the capital, which had now become Christian. The country, at the time of Jehuda's pilgrimage, was undisturbed by war; for the Christians who had settled in Palestine a generation ago, the effeminate Pullani, loved peace, and purchased it at any price from their enemies, the Mahometan emirs. The Jews were also in favor at the petty courts of the Christian princes of Palestine, and a Christian bishop complained that owing to the influence of their wives, the princes placed greater confidence in Jewish, Samaritan, and Saracen physicians than in Latin (that is, Christian) ones. Probably the reason was because the latter were quacks.

342 Jehuda Halevi appears to have reached the goal of his desire, and to have visited Jerusalem, but only for a short time. The Christian inhabitants of the Holy City seem to have been very hostile to him, and to have inspired him with disgust for life in the capital. It is to this, probably, that his earnest, religious poem refers, in the middle verses of which he laments as follows:

"To see Thy glory long mine eye had yearned;
But when at last I sought Thy Holy Place,
As though I were a thing unclean and base,
Back from Thy threshold was I rudely spurned.
The burden of my folk I, too, must bear,
And meekly bow beneath oppression's rod,
Because I will not worship a false god,
Nor, save to Thee, stretch forth my hands in prayer."

The closing adventures of his life, beyond the fact that he was at Tyre and at Damascus, are not known. The Jewish community at Tyre rendered great honor to him, and the memory of this treatment was impressed on his grateful heart. In a poem to his Tyrian friend he grieves over his faded hopes, his misspent youth, and his present wretchedness, in verses which cannot be read without stirring up emotions at the despondency of this valorous soldier. In Damascus he sang his swan-song, the glorious song of Zion, which, like the Psalms of Asaph, awake a longing for Jerusalem. The year of his death and the site of his grave are both unknown. A legend has it that a Mahometan horseman rode over him as he was chanting his mournful Lay of Zion. Thus reads a short epitaph which an unknown admirer wrote for him:

"Honor, Faith, and Gentleness, whither have ye flown?
Vainly do I seek you; Learning, too, is gone!
'Hither are we gathered,' they reply as one,
'Here we rest with Judah.'"

This, however, does not convey the smallest portion of what this ethereal and yet powerful character343 was. Jehuda Halevi was the spiritualized image of the race of Israel, conscious of itself, seeking to display itself, in its past and in its future, in an intellectual and artistic form.

In Spain Jewish culture had arrived at its zenith, and had reached its highest perfection in the greatest of the neo-Hebraic poets. In France the beginnings of culture now became manifest. The reigns of the two kings of the house of Capet, Louis VI and VII (1108–1180), were as favorable to the Jews as that of Louis the Pious. The congregations in the north of France lived in the comfort and prosperity that arouses envy, their granaries were filled with corn, their cellars with wine, their warehouses with merchandise, and their coffers with gold and silver. They owned houses and fields and vineyards, cultivated either by themselves or by Christian servants. It is said that half of Paris, which at that time was not yet a city of very great importance, belonged to Jews. The Jewish congregations were recognized as independent corporations, and had their own mayor, with the title of Provost (præpositus), who was invested with authority to guard the interests of his people, and to arrest Christian debtors and compel them to pay their Jewish creditors. The Jewish provost was chosen by the community, and his election was ratified by the king or the baron to whom the town was tributary; Jews frequented the court, and held office. Jacob Tam, the greatest rabbinical authority of this time, was highly respected by the king. Jewish theologians freely disputed with the clergy upon religious questions, and openly expressed their honest opinions about the Trinity, the Virgin Mary, the worship of saints, about auricular confession and the miracle-working powers of relics.

Under these favorable circumstances of unrestricted tolerance, the Jewish sages of the north of France were able to follow in the path which Rashi344 had marked out for them. To understand and explain the Talmud in its entirety became a passion with the French Jews. Death had snatched away the commentator on the Talmud in the midst of his labors at Troyes; his pupils exerted themselves to complete whatever had been left unfinished by him. He had bequeathed to his school a spirit of indefatigable research and close inquiry, of acute dialectics, and the art of fine discrimination, and they richly increased their inheritance. The correct and precise understanding of the Talmud was so sacred a matter to the pupils of Rashi, that they did not hesitate to subject the interpretations of their master to a severe critical revision. But, on the other hand, their veneration for him was so great that they did not venture to offer their opinions independently, but attached them to the commentaries of Rashi as "Supplements" (Tossafoth). From this circumstance they were called the Tossafists. They supplied the omissions of Rashi, and also emended and expanded the explanations given by him. The chief characteristic of the method of the Tossafists is their independence of the authorities, they subjected all opinions to the scrutiny of their own reason. Their profound scholarship and great erudition comprehended the immense Talmudic literature and its maze of learned discussions and arguments with clearness and precision. Their penetrating intellect displayed remarkable ingenuity in resolving every argument and every idea into its original elements, distinguishing thoughts that appeared to be similar, and reconciling such as seemed to conflict. It is almost impossible to convey to the mind of the uninitiated any satisfactory notion of the critical acumen of the Tossafists. They solved the most difficult logical problems with the greatest ease, as if they were the simple examples set to children. The unyielding material of the Talmud became quite malleable under their hands, and they fashioned345 surprising Halachic (legal) shapes and substances. For the circumstances of modern times they found numerous analogies on record, which a superficial examination would never have discovered.

The circle of the earliest Tossafists was composed chiefly of the relatives of Rashi, viz.: his two sons-in-law, Meïr ben Samuel of Rameru, a small town near Troyes, and Jehuda ben Nathan (Riban); later, his three grandsons, Isaac, Samuel and Jacob Tam, the sons of Meïr; and finally a German, Isaac ben Asher Halevi (Riba) of Speyer, also connected with the family of Rashi.

The school of the Tossafists divided the study of the Talmud into two branches: theoretical discussion leading to a thorough comprehension of the text of the Talmud (Chiddushim), and practical application of the results of such study in the civil laws, in the laws of marriage, and in the religious ritual (Pesakim, Responsa). This ingenious method revealed new legal ordinances.

The study of the Talmud fully occupied the intellectual powers of the Jews of the north of France and the Rhine, and prevented the cultivation of other studies. Poetry did not thrive in a region where logic wielded the scepter, and where the imagination was brought into play only in order to invent new complications and hypothetical cases. The interpretation of Scripture was also treated in a Talmudical manner. Most of the Tossafists were Bible exegetes, but they did not pay much attention to the exact meaning of the text, studying it by means of Agadic interpretations. Tossafoth were written to elucidate the Pentateuch as well as the Talmud. Only two men can be recorded as famous exceptions, who returned from exegesis according to the Agadic method (Derush) to the strict and rational elucidation of the text (Peshat); these are Joseph Kara and Samuel ben Meïr (about 1100-3461160). Both of these have the greater importance, since they were in opposition to their fathers, who adhered to the Midrashic system of interpretation. Joseph Kara was the son of Simon Kara, a compiler of Agadic pieces, the author of the Yalkut; and Samuel ben Meïr had been taught by his grandfather Rashi to pay great respect to the Agada. Both of them forsook the old way, and sought an explanation of the text in strict accordance with rules of grammar. Samuel, who completed Rashi's commentary to Job and to some of the treatises of the Talmud, had so thoroughly convinced his grandfather of the correctness of rational exegesis, that he had declared that if strength were granted him, he would alter his commentary to the Pentateuch in accordance with other exegetical principles. Samuel, called Rashbam, wrote, in this temperate style, a commentary to the Pentateuch and the Five Megilloth; and Joseph Kara wrote commentaries on the books of the Prophets and the Hagiographa. Samuel ben Meïr, in his interpretation of Holy Writ, sought for the sense and the connection of the text, and did not shrink from explanations at variance with the Talmud, or in harmony with the views of the Karaites.


347

CHAPTER XII.
PERSECUTIONS DURING THE SECOND CRUSADE AND UNDER THE ALMOHADES.

Condition of the Jews in France—The Second Crusade—Peter the Venerable and the Monk Rudolph—Bernard of Clairvaux and the Emperor Conrad—Protectors of the Jews—Persecutions under the Almohades—Abdulmumen and his Edict—The Prince Jehuda Ibn-Ezra—The Karaites in Spain—Jehuda Hadassi—The historian Abraham Ibn-Daud and his Philosophy—Abraham Ibn-Ezra—Rabbenu Tam.

1143–1170 C. E.

When the greatest neo-Hebraic poet complained, "Have we a home in the West or in the East?" his sensitive heart was probably filled with foreboding concerning the insecurity of his co-religionists. Only too soon was the Jewish race to realize the awful truth that it possessed no home on earth, and that it was only tolerated in the lands of its exile. As long as the intolerant religious principles of the Church and of the Mosque remained inoperative, either by reason of the indifference, or the inertia, or the selfish pursuits of their adherents, the Jews lived in comparative happiness; but when religious hatred was aroused, torture and martyrdom fell upon Israel, and again he was compelled to grasp the wanderer's staff, and with bleeding heart depart from his dearly beloved home. Although the Jews in general, and especially their leaders, the rabbis and sages, were, as a rule, superior to the Christian and Mahometan peoples in devotion to God, in morality, in refinement and knowledge, yet those to whom the earth belonged imagined themselves on a higher level, and with lordly haughtiness looked down upon the Jews as common slaves. In Christian348 countries they were declared outlaws, because they would not believe in the Son of God and many other things; and in a Mahometan realm they were persecuted because they would not acknowledge Mahomet as the prophet. In one land they were expected to do violence to their reason and to accept fables as sober truths, and in another they were asked to renounce their faith and take in its stead dry formulæ, tinged with philosophy. Both held out the cheerless choice between death and the renunciation of their ancient religion. The French and the Germans rivaled the savage Moors in the energy with which they strove to enfeeble still more the weakest of the peoples. On the banks of the Seine, the Rhine and the Danube, on the shores of Africa and in the south of Spain, there arose simultaneously, as though preconcerted, bloody persecutions against the Jews, in the name of religion, despite the fact that all that was good and divine in the oppressors' creeds owed its origin to this people. Hitherto persecutions of the Jews had been few and far between; but from the year 1146 they became more frequent, more severe, and more persistent. It seemed as if the age in which the light of intelligence had begun to dawn upon mankind desired to exceed in inhumanity the epochs of darkest barbarism. This period of suffering imprinted on the features of the Jewish race that air of suffering, that martyr's look, which even the present age of freedom has not effaced. "The meaning of the prophet," said Ibn-Ezra, "when he cries, 'He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth,' requires no commentary, for every Jew in exile illustrates it. When he is afflicted he does not open his mouth to protest that he is more righteous than his tormentor. He keeps his look directed only towards God, and neither prince nor noble assists him in his distress."

349 The persecutions that spread simultaneously over Europe and Africa had their sources in catastrophes that occurred in Asia and Africa. Whilst the Christian knights in the new kingdom of Jerusalem and in the neighboring princedoms were sinking into inactivity, the Turkish warrior, Nureddin, who had determined to drive the Christians from Asia, began his attacks upon them. The important city of Edessa fell into his hands, and the crusaders, now at their wits' end, were compelled to implore help from Europe. The second crusade was now preached in France and Germany, and bloodthirsty fanaticism was again aroused against the Jews.

King Louis VII of France, conscience-stricken, took the cross, and with him went the young and frivolous Queen Eleanora, together with the dames of the court, who transformed the camp of the warriors of God into a court of gallantry. The Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, a truly pious man, of apostolic simplicity of heart, and renowned for his powerful eloquence, energetically exhorted Christians to take part in this crusade, and owing to his influence the troops of pilgrims marching against the infidels increased day by day. This time it was Pope Eugenius III who turned the attention of the crusaders towards the Jews. He issued a bull announcing that all those who joined in the holy war were absolved from the payment of interest on debts owing to Jews. This was an inducement for the numerous debtors of the Jews to participate in the crusade, and was in reality only a veiled permission to repudiate their indebtedness to the Jews. The Abbot Bernard, who at other times disdained to employ unholy means to compass a holy end, was obliged, at the command of the Pope, to preach this repudiation of debts. Another abbot, Peter the Venerable, of Clugny, desired to push the matter still further. He roused King Louis and the army of the crusaders directly against the Jews. He350 heaped charges upon them, exaggerating their offenses so as to incite the prejudiced monarch to persecute or at least plunder them. In a letter to Louis VII he repeated the sophistries and falsehoods which the marauding mobs of the first crusade had invented in order to palliate their plundering of the Jews in the name of religion.

"Of what use is it," wrote Peter of Clugny, "to go forth to seek the enemies of Christendom in distant lands, if the blasphemous Jews, who are much worse than the Saracens, are permitted in our very midst to scoff with impunity at Christ and the sacrament! The Saracen at least believes as we do that Christ was born of a virgin, and yet he is execrable, since he denies the incarnation. How much more these Jews who disbelieve everything, and mock at everything! Yet I do not require you to put to death these accursed beings, because it is written, 'Do not slay them.' God does not wish to annihilate them, but like Cain, the fratricide, they must be made to suffer fearful torments, and be preserved for greater ignominy, for an existence more bitter than death. They are dependent, miserable and terror-stricken, and must remain in that state until they are converted to the Saviour. You ought not to kill them, but to afflict them in a manner befitting their baseness." The holy man besought the king to deprive the Jews either altogether or in part of their possessions, since the crusading army, which was marching against the Saracens, did not spare its own property and lands, and certainly should not spare the ill-gotten treasures of the Jews. Only their bare life should be left to them, but their money forfeited, for the audacity of the Saracens would be more easily subdued if the hands of the Christians were strengthened by the wealth of the blasphemous Jews. This method of reasoning is certainly consistent; it is the logic of the Middle Ages. King Louis, though well-disposed towards351 the Jews, could not do less in obedience to the papal bull than allow the crusaders to absolve themselves from their Jewish debts. For the moment the persecution limited itself to the plundering of the rich Jews, who were reduced to the state of their poorer brethren. The friendly monarch and his wise ministers, together with the Abbot Suger, and especially the pious Bernard, who knew how to control men's minds, would not permit a universal bloody persecution.

Affairs took a different course in Germany, and particularly in the cities along the Rhine, whose congregations had scarcely recovered from the wounds of the first crusade. Emperor Conrad III was powerless; the citizens who had as a rule taken the part of the Jews during the first crusade, and had afforded them protection, were now, at the beginning of the second crusade, prejudiced against them. A French monk, named Rudolph, left his monastery without the permission of his superior, and his fiery eloquence kindled the fanaticism of the German people against the Jews. He believed that he was accomplishing a holy work in securing the conversion or annihilation of the infidels. From town to town, from village to village, Rudolph traveled preaching the crusade, and he inserted in his addresses an exhortation that the crusade should begin with the Jews. Matters would have been much worse for the German Jews on this occasion, had not Emperor Conrad, who at first felt an antipathy to the extravagant feeling engendered by the crusade, looked after their safety. In the lands which were his by inheritance, he set aside the city of Nuremburg and certain other fortresses as cities of refuge for them, where the hand of the infuriated crusaders could not reach them. He had no jurisdiction over the territories of the princes and prelates, but he appears to have urged them all to extend their powerful protection to the Jews.352 But the word of the emperor had but little weight. In August, 1146, were sacrificed the first victims of the persecution stirred up by Rudolph. Simon the Pious, of Treves, whilst on his way home from England, tarried in Cologne. He was seized by the crusaders as he was about to go on board a ship, and refusing to be baptized, he was murdered and his body mutilated. Also a woman named Minna, of Speyer, who had suffered the terrible tortures of the rack, remained steadfast to her faith. These occurrences prompted the Jews dwelling by the Rhine to look round for protection. They paid immense sums to the princes, to be permitted to live in the fortresses and castles for safety. The Cardinal Bishop Arnold of Cologne gave them the castle of Wolkenburg, near Königswinter, and allowed them to defend themselves with arms. Wolkenburg became a refuge for many of the congregations of the district. As long as the Jews remained in their places of refuge they were safe; but as soon as they ventured forth, the Christian pilgrims, who lay in ambush for them, dragged them away to be baptized, killing those that resisted, after subjecting them to inhuman treatment. The prelates of the Rhine were, however, disgusted with the preaching of the crusade as carried on by the monk Rudolph, nor did they approve of the massacres of the Jews, particularly as these gave rise to dissensions and feuds, and Rudolph even emboldened the populace to disobey the bishops. The Archbishop of Mayence, Henry I, who was at the same time chancellor and prime minister to the emperor, had admitted into his house some of the Jews who were pursued by the mob. The riotous crowd forced its way in, and murdered them before his very eyes. The archbishop then addressed himself to the most distinguished representative of Christianity of that time, Bernard of Clairvaux, who had more power than the Pope. He depicted353 to him the outrages that Rudolph had fomented in the Rhine country, and prayed him to exercise his authority. Bernard, who strongly disapproved of the doings of Rudolph, willingly gave the archbishop his support. He despatched a letter to the Archbishop of Mayence, intended to be read in public. In this letter he energetically condemned the agitator; he called Rudolph an outlawed son of the Church, who had fled from his cloister, had been faithless to the rules of his order, maligned the bishops, and who, in opposition to the principles of the Church, preached to simple-minded Christians, murder and massacre of the Jews. The Jews ought, on the contrary, to be carefully spared. The Church hoped that at a certain time they would be converted en masse, and a prayer for that especial purpose had been instituted for Good Friday. Could the hope of the Church be fulfilled if the Jews were altogether annihilated? Bernard sent another letter written in the same spirit to the clergy and people of France and Bavaria, wherein he expressly admonished them to spare the Jews.

But the letters of Bernard made no impression upon Rudolph and the misguided mob; they were bent upon the complete destruction of the Jews, and on all sides lay in wait for them. The Abbot of Clairvaux accordingly found it necessary to protest in person against the slaughter of the Jews. When at about this time he made a journey into Germany in order to induce Emperor Conrad to take part in the crusade, he tarried in the towns on the Rhine in order to counteract the fiendish plans of Rudolph. He addressed him in very severe terms, and prevailed on him to desist from preaching the massacre of the Jews, and to return to his monastery. The deluded people murmured against the actions of Bernard, and had he not been protected by his sacred calling, they would have attacked him. Rudolph disappeared from the354 scene, but the poisonous seeds scattered abroad by him worked the destruction of the Jews. As the bulk of the people became inflamed by the sermons of Bernard on behalf of the crusade, its fury against the Jews increased. The people were more consistent than the saint of Clairvaux and the bishops, and their logic could not be shaken. They said, "If it is a godly deed to slay unbelieving Turks, it surely cannot be a sin to massacre unbelieving Jews." At about this time the lacerated limbs of a Christian were discovered at Würzburg, and the crusaders who were assembled there believed, or pretended to believe that the Jews had butchered the man. They took this pretext to attack the congregation at Würzburg. The Jews of this city were under the protection of Bishop Embicho, and dwelt in tranquillity in the city, not deeming it necessary to seek a place of refuge. The terror which seized them was therefore the greater, when they were suddenly attacked by a crowd of crusaders (22 Adar, 24 Feb., 1147). More than twenty met martyrs' deaths, among them the distinguished and gentle Rabbi Isaac ben Eliakim, who was slain whilst reading a holy book. Some were cruelly maltreated, and left as dead, but were afterwards restored to life, and carefully tended by compassionate Christians. The humane Bishop of Würzburg assigned a burial-place in his own garden for the bodies of the martyrs, and sent the survivors into a castle near Würzburg. The lot of the German Jews became still more lamentable when the emperor Conrad with his knights and army joined the crusading expedition, and the mobs who were left behind, unchecked by the presence of the emperor, were at liberty to commit fearful outrages (May, 1147).

The savage spirit of murder in the name of piety was rapidly communicated from Germany to France, on the assembling of the crusaders in the spring.355 In Carenton (Department de la Manche) there was a determined battle between the Christian pilgrims and the Jews. The latter had gathered in a house, and defended themselves against invasion. Two brothers, with the true courage of Frenchmen, fought like heroes, dealing wounds right and left, and slew many crusaders, until their foes, infuriated by the loss of so many men, found an entrance into the court, attacked the Jews in the rear, and massacred them all. Among the martyrs of this time in France was a young scholar named Peter, a pupil of Samuel ben Meïr and Tam, who, in spite of his youth, had already distinguished himself among the Tossafists. At no great distance from the monastery of Clairvaux, under the eyes of the Abbot Bernard, the savage bands of the crusaders continued undismayed to carry on their bloody work. They fell upon the Jewish congregation at Rameru on the second day of Pentecost, forced their way into the house of Jacob Tam, who was the most distinguished man among the European Jews on account of his virtues and his learning, robbed him of all his possessions, tore to pieces a scroll of the Law, and dragged him into a field, intending to put him to death by torture. As Tam was the most famous man among the Jews, the crusaders desired to avenge on him the wounds and death of Jesus. They had already inflicted five wounds on his head, and he was about to succumb, when fortunately a knight with whom he was acquainted happened to pass along the road. Tam still retained sufficient consciousness to implore his help, which the knight promised to afford, on condition that he receive a fine horse as a reward. The knight then told the band of assassins to hand the victim over to him, and he would either prevail on him to be baptized, or else return him to their hands. Thus was saved the man who was the leader and model of the German and French Jews356 (8 May, 1147). Through the influence of Bernard no Jew hunts took place in France, except at Carenton, Rameru and Sully. In England, where since the time of William the Conqueror many Jews had settled, who were in communication with the French congregations, there were no persecutions, as King Stephen vigorously protected them. The Jews of Bohemia, however, again suffered severely when the crusaders marched through their country, 150 of them meeting with martyrs' deaths. Directly the French army of the crusaders had marched through Germany, and had advanced beyond its borders, the Jews were able to leave their places of refuge in the castles, and were not molested. Even those Jews who had weakly submitted to forced baptism could now return to their ancient faith. A certain priest who was as pious as he was humane, but whose name unfortunately has been lost, gave them very great assistance. He led those Jews who had been forcibly baptized into France and other countries, where they remained till their former adhesion to the Church was forgotten. They then returned to their homes and their religion.

On the whole, the fanaticism of the second crusade claimed fewer Jewish victims than the first. This was partly owing to the protection afforded to the Jews by the spiritual and temporal dignitaries, and also because the participation of the German Emperor and the King of France did not permit such crowds of crusading marauders as had accompanied the expedition of William the Carpenter and Emicho of Leiningen. But the Jews were compelled to pay a high price for the shelter which was granted them, the price being their whole future. The German Emperor from this time forward was regarded by the Jews as their protector, and he considered himself as such, demanding in return the fulfilment of certain duties. The German Jews, who had hitherto been as free as the Germans or357 Romans, henceforth became the "servants of the chamber" (servi cameræ) of the Holy Roman empire. This hateful name at first only signified that the Jews enjoyed immunity from all attacks like the imperial servants, and had to pay a certain tax to the emperor for the protection thus granted to them, and that they had to perform extraordinary services. But in later times the word was employed in its original, odious sense, and the Jews were looked upon as bondmen and dependent slaves. The German Jews who were on the point of raising themselves from a state of barbarism, were thus hurled into the depths of an abyss of degradation, from which they were enabled to raise themselves only after a lapse of six hundred years. For this reason, their intellectual efforts bore the stamp of degeneracy, their poems consisted only of elegies and lamentations, which, like their speech, were tasteless and barbaric, and even in the study of the Talmud very little work of note was accomplished. The German Jews were pariahs in history till the end of the eighteenth century. In France, on the other hand, where other political and social conditions prevailed, Jewish culture was vigorous enough to put forth blossoms.

Whilst the Jews of France and Germany still stood in dread of the crusaders, a persecution broke out in the north of Africa, which was of longer duration, and produced different results. It was stirred up by a man who combined the characters of philosopher, reformer and conqueror, and manifested a peculiar political and religious enthusiasm. Abdallah Ibn-Tumart, who came from the northwest of Africa, while living in Bagdad, was inspired by the moral enthusiasm of the mystic philosopher Alghazali. On his return home to Africa, he preached to the simple Moorish tribes simplicity of living and dress, hatred of poetry, music and painting, and war against the Almoravide kings,358 who were devoted to a life of refinement. On the other hand, Ibn-Tumart rejected the Sunnite teachings of Mahometan orthodoxy, and the literal interpretation of the verses of the Koran, which affirmed that God had the feelings of man, and was affected by the same emotions as man. He obtained a large following among the Moors, and founded a sect, whose members, from the fact that they maintained the true unity of God without any corporeal representations (Tauchid), were termed Almovachides or Almohades (Unitarians). This sect acknowledged Ibn-Tumart as the Mahdi, the heaven-sent Imam of Islam. With the tocsin of rebellion and the sword of war against the reigning Almoravides, Ibn-Tumart spread his religious and moral reformation in the northwest of Africa. After his death, his disciple Abdulmumen succeeded to the leadership of the Almohades, and was recognized as the Prince of the Faithful (Emir al-Mumenin). He achieved victory after victory, and in his onward progress he destroyed the dynasty of the Almoravides, and became monarch of the whole of northern Africa. Abdulmumen, however, was a fanatic, and as he had extirpated the Almoravides with fire and sword, not only for political reasons, but also because they professed another belief, he would not suffer any other religion in his kingdom.

When the capital, Morocco, after a long and obstinate siege, fell into the hands of Abdulmumen, the new ruler summoned the numerous Jews of the town, and addressed them in the following terms: "You do not believe in the mission of the prophet Mahomet, and you think that the Messiah, who has been announced to you, will confirm your law, and strengthen your religion. Your forefathers, however, asserted that the Messiah would appear at the latest about half a century after the coming of Mahomet. Behold! that half a century has long passed, and no prophet has arisen in your midst.359 The patience with which you have been treated has come to an end. We can no longer permit you to continue in your state of unbelief. We no longer desire any tribute from you. You have only the choice between Islam and death." The despair of the Jews at this stern proclamation was very great. It was the second time, since they had come under Mahometan rule, that the mournful alternative was offered to them, either to surrender their life or their faith. Moved by the representations that were made to him, Abdulmumen modified the edict by allowing the Jews to emigrate. He also allowed them a certain time to dispose of such property as they could not take with them. Those who preferred to remain in the African kingdom were obliged to accept Islam under penalty of death. Those, however, to whom Judaism was precious left Africa, and emigrated to Spain, Italy and other places. The majority of them, however, ostensibly yielded, and took the disguise of Islam whilst hoping for more favorable times (1146).

The persecution was directed not only against the Jews of Morocco, but against all who lived in northern Africa, and as often as the Almohades captured a city, the same edict was promulgated. The Christians also suffered through this persecution, but as Christian Spain stood open to receive them, and they might expect to be received with open arms by their co-religionists, they were more steadfast, and departed from the country in large bodies. Synagogues and churches alike were destroyed throughout the land of the Almohades, which extended by degrees from the Atlas mountains to the boundary of Egypt, and no traces remained of the former Jewish and Christian residents.

Although many north-African Jews had accepted Islam, there were but few who became real converts. Nothing was demanded of them except to profess belief in the prophetic mission of Mahomet,360 and occasionally to attend the mosque. In private, however, they scrupulously practised the Jewish rites, for the Almohades employed no police spies to observe the actions of the converts. Not only the common people, but also pious rabbis maintained this outward semblance of belief, soothing their conscience with the reflection that idolatry and denial of Judaism were not demanded of them, as they were simply required to utter the formula that Mahomet was a prophet, which in no way suggested idolatry. Some consoled themselves with the hope that this state would not long continue, and that the Messiah would soon appear, and deliver them from their misery.

Under the disguise of Moslems, the Maghreb Jewish scholars even pursued the study of the Talmud with their usual zeal, and assembled at their colleges the studious youth, who at the same time were compelled to engage in the study of the Koran. But truly conscientious and pious men were unable to play this double part for any length of time. They threw off the hateful mask, and openly professing Judaism, suffered martyrdom, as happened in Fez, Segelmessa, Draï and other towns.

The victorious Abdulmumen was not content with the possession of all Barbary; he cast longing eyes upon the fair land of Andalusia, thinking it an easy task to wrest it from the power of the Almoravide and Christian rulers, and annex it to his realm. The conquest of the Mahometan territory in southern Spain proved easy on account of internal dissensions. Cordova, the capital of Andalusia, fell into the power of the fanatical Almohades in June, 1148, and before the end of a year the greater part of Andalusia was in their hands. The beautiful synagogues which the piety, the love of splendor, and the refined taste of the Andalusian Jews had built, fell a prey to the destructive frenzy of fanaticism.361 The aged rabbi of Cordova, the philosopher Joseph Ibn-Zadik, witnessed this sad downfall of the oldest and most distinguished congregation, but died soon after (at the end of 1148 or the commencement of 1149). The renowned Jewish academies at Seville and Lucena were closed. Meïr, the son and successor of Joseph Ibn-Migash, went from Lucena to Toledo, and with him all those able to escape. The remainder followed the example of the African Jews, yielding for the moment to coercion and pretending to acknowledge Islam, though in private they observed their ancient faith, till they found an opportunity of openly professing Judaism. Women and children, together with the property of the exiles, fell into the hands of the conquerors, who treated feeble captives as slaves.

In this dark epoch, when the center of Judaism was destroyed, a favorable change of fortune created a new center. Christian Spain, which had developed great power under the emperor Alfonso Raimundez (1126–1157), became a refuge for the persecuted Andalusian Jews, and Toledo, which had been made the capital of the realm, became a new focus, whence the rays of Jewish science emanated. This favorable change was due to the work of a man who deserves to be ranked with Ibn-Shaprut and Ibn-Nagrela. The wise and philanthropic Emperor Alfonso Raimundez had a Jewish favorite in the person of the still youthful Jehuda Ibn-Ezra, the son of that Joseph Ibn-Ezra, who, together with his three brothers, is celebrated in Judæo-Spanish literature. On taking possession of the border fortress of Calatrava, between Toledo and Cordova (1146), the emperor, probably as a reward for his bravery, appointed Ibn-Ezra commander of the place, and invested him with the dignity of a prince (Nasi).

Jehuda Ibn-Ezra was the guardian-angel of his unfortunate co-religionists, who were fleeing before the fury of the victorious Almohades. He assisted362 them to find homes and employment in Christian Spain, and used his riches in ransoming captives, in clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. The congregation of Toledo was very much increased by the immigrant Jews. Meïr Ibn-Migash opened an academy for the study of the Talmud, and numerous pupils attended it. Jewish learning under the protection of the Christian king, now flourished in Toledo after its expulsion from the Mahometan kingdom.

Jehuda Ibn-Ezra rose still higher in the favor of the Spanish emperor, and was appointed steward of the imperial palace (about 1149). This Jewish prince, in his zeal for Rabbanism, hurried into a persecution which forms a blot on his fair fame. The Karaites who had settled in Christian Spain, and who towards the end of the eleventh century had suffered persecution at the hands of a Rabbanite, Joseph Al-Kabri, had since that time again become a numerous body, and strove to regain their ancient splendor. They brought the large literature of their Eastern and Egyptian leaders into Castile, and were thereby strengthened in their deep antipathy to Rabbinical Judaism. At this time a Karaite of Constantinople, Jehuda ben Elia Hadassi, who styled himself "a mourner for Zion" (ha-Abel), renewed the battle against the Rabbanites, and wrote a comprehensive book under the name of "Eshkol ha-Kofer," in which he discussed with great warmth the oft-disputed differences between the two Jewish schools (1149), and rekindled the flame of hostility. Jehuda Hadassi wrote with intense passion, but employed harsh language, alphabetical acrostics, and a wretched, monotonous rhyme. This hostile work was probably introduced into Castile, and re-opened the conflict. Instead of having this polemical book confuted by some able Rabbanite, Jehuda Ibn-Ezra called in the aid of the secular arm, and besought363 the permission of the emperor Alfonso to persecute the Karaites. He did not consider that the dormant fire of persecution, if once rekindled, would sooner or later blaze around the head of the persecutors. With the emperor's permission, Jehuda Ibn-Ezra humbled the Karaites so sorely that they were never again able to raise their heads. Their fate is not known, but they were probably banished from the towns wherein Rabbanites dwelt (1150–1157). The favorable condition of the Jews in Castile did not last long. After the death of the emperor and of his eldest son, the King of Castile (1158), Jehuda Ibn-Ezra lived to see troublous times. During the minority of the Infante Alfonso a bitter civil war broke out between the noble houses of De Castro and De Lara, in which the other Christian kings took part; the fair land was devastated, and the capital, Toledo, became the scene of bloody fights. The Christian monarchs were not powerful enough to defend their borders against the continual irruptions of the Almohades, and were obliged to leave this task to the fanatical orders of knights, which were now again called into active service. The Spanish Jews, unlike their German and French brethren, did not remain mere indifferent spectators during these political struggles and wars, but took the liveliest interest in all that was going on, joining one or the other of the opposing sides.

Meanwhile Jewish learning was in nowise impaired by the unfavorable conditions which existed in almost every land of the exile, but still took its place in the vanguard of culture. Two men, both from Toledo, added to its luster; these were Abraham Ibn-Daud and Abraham Ibn-Ezra, who, dissimilar in character, aims, and in their life's history, were yet alike in their love for Judaism and for learning. Abraham Ibn-Daud Halevi (born about 1110, died a martyr 1180), who was a descendant364 on the maternal side of Prince Isaac Ibn-Albalia, was not only well versed in the Talmud, but was also conversant with all the branches of learning then cultivated. He also engaged in the study of history, both Jewish and general, as far as in its neglected state during the Middle Ages it was accessible to him. This branch of learning was but lightly esteemed by the Spanish Jews. He was a physician, and was a diligent explorer of the realm of science. Ibn-Daud possessed an intelligent, clear mind, which enabled him to penetrate with precision into the knowable, and to illumine the obscure. With brilliant perspicuity he gave expression to the most difficult ideas, and made them comprehensible. He centered all his attention upon the highest problems of the human intellect, and was at a loss to conceive how any one could spend his life in trifling pursuits or in the study of philology, mathematics, theoretical medicine, or law, instead of directing his mind to the holiest task of life. This task, according to the view of Ibn-Daud, consists in philosophical study, because its object is the knowledge of God, and herein lies man's superiority over the world of created things. He emphasized this point strongly in opposition to a certain class of his co-religionists in Spain who had a positive dislike for philosophy. Ibn-Daud was well acquainted with the reason for their mistrust of independent research. "There are many in our time," he remarked, "who have dabbled a little in science, and who are not able to hold both lights, the light of belief in their right hand and the light of knowledge in their left. Since in such men the light of investigation has extinguished the light of belief, the multitude think it dangerous, and shrink from it. In Judaism, however, knowledge is a duty, and it is wrong to reject it."

The aim of all philosophical theory is the practical realization of moral ideals. Such ideals Judaism365 presents. None of his predecessors had so definitely and clearly expressed this important thought. Morality produces positive virtues, a healthy family life, and based upon this, a sound constitution of the state. According to this view, all the religious duties of Judaism may be divided into five classes. The first class inculcates the true knowledge and the love of the One God and a purified belief in Him. The second class treats especially of justice and conscientiousness, the chief of all virtues, of forgiveness, kindness, and the love of enemies, all of which have their origin in humility. The third class of precepts treats of the relation of the head of the family to his wife, children, and servants, according to the principles of right and affection. The fourth division, which comprises a large group, prescribes the relation of the citizen to the state and to his fellow-citizens; it inculcates the necessity of loving one's neighbor, of honesty in commerce, and care for the weak and suffering. There is, finally, a fifth class of laws, such as the sacrificial and dietary laws (laws of the ritual), whose purpose is not easily comprehended. These five groups of duties are not equal in importance, faith taking the highest position and the ceremonial laws the lowest, and therefore the prophets also often gave greater prominence to the former. Starting from different premises, Ibn-Daud arrived at a conclusion differing from that of Jehuda Halevi. According to the latter, the pure ritual ordinances constitute the essence of Judaism, whereby the prophetic nature of man is to be kept alive, but for Ibn-Daud they are only of second-rate importance.

Abraham Ibn-Daud was, however, not only a religious philosopher, but also a conscientious historian, and his historical labors have proved of greater service to Jewish literature than his philosophical studies. The newly-aroused conflict with366 the Karaites of Spain led him to inquire into their history. After the death of the emperor Alfonso, and the subsequent downfall of his favorite, Jehuda Ibn-Ezra, these people again raised their heads, and re-commenced issuing their polemical writings. Thereupon Ibn-Daud undertook to prove historically that rabbinical Judaism was based on an unbroken chain of traditions which began with Moses, and extended to Joseph Ibn-Migash. To this end he compiled the history of Biblical, post-exilic, Talmudical, Saburaic, Gaonic, and rabbinical times in a chronological order (1161). He entitled this work, which was written in Hebrew, "The Order of Tradition" (Seder ha-Kabbalah). The information which he imparts concerning the Spanish congregations is of the greatest value; he obtained his knowledge from the original labors of Samuel Ibn-Nagrela, and from independent historical researches. His account is brief, but accurate and authentic, and much may be read between the lines. His Hebrew style is flowing, and not altogether wanting in poetic coloring.

A still more erudite, comprehensive, and profound mind was that of Abraham ben Meïr Ibn-Ezra of Toledo (born about 1088, died 1167). He was a man of remarkable ability, conquering with equal skill the greatest and the smallest things in science; he was energetic, ingenious, full of wit, but lacking in warmth of feeling. His extensive reading in all branches of divine and human knowledge was astonishing; he was also thoroughly acquainted with the literature of the Karaites. His, however, was not a symmetrically developed, strong personality, but was full of contradictions, and given to frivolity; at one time he fought against the Karaites, at another, he made great concessions to them. His polemical method was merciless, and he aimed less at discovering the truth than at dealing a sharp blow to an antagonist. His was a spirit of negation,367 and he forms the completest contrast to Jehuda Halevi, to whom he is said to have been closely related. Ibn-Ezra (as he is called) combined in his person irreconcilable contrasts. His clear vision, his sharp, analytical perception, his bold research, which was so far advanced as almost to bring him to Pantheism, existed side by side with a veneration for authority, which led him, with fanatical ardor, to accuse independent thinkers of heresy. His temperate mind, which examined into the origin of every phenomenon, did not prevent him from wandering in the twilight of mysticism. Though filled with trust in God, into whose hands he quietly resigned his lot, he believed in the influence of the stars, from which no man could possibly withdraw. Thus Ibn-Ezra was at once an inexorable critic and a slave of the letter of the Law, a rationalist and a mystic, a deeply religious man, and an astrologer. These contradictions did not mark successive stages in his life, but they controlled the whole course of his existence. In his youth he toyed with the muses, sang the praises of distinguished persons, and feasted with Moses Ibn-Ezra. He was likewise acquainted with Jehuda Halevi; they often conversed brilliantly upon philosophical problems, and it is clear that they did not agree in their methods of thought.

Although Ibn-Ezra was acquainted with the artistic forms of Arabic and neo-Hebraic poetry, he was, nevertheless, no poet. His verses are artificial, pedantic, uninteresting, and devoid of feeling. His liturgical poetry, produced at all periods of his life, bears the same impress of sober contemplation. It consists of wise maxims or censorious admonitions; there is no outpouring of religious feelings which absorb the soul, and which characterize fervent prayer. In the religious poetry of Ibn-Ezra there is lacking what is so manifest in the compositions of Ibn-Gebirol and Jehuda Halevi;368 the spirit of sublime joyousness which expresses itself in inspired hymns, the exalted majesty which aspires to the highest, and attains it. He was, however, inimitable in wit and pointed epigrams, in riddles and satire. His prose is, moreover, exemplary, and it may even be said that he created it. He abstains from over-embellishment and empty phraseology.

Though Ibn-Ezra holds no high place in poetry, he is entitled to the first rank as a thorough expositor of the Holy Scriptures. As such, he displayed great tact, since he was guided by the strictly grammatical construing of the text. He was a born exegetist. He was able to bring to bear his wide knowledge and brilliant ideas upon the verses of Holy Writ without being compelled to connect them logically. His restless, inconstant mind was not capable of creating a complete and systematic whole. He had not the power of methodizing Hebrew philology, and of synoptically arranging his material. In Biblical exegesis, however, he was thoroughly original. He raised it to the degree of a science, with fixed principles, so that he was for a long time without a rival in this department of learning. It is worthy of remark, that he never felt called upon to cultivate the field of Biblical interpretation whilst at home, although he possessed most remarkable talent for this work. As long as he remained in Spain he was only known as a clever mathematician and astronomer, not as an exegete. In general, he produced nothing of a literary character in his native land, except perhaps some Hebrew poems of a religious or satirical character.

Ibn-Ezra was induced by straitened circumstances to leave the war-stricken and impoverished city of Toledo. He was never possessed of much wealth. In his epigrammatic way, he made merry over his misfortunes, which condemned him to poverty: "I369 strive to become wealthy, but the stars are opposed to me. If I were to engage in shroud-making, men would cease dying; or if I made candles, the sun would never set unto the hour of my death."

As he was unable to earn his livelihood at home, he started on his travels (about 1138–1139) accompanied by his adult son Isaac. He visited Africa, Egypt, and Palestine, and communed with the learned men of Tiberias, who prided themselves on the possession of carefully written copies of the Torah. As he could find no rest anywhere, he journeyed further, towards Babylonia, visiting the city of Bagdad, where a Prince of the Captivity, with the consent of the Caliph, again exercised a sort of supremacy over all Eastern congregations. During the course of this extensive journey, Ibn-Ezra made many careful observations, and enriched the vast stores of his mind.

It is difficult to understand why, on his turning homewards from the East, he did not again visit his native land. In Rome, he at length found the long-desired rest (1140). His appearance in Italy marks an epoch in the development of culture among the Italian Jews. Although they enjoyed freedom to such a degree that the Roman community was not bound to pay any taxes, the Jews of Italy still remained in a low condition of culture. They studied the Talmud in a mechanical, lifeless manner. They had no knowledge of Biblical exegesis, and neo-Hebraic poetry for them consisted of wretched rhymes. Their model of poetry was the clumsy verse of Eleazar Kalir, which they considered inimitable. Their sluggish minds were prone to all the superstition of the Middle Ages. What a contrast to them did the Spanish traveler present, with his refined taste for art, his healthy ideas, and his philosophical education! The time of his arrival in Rome was favorable to the revival of the higher culture. Just at this time there arose a bold priest,370 Arnold of Brescia, who asserted that the popes did not rule according to the spirit of the Gospel: that they ought not to hold temporal sovereignty, but should live as true servants of the Church, and act with proper humility.

An earnest spirit of inquiry and a striving after freedom arose in the home of the papacy. The people listened eagerly to the inspired words of the young reformer, threw off their allegiance to the papacy, and declared their state a republic (1139–1143). Just at this time, Ibn-Ezra lived at Rome. It is most probable that youths and men gathered in large numbers in order to hear the great traveler, the deeply learned Spanish scholar, who knew well how to enchant them by his terse, lively, striking, and witty conversation.

In Rome the first production of Ibn-Ezra, who had now reached his fiftieth year, appeared, an exposition of the Five Megilloth. His exegetical principles were made evident in his earliest efforts. Everything that was obscure disappeared before his clear vision, unless he purposely shut his eyes so that he might not see what was right, or else pretended not to see at all. Was it the doubt that was agitating his mind, or was it his weakness of character which made him shrink from rudely dispelling the dreams of the multitude? It cannot be gainsaid that Ibn-Ezra often denies the truth, or conceals it in such a manner that it is recognizable only by men of equal intellect.

Great as were Ibn-Ezra's exegetical talents, they did not enable him to comprehend and thoroughly to analyze doubtful Biblical passages so as to bring them into some sort of connection as an organic whole, or as a beautifully constructed work of art. His mind was more directed to individual, detached questions, his restless thought was never concentrated on one thing, but always had a tendency to digress to other subjects only slightly connected371 with the original matter. Ibn-Ezra was the first to convey to the Roman Jews a conception of the importance of Hebrew grammar, of which they were completely ignorant. He translated the grammatical works of Chayuj, from Arabic into Hebrew, and wrote a work under the title of "The Balance" (Moznaim), the only interesting part of which is the well-written historical introduction reviewing the labors of his predecessors in the sphere of Hebrew philology.

In the summer of 1145 he was at Mantua, and here he composed a new grammatical work upon the niceties of the Hebrew style (Zachot). In this book he charged those with heresy who deviated from the Massoretic authorities. This conduct appears the more incongruous, since he himself, though secretly, took still greater liberties with the text of the Bible. He remarks of the grammatical works of Ibn-Janach, that they ought to be thrown into the fire, because the author suggests that more than a hundred words in the Bible ought to be read or understood in another than the accepted manner. His condemnatory judgment was of such effect that the important productions of Ibn-Janach remained unknown to the following generations, and inquirers were compelled to quench their thirst at broken cisterns.

He does not appear to have stayed long in Mantua, but to have betaken himself thence to Lucca, where he dwelt for several years, and gathered a circle of disciples about him. Here he occupied himself very much with the study of astronomy, drew up astronomical tables, and paid great attention also to the pseudo-science of astrology, which was diligently studied by Mahometans and Christians. He wrote many books under different titles on this subject (1148).

After recovering from a severe illness, he determined to write a commentary on the Pentateuch, a372 self-appointed task from which he shrank on account of its great difficulty. He was now in the sixty-fourth year of his age (1152–1153). But there are no signs of old age to be found in the work, which bears the stamp of freshness and youthful vigor. The exposition of the Pentateuch by Ibn-Ezra is an artistic piece of work, both in contents and in form. The language is vigorous, flowing and witty, the interpretation profound, temperate, and bearing the impress of devoted work. His rich store of knowledge, his extensive reading and experience enabled him to make the Book of books more intelligible, and to scatter the misty clouds in which ignorance and prejudice had enshrouded it.

In his introduction he describes in a very striking and clever manner the four customary and unsuitable methods of interpretation which he desires to avoid. Confident of success, he puts himself above his predecessors, and completes the task which he had set himself, to fix the natural meaning of the text. Ibn-Ezra, by means of his commentary to the Pentateuch, became the leader of the school of temperate, careful, and scientific expositors of the Bible, and held the first place among the few enlightened minds opposed to the obscurity of Agadic explanation, of which Rashi was the leading exponent. For although he denounced as heretical every interpretation that differed from the Massora, yet rationalists considered him their leading authority, and even unbelief looked to him for support. In fact, Ibn-Ezra gives us abundant reason for reckoning him among such men as Chivi Albalchi, Yitzchaki, and others, who called the authority of the Pentateuch into question. In a vague and mysterious way, he suggested that several verses in the Torah had been added by a later hand, and that whole passages belonged to a later period. It is difficult to know whether he was in earnest in his scepticism or in his firm belief. In373 Lucca, Ibn-Ezra wrote his brilliant commentary on Isaiah (1154–1155), and other less important works. After the completion of his commentary on the Pentateuch (1155), Ibn-Ezra left Italy, and went to the south of France, which, on account of its connection with Catalonia, possessed more of the Spanish-Jewish culture than the north of France, Italy, or Germany. In Jewish history Provence forms the dividing line between two methods, the strictly Talmudical, and the scientific and artistic. The Jewish Provençals worked actively according to both methods, but did not attain any degree of excellence in either, merely remaining admirers and imitators. Ibn-Ezra introduced a new element into this circle. In the town of Rhodez he lived several years (1155–1157), and wrote his commentaries to the book of Daniel, the Psalms, and the Twelve Prophets. His fame became wide-spread, and attracted admirers. The greatest rabbinical authority of the time, Jacob Tam, sent him a poem of homage. Ibn-Ezra was very much surprised, and replied with an epigram, half complimentary, half insulting. His love of travel led him, now in his seventieth year, to foggy London, where he found a liberal Mæcenas, who treated him with affection. Here he composed a kind of philosophy of religion, written, however, with such extreme carelessness and haste, that it is absolutely impossible to follow his train of thought. On the whole, Ibn-Ezra accomplished as little in this branch of learning as in general philosophy.

After this work on the philosophy of religion, while still in London, he wrote a defense of the Sabbath, which is interesting on account of its introduction. He begins by telling a dream which he had had, and in which the Sabbath in person handed him a letter. Herein the Sabbath complains that a disciple of Ibn-Ezra had brought writings into his house in which the Biblical day374 was said to begin in the morning, and that consequently the evening before the Sabbath possessed no sanctity. The apparition thereupon commanded him to take up the defense of the Sabbath. He awoke from his dream, and by the light of the moon read the impious writings which had been brought to him, and, in truth, found therein an assertion that the Biblical day began in the morning and not in the evening. This unorthodox doctrine, which, it may be remarked, was propounded by the grandson of Rashi, the pious Samuel ben Meïr, aroused Ibn-Ezra; and he felt himself in duty bound to controvert it with all his might, "lest Israel be led into error." In pious wrath he writes, "May the hand of him who wrote this wither, and may his eyes be darkened." The defense, which consists of the interpretation of Biblical verses and of astronomical explanations, bears the name of "The Sabbath Epistle." Although he was in prosperous circumstances whilst in London, and had many pupils, he left that city after a short stay. In the autumn of 1160 he visited Narbonne, and later on (1165 or 1166) he was again at Rhodez, where in his old age he revised his commentary to the Pentateuch, and abridged it, retaining the most essential portions, and finally composed his last book, a grammatical work (Safah Berurah). His vigor and freshness of intellect, which he retained even to the end of his life, are wonderful; his last productions, like his first, bear the imprint of vivacity, confidence, and youthful power. Besides his exegetical, grammatical, astronomical, and astrological writings, he was also the author of several works on mathematics. It appears that in his closing years Ibn-Ezra longed to return to his native land, and began his homeward journey. When, however, he reached Calahorra, on the borders of Navarre and Aragon, he died, and it is said that on his death-bed he wittily applied a Bible375 verse to himself: "Abraham was 78 years old when he escaped from the curse of this world." He died on Monday, 1st Adar (22d January), 1167. He left many pupils and a talented son, who, however, did not add glory to his name.

The Jewish community in France at this time also possessed a highly gifted man, who not only concentrated within himself the chief characteristics of the French school, and thus became an authority for several centuries, but who also partook of the spirit of the Jewish-Spanish school. Jacob Tam of Rameru (born about 1100, died 1171) was the most distinguished disciple of the school of Rashi. Being the youngest of the three learned grandchildren of the great teacher of Troyes, Tam could not have acquired anything from his grandfather, whom he knew only in the early years of his childhood. However, he attained so high a degree of excellence in the study of the Talmud that he outshone his contemporaries, and even his elder brothers, Isaac and Samuel (Rashbam). The interminable paths and the winding roads of the Talmudical labyrinth were familiar to him, and he had a rare knowledge of the whole region. He united clearness of intellect with acuteness in reasoning, and was the chief founder of the school of the Tossafists. None of his predecessors had revealed such profound knowledge and so marvelous a dialectical ingenuity in the sphere of the Talmud. Although not in office, and engaged in business, he was esteemed the most famous rabbi of his time, and his renown traveled as far as Spain and Italy. Questions upon difficult points were sent to him exclusively, not only from his own land, but also from southern France and Germany; and all the rabbinical authorities of the period bowed to him with the deepest reverence. In his youth he was surrounded by pupils who regarded him with veneration as their ideal. He was so overwhelmed with376 the task of answering questions sent to him that he sometimes succumbed. The fanatics of the second crusade, who almost deprived him of life, robbed him of all his possessions, and left him nothing more than his life and his library. Nevertheless, he composed his commentary to the Talmud just at this troubled period. He was a man of thoroughly firm religious and moral character, in which there was only one blemish: he took usury from Christians. Indeed, he, to a certain extent, disregarded the rigid Talmudic laws on usury, in contravention of the practice of his grandfather.

Jacob Tam is almost the only member of the school of northern France who overcame the partiality for Talmudical study, and displayed great taste for the diversified studies of the Spanish Jews. He studied their art of Hebrew versification, and wrote liturgical prayers and secular poems in a metrical form. He corresponded with Ibn-Ezra, the representative of Jewish-Spanish culture, and, as related above, exchanged poems with him. Poetry led Tam, who did nothing superficially, to a thorough course of inquiry into the Hebrew language, and he became so far advanced in the knowledge of grammar that he was able to act as arbiter in the grammatical controversy between Menachem ben Saruk and his opponent Dunash.

The large numbers of learned rabbis in northern France and in Germany, and the universally acknowledged authority of Tam, brought about a new departure, which for the first time made its appearance in the post-Talmudical period. Under the presidency of the Rabbi of Rameru, the first rabbinical synod assembled for the purpose of deciding important questions of the day. Probably the councils which had been convened in France by the fugitive popes, Pascal, Innocent II, Calixtus, and Alexander III, gave this suggestion to the rabbis. The rabbinical synods were not attended with that377 pomp which transformed such councils into theaters in which vanity and ambition are fostered. Those who took part in the proceedings met at some appointed place frequented by Jews, such as Troyes and Rheims, without any splendor or ceremony, and without ulterior motives or political intrigue. The decisions of the rabbinical synods included not only religious and communal matters, but also questions of civil laws, as the Jews still possessed their own jurisdiction.

It is most probable that it was at one of these synods of the rabbis, in whose minds the persecution of the second crusade was still fresh, that it was decreed that no Jew should purchase a crucifix, church appurtenances, vestments of the mass, church ornaments or missals, because such an act might involve the whole community of Jews in great danger. At a great synod, in which took part one hundred and fifty rabbis from Troyes, Auxerre, Rheims, Paris, Sens, Drome, Lyons, Carpentras, from Normandy, Aquitania, Anjou, Poitou, and Lorraine, headed by the brothers Samuel and Tam, and by Menachem ben Perez of Joigny, Eleazer ben Nathan of Mayence, and Eleazer ben Samson of Cologne, the following resolutions were passed: (1) That no Jew should summon one of his co-religionists before the courts of the country unless both parties agreed to it, or unless the accused refused to appear before a Jewish court of law. (2) Any damages which might accrue to the defendant through this ex parte litigation at a non-Jewish court of law should be paid by the complainant, according to the assessment of seven elders of the congregation. (3) That no person should apply to the secular authorities for the office of president or provost, or obtain the office by stealth, but that the president shall be elected in an open manner by the majority of the members of the congregation. A ban of excommunication was pronounced378 against all who transgressed these and other decisions of the synod; no Jew should hold intercourse with such transgressors, nor partake of their food, nor use their books or utensils, and not even accept alms from them. The edict of excommunication against informers and traitors was also revived at this synod.

At a synod held in Troyes, over which Tam presided, all those were threatened with excommunication who dared find fault with any bill of divorce after it had been delivered to the wife. Hyper-critical or wicked men often criticised a bill of divorce after it had been granted, causing the divorced parties much annoyance. Other decisions were made by the synods, and these possessed the force of law among the French and German Jews. Thus it was decided that the ordinance of Gershom for the prevention of polygamy could only be abrogated by a hundred rabbis from three different provinces, such as Francia, Normandy, and Anjou, and only for the most weighty motives. The rabbis did not, like the Catholic prelates, use this power of the synod against the people, but in accordance with the feeling of the nation and for the welfare of the community. Hence their decisions once made did not require frequent renewal.

In his old age, Tam witnessed a bloody persecution of the Jews in his vicinity, in Blois, which is memorable not only on account of the severity with which the martyrs were treated, but especially for the lying accusation, then for the first time brought against them, that they used the blood of Christians at the Passover. It was a base intrigue which kindled the fire at the stake for the innocent.

A Jew of Blois was riding at dusk towards the Loire in order to water his horse. He there met a Christian groom, whose horse shied at a white fleece which the Jew wore beneath his cloak, and379 growing restive, refused to go to the water. The servant, who was well aware of the Jew-hating character of his master, the mayor of the town, concocted a story which served as ground for an accusation. He asserted that he had seen the Jewish horseman throw a murdered Christian child into the water. The mayor bore a grudge against an influential Jewish woman named Pulcelina, who was a favorite of his lord, Count Theobald, of Chartres, and took this opportunity of revenging himself. He repeated the lie about the murder of a Christian child, and the charge read: "The Jews crucified it for the Passover, and then threw it into the Loire." Count Theobald thereupon commanded that all the Jews should be put into chains, and thrown into prison. Pulcelina alone, for whom Theobald entertained a particular affection, remained unharmed. Relying upon this, she quieted the fears of her suffering co-religionists with the assurance that she would prevail on the Count to release them. But soon the imprisoned Jews learned that there was no hope of human aid.

Pulcelina, on account of the affection shown for her, had incurred the bitter enmity of Isabelle, the wife of the Count, and she planned the destruction of the Jews. She had a watch set over Pulcelina, and prevented her from meeting the Count. The Jews had but one glimmer of hope: an appeal to the notorious avarice of the Count. He had sent a Jew of Chartres to ask what sum they were willing to pay in order to be acquitted of this charge of murder. Thereupon they consulted with friendly Christians, and it was arranged that one hundred pounds of ready money, and one hundred and eighty pounds of outstanding debts—probably the whole wealth of the small community—would be sufficient. At this point, however, a priest took part in the proceedings, and addressing the Count with warmth, besought him not to treat the matter380 lightly, but to punish the Jews severely in case the accusation against them was well founded. But how could any one ascertain the truth, seeing that the whole charge rested merely upon the statement of the groom, who could be said to have seen no more than a body thrown into the river? In the Middle Ages such doubts were readily solved. The water test was applied. The servant was conveyed to the river in a boat filled with water, and as he did not sink, the Count and the whole of the Christian population were firmly convinced that his statements were really true. Count Theobald issued an order condemning the entire Jewish congregation at Blois to death by fire. When they were brought out to a wooden tower, and the fagots around them were about to be kindled, the priest begged them to acknowledge Christianity, and thus preserve their lives. They nevertheless remained steadfast to their faith, and were first tortured, and then dragged to the stake. Thirty-four men and seventeen women died amid the flames whilst chanting the prayer which contains the confession of faith in One God (Wednesday, 20 Sivan—26 May, 1171), Pulcelina dying with them. A few Jews only, through fear of death, accepted Christianity. The Christians, relying on the water test, were firmly convinced that the Jews had rightly deserved death at the stake, and the chronicle narrates in terse fashion: "Theobald, Count of Chartres, caused several Jews of Blois to be burnt, because they had crucified a Christian child at the celebration of their Passover, and had thrown its body into the Loire."

When the news of the martyrdom of the Jews reached Tam, he decreed that the day should be observed as a strict fast and a day of mourning. The congregations of France, Anjou, and the Rhine country, to whom the great teacher sent letters of request, willingly obeyed his decrees. This fast day, in memory of the martyrs of Blois, at the381 same time commemorates the beginning of the utterly false and groundless fabrication that the Jews use blood on their Passover, which in the course of half a century was the cause of the death of hecatombs of victims. This decree was the last public act of Tam, for a few days afterwards he died (Wednesday, 4th Tamuz—9th June). One of his pupils, Chayim Cohen, remarked that if he had been at the burial, he would have assisted in the final disposition of the body in spite of the law that a descendant of Aaron may not touch a corpse, because for so holy a man the sanctity of a priest may be laid aside. Rabbi Tam concludes the series of creative minds of the French school, just as Ibn-Ezra marks the end of the original element in the Spanish school. There now arose a personage who completely reconciled both schools, and with whom a clearly marked transformation in Jewish history commenced.


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CHAPTER XIII.
SURVEY OF THE EPOCH OF MAIMUNI (MAIMONIDES).

The Jews of Toledo—Ibn-Shoshan, Ibn-Alfachar—The Poet Charisi—Sheshet Benveniste—Benjamin of Tudela—The Jews of Provence—The Kimchis—The Communities of Béziers, Montpellier, Lünel, and Toulouse—Persecutions of Jews in Northern France—The Jews of England—Richard I—The Jews of York—The Jews of Germany—Ephraim ben Jacob—Süsskind—Petachya the Traveler—The Jews of Italy and of the Byzantine Empire—Communities in Syria and Palestine—The Jews of Bagdad—Mosul—The Pseudo-Messiah, David Alroy—The Jews of India—Conversion to Judaism of Tartars—The Jews of Egypt.

1171–1205 C. E.

Before the thick clouds of deadly hatred had begun to gather from all sides over the house of Jacob, darkening the horizon without leaving even one span of the blue heaven; before the elements, pregnant with destruction, had been let loose on the head of the community of Israel, crushing it to the earth; before evil in the name of the Deity roused princes and nations, freemen and slaves, great and small, against the weak sons of Judah, and urged men with all the weapons of murder and the stings of scorn against them, to destroy this small body of men; before the haughty Popes, seated on the throne of God as judges over the living and the dead, fastened a badge of scorn upon the garments of Jewish men and women, and exposed them to persecution and mockery from all who encountered them; before fanaticism prepared instruments of torture for the most innocent of men, who were accused of crimes at which they shuddered more than their accusers, the charges being mere pretexts for torture and ill-treatment; before the gross lies about murdered children, poisoned wells, and witchcraft, became generally accepted;383 before all the nations of Christian Europe excelled the savage Mongolians in barbarity towards the Jews; before their thousandfold sufferings drove the blood from their hearts, the marrow from their bones, and the spirit from their brains, enfeebling them and dragging down their aspirations to grovel upon the earth; in short, before that life of hell began for the Jews, which, in the days of Pope Innocent III, reached its climax under Ferdinand the Catholic of Spain, it is well to glance around upon the circle of scattered Jewish congregations on the face of the globe, and to note their condition in different countries, in order to see what they still possessed, and of what this devilish fanaticism afterwards robbed them. The cruelty which, in the names of two religions, was preached against the Jews, had not yet succeeded in stamping them altogether as outcasts. Whilst in one place they were despised and hated and execrated, in another they were looked upon with respect as citizens and men; whilst in one country they were servants of the imperial chamber, in another they were appointed by princes and municipalities to important offices; whilst in one place they were reduced to the miserable position of bondmen, in another they still wielded the sword, and fought for their independence.

The number of Jews in Asia far exceeded that in Europe, but the general standard of the latter made them superior, so that Europe must be regarded as the chief seat of Judaism. Here true self-consciousness was aroused; here Jewish thinkers strove to solve the difficult problem connected with the position of Judaism and the Jews among the other religions and nations, and of the task allotted to each member of a community. The heart of Judaism still beat in the Pyrenean peninsula. Jewish Spain still held the highest rank, as the intellect had here reached its fullest development. Jews lived in all the five Christian kingdoms which384 had been formed in this prosperous peninsula, in Castile, Leon, Aragon, Portugal, and Navarre. Only in southern Spain, in Mahometan Andalusia, since its conquest by the intolerant Almohades, there were no Jews, at least none who openly professed their religion. The former seats of Jewish learning, Cordova, Seville, Granada, and Lucena had been devastated; Toledo, the capital of Castile and of the whole country, had taken their place. The Toledo congregation at this time led the van; it numbered more than twelve thousand Jews. The town, resplendent with magnificent buildings, possessed also many splendid synagogues, "with whose beauty none other could compare." Among the Jews of Toledo there were wealthy and cultured men and brave warriors, who were skilled in the use of weapons. Jewish youths practised the art of war, that they might become distinguished knights. Under Alfonso VIII called the Noble (1166–1214), many talented Jews obtained high positions, were appointed officers of state, and worked for the greatness of their beloved fatherland. Joseph ben Solomon Ibn-Shoshan, called "the Prince," was a distinguished personage at the court of Alfonso (born about 1135, died 1204–1205). Learned, pious, wealthy and charitable, Ibn-Shoshan enjoyed the favor of the king, and was probably active in affairs of state. "Favor was bestowed upon him, and goodwill manifested towards him by the king and the grandees." With great liberality he encouraged the study of the Talmud, and erected, in princely magnificence, a new synagogue in Toledo. His son Solomon equaled him in many virtues.

Another highly honored man at Alfonso's court was Abraham Ibn-Alfachar (born about 1160, died after 1223), "crowned with noble qualities and magnanimous deeds. He was exalted in word and deed, an ornament to the king, and the pride of princes." Thoroughly proficient in the Arabic385 language, Ibn-Alfachar wrote choice prose, and composed well-sounding verses, whose high merit induced an Arab author to make a collection of them; amongst them was a panegyric upon King Alfonso. This noble king once despatched Ibn-Alfachar on an embassy to the court of Morocco, where ruled the Prince of the Faithful, Abu Jacob Yussuff Almostansir. Although this prince of the Almohades continued the intolerant policy of his predecessors, did not permit any Jew to dwell in his kingdom, and even desired to distinguish the Jews who had embraced Islam from the native Mahometans by a prescribed dress, he was obliged to receive the Jewish ambassador of Alfonso with friendliness. When Ibn-Alfachar presented himself for an audience before the vizir of Almostansir, in order to present his credentials, he was conducted through the charming gardens of the palace, the splendor and fragrancy of which delighted the senses. The gardener was, however, as ugly as the gardens were beautiful. To the inquiry of the vizir, how the garden pleased him, Ibn-Alfachar replied, "I would positively have thought it to be Paradise, were it not that I know that Paradise is guarded by a beautiful angel (Redvan), whilst this has as its guardian an ugly demon (Malek), showing the way to the gates of hell." The vizir laughed at this witty comparison, and thought it worthy of being imparted to Almostansir. The latter remarked to the Jewish ambassador, "The ugly doorkeeper was intentionally chosen, in order to facilitate the entrance of a Jew into this Paradise, because a Redvan would certainly never have admitted an infidel."

A kinsman of this favorite of Alfonso, named Juda ben Joseph Ibn-Alfachar, also bore the title of "Prince."

Although the two patrons of Toledo at this period, Ibn-Shoshan and Ibn-Alfachar, were themselves386 proficient in the Talmud, and encouraged Talmudical learning, yet this study did not flourish in the Spanish capital to the same degree as with Alfassi, his disciples, and in the school of Rashi. Toledo produced no Talmudists of renown. The congregation was compelled for several centuries to obtain its rabbis elsewhere. The Toledans had a greater inclination for science and poetry. They preferred philosophy, meditated deeply upon religion, and defended their belief against doubt. They were the most enlightened of the Spanish Jews.

The aged historian and religious philosopher, Abraham Ibn-Daud, was still alive, and was an ornament to the congregation of Toledo. At length in the year 1180 he fell a martyr in a riot against the Jews, the origin and extent of which are not quite ascertained. It is possible that the very warm friendship displayed by King Alfonso towards the Jews had caused the riot. This prince, who had married an English princess, had an open liaison with a beautiful Jewish maiden, Rachel, who on account of her beauty was called Formosa. This intimacy was not a passing fancy, but lasted for seven years. Concerning this love, a poet sang:

"For her the king forgot his queen,
His kingdom and his people."

A band of conspirators attacked the fair Jewess on her richly decorated dais, and, in the presence of the king, slew both her and her companions, probably at the instigation of the queen and the clergy. On this occasion, a riot may have broken out against the Jews, in which Abraham Ibn-Daud met his death.

This did not prevent the Jews of Toledo, however, from giving great assistance to Alfonso in his wars against the Moors. When he assembled his immense army in order to subdue the great power of the Almohades, who under Jacob Almansur were again trying to penetrate into the heart of387 Spain, the Jews poured forth their riches into the coffers of the impoverished monarch so as to enable him to equip his forces. In the battle of Alarcos (19th July, 1195) he was defeated, and the flower of Christian chivalry lay upon the battle-field. The Almohades ravaged fair Castile, and Alfonso was compelled to shut himself up in his capital, where the Jews fought with the other inhabitants, in order to repel the onslaughts of the enemy. They rendered material assistance in compelling the retreat of the foe. The Jews of Castile had a special interest in opposing the Almohades in their attempts to gain possession of the capital, lest they should become subjected to the fanaticism of Islam. They witnessed with joy the withdrawal of the Almohades before the kings of Castile and Aragon, who had entered into a confederacy against them. Through this union, however, the Jews of the kingdom of Leon suffered severely, when the allied forces, ravaging the land, marched through their territory. In this campaign, the oldest Hebrew copy of the Bible in Spain, which had hitherto, under the name Hillali, served as a model for copyists (said to have been written in about the year 600) fell into the hands of the enemy (9 Ab, 1197).

In Aragon, of which Catalonia was a part since the time of Ramon Berengar IV, the Jews lived under favorable conditions, and were able to develop their minds. Alfonso II (1162–1196), a promoter and patron of the Provençal poetry, favored men gifted with word and thought, and amongst such the Jews at this time took a foremost place. Although Saragossa was the capital of Aragon, and since ancient times had a Jewish congregation, yet at this time the city of Barcelona was considered the center of northern Spain, owing to its favorable position by the sea, and the flourishing state of its commerce. Barcelona was pompously termed by the poet Charisi "the congregation of princes and388 nobles." At its head stood Sheshet Benveniste, philosopher, physician, diplomatist, Talmudist, and poet (b. 1131, d. about 1210). Well acquainted with the Arabic language, he was employed by the king of Aragon in diplomatic services, obtained honors and wealth, and like Samuel Ibn-Nagrela, owed his prosperity to his pen. Like this Jewish prince, Sheshet Benveniste supported men of science and students of the Talmud. The poets laud his noble mind and his liberality in excessive terms. Sheshet Benveniste himself, when in his seventy-second year, composed a song of praise of one hundred and forty-two verses in honor of Joseph Ibn-Shoshan of Toledo.

Next to him in importance in Barcelona stood Samuel ben Abraham Ibn-Chasdaï Halevi (1165–1216), "the fountain of wisdom and the sea of thought," as the poet Charisi extravagantly calls him. He had five learned sons, among whom was Abraham Ibn-Chasdaï, who as the author of a moral romance, "The Prince and the Dervish," and as a translator of philosophical writings, has made a name in the history of literature.

The community of Tudela, a small town on the Ebro, which was the bone of contention between the kings of Aragon and Navarre, had on two occasions courageously fought for equal privileges with the Christian and Mahometan inhabitants, and won them. They possessed a castle of their own for their security. Tudela produced a learned traveler, Benjamin ben Jonah, to whom, not alone Jewish history, but also general history, is indebted for his interesting and authentic information. He traveled through a great portion of southern Europe, Asia and Africa (1165–1173). The object of this journey is not quite known. He was either an itinerant merchant, or a pious man of an inquiring turn of mind in search of traces of a Messianic redemption. He made observations on the peculiarities of each389 town he visited, and his record of observations has been translated into many modern languages.

Serachya Halevi Gerundi was born (1125, died 1186) in the little town of Gerona in Catalonia. He appears to have possessed considerable knowledge of philosophy, and was probably one of the first in his country to occupy himself with this subject. He devoted himself especially to the Talmud, and being acquainted with the labors of the French and Spanish schools, he united in himself the methods of Alfassi, Rashi, Joseph Ibn-Migash, and Tam. He was a thorough and critical scholar, his mind being at once analytic and synthetic. In his youth, at the age of nineteen, he composed Talmudical works, and annotated the commentaries of Alfassi. Serachya Gerundi appears to have suffered persecution at the hands of the community of Gerona, for which he avenged himself by a satire. He left Gerona, and settled in Lünel, where he possessed many friends, and where he was maintained by a patron of learning. Here he composed various writings against a Talmudical authority of the south of France—Abraham ben David—and here also, at an advanced age, he finished his acute annotations of Alfassi's work on the greater part of the Talmud. These he published under the name of Maor. In this critical work, Serachya displayed his independence of spirit, and everywhere he insists upon a thorough understanding of the Talmud. But this very independence was displeasing to his contemporaries, who were accustomed to hedge themselves in with the decisions of the old authorities. Serachya was far in advance of his age in his view of the Talmud, and accordingly his conclusions were strenuously opposed. Of his life and position nothing further is known.

In the district on the other side of the Pyrenees, in Languedoc or in Provence, the Jews towards the end of the twelfth century lived most happily.390 Southern France partook of the northern Spanish character in respect of culture and morals. The country was divided into a number of small states, a circumstance which brought out the versatility of its genius, and produced a period of literary excellence, which it never afterwards surpassed. The province belonged at first partly to the French crown and partly it was a fief of the German empire; then it belonged to the King of Aragon as Count of Provence, and later to the Count of Toulouse and St. Gilles; and, lastly, to different vassals, counts, viscounts, and barons.

These were nearly all actuated by broad views of life; they were patrons of the flourishing Provençal poetry, they encouraged learning, and were not bigoted servants of the Church. Besides the nobility, a free and wealthy middle class had arisen, which guarded its independence as its dearest treasure. The intimate relations between the inhabitants and the Moslems and Jews had weakened western prejudices against the Orientals. The breadth of mind of the Provençals, which prompted them to resist the Catholic Church, to disregard papal bulls, to condemn the arrogant clergy, to apply the scourge to the vices of the Roman court, and which gave rise to the sect of the Albigenses, also rendered them capable of appreciating Judaism, and the adherents of that religion. Among the Provençal free-thinkers whom the stern, unbending Catholic Church branded as heretics, there were many who secretly and openly acknowledged that the law of the Jews was better than that of the Christians. Many of the great and minor lords of southern France appointed Jewish officers, and entrusted them with the high office of Chief Bailiff (Bailli), with which, in the absence of the regent, were united the police and judicial powers. The Jews of this country, which was so highly blessed by nature, felt themselves favored, carried their391 heads high, took the most lively interest in the welfare of the country, and exerted themselves in spiritual concerns with untiring zeal. As the Christians showed themselves ready to adopt innovations, so the Jews of southern France did not accept all tradition with unquestioning faith, but sought to comprehend its import, and test it before the judgment-seat of reason. Although the Jews of Provence manifested great interest in science, they cannot be considered as independent thinkers, able to strike out into new lines of thought within the limits of Judaism. Jewish Provence did not produce a single original mind, not one profound thinker, not one genuine poet, not one distinguished scholar in any branch of knowledge. The Jewish Provençals were faithful disciples of foreign masters, whose conclusions they appropriated, and steadfastly maintained; they were humble workers in science, translators and propagators of foreign intellectual productions. Judaism they loved with all their hearts, although ready to pursue the free investigation of truth. Jewish virtues flourished among them, their houses were hospitably opened to all strangers; they secretly assisted the needy, and practised beneficence at all times. The rich assisted the children of poor parents to receive higher instruction, and gave them books, which were at that time very costly. Especially noteworthy is the loyalty with which the congregations stood by one another, and interested themselves in one another's most intimate concerns. When danger threatened any particular congregation, the others immediately took measures to assist, and avert the impending danger. Their general prosperity was attained partly by agriculture and partly by commerce, which at that time was carried on with Spain, Italy, England, Egypt, and the East, and was in a most flourishing condition.

392 The principal congregation of southern France was Narbonne; at that time it contained 300 members. Under the rule of the sensible and masculine Princess Ermengarde, the head of the congregation was Kalonymos ben Todros, of an old family, whose ancestor, Machir, was said to have immigrated in the time of Charlemagne. Kalonymos possessed many estates, which were secured to him by absolute grants. At the head of the college was Abraham ben Isaac, who was recognized as an authority, and bore the title of Chief Justice (Ab-beth-din, died, autumn, 1172). He was a man of strictly Talmudical pursuits, and was scarcely affected by general culture. His Talmudical learning, moreover, was wide rather than deep; his disciples, Serachya and Abraham ben David, excelled him even in his lifetime. In Narbonne there lived at this time the Kimchi family, whose achievements cannot be said to correspond to their fame, but who, directly for Narbonne and indirectly for posterity, effected more than the greatest masters. The founder of the family, Joseph ben Isaac Kimchi (flourished 1150–1170), had emigrated from southern Spain to Narbonne, probably on account of the religious persecution of the Almohades. Having a knowledge of Arabic, he translated Bachya's work on moral philosophy, and many others, into pure, fluent Hebrew; composed a Hebrew grammar; wrote a commentary on Holy Writ, the nature of the extant fragments of which precludes regret for the loss of the rest, and composed many liturgical poems, artistic in form, according to the models of neo-Hebraic poetry, then brought to perfection in Spain, but of little poetic value. Joseph Kimchi's merit consists solely in the fact that he introduced the Jewish culture of Spain into southern France, and permanently established the results of Ibn-Ezra's fugitive activity. A polemical work against Christianity, in393 the form of a dialogue between a believer and an apostate, is also ascribed to him. Whether this work be genuine or not, in any case it belongs to this time and country, and throws a favorable light on the state of morality among the Jews as contrasted with that of the Christian population. The believer maintains that the true religion of the Jews is attested by the morality of its adherents. The Ten Commandments, at least, are observed with the utmost conscientiousness. They adore no being but God, and they take no false oaths. Among them are no murderers, adulterers, nor robbers; whilst Christian highwaymen often rob the weak, hang, or blind them. Jewish children are brought up in purity and fear of God, and no improper word is allowed to escape them. Jewish girls sit modestly at home, while Christians are careless of their self-respect. A Jew practises hospitality towards his brother Jew, ransoms prisoners, clothes the naked, and feeds the hungry. All these virtues of the Jews the Christian antagonist admits as generally known, and only blames the Jews for taking exorbitant interest from Christians. This offense the Jewish speaker palliates by pointing out that Christians also take usury even from their co-religionists, whilst Jews lend to the members of their race without interest.

Joseph's two sons, Moses and David Kimchi, followed in the footsteps of their father. The first, who flourished 1170–1190, was still more mediocre than his father, and this character of insignificance is borne out by his grammatical and exegetical works. The younger brother, David Kimchi (born 1160, died about 1235), was, in truth, the teacher of the Hebrew language to the Jews and Christians of Europe; but if any value is to be set on his grammatical, lexicographical and exegetical works, we must ignore the fact that Ibn-Janach, Moses Ibn-G'ikatilia and Ibn-Ezra lived before him, for with394 these he cannot bear comparison. David Kimchi did not establish one original point of view. In the introduction to his grammatical work (Michlol) he is honest enough to confess that he only sought to arrange the manifold and detailed results of the labors of his predecessors. At most, it can be said in his favor that he discovered the difference between the long and the short vowels, and thereby threw light on the vowel changes, and, finally, that he preserved in Jewish circles a faint recollection of a simple, sober, literal exegesis in opposition to the extravagant, Agadic, pseudo-philosophical method of exposition.

The old community of Béziers, which had received Ibn-Ezra so honorably, was at this time, under Viscount Raymond Trencaval and his son Roger, in a still more fortunate condition than that of Narbonne. The Jews and Christians of this city did homage to the spirit of free thought. Many of the citizens were Albigenses, and renounced their allegiance to the Pope and the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, following the old custom, the bishop, on Palm Sunday, incited the parishioners against the Jews as murderers of God, and the people, armed with stones, attacked the Jewish houses. But as the Jews, who lived together in one quarter, surrounded by a wall, always took precautions to defend themselves, there was usually a number of broken heads. The chiefs of the Jewish community now moved to abolish this custom, more discreditable to Christianity than to Judaism, and received the consent of the viscount. Bishop William, who was ashamed of so brutal a practice, also agreed that it should be discontinued. On May 2d, 1160, an agreement was concluded according to which every priest who stirred up the people against the Jews should be excommunicated. The Jews in return pledged themselves to pay four pounds of silver every year on Palm Sunday. The assassination of395 Raymond Trencaval by several conspirators in church on Sunday (5th Oct., 1167), involved the Jews of Béziers in trouble, probably on account of their known attachment to the viscount. Certain citizens preferred accusations against them, and the directors of the congregation were arrested. Not long after, terrible retribution overtook the murderers of the viscount and the accusers of the Jews. Roger procured auxiliary troops from Alfonso, the king of Aragon. These troops suddenly fell upon the citizens, put the men to death, and hanged the ringleaders. Roger spared the Jews on account of their faithful adherence to his father, and besides them only the women and children (Feb. 1170). The viscount Roger, who favored the Albigenses, had Jewish sheriffs, Moses de Cavarite and Nathan. Through this partiality towards the heretics and the Jews, he provoked the anger of the clergy and the Pope, and in consequence suffered a tragic end.

An important Provençal congregation existed in the flourishing commercial city Montpellier, which was the capital of southern France; it had very rich members whose beneficence was much extolled. Like their co-religionists in Béziers, they had a predilection for learning, fostered by the existence of a medical academy in the town and the prevailing freedom of education. The lords of this city were by no means so friendly to the Jews as their neighbors of Béziers. William VIII and his son expressly enjoined in their wills that no Jew should be admitted to the office of sheriff (1178–1201), although the latter owed a Jew, Bonet, a large sum of money. It is not known who was then at the head of the congregation of Montpellier, which produced no men of celebrity, although it possessed learned Talmudists in such plentiful abundance, that people compared its rabbinical school with the Synhedrion of the Temple-Mount (Har).

396 What is now the little town of Lünel, not far from Montpellier, was, under the lords De Gaucelin, an important city, and the Jewish congregation, consisting of nearly three hundred members, was considered, together with Narbonne, the most important outpost of Jewish Provence. Its Talmudical school, which rivaled that in Narbonne, educated numerous foreign students, who, if needy, were provided with all necessaries by the congregation. At the head of the congregation stood a man who was extravagantly praised by his contemporaries, Meshullam ben Jacob (died 1170), a scholar and wealthy man, whose opinion was held to be decisive in all matters of learning and law. To win his approval was an incentive to an author. "His soul adhered to the religion of his God; wisdom was his inheritance. He illumined our darkness, and showed us the right path." Thus, and still more extravagantly does an independent contemporary describe him. Meshullam encouraged learned men to turn their attention to various branches, especially to translating Arabic works of Jewish authors into Hebrew. He was the first to awaken, among the Jews of Provence, a taste for learning. He occupied the same influential position in southern France that Chasdaï Ibn-Shaprut had occupied in Spain. Meshullam had five learned sons, who illustrated within a small circle the two currents which were to meet in the next generation in keen conflict. One of the sons, Aaron, who flourished from 1170 to 1210, although conversant with the Talmud, had a special predilection for viewing Judaism from its philosophical side; two others, Jacob and Asher, on the other hand, paid homage to that teaching which abhorred the light of reason. Jacob, although rich, led an ascetic life, drank no wine, and on that account received the name of Nazarite. He is described as the first promoter of the new Kabbala. His brother, Asher of Lünel, lived, if possible, a life even more austere,397 and although equally affluent, he fasted much, and ate no meat.

On the whole, the scientific tendency prevailed in the community of Lünel. It was represented by two men, who have made themselves famous in the history of Jewish literature, viz., the founder of the family of Tibbon, and Jonathan of Lünel. The latter was an important Talmudical authority, who wrote a commentary on Alfassi's Talmudical work. He was none the less fond of science, and was one of the first who insisted that it should take a high place in Jewish studies. Judah ben Saul Ibn-Tibbon (born about 1120, died about 1190) originally came from Granada, and had emigrated to southern France on account of the persecution of the Jews by the Almohades. In Lünel he pursued the profession of physician, and in that capacity made himself so popular, that his services were sought by princes, knights, and bishops, and he was even sent for from across the sea. He knew Arabic thoroughly, and he studied Hebrew with enthusiasm. His learning, however, made him a pedant, he carefully measured every step, and cogitated deeply whether he should take it or abandon it. At regular intervals he examined his important collection of books, which he kept in most perfect order, and was unhappy if he noticed any confusion in them. He set great value upon elegant handwriting and other unessential matters. Ibn-Tibbon was thus, as it were, created for translating. At the instigation of friends, particularly Meshullam of Lünel—with whom, as with Serachya of Gerona and Abraham ben David, he lived on friendly terms—he translated in succession from Arabic into Hebrew, Bachya's "Duties of the Heart," Ibn-Gebirol's "Ethics" and "Necklace of Pearls," Jehuda Halevi's religious philosophical work, Ibn-Janach's important grammatical and lexicographical work, and, lastly, Saadiah's "Religious Philosophy" (1161-3981186). His translations, however, show his pedantic character; they are absolutely literal and clumsy; they slavishly follow the Arabic original, and do violence to the Hebrew language. Jehuda Ibn-Tibbon, who knew perfectly well that a conscientious translator must thoroughly understand both languages, as well as the subject-matter of the work, pleaded as an excuse for the stiffness of his translation, the poverty of the Hebrew language.

The second Tibbonid, Samuel, son of Judah (1160–1239), formed a strong contrast to the character of his father; though more gifted than the latter, he was thoughtless, prodigal, and of phlegmatic nonchalance. His father had spent the utmost care on his education, had himself instructed him, and put him under highly-salaried masters. Thus Samuel Ibn-Tibbon studied medicine, the Arabic language, the Talmud, and other cognate departments of knowledge. His fond father also provided him at an early age with a wife, and tried to subject his son to his guardianship and to the rule of his pedantic nature. The latter revolted against his father's despotic rule, cast his exhortations and teachings to the winds, and having asserted his independence, became estranged from his father. He made foolhardy business speculations instead of applying himself to his profession, losing all his money, so that he was finally obliged to appeal to his father for means to keep himself and his family from starvation. His father thought that he was ruined, but Samuel quietly finished his education, and ultimately excelled his father both in skill of translating and in philosophical grasp. He rendered into Hebrew not only works of Jewish authors, but also some of the works of Aristotle; he also wrote a philosophical exposition of Ecclesiastes and a treatise on portions of Genesis. Generally speaking, the chief claim of the Tibbonides to distinction rests on their skill as translators, as that of the Kimchis on their grammatical acumen.

399 Not far from Lünel, in Posquières, there existed at that time a congregation of forty members. Here was born one of the greatest Talmudists, Abraham ben David (about 1125, died 1198), son-in-law of Abraham ben Isaac of Narbonne. Having been educated under excellent teachers, and being very rich, Abraham (Rabed II) supported a college of his own, which attracted many students from far and near. He provided for the material as well as the intellectual needs of his disciples. Whilst still a youth, he composed Talmudical works of great importance, and at the instigation of Meshullam ben Jacob he wrote a commentary on a part of the Mishna. By nature inconsiderate, and having little respect for the rules of courtesy, he treated those whose writings he refuted in a contemptuous manner. He was a dangerous antagonist. Of the sciences he had no knowledge, nor did he seem capable of grasping the higher conception of Judaism; he even boasted of his ignorance of such things; it was quite sufficient in his eyes for one to be thoroughly conversant with the Talmud. Abraham ben David and Serachya Halevi were the profoundest Talmudists since the death of Tam.

Bourg de St. Gilles, the second capital of Duke Raymond V of Toulouse, had a congregation of a hundred members. This congregation, as well as the others under Count Raymond, whom the troubadours called the Good Duke, lived under most happy conditions, and were promoted to offices of state. Abba-Mari ben Isaac, of St. Gilles, better known through his learned son, was the sheriff of the town. This son, Isaac ben Abba-Mari, who was probably a pupil of Tam, had acquired, from the celebrated master of Rameru, a thorough rather than an ingenious method of studying the Talmud. In his seventeenth year he composed, at the instance of his father, a compendium of certain ritual laws, and later in life summed up all the results of400 his investigations in the Talmud in a work, entitled "Ittur," upon the rabbinical civil laws and rites.

Raymond VI of Toulouse favored the Jews even more than his father, and promoted them to offices (1192–1222). On this account, and for other like sins, he was virulently persecuted by Pope Innocent III, and ultimately had to take a solemn oath that he would deprive the Jews of their offices, and that he would never appoint any Jews, nor favor them in any way.

Beaucaire (Belcaire), which belonged to the county of Toulouse, also had a large congregation, at the head of which stood Kalonymos, "the Prince." In the flourishing commercial town of Marseilles, which at that time formed an independent state, there lived three hundred Jewish families belonging to two congregations. The minor congregation, the members of which dwelt near the harbor, and probably carried on navigation, or at least engaged in foreign business, had at their head a noble man, Jacob Perpignano (died 1170). The larger congregation had a Talmudical college, over which Simon ben Anatolio presided. In Marseilles also, the Jews were admitted to offices.

The beginning of the last two decades of the twelfth century constituted the boundary line between fortune and misfortune for the Jews of northern France, who were partly subject to the king and partly to the more or less dependent barons. As long as the friendly king, Louis VII, lived, they continued in their happy condition, and were protected from the malevolent attacks of the clergy. Louis would not enforce the resolution of the Lateran Council, that no Jew should keep any Christian nurses or domestics. He asked the Pope, at the request of the Jews, whether this resolution must be strictly construed, and whether the Jews might be allowed to build synagogues. In spite of the papal decision, he exercised so little energy in401 enforcing this canonical law, that even his son Philip Augustus, in whose favor he abdicated (1169) on account of feebleness, did not feel bound by it. When the Archbishop of Sens insisted on its enforcement, and endeavored to bring into effect several other decisions of the Church, which encroached on the prerogatives of the crown, the young king sent him into banishment. By and by, however, other considerations, not different influences, gained the ascendancy over the not very noble nature of Philip Augustus, at that time only twenty-five years old, prompting him to change his mind about the Jews, and transforming him into one of the greatest Jew-hating kings in history.

Although lord of the whole of France, and feudal suzerain of the mighty king of England, the French king at that time had little land of his own. The small tract of land, Isle de France, with a few scattered provinces, constituted his only inheritance, and the rest of the land was under the dominion of powerful barons. The policy of Philip Augustus aimed at enriching the French crown by the acquisition of landed estates, and by transforming the ostensible vassalage of the barons into a reality. To accomplish this he needed money, above all things, in order to raise troops and to support them. The wealth of the French Jews appeared to him a ready resource, and prompted him to devise a scheme to appropriate it. He had no need for lengthy consideration, for he had only to give ear to the prejudice that prevailed against them, in order to obtain the right to plunder and oppress them. Although the Jews of France were not the only persons who practised usury—for Christians also, in spite of canonical prohibitions, took exorbitant interest—and although it was perhaps only the rich Jews of that country that were usurers, Philip Augustus nevertheless made the Jews one and all responsible for the402 impoverishment of reckless debtors; and although personally he did not believe that monstrous lie which somehow arose in the twelfth century—whence and on what ground we know not—that the Jews slaughtered Christian children on the Passover festival, and drank their blood, he nevertheless acted as if they were incarnate murderers, so as to have a convenient pretext for exacting and extorting money from them. Even before the death of the old king, Philip Augustus caused all the Jews living on his estates to be seized whilst they were praying in their synagogues, and cast into prison (19th January, 1180). He calculated that the Jews would offer a large ransom for their liberation. When they had collected fifteen hundred marks of silver they were set at liberty. This extortion was only a prelude to further demands. Before the end of the year 1180, the king declared all claims of Jews against Christians to be null and void; but, nevertheless, took care to appropriate a fifth part of the debts of the Christians to the exchequer. A hermit of Vincennes encouraged him, by explaining to him that it was godly work to rob the Jews of their wealth. Philip Augustus was not yet satisfied that he had made the rich Jews beggars, and shortly afterwards published an edict commanding all the Jews in his province to leave it between April and St. John's Day (1181). They were allowed to sell their movable property. Their fields, vineyards, barns and wine-presses, which must have yielded a fine revenue, escheated to the king, and the deserted synagogues were used as churches. That it is untrue that the Jews of France were hated by the people on account of their usury, alleged child-slaying, and other crimes, is proved most decisively by the circumstance that counts, barons, and even bishops strenuously endeavored to turn the king from his purpose, and to induce him to repeal the edict of banishment against403 the Jews. All their efforts, however, were in vain; young Philip Augustus, who had much of Louis XIV in him, was, in spite of his youth, so obstinate that (as his biographer says) a rock could be shaken more easily than his resolution. And so the Jews of Paris and its environs once more had to take the wanderer's staff, and leave the places where they had lived for many centuries. The offer that they might retain possession of their property if they would submit to baptism, they held as opposed to their profession of faith in the unity of God. Only a few went over to Christianity.

Fortunately for the Jews, the hereditary estate of the king, as mentioned above, was at that time not very large, and the vassals were still independent enough to refuse obedience to the order to expel all Jews from their provinces. They dwelt in the greatest part of France, and even those who had been driven out of the territory of Philip Augustus were allowed to settle among them. The Talmudical College of Paris was closed, but those in the Champagne, where the Tossafists pursued their work, still flourished. The small town of Rameru continued to be the center of study. Here Isaac ben Samuel, of Dampierre (Ri), a great-grandson of Rashi, held his school. He was the chief authority after the death of his uncle Tam. Learned and acute, like his ancestors, Isaac occupied himself with completing Rashi's commentary, with collecting and arranging his notes on the whole Talmud, and supplementing the questions on knotty Talmudic points presented to the Tossafists, and their decisions. It required a profound knowledge of the enormous material of the Talmud to undertake this work, to adjust the most irreconcilable opinions, to discover an inconsistency here, and explain one away there. The story is told that in the college of Isaac the Elder there were sixty learned members, all of404 whom not only were proficient in the whole of the Talmud, but each one of whom knew by heart and could explain in a masterly manner one of its sixty treatises. Isaac's first collection of the glosses was called "the old Tossafoth." In consequence of the hostile spirit which began to prevail in northern France, through the persecution of Philip Augustus, Isaac's son, named Elchanan, who, although young, had gained renown among the Tossafists, fell a martyr to his religion, in the lifetime of his father (1184).

Some years later (1191) Philip Augustus sent fresh victims to the martyr's grave. In the little town of Bray (on the Seine, north of Sens), which belonged to the county of Champagne, a Christian subject of the king murdered a Jew. The relatives of the murdered man appealed to the countess, and obtained her permission, through rich presents of money, to hang the murderer. By design or accident, the execution took place on the Purim festival, and this circumstance reminded the people of Haman's gallows, and perhaps of something else. As soon as the king had received news of the execution of his subject, in a distorted report, moreover, saying that the Jews had bound the hands of the murderer, crowned him with a crown of thorns, and dragged him through the streets, he hastened to Bray with a force of men, and surrounding the houses of the Jews with guards, offered them the alternative between death and conversion. The congregation did not hesitate a moment, its members bravely determined to kill one another rather than die by the hand of the executioner. Philip caused nearly one hundred to be burnt, and spared only the children under thirteen years. A few days later the king, with blood-imbrued hands, was consecrated as champion of the Cross, and sailed to Syria, to the crusade. The so-called Holy War improved him but little.

405 All efforts to dislodge that really great hero, Saladin, from Jerusalem and the district belonging to it, had hitherto proved fruitless. Richard the Lion-hearted was compelled to patch up a truce discreditable to the Christians, and the only favor that he obtained was that Christian pilgrims were to be allowed to visit at any time the Church of the Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

A new crusade had to be preached; the dying embers of fanaticism once more had to be rekindled, and naturally the Jews again were the first to suffer. Pope Innocent III, the most thoughtless and arbitrary of all princes of the Church, took the cause in hand with frantic energy. He commissioned a preacher, Fulko de Neuilly, who had till then lived a reckless, sinful life, to preach the crusade in towns and villages; and this agent, a second Rudolph, used the unpopularity of the Jews and the prospect of plundering them as convenient means for enlisting soldiers for the armies of the Cross. He preached that Christian debtors, having taken the Cross, were absolved from their debts to their Jewish creditors. Many barons of northern France inspired, or pretending to be inspired by Fulko's fanatical harangues, enrolled themselves as crusaders. Now that their hatred of the Jews was once more inflamed, they drove them out of their provinces; for, having been impoverished by the canceling of their debts, the Jews had nothing left which the barons could extort from them.

Contrary to all expectations, Philip Augustus, the arch-enemy of the Jews, received the exiles in his own territory, and allowed those who had formerly been expelled by him to return again to their hearths (July, 1198). This inconsistent and tolerant action of the king, who had been hitherto invariably severe, occasioned much surprise. It seems that Philip Augustus had taken this step for the purpose of mortifying the clergy and Pope406 Innocent III, because they had declared against his second marriage, he having divorced his first wife without the sanction of the Pope.

At first glance it appears as if the French king and the barons were filled with solicitude for the Jews, as if the latter were so dear to them that they could not exist without them. They looked jealously at one another if Jews emigrated from one province to another; they reclaimed them, and entered into compacts whereby any Jews who had changed their places of abode were to be delivered over to their original lord; and they went so far as to place the Jews under oath not to pass beyond their borders. But behind this apparent solicitude there lurked the most contemptible greed for money. The Jews of northern France were considered by the kings and barons as convenient sources whence to obtain gold. As early as the year 1198, Philip Augustus entered into an agreement with Thibaut of Champagne, that neither should detain any Jews who had emigrated from the territory of the one, and settled in that of the other, but that the Jews should be sent back to the province whence they had come. Philip Augustus, however, like most of the kings of France, was not a man of his word; he refused to give up the Jews who had, on account of excessive oppression, moved to Francia from Champagne, which was thickly populated with Jews.

Thus, from the time of Philip Augustus, the Jews of northern France lost one of the most precious privileges of mankind, freedom of motion. Whilst formerly they were able to move about at will from place to place, they were now compelled to remain in their native place like serfs. If they ventured to move from it, the lord of the land seized their real property, and confiscated it. At first the Jews did not know what to make of this state of affairs, and the rabbinical authority of the time, Isaac of Dampierre, decided that no Jew should buy property407 that had been confiscated; and if he did buy such property, he was to return it to its original owner. Gradually this robbery became law. Not only freedom of motion, but even the right to possess property was denied them. "The property of the Jews belongs to the baron" was the leading principle of the legislation of northern France concerning the Jews. The king and the barons, indeed, allowed the Jews to take a high rate of interest (two deniers a week on a livre), because it served their purposes. The bonds had to be drawn up by a notary, sealed with the public seal, and witnessed by two notables. In this manner the lord of the province could obtain information of all money transactions. On every settled account the lord levied a large tax (cens). The Jews of northern France were valued only for their possessions; they were treated as revenue-producing bondmen. A nobleman sold to the Duchess of Champagne all his "chattels and Jews." The Jews were thus secure from expulsion and persecution, because they were needed, but they suffered from innumerable annoyances, and their moral sense was thereby blunted. They were restricted to the business of money getting, and they acquired as much as possible in order to be able to satisfy their tormentors. The clergy did not fail to add fuel to the fire of hatred against the Jews, and shut them out of the Christian world like lepers. Bishop Odo, of Paris, who issued canonical constitutions (1197), forbade Christians to buy meat of Jews, to hold discussions with them, and generally to have any intercourse with them. Those who disobeyed were subject to the sentence of excommunication. If the Jews of northern France had not then been possessed of a burning passion for the study of the Talmud, they would certainly have become as degenerate as their enemies pictured, and wished them to be. The Talmud alone saved them from brutalized selfishness and moral decay.

408 After the death of Isaac, the compiler of the Tossafoth (about 1200), the study of the Talmud in northern France was furthered by three men of his school: Judah Sir Leon ben Isaac, the Pious (ha-Chasid), in Paris (born 1166, died 1224), Samson ben Abraham in Sens (died before 1226), and the latter's brother, Isaac the Younger (Rizba), in Dampierre. All three expounded the Talmud in their schools in the usual manner, decided religious questions that were submitted to them, and wrote Tossafoth, those of Samson existing in a separate form under the name of Sens Tossafoth.

These three rabbis of northern France did not lead the way to new developments in any branch of learning. They had no taste for science or poetry, and they studied Holy Writ, only in the light of the Agadic method of exposition. They were not destitute of acuteness, but they wanted breadth of view. Samson was so incapable of doing justice to the sincerity of religious feeling in the Karaites, who, if possible, were over-scrupulous in the discharge of their religious duties, that he not only held it illegal to intermarry with them, but wished them to be regarded as idolaters, whose wine a Rabbanite might not drink. Judah Sir Leon wrote a book in which he endeavors to hold up the higher ideals towards which the truly pious should strive. This work is, indeed, instinct with religious feeling, and of singularly pure morality; but it is also full of perverted ideas of the world, and of crass superstition. It mirrors faithfully the spirit of that time: that religious scrupulousness which fearfully considers at every step whether it does not commit or occasion a sin; that gloomy disposition which detects in every natural impulse the incitement of Satan; that paltry spirit which treats every trifling occurrence as full of significance. Side by side with sentences of which philosophers need not be ashamed, in this "Book of the Pious," there occur409 absurdities which could have been produced only by the decline in all conditions of life, which the Jews had experienced since the reign of Philip Augustus.

Judah Sir Leon, the Pious, became the master of many pupils, who afterwards acquired renown: Solomon of Montpellier, Moses of Coucy, Isaac of Vienna, and others became rabbis, and promoters of the study of the Talmud in Spain, France, and Germany. All were guided by his spirit, beheld Judaism only as through a thick layer of fog, and were opponents of free investigation. The disciples of his school later on arrayed themselves against the Spanish exponents of a higher conception of Judaism.

In England, and in those French provinces which at that time belonged to England (Normandy, Bretagne, Anjou, Touraine, Maine, Guienne, Poitou and Gascony), the Jews lived under Henry II, for a long time, in undisturbed and happy quiet. They inhabited the large towns, and in London many of them attained to such wealth that their houses had the appearance of royal palaces. The summons to the first and second crusades found no response among the stolid islanders, and in consequence no martyrs were found among the Jews of England at that time. Many Englishmen had conceived such a predilection for Judaism that they entered into the covenant. There existed a congregation which consisted entirely of proselytes. Their communal and intellectual life was like that of France, which at that time stood in close connection with England. In London, Jacob of Orleans, a pupil of Tam, a famous Tossafist, founded his school. Benjamin of Canterbury was likewise a disciple of the teacher of Rameru. The knightly son of Henry, Richard the Lion-hearted, was equally averse to persecution, and the Jewish community of England might have developed peacefully under him, had not the fanaticism kindled by Thomas à Becket included410 them among its victims. At Richard's coronation (3d September, 1189), the first persecution broke out against the Jews, culminating a century later in their general expulsion. Richard's coronation ceremony was the first scene of a bloody drama for the Jews.

When Richard had returned to his palace from his coronation in the church, there entered, among others who came to do homage to the king, a deputation of the richest and most prominent members of the congregations of England to hand in their presents. On their appearance, Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, a fanatical church dignitary, remarked fiercely, that no presents ought to be accepted from Jews, and that they ought to be dismissed from the palace, for on account of their religion they had forfeited the privilege to rank among other nations. Richard, who did not think of the evil consequences that might follow, innocently obeyed the instruction of the archbishop. The palace menials, who showed the Jews out of the palace, thought themselves privileged to abuse them. The gaping crowd likewise fell to, and pursued the Jewish deputies with blows of the fist, with stones and clubs. Soon there spread about in all parts of London the false report that the king desired the humiliation and destruction of the Jews, and immediately the mob and the crusading rabble banded together to enrich themselves with the possessions of the Jews. The pillagers made an attack upon the houses in which the Jews had sought refuge, and set fire to them. Meanwhile night had come, and covered with her shadows the ghastly butchery of the Jews. It was in vain that the newly-crowned king sent one of his courtiers, Ranulph de Granville, to make inquiries about the uproar, and put a stop to it. At first he could not make himself heard, and was moreover assailed with jeers by the raging mob. Many Jews were411 murdered; others killed themselves, because they were called upon to submit to baptism, among them Jacob of Orleans. Most of the Jewish houses were burnt, and the synagogues destroyed. The fire, which had been applied in order to destroy the records of the debts of Christians to Jews, spread, and consumed a part of the city. Only one Jew apostatized to Christianity, the wealthy Benedict of York, who with his fellow-deputy had been ejected from the palace, and dragged into a church, where he had pretended to submit to baptism. When Richard, however, learnt the real circumstances of the affair, he ordered those implicated to be executed. Richard was so careful of the welfare of the Jews of his realm that, fearing that the persecution in London might spread through England and his French dominions, he promulgated edicts that the Jews were to be inviolate, and even sent deputies to Normandy and Poitou to suppress any outbreaks against the Jews that might occur. He, moreover, allowed Benedict of York to return to Judaism, when he learnt that he had been baptized under compulsion, and heard from him the confession that he had remained a Jew at heart, and wanted to die as such. The fanatical Archbishop of Canterbury, who was present at the interview, being asked his opinion, answered, "If he will not remain a son of God, let him be a son of the devil." As long as Richard remained in London, the Jews were at peace; but as soon as he crossed the Channel, in order to inaugurate a new crusade together with Philip Augustus, the scenes of London were repeated all over England. It was not only religious zeal which incited the Christians against the Jews of England, but rather envy of their prosperity, and, above all, desire for their property. The first to suffer was the wealthy and notable congregation in the flourishing commercial city of Lynn. If we may believe Christian writers, it412 would appear that the Jews first provoked the fury of the Christians against themselves. They are said to have attacked a baptized Jew, and when he fled for refuge into a church, they captured it by storm. Thereupon the Christians are said to have been called to arms. At the time there happened to be crusaders in the city. The Jews, being defeated by the latter, took refuge in their houses, and there were assaulted with fire and sword, but few escaping with their lives. It is impossible, however, that the Jews should have been the first to attack, for the citizens themselves, when called upon by royal commissioners to explain these disturbances, fixed the blame on the crusaders, who, in the meantime, had decamped with the booty of the Jews. A Jewish physician, who, by his modesty and skill, had won popularity even among the Christians, was murdered by these ruffians for mourning too much for his people, and invoking the justice of heaven upon their murderers.

Soon after the Lynn massacre, the Jews of Norwich were surprised in their houses, and butchered (6th February, 1190). A month later (7th March), the Jews of Stamford were severely maltreated, because on the market day many crusaders and strangers happened to be in the city, who were sure to be in stronger force than their opponents, in case the Jews, assisted by the citizens, should offer them resistance. They believed that they were performing a godly act if they treated as enemies those whose property they were lusting after, and they hoped to extort from the Jews their traveling expenses for the crusade. Without the least provocation, they fell upon the Jews, murdered some, forcing others to flee to the royal castle, broke into the houses, and carried away everything valuable. The robber crusaders absconded from the town with their booty, so that none of it might fall into the hands of the royal judges. One of these413 brigands was all but declared a saint; he deposited his plunder at the house of a friend, who murdered him to get possession of his ill-gotten gains. The Jews of Lincoln nearly shared the fate of their brethren of Lynn, Norwich, and Stamford; but on getting wind of the danger threatening them, they betook themselves with their property to the royal castle for protection.

But most tragic of all was the lot of the Jews of York, because among them were two men, who enjoyed princely fortunes, had built magnificent palaces, and had accordingly aroused the envy of the Christian inhabitants. One of these was Joceus, the other was Benedict, who had been so brutally ill-treated at Richard's coronation. The latter, who had reverted to Judaism after his compulsory baptism, died from the wounds which had been inflicted on him in London. Crusaders who wanted to obtain wealth, citizens who were chagrined at the prosperity of the Jews, noblemen who owed money to them, and priests who were animated by a bloodthirsty fanaticism, all entered into a conspiracy to destroy the Jews of York. In the dead of night, during a conflagration which had either broken out by accident or been kindled by design, the conspirators broke into the house of Benedict, which was inhabited only by his wife and daughters, carried away all the valuables, and set the house on fire. Joceus, who had foreseen the danger threatening him, repaired with his family and most of the members of the congregation to the citadel, and demanded protection. But few Jews remained in the town, and these were attacked by the conspirators, who appeared openly on the day following their successful experiment, and offered the Jews the choice between baptism and death. The Jews in the tower, however, were besieged, by an immense multitude of people of all classes, and were called upon to embrace Christianity.414 One day the governor of the citadel sauntered out of the fortress, and as the Jews feared that he would betray them, and hand them over to their enemies, they refused him re-admittance into the fortress. The latter made complaint before a high royal official, the lord-lieutenant of the province, who happened to be present at the time, that the Jews had had the audacity to shut him out of the fortress which had been entrusted to him. Infuriated in the highest degree, the lord-lieutenant gave orders to the besieging multitude to demolish the fortress, and take vengeance on the Jews. He even brought up re-inforcements in order to ensure victory. The siege lasted six days; the Jews repulsed all attacks bravely. The governor was beginning to repent of having given orders to storm the place, and many noblemen and prudent citizens were withdrawing from an enterprise which promised so many evil consequences to them, if it became known to the king, when up rose a monk in a white robe, who exhorted the besiegers by voice and example to continue their work. He held a special, solemn service, read mass, and took the Host to assure himself that divine assistance would be rendered them in conquering the weak little troop of Jews in the castle. He was nevertheless struck to the ground by a stone hurled by a Jewish hand, and yielded up his fanatical spirit.

The Jews had, in the meantime, exhausted their provisions, and death stared them in the face. When the men were deliberating what to do, one learned in the Law, who had come over from France, Yom Tob, of Joigny, counseled them to slay one another, saying, "God, whose decisions are inscrutable, desires that we should die for our holy religion. Death is at hand, unless you prefer, for a short span of life, to be unfaithful to your religion. As we must prefer a glorious death to a shameful life, it is advisable that we take our choice of the415 most honorable and the noblest mode of death. The life which our Creator has given us we will render back to Him with our own hands. This example many pious men and congregations have given us in ancient and modern times." Many were of the same way of thinking; the timid, however, would not abandon the hope of being able to save their lives. In the meantime, the heroic rabbi made preparations for the sacrifice. All valuables were burnt, fire was applied to the doors, and the men with the courage of zealots passed the knife across the throats of those dearest to them. Joceus, the leader of the congregation, first slew his beloved wife Anna, and to him was allotted the honor of being sacrificed by the rabbi. Thus most of them perished at one another's hands, on the day before that great Sabbath which forms the introductory festival in celebration of the redemption from Egyptian bondage, at about the same time when the last Zealots had put themselves to death in a similar manner after the destruction of the Temple, to avoid falling into the hands of the Romans. The few survivors had to contend during the night with the spreading fire, and secure for themselves some sheltered places. On the Sabbath (17 March, 1190), when the enemy advanced to the attack, the survivors declared their willingness to open the gate, and receive baptism; and to convince their foes of the shocking sacrifice that had been made, they threw the corpses of the suicides from the wall. Scarcely were the gates opened, when the leader of the Christian conspirators, together with his guardsmen, cut down the Jews, who were begging with tears in their eyes to be baptized; thus not a single member of the Jewish congregation of York survived; altogether about 500 Jews perished. On the following day, Palm Sunday (18th March), 750 Jews were butchered by crusaders in Bury St. Edmunds. Throughout England, wherever Jews416 were to be found, unless protected by the citizens, they met with the death of martyrs. A congregation of twenty families, consisting only of Jewish proselytes, likewise suffered martyrdom. King Richard was greatly enraged at these cruelties, and commissioned his chancellor to institute inquiries, and punish the guilty. But the crusaders had decamped, the guilty citizens and noblemen fled to Scotland, and the rest escaped punishment. Only the governor of York was deposed from his office.

But on the accession of Richard's brother, King John, who by his unprincipled conduct degraded England into a vassalage of the papal chair, the Jews were robbed even of the help of generous citizens. If John behaved ruthlessly towards all the world, the Jews certainly could not expect to be well treated by him.

Somewhat more fortunately placed than their co-religionists in France and England were the Jews of the German empire, which at that time was very extensive. The German nations, by nature more religious, and therefore more fanatical than the French and the other Romance nations, often indeed made existence for the Jews a veritable hell upon earth; but as emperors and princes protected them, the hatred against them could not produce any material effect. As Henry IV, during the first, and Conrad III, during the second crusade, protected the Jews, the notion arose that the German emperors had constituted themselves the guardians of the Jews, that any one who harmed them committed high treason, and that in return for his protection they became his "servi cameræ," the serfs of the imperial chamber. Frederick Barbarossa, the most powerful German emperor, who took Charlemagne for a model, was the first to begin the conversion of free Jews into "servi cameræ." The legend is interesting which417 characterizes the connection of the German emperor with the Jews in history. After the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, a third of the Jews is said to have been sold as slaves at the rate of thirty for a bad penny. These, scattered throughout the Roman empire, were the property of the Roman emperor, and became his "servi cameræ." The emperor, however, had taken upon himself the duty of protecting them, as a reward for Josephus' service to Titus, whom he had cured of gout. The rights and obligations of the Roman emperors towards the Jews passed over, through Charlemagne, to the German emperors, and hence the latter were similarly constituted the protectors of the Jews, and the Jews became their "servi cameræ." The Jews had, in all essentials, been "servi cameræ" before, in France and England; that is, they were half-and-half the property of the king or the barons, and under one or another title they constantly had to hold their purses in readiness to replenish the empty coffers of their lords. In Germany, however, they had in return the protection of the emperor. It was certainly not to be expected that the successors of Vespasian, of the house of Teut, should fulfil this office of champion of the Jews quite disinterestedly. On the contrary, they needed more revenue than other princes, as they had no land, and received but little money from their vassals. It seemed, therefore, only right that the Jews should, in return for his imperial support, supply the emperor with pocket-money.

Although the Jews of Germany were "servi cameræ," they were not robbed wholly of their personal rights in the twelfth century. They were allowed to carry weapons, and even to fight single combats. During the siege of Worms, Jews fought side by side with Christians, and the rabbi even permitted them to use weapons on the Sabbath for the purpose of defense. They had their own jurisdiction,418 and were not compelled to appear before an alien judge. Now and again some of them attained a higher position. The brave Duke Leopold of Austria, renowned in history for his capture of King Richard of England, had a Jewish treasurer, who, in spite of the canonical resolution of the Lateran council, was allowed to keep Christian servants. In Silesia, in the neighborhood of Breslau, Jews owned several villages with the bondmen appertaining to them. But as the prohibition to keep Christian domestics gained ground, the Jews were obliged to sell their landed estates, to remove to the towns, and there to engage in business and money-lending. In spite of the imperial protection, they were often exposed to ill-treatment. The infamous invention that the Jews used Christian blood found credence also in Germany, and here more than in any other place, and wherever the dead body of a Christian was found, princes and people immediately laid the murder at the door of the Jews. A ship containing Jews was proceeding from Cologne to Boppard, and after it there sailed another with Christian passengers. The latter found the dead body of a Christian woman in Boppard, and forthwith they jumped to the conclusion that the Jews of the first ship had slain her; the Christians immediately pursued and overtook them, and called upon them to submit to baptism, and on their refusal hurled them into the Rhine. In the general peace which the emperor decreed before his expedition to the Orient, the Jews were also included. He warned priest and monk not to stir up the people against them; but they had to supply funds for the crusade.

Under Frederick's successor, Henry VI, a horrible massacre of the Jews took place, the fanatics breaking loose upon them at different places from the district of the Rhine to Vienna. Under such afflicting circumstances, when they were not sure419 of their lives for one moment, it was impossible for them to advance to a high degree of culture. They were deeply religious and beneficent, and they assisted one another, and foreign immigrants, with everything that they possessed. Religion and the cohesion of the members of the community were the pillars on which they had to lean for support; but they were without enthusiasm or taste for any branch of knowledge. The study of the Talmud continued to be the only occupation of the more intellectual among them; but even in this they only followed the road marked out by Rashi and the Tossafists, without ever diverging from it. Those who desired to give spiritual nourishment to their mind, as well as acquire intellectual acuteness, absorbed themselves in a kind of mystic lore, the import and significance of which is lost to us.

Ephraim ben Jacob, of Bonn (1132–1200), made a name for himself at about this time. He was not, indeed, a rabbi by profession, but was none the less adept in Talmudical lore, and in addition was an extraordinary linguist. At the age of thirteen he was shut up with his relatives in the tower of Wolkenburg during the persecution that attended the second crusade; there he saw the sufferings of his brethren in faith, and described them later on in an impartial, enthusiastic and vividly written martyrology, which he brought down to the year 1196–97. Ephraim was also a skilful versifier, and he composed many liturgical poems, particularly lamentations on the sufferings of his time. His verses possess no poetical beauty, but they are characterized by a certain wit, which is displayed in ingenious allusions to Biblical verses and Talmudical passages.

It seems scarcely credible that Germany, hostile as it was towards the Jews at that time, should have given birth to a Jewish poet who was able to sing in beautiful strains, knew how to handle rhyme, meter,420 strophes in the vernacular, and was so warmly appreciated that he was received into the circle of poets. Süsskind (Süzkint) of Trimberg, a small town on the Saale in Franconia, adopted the poetic style of Walter von der Vogelweide and Wolfram of Eschenbach. He was probably a physician by profession, but nothing is known of the events of his life. In the castle of the lords of Trimberg, which stood on the ridge of a vine-covered hill, and was reflected in the winding Saale, or in the neighboring castle, Bodenlaube, in the company of noble knights and beautiful dames, he poured forth, lute in hand, his melodious strains, and the largesses which were showered on him formed his sole means of support. Süsskind sang of the high worth of the pure woman, and pictured to the knights his ideal of a nobleman: "Who acts nobly, him will I account noble." He speaks of the freedom of thought, not yielding to force:

"No man can bid a fool or sage from thought refrain,
A thought can glide through stone, and steel, and iron chain."

Süsskind also composed a German psalm. He describes the awesome thought of death and dissolution, mocks at his own poverty, and prescribes a virtue-electuary. Once the noblemen, whose bread he ate, appear to have given him a bitter reminder that he, as a Jew, did not belong to their select circle. His despondency arising from this reminder he embodied in beautiful verses, wherein he bids farewell to poetry. With the best of intentions, the Jews could not cultivate German poetry, since the Jewish poets received kicks instead of the laurel crown, as their reward. Being shut up in their own circle, their sense for the euphony of language became blunted, and it is probable that German poetry has lost considerably by it.

Bohemia also must be enumerated in the list of Talmudical centers, for it produced some men421 famous for Jewish knowledge. Isaac ben Jacob Halaban of Prague takes an important place among the Tossafists; he wrote a profound commentary on several Talmudical treatises. His brother Petachya made distant journeys (about 1175–1190) through Poland, Russia, the land of the Chazars, Armenia, Media, Persia, Babylonia, and Palestine. His abridged description of his journeys gives interesting notices on the Jews in the East. Even the Jews living in Poland and Russia began to take part in Talmudical learning, which in later times they were to possess as a monopoly.

It is remarkable that the Italian Jews of this period seem more destitute of intellectual productions than the Bohemian or Polish Jews. They did not produce a single authority on the Talmud. When it was said in Tam's time, "The law goes forth from Bari, and the word of God from Otranto," it was meant ironically, for they did not advance the study of the Talmud in any way. The times were most favorable to them; certainly as favorable as to the Jews of southern France. With the exception of a single case, the expulsion of the Jews from Bologna (1171), the Jews in Italy were about this time remarkably free from persecution. The clever Pope Alexander III was well-disposed to them, and entrusted the management of his finances to a Jew, named Yechiel ben Abraham, a member of the family dei Mansi, and nephew of Nathan, the famous author of the Aruch. On the entrance of this pope into Rome, whence he had been banished for many years by a rival pope, the Jews among others came to meet him with a scroll of the Law and with banners, an honor to the pope shown by Jews which the chronicles do not fail to record. They were treated with respect, and were not obliged to pay any imposts or Jew-taxes. The favorable feeling of Alexander is proved in the resolutions of the great council in the Lateran Church (1179), at which422 more than three hundred princes of the Church were present. Several anti-Jewish prelates endeavored to pass certain mischievous laws against the house of Jacob. The Jews, who received information of their hostile intentions, lived in tormenting anxiety, and in many congregations a fast of three days and special prayers were ordained, that Heaven might frustrate the wickedness of men. History has not recorded the discussions of the great Church assembly, but the final decrees bear witness that the gentle spirit of tolerance prevailed over the mania for persecution. The council only forbade the Jews to keep Christian servants, or in other words, an old Church prohibition was renewed. On the other hand, it was particularly insisted upon that they were not to be forcibly baptized, nor to be apprehended without a judicial warrant, nor robbed, nor disturbed on their religious festivals. The limitation of a privilege of the Jews, that henceforth Christians were also to be competent witnesses against Jews, was justly decreed. It was said in explanation that the evidence of a Jew was valid against Christians, and it was surely not equitable that the Jews, who in reality were subject to the Christians, and were tolerated only out of pure humanity, should in this respect enjoy an advantage over the Christians. What a contrast to that old Byzantine law and the resolution of the Visigothic council, that Jews could not act as witnesses against Christians! Not that the spirit of the Church had grown milder during these five centuries; but the Jews had earned respect for themselves, and accordingly the representatives of Christianity durst not repeat that old charge, "He cannot be true to men who denies God," i. e., the Christian God.

In southern Italy, in Naples, and the island of Sicily, under the Norman dominion, Jews were still less fettered. Roger II and William II expressly423 confirmed the privilege of trial according to their own laws, equally with the Greeks and Saracens. In Messina they enjoyed equal rights with the Christians, and were eligible to office. A favorite minister and admiral of King Roger of Sicily had a leaning towards Judaism, frequently visited the synagogues, donated oil for their illumination, and in general subscribed money to meet the requirements of the community. Seeds of a higher culture were scattered in profusion at that time in Italy, in consequence of its close intercourse with the East during the crusades, and of the immigration of the Greeks and Arabs into the kingdom of Naples. The Jews, who have special facility in mastering foreign languages, spoke Arabic and Greek, in addition to the vernacular and Hebrew. The versatile Ibn-Ezra, during his residence in Rome, Lucca, Mantua, and elsewhere, was the means of spreading among them a loftier conception of the holy Scriptures and of Judaism. His disciple, Solomon ben Abraham Parchon, of Calatayud, stayed in the university town of Salerno for a long time, and endeavored to make the Italians acquainted with the science of the Hebrew language and Bible exegesis, they being very ignorant in these departments, and for this purpose he composed a Hebrew lexicon (1160). But all these incitements had no effect on the Italian Jews. They remained ignorant, and the history of Jewish literature is unable to mention even an insignificant literary production by an Italian till the second half of the thirteenth century. The land which in later times gave rise to a new style of Hebrew poetry, cannot at this period show one Hebrew poet.

In the circumstance that the northern and central Italian cities were mostly engaged in trade, is to be found the true reason why they were not so numerously populated with Jews as the southern Italian cities. The great commercial houses, which had a424 determining voice in the municipal council, would not suffer the competition of the Jews. In Genoa there lived only two Jewish families, who had emigrated to that place from Ceuta, on account of the oppression of the Almohades. Pisa, Lucca, and Mantua had only small congregations. The two largest, which consisted of 1300 and 200 families, dwelt in Venice and Rome respectively. On the other hand there were 500 families in Naples, and 300 in Capua, who were well treated and respected. The chief of the Neapolitan congregation was David, who bore the title of prince (principino). In Benevento there was a congregation of 200 Jews, in Salerno 600, in Trani 200, in Tarentum 300, and in Otranto 500. The Jewish congregations in the island of Sicily were still more numerous. In Messina there lived 200 families, and in the capital, Palermo, 1500. This congregation had been strengthened by the arrival of Greek Jews, whom King Roger, after his conquests, had transplanted to that place, in order to establish the breeding of silk-worms.

If one sailed from Brundisium across the Adriatic Sea, he landed in the Byzantine empire. Here were numerous and populous Jewish communities, especially in Greece proper, Thessaly, Macedonia, and Thrace. In Arta (or Larta) there dwelt 100 families, whose president, curiously enough, was named Hercules; in Lepanto the same number; in Crissa, at the foot of Mount Parnassus, 200, who pursued agriculture. In Corinth there were 300 families, in Negropont 200, in Jabustrissa 100, in Saloniki 500, who had a Jewish mayor of their own (Ephoros), appointed by the Greek emperor. In Rodosto there lived 400 Jewish families, in Gallipoli 200, in the island of Mytilene there were 10 congregations, in Chios 400 families, in Samos 300, in Rhodes the same number, and in Cyprus several congregations, among which was one that had the425 custom of commencing the Sabbath in the morning, not in the evening, and continuing it till Sunday morning. The most important congregations in the Græco-Byzantine empire were those of Thebes and Constantinople, in both of which were nearly 2000 families, the latter containing 500 Karaites besides. The Theban Jews were the most skilful manufacturers of silk and purple in the whole of Greece. They had among them also rich merchants, silk manufacturers, and learned Talmudists. A wall separated the rabbinical from the Karaite community in Constantinople.

If the Byzantine empire in the time of its glory under Justinian and Alexius oppressed the Jews, we may be sure that it was not better disposed towards them in the time of its decline, when it lay in the throes of death. The principle that Jews and heretics were not to be admitted to any military post, or office, but were to be thoroughly despised, was, of all the enactments of this most erratic of states, the one most strictly and consistently adhered to.

The rich and the poor, the good and the bad Jews were, without distinction, hated most bitterly by the Greeks. No Jew was allowed to ride on a horse, the privilege of freemen; it was only by way of exception that the emperor Emanuel vouchsafed this privilege to Solomon, the Egyptian, his physician in ordinary. Any Greek might molest the Jews publicly, and in general treat them as slaves; the law did not protect them. Byzantium, from time immemorial celebrated for its avarice, imposed burdensome taxes on them. They endured this insolent brutality with the resignation of martyrs; nor did it make them forget to practise virtue, and extend charity to the poor. But the Greek Jews were unable to pay any attention to the cultivation of their minds. Not one of their Talmudists has immortalized his name by a work.426 There were indeed many skilful Hebrew versifiers among them, but their poems are ungainly, "hard as granite, without taste and fragrance." Charisi concedes merit to the verse of only one Jewish poet, Michael ben Kaleb, of Thebes, and he explains this circumstance by the fact that the poet had learned his art in Spain. In Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine, the size of the Jewish congregation at a given place might have been taken as the criterion by which to compare Christian with Mahometan tolerance. Where the cross was supreme, there were but few and poorly populated Jewish communities to be found, but where Islam had the ascendancy, there were many and populous Jewish communities. In Antioch, which belonged to a Christian prince, there lived only 10 families, nearly all glass-workers. In Leda (Laodicea), 200; in Jebilé, which belonged to the Genoese, 150; in Bairut (Berytus), 50; in Saida (Sidon), 10; only in Tyre was there a congregation containing 400 members, and there the Jews possessed farms, and were even allowed to pursue navigation. At their head stood Ephraim of Cairo. On the other hand, in Haleb (Aleppo), which had been raised, through the great Mahometan prince, Nureddin, to the position of second capital after Bagdad, there lived 1500 Jewish families, among whom were many opulent men, respected at court. Here dwelt the Hebrew poet, Jehuda ben Abbas, the friend of the prince of poets, Jehuda Halevi. He had emigrated to this place from Fez on account of the religious persecution. In the neighborhood of ancient Palmyra there lived nearly 2000 Jewish families, whose men were warlike, and often carried on feuds with the Christians and Mahometans. The congregation of Damascus counted 3000 members, among whom were many learned Talmudists, one of them being the famous Joseph ben Pilat, who originally came from France. In Damascus there was also a427 Karaite congregation of some 200 families, and a Samaritan congregation of 400 families, who, although they did not intermarry, nevertheless carried on a peaceful intercourse with the Rabbanites. In the whole of that part of Palestine in the hands of the Christians, there lived scarcely more than 1000 families. The largest congregations, each of 300 members, existed at that time in Toron de los Caballeros, in Jerusalem and Askalon; in each of the most important towns of Judæa, on the other hand, there lived only about 200 Jews. The Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem were mostly dyers, having bought the exclusive right to exercise this trade from the Christian king; they lived at the end of the town to the west of Mount Zion. Between the years 1169 and 1175 they were all, except one, expelled from that city (probably under the youthful and leprous phantom king, Baldwin IV), and he had to pay a high price for the privilege of carrying on the dyer's trade. The Christians, deeply sunk in vice, believed the holy city to be polluted by the continent Jews. In Askalon there lived, at about this time, 300 Samaritan and 40 Karaite families. In Cæsarea, which had before harbored many thousands of Jews, there lived then only 10 families and 200 Samaritans. Of this sect there were many also in their aboriginal seat, Samaria and Neapolis (Shechem), with not one Rabbanite Jew among them. Minor congregations of 50 there were in Tiberias and Ulamma, 20 in Gischala, 22 in Bethlehem, and in each of the other towns from one to three families. Thus was the heritage of Israel given away to strangers. The Jewish inhabitants of Judæa vegetated rather than lived; not even the study of the Talmud was cultivated by them. Accho alone possessed Talmudists, one Zadok, and another Japhet ben Elia, and these were foreigners. About this time many emigrants from Europe, and particularly from southern France,428 settled in Palestine; and these enjoyed such recognition among the Jewish natives, by reason of their intellectual superiority, that they were able to move them to celebrate the New Year's festival for two days, which, till then, and from time immemorial, the Palestinians had been accustomed to solemnize, like the other festivals, for only one day.

From the point of view of number and material importance, we must consider the district between the twin rivers, Euphrates and Tigris, as the chief seat of Judaism. Here there were congregations which numbered thousands. The former academical cities, Nahardea, Sora, and Pumbeditha, had certainly disappeared; but in their stead the congregations of Bagdad and Mosul (called New Nineveh) had gained an ascendancy over all Asia. The Bagdad congregation contained 1000 Jewish families with four synagogues, and lived in undisturbed quiet as in the best days of the Caliphate. So free did the Jews of this part feel that they even dared try to hinder the Mahometan crier in his business in a mosque in Madain (near Bagdad), because he disturbed their service in the synagogue. The caliph, Mahomet Almuktafi, had conceived an affection for an estimable and wealthy Jew, Solomon (Chasdaï?), and bestowed on him the office of Exilarch, and created him prince over all the Jews in the caliphate. The Prince of the Captivity was once more allowed to be surrounded by a retinue, to ride on a horse, to wear silk clothes and a turban; to be accompanied by a guard of honor, and to use an official seal. If he appeared in public, or repaired to court for an audience, both Jews and Mahometans were bound to rise before him, on penalty of being bastinadoed; a herald went before him, crying, "Make way for our lord, the son of David." The Exilarch appointed and confirmed rabbis, judges, and readers, in all parts of the caliphate, from Persia to Khorasan429 and the Caucasus, and as far as Yemen, India and Thibet. He appointed these officials by commission, for which he expected gifts. Thus the exilarchate was once more raised to the splendor of the time of Bostanaï. There also arose in Bagdad an important Talmudical college, whose principal assumed the title of Gaon. Isaac Ibn-Sakni, who had emigrated from Spain to the East towards the end of the eleventh century, appears to have once more awakened, in these circles, an interest for Talmudical learning. The Exilarch was himself a learned Talmudist. Ali Halevi was at that time the principal of the college, which was once more numerously attended by students. The city of Akbara, in the neighborhood of Bagdad, contained 10,000 Jews, but it had no special importance.

The congregation of Mosul was still more considerable than that of Bagdad. It numbered nearly 7000 families. This city was elevated to the position of capital through the hero Zenki, father of the great Nureddin, and like him the terror of the Christians, and as Zenki was not ill-disposed to the Jews, they enjoyed extensive liberties under him. The Arabic historians relate the following story. Once he came with his army to the city Jesirat-ul-Amar (on the upper Tigris), where there dwelt 4000 Jewish families. They had a synagogue which they believed had been built in the time of Ezra, and Zenki took up his quarters in the house of a Jew. His host complained to him of the impoverishment of the city through these constant military expeditions, and Zenki thereupon left the city, and ordered his army to encamp in tents before the gates. His successor, Saif-Eddin Ghasi (1146–1149), observed the same friendly attitude towards the Jews. At the head of the Mosul congregation was a man named Zaccaï, who also proclaimed himself to be a scion of the house of David, in consequence of which he bore the title of "Prince." He divided his430 authority with another, who was considered a distinguished astronomer, and bore the honorable title "Profound Connoisseur of the Sphere of Heaven," and was in the service of the Prince of Mosul.

The Jewish inhabitants of New Nineveh were regarded as the most ignorant among the Jews, and were not even conversant with the Talmud. North of Mosul, among the Carduchian mountains, or among the mountains of Chaftan, there were many large congregations, some of which were oppressed under the Sultans and the Persians, but others were free and wild as the mountains on which they dwelt. These free Jews in the land of Adher-Baijan (Aserbeidsan) used weapons, lived in friendly intercourse with the fanatical assassins who dwelt in that part, were the enemies of every one who was not one of their co-religionists or allies, and often made descents into the valley for booty. They were themselves inaccessible, and lived in primitive ignorance, without knowledge of the sources of their religion. They accepted the rabbi whom the Exilarch sent to them, and acted according to his directions. There suddenly appeared amongst them (about 1160) an ambitious and versatile man, who thought to profit by the military ability, the bravery and ignorance of these Jews for a purpose which is now unknown. This man, named David Alrui (Alroy) or Ibn-Alruchi (Arruchi), achieved considerable notoriety in his time, and in our own days became the hero of a brilliant novel. This young man, an inhabitant of Amadia, of handsome appearance, clear mind and high courage, had attained to deep knowledge of the Bible and the Talmud, as well as of Arabic literature. On his return to Amadia, which appears to have been his birthplace, the Jews were not the only persons who were amazed at his vast acquirements, but others also, among whom was the commander of the town, named Zain-Eddin. At this time violent tumults arose in consequence of the431 crusades, and of the weakness of the Caliphate, and made the whole of the country as far as Asia Minor a veritable pandemonium. The government was divided among the weak Caliph, his vizirs and generals, the Seljuk Sultan, and the Emirs, every one of whom played a distinct part, and sought only conquest and increase of power; and subordinate persons like Nureddin and Saladin obtained mighty conquests. All these circumstances combined in encouraging David Alrui to play a political part. He wanted, however, to gain as confederates his countrymen and co-religionists, many of whom were efficient warriors. This he could only accomplish if he were able to awaken their national sentiment. David Alrui, or as he was sometimes called, Menahem ben Solomon, accordingly issued a spirited appeal to the Jews of Asia, saying that he was appointed by God to deliver them from the yoke of the Mahometans, and to bring them back to Jerusalem. For this purpose they were to assist him in waging war against the nations. The first place to which David Alrui turned his eyes was the strong castle of Amadia, which he thought would serve as an excellent base of operations for his enterprises. To get possession of it, he wrote to the Jews of Adher-Baijan, Mosul, and Bagdad, to come in great numbers to Amadia, and bring swords and other weapons under their cloaks. In response to this summons, many Jews who believed Alrui to be the promised Messiah, met in the town at an appointed time, with sharpened weapons concealed about their person, and the commandant at first entertained no suspicion, as he thought that this great crowd was attracted to the town by Alrui's fame as a scholar.

At this point history abandons us, and we can only have recourse to legend, which continues the thread of the story as follows: At the invitation of the Persian Sultan, David Alrui is said to have appeared before him, unattended by his retinue; he432 then boldly declared himself to be the Messiah, and was thrown into prison in Taberistan. Whilst the Sultan was deliberating what punishment he should mete out to him and his adherents, Alrui suddenly entered the council chamber, and informed him and his astonished counselors that he had set himself free from prison by the aid of occult arts, adding that he feared neither the Sultan nor his ministers. The Sultan ordered Alrui to be seized, but the latter, it is said, made himself invisible, and in this manner crossed a river, defying capture, and traveled in one day to Amadia, a journey which ordinarily took ten days. When he suddenly made his appearance among his credulous followers, and related to them his adventures, the authorities were seized with a panic. The Sultan gave orders to the Caliph that he should inform the Jewish representatives in Bagdad, that, if they did not turn David Alrui from his purpose, he would put all the Jews of his empire to the sword.

The enthusiasm for David Alrui had spread, especially among the Jews of Bagdad, and afforded two knaves an opportunity for defrauding the ignorant populace of their property. They produced letters, which they gave out were written by the hero of Amadia, in which the redemption was fixed for a certain night. The two impostors now practised on the credulity of the enthusiasts; they were all to fly from Bagdad to Jerusalem on the appointed night, and for this purpose they were to mount their roofs, put on green robes, and await the hour. In their confidence that the hour of redemption was about to arrive, they committed their property into the hands of the two impostors for proper distribution. The night came, the crowd was assembled on the roofs of their houses in eager expectation; women wept, children shouted, every one was on tiptoe of anxiety to try to fly, until daybreak opened their eyes to the imposition practised on them. The433 rogues had decamped with the property entrusted to them. The people of Bagdad called this time "the year of flying," and thereafter reckoned time from this event.

The Exilarch and the principal of the college in Bagdad conceived it their duty, partly on account of the enthusiasm, which was passing all bounds, and partly on account of the punishment with which they had been threatened, to address themselves to David Alrui, and try to turn him from his purpose by threats of excommunication. The representatives of the congregation of Mosul, Zaccaï and Joseph Barihan Alfalach, wrote to him in the same strain; until at last the Mahometan commandant of Amadia, who was most of all eager to be rid of him, persuaded the father-in-law of Alrui to put him out of the way. He killed his son-in-law whilst asleep, and thus put an end to the disturbance. The Sultan nevertheless decreed a persecution of the Jews of those provinces which had adhered to Alrui, and the Prince of the Captivity with difficulty appeased his wrath with a present of a hundred talents of gold. It is only after his death that a Messiah is actually believed in and revered; many Jews of the congregations in Adher-Baijan continued to venerate the murdered Alrui for a considerable time; they called themselves Menachemists, and swore by his name.

There dwelt an independent, warlike Jewish tribe, at that time, east of Taberistan, in the province of Khorasan, on the highlands by Nishabur. This tribe numbered 4000 families, and was governed by a Jewish prince named Joseph Amarkala Halevi. These Jews around Nishabur believed that they were descendants of the tribes of Dan, Zebulon, Asher, and Naphtali. They bred cattle in the valleys and on the mountain slopes, were good archers, had in their midst learned Talmudists, and stood in friendly relation with the Turkish434 hordes called Ghuzz. The latter, who lived on the banks of the river Oxus, between Balch and Bokhara, were accustomed to make incursions in the surrounding countries, and were the terror of the civilized nations. Once, when the Ghuzz had been on a ravaging tour, the Seljuk Sultan Sinjar Shahin-Shah undertook an expedition against them (1153). His army, however, lost its way in the desert, and many of the men perished through hunger and exhaustion. At length he came to the country of the free Jews, and demanded of them provisions and a free passage to the province of the Ghuzz. The Jews objected that they owed no one any allegiance beyond their own prince and his allies, adding that they would treat their friends' enemies as their own. Immediately they prepared for battle, but Sinjar sent them a message that, if they refused to satisfy his demands, he would on his return order the execution of all the Jews in his dominions. This threat had effect; the leaders of the Jews met in council, and decided that they would consider the safety of their distant brethren, and give the Seljuk army provisions; but at the same time they warned the Ghuzz of the danger menacing them, and bade them be prepared. In consequence, Sinjar's army, which pressed forward, was routed by the Turkish hordes, and their leaders were taken prisoners.

The congregation of Ispahan in Persia numbered at that time 15,000 Jews, and at their head stood Sar Shalom, who had been appointed by the Exilarch rabbi over all the congregations of Persia. In the second Persian town, Hamadan, there are said to have been 50,000 Jews, and in Shiraz 10,000. In the city of Tuster, formerly called Susa, there were still 7000 Jews, who lived on the banks of the river. The community had fourteen synagogues, and near one of them was supposed to be the grave of Daniel. As the markets of the town lay on one side of the river, and the Jews of the other side435 were thus shut out from all commerce, those on the one side were more affluent than the others. The latter ascribed their poverty to the circumstance that they had not Daniel's grave in their midst; and they requested that the coffin should be allowed to be in their possession. The others, however, were not prepared to give it up, and the consequence was that feuds and bloody fights arose between the two congregations, until they came to an agreement that each side of the town, in turn, should enjoy possession of the coffin each time for the space of one year. The removal of the coffin was effected every time with great pomp, and it was accompanied by crowds of Jews and Mahometans. When the Sultan Sinjar once came to Susa, and saw this procession in honor of the removal, he thought it shameful that the bones of the pious Daniel should be disturbed in this manner, and commanded that the coffin should be deposited at a spot midway between the two parts of the town. As the river was at an equal distance from both, the coffin was hung on chains over the river, and under it no one dared fish. The bier of Daniel nevertheless proved unable to protect the congregation. At the time when Petachya of Ratisbon was there (about 1180), only two Jews, who were dyers, lived in Susa. The cause of this decrease is not known.

North of the Black Sea and in the Crimea there were only Karaite Jews; these lived in the most primitive ignorance, and had no knowledge of their rival doctrine, the Rabbanite law; they even cut their bread before the Sabbath, and on the evening of the Sabbath remained in total darkness. The Rabbanite Jews, however, had spread to Khiva, where there was a congregation of 8000 families, and to Samarkand, which had as many as 50,000 Jews, at whose head was Obadiah. About the community in India, Petachya mentions that there436 existed Jews with dark skins, that they lived according to the precepts of their religion, but had very little knowledge of the Talmud. Many Jews knew nothing more of Judaism than the celebration of the Sabbath and the circumcision. In the island of Kandy (Ceylon) there are said to have been at this time 23,000 Jews, who stood on an equality with the rest of the inhabitants. The king of this island had sixteen vizirs, four of his own nation, and the same number of Jews, Mahometans, and Christians.

In Aden, the key to the Arabian and Indian seas, there was a large Jewish congregation, which was independent, and had several castles; it carried on war with the Christians of Nubia, and was in communication with Egypt and Persia.

In Arabia there were likewise Jewish congregations, although the first Caliph banished them from the country. It is true they were not allowed to dwell in Mecca and Medinah, cities sacred to the Mahometans, and it may be that there was nothing specially attractive for them in those cities, for they had become quite insignificant during the five hundred years since Mahomet. But in the fruitful and commercial city of Yemen, and in the desert tracts of northern Arabia, on the other hand, there were Jewish congregations. In Yemen there dwelt, it is true, only about 3000 Jews, who, on account of their busy commercial relations with the neighboring countries, were by no means uncultured, and numbered learned Talmudists in their midst. The most learned among them was Jacob ben Nathaniel Ibn-Alfayumi. The Yemen Jews were known for their benevolence: "Their hand is stretched out towards every traveler, they keep open house for strangers, and every weary person finds rest among them." The Jews of northern Arabia, on the other hand, were more numerous, and, as in the time before Mahomet, they formed independent, warlike437 tribes, possessed castles, pursued agriculture, and to some extent also cattle-breeding, and journeyed in caravans to transport goods, or, after the fashion of Bedouins, to attack travelers and plunder them. Their number is said to have amounted to 300,000 souls, but this is certainly exaggerated. A large portion dwelt in Taima, and had a Jewish prince named Chanan, who boasted of Davidic descent. They had among them ascetics, who had borrowed from the Karaites gloomy principles; they refrained from wine and flesh, and generally fasted the whole week, with the exception of Sabbaths and festivals; lived in caves or rickety houses, clothed themselves in black, and called themselves "the Mourners of Zion." The farmers and cattle-owners allotted to these pious men, and also to those who occupied themselves with the Talmud, a tenth part of their yearly produce. A second group of Arabian Jews lived in the neighborhood of Talmas, and likewise had a prince named Solomon, brother of Chanan, of Taima. This prince lived in the old capital Sanaa (Tana), in a strongly fortified castle. Among these, too, there were ascetics who fasted forty days every year, in order to bring about redemption from the dispersion. A third group, some 50,000, inhabited the province of Chaibar; they were most warlike, but also possessed some Talmudical scholars. Even at that time the legend was spread about that the Chaibar Jews were remnants of ancient Iraelitish tribes, Gad, Reuben, and half Manasseh. The semi-Arabian cities Wasit, Bassra and Kufa, also had numerous Jewish inhabitants, the first 10,000, the second 2000, and the third 7000.

As a large part of Asia, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indus, acknowledged the supremacy of the Abbassid Caliphs of Bagdad, the Jews of this dominion were subject to the Exilarch of Bagdad. The second Prince of the Captivity, who was surrounded438 with pomp, was Daniel, the son of Solomon (Chasdaï), who held office about 1165–1175. He was as much respected by the Caliphs Almustanjid and Almustadhi as his father had been by Almuktafi. Under Daniel, the Talmudical college of Bagdad was raised to such a height that it recalled the old times of the Amoraim and Geonim. It owed its rise to a man who, at the end of the twelfth century, was called upon to play an important part. Samuel, son of Ali Halevi, the rabbi of Bagdad, who traced back his genealogy to the prophet Samuel, possessed profound knowledge of the Talmud, such as but few in Asia equaled. But as he was unacquainted with the advance of the study of the Talmud in Spain and France, he continued to maintain the letter of the Talmud, and had not the ability to form an independent opinion. Samuel ben Ali had also a thin varnish of philosophical culture, but in that branch he was three centuries behind his time, being a disciple of the school of the Mutazilites. He knew nothing of the new discoveries of Ibn-Sina and Alghazali, nor of the later development of the philosophy of his Spanish co-religionists, of Ibn-Gebirol, Jehuda Halevi, and Abraham Ibn-Daud. Despite his limited range of vision, he deemed his own attainments very considerable, and was extremely proud of them. He was an arrogant and ambitious man. It appears that Samuel ben Ali assumed the pompous title of Gaon, that his college might obtain supremacy over the whole of Judaism. Two thousand students attended his Talmudical discourses; but before they were admitted to his lectures, they had to complete a preparatory course under another Talmudist. Samuel ben Ali delivered his lectures from a kind of throne, and clothed in gold and embroidery; he re-introduced the old custom of not personally addressing the audience, but of expounding the Law to an interpreter (Meturgeman), who439 repeated in a loud voice what he heard from the master. Besides him, there were nine men, who likewise delivered lectures, and decided questions of law. But Samuel ben Ali was regarded as judge of appeal, and every Monday he sat in court surrounded by the nine men who occupied subordinate positions.

When the Exilarch Daniel died (1175), Samuel thought the time propitious for obtaining the highest dignity and authority over the Asiatic congregations. Daniel left no male heir, and two of his nephews, David and Samuel, both of Mosul, were now contending for the Exilarchate. But whilst each of them was endeavoring to win over the political leaders and the congregations to his cause, Samuel ben Ali assumed all religious and judicial power. He appointed rabbis, judges, and other functionaries on his own authority, appropriated the revenues of the congregation, and delivered the specified portion to the state. His seal was more respected than that of the pretenders for the Exilarchate; his name was a protection to travelers, and through it they obtained access to all curiosities. The political and religious officials acknowledged only Samuel ben Ali, the principal of the college, and the Gaon of Bagdad. He, moreover, maintained his dignity by rigorous measures. Sixty slaves were continually at his call to bastinado any one pointed out by their lord. He had a palatial mansion in Bagdad, and magnificent pleasure gardens in the neighborhood of the capital. Thus Samuel ben Ali ruled at that time over all the Asiatic congregations from Damascus to India, and from the Caspian Sea to Arabia. His daughter was looked upon as a marvel, being so learned in the Bible and Talmud that she used to deliver lectures to young men, but in such a manner that she could not be seen by her audience. Ambassadors from a heathen nation, from the Moshic hills in Armenia440 (Tartars?), came to him to obtain Jewish religious teachers for their country, to instruct the people in the tenets of Judaism, seven of their chiefs having resolved to embrace that faith (about 1180–1185). The traveler Petachya, who has recorded these facts, and is a trustworthy witness, saw the ambassadors from the Caucasian hills with his own eyes. Many poor students from Babylonia and Egypt determined to repair to this remote nation of proselytes, and instruct them in the Bible and Talmud.

The condition of Judaism in Asia was at that time very low indeed. Without higher knowledge, without spirit or enthusiasm, the Jews of Asia, learned as well as unlearned, discharged their religious duties in a perfunctory, mechanical way. Even Talmudical scholars thought of the divine essence as a bodily form, with limbs, eyes, and motion. The Agada had so far perverted their understanding that they could not comprehend what was purely spiritual; and so saturated were these literalists with these perverted notions, that they looked upon those who upheld the belief in a spiritual God as heretics and atheists.

The Asiatic Jews had borrowed from the Mahometans and Christians the custom of making pilgrimages to the graves of pious men. A chief resort of pilgrims was the grave of the prophet Ezekiel in the neighborhood of Kufa. Seventy thousand to eighty thousand Jews came annually from New Year till the Day of Atonement, or Feast of Tabernacles, to pray at the supposed grave of the prophet of the exiles, among them also the Exilarch and the principal of the college at Bagdad. The tomb was protected by a vault of cedar wood, overlaid with gold and adorned with beautiful tapestry. Thirty lamps burned there day and night. Beside the tomb there was a handsome synagogue, which was regarded as a temple in miniature, and alleged to have been built by King441 Joachin and the prophet. In this synagogue a scroll of the Law of considerable size was shown, which was believed to have been written by the hand of the prophet himself. A separate room (Ginze) was set aside for books. Sepulcher and synagogue were enclosed by a turreted wall, the entrance to which was through a low narrow gate, which, however, according to popular belief, became higher and wider at the time of the pilgrimage. In the space inside the wall the pilgrims used to erect their booths for the Feast of Tabernacles. At this sepulcher they were not only devout, but also merry. The period after the Day of Atonement was dedicated to gaiety and feasting. As the Mahometans also reverenced the tomb, and even the wild Karmates, who lived nearby, swore by the God of Ezekiel, the region became a peaceful asylum, and later on an annual market (Pera) was held there, and a city (Kabur Kesil) sprang up. The offerings for the maintenance of this mausoleum proved so rich that the surplus was used for the support of Talmudical students and marriageable orphans.

Another resort of pilgrims was the supposed mausoleum of Ezra the scribe. Although this great regenerator of Judaism exercised his activity only in Judæa, legend nevertheless fixes his grave at Nahar-Samara, in the neighborhood of the Tigris. The Mahometans, as well as the Jews, reverenced this tomb, offered presents for its maintenance, and made pilgrimages to it. Like the Catholic Church, the Jews of Asia also showed sacred relics: the tree, separating into three parts, against which the angels who visited Abraham leaned, and the stone with which Abraham circumcised himself. All these mythical stories arose during the period of degeneration which followed the dissolution of the Gaonate.

It is possible that it was owing in part to this decay that many educated Jews apostatized to442 Islam. One apostate was a celebrated physician of Bagdad—Nathaniel, with the Arabic name of Abul-Barkat Hibat-Allah ben Malka, one of the three leading medical men of like name, but different creeds. The Jewish Hibat-Allah was surnamed "The only one of his time" (Wachid-al-Zeman), on account of his extraordinary accomplishments. In addition to a knowledge of medicine, he was versed in philosophy and Hebrew philology, and, whilst still a Jew, wrote a commentary on Ecclesiastes. A son of the itinerant Ibn-Ezra, named Isaac, who had accompanied his father in his travels, and remained in Bagdad, was assisted by the rich Hibat-Allah, and wrote spirited verses in praise of his benefactor and his commentary. At the end of his poem, Isaac Ibn-Ezra expressed a wish that his life might extend to the time of the Messianic redemption, and that he might yet behold the majesty of new Jerusalem. Neither, however, waited for this time, but renounced Judaism, and embraced Islam (1160–1170).

A third apostate of this time was Samuel Ibn-Abbas, son of the poet Jehuda, of Fez. A poet using beautiful Hebrew, a profound mathematician and philosopher, Samuel had emigrated to the East on account of the religious coercion exercised by the Almohades. His father settled at Haleb, and Samuel took up his residence in Adher-Baijan, entered into the service of the ruler of that place, and ultimately became a convert to Mahometanism. The old Jehuda Ibn-Abbas, on hearing of his son's change of religion, hastened to him full of grief, in the hope of bringing him back to his hereditary faith, but was suddenly seized with illness in Mosul, and died there. Samuel became a rancorous enemy of Judaism and his former co-religionists. He wrote a polemical work, "To the confusion of the Jews" (about 1165–1175), in which he lays bare and exaggerates their faults, and affirms that the Jews had eliminated all passages alluding to Mahomet in their holy writings.

443 If the Rabbanites in Asia were degenerate, the Karaites of this time were still more so. The Karaites, after an existence of 400 years, had failed to establish Judaism on a purely Biblical basis, but had of necessity been compelled to adopt many precepts of the Talmud, in spite of all their endeavors to steer clear of Talmudical tradition.

As the Mahometans of Egypt, under the dynasty of the Fatimides, were separated from those of the Abbasid Caliphate in Asia, the Egyptian Jewish community likewise had no connection with the Asiatic community. They had a chief of their own, recognized by the Caliph, who exercised spiritual and judicial functions, bore the title Nagid (Arabic, Reïs), and was, in a sense, the Egyptian Exilarch. The Nagid had authority to appoint or confirm rabbis and precentors, and to impose fines, scourgings, and imprisonment, for transgressions and crimes. He received a regular salary from the congregations and fees for the drawing up of legal documents. There is a legend that the institution of the Nagid was introduced into Egypt at the instance of a Bagdad Caliph's daughter, who was married to a Fatimide Caliph. About this time Nathaniel, succeeding Samuel Abu-Mansur, was invested with this dignity. His Arabic name was Hibat-Allah Ibn-Aljami, and he served as physician in ordinary to Aladhid, the last Fatimide Caliph of Egypt, and later on to Saladin. Ibn-Aljami was a man of considerable culture and learning. He spoke Arabic with great fluency, wrote several medical treatises, among others a guide for the soul and the body, and a treatise on the climatic character of Alexandria. He was much praised for having cleverly discovered life in a man who was about to be interred. This accomplished man was also chief of the college in the Egyptian capital, but he had no reputation as a Talmudist.

444 The chief congregation was in Cairo (New Misr), and it consisted of 2000 Jewish families, including many men of great wealth. The city had two synagogues, one following the Palestinian ritual and the other the Babylonian. According to the first the reading of the Pentateuch on Sabbaths extended over a cycle of three years. The adherents of the Babylonian system, on the other hand, completed it in a cycle of one year. Only on the Feast of Weeks and on the Festival of the Rejoicing of the Law the two congregations had a common service. In Cairo there existed also a Karaite congregation which is said to have been still more numerous than that of the Rabbanites. It also had a Chief Rabbi who possessed plenary power in religious and judicial matters, and bore the title Prince (Nasi, Reïs). About this time, Chiskiya and Solomon I, who believed themselves to be descendants of Anan, successively held this office (about 1160–1200). Many Karaites in Egypt enjoyed favor at court, and were in general superior to the Rabbanites.

The congregation next in importance was that of Alexandria, numbering 3000 families; they had a rabbi from Provence, Phineas ben Meshullam. So poor were the Jews of Egypt in Talmudical authorities at this time that they were obliged to import a Talmud instructor from France. A Karaite congregation existed also in Alexandria. In Bilbeïs (east of the Nile) there was a large congregation, consisting of 3000 members, which suffered much during the campaign of Amalrich, the Christian king of Jerusalem. In Fayum, the native city of Saadiah, there lived at that period only twenty Jewish families.

The state of culture of the Egyptian Jews about this time was not more brilliant than that of their Asiatic brethren. They added nothing to the wealth of Jewish literature. The lower classes were so ignorant of the principles of their own445 religion that they borrowed customs from the neighboring Karaites, even such as stood in glaring contradiction to Talmudical Judaism. The Egyptian congregations also had a pilgrims' shrine of their own. In Dimuh, not far from Fostat, in the neighborhood of the Pyramids, they showed the synagogue of Moses, which they believed the greatest of the prophets had built; they admitted that it had been rebuilt after the destruction of the Temple by Titus. Near this synagogue there was a tree of stupendous height, with evergreen leaves and slender stem. This tree, according to the belief of the Egyptian Jews, had shot up from the rod of Moses. On the Feast of Weeks the Jews of Egypt used to make a pilgrimage to Dimuh, and pray in the hallowed synagogue. And it was out of this land of ignorance that there went forth a second Moses for the deliverance of the Jewish race, whose mission it was to promulgate a more refined Judaism, to declare relentless war against superstition, and put an end to ignorance. Egypt became, through Moses Maimuni, the center of Judaism.


446

CHAPTER XIV.
MAIMUNI (MAIMONIDES).

Early years of Maimuni (Maimonides)—His journey to Fez—Letter of Consolation of Maimun (father of Maimonides)—Maimuni and the Jewish Converts to Islam—The Maimun Family in Palestine and Egypt—Maimuni's Commentary on the Mishna—Saladin and the Jews—Letter of Maimonides to Yemen—The Mishne-Torah of Maimuni—Controversies with reference to this Work—Joseph Ibn-Aknin—Maimuni as a Physician—Maimuni attacked by Samuel ben Ali—Maimuni and the Jews of Provence—The More Nebuchim and its importance—Death of Maimonides.

1171–1205 C. E.

In the last part of the twelfth century, Judaism appeared to have lost its center of gravity, to be about to fall into utter dissolution. On the decay of the Gaonate, the south of Spain, with the congregations of Cordova, Granada, Seville and Lucena, assumed the leadership; but, through the intolerance of the Almohades, these places were now without any Jewish congregations, and at the utmost saw Jews under the mask of Mahometanism. The community of Toledo, the new capital of Christian Spain, as well as those of the northern Spanish towns, had not yet succeeded in gaining any extensive influence. The communities of southern France were still in the first stage of their infancy; the northern French Jews were too exclusively absorbed in the Talmud, and oppressed by anxiety for what the morrow would bring. The German Jews were "servi cameræ" of the Germano-Roman empire; the Jews of the other countries of Europe had scarcely extricated themselves from barbarism. The restored Exilarchate, the offspring of the caprice of a Caliph, was not rooted firmly enough, even in Asia, to be able to exercise any ascendancy over the more highly endowed European Jews.447 Thus there was nowhere a center to which the widely dispersed nation might converge. Moreover, since the death of Joseph Ibn-Migash and Jacob Tam there had arisen no men of commanding authority able to mark out a path, or even to stimulate inquiry.

About this time, when dissolution seemed imminent, Maimuni appeared, and became the prop of the unity of Judaism, the focus for all the communities in the East and the West, a man whose decisions as a rabbinical authority were final, although he was not invested with any official dignity. He was spiritual king of the Jews, to whom the most important leaders cheerfully submitted. So memorable did everything connected with this great personage appear in the eyes of his contemporaries, that even the day and the hour of his birth have been recorded.

Moses Ibn-Maimun (with the long Arabic name Abu-Amran Musa ben Maimun Obaid Allah) was born on the Eve of Passover (30th March, 1135, at one o'clock p. m.), in Cordova. The early training of Maimonides (as he is often called), the man who was destined to bear the future of Judaism on his strong shoulders, was calculated to strengthen his character in a most emphatic manner. His father, Maimun ben Joseph, a pupil of Ibn-Migash, was, like his ancestors for eight generations back, as far as his progenitor Obadiah, a learned Talmudist and a member of the rabbinical college of Cordova. Maimun also took an interest in the sciences, knew mathematics and astronomy, and wrote books on those subjects, as well as on Talmudical topics. It was he who imbued his son with an enthusiastic love for learning, and awakened his feeling for an ideal life. Maimuni had scarcely passed his thirteenth year when great misfortune broke over the community of Cordova. The city was captured by the Almohades (May or June, 1148), who forthwith promulgated448 fanatical edicts against Jews and Christians, giving them the alternatives of conversion to Islam, expulsion, or death. Maimun and his family went into exile with the great majority of the Cordovan congregation. They are said to have established themselves at Port Almeria, which a year before had been conquered by the Christians. In the year 1151, Almeria also fell into the power of the Almohades, whose fanatical king, of course, did not fail to impose on the Jewish and Christian inhabitants of the city a change of religion, as he had done in the other conquered cities of southern Spain. From that time the family of Maimun was obliged to lead a wandering life for many years, without being able to find a permanent residence anywhere.

From his father, Maimuni learnt the Bible, the Talmud, the Jewish branches of learning, mathematics and astronomy; he attended lectures on science and medicine by Mahometan professors, and was introduced into the temple of philosophy. Through reading and intercourse, he obtained a fund of solid information, and his clear intellect, which ever sought to penetrate the phenomena of the visible and the invisible world, and to make them transparent, regulated his knowledge, however various and diverse it was. Maimuni developed into one of those rare personalities, who cannot tolerate hidden, secret, and mystical things, who struggle everywhere for light and clearness, and will not yield to deception. His was a thoroughly logical and systematic mind, which had the power of grouping and arranging the greatest and smallest things, and he was a sworn enemy of disorder and chaotic confusion. In this respect he may justly be called the Jewish Aristotle, and his intellectual character made him capable of cherishing the greatest admiration for the philosopher of Stagira. Aristotle had many disciples among Jews and449 Mahometans. Christian thinkers of that time were still unable to scale the height of his mind; but no one before Maimuni had so thoroughly absorbed and assimilated Aristotle's philosophical system. He made it a part of his own intellectual possession, and thus also perceived its occasional defects.

It was, however, not only his wide and deep knowledge, but his character, which constituted Maimuni's distinction. He was a perfect sage, in the most beautiful and venerable sense of the word. Well-digested knowledge, calm deliberation, mature conviction, and mighty performance, were harmoniously combined in him. He was possessed of the deepest and most refined sense of religion, of the most conscientious morality, and of philosophical wisdom; or rather these three elements, which are generally hostile to one another, had in him come to a complete reconciliation. That which he recognized as truth was to him inviolable law; from it he never lapsed for a moment, but sought to realize it by his actions throughout his whole life, unconcerned about the disadvantages that might accrue. From the point of view of learning, he occupied the first place of his time, in religion and morality he was rivaled by but few of his compeers, but in his strongly-marked individuality he surpassed all his contemporaries. His actions corresponded to his mind. Maimuni was imbued with a most profound earnestness, which considered life not as an opportunity for pleasure, but as a serious mission to labor nobly and to confirm by deeds the great truth, that man is an image of God. The mean, the false, and the impure were abhorred by him, and were not permitted to approach him. Hence he had no taste for poetry, for according to the view of the time, "the best of it is false," and rests on invention and untruth. He considered it a slothful killing of time to occupy one's self with it; he would not tolerate at weddings any verse-making450 except of a religious character, and it made no difference to him whether it was composed in Hebrew or in a profane language. Every moment of his life was spent profitably, he never frittered away his time, even in his youth, like Jehuda Halevi, certainly not all his life long, like Ibn-Ezra. With all his severity towards himself, he was of a most gentle amiability in dealing with and criticising others. Never did he allow a bitter word to escape him against his living opponents, and he certainly never imitated the practice of Ibn-Ezra, who mocked at guileless men, nor shrank from satirizing the dead; only against false notions and theories did he pour out the vials of his scorn, but towards persons themselves, even when they had irritated him, he was indulgent and forbearing. Modesty and humility were his characteristics in a high degree, the characteristics of every divinely endowed nature.

All these rare qualities of mind and heart were governed by an extraordinary determination to develop and promulgate the principles and convictions that lived within him, to counteract apathy and feeble reasoning, to cut the ground from under irreligion, and to force light through the opacity of ignorance. Adversity, physical sufferings, misrepresentation, could not turn him from the purpose upon which he had set his mind. This purpose was nothing less than to exhibit Judaism, the whole of Judaism, both Biblical and Talmudical, the ceremonies as well as the dogmas, in such a light that professors of other creeds, and even philosophers, might be convinced of its truth. This design had hovered before his mind in his youth, and ripened in him with age. To this end he mastered thoroughly all those departments of learning which might serve him as a guide. He declared once that he had read all the writings on the religion and worship of idolatrous nations, which were accessible to him through Arabic translations, and we may451 well believe this statement, made unostentatiously, for a thorough knowledge of heathenism appeared to him indispensable to the proper understanding of Judaism.

Although he was attracted by many branches of learning, which cohered in his mind as a united whole, still there were four special subjects on which he centered most of his attention: the whole range of Biblical and Talmudical writings, philosophy, medicine, and mathematics, together with astronomy. In his twenty-third year, he prepared in Hebrew for a friend a thesis on the Jewish calendar based on astronomical principles (1158). Although this little book has no special importance in itself, it is yet interesting, as it reveals to us that his love of methodical regularity, and his power of clear, systematic survey, dominated him even in his earliest youth. In the same year he commenced a work, the undertaking of which in itself gives evidence of greatness and boldness of intellect. He began to explain the Mishna independently and in a new light, at an age when most men have scarcely finished their college career—a gigantic task in which he had no model to guide him. He worked at it amidst continual wanderings and while battling with hardships; but so thoroughly was the whole compass of the Talmud before him, that he could manage to dispense with books. A year or two later (1159–1160) his father emigrated with him, his younger brother, David, and his sister, from Spain to Fez. What led Maimun's family to remove to the land of the greatest intolerance is a matter that has not yet been cleared up. In Fez, as in the whole of northern Africa, wherever the bigoted Abdulmumen ruled, no Jews were allowed to profess their faith, but had to declare their belief in the first article of the Mahometan faith, that Mahomet, its founder, was a prophet; and even the family of Maimun had to assume the mask of Islam. As452 the religious persecution had now lasted for a decade, the African communities had begun to waver in their religious convictions. Only the strongest minds could continue to practise a religion which was forced upon them, and still inwardly remain faithful to their hereditary religion. The thoughtless multitude gradually became accustomed to the enforced religion, saw in the merciless oppression of Judaism its dissolution, and changing pretence into reality, came near to lending themselves to the notion that God had, through Mahomet, superseded His revelation on Mount Sinai by another in Mecca, and almost believed that He had chosen the Arabs instead of the Jews. This self-abandonment and overwhelming despair filled Maimun the elder with pain, and he sought to counteract their apathy as much as lay in his power, and to confirm the belief in Judaism in the hearts of the pseudo-Mahometan Jews. With this object he wrote in Arabic an exhortation to the community (1160), which is full of mournfulness, and instinct with a deep sense of religion. It warns the community to reflect that their sufferings did not arise from a feeling of revenge on the part of God, but from a desire to chasten the sinners. Moses in his Law had promised Israel a dazzling future which would assuredly not fail. It was accordingly the duty of the sons of his race to adhere firmly to their God and His Torah. The occupation with religion and the practice of what it enjoined were the ropes to which those who were sinking in the sea of trouble should cling. Every one should, as far as he was able, observe the religious precepts of Judaism, and turn himself in prayer to his God, and whoever was prevented from praying in the prescribed form should, at least, say a short prayer in Hebrew three times a day. Like the Jews who had been forced to baptism under the Spanish Visigothic kings, those who had been converted under compulsion453 to Islam now exhorted one another to remain faithful to their ancient religion. Soon Maimun's son found an opportunity to enter the arena, to give expression to his original views on Judaism, to offer encouragement to his comrades in affliction, and to point out to them the course which they should pursue.

A Jewish writer of excessive piety had declared that all Jews who pretended to have adopted Mahometanism were to be treated as apostates and idolaters. He who publicly acknowledged Mahomet's mission as a prophet was to be regarded as a non-Jew, even though he privately fulfilled all the duties of Judaism, and he belonged to that class whose testimony had no validity in a Jewish court, particularly in affairs of marriage. He who visited a mosque, pretending to be a Mahometan, made himself guilty of blasphemy, even though he did not take part in prayer; and he only accentuated his offense, when, in the privacy of his own chamber, he recited the Jewish prayers. This zealot, in fine, asserted that every true Jew was bound to sacrifice his own life and that of his children rather than embrace the faith of Islam, even ostensibly. His theory rested on the assumption that Mahometanism is nothing more nor less than idolatry, for in Mecca, the holy city of the Mahometans, an idol was worshiped in the temple of the Kaaba. If Islam is so reprehensible—so continued the zealot, whose name has not come down to us—then the Talmudical precept, that every Jew should suffer martyrdom rather than be forced to idolatry, would apply to that creed, and he who in such circumstances shrank from death was to be considered an apostate.

This document appears to have produced considerable excitement among the secret Jews in Africa. The conscientious felt themselves crushed down by a burden of sin, the multitude became still more uncertain whether they should not secede to454 Islam altogether, since, however strictly they observed the ordinances of their religion, they were still considered idolaters and sinners, and could expect no pardon.

Moses Maimuni, who felt the whole weight of the accusation against himself and his brethren in suffering, and was apprehensive of evil consequences, thought that it behooved him to write a letter in refutation of the arguments of their assailant, and to justify the conduct of the pseudo-Mahometans. It was his first step into publicity, but this maiden effort bore the impress of his clear, comprehensive mind, which mastered a subject in all its aspects. He argued from new points of view, which had escaped the zealot, and the whole letter was so striking that it brought conviction to all minds. Maimuni, in this vindication, which he wrote in Arabic, that all men might be able to read it, took up a Talmudical standpoint, equally with the zealot, but he proved contrary results from the very passages adduced by his adversary.

He first of all showed that partial transgression of the duties of Judaism did not constitute absolute departure from it. The idolatrous Israelites in the times of the prophets were always considered as members of the people of the Lord. Meïr, a highly esteemed doctor of the Mishna, had feigned heathenism during a time of persecution, and when put to the test, had even partaken of forbidden food. "We, however," continues Maimuni, "in no wise pay homage to heathenism by our actions, but only repeat an empty formula, which the Mahometans themselves know is not uttered by us in sincerity, but only from a wish to circumvent the bigoted ruler." Then he enters deeper into the matter. The Talmud ordains that all Jews should suffer martyrdom rather than let themselves be compelled to commit three capital sins—idolatry, unchastity, and murder. It was indeed highly meritorious to455 suffer death rather than violate any commandment of the Law, so as to keep the name of God holy. But he who does not possess the resolution of a martyr, even in regard to committing the three capital sins, does not render himself liable to the punishment attached to idolatry, and moreover is in no wise regarded as a transgressor of the Law. For in the case of compulsion, the Torah has revoked all obligations. He, then, who lacks the courage to sacrifice himself for Judaism has transgressed only one precept, that of sanctifying the name of the Lord, but he still does not belong to those whose testimony has no validity in a law court. Even if any one should, by compulsion, actually worship an idol, he would by no means be exposed to punishment for idolatry, for how could the involuntary transgressor be compared with the wilful violator of his religion? "Then there is something else to consider," said Maimuni. "We must make a distinction between a transgression by mere word, and one by deed. The Mahometan authorities by no means demand of Jews a denial of Judaism, but a mere lip utterance of a profession of faith that Mahomet was a prophet, and this having been done, they do not offer much objection if the Jews conform to their own laws. Such compulsion, where nothing more than a word is demanded, is, in reality, without parallel. He who sacrifices himself as a martyr, rather than acknowledge Mahomet as the messenger of God, certainly performs a most meritorious action. But if a person puts the question whether he is bound to give up his life in a case of that kind, then we must answer conscientiously according to the precepts of Judaism, 'No.' But we ought to and must advise him to leave a country where such religious coercion prevails. This advice I give also to myself and my friends, to remove to some place where there exists religious freedom. Those, however, who have been456 compelled to stay, should consider themselves as exiles from whom God has turned His face, and should strive to discharge their religious duties; but we should not despise those who, out of necessity, have been obliged to violate the Sabbath, but must gently admonish them not to forsake the Law. Those are in error who believe that they need not make any preparations for a departure on the ground that the Messiah will soon appear, and redeem them, and lead them back to Jerusalem. The coming of the Messiah has nothing to do with religious obligations; his advent has no absolving power."

This reply of Maimuni, which was in reality an apology for his conduct and that of his friends (written about 1160–1164), displays the germs of his original conception of Judaism. Moses Maimuni appears to have zealously endeavored to induce the Jewish pseudo-Mahometans to retain their ancient religion, to combat their lukewarmness, and to urge them to abandon their equivocal life. On this account he exposed himself to extreme danger, and might have been put to death, if a Mahometan theologian and poet, named Abul-Arab Ibn-Moïsha, had not interceded for him, and saved him. The feeling of insecurity, together with the pricks of conscience, when compelled publicly to deny Judaism, which they held as their most precious treasure, induced the family of Maimun to leave Fez, and travel to Palestine. In the depth of night they embarked (4th Iyar—18th April, 1165). After they had sailed for six days on the Mediterranean, there arose a terrible storm, gigantic waves tossed the vessel about like a shuttlecock, and rescue seemed impossible. But the storm abated, and, after a journey of one month, the ship sailed into the harbor of Accho (3rd Sivan—16th May). This day Maimun dedicated as a family festival, for having escaped religious intolerance and the dangers of the sea. The emigrants from Spain were457 received in a friendly manner by the congregation of Accho. After a residence of nearly half a year in this town, the family traveled amid dangers to Jerusalem to pray at the ancient site of the Temple (4th Marcheshvan—14th October). They remained in Jerusalem for three days, then journeyed to Hebron, and from that place to Egypt, which at that time bade fair, through the Ajubides, to become the center of Islam. Some months after their arrival in Egypt the head of the family died (beginning of 1166). So highly esteemed were both father and son by all who knew them, that letters of consolation were sent to the latter by his friends in Africa and Christian Spain.

On the other hand, in Egypt, in old Cairo (Fostat), where the family of Maimun had settled, Maimuni's name had not as yet become famous. The two brothers lived quietly, and carried on the jewelry trade, the younger brother taking a far more active share, and traveling on business as far as India. Moses Maimuni, on the other hand, devoted himself to study. Severe misfortunes, which would have brought a mind less strong than his to despair, tore him from this quiet life. Physical sufferings threw him on a bed of sickness; heavy losses diminished his fortune, and informers appeared against him, and brought him to the brink of death. Lastly, his brother David perished in the Indian Ocean, and with him not only their fortunes, but also the money which had been entrusted to them by others for business purposes. These accumulated misfortunes aggravated his sufferings, and filled him with melancholy. The death of his brother afflicted him most. His unbounded trust in God, his enthusiastic love for learning, and his anxiety for his family, and for the widow and daughter of his brother, roused his courage once more, and moved him to enter on an active life. Maimuni appears from this time to have gained a livelihood458 by the practice of medicine. Nevertheless, as he was still unknown, his practice at first did not prove very lucrative. About this time he also gave public lectures on philosophical subjects. His whole mind, however, was bent on the completion of the gigantic work with which he had been occupied since his twenty-third year, during all his travels, in Mahometan disguises, on sea voyages, and in the midst of numerous adversities. He finished this his first great work in the year 1168, in Arabic, under the title of "Siraj" ("Illumination"). The object of this work was to facilitate the study of the Talmud, which had become difficult through its diffuse discussions, through the interpolated explanations of the Geonim, and through the commentaries of his predecessors, which were not always pertinent to the subject; to determine the right practice (Halacha) from the confusion of diverse arguments, and to define his position by short but comprehensive explanations of words and things.

Maimuni's commentary on the Mishna arose out of the author's mental organization, which ever strove for clearness, method and symmetry. It was the first scientific treatment of the Talmud, and only so clear and systematic a thinker as Maimuni could have originated it, for the construction of the Talmud seems to be directly opposed to an orderly arrangement. The luminous introductions to the several parts of the commentary especially give evidence of its scientific character. In them he reveals complete command over the material, as well as a logical conception of the method to be pursued.

Maimuni treated, with special predilection, those points of the Mishna which have a scientific coloring, and into the treatment of which the principles of mathematics, astronomy, physics, anatomy, ethics and philosophy could be introduced. Here he was in his element. In such parts he could show that459 the doctors of the Mishna, the upholders of tradition, knew science also, and based their works upon it. Especially did he aim at establishing that the Mishna contains a sound ethical and a deep philosophical conception of God. To this end he turned his attention with particular interest and thoroughness to the Agadic elements in the Mishna, which till then had been little or only occasionally noticed. He further explained the nature of tradition, maintaining that not all that is contained in the Mishna is tradition. For a traditional doctrine must be positive, and ought not to be open to doubt or uncertainty. Unconsciously Maimuni by this theory put himself in opposition to the Talmud, and undermined its firm position.

The tractate of the Mishna, which combines, like a string of pearls, the sayings of the fathers (Aboth), appeared in the eyes of Maimuni a veritable treasure-trove. In explaining these he could display the whole wealth of his world of thought, and he thus saturated Talmudical Judaism with philosophical ideas. But he thereby became the victim of self-delusion. It was important for the future that Maimuni, in his unconscious self-deception, undertook for the first time to develop a Jewish system of belief. Since Judaism, according to his views, was nothing more than revealed philosophy, it ought to dominate the beliefs and opinions of men as well as their religious and moral conduct; ay, the one more than the other, as morality has no value in itself, and is only the fruit of right knowledge. He, accordingly, assumed as certain and positive that Judaism defines for us not only what we must do, but what we must believe; that it asserts certain ideas as irrefragable truth. Maimonides drew up thirteen of such doctrines or articles of belief:—The belief in the existence of God; in His indivisible unity; in His incorporeality and insusceptibility of change; in His eternity and460 existence before the world; in His absolute claim to our adoration (Monotheism); in the prophetic inspiration of chosen men; in Moses as the greatest prophet, with whom no other prophet can be compared; in the divinity of the Torah; in its unalterability; in God's providence; in His just reward and punishment; in the future appearance of the Messiah; and, finally, in the resurrection of the dead. Although these articles of faith rest on investigation, and therefore cannot claim unquestioning acceptance, yet, according to Maimuni, no one can be considered a true Israelite or Jew who does not acknowledge them all as true; he who denies a single one of them is a heretic (Min, Epicoros), he does not belong to the community of Judaism, and cuts himself off from the hope of future bliss.

Maimuni thus, on the one hand, raised the Jewish creed to the height of rational knowledge, and, on the other, set bounds to the free development of thought. Hitherto religious action only was valued as the characteristic of Jewish life. Maimuni now called a halt to free thought, marked the boundary line between belief and heresy, not in the firm province of religious practice, but in the shifting ground of religious belief, and brought the ethereal element of thought under rigid formulæ.

Great as the work of Maimuni in his commentary on the Mishna undoubtedly is, although he applied to it infinite learning, wealth of intellect, and systematic arrangement, yet he did not obtain a reputation corresponding to its merit. The reason of this was that among the Jews of Egypt and the East, to whom the work, being in Arabic, was most of all accessible, there was but the faintest appreciation of scientific treatment. The great work was at first scarcely noticed in the East. His pupils, to whom he gave lectures on the same plan, and who revered him as the incarnation of wisdom, spread461 his reputation abroad. One of his earliest disciples, Solomon Kohen, who traveled to southern Arabia (Yemen), was full of his praise, and impressed on the congregation there that, in time of need, they should apply to Maimuni for consolation and support.

In Egypt far-reaching changes had crept in, which produced a favorable turn in the fortunes of the Jews of that empire and the neighboring countries. The Fatimide Caliph died, or was deposed, and the great Saladin, the model of royal magnanimity and chivalry in that barbarous age, succeeded to the government (September, 1171). At first the celebrated Ajubide only held the office of Vice-Field-Marshal of Nureddin; gradually he acquired absolute supremacy over Egypt and a part of Palestine, Syria, and even the districts about the Euphrates, and the Caliphate of Bagdad obeyed his rule. His empire became a safe asylum to the oppressed Jews. Saladin was just to the Jews, as indeed towards every one, even his bitterest enemies. Under him the Jews rose to great prosperity and distinction.

At first the fall of the Fatimide Caliphate, and the subjection of the surrounding countries belonging to it, under the Abbasid or Sunnite Caliphs of Bagdad, set loose fanaticism which was felt by the Jewish congregations of Yemen. In that place two Shiites had seized upon the government, and they compelled the Jews to embrace Islam under threat of great suffering. Here also, as in Africa and southern Spain, the Jews outwardly pretended to adopt the Mahometan religion (about 1172). But as the grossest ignorance prevailed among them, there was danger that the unthinking multitude would proceed from pretence to reality, and fall away from Judaism altogether. This fear became real when a Jewish apostate preached to the congregation that Mahomet is mentioned in the462 Torah, and that Islam was a new, divinely announced revelation, which was intended to supersede Judaism. In addition, at just about this time, there appeared a Jewish enthusiast in Yemen, who proclaimed himself to be the forerunner of the Messiah, endeavored to instil in the Jews the belief that their affliction was the harbinger of the speedy approach of the Messianic empire, and bade them hold themselves in readiness for that event, and divide their property with the poor. This enthusiastic hope, to which many clung as drowning men to a straw, threatened to bring the direst misfortune on the heads of the Yemen Jews. The pious abandoned themselves to despair in the contemplation of these proceedings, altogether lost their heads, and knew not what plan they should adopt. At this point, Jacob Alfayumi, the most learned and most respected man among them, turned to Maimuni, of whom he had heard through his disciples, for counsel and consolation, described to him their sufferings and apprehensions, and begged him to send a reply.

Maimuni accordingly sent a letter of consolation, in Arabic, to the congregation of Yemen, directed personally to his correspondent, but having reference to all the members (Iggeret Teman). In spite of its small compass, it contains valuable matter, and bears witness to the writer's lofty soul and spiritual refinement. He sought in it to elevate the sufferers to the height of spiritual consciousness, on which suffering for religion's sake loses its sting, and darkness appears as the inevitable antecedent of the break of day. He expressed himself on the relation of Judaism to Christianity and Islam with an acuteness and precision which reflect his profound conviction. It was certainly sad to reflect, remarks the sage of Cairo, that there should have occurred cruel persecutions of the Jews in two opposite directions; in the West by the Almohades,463 and in the East by the Mahometans of Yemen. Nevertheless they were not unexpected, for the prophets had announced them quite distinctly. "Because God has specially distinguished us, sons of Israel, through His grace, and has appointed us the upholders of the true religion and the true creed, the nations hate us, not only on our own account, but on account of the divinity which lives in our midst, in order to thwart in some measure the divine will." Since the revelation on Sinai there had never been a time when Judaism and its professors had not been exposed to sufferings and persecutions. The nations had manifested their hate in three different forms; either with the sword, like Amalek, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Titus, and Hadrian, in order utterly to root out from the earth the nation that possessed the truth; or with the false tricks of sophistical persuasion, like the Persians, Greeks, and Romans, with a view to refute and falsify the doctrines of Judaism; or finally under the mask of revelation, as it were, in the garb of Judaism, in order to juggle it out of existence. The principle inimical to Judaism had at length discovered that it was unable to annihilate the upholders of God's religion, or to tear it out of their hearts; and now it hoped to destroy them by a crafty device. It pretended also to have received a revelation acknowledging that on Sinai to have been authorized for a time, but declared that it now had no further validity. This hostile principle, which sought the banishment of the divine from earth, attempted to substitute a stuffed figure for a godly child, and falsify Judaism. The new revelations of Nazareth and Mecca, compared with Judaism, were like well-executed statues of a man, compared with a real man full of life and energy. All this bitter enmity of the nations of the earth against Israel and its divine religion had been foreseen by the prophets, especially by Daniel, who at464 the same time foretold the victory of Judaism over superstition. "And now, brethren," so Maimuni addressed the congregation of Yemen in his letter, "consider well these truths, and do not let yourselves be discouraged by the superabundance of your woe. Its purpose is to test you, and to show that the posterity of Jacob, the descendants of those who received the Law on Sinai, are in possession of the true Law." Furthermore, he pointed out that it was wrong to calculate the Messianic period, as the Yemen enthusiast thought he had succeeded in doing; for it can never be exactly determined, it having been purposely concealed as a deep secret by the prophets.

Lastly, Maimuni exhorted Jacob Alfayumi to circulate his letter among the congregations of Yemen, that it might strengthen them in their faith, but to take great precautions when reading it that no traitor might be given the opportunity of making it the pretext for an accusation. He himself, said Maimuni, wrote in anxiety as to the evil consequences which might ensue for him; but he considered that he who wished to work for the general good must not be deterred by apprehensions of danger. This interesting letter of consolation, which was written with much warmth, made so favorable an impression on the Jews of southern Arabia, that they, far from growing indifferent to their religion, were strengthened in it, and were moved to take an energetic share in all the events affecting the welfare of the whole body of Jews. In later times, when Maimuni attained greater importance, he found the means of putting a stop to the political oppression and bigoted persecution suffered by the Jews. For this the congregation of Yemen clove to him with enthusiastic love and veneration. They included his name in their daily prayer, a demonstration of honor which had been accorded only to the Exilarchs at their zenith.

465 Maimuni's greatness only gradually obtained acknowledgment. As early as the year 1175, he was looked upon as an authority in the determination of rabbinical laws; and religious-legal questions were addressed to him from all parts, a circumstance from which we may infer the universal recognition of his authority. Maimuni appears to have been officially recognized in 1177 as rabbi of Cairo, on account of his profound knowledge of the Talmud, his character, and his fame. He, with nine colleagues, formed an ecclesiastical board. His office he regarded as a holy priesthood, and exercised it with characteristic conscientiousness and circumspection. Where he perceived any abuses, he placed himself boldly in the breach. Although Maimuni worked hard in eliminating from the rabbinical world all Karaite customs which had crept in, he, nevertheless, always showed great tolerance toward the followers of Anan. Being asked how Rabbanites should behave towards Karaites, he replied that as long as they kept within the bounds of decency, and did not scoff at the Talmud, they were to be treated respectfully, and to be approached with friendliness, humility, and in a pacific spirit. Rabbanites might visit them in their houses, bury their dead, comfort their mourners, and initiate their children into the covenant of Abraham. The Talmud enjoins that we must observe a friendly demeanor towards heathens and idolaters, how much more so towards those who spring from the seed of Jacob, and acknowledge only one God. By virtue of his office, Maimuni tried hard to secure decorum in the synagogue, and also to remove many long-continued abuses. He noticed, for instance, that when the congregation had finished saying the silent prayer, thinking that they had performed their duty, they did not listen to its audible repetition by the reader, but chatted with one another, and generally behaved in an unbecoming466 manner. The Mahometans mocked at them, and with justice too, for they were accustomed to conduct their own divine service with concentrated devotion. Maimuni, who always felt deeply mortified when Judaism was exposed to ridicule, was anxious to put a stop to such offensive behavior in the synagogues, and with this motive abrogated the silent prayer altogether, without considering that it is expressly prescribed by the Talmud. Sincere prayer was to him of higher importance than mere mechanical fulfilment of precept. This practice, instituted by Maimuni, according to which the reader alone said the chief prayer, was followed, not only in the whole of Egypt, but even in several congregations of Palestine, in Damascus, and Haleb, and was continued among the native congregations for three centuries.

In the midst of his energetic activity in communal affairs, practising as a physician, and devoting himself to the constant study of philosophy and science, Maimuni completed his second great work (8 Kislev—7 November, 1180), his epoch-making "Mishne-Torah," or Religious Code. If, as he states, he labored at it continuously for ten successive years, the time stands in no relation to the magnitude of the performance. It is impossible to give the uninitiated an idea of this gigantic work, in which he collected the most remote things from the vast mine of the Talmud, extracting the fine metal from the dross, classifying all details under their appropriate heads, showing how the Talmud was based on the Bible, bringing its details under general rules, combining apparently unconnected parts into one organized whole, and cementing it into a work of art. He justly laid special emphasis, in the Mishne-Torah, on the necessity of skilful grouping, the difficulties of which can be estimated only by a specialist deeply versed in the subject. The Talmud resembles a Dædalian maze, in which one can467 scarcely find his way even with Ariadne's thread, but Maimuni designed a well-contrived ground-plan, with wings, halls, apartments, chambers, and closets, through which a stranger might easily pass without a guide, and thereby obtain a survey of all that is contained in the Talmud. Only a mind accustomed to think clearly and systematically, and filled with the genius of order, could have planned and built a structure like this.

Apart from the technical excellences, and the incomparably well proportioned architecture, the work had, as far as the contents are concerned, a most important influence on the development of Jewish history. All the various lines which his predecessors had partially traced out on the ground of Judaism, Maimuni united in the greatest harmony. Nothing therein is given undue prominence, and nothing is neglected. The philosophical, the ethical and the ceremonial sides, and, so to speak, the emotional side of Judaism which the aspiration for a Messianic period of redemption expresses, are treated in this work as of equal worth and prominence. Maimuni united the divergent roads on which Judaism had been led, and made them meet together in one point. He worked out to final perfection all the efforts which, since Saadiah had tried to give a philosophical basis to Judaism, and to make clear its import, had been embodied in writing. His work was the necessary center of gravity of the tremendous intellectual structure of three centuries.

It may almost be said that Maimuni created a new Talmud. The old elements are certainly there; we know their source, their occurrence, and their original application, but under his treatment, grouping, and elaboration they assume a new shape. The rust is removed, the confusing non-essential matter is taken out, and everything appears newly cast, polished, fresh, and original. The Mishna,468 the groundwork of the Talmud, begins with the question, "At what time is the Shema to be said in the evening?" and concludes with a discussion as to what things are unclean according to Levitical law. Maimuni, on the other hand, thus commences his Talmudical Code, "The foundation and pillar of all wisdom is to recognize that there is an original Being, who called all creatures into existence," and ends with the words, "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." This work breathes the spirit of true wisdom, calm reflection, and deep morality. Maimuni, so to speak, talmudized Philosophy, and philosophized the Talmud. He admitted philosophy into his religious Code, and conceded it a place of equal importance with the Halacha. From the time of Philo till Abraham Ibn-Daud, philosophy had always been treated as something secondary, which had nothing to do with practical Judaism, as it is daily and hourly practised. Maimuni, on the other hand, introduced it into the holiest place in Judaism, and as it were gave Aristotle a place next to the doctors of the Law. A great portion of the first book of his work (Sepher Madda) is of a philosophical character. The object of his work was to simplify the knowledge of the whole of Judaism, both Biblical and Talmudical, which in his judgment were of equal value. He wanted to clear up the diffuseness and obscurity, which arise from Talmudical idiom, the discussions, the incomplete explanations of the Geonim, and render the study of the Talmud so difficult; to illumine chaos, and put confusion into order. The rabbi who had to determine questions of a religious or legal character, the pious man who desired to discharge his religious duty of knowing the Law, the student who desired to obtain knowledge of the Talmud, had no more need to struggle through the thorny underbrush of Halachic discussions,469 but in addition to Holy Writ had simply to refer to the Code of the Mishne-Torah, in order to acquire complete information. He hinted rather broadly that his work was intended to render the Talmud less necessary, if not to supersede it. For this reason he wrote it in the neo-Hebrew language (Mishna idiom), which was easily understood, so as to make it accessible to all people, and thus spread the knowledge of the Law, and the principles of Judaism generally. It is true that he came into collision with the views of his rabbinical contemporaries, who expected the Talmud to be treated with the same respect as the Holy Scriptures, wherein no word is superfluous, and which, therefore, must be studied in the original text.

In consistently carrying out his principle that all details should be brought under comprehensive heads, and that nothing should be admitted without conclusive grounds, Maimuni could not help deviating occasionally in his decisions from the Talmudical method of determining the case, and striking out into a path peculiar to himself. In one particular point he stepped beyond the bounds of the Talmud. The Talmud treats as Biblical many decisions which were inferred from verses of Scripture by an application of the accepted rules of interpretation. Maimuni, however, advanced the principle that only those laws were Biblical which the Talmud distinctly claimed to be so without recording any difference of opinion on the subject.

In this bold view Maimuni was manifestly influenced by the objection of the Karaites against the Oral Law. Without being himself clearly aware of it, he conceded that a genuine tradition could not be amenable to differences of opinion, and must never, during its transmission from generation to generation, be exposed to doubt.

Although Maimuni's theory, consistently followed out, is calculated to undermine Talmudical Judaism,470 that Judaism, nevertheless, was in practice held by him in such estimation that he regarded nothing to be of higher importance. The Talmudical sages were, in his eyes, authorities who occupied a position only a step lower than the prophets. He regarded them as ideals, to emulate whom would lead to a virtuous, religious, and perfect life. The legal decisions proceeding from them, whether mandatory or prohibitory, could be abrogated only under circumstances specified in the Talmud itself. In practice, accordingly, it made no difference whether a law was Biblical or rabbinical; both were to be observed with equal conscientiousness.

Maimuni, through his religious Code, gave rabbinical Judaism a strong hold, and on the other hand he helped to ossify it. Much in the Talmud that was still unsettled and open to explanation he crystallized into unchangeable law. As he introduced into Judaism articles of belief, which were to limit thought by thought, so by his codified determinations of the laws, he robbed it of its mobility. Without considering the condition of the times in which the Talmudical decisions had arisen, he laid them down as binding for all times and circumstances. In this respect he was much stricter than the Tossafist school, who took the sting out of a too burdensome law by proving after elaborate examination that it was not applicable to changed circumstances and times. If Maimuni's Code had acquired absolute supremacy, as it at first seemed likely to do, and had dislodged the Talmud from the schools, from the hands of the religious authorities, and from the Jewish courts of law, Talmudical Judaism would have succumbed to petrifaction, notwithstanding the rich thought and the scientific treatment which Maimuni bestowed on it.

However, as soon as the Jews obtained possession of Maimuni's Code, which was accessible to them by reason of its simple language and arrangement,471 they began to see clearly its high importance. In Spain, it was said, every one copied it for himself; the Jewish mind was absorbed in it, young and old gathered together in order to master its contents. There were now many doctors of the Law who could pass an original opinion on any controversial point of law, and check the decision of the judge. And as in Spain, so it was in all countries, even in the East, where the study of the Talmud was more energetically pursued. The reverence for the great master increased every day, especially when it became known that his private life corresponded to the ideal which he had delineated of a Jewish sage. His people lavished on him the most enthusiastic of praises. "The only one of his time," "The banner of the rabbis," "The enlightener of the eyes of Israel," were modest titles. It required all Maimuni's moral force not to be overpowered by the incense burned before him. Maimuni's name rang from Spain to India, and from the sources of the Euphrates and the Tigris to southern Arabia, and eclipsed all contemporary celebrities. The most learned men subordinated themselves to his judgment, and solicited his instruction in the most humble manner; he was regarded as chief authority for the whole Jewish world, which revered him as its noblest representative.

He did not escape the attack of petty opponents, who were jealous of his towering greatness, insignificant rabbis, who, being superficially familiar with the text of the Talmud, thought themselves in possession of all wisdom, and were unpleasantly awakened from their dream by Maimuni's work. In Cairo itself some Talmudists would not deign to bestow a glance on the Code, lest it might be said that they had learnt something out of it. Others argued that the College of Bagdad was the only seat of Talmudical knowledge, and that he who had not studied in this school could not be recognized472 as thoroughly initiated, and, consequently, Maimuni's decisions did not deserve unconditional acceptance. Such little minds persuaded themselves that it lay in their power to compose a like or even a better work on all the laws of Judaism. The head of this petty opposition was Samuel ben Ali, of Bagdad, who, on his richly embellished Gaonate throne, surrounded by his slaves armed with scourges, would not acknowledge any one his equal, much less his superior. Maimonides opposed a contemptuous silence to detractors of this class. However, he also had honorable adversaries, who feeling that Maimuni's conception of Talmudical Judaism was not flesh of their flesh, scented heresy in the Code, and perceived danger therein to the practice of the religion. But wherein the strange and inconsistent elements lay only the more learned understood; the simple, on the other hand, lit upon secondary and quite unessential points, and excited themselves about them, as if the fundamental principles of the religion were in danger.

Thus, in Alexandria, after the publication of Maimuni's work, there broke out against it a popular insurrection, because it was taught therein that bathing before prayer, which the Eastern Jews had adopted from their Mahometan neighbors, was not essential. Members of the congregation combined, and threatened to lay information against it before the Mahometan authorities, on the ground that those who had adopted Maimuni's Code as law wished to introduce innovations into the religion.

It was only after a residence in Egypt of more than twenty years that Maimuni obtained an appointment as physician at the court of Saladin; up to that time he had acquired only a slight practice. He was not Saladin's physician in ordinary, for the Sultan, on account of the constant wars with the adherents of Nureddin and with the Christians, could not visit his capital for a long time. But the favor of the noble vizir, the wise and mighty Alfadhel,473 who was also a great promoter of learning, and of whom a contemporary said, "he was entirely head and heart," was of as much value as the distinguished recognition of the sovereign. Alfadhel caused Maimuni to be placed on the list of physicians, settled upon him a yearly salary, and loaded him with favors. Inspired by his example, the great men of the country who lived in Cairo likewise bestowed upon him their patronage, so that Maimuni's time was so fully occupied that he was obliged to neglect his studies. Maimuni was indebted for his elevation more to his medical learning than to his skill as a physician; for he pursued this profession as a learned science, and prescribed no recipe for whose efficacy he could not cite the judgment of medical authorities. He treated the facts of scientific medicine in the same spirit as he had treated the Talmud. In this manner he elaborated the writings of Galen, the medical oracle in the Middle Ages; he abridged and arranged them, without permitting himself to deviate from the original in the slightest particular. The same character is borne also by his medical aphorisms, which are nothing further than extracts from and classifications of older theories. In spite of his almost absolute lack of originality in the province of medicine, Maimuni nevertheless enjoyed a wide reputation as a medical author. The celebrated Mahometan physician and theologian, Abdel-latif, of Bagdad, who enjoyed the favor of Saladin in a high degree, confessed that his wish to visit Cairo was prompted by the desire to make the acquaintance of three men, among whom was Musa ben Maimun. The poet and kadhi, Alsaid Ibn-Sina Almulk, sang of Maimuni's greatness as a physician in ecstatic verse:

474

"Galen's art heals only the body,
But Abu-Amran's (Maimuni's) the body and soul.
With his wisdom he could heal the sickness of ignorance.
If the moon would submit to his art,
He would deliver her of her spots at the time of full moon,
Cure her of her periodic defects,
And at the time of her conjunction save her from waning."

Maimuni's reputation was so great that the English king, Richard Cœur-de-Lion, the soul of the third crusade, wanted to appoint him his physician in ordinary, but Maimuni refused the offer.

His patron, the chief judge and vizir Alfadhel, acquitted him at about this time of a grave charge, for which, under a less mild Mahometan, or even a Christian judge, he would have incurred the penalty of death. The same Abulalarab Ibn-Moïsha who had befriended Maimuni in Fez, had come from Maghreb to Egypt, and when he saw Maimuni, whom he had known as a Mahometan, at the head of the Jewish community as spiritual chief, he appeared against him as an accuser, and averred that Maimuni had for a long time professed the religion of Islam, and consequently ought to be punished as a renegade. Alfadhel, before whose tribunal the accusation was preferred, decided rightly that the compulsory adoption of a creed could have no value, and, therefore, could involve no penalties (about 1187). In consequence of his favor with the vizir, Maimuni was appointed supreme head of all the Egyptian congregations, and this dignity descended in his family from father to son and grandson. It is certain that Maimuni drew no salary for this office, for nothing appeared to him more discreditable and sinful than to receive payment for the discharge of spiritual duties, or to degrade knowledge into a money-making business. He sought this prominent position not for himself, but for the sake of his co-religionists, in order to save them from injustice. It was through him that the heavy yoke of persecution was removed from the congregation of Yemen. When Saladin had once more wrested Jerusalem from the hands of the Christians, who had held it for nearly a century, he allowed the Jews to settle in the city of their fathers (October, 1187). And from all sides there came devoted sons to visit their mourning and forsaken475 mother. Possibly Maimuni was not unconnected with this act of noble-minded tolerance. Lastly, he endeavored to obtain for his brethren in faith precedence in the state over the Karaites, and gradually to oust the latter from their favorable position at court, so that many of them reverted to Rabbanism. This was accounted to Maimuni as a most meritorious deed in his time.

The higher Maimuni advanced in the esteem of his contemporaries, the more his extraordinary ability was acknowledged, and the louder his fame resounded, the more did the arrogant Samuel ben Ali, of Bagdad, feel himself belittled, and the more did he become filled with envy. Samuel accordingly took every opportunity to depreciate Maimuni's merit, and rob him of his fame. Samuel and his friends whispered to one another that Maimuni was by no means a strictly religious Jew, nor a true follower of the Talmud, and they spread many calumnies about him. Some mistakes which he had made in his youthful work, the Mishna Commentary, were used by these malevolent people with a view to brand him as ignorant of the Talmud, and without claim to authority in this province. Their idea of religion, as Maimuni said of them, consisted in guarding against the violation of precepts; but according to their view, good morals, humility, merely human virtues, in short, do not belong to religion. As the seed which Maimuni had scattered began to bear fruit, Samuel ben Ali and his allies took advantage thereof to lower the author in the eyes of his contemporaries.

In Damascus and Yemen there appeared religious teachers, who drew from Maimuni's writings logical conclusions which he himself did not care to deduce. As he strongly affirmed, and repeatedly insisted, that by the immortality of the soul a purely spiritual existence in another world was to be understood, whereas he passed over the resurrection476 of the dead as of only secondary importance, his disciples concluded that he was not thoroughly convinced of the resurrection, and forthwith began to teach that after death the body sinks into dissolution and decay, and that only the soul becomes elevated to a purely spiritual life. This liberal view clashed with explicit declarations in the Talmud, and consequently aroused general opposition. Samuel ben Ali was requested by some one in Yemen to give his opinion on this question of the belief in the resurrection. Samuel wrote a whole treatise upon it, with philosophical flourishes, in order to appear a worthy rival of Maimuni, and seized the opportunity of criticising the latter's writings, hoping to heighten the effect of the criticism by according partial praise to Maimuni. On another occasion, Samuel ben Ali directed a letter to Maimuni, in which, amid much flattery and fawning, he reproached him with having committed an error in interpreting the Talmud, which could scarcely have been made by a beginner, kindly adding that Maimuni must not fret himself about it. At the same time, he did not forget to promise graciously to take him under his protection against the congregation in Yemen. Maimuni replied with a heated letter, in which he showed his malicious opponent that it was he who had erred in the deeper conception of the Talmud. He also touched upon the secret attacks made against his great work from this quarter, some asserting that the book contained mistakes, others that it was superfluous, others, again, that it was dangerous. "You seem," Maimuni observed to him, "to reckon me among those who are sensitive to every word of blame. You make a mistake. God has protected me against this weakness, and I protest to you, in His name, that if the most insignificant scholar, whether friend or foe, would point out to me an error, I would be grateful for the correction and instruction."477 Although Samuel ben Ali was readily refuted by Maimuni, he still continued to spread the report that the latter was no Talmudist, and that his codex did not deserve the respect which it enjoyed. From another side, from Haleb, Mar Sacharya, a man of limited range of vision, and with a superficial knowledge of the Talmud, thinking himself eclipsed by Maimuni's pupil, Joseph Ibn-Aknin, worked with equal hostility against master and disciple. But, as the sage of Fostat had warm and disinterested adherents everywhere, Samuel ben Ali and his ally of Haleb were constrained to act cautiously. They organized an intrigue against him, into which they drew one of the two Exilarchs. Towards this cabal, Maimuni assumed an attitude of contemptuous indifference and unconcern, which altogether disarmed his opponents.

In spite of his collisions with the party of Samuel ben Ali, and his prodigious activity as a physician, which scarcely gave him time for study, he completed his religious philosophical work, "Guide of the Perplexed" (Moreh Nebuchim, Dalalat al Haïrin) in about 1190. This treatise became of extraordinary importance, not only for Judaism, but for the history of philosophy in the Middle Ages generally. Maimuni appears at the summit of his intellectual power in this work, and it contains the vindication of his profoundest convictions. The questions which the human mind starts ever anew, about the existence of a higher world, the destiny of our being, and the imperfection and evil of the earthly world, Maimuni sought to answer in a manner which was at that time considered convincing. The doubts which the thinking Jew may conceive of the truth of his hereditary religion, he endeavored to remove in a persuasive manner. He, whose thoughts were ever directed to the loftiest subjects, could with justice assume the character of guide to the perplexed and wavering.478 The external form of this epoch-making work would make it appear that the author had elaborated, for his favorite disciple, Joseph Ibn-Aknin, of Fez, separate treatises on important points which had disquieted and tortured the latter. But it was actually dictated by the desire to express clearly his philosophical conception of the world, and his views of the place which Judaism finds in it, and thoroughly to analyze their mutual relation.

Maimuni was, on the one hand, firmly convinced of the truth of the Aristotelian philosophy, as the Mahometan philosopher Ibn-Sina and others had formulated it. On the other hand, Judaism was to him a body of truths not less irrefragable. Both seemed to him to have the same conclusion and a common aim. Philosophy recognizes as the principal of all essences one indivisible God, the governor of the world. Judaism likewise teaches with emphatic asseveration the unity of God, and abhors nothing more thoroughly than polytheism. Metaphysics knows no higher aim for man than that he should perfect himself intellectually, and work his way up to the highest knowledge. Judaism also, even Talmudical Judaism, places understanding and knowledge, the understanding of God, at the head of its precepts. If the truth which the human mind in the fulness of its power evolves from itself, and the revelation which the Deity vouchsafed to the Israelitish nation on Sinai, resemble each other in beginning and end, then their separate parts must correspond with each other, and be as one and the same truth, arrived at in different ways. Judaism cannot be in contradiction with philosophy, as both are emanations from the divine spirit. The truth which God has revealed must also agree with that which lies in the human reason, since the latter is a power originating from God, and similarly all truths which metaphysical thinking can bring to light must exist in the revelation—479that is, in Judaism. Hence, Maimuni believed that originally, besides the written revelation in the Pentateuch, there were also communicated to the greatest of prophets oral doctrines of a philosophical character, which were transmitted by tradition to posterity, and which were lost only in consequence of the troubles and afflictions which the Israelites experienced in the course of ages. Traces of this old Israelitish wisdom are found, according to Maimuni, in the scattered utterances of the prophets, and in the reflections of the Agada. When, therefore, the thinking Jew borrows the truths of Greek philosophy, and adopts the theories of Plato and Aristotle, they are not altogether strange elements to him, but only a reminder of his own forgotten treasure.

The whole universe, which must be considered as a single organic whole, consisting of spheres suspended over one another working in harmony, is nothing more than the realized thoughts of God, or rather than the ideas of God ever tending to realization. He continually imparts to it new forms and shapes, and implants order and regularity in the world. Everything is arranged therein in accordance with a final purpose. The Greek philosophy, it is true, assumes that the universe shares in the eternity of God; but it can neither irrefutably prove the eternity of the world, nor remove any of the difficulties which oppose the acceptation of the original existence of the universe. The doctrine of Judaism is much more reasonable, that the world had a positive beginning, and that time itself, which, indeed, is a form of the world and its motion, is not without beginning, but was called into being by the determining will of God.

The organically formed universe, created and made to cohere by God, consists of a series of entities of different degrees. Next to the Deity are the pure spirits, which are simple, and not composed480 of matter and form, and consequently partake most of the divine nature. Their necessary existence is proved philosophically, because many phenomena in the universe best admit of explanation through them. These pure spirits, these "forms free of matter," Judaism and Holy Writ call "angels." Among them must be assumed a spirit or angel who is the originator of thoughts or ideas, the active world-spirit or creative reason (Sechel ha-Poel).

In the degree next to the pure spirits are entities which must certainly be considered as composed of matter and form, whose matter, however, is not heavy and coarse, but of an ethereal nature. These ethereal entities are the heavens and the brilliant world of stars, which possess an ever uniform motion, and are therefore not subject to the change of genesis and dissolution, but revolve in the firmament in constant brightness and with unbroken regularity. These form and influence the lower circle of entities. The stars are divided into four spheres—into the sphere of the fixed stars, of the moving stars (planets), of the sun and the moon. These spheres must be considered as endowed with life and intellectual power. Below the sphere of the moon there exists a grade of entities which are generated from coarser matter, but are susceptible of form, shape, and motion. This is the world of the four elements, which are in their turn fashioned into four spheres, one above the other. Within these spheres are formed, through manifold evolutions, influenced by the world of stars, lifeless minerals, plants, self-moving animals, and men capable of intelligence.

But how is the influence of God upon this multiform universe to be understood? The changes cannot proceed immediately through Him. The animated orbs of stars, which are the cause of all transformations on earth, are not set in motion by481 God, but are impelled towards Him in longing and love, in order to partake of His perfection, His light, and His goodness. Through this ardent striving of the heavenly bodies to God comes their regular revolution, and in this manner they cause all changes in the world below the moon, in the circle of genesis and dissolution, through the reception and loss of peculiar forms and shapes. This theory of God, of the universe, and the various motions of the different beings, Maimuni found indicated in Holy Writ and in many utterances of the Agada, but only in obscure allusions, as these writings, being designed for every one, not solely for the philosopher, could not and durst not, at the risk of occasioning gross misunderstanding, unveil the complete image of truth.

More important than the analysis of this conception of the world is Maimuni's presentation of his ideas on matters more nearly concerning mankind. Since God, the creator of the world, is perfect and all-good, the world cannot have been made otherwise than good, and in accordance with a purpose. "God saw that all was good," "From on high there comes no evil." The evils which exist in the world are not to be looked upon as the work of God, but merely as the absence of the good and the perfect, since gross matter is incapable of partaking of the good and the divine. God did not create sin, but sin arises from the nature of the coarse matter, which is defective in its constitution, and which can only receive and retain defectively that which is good. But this evil must be overcome. God has implanted in the soul of man, who is superior to all entities composed of gross matter, the capacity and instinct for knowledge. If the soul follows this instinct, it is assisted by the active reason which has been specially created for the purpose of opening up to the soul the source of the divine spirit, in order that it may understand the structure of the world and482 God's influence upon it, and that it may be enabled to lead a worthy life. Man can thereby raise himself to the higher degree of the angels, and can conquer the frailties which arise out of his material body. Through this elevation to the higher abode of thought and to moral purity, and through mastery of his animal nature, man by his own will acquires a soul; he makes himself a super-earthly being, he wins for himself the immortality of the soul, and becomes united with the all-governing world-soul. The possibility of gaining this highest degree is vouchsafed to man with his freedom of will.

And man can acquire and in a manner win God's special providence in the same way as he can acquire and win immortality through the action of his soul. For God's care extends only to what remains and endures. Even in the lower world of the four elements, this is felt in the preservation of the species, which by reason of their form and purpose are of a spiritual nature. If man raises himself to the degree of a spirit, if he becomes master over matter, the providential eye of God will not pass him over. And as man can gain for himself, through moral and intellectual discipline, an immortal soul, so he incurs the highest penalty if his spiritual light is quenched through a sinful life, and is crushed by his material nature.

Man has the power of acquiring still more; he can, through an ideal life, come to possess the prophetic faculty, if he opens his mind by constant communion with God to the influences of the active reason. But it requires on the part of man cultivation and concentration of the imagination, and on the part of God the emanation of His spirit. Since a lively, continually active imagination is the chief qualification for prophecy, it can develop only in a state similar to a dream, when the disturbing activity of the senses is relaxed, and the mind may freely resign itself to the influences from above. The prophesying483 of the prophets always occurred in a kind of dream. The Scriptural accounts of the actions and experiences of the prophets during their ecstatic condition, are not to be understood as being accounts of actual occurrences, but only of processes of the soul, as visions of the imagination. There are also different degrees of prophecy, according to the greater or less capacity requisite for them. Thus many miraculous tales in the Bible cease to appear supernatural and surprising, just as the hyperbolical style of the prophets is explicable on this theory. All this arises from the rule of the imagination and dream visions. Miracles are certainly not impossible. The same Creator who has established the laws of nature can also suspend them, but He does so only temporarily, that the old order may soon return, as when the waters of the Nile were changed into blood only for a short time, and the sea divided itself for the Israelites but for a few hours. The number of miracles in the Bible is, however, limited. Wonders are not, generally speaking, the means of verifying and confirming the declarations of the prophets; they must be proved by the prophecies themselves, and the fulfilment of what they predict. Miracles do not prove them true.

The most perfect of all prophets was that man of God with shining countenance, who brought to the world a religion which has exercised the profoundest sway over men's minds. The prophecy of Moses differed from that of later prophets in four essential points. He received the revelation without the mediation of another spiritual being, that is, without the influence of the active reason or of an angel, but communed with the Deity "face to face and mouth to mouth." Secondly, Moses communed with God, not in a dream, when all activity of the senses ceases, but the higher teaching was granted to him whilst he was in an ordinary frame of mind. Moreover, his being was not disturbed or dissolved484 by it, as in the case of other prophets when the spirit of God came upon them, but he could maintain himself under it. Finally, Moses was continually in the prophetic mood, whereas this power came upon other men of God only after longer or shorter intervals, and then only after careful preparation. Moses possessed this prophetic perfection only because, through the elevation of his mind, he had liberated himself from the tyranny of his senses, from desire, and even from his imagination, and had won for himself the degree of an angel, or of a pure spirit. All coverings which blindfold the eye of the human mind, and disturb its view, he tore off, and penetrated to the fountain-head of truth. He attained to a degree such as no other mortal has reached, and therefore he was able also to recognize the Deity and His will with the undisturbed gaze of a pure spirit. The truth of the highest Being irradiated him without intermediation, and in transparent clearness, without word or speech. That which he perceived at such a height he brought to his people as a religion, as a revelation, and this truth, radiating immediately from the divinity, is the Torah.

This revealed religion, originating from God, is unique, just as the mediator, through whom the truth was conveyed to man, is the only one of his kind. Being a divine doctrine it is perfect, and consequently there can be none which can abrogate its authority, and supersede it, just as there was none previous to it.

The divinity of the Torah is proved by its contents as by its origin. It contains not only laws and precepts, but also dogmas upon questions most important for man, and this two-fold character is likewise a mark to distinguish it at once from other codes and from other religions. Besides, the laws of the Torah all aim at a higher purpose, so that there is nothing in it superfluous, nothing unnecessary,485 nothing gratuitous. The design of the revelation brought down by Moses can be thus summarized: it was to promote the spiritual and physical welfare of those who received it, the one by inculcating correct ideas of God and His government of the world, the other by enjoining principles of virtue and morality. Maimuni made an attempt to show that the six hundred and thirteen laws of the Torah, or of Judaism, tend to establish a true theory as to the Deity and His relation to the world, to oppose false and pernicious opinions, to uproot false ideas, to remove wrong and violence, to accustom men to virtue, and finally to eliminate immorality and vice. Maimuni arranged all the obligations of Judaism under fourteen groups according to his scheme.

Maimuni's ideal labor, to raise Judaism to the height of a philosophical system, was of the most wide-spread effect. For the thinkers of his time, Maimuni's religious philosophy was, indeed, a "Guide of the Perplexed." For to these men, who were dominated by the same principles, whose thinking, on the one hand, was Aristotelian, and whose feeling, on the other hand, was Jewish, but who, nevertheless, were conscious of a deep gulf between their thinking and their feeling, nothing could have been more welcome than the discovery of a bridge which led from the one to the other. Many things which had appeared to them offensive, or at least trivial, in the Bible, received through Maimuni's ingenious manner of interpretation a higher importance, a deeper sense, and became clear to their understanding. To posterity his philosophical work was both stimulating and suggestive. Judaism, viewed in the light of Maimuni's philosophy, no longer appeared to Jewish students as something strange, belonging to the past, an extinct and mere mechanical system, but as something which belonged to themselves, a part of their486 consciousness, existing in the present, living in their thoughts and animating them. Jewish thinkers of all times after Maimuni have consequently had recourse to Maimuni's "Guide," have derived fruitful ideas from this source, and have even learnt from him to advance beyond his standpoint, and to combat him. And since in the end thinkers will always remain the guides and leaders of men, and the designers of their future, it can be said with justice, that Judaism is indebted to Maimuni for its rejuvenescence. So exclusively did he hold sway over men of intellect, that for a long time his work completely supplanted the systems of his predecessors from Saadiah to Ibn-Daud.

Maimuni's philosophical work, being written in Arabic, also exercised considerable influence beyond the Jewish world. He had, it is true, composed it entirely for Jews, and it is said, moreover, that he strictly enjoined that it be copied entirely in Hebrew characters, so that it might not fall into the hands of the Mahometans, and provoke animosity against his own people. He even cautioned his favorite disciple to use the utmost care in handling the chapters sent to him, so that they might not be misused by Mahometans and wicked Jews; but nevertheless this work became known to the Arabs, even in Maimuni's lifetime. A Mahometan wrote a profound exposition of the premises established by Maimuni to prove the existence of God. The chief founders of the Christian scholastic philosophy not only used Maimuni's work, which was translated into Latin at an early period, but for the first time learnt from it how to reconcile the diverging tendencies of belief and philosophy.

It ought scarcely to be urged against Maimuni, as a reproach, that, led by the philosophy of his time, he introduced strange and even incompatible elements into his system; that he raised, instead of the God of Revelation, who is in complete sympathy487 with the human race, with the Israelites, and with every individual, a metaphysical entity, who exists in cold seclusion and elevation, and who dare not concern Himself about His creatures, if His existence is not to evaporate as that of a mere phantasm. To this metaphysical God, he could attribute free-will only in a limited sense, whilst he practically denied Him altogether the possession of a complete personality. Judaism, however much Maimuni had its interests at heart, must be a loser by his system. As he could not accept the revelation of the Torah in the fullest sense as a communication of the Deity to His people, he had to consider the greatest prophet in the light of a demi-god above mankind. The ideal of a perfectly pious man, according to Maimuni's conception, is attainable by very few, and only by disciplined thinkers, who have the power of raising themselves to that rank through the long succession of degrees of knowledge, which are not within the grasp of every one. A merely moral and religious course of life is not sufficient, since God can be adored only by a soul endowed with philosophical intuition, and consequently only the few can arrive at immortality and future bliss, and have divine care vouchsafed them. Thus, according to Maimuni's theory, there are but very few elect. Lastly, Maimuni had to put a forced interpretation on verses of Scripture, in order to make them harmonize with the results of philosophical thought.

Maimuni's intelligent contemporaries, and even his favorite pupil, Joseph Ibn-Aknin, felt that his theory was not quite consistent with Judaism. This feeling made itself especially noticeable in regard to the belief in the resurrection. Maimuni had certainly reckoned it among the articles of belief, but he had laid no stress upon it; there was no place for it in his philosophical system. From many sides, it was charged against him that, while488 he had made an exhaustive examination of the question of immortality, he had dismissed the doctrine of resurrection with a few words. Maimuni now felt that he owed it to himself to compose a vindication in the form of a treatise on the resurrection of the dead, which he wrote in Arabic in 1191. Therein he affirms that he firmly believes in the resurrection, and that it is a miracle whose possibility is assumed with the belief in a creation in time. He complains in the book of being misunderstood. This composition is written in an irritable mood, which contrasts greatly with the calmness of his former works. He was annoyed that he had to justify himself to "fools and women."

Among the learned Mahometans, Maimuni's "Guide" made much stir, but was severely condemned by them, partly on account of his covert attacks upon Islam and the barren but orthodox philosophy which reigned at that time, and partly on account of his broad views. Abdel-latif, the representative of orthodoxy in the Islam world of the East, who had been patronized by Saladin, and had come to Egypt in order to make the acquaintance of Maimuni (probably early in 1192), speaks of him, it is true, with respect, but animadverts strongly upon his work. He expressed himself about him in the following manner: "Moses, the son of Maimun, visited me, and I found him to be a man of very high merit, but governed by an ambition to take the first place, and to make himself acceptable to men in power. Besides medical works, he has written a philosophical book for the Jews, which I have read; I consider it a bad book, which is calculated to undermine the principles of religion through the very means which are apparently designed to strengthen them."

Nowhere did Maimuni's ideas find more fruitful ground, and nowhere were they adopted with more readiness than in the Jewish congregations of489 southern France, where prosperity, the free form of government, and the agitation of the Albigenses against austere clericalism, had awakened a taste for scientific investigation, and where Ibn-Ezra, the Tibbon and the Kimchi families, had scattered seeds of Jewish culture. The less the men of southern France were able of themselves to reconcile Judaism with the results of science, the more did they occupy themselves with the writings of the sage who in so convincing a manner showed that pure and earnest devotion to religion was compatible with a taste for free research, and whose works revealed circumspection, clearness, deliberation and depth. Not only laymen, but even profound Talmudists, like Jonathan Cohen, of Lünel, idolized him, eagerly absorbed his every word, and paid him profound homage. "Since the death of the last rabbis of the Talmud, there has not been such a man in Israel."

Among the rules of health which Maimuni drew up for Alafdhal, who had become ruler of Egypt, he threw in the observation that the strengthening of the soul through moral living and philosophical reflection was requisite for the preservation of a strong body; that immoderate enjoyment of wine and love destroyed vitality. He had the boldness to say to a wayward prince something that no courtier of the age had the courage to tell him. He was determined not to be unfaithful to his calling as a physician of the soul. Maimuni himself fell sick, and was much worn out by his medical practice, and much affected by political changes. As soon as he had recovered, and calm was restored, he answered certain questions which had some time before been directed to him from Lünel. In his missive he excuses himself on the ground that his senses were disturbed, his mental power weakened, and his capacities blunted, yet his arguments testify against him, for they display perfect clearness and freshness of mind.

490 The great veneration which the congregations of southern France felt for Maimuni's writings, and especially for his code, aroused against him a violent antagonist in the person of Abraham ben David, of Posquières, whose inconsiderate manner of dealing with those who represented an opposite line of thought to himself had been experienced by Serachya Halevi Gerundi. This profound Talmudist subjected Maimuni's Mishne-Torah to scathing criticism, and treated him in a contemptuous manner. He maintained that the author had not thoroughly grasped many Talmudical passages, had misconstrued their sense, and had thus drawn many false conclusions. He reproached him for desiring to bring Talmudical authorities into oblivion by reducing the Talmud to a code, and lastly for smuggling philosophical notions into Judaism. But he by no means treated Maimuni as an innovator and a heretic; on the contrary, he did justice to his opinions and his noble aim. Abraham ben David's strictures (Hassagoth) upon Maimuni's work gave occasion to the Talmudists of a later time to indulge their casuistical tendencies, and gave a great impulse to the taste for disputation. The rich, learned, and impulsive rabbi of Posquières also had his admirers. When he died (Friday, 26th Kislev—27th Nov., 1198), descendants of Aaron, who are not allowed to enter a cemetery, made his grave, since before such greatness as his the priesthood may sink its sacred character.

The polemic of Abraham ben David against Maimuni in no way prejudiced the latter's consideration among the congregations of Provence; he remained for them an infallible authority. The chief representative of Jewish-Provençal culture, Samuel Ibn-Tibbon, wrote to Maimuni that he was busying himself with the rendering of the "Guide" from Arabic into Hebrew, and that he longed to see the greatest man in the Jewish world face to491 face. Ibn-Tibbon thereby anticipated a wish of Maimuni's, for the latter contemplated translating his work into Hebrew. Full of joy he replied to Ibn-Tibbon, and gave him some advice how to handle so difficult a theme (8th Tishri—10th September, 1199). He dissuaded him, however, from making the perilous voyage from France to Egypt on his account, as he would scarcely be able to devote to him an hour of his time. He took the occasion to inform him of his manifold occupations, which allowed him scarcely a moment's rest: "The Sultan (Alafdhal) lives in Cairo, and I in Fostat; the two towns lie at a distance of two Sabbath journeys (about a mile and a third) from each other. With the Sultan I have a hard time; I must visit him daily in the morning, and when he, or any of his children, or one of the women of his harem is suffering, I may not leave Cairo. Even when nothing particular happens, I cannot come home till after mid-day. When I enter my house, dying of hunger, I find the hall thronged with people—Jews, Mahometans, illustrious and otherwise, friends and foes, a motley crowd—who await my advice as a physician. There scarcely remains time for me to alight from my horse, wash myself, and take some refreshment. Thus it continues till night, and then, worn out with weakness, I must retire to bed. Only on Sabbath have I time to occupy myself with the congregation and with the Law. I am accustomed on this day to dispose of the affairs of the community for the following week, and to hold a discourse. Thus my days glide away."

It may be that the congregation of Lünel was not aware that Samuel Ibn-Tibbon was engaged with the translation of the "Guide," or did not give him credit for ability in that direction; however it was, some of its members applied to Maimuni to translate this work for them into Hebrew. Maimuni pleaded want of time in excuse, and referred them492 to Ibn-Tibbon (about 1200). He seized the opportunity also to exhort the Provençal Jews to grapple with the scientific treatment of the Talmud. "You, members of the congregation of Lünel and of the neighboring towns, are the only ones who raise aloft the banner of Moses. You apply yourselves to the study of the Talmud, and also cherish wisdom. But in the East the Jews are dead to spiritual labors. In the whole of Syria only a few in Haleb occupy themselves with the study of the Torah, but even they have it not much at heart. In Irak there are only two or three grapes (men of insight); in Yemen and the rest of Arabia they know little of the Talmud, and are acquainted only with the Agadic exposition. Only just lately have they purchased copies of my Code, and distributed them in a few circles. The Jews of India know little of the Bible, much less of the Talmud. Those who live among the Turks and Tartars have the Bible only, and live according to it alone. In Maghreb you know what is the position of the Jews (that they must affect the profession of Islam). Thus it remains with you alone to be a strong support to our religion. Therefore, be firm, and of good courage, and be united in your work." Maimuni felt that enlightened Judaism would have its chief advocacy in Provence. The congregation of Marseilles requested the poet Charisi to translate Maimuni's Commentary to the Mishna into Hebrew. The Provençals took this great man and his writings as a guide in all their actions.

When Maimuni despatched his last missive to the congregation of Lünel, he felt the decadence of his powers: "I feel old, not in years, but on account of feebleness." He died from weakness at the age of seventy years (20th Tebet—13th Dec., 1204), mourned by many congregations in all lands. In Fostat, both Jews and Mahometans publicly mourned for him for three days. In Jerusalem493 the congregation held a special funeral service for him. A general fast was appointed, and the chapter containing the penalties for breaking God's commandments was read from the Torah, and from the Prophets the story of the capture of the Ark of the Covenant by the Philistines. His earthly remains were conveyed to Tiberias. Maimuni left only one son, Abulmeni Abraham, who inherited his father's character, his mildness, his sincere piety, his medical knowledge, his place as physician in ordinary, his dignity as chief (Nagid) of the Egyptian community, but not his intellect. His descendants, who can be traced till the fifteenth century, were distinguished for their piety and their knowledge of the Talmud. On the lips of all his reverers there hovered the brief but suggestive praise: "From Moses, the prophet, till Moses (Maimuni) there has not appeared his equal." An unknown person placed on his grave a short, almost idolatrous inscription:

"Here lies a man, and still no man;
If thou wert a man, angels of heaven
Must have overshadowed thy mother."

These lines were afterwards effaced, and the following substituted:

"Here lies Moses Maimuni, the excommunicated heretic."

These two inscriptions shadow forth the bitter differences which broke out after Maimuni's death, and divided Judaism into two camps.


494

CHAPTER XV.
NEW POSITION OF THE JEWS IN CHRISTIAN LANDS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY.

Effects of the Death of Maimuni—Abraham Maimuni, the son of Maimuni—Hostility of the Papacy against the Jews—Pope Innocent III—The Albigenses—Emigration of Rabbis to Palestine—The Lateran Council and the Jewish Badges—Synod of Rabbis at Mayence—The Dominicans and the Rise of the Inquisition—King Jayme of Aragon and his Physician Benveniste—Stephen Langton and the Jews of England—Gregory IX and Louis IX of France—The Jews of Hungary.

1205–1232 C. E.

Maimuni, the most intellectual rabbi and the deep religious philosopher, constitutes the zenith in mediæval Jewish history, and soon after his death the shadows begin to incline. Gradually the sunshine lessens, and gives way to dismal gloom. His intellectual bequest produced a far-reaching cleavage, which divided Judaism, or its leaders, into two hostile camps, and aroused a weakening, factional spirit which presented points of attack to deadly foes. The Church, whose arrogance was constantly gaining ground, interfered in the disputes of Judaism, and brought into play against the refractory Synagogue seductive allurements, terrifying punishments, secret poison, or blazing fire. Maimuni's death and the ascendancy of the papacy were two misfortunes for Judaism which removed it from its lofty position to the deepest degradation.

Maimuni's death not only produced a gap and a standstill in the spiritual aspirations of the Jews, but deprived them of a dignified and mighty leader, who had been able to bring together under one standard a people scattered all over the world. To him the congregations in the East and West had495 freely submitted, he had had prudent counsel for every contingency; but after his departure the Jews stood without a leader, and Judaism without a guide. His son, Abulmeni Abraham Maimuni (born 1185, died 1254), certainly inherited his deep sense of religion, his amiable, peace-loving character, his high dignity as supreme head (Nagid) of the Egyptian Jews, and his position as court physician to Saladin's successors; but his intellect and energy were not transmitted to him. Abraham Maimuni was skilled in medicine, was physician in ordinary of the Sultan Alkamel—a brother of Saladin—and presided over the hospital at Cairo, together with the physician and Arabic historian Ibn-Abi Obsaibiya. He was likewise a Talmudical scholar, defended the learning of his father with Talmudical weapons, and delivered rabbinical judgments. He was also well versed in philosophy, and composed a work to reconcile the Agada with the philosophical ideas of the time. But Abraham Maimuni was a man of learning, not of original, intellectual power. He followed with slavish fidelity in the footsteps of his great father, and appropriated his method of thought, surrendering his own intellectual independence. Abraham made the Maimunist system of teaching his own. Hence it happens, that what is striking originality in the father, appears in the son as a copy and an insignificant commonplace. Abraham Maimuni, it is true, enjoyed wide-spread esteem, but he was by no means an authority compelling attention and claiming submission.

In Europe, too, there were no men of commanding influence after the death of Maimuni. There appeared local, but not generally recognized authorities. There existed no man who could step into the breach to pronounce the right word at the proper moment, and point out the right way to wavering minds. If Maimuni had had a successor496 of his own spirit and character, the dissensions between the faithful and those who interpreted the Bible literally would not have effected such great disasters, nor would mysticism have been able to lure men's minds into its web.

Whilst Judaism was thus left without a leader, there sprang up against it, in the early part of the thirteenth century, a power, exercising ruthless, inexorable oppression, such as had not been practised against it since the time of Hadrian. The pope Innocent III, who was the father of all the evils experienced by the European nations up to the time of the Lutheran reformation: the tyrannical domination of the Roman Church over princes and peoples, the enslaving and abasing of the human mind, the persecution of free thought, the institution of the Inquisition, the auto-da-fé against heretics, i. e., against those who dared doubt the infallibility of the Roman Bishop;—he was also the pope Innocent III who was an embittered enemy of Jews and Judaism, and dealt severer blows against them than any of his predecessors.

The little band of Jews was like a thorn in the side of the mighty potentate of the Church, who enthroned and dethroned kings, distributed crowns and countries, and who, through his army of papal legates, spies, Dominican and Franciscan monks, with their bloodthirsty piety, had subjugated the whole of Europe, from the Atlantic ocean to Constantinople, and from the Mediterranean to the Arctic regions. This handful of human beings, with their clear intellect, their purified faith, their moral force and their superior culture, was a silent protest against Roman arrogance. At the beginning of his reign, Innocent, although not exactly well-disposed to the Jews, was at least ready, like his predecessors, to protect them from unjust treatment. New crusades were now being preached against the Sultanate of Egypt, which had declined in power497 since the death of Saladin, in order to wrest from its control the Holy City. The crusaders, now that they had obtained a remission of sins, might say, "We may commit offenses, since the taking up of the Cross has absolved us from all sins, ay, and even enables us to redeem the souls of sinners from purgatory." Jew-baiting, compulsory baptism, plundering and assassination, were once more the order of the day. The Jews, seeing that they needed special protection, appealed to Innocent to curb the violence of the crusaders. Most graciously did he vouchsafe them that which the leader of any respectably organized band of brigands would not have refused. The Jews were not to be dragged by force to be converted, neither were they to be robbed, injured, or killed without judicial sanction. They were not to be molested during their festivals by being whipped, and having stones thrown at them; and, lastly, their cemeteries were to be respected, and their dead were neither to be disinterred nor dishonored. So much had Christianity degenerated, that decrees like these, and a constitution (Constitutio Judæorum) like this, had to be promulgated for the sake of the Jews. So deluded were its leaders, that the head of the Church passed these resolutions, not from the simple motive of humanity, but from a perverse notion that the Jews must be preserved, so that the miracle of their general conversion to Jesus might have an opportunity of being accomplished.

The Jews, who by the experience of a thousand years had learnt the art of recognizing foes and friends behind their masks, were by no means mistaken as to the real sentiments of Innocent towards them. When Don Pedro II, King of Aragon, returned home from his journey to Rome (Dec., 1204), where he had caused himself to be anointed and crowned by the Pope, receiving at the same time his territory as tributary to Peter's498 chair, the Aragonian congregations were in great anxiety as to what might befall them. Don Pedro had taken an oath, that he would persecute all heretics then in his country, defend the liberties and rights of the Church, and faithfully obey the Pope. What if the liberty of the Church should be interpreted thus: That the Jews were either to be driven out of the land, or degraded to the position of bondmen! The Aragonian Jews, apprehending something of the sort, appealed to their God in fervent prayer, appointed a general fast, and, with a scroll of the Torah, assembled to meet the king on his return. Their fear on this occasion, however, was groundless. Don Pedro, who was not very warm in his allegiance to the Pope, and was intent only on strengthening his own power, had no thought of persecuting the Jews. Besides, owing to his periodic money difficulties, he could not do without them; he had become their debtor. Innocent, however, watched the princes with a jealous eye, lest they should concede to the Jews anything beyond the bare right to live. The French king, Philip Augustus—the arch-enemy of the Jews, who, having tortured and plundered them, had driven them out of his country, and recalled them only because of his pecuniary embarrassments—was reprimanded by the Pope for favoring the Jews. The Pope wrote that it offended his sight that some princes should prefer the descendants of the crucifiers to the heirs of the crucified Christ, as if the son of the bond-woman could ever be the heir of the son of the free-woman; that it had reached his ears that in France the Jews had obtained possession, through usury, of the property of the Church and of the Christians, and that, in spite of the resolution of the Lateran Council, under Alexander III, they kept Christian servants and nurses in their houses; and further, that Christians were not admitted as witnesses against the Jews, which was499 also contrary to the resolution of that assembly; and again, that the community of Sens had built a new synagogue which was situated higher than the church of that neighborhood, and in which prayers were read, not quietly, as before the expulsion, but so loudly as to interrupt the divine service in the church. Lastly, Innocent censured the king of France for allowing the Jews too much liberty. They had the audacity during the Easter week to appear in the streets and villages, scoffing at the faithful for worshiping a crucified God, and thus turning them away from their faith. He vehemently repeated the diabolical calumny that the Jews secretly assassinated Christians. As to the public and daily murders of Jews, the chief of the Church had little to say. He exhorted Philip Augustus to maintain true Christian zeal in oppressing the Jews, and did not fail to mention at the same time that the heretics in his country ought to be exterminated. The spiritual ruler of Europe could find no rest while Jews and heretics remained. In the same year (May, 1205), Innocent wrote a sharp pastoral letter to the king of Castile, Alfonso the Noble, a protector of the Jews, because he would not suffer the priests to deprive the Jews of their Mahometan slaves by causing them to be baptized, or to collect tithes from the farms of Jews and Mahometans. The Pope threatened the proud Spanish king with the displeasure of the Church, if he should continue to allow the Synagogue to thrive, and the Church to be reduced. Innocent insisted upon the Jews' paying tithes to the clergy on all lands which they had acquired from the Christians, so that the Church, whose power depended so much on money, should suffer no loss. His plan of coercion, to give force to his directions, was indirect excommunication. As he could not punish Jews with excommunication, he threatened to inflict that penalty on Christians who carried on any intercourse with such Jews as would not humor his apostolic caprice.

500 The deep prejudice of Innocent against the Jewish race was made still more evident by a denunciatory letter which he wrote to Count Nevers, who was favorably disposed to the Jews. Because this count did not embitter the lives of the latter, and abstained from molesting them, the Pope wrote to him thus (1208): "The Jews, like the fratricide Cain, are doomed to wander about the earth as fugitives and vagabonds, and their faces must be covered with shame. They are under no circumstances to be protected by Christian princes, but, on the contrary, to be condemned to serfdom. It is, therefore, discreditable for Christian princes to receive Jews into their towns and villages, and to employ them as usurers in order to extort money from Christians. They (the princes) arrest Christians who are indebted to Jews, and allow the Jews to take Christian castles and villages in pledge; and the worst of the matter is that the Church in this manner loses its tithes. It is scandalous that Christians should have their cattle slaughtered, and their grapes pressed by Jews, who are thus enabled to take their portion, prepared according to their religious precepts, and hand over the leavings to the Christians. A still greater sin is it that this wine prepared by Jews should be used in the church for the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Whilst the Christians are excommunicated for favoring the Jews, and their land is laid under the ban, the Jews are all the time laughing in their sleeves at the fact that, on their account, the harps of the Church are hung on willows, and that the priests are deprived of their revenues." Innocent in his pastoral letter threatened Count de Nevers, as well as his supporters, with the severest punishment which the Church was capable of inflicting in the event of their continuing to favor the Jews. He was the first pope who directed against the Jews the burning fury and inhuman severity of501 the Church. Everything provoked his wrath against them; he begrudged them the very air and light, and only a delusive hope restrained him from openly preaching a crusade and a war of annihilation against them. Innocent was well aware why he so thoroughly abhorred Jews and Judaism. He hated those among them who indirectly agitated against the rotten form of Christianity, upon which the papacy had built its power. The aversion of the truly God-fearing and moral Christians to the arrogance, unchastity, and insatiable covetousness of the hierarchy had in some measure been prompted by the Jews. The Albigenses in southern France, who were branded as heretics, and who were the most resolute opponents of the papacy, had imbibed their hostility from intercourse with educated Jews. Amongst the Albigenses there was a sect which unhesitatingly declared the Jewish Law preferable to that of the Christians. The eye of Innocent was, therefore, directed to the Jews of the south of France, as well as to the Albigenses, in order to check their influence on the minds of the Christians. Count Raymund VI of Toulouse and St. Gilles, styled by the troubadours and singers of that time "Raymund the Good," who was looked upon as a friend of the Albigenses, and consequently cruelly harassed, was also credited by the Pope with favoring the Jews. In the list of transgressions which he drew up against the count, Innocent charged him with the crime of employing Jewish officials in his state, and of generally favoring the Jews. In the bloody crusade which the Pope opened against him and the Albigenses, the Jewish communities of southern France necessarily came in for their share of suffering. Raymund was humbled, and had to submit to being dragged into the church naked, and scourged by the papal legate, Milo. He was also forced to confess that, amongst other sins, he had committed the gross crime of502 entrusting public offices to Jews. Thereupon the legate ordered him, under penalty of losing his dignity, to humbly take an oath that he would discharge all Jewish officials in his country, that he would never again appoint them, and never admit any Jews to either public or private offices. The unfortunate prince was compelled, the sword being pointed at his breast, to make and to repeat this declaration (June, 1209). Thirteen barons who were connected with Raymund, and were regarded as protectors of the Albigenses, were similarly forced by Milo to give an assurance on oath that they would depose their Jewish officers, and that they would never again place any public trust in their hands. In the meantime, a fanatical crusading army was organized against the Albigenses at the instigation of the Pope and the bloodthirsty monk, Arnold of Citeaux. It was led by the ambitious and rapacious Count Simon de Montfort, and it marched against the Viscount Raymund Roger and his capital Béziers. Roger was doubly hated by the Pope and his legate as the secret friend of the Albigensian heretics, and as the protector of the Jews. On the 22d July (1209) the beautiful city of Béziers was stormed, and its inhabitants were massacred in the name of God. "We spared neither dignity, nor sex, nor age," wrote Arnold, the man of blood, to the Pope, "nearly 20,000 human beings have perished by the sword. After the massacre the town was plundered and burnt, and the revenge of God seemed to rage upon it in a wonderful manner." Even orthodox Catholics were not spared, and to the question of the crusaders as to how the orthodox were to be distinguished from the heretics, Arnold answered, "Strike down; God will recognize His own." Under these circumstances, the flourishing and cultured Jewish communities of Béziers had still less reason to hope for any indulgence. The result was that two hundred Jews were503 cut down, and a large number thrown into captivity. The Jews, on their side, marked this year of the Albigensian crusade as a "year of mourning."

In consequence of the diplomatic victory over Raymund of Toulouse, and the military victory over Raymund Roger of Béziers, the intolerant Church had acquired supremacy not only in the south of France, but everywhere else. The audacity of free-thinkers, who claimed the right to form their own opinion upon religion, the Holy Scripture, or upon the position of the clergy, was punished by bloodshed. In the Church language of that epoch, the Pope had to wield the spiritual and the secular sword. Those who thought rationally were killed, and independent thinking was branded as a crime. The disciples of the philosopher, Amalarich of Bena, who maintained that Rome was licentious Babylon, and the Pope, the Antichrist; that he dwelt on the Mount of Olives, i. e., in the luxury of power, and that intelligent men, who considered that to build altars for saints, and to worship the bones of martyrs was idolatry, were burnt as blasphemers in Paris. Philosophical writings which were brought over to France from Spain, and which might have enriched or fertilized Christian theology, amongst others the works of the great Jewish philosopher, Solomon Gebirol, which had been translated by order of an archbishop, were interdicted, and forbidden to be read by the Parisian synod. The light which was just dawning on the nations of Europe was extinguished by the representatives of the Church.

The Jews of southern France and of Spain were the only apostles of higher learning. But the Church begrudged them even this glory, and worked with all its might to degrade them. The Council of Avignon (Sept. 1209), presided over by the papal legate, Milo, at which Count Raymund was again laid under the ban, and at which the severest measures were passed against heretics,504 resolved that all barons of free cities should take an oath that they would entrust no office whatever to Jews, nor allow Christian servants to be employed in Jewish houses. One of the ordinances of this council prohibited the Jews from working on Sunday and all Christian holidays, and also forbade them to eat meat on Christian fast-days. Everywhere the Jews felt the heavy hand of the Romish Church, which stretched forth unhindered to degrade them to the dust.

In England, the Jews had at that time three enemies: the licentious, unprincipled John Lackland, who shrank from no expedient to extort money from them; the hostile barons, who saw in them the source of the king's wealth, by depriving them of which they thought to gain the means of damaging the power of the king; and, lastly, Stephen Langton, whom the Pope had appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, and who had introduced the tyrannical spirit of the Church into England. At the beginning of his reign, King John assumed the appearance of friendship towards them, for as he had usurped the crown of his nephew, and in consequence had France and a part of the English nobility against him, he naturally sought to win over to his side the moneyed classes of the people. He appointed a Talmudical scholar, Jacob of London, as chief rabbi over all the English communities (presbyteratus omnium Judæorum totius Angliæ), and all his subjects were warned against attacking either his property or his dignity. The king called this chief rabbi his "dear friend." Every outrage that was offered to the latter was looked upon by the king as a personal insult to himself. He further renewed and confirmed the privileges and liberties of the Jews which they had received from Henry I, including the remarkable provision that a Christian was bound to prefer his complaint against a Jew before a Jewish tribunal.505 The Jews, it is true, had to pay much money—4000 silver marks—for these generous concessions. But it was a great boon that they received protection and freedom of movement in return for their money. When the Jews were in peril from a London mob, John wrote a threatening letter to the authorities of the capital, reproaching them with the fact that, whilst the Jews in other parts of England were unmolested, those of London were exposed to injury, and stating that he would hold them responsible for all bodily and material damage suffered by the Jews. As, however, John proceeded to quarrel more and more with his barons, and became involved in oppressive money difficulties, he gradually abandoned his mild demeanor, which had never been genuine, and adopted a totally different attitude towards the Jews. On one occasion he imprisoned all the English Jews in order to extort money from them (1210), and he demanded from one Jew of Bristol alone the sum of 10,000 marks of silver. As the latter could not, or would not pay, John had his teeth extracted one by one.

The crushing antipathy against them from all sides, and their yearning for the Holy Land, which the poet Jehuda Halevi had aroused, induced more than 300 rabbis of France and England to emigrate to Jerusalem (1211). The most renowned of them were Jonathan Cohen of Lünel, who had been in correspondence with Maimuni, and was one of his admirers, and Samson ben Abraham, an opponent of the school of Maimonides. Many of the emigrants stopped on their way at Cairo in order to make the acquaintance of Maimuni's son, who received them with great respect and joy. Only Samson ben Abraham, the exponent of a one-sided Judaism, avoided meeting the son of the man whom he considered almost a heretic.

The French and English emigrants, who were honorably received, and provided with privileges by506 the Sultan Aladil, Saladin's able brother, lost no time in building houses of prayer and learning in Jerusalem, and transplanted the Tossafists' method of exposition to the East. Intellectual activity, even in the field of the Talmud, did not, however, thrive in the Holy City. It seemed as if the curse of heaven had fallen upon this once glorious, and now distressed city, for since the Roman legions, under Titus and Hadrian, had struck down her noblest sons, she had become altogether barren. Not a single man of importance had sprung up in the city since the destruction of the Synhedrion. Jerusalem, like the whole of Palestine, was notable only on account of its illustrious dead. Pious men, who yearned for the home of their ancestors, searched only for their graves, for living fountains were no longer there. Jonathan Cohen and his associates conscientiously visited the spot upon which the Temple had once stood, the graves of the patriarchs, kings, prophets and doctors of the Mishna, and wept, and prayed upon the ruins of departed glory. They met the Exilarch David, of Mosul, who bore a letter of recommendation from the Caliph Alnasir Ledin Allah, which secured him free access to every place of interest. In the East the Jews were still allowed to maintain a certain show of dignity; caliphs and sultans, the wielders of the spiritual and the worldly might, granted them so much—for money. In Europe, however, the very lives of the Jews were continually in peril from a fanaticism which was ever being goaded into activity.

The Almohade Prince of the Faithful, Mahomet Alnasir, of northern Africa, had called to arms the entire male population at his disposal for a holy war against the increasing power of the Christians in Mahometan Spain, and led at least half a million warriors across the sea into Andalusia. The strong city of Salvatierra, in spite of the gallant defense of507 the knightly order of Calatrava, fell into the hands of the Mahometans (September, 1211). In this long siege, the Jewish community of Salvatierra was destroyed, and a remnant fled to Toledo. The Christian kings of Spain, terrified by this danger, laid aside their mutual hostilities in order to oppose the powerful enemy with united forces. But as the Christian population of Spain did not feel itself strong enough to undertake a war against the Mahometans, Alfonso the Noble, King of Castile, appealed to Innocent to decree a general crusade against the Crescent, and the Pope very readily consented. Thus it was that many European warriors crossed the Pyrenees, amongst them the bloodthirsty Cistercian monk, Arnold, with his troops, who had assured themselves of future bliss by all sorts of barbarities practised on the Albigenses and the Jews of the south of France. The wrath of the Ultramontanes, as they were called, in contradistinction to the Spanish warriors, against everything that was not Roman Catholic had risen to the point of frenzy; they took umbrage at the comparatively happy state of the Jews in the Spanish capital, at their wealth, their freedom, and their importance at court. These foreign crusaders, animated by Arnold's violent fanaticism, suddenly attacked the Jews of Toledo, and killed many of them (June, 1212), and all the Jews would have fared very badly, had not the noble Alfonso interfered in their behalf, and had not the Christian knights and citizens of Toledo, animated by a sense of honor, repelled the attacks of the fanatics. This was the first persecution of the Jews in Castile, the attack, however, being made by foreigners, and disapproved by the natives.

The Church, however, soon educated the Spanish kings and the people to become the enemies of the Jews. The extraordinary change of sentiment towards the Jews which had set in since Innocent's508 pontificate was shown by a resolution of the Synod of Paris of the same year. King Louis VII, and even his son Philip, had stoutly resisted the canonical institute which provided that the Jews were not to employ Christian servants. But now the French councils, under the presidency of the papal legates, and with the consent of the king, sought to extend this narrow-minded provision, so that not only was a Christian woman prohibited from nursing a Jewish child, but a Christian midwife was not even allowed to attend upon a Jewish woman in confinement, because Christians, who stayed with Jews, took a liking to Judaism. It was with reason, therefore, that the Jews, on hearing of the formation of a new council, were greatly alarmed lest they should be subjected to a new species of tyranny. When, therefore, the papal legate, Peter, of Benevento, convened a synod in Montpellier (beginning of 1214), to which he invited priests and laymen, in order completely to divest the Count of Toulouse of his dominions, and hand them over to Simon de Montfort, and to adopt the severest measures against the remnant of the Albigenses, the Jews of the south of France felt that a great danger was menacing them, and at once took steps to avert it. At the instance of the illustrious Don Isaac (Zag) Benveniste, physician in ordinary to the king of Aragon, many Jewish congregations sent each two deputies to use their influence with clergymen and laymen, that no new restrictions might be imposed upon the Jews. And it seems that they succeeded in warding off the danger; for the council of Montpellier omitted all mention of the Jews in its deliberations.

Hardly had this local danger been averted, when another and more general one appeared to be advancing. This threw all those Jews who received tidings of it into the greatest consternation. Innocent III had, through an encyclical, pastoral letter,509 convoked to Rome the representatives of entire Christendom for a general Œcumenical Council, at which the energetic prosecution of the crusades against the Mahometans in the Holy Land, in the Pyrenean peninsula, and against the heretics of the south of France, was to be decided upon; the deposition of the Count of Toulouse, and the transference of his estates to Simon de Montfort were to be ratified, and the reformation of the Church, i. e., the extension of her power in the states, was to be promoted. The congregations of the south of France, who had been informed that a severe blow was about to be dealt the Jews at the meeting of this council, were completely staggered. Isaac Benveniste accordingly invited Jewish deputies to the town Bourg de St. Gilles, in order to select certain influential and able men as deputies to Rome, who should endeavor to prevent the enactment of resolutions against the Jews. The names of the delegates chosen for this purpose are unknown, because their labors proved fruitless. The great Fourth Lateran Council was presided over by Pope Innocent III, and comprised over 1200 deputies from many Christian states, both churchmen and laymen. At this council, the papacy was permitted to make the greatest demands ever preferred by it. To its action is due the founding of the two orders of the Dominicans and Franciscans, distinguished by their hatred of freedom and their bloodthirstiness. This council, which wrapped round Christian Europe the ignominious coil of spiritual servitude, and threw it back into the ignorance of barbarism, inflicted deep wounds on Judaism. On the feast of the Maccabees, during which the children of Jacob celebrated their deliverance from Syrian tyranny, this council, which placed the yoke of the deepest degradation on the posterity of the Maccabean heroes, brought its deliberations to a conclusion (30th November, 1215). Though in the midst of510 gigantic undertakings, the Pope and the Elders of the Council nevertheless did not forget the Jews. Four of the seventy canonical decrees then passed dealt with the Jews. One canon set forth that Christian princes should keep strict watch over the Jews, lest they exact too high an interest from their Christian debtors. This restriction is not altogether unjustifiable—although, indeed, the Christian clergy and laity promoted Jewish usury, and profited by it; and Christian companies, like the Lombards and the Caorsini (called also Ultramontanes), practised usury on an enormous scale. The Church did not take any notice of the financial needs of the time, and kept to the strict letter of the Bible. The council, from its point of view, was also in a measure justified in forbidding baptized Jews to retain Jewish customs, because it would have been suicidal to the Church to allow freedom of conscience. If the accusation was true that some Jews at that time mocked at the Christian processions at Easter, then the authorities of the Church were partly right in forbidding them to show themselves openly on that day; although equitable legislation would not place restrictions on a whole community on account of the transgressions of a few indecorous members. Still more unjust was the canon which not only decreed that the Jews should give tithes of their houses and property, but also that the head of every Jewish family should pay a yearly tax at the Easter festival. The Catholic clergy considered themselves lords, to whom the Jews, their subjects, were to bring tribute. But it was characteristic of the spirit of Innocent, the persecutor of the Albigenses, that the law was renewed, that "no Christian prince shall bestow any office on a Jew." The transgressor of this rule was to be punished with excommunication, and every Jewish official was to be excluded from the society of Christians until he resigned his office in disgrace. The council, however, was unable to511 bring forward even a show of reason for this canonical decree; neither the New Testament, nor the Fathers of the Church, however much they hated the Jews, had offered a precedent for it. The Lateran Synod was compelled to go back to the Provincial Council of Toledo, under Recared, king of the Catholic Visigoths, in order to find a precedent for this scandalous law. The depth of the degradation of the Jews, however, was reached by the decision of the council that Jews in all Christian countries and at all times should wear a dress differing from that of the Christians. The reason urged was that in many countries where Jews (and Mahometans) wore the ordinary costume, intermarriages took place between the Jews and the Christians. By a sophistical argument it was shown that this law was contained in the Bible, and that Moses had commanded the Jews to wear a peculiar dress. Therefore it was decreed that, from the twelfth year of their age, Jews were to wear a peculiar color as a badge of their race, the men, on their hats, and the women, on their veils. This stigma on the Jews was an invention of Pope Innocent and of the Fourth Council assembled at Rome. It cannot, however, be strictly called an invention, because the pope borrowed the idea of forcing the Jews to wear a peculiar badge from the fanatical Mahometans. The Almohade Prince of the Faithful of Africa and southern Spain, Abu-Yussuff Almansur, had forced those Jews who had adopted the Mahometan faith through compulsion to wear a hideous dress, heavy clothes with long sleeves, which almost reached the feet, and instead of turbans, large bonnets of the ugliest shape. Said this fanatic: "If I knew that the converted Jews had adopted the Mahometan belief with an upright heart, then I would allow them to intermarry with the Mussulmans. If, on the other hand, I were convinced that they are still sceptics, I would put512 the men to the sword, enslave their children, and confiscate their goods. But I am doubtful about this point; therefore they shall appear distinguished by a hateful uniform." His successor, Abu-Abdullah Mahomet Alnasir, allowed them to change this mean apparel for yellow garments and turbans. By this color the class of people who were outwardly Moslems, yet in their heart of hearts still Jews, was characterized in the first decade of the thirteenth century in the kingdom of Morocco. This barbarous treatment of the Jews, Pope Innocent III now imitated, and their greatest humiliation during six centuries of European life dates from November 30th, 1215.

Provincial councils, assemblies of estates and royal cabinets thenceforward, in addition to their deliberations on the exclusion of the Jews from all honors and offices, determined on the color, form, length and breadth of the Jew-badge, with pedantic thoroughness. The Jew-badge, square or round in form, of saffron yellow or some other color, on the hat or on the mantle, was an invitation to the gamin to insult the wearers, and to bespatter them with mud; it was a suggestion to stupid mobs to fall on them, to maltreat, and even kill them; and it afforded the higher class an opportunity to ostracize the Jews, to plunder them, or to exile them.

Worse than this outward dishonor was the influence of the badge on the Jews themselves. They became more and more accustomed to their ignominious position, and lost all feeling of self-respect. They neglected their outward appearance, because they were nothing but a despised, dishonored race, which could not have even the least claim to honor. They became more and more careless of their speech, because they were not admitted to cultured circles, and in their own midst they could make themselves understood by means of a jargon. They lost all taste and sense of beauty, and to some extent513 became as despicable as their enemies desired them to be. They lost their manliness and courage, and a child could place them in terror. The punishment which Isaiah had prophesied for the house of Jacob was fulfilled to the letter: "Thou shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust." The great misery of the Jews during the Middle Ages began with Pope Innocent III. In comparison with their subsequent sufferings, all foregoing persecutions from the beginning of the Christian domination seemed like innocent bantering. But the Jews did not readily comply with the decree which forced them to wear the mark of shame. This was especially the case with the communities in Spain and southern France, which, having held an honorable position, would not suffer themselves to be humiliated without a struggle. Besides, there were influential Jews at the courts of Toledo and Saragossa, either as ambassadors to foreign courts or as treasurers of the royal coffers, who exerted their utmost efforts to prevent the enforcement of the decree. When Pope Innocent III died (1216), and Pope Honorius III, who was of a mild temperament compared with Innocent, ascended the papal throne, the Jews hoped for a repeal of this canonical law. Isaac Benveniste seems to have been particularly active in this direction, as he had been in trying to ward off the disgrace when first contemplated. They were successful in delaying the enforcement of the canonical decree. At least, King Alfonso IX of Leon did not compel the Jews of his land to wear the badge, and Pope Honorius was compelled to exhort the bishop of Valencia and two brother bishops to see that the decree was duly enforced, and that all Jews were excluded from offices of honor. The communities of southern France viewed with joy the victorious progress of the army of the repeatedly excommunicated Raymund VII of Toulouse against the crusading army514 and Simon de Montfort, because their security depended on the victory of the Albigenses. The Duke of Toulouse and his barons, in spite of their oaths, continued to promote Jews to offices, for they saw that their administrative policy would lead to their advantage. It may be that it was on account of the secret and open devotion of the Jews for Raymund that Simon de Montfort's wife Alice of Montmorency, ordered all the Jews of Toulouse—of which town she had charge—to be arrested, offering them the choice between death and conversion, although her husband, as well as his brother, had sworn to the Jews that their lives would be safe, and that freedom should be allowed them for the due exercise of their religion. At the same time, Alice ordered that Jewish children under the age of six should be torn from their parents, and given over to the priests in order to be baptized and brought up as Christians. The heartless woman had no feeling for the pangs that the Jewish mothers suffered. In spite of this, the majority of the members of the Toulouse community refused to become Christians.

When, however, Simon de Montfort heard of this cruel persecution of the Jews by his wife, he ordered the prisoners to be released, and to be allowed to practise their religion in freedom. The joy of the unhappy people when they were told of this deliverance (1 Ab—7th July, 1217) was great, but it was mixed with sadness, for the Cardinal-Legate Bertrand had decided that the children that had been baptized should not be allowed to return to their parents. The legate also insisted upon the Jews' wearing the distinctive badge. In the meantime, there came a counter-command from the Pope, that the decree should not be too strictly enforced, but the cause of this change in the papal policy is unknown. In Aragon the Jews obtained the same immunity from the indignity of the Jew-badge515 through the untiring efforts of Isaac Benveniste, physician in ordinary to the king, Jayme I (Jacob). This illustrious man had rendered the king such important services that the latter, with the consent of the bishops of the country, recommended him to the Pope, and strove to obtain for him recognition from the papal chair. Wonderful to relate, Honorius took up the matter, and, in recognition of his merits in eschewing usury, and zealously assisting Catholics, sent Isaac Benveniste a diploma that he should in nowise be molested. For his sake also the Jews were exempted from wearing the badge (1220).

However friendly Honorius affected to be in this matter, he was nevertheless far from being disposed to countenance the appointment of Jews to posts of dignity. In an autograph letter of the same year, he exhorted King Jayme of Aragon not to entrust any Jew with the office of ambassador to a Mahometan court, for it was not probable "that those who abhorred Christianity would prove themselves faithful to its professors." In this spirit the pope wrote to the archbishop of Tarragona, to the bishops of Barcelona and Ilerda, to prevail on the king of Aragon to employ no Jews in diplomatic legations, and to abolish a practice so perilous to Christendom. The pope also exhorted the Church dignitaries of Toledo, Valencia, Burgos, Leon, and Zamora, to use their influence with the kings of Castile, Leon, and Navarre for the same purpose. How little did the pope know the incorruptible fidelity of the Jews towards their sovereigns, and their love for the land of their birth! So far from abusing the trust reposed in them, the Jewish ambassadors applied the utmost zeal in executing their commission successfully. But since Innocent III, it had become a fixed principle of the Church to degrade and humiliate the Jews. Although Honorius had exempted the Jews of Aragon from wearing the badge of disgrace, he insisted that those of England should not be released from it.

516 In that country, Stephen Langton, who had been appointed archbishop by the Pope, held the reins of government, after the death of the mad tyrant John Lackland, and during the minority of his son Henry III. This prelate exercised his power as if he were the wearer of the crown. At the council of Oxford, which he summoned in 1222, several decrees with reference to the oppression of the Jews were promulgated. They were not to keep any Christian servants, and were not to build any new synagogues. They were to be held to the payment of the tithe of their produce and the Church taxes, according to the decision of the Lateran council. Above all things they were to be compelled to wear on the breast the disgraceful badge, a woolen stripe four fingers long and two broad, of a color different from the dress. They might not enter the churches, and still less, as had hitherto been their custom, might they place their treasures there for security from the attacks of the brigand nobles. These restrictions were imposed on the English Jews because they had been guilty of monstrous crimes, and had proved themselves ungrateful; but the nature of their crime is not mentioned. Was perhaps the fact that a deacon had in the same year gone over to Judaism, laid to their charge? In after years such an occurrence caused the expulsion of the Jews from England. This time the deacon was summarily burnt at the stake for his apostasy. The Church knew no more effective means of refuting a heresy than the blazing fire.

It is remarkable that the hostile measures of the Pope against the Jews at that time had least effect in Germany, and that under Emperor Frederick II they enjoyed a comparatively favorable position. It is true that they were "servi cameræ" of the empire and the emperor, and were even so called; but nevertheless princes, especially the archdukes of Austria, now and again entrusted into517 their hands important offices. Those Jews who had access to the courts of the princes always labored to free themselves from the Jew-tax, and to obtain privileges from their patrons. As, however, it was the custom in the German congregations to distribute the tax among all the members of the congregation in proportion to their means, it happened that if the richer and more influential men obtained exemption from it, the poorer members found themselves greatly encumbered, and accordingly complaints were made about it to the rabbinical authorities of that time. A synod of rabbis, which met at Mayence (Tammuz—July, 1223), discussed this question, for the purpose of adjusting it. There were at this synod, which numbered more than twenty members, the most influential rabbis in Germany: David ben Kalonymos, of Münzenburg (in Hesse-Darmstadt), a famous Tossafist; Baruch ben Samuel, of Mayence, composer of a Talmudical work; Chiskiya ben Reuben, of Boppard, the courageous champion of his persecuted co-religionists; Simcha ben Samuel, of Speyer, likewise a Talmudical author; Eleazar ben Joel Halevi, called Abi-Ezri, from his Talmudical works; lastly, the German Kabbalist, Eleazar ben Jehuda of Worms, called Rokeach, a prolific author, who, through his mysticism, helped to obscure the light of thought in Judaism.

This rabbinical synod of Mayence renewed many ordinances of the times of Rabbenu Tam, and established others besides. Its decisions mark the condition of the German Jews in the beginning of the thirteenth century. The synod enacted that Jews should on no account incur blame by dishonorable dealings with Christians, or by the counterfeiting of coin. An informer was to be compelled to make good the loss which he had caused by his information. Those who had freedom of access to the king (emperor), were none the less under the obligation to bear the communal burden in raising the518 tax. He who received a religious office through Christian authorities incurred the penalty of excommunication. In the synagogues, devotion and decorum were to prevail. The brother-in-law was to complete the release of his widowed sister-in-law from her levirate marriage without extortion of money and without trickery, and he was not to keep her in suspense. He who would not submit to the regulations of the synod, or did not respect a sentence of excommunication, was to be delivered over to the secular power. The determination of disputed cases was left to the rabbinate and the congregations of Mayence, Worms, and Speyer, as the oldest German Jewish communities.

In spite of the many exertions of the cultured Jews to avert the disgrace of wearing the badge, papal intolerance gradually gained the ascendancy, and the edict of the Lateran Council of 1215 henceforth had sway. Even Emperor Frederick II, the most intelligent and enlightened prince that Germany ever had, whose orthodoxy was more than doubtful, had at length to bow to the will of the papacy, and introduce the Jew-badge by law in his hereditary provinces of Naples and Sicily.

In southern France, where, in consequence of the war against the Albigenses, the spirit of persecution had been intensified among the clergy more perhaps than in other Christian countries, the edicts of Innocent III for the degradation and humiliation of the Jews found only too zealous supporters. At a council at Narbonne (1227), not only were the canonical ordinances against them confirmed, the prohibition of taking interest, the wearing of the Jew-badge, the payment of a tax to the Church, but even the long-forgotten decrees of the ancient time of the Merovingian kings were renewed against them. The Jews were not allowed to be seen in the streets at Easter, and they were prohibited from leaving their houses during the festival.

519 In the next year the Albigensian war came to an end, and the horrors of a blind, revengeful, bloodthirsty reaction began. The preacher-monks, the disciples of Domingo, glorified Christianity through the agonies of the rack and the stake. Whoever was in possession of a Bible in the Romance (Provençal) language incurred the charge of heresy at the court of the Dominicans, who had the exclusive right to bloodthirsty persecutions. Their allies, the Franciscans or Minorites, energetically seconded them. It was not long before these destroying angels in monks' cowls placed their clutches upon the sons of Jacob.

Four men appeared simultaneously on the stage of history, who were thoroughly pervaded with the spirit of Christianity, and especially with its oppressive, unlovely, inhuman form, and they rendered the life of the Jews in many countries an inconceivable torture. The first was Pope Gregory IX, a passionate old man, the deadly enemy of Emperor Frederick II, whose sole ambition was the extension of the power of the Church and the destruction of his opponents, who cast the torch of discord into the German Empire, and annihilated its unity and greatness. The second was King Louis IX of France, who had acquired the name of "the Saint," from the simplicity of his heart and the narrowness of his head; he was a most pliant tool for crafty monks, a worshiper of relics, who was strongly inclined to adopt a monk's cowl, and most readily assisted in the persecution of heretics, and who hated the Jews so thoroughly that he would not look at them. Similar to him was his contemporary Ferdinand III of Castile, who inherited also the crown of Leon, and was likewise recognized by the Church as a saint, because he burnt heretics with his own hand. Lastly, the Dominican-General Raymond de Penyaforte (Peñaforte), the most frantic oppressor of the heretics, who applied all his efforts520 to convert Jews and Mahometans to Christianity. In this spirit he exercised his influence upon the kings of Aragon and Castile, and caused seminaries to be established, where instruction in Hebrew and Arabic was given, in order that these languages might be employed for the conversion of Jews and Saracens. These tyrannical, pitiless enemies, furnished with every resource, were let loose upon the Jews. Gregory IX exhorted the bishop of Valencia (1229) to crush the arrogance of the Jews towards the Christians, as if the Church were hovering in the greatest peril. Consequently, under Jayme I, of Aragon, the position of the Jews of Aragon and of the provinces belonging to it took an evil turn. Spurred on by clerical fanaticism and by greed for gold, this king declared the Jews to be his clients, i. e. in a manner, his "servi cameræ."

Everywhere the hostile spirit which first proceeded from Innocent, and was spread by the Dominicans, assumed the form of severe laws against the Jews. At two Church assemblies, in Rouen and Tours (1231), the hostile decrees of the Lateran Council against the Jews were re-enacted, and at the latter meeting another restriction was added, the Jews were not to be admitted as witnesses against Christians, because much evil might arise from the testimony of Jews.

The narrow-minded disposition of the Church towards the Jews was felt, through the increased power of the papacy after Innocent, even by the Jews dwelling on the banks of the Lower Danube and the Theiss. In Hungary they had settled at a very early date, having immigrated thither from the Byzantine and Chazar empires. Since there were many heathen and Mahometans among the dominant Magyars, the kings had to be very tolerant towards them; besides this, the Christianity of the Magyars was only superficial, and had not yet affected their feeling and mode of thought.521 Consequently, the Jews of Hungary from time immemorial had had the right of coinage, and were in friendly relations with their German brethren. Till the thirteenth century, Jews as well as Mahometans were farmers of salt mines, and of the taxes, and filled various royal offices. Mixed marriages between Jews and Christians also occurred frequently, as the Church had not yet established itself in the country. This enjoyment of dignities by the Jews in a country only half Christian, could not be tolerated by the Church: it was a thorn in its side. Accordingly when King Andreas, who had quarreled with the magnates of the country, and had been compelled to issue a charter of liberty, applied to Pope Gregory IX for help, the latter, in a letter to Robert, Archbishop of Gran, ordered him to compel the king to deprive both Jews and Mahometans of their public offices. Andreas at first submitted to the papal will, but did not carry out the orders of the Pope zealously, because he could not well dispense with his Jewish officials and farmers. On this account and for other grounds of complaint, the archbishop of Gran passed sentence of excommunication on the king and his followers by order of the Pope (beginning of 1232). By various strong measures, Andreas was at last compelled to obey, and, like Raymund, of Toulouse, solemnly to promise (1232) that he would not admit Jews or Saracens to offices, nor suffer any Christian slaves to continue in their possession, nor allow mixed marriages, and lastly that he would compel them to wear a badge. The same oath had to be taken, by order of the papal legate, by the crown prince, the king of Slavonia, and all the magnates and dignitaries of the kingdom.


522

CHAPTER XVI.
THE MAIMUNIST CONTROVERSY AND THE RISE OF THE KABBALA.

The Opposition against Maimuni—Maimunists and anti-Maimunists—Meïr Abulafia—Samson of Sens—Solomon of Montpellier—Excommunication of the Maimunists—David Kimchi's energetic Advocacy of Maimuni—Nachmani—His Character and Work—His Relations to Maimuni, Ibn-Ezra, and the Kabbala—Solomon of Montpellier calls in the aid of the Dominicans—Moses of Coucy—Modern date of the Kabbala—Azriel and Ezra—Doctrines of the Kabbala—Jacob ben Sheshet Gerundi—The Bahir—Three Parties in Judaism—Last flicker of the Neo-Hebraic Poetry—The Satirical Romance: Al-Charisi and Joseph ben Sabara.

1232–1236 C. E.

As misfortunes never come singly, but draw others after them, so besides the insults and humiliations which the Jews suffered from without, there now arose alarming disunion within their ranks. Remarkably enough, this intestine war was associated with Maimuni, whose aim, during his whole life, had been to effect union and complete finality in Judaism. But in undertaking to explain philosophically the intellectual side of Judaism, he established principles which did not by any means bear a Jewish stamp on them, nor were they in consonance with the Bible, and still less with the Talmud. Those scholars whose learning was entirely confined to the Talmud ignored the philosophical discussion of Judaism, considered it sinful to be occupied with other branches of knowledge, even when applied to the service of Judaism, and took their stand, right or wrong, on the Talmudical saying, "Withhold your children from excessive reflection." Even intelligent men, and such as were philosophically523 trained, recognized that Maimuni, in his endeavor to reconcile religion with the philosophy of the age, had made the former subservient to the latter, and had made the mistress over the mind a slave. Articles of belief and Scriptural verses, which do not admit of philosophical justification, have no value according to Maimuni's system. Miracles were not inevitable in Maimuni's philosophy; but attempts were made to reduce them as far as possible to natural causes, and to interpret in a rationalistic manner the Biblical verses which contain them. Prophecy and direct communication with the Deity, as it is taught in the Bible, Maimuni refused to accept, but explained them as subjective occurrences, as effects of an over-heated imagination, or as dream-phenomena. His doctrine of immortality was not less in contradiction with the belief of Talmudical Judaism. It denies the existence of a paradise and a hell, and represents the purified soul as becoming fused with the original spirit. His method of explaining many ceremonial laws especially provoked contradiction, because, if accepted, these laws would lose their permanent value, and have only temporary importance. And the manner in which Maimuni expressed himself on the Agada, a constituent part of the Talmud—which he either explained away or rejected—was in the eyes, not only of the strict Talmudists, but also of more educated men, an heretical attack upon Judaism, which they believed it was their duty to energetically repel. Thus, besides enthusiastic worshipers of Maimuni, who religiously adopted his doctrine as a new revelation, there was formed a party, which assailed his writings, and combated particularly the "Guide of the Perplexed" (Moré), and the first part of his Code (Madda). The rabbis and the representatives of the Jewish congregations in Europe and Asia, consequently became divided into Maimunists and opponents to Maimuni (Anti-524Maimunists). Such of the latter as were his contemporaries, still full of the powerful impression which Maimuni's individuality and activity had produced, fully acknowledged his genius and piety, and blamed or criticised his views only, and the writings which contained them.

The opposition to his philosophical doctrines had begun during Maimuni's life, but it remained quiet and timid, unable to assert itself against the enthusiasm of his admirers. A young, intellectual, and learned man, Meïr ben Todros Halevi Abulafia, of Toledo (born about 1180, died 1244), had, at an early period, expressed his religious objections to Maimuni's theory in a letter to the "wise men of Lünel," which was intended for publication. Maimuni's doctrine of immortality forms the central point of Abulafia's attack. He made, however, but little impression by this letter, for although Meïr Abulafia was descended from a highly respectable family, and enjoyed considerable authority, still his hostile attitude towards science, and his tendency towards an ossified Judaism, isolated him even in his own circle. Apart from this, he was possessed of overweening arrogance, a quality not calculated to win adherents and organize a party. Instead of finding supporters, Meïr met with a sharp rebuff from the learned Aaron ben Meshullam, of Lünel, who was master of the sciences and the Talmud, and a warm adherent of Maimuni. He charged him with presumption in venturing, though unripe in years and wisdom, to pass an opinion on the greatest man of his time. The Talmudists of northern France, led by Samson of Sens, to whom every letter of the Talmud was an embodiment of the highest truths, and who would not countenance any new interpretations, thoroughly concurred with the inquisitor Meïr Abulafia. Meïr was looked upon in his time as chief of the Obscurantists. The aged Sheshet Benveniste, of Barcelona, ever525 a warm friend of free research, composed a sarcastic epigram upon him:

"You ask me, friends, why this man's name,
Seeing he walks in darkness, should be Meïr.4
I answer, the sages have called the night 'light,'
This, too, is an example of the rule of contraries."

Another poet directed the arrows of his wit against Abulafia, but its points are untranslatable. The Maimunists were generally vastly superior to their adversaries in knowledge and speech, and they could expose the enemies of light to ridicule.

The hostility against Maimuni appeared also in the East, but not so strongly. A learned Talmudist, Daniel ben Saadiah, a disciple of the Samuel ben Ali who had conducted himself so maliciously against the sage of Fostat, had settled in Damascus, and animated by the spirit of his master against the Maimunist tendency, he conceived it his duty to continue to make it the target of his hostility. Daniel, in the first place, impugned Maimuni's Talmudical decisions in order to weaken the position on which his commanding influence rested, for it was through Maimuni's acknowledged rabbinical authority that his philosophical, or according to his opponents, his heretical, doctrines found such dangerous and general acceptance. Daniel, however, thought it advisable to maintain a respectful tone towards him; he even sent his polemic to Abraham Maimuni for examination. Afterwards Daniel, in an exegetical work, allowed himself to make veiled attacks upon Maimuni's orthodoxy, and curiously enough reproached him with not believing in the existence of evil spirits. His main argument, however, was not strictly concerned with the existence or non-existence of demons, but sought to demonstrate that Maimuni was a heretic, because he had refused to acknowledge unconditionally, as correct and true, utterances526 which occur in the Talmud. Maimuni's admirers, however, were greatly exasperated at these attacks of Daniel, and Joseph Ibn-Aknin, Maimuni's favorite pupil, urged Abraham Maimuni to pass sentence of excommunication on Daniel ben Saadiah. Abraham, however, who had inherited his father's disinterestedness and love of justice, would not hear of it. He expressed himself on the subject with meritorious impartiality, saying that he did not think it right to excommunicate Daniel, whom he considered a religious man of pure belief, who had only made a mistake in one point; moreover, that as he was a party in this controversy, he did not feel himself empowered to excommunicate an antagonist in a matter that was to some extent personal. Maimuni's admirers, and especially Joseph Ibn-Aknin, were not, however, disposed to take the same view. They labored to induce the Exilarch David of Mosul to exclude from the community the blameless and esteemed scholar of Damascus, until he should humbly recant his strictures upon Maimuni. Daniel was excommunicated, and died of grief, and all opposition to Maimuni in the East was silenced for a long time. The Asiatic Jews were still so overpowered by the glamour of his name, that they could not think of him as a heretic. Nor were they learned enough to grasp the range of Maimuni's ideas, and to perceive their incompatibility with the spirit of the Talmud. It may also be that his admirer, Jonathan Cohen, who had emigrated to Palestine, had won the pious to his side, and had defeated the party of Samson of Sens, which was inimical to him.

Very different was the state of affairs in Europe, especially in the south of France and in Spain. Here Maimuni's theories had taken root, and dominated the minds of the learned and of most of the influential leaders of congregations; henceforth they regarded the Bible and the Talmud only in527 the Maimunist light. The pious Jews of Spain and Provence endeavored to reconcile the contradictions between Talmudical Judaism and Maimuni's system, by a method of interpretation. The less religious used his system as a support for their lukewarmness in the performance of their religious duties; they expressed themselves more freely about the Bible and the Talmud, practically neglected many precepts, and were bent on re-organizing Judaism on a rationalistic basis. Among the Jews of southern Spain, this lukewarmness towards the Law went so far that not a few contracted marriages with Christian and Mahometan women. The excessively pious, whose whole life was absorbed by the Talmud, mistaking cause for effect, considered these distressing occurrences as a poisonous fruit of the philosophical seed, and prophesied the decay of Judaism, if Maimuni's theories should gain the ascendancy. Nevertheless considerable time elapsed before any one ventured to make a decisive stand against them. The rabbis of northern France, who were of the same way of thinking as Samson of Sens, knew little of Maimuni's philosophical writings and their effects, while the rabbis of southern France and of Spain, who were guided absolutely by the Talmud, may have thought it dangerous and useless to try to stem the overwhelming flood of free thought.

It was, therefore, looked upon as a most audacious step, when a rabbi of the school which followed the Talmud with unquestioning faith, openly and recklessly declared war against the Maimunists. This was Solomon ben Abraham, of Montpellier, a pious, honorable man, learned in the Talmud, but of perverted notions, whose whole world was the Talmud, beyond which nothing was worthy of credence. Not only the legal decisions of the Talmud were accepted by him as irrefutable truths, but also the Agadic portions in their naked literalness. He528 and his friends conceived the Deity as furnished with eyes, ears, and other human organs, sitting in heaven upon a throne, surrounded by darkness and clouds. Paradise and Hell they painted in Agadic colors; the righteous were to enjoy, in the heavenly garden of Eden, the flesh of the Leviathan and old wine, stored up from the beginning of the world in celestial flasks, and the godless, the heretics, and the transgressors of the Law were to be scourged, tortured, and burnt in the hell-fire of Gehenna. The rabbis of this school believed in the existence of evil spirits; it was in a manner an article of faith with them, for the Talmudical Agada recognizes them as existing.

Adopting a theory so gross and anthropomorphic, Solomon of Montpellier could not help finding nearly every word in Maimuni's compositions un-Jewish and heretical. He felt it incumbent on him to make reply; he saw in the toleration of the Maimunist views the dissolution of Judaism, and he entered the lists against their exponents and champions. But with what weapons? The Middle Ages knew of no more effective instrument than excommunication to destroy ideas apparently pernicious. He attempted to compel men, who towered head and shoulders above their contemporaries, and held different opinions on religion from the thoughtless crowd, to seal up their ideas in themselves, or to recant them as vicious errors, by shutting them off from all intercourse with their co-religionists. At about the same time Pope Gregory directed the University of Paris, the upholder of the free philosophical spirit till the rise of the Dominicans and Franciscans, to adhere strictly in its curriculum to the canon of the Lateran Council, and on peril of excommunication, to avoid using those philosophical writings which had been interdicted by it. This precedent, together with his bigoted, passionate nature, may have induced Solomon of Montpellier529 to introduce a censorship of thought into the Jewish world, and to crush the Maimunist heresy by excommunication. But to appear single-handed against the Maimunists, whose number was large, and who ruled public opinion, could but ruin his cause. Solomon sought for allies, but could not find a single rabbi in southern France who was ready to take part in the denunciation of the Maimunist school. Only two of his pupils came to his aid—Jonah ben Abraham Gerundi (the elder) of Gerona, a blind zealot like his master, and David ben Saul. These three pronounced the ban (beginning of 1232) against all those who read Maimuni's compositions, especially the philosophical parts (Moré and Madda), against those who studied anything except the Bible and the Talmud, against those who distorted the plain literal sense of Holy Writ, or, in general, expounded the Agada differently from Rashi. Solomon and his allies explained the reasons for their sentence of excommunication in a letter to the public, and laid special stress on the point that Maimuni's line of argument undermined Talmudical Judaism. They did not hesitate even to vilify the venerated sage: it might be true, they said, that he had once lived strictly in accordance with the Talmud, yet instances were known in which still greater men had become renegades from the Law in their old age. Solomon at first thought of invoking the secular power of the Christian authorities to aid him in oppressing free thought. For the present, however, he looked for supporters among the rabbis of northern France. These, belonging to the acute but one-sided Tossafist school, and having grown hoary in the Talmud, did not for a moment appreciate the necessity of establishing Judaism on a rational and scientific basis, and nearly all of them adopted Solomon's opinion, and took sides against the Maimunists.

530 The sentence of excommunication, the proscription of science, and the defamation of Maimuni, excited the violent indignation of his admirers. It seemed to them unheard-of audacity, unparalleled impudence. The three chief congregations of Provence, Lünel, Béziers, and Narbonne, in which the Maimunists were in power, rose against this presumption of the Obscurantists, and on their side excommunicated Solomon and his two disciples, and hastened to urge the other congregations of Provence to unite in rescuing the honor of the great Moses. In Montpellier the congregation was divided into two parties; whilst the ignorant multitude remained by their rabbi, the learned renounced their allegiance, and violent frays between them were not infrequent. The flame of discord blazed up, and spread over the congregations of Provence, Catalonia, Aragon, and Castile. The contest was carried on by both sides with intense passion, and not entirely with honorable weapons. Simple faith and a philosophical apprehension of religion, which had till then maintained friendly relations, now met in a conflict, which threatened to lead to a complete rupture and to schism. The worst of it was, that the parties were both justified, each from its own point of view; both could appeal to old and respected authorities, some of whom maintained that the Bible and the Talmud must be believed in without investigation and strained interpretation, while others held that reason also had a voice in religious matters.

Two men, whose names are celebrated in Jewish literature, took part in this passionate quarrel: David Kimchi and Nachmani. The former, already an old man and at the zenith of his fame as a grammarian and expositor of the Bible, was an enthusiastic admirer of Maimuni, and a friend of free investigation. He was consequently an object of suspicion to the Obscurantists, and the rabbis of531 northern France appear to have excommunicated him, because he had explained the vision of Ezekiel concerning the throne-chariot of God in a Maimunist sense, i. e., philosophically, and because he had maintained that Talmudical controversies would have no significance in the Messianic period, or in other words, that the Talmud has no right to advance pretensions to perpetual authority. Kimchi accordingly took up the cudgels for Maimuni all the more promptly, as he had at the same time to defend his own cause. Old and weak as he was, he nevertheless did not hesitate to undertake a journey to Spain, in order personally to bring the congregations of that country over to the side of the Provençals against Solomon of Montpellier.

Another man of commanding influence in this struggle was Moses ben Nachman, or Nachmani (Ramban) Gerundi, a fellow-citizen and relative of Jonah Gerundi (born about 1195, died about 1270). Nachmani, or as he was called in the language of the country, Bonastruc de Porta, was a man of sharply-defined and strongly-marked individuality, with all the strength and weakness of such a character. Whilst of pure moral temperament and conscientious piety, mild disposition and acute understanding, he was completely governed by the belief in authority. The "wisdom of the sages" appeared to him unsurpassed and unsurpassable, and their clear utterances were neither to be doubted nor criticised. "He who occupies h