Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(Heb. Yehudi, יְהוּדַי plur. יהוּדַים, sometimes יְהוּדַיַּים, Esther 4:7; Esther 8:1; Esther 8:7; Esther 8:13; Esther 9:15; Esther 9:18 text; femn. יְהוּדַיָּה, 1 Chronicles 4:18; Chald. in plur. emphat. יְהוּדָיֵּי, Daniel 3:8; Ezra 4:12; Ezra 5:1; Ezra 5:5; adv. יהוּדַית, Judaici, in the Jews' language, 2 Kings 18:26; Nehemiah 13:24; Sept. and N.T. Ι᾿ουδαῖος, hence verb Ι᾿ουδαϊ v ζω , to Judaize, Galatians 2:14; adj. Ι᾿ουδαικός, Jewish; Titus 1:14 etc.), a name formed from that of the patriarch Judah, and applied in its first use to one belonging to the tribe or country of Judah, or rather, perhaps, to a subject of the separate kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 16:6; 2 Kings 25:5; Jeremiah 32:12; Jeremiah 38:19; Jeremiah 40:11; Jeremiah 41:3; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 52:28), in contradistinction from the seceding ten tribes, who retained the name of Israel or Israelites. During the captivity the term seems to have been extended (see Josephus, Ant. 11, 5, 6) to all the people of the Hebrew language and country, without distinction (Esther 3:6; Esther 3:9; Daniel 3:8; Daniel 3:12); and this loose application of the name was preserved after the restoration to Palestine (Haggai 1:14; Haggai 2:2; Ezra 4:12; Ezra 5:1; Ezra 5:5; Nehemiah 1:2; Nehemiah 2:16; Nehemiah 5:1; Nehemiah 5:8; Nehemiah 5:17), when it came to denote not only every descendant of Abraham in the largest possible sense (2 Maccabees 9:17; John 4:9; Acts 18:2; Acts 18:24, etc.), especially in opposition to foreigners ("Jews and Greeks," Acts 14:1; Acts 18:4; Acts 19:10; 1 Corinthians 1:23-24), but even proselytes who had no blood-relation to the Hebrews (Acts 2:5; comp. 10). An especial use of the term is noticeable in the Gospel of John, where it frequently stands for the chief Jews, the elders, who were opposed to Christ (John 1:19; John 5, 15, 16; John 7:1; John 7:11; John 7:13; John 9:22; John 18:12; John 18:14, etc.; comp. Acts 23:20). (See JUDAH).
The original designation of the Israelitish nation was the Hebrews, by which all the legitimate posterity of Abraham were known, not only among themselves (Genesis 11:15; Exodus 2:7; Exodus 3:18; Exodus 5:3; Exodus 7:16; Exodus 9:13; Jonah 1:9; comp. 4 Maccabees 10 — although the name Jew was in later times prevalent; see the Targum of Jonathan on Exodus, ut sup.), but also among foreigners (as the Egyptians, Genesis 39:14; Genesis 41:12; Exodus 1:16; the Philistines, 1 Samuel 4:6; 1 Samuel 4:9; 1 Samuel 13:19; 1 Samuel 29:3; the Assyrians, Judith 12:11; and even the Greeks and Romans, see Plutarch, Sympos. 4, 5; Appian, Civ. 2, 71; Pausan. 1, 6, 24; 5, 7, 3; 10, 12, 5; Porphyry, Vit. Pythag. p. 185; Tacit. Hist. 5, 2). (See ISRAELITE).
After the exile, the title Jews became the usual one (compare 1 Maccabees 8), while the term "Hebrews" fell into disuse, being still applied, however, to the Samaritans (Josephus, Ant. 11, 8, 6), or more commonly to designate the vulgar Syro- Chaldee spoken by the Palestinian Jews (comp. Acts 9:29; Eusebius 3, 24), in distinction from the Hellenists (Acts 6:1; comp. the title of the "Epistle to the Hebrews," and see Bleek, Einleit. in d. Br. a. d. Hebr. p. 32 sq.; Euseb. 6, 14). (See HELLENIST).
Yet Paul, who spoke Greek, was appropriately styled a Hebrew (2 Corinthians 11:22; Philippians 3:5); and still later the terms Hebrew and Jew were applied with little distinction to persons of Jewish descent (Eusebius, Hist. Ev. 2, 4; Philo, 3, 4). (See HEBREW). (For a further discussion of these epithets, see Gesenius, Gesch. d. Hebr. Sprache, 9 sq.; Hengstenberg, Bileam, p. 207 sq.; Ewald, Krit. Gramre. p. 3, and Israel. Gesch. 1, 334; Hoffmann, in the Hall. Encyclop. 2, 3, 307 sq.; Henke's Mus. 2, 639 sq.; Carpzov, Crit. Saccra, p.170 sq.)
The history of the Jewish nation previous to the Christian era, is interwoven with that of their country and capital. (See PALESTINE); (See JERUSALEM). During the Biblical periods it consists mostly of the narratives of the progenitors and rulers of the people, or of the events that marked its leading epochs. (See ABRAHAM); (See JACOB); (See MOSES); (See JOSHUA); (See JUDGES); (See DAVID); (See SOLOMON); (See JUDAH); (See ISRAEL); (See CAPTIVITY); (See MACCABEES); (See HEROD); (See JUDEA). (For further details, see list of works below.)
1. Strictly speaking, a history of the Jews ought perhaps to commence with the return of the remnant of the chosen people of God from the exile (q.v.), but this portion of their history, down even to the time of their final dispersion, A.D. 135, has already been treated at length in other parts of this work (we refer the reader to the articles (See HADRIAN); (See BAR- COCHEBA); (See DISPERSED); (See JERUSALEM) ). It was the effort, under the leadership of Bar-Cocheba, to regain their independence, that brought about a repetition of scenes enacted under Titus, and resulted actually in the depopulation of Palestine. Talmud and Midrash (especially Midrash Echa) alike exhaust even Eastern extravagance in describing the terrible consequences that followed the capture by the Romans of the last of the Jewish forts — Bither, their greatest stronghold. The whole of Judaea was turned into a desert; about 985 towns and villages were laid in ashes; fifty of their fortresses were razed to the ground; even the name of their capital was changed to AElia Capitolina, and they were forbidden to approach it on pain of death; thousands of those who had escaped death were reduced to slavery, and such as could not be thus disposed of were transported into Egypt. "The previous invasions and conquests, civil strifes and oppressions, persecution and famine, had carried hosts of Jewish captives, slaves, fugitives, exiles, and emigrants into the remotest provinces of the Medo-Persian empire, all over Asia Minor, into Armenia, Arabia, Egypt, Cyrene, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy. The Roman conquest and persecutions completed this work of dispersion;" and thus suddenly scattered abroad into almost every part of the empire, in the regions of Mt. Atlas, on both sides of the Pyrenees, on the Rhine, the Danube, and the Po, the Jews were deprived of the bond of connection which the possession of a common country only can afford. Their lot henceforth was oppression, poverty, and scorn.
Yet even in their utmost depression, their religious life asserted, as it has ever done, its superiority over all the disasters of time. No sooner had the war terminated than, as if rising from the ruins of the tomb, the Sanhedrim (q.v.) and the synagogue reappeared. Out of Palestine innumerable congregations of various sizes had long been established; but the late events in Egypt, Cyrenaica, Cyprus, and Mesopotamia, as well as Palestine, would have insured their annihilation but for the religious idiosyncrasy of the people. If but three persons were left in a neighborhood, they would rally at the trysting place of the law. The sense of their common dangers, miseries, and wants bound the Jewish people more closely to one another. A citizen of the world, having no country he could call his own, the Jew nevertheless lived within certain well-defined limits, beyond which, to him, there was no world. Thus, though scattered abroad, the Israelites had not ceased to be a nation; nor did any nation feel its oneness and integrity so truly as they. Jerusalem, indeed, had ceased to be their capital; but the school and the synagogue, and not a Levitical hierarchy, now became their impregnable citadel, and the law their palladium. The old men, schooled in sorrows, rallied about them the manhood that remained and the infancy that multiplied, resolving that they would transmit a knowledge of their religion to future generations. They founded schools as well as synagogues, until their efforts resulted in the writing of a code of laws second only to that of Moses' system of traditionary principles, precepts, and customs to keep alive forever the peculiar spirit of Judaism (see Rule, Karaites, p. 59).
Among the first things to be accomplished by the Jews of Palestine at this period of their history was the election, in place of the late Gamaliel II (q.v.), of a patriarch from the eminent rabbins who had escaped the sword of the Roman conqueror. A synod congregated at Uscha (q.v.), and Simon ben-Gamaliel, presenting the best hereditary claims for this distinguished office, was chosen, and intrusted with the reconstruction of the synagogue and school at Jamnia (q.v.), there to reestablish with fresh efficiency a rabbinical apparatus. Soon another and more important institution was founded on the banks of the Lake Gennesareth, in the pleasant town of Tiberias (q.v.). Here also was reorganized the Sanhedrim (q.v.), until Judaism was brought to stand out even in bolder relief than it had dared to do since the calamities under Titus. In a great measure this success of the Jews was due to the Romans, who, under the government of the Antonines, mitigated their severity against this unfortunate people, restoring to them many ancient privileges, and permitting them to enjoy even municipal honors in common with other citizens. Indeed, of Antoninus Pius, Jewish writers assert that he had secretly become a convert to their faith (comp. Jost, Gesch. d. Israeliten, bk. 13, ch. 9), but for this statement there seems to be no very good reason; at least Grä tz (Gesch. der Juden, 4, 225, 226) does not even allude to it. Most prominently associated with Gamaliel II in this work of reconstruction, among the Jews of the West, were Meir, Juda, Jose, Simon ben-Jochai, to whose respective biographical articles we refer for further details; also Juda Ha-Nasi, the successor of Gamaliel II. In Babylonia likewise the Jews had strained every nerve to regain their lost power and influence, and they had established a patriarchate very much like that of the West. At first they had looked to the Roman Jews for counsel, and had virtually acknowledged the superiority of their Jerusalem brethren in all spiritual matters, confining to temporal matters alone the office of the Resh Gelutha (q.v.), or, "Prince of the Captivity," as they called their rulers; but as the chances for a rebuilding of the Temple and a return to power in the holy city grew less and less, they determined, encouraged by the growing celebrity of their own schools at Nisibis (q.v.) and Nahardea (q.v.), to establish their total independence of the schools of Palestine, and to unite in their officer Resh Gelutha, who was chosen from those held to be descended from the house of David, both spiritual and temporal authority (see Etheridge, Introd. to Heb. Lit. p. 152, 153).
We are told of the Resh Gelutha that, after the consolidation of the temporal and spiritual offices, he exercised a power almost despotic, and, though a vassal of the king of Persia, he assumed among his own people the style of a monarch, lived in great splendor, had a bodyguard, counselors, cup bearers, etc.; in fact, his government was quite an imperium in imperio, and possessed a thoroughly sacerdotal, or at least theocratic character. His subjects were, many of them at least, extremely wealthy, and pursued all sorts of industrial occupations. They were merchants, bankers, artisans, husbandmen, and shepherds, and, in particular, had the reputation of being the best weavers of the then famous Babylonian garments. What was the condition of the Jews at this time further east we cannot tell, but it seems quite certain that they had obtained a footing in China, if not before the time of Christ, at least during the 1st century. They were first discovered by the Jesuit missionaries of the 17th century. They did not appear ever to have heard of Christ, but they possessed the book of Ezra, and retained, on the whole, a very decided nationalism of creed and character. From their language, it was inferred that they had originally come from Persia. At one time they would appear to have been highly honored in China, and to have held the highest civil and military offices. In India also they gained a foothold, and since the Russian embassies into Asia Jews have been found in many places (see North American Review, 1831, p. 244).
Reverting to the Jews of the Roman empire, we find them perfectly resigned to their fate, and comparatively prosperous, until the time of Constantine the Great (q.v.). Indeed, the closing part of the 2d and the first part of the 3d century will ever remain among the most memorable years in the annals of Jewish history. It was during this period that Judah Hakkodesh (q.v.) flourished, and it was under his presidency over the school at Tiberias that the Jews proved to the world that, though they were now left without a metropolis, without a temple, and even without a county, they could still continue to be a nation. Driven from the sacred city, they changed Tiberias into a kind of Jerusalem, where, instead of building in wood and stone, they employed workmen in rearing another edifice, which even to this day continues to proclaim the greatness of the chosen people of God after their dispersion the Mishna (q.v.), and the Gemara, better known as the Babylonian Talmud (q.v.), the so-called Oral Law reduced to writing, arranged, commented upon, and explained, which became in the course of a few centuries a complete Digest or Encyclopedia of the law, the religion, and the nationality of the Jews. (See RABBINIUS) .
2. We have already said that under the Roman emperors of the 2d and 3d centuries the Jews were in a somewhat flourishing condition. Quite different became their fate in the 4th century, when the emperor of Rome knelt before the cross, and the empire became a Christian state. Not only were converts from Judaism protected from the resentment of their countrymen, but Christians were prohibited from becoming Jews. The equality of rights to which the pagan emperors had admitted them was by degrees restricted. In short, from the establishment of Christianity in the Roman empire dates the great period of humiliation of the Jews; hereafter they change to a condemned and persecuted sect. But if the ascendancy of Christianity became baneful to the Jews, it does by no means follow,that Christianity is to bear the blame. Nay, the Jews of that age and country are altogether responsible for their sufferings. They appeared as the persecutors of the new religion whenever the opportunity presented itself. Thus they allied themselves to Arians during the revolution of 353 in destroying the property and lives of the Catholics. (See ALEXANDRIA).
Yet, though decried "as the most hateful of all people," they continued to fill, after this period, important civil and military situations, had especial courts of justice, and exercised the influence which springs from the possession of wealth and knowledge. Under the rule of Julian the Apostate everything changed again in their favor. The heathen worshipper felt that the Jew, as the opponent of the Christian, was his natural ally; and, fresh from oppression and tyranny which a Christian government had heaped upon them, the Jews hesitated not to unsheath the sword in union with the Apostate's legions. A gleam of splendor seemed to shine on their future destiny; and when Judian (q.v.) determined "to belie, if possible, the fulfilment of the prophecies," and gave them permission to rebuild their Temple at Jerusalem, the transport which they manifested, it is said, is one of the most sublime spectacles in their history. (Comp., as to the views of Christian writers on the miracle said to have been wrought here, preventing the Jews from the rebuilding of the Temple, especially, Etheridge, Introd. to Hebrew Lit. p. 134 sq.) The attempt, as is well known, was signally defeated. The emperor suddenly died, and from that event the policy adopted by the Roman government towards the Jews was more or less depressive, though never severe. "In short, down to the time that terminated the Western patriarchate (A. D. 415), the conduct of the emperors towards the Jews appears to have been marked by an inflexible determination to keep them in order, tempered by a wise and worthy moderation." Thus, in the code of Theodosius II, their patriarchs and officers of the synagogue are honorably mentioned as "Viri spectatissimi, illustres, clarissimi." They enjoyed absolute liberty and protection in the observance of their ceremonies, their feasts, and their sabbaths. "Their synagogues were protected by law against the fanatics, who, in some parts of Asia and Italy, attacked and set them on fire. Throughout the empire the property of the Jews, their slaves, and their lands were secured to them. Yet the Christians were exhorted to hold no intercourse with the unbelieving people, and to beware of the doctrines of the synagogue. The laws, however, could not prevent the zeal of several bishops from stirring up the hatred of the populace against the Jews. Even Ambrose imputed as a crime to some Asiatic bishops and monks the effort to rebuild, at their own expense, a synagogue which they had demolished." Nor ought we to omit here the disreputable acts of another great father of the Christian Church, Cyril (q.v.), who, in A.D. 415, during the reign of Theodosius II, caused the expulsion of all Jews from the bishopric of Alexandria.
3. The condition of this people became even worse after the division of the Roman world (A.D. 395) into the Eastern and Western empires, especially in the East, under Justin I (A.D. 518-27), where they were deprived of their citizenship, which they had hitherto enjoyed, and were classed with heretics. Justinian (A. D. 527-65) went still further. He not only confirmed former enactments, but made others still more onerous, intended, no doubt, to drive the Jews into the Church. "The emperor, laying it down as a principle that civil rights could only belong to those who professed the orthodox faith, entirely excluded the Jews in his code (codex) and his edicts (novellae). Anything which could in the least interfere with the festivals of the Christian Church was strictly forbidden them; all discussion with Christians was looked upon as a crime, and all proselytism punished with death. Even their right of holding property was restricted in many ways, especially in the matter of wills. The emperor declared himself with especial severity against the traditions and precepts of the Talmud." Such oppression naturally enough provoked the Jews to repeated rebellion, only to be subjected, after complete failure to regain their freedom, to increased bitterness of their cup of degradation (See JUSTINIAN), until, deprived of the last degree of political importance, many of their number quitted the Byzantine empire to seek a refuge in Persia and Babylon, where the Israelite was treated with more leniency. (See SAMARITANS).
As we have said, their condition was more tolerable in the Western empire, where, upon the irruption of the barbarous tribes, they were more favorably regarded than their Christian neighbors. The Jews also formed a part of all the kingdoms which rose up out of the ruins of ancient Rome; but, unfortunately, our information respecting them, for a considerable period at least. is very imperfect. "In the absence of a literature of their own, we know of them only through ecclesiastical writers, who take notice of them chiefly as the objects of the converting zeal of the Catholic Church. The success of the Christian priesthood among their barbarous invaders inspired them with hopes of gaining converts among the Jews. But the circumstances of the two classes were altogether different. Among the heathen, when a prince or a successful warrior was converted to the faith, he carried along with him all his subjects or his companions in war. But the Jews moved in masses only in matters connected with their own religion; in every other respect they were wholly independent of each other. Their conversion, therefore, could only be the effect of conviction on the part of each individual. The character of the Christian clergy did not fit them. for so arduous an undertaking. Their ignorance and frequent immorality placed them at a disadvantage in regard to the Jews, who were in possession of the O.T. Scriptures, and had arguments at command which their opponents could not answer. Besides, there were no inducements of a worldly nature at this period to influence the Jews in exchanging their religion. They had no wish for the retreat of the cloister, nor did they stand in need of protection on account of deeds of violence and rapine. Their habits were of a description altogether different from those of the monk or brigand. The attempts of the clergy, however, were unremitted, and threats and blandishments were alternately resorted to, so that the struggle was constant between Catholicism and Judaism . . . till the appearance of a new religion wrought a diversion in favor of the latter."
4. According to Grä tz (Gesch. d. Juden, 5, 81), the history of the Jews in Arabia a century preceding Mohammed's appearance and during his activity presents a beautiful page in Jewish annals. Many were the Arabian chiefs and their tribes who had assimilated with the Jews or become actual converts to the Mosaic religion. Indeed, for several centuries previous to Mohammed's appearance, a Jewish kingdom had existed in the southwest of Arabia, and some even claim that it extended back previous to the birth of Christ. Others assert that a Jew did not mount the throne of Yemen (q.v.) until about A.D. 320; while Grä tz (5, 91 sq., 442 sq., especially p. 443,447) holds that the conversion of the Himyaritic kingdom to Judaism did not tale place until the 5th century.. So much, however, is now settled, that in the early part of the 6th century (about A.D. 520-530) the last king who reigned over the country Zunaan or Zu-n-Nuwas was a Jew (comp. Perron, Sur l'histoire des Arabes avant l'Islamissme, in the Joeurnal Asiatique, 1838, Oct., Nov., p. 353 sq., 443 sq.), and that only with his death Judaism ceased to be the religion of the Himyarites (q.v.). (See ARABIA). (Religion).
The influence, then, which the Jews must have exerted in the Arabian peninsula at the time of Mohammed's appearance failed not to be perceived by the prophet, and he hastened to secure the aid of these countrymen of his, who were equally, with his other Arabian brethren, the descendants of Abraham, and had with them at least the common cause of extirpating idolatry and Christianity. There was, perhaps, also another reason why the prophet of Arabia should have sought an association with the Jews. His own mother was a Jewess by descent, and had only in after life keen converted to Christianity by the Syrian monk Sergius. To her maternal instructions he is supposed to have been indebted for his first religious impressions; and though he did not remain long under her care, yet the slight knowledge of pure religion which he thus obtained must certainly have inclined him to draw the Jewish influence to his side in his attacks against the idolatrous hordes of Arabia (comp. Ockley, Saracens, 1, 98; Von Hammer, Assassins, chap. 1). The Jews, however, soon became convinced that the cause of Mohammed was not their own; that his object was a union of all forces under his sceptre, the supremacy of Islam, and the subjugation, if not ultimately utter extinction of all rival religions; and the compact so lately formed was as quickly broken by an open revolt. Mohammed, however, proved the stronger, and in the wars which he waged against the different Jewish tribes he came forth conqueror. From 624 to 628 several of the latter were subjugated or wholly destroyed, or obliged to quit the Arabian territory. In 632 all Jews were finally driven from Arabia, and they settled in Syria. A greater display of heroism than the Jews exhibited during these struggles with the Islamitish impostor has never been witnessed, and we do not wonder that a Jewish writer should point to the epoch as one of which every Jew has reason to be proud. The prophet himself very nearly paid by his life for the victories which he had gained over Mosaism; but it seems that, when Mohammedanism had acquired sufficient strength to spread beyond Arabia, the animosity towards the Jews was forgotten, and they were kindly treated. So much is certain, that the extension of the religion of the Crescent through Asiatic Turkey, Persia, Egypt, Africa, and the south of Spain, proved, on the whole, advantageous to the Jews. Excepting accidental persecutions, such as those in Mauritania A.D. 790, and in Egypt A.D. 1010, they enjoyed, under the caliphs and Arabian princes, comparative peace.
The Jews actually entered upon a prosperous career in every country to which the Moslem arms extended. In North Africa, in Egypt, in Persia, their condition greatly improved, and in Moorish Spain, where their religion enjoyed full toleration, their numbers greatly increased, and they became famous for their learning as well as for trade. "In the new impulse given to trade by. the progress of the Moslem arms, the Jews, ever awake to their own interests, took their advantage. In the wide extent of conquest, new wants were created by the advance of victorious armies: kingdoms which had long ceased to hold intercourse with each other were brought into union, and new channels of commercial intercourse were opened up; and, leaving the pursuits of agriculture, which were placed at a disadvantage by the policy of the caliphs, the Jews became the merchants by whom the business between the Eastern and the Western world was conducted. In the court of the caliphs they were favorably received, and for centuries the whole management of the coinage was intrusted to them, from the superior accuracy and elegance with which they could execute it, and from their opportunities, by the extent and variety of their commercial relations, to give it the widest circulation, and at the same time to draw in all the previous mintages." But, as we have already said, it was not only in commercial greatness that they flourished. Not a few of them distinguished themselves in the walks of science and literature. They were counselors, secretaries, astrologers, or physicians to the Moorish rulers; and this period may well be considered the golden age of Jewish literature. Poets, orators, philosophers of highest eminence arose, not isolated, but in considerable numbers; and it is a well-established fact, that to them is chiefly due — through the Arab medium — the preservation and subsequent spreading in Europe of ancient classical literature, more especially of philosophy. (Compare, on the efforts of Nestorian Christians in this direction, Etheridge, Syrian Churches, p. 239 sq.) Their chief attention, however, continued to be even then directed to the Talmud and its literature, especially in Babylonia. where they still had a Resh-gelutha as their immediate ruler. Here their great schools, reorganized under the Seboraim (thinkers), were put in a still more flourishing condition by the Geonim (eminent), of whom the most prominent are Saadias (q.v.) (about 892- 942), the translator of the Pentateuch into Arabic, whom, for his great linguistic attainments, Aben-Ezra designates as the ראֹשׁ הִמְּדִבְּרַים בְּכָל מָקוֹם Sherira Gaon (q.v.) (died 997), grandson of Judah, to whom we owe our most accurate knowledge of the Jewish schools in Babylonia. In this period (from the 6th to the 8th centuries) the Masora was developed, followed by numerous commentaries on it and on the Targum of Jerusalem, besides a collection of the earlier Haggadas (e.g. Benhith- rabba), now mostly known as Midrashim. (See MIDRASH). From Palestine, also, came about this time signs of freshness and vigor in Jewish literature: the admirable vowel system; talmudical compends and writings on theological cosmogony. (See CABALA). The Karaites (q.v.) likewise, according to some authorities, originated about the 8th century (this is, however, disputed now by Rule, Karaite Jews, Lond. 1870, sm. 8vo, who believes them to be of much earlier date), and under their influence a whole kingdom, named Khozar, is believed to have been converted to Judaism, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. (See JEHUDIA (HA-LEVI) BEN-SAMUEL). Here deserve mention, also, the most celebrated of the Jews in Africa under the Saracen princes, the grammarians Ibn-Koraish (q.v.), Dunash (q.v.), Chayug (q.v.); the lexicographer Hefetz, and Isaac ben-Soleyman.
Very different was the fate of the Jews under Christian rulers. Few were the monarchs of Christendom who rose above the barbarism of the Middle Ages. By considerable pecuniary sacrifices only could the sons of Israel enjoy tolerance. In Italy their lot had always been most severe. Now and then a Roman pontiff would afford them his protection, but, as a rule, they have received only intolerance in that country. Down even to the time of the deposition of Pius IX from the temporal power, it has been the barbarous custom, on the last Saturday before the Carnival, to compel the Jews to proceed "en masse" to the capitol, and ask permission of the pontiff to reside in the sacred city another year. At the foot of the hill the petition was refused them, but, after much entreaty, they were granted the favor when they had reached the summit, and, as their residence, the Ghetto was assigned them.
Their circumstances were most favorable among the Franks. Charlemagne is said to have had implicit confidence not only in the ability, but also in the integrity of the Jewish merchants in his realm, and he even sent the Jew Isaac as his ambassador to the court of Haroun Alraschid. To Isaac's faithfulness and ability may perhaps be attributed the great privileges which the Jews enjoyed under Louis le Debonnaire, who is said to have made them "all-powerful." But if these two Christian rulers were noble and generous towards the Jews, the clergy of their day by no means shared the same feeling towards the despised race. Many a bishop of the Church of Rome, and many a member of the lower orders, were heard before the throne and before the people complaining of the kind treatment which the Jews received. One prelate hesitated not to condemn the Jews because the "country people looked upon them as the only people of God!" Hence we cannot wonder that after the decease of these two noble monarchs, when the weaker Carlovingians began to rule, and the Church to advance with imperious strides, a melancholy change ensued-kings, bishops, feudal barons, and even the municipalities, all joined in a carnival of persecution, and the history of the Jews became nothing else than a successive series of massacre. (See below, 5; Brit. and For. Rev. 1842, p. 459 sq.)
In England the Jews made their first appearance during the period of the Saxons. They are mentioned in the ecclesiastical constitutions of Egbert, archbishop of York, A.D. 740; they are also named in a charter to the monks of Croyland, A.D. 833. They enjoyed many privileges under William the Conqueror and his son, William Rufus, who favored them in many ways. The lands of the vacant bishoprics were farmed out to them, which proves that the Jews must have been agriculturists at this time: while in the schools they held many honorable positions. Thus, at Oxford, even at this time a great seat of learning, they possessed themselves three halls — Lombard Hall, Moses Hall, and Jacob Hall, to which Christians as well as Jews went for instruction in the Hebrew tongue. They enjoyed these and other privileges until the period of the Crusades suddenly changed everybody against them. (See below.)
In Germany their position was perhaps more servile than in any other European country. They were regarded as the sovereign's property (kammerknechte, chamber servants), and were bought and sold. They had come to that country as early as the days of Constantine, but they did not become a numerous class until the days of the Crusaders, and we therefore postpone further treatment to the next section.
In Spain their circumstances at first were most fortunate. Especially during the whole brilliant period of Moorish rule in the Peninsula they shared the same favorable condition as in all other countries to which the Moslem arms had extended; "they enjoyed, indeed, what must have seemed to them, in comparison with their ordinary lot, a sort of Elysian life. They were almost on terms of equality with their Mohammedan masters, rivaled them in civilization and letters, and probably surpassed them in wealth. The Spanish Jews were consequently of a much higher type than their brethren in other parts of Europe. They were not reduced to the one degrading occupation of usury, though they followed that too; on the contrary, they were husbandmen, landed proprietors, physicians, financial administrators, etc.; they enjoyed special privileges, and had courts of justice for themselves. Nor was this state of things confined to those portions of Spain under the sovereignty of the Moors; the Christian monarchs of the north and middle gradually came to appreciate the value of their services, and we find them for a time protected and encouraged by the rulers of Aragon and Castile. But the extravagance and consequent poverty of the nobles, as well as the increasing power of the priesthood, ultimately brought about a disastrous change. The estates of the nobles, and, it is also believed, those attached to the cathedrals and churches, were in many cases mortgaged to the Jews; hence it was not difficult for ‘ conscience' to get up a persecution, when goaded to its ‘ duty' by the pressure of want and shame. Gradually the Jews were deprived of the privilege of living where they pleased; their rights were diminished, and their taxes augmented" (Chambers). More in the next paragraph.
5. In tracing the history of the Jewish people in the Middle Ages, the Crusades form a distinct epoch amid these centuries of darkness and turmoil. If the Jew had hitherto suffered at the hand of the Christian, and had been gradually reduced in social privilege, he was now grossly abused in the name of the religion of him who taught, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." Undertaken to bring about a union of the Christians of the world that ideal of a Christian commonwealth which forms the center of the polemical and religious life of the Middle Ages — the crusading movement was inaugurated by a wholesale massacre and persecution first of the Jew, and afterwards of the Mussulman. The latter, perhaps, had given just provocation by his endeavors to supplant the Cross by the Crescent, but what had the inoffensive and non-proselytizing Jew done to deserve such acts of violence and rapine? Shut out from all opportunities for the development of their better qualities, the Jews were gradually reduced to a decline both in character and condition. From a learned, influential, and powerful class of the community, we find them, after the inauguration of the Crusades, sinking into miserable outcasts; the common prey of clergy, and nobles, and burghers, and existing in a state worse than slavery itself.
The Christians deprived the Jews even of the right of holding real estate, and confined them to the narrower channels of traffic. "Their ambition being thus fixed upon one subject, they soon mastered all the degrading arts of accumulating gain; and prohibited from investing their gains in the purchase of land, they found a more profitable employment of it in lending it at usurious interest to the thoughtless and extravagant. The effect of this was inevitable. At a time when commercial pursuits were held in contempt, the assistance of the Jews became indispensable to the nobles, whose hatred rose in proportion to their obligations; and, where there was the power, the temptation to cancel the debt by violence became irresistible." A raid against the Jews was a favorite pastime of a bankrupt noble, and we need not wonder that the Jew had recourse to the only revenge that was left him to atone for this gross injustice — the exaction of a more exorbitant gain when the opportunity was afforded him.
Thus, in England, at the enthronement of Richard I (1189), the Crusaders, on their departure for the Holy Land, hesitated not to inaugurate their warfare by a pillage of the Jews. In the desperate defense which the latter waged against the knights of England in the castle at York, finding resistance useless, 500 of them, having first destroyed everything of value that belonged to them, murdered their wives and children, and then deprived themselves of life, rather than fall a prey to Christian warriors. (See Hume, History of England.) A like treatment the Jews received under the two following monarchs; their lives and wealth were protected only for a consideration. With the tyrannical treatment they received at the hand of king John (q.v.) every reader of history is familiar. Under Henry III they were treated still worse, if possible. The reign of Edward I (1272-1307) finally brought suddenly to a terminus the miserable condition of this people by a wholesale expulsion from the kingdom (A.D. 1290), after a vain attempt on the part of the priesthood to convert them to Christianity, preceded, of course, by a wholesale confiscation of their property. These exiles amounted to about 16,000. They emigrated mostly to Germany and France. In the former country the same sort of treatment befell them. In the Empire they had to pay all manner of iniquitous taxes — body tax, capitation tax, trade taxes, coronation taxes, and to present a multitude of gifts, to mollify the avarice or supply the necessities of emperor, princes, and barons. It did not suffice, however, to save them from the loss of their property.
The populace and the lower clergy also must be satisfied; they, too, had passions to gratify. A wholesale slaughter of the "enemies of Christianity" was inaugurated. Treves, Metz, Cologne, Mentz, Worms, Spires, Strasburg, and other cities, were deluged with the blood of the "unbelievers." The word Hep (said to be the initials of Hierosolyma est perdita, Jerusalem is taken) throughout all the cities of the empire became the signal for massacre, and if an insensate monk sounded it along the streets, it threw the rabble into paroxysms of murderous rage. The choice of death or conversion was given to the Jews, but few were found willing to purchase their life by that form of perjury. Rather than subject their offspring to conversion and such Christian training, fathers presented their breast to the sword after putting their children to death,. and wives and virgins sought refuge from the brutality of the soldiers by throwing themselves into the river with stones fastened to their bodies. (Comp. Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [Harpers' edit.], 5, 554.) Not less than 17,000 were supposed to have perished in the German empire during these persecutions; yet those who survived clung to the land that had given them birth, and suffered from pillage and maltreatment until they were expelled by force — from Vienna (A.D. 1196), Mecklenburg (1225), Breslau (1226), Brandenburg (1243), Frankfort (1241), Munich (1285), Nurenburg (1390), Prague (1391), and Ratisbon (1476). The "Black Death," in particular, occasioned a great and widespread persecution (1348-1350). They were murdered and burned by thousands, and many even sought death amidst the conflagrations of their synagogues. From Switzerland to Silesia the land was drenched with innocent blood, and even the interference of the emperor and the pope long proved insufficient to put an end to the atrocities that were perpetrated. When the race had almost disappeared from Germany, feelings of humanity as well as the interests of his kingdom caused Charles IV to concede them some privileges; and in the Golden Bull (1356) the future condition of the Jews was so clearly pointed out, that it prevented, in a great measure, further bloodshed, though it still continued to leave them subject to oppression and injustice. Their residence was forbidden in some places, and in many cities to which they had access they were confined to certain quarters or streets, known as ghettos or Jews' streets (Judenstrasse).
No better, nay worse, if possible, was their condition in France from the 11th to the 16th centuries. All manner of wild stories were circulated against them: it was said that they were wont to steal the host, and to contemptuously stick it through and through; to inveigle Christian children into their houses and murder them; to poison wells, etc. They were also hated here as elsewhere on plea of excessive usury. Occasionally their debtors, high and low, hesitated not to have recourse to what they called Christian religion as a very easy means of getting rid of their obligations. Thus Philippe Augustus (1179-1223), under whose rule the Jews seem to have held mortgages of enormous value on the estates of Church and state dignitaries, simply confiscated the debts due to them, forced them to surrender the pledges in their possession, seized their goods, and finally even banished them from France; but the decree appears to have taken effect chiefly in the north; yet in less than twenty years the same proud but wasteful monarch was glad to let them come back and take up their abode in Paris. Louis IX (1226-1270), who was a very pious prince, among other religious acts, cancelled a third of the claims which the Jews had against his subjects, "for the benefit of his soul." An edict was also issued for the seizure and destruction of their sacred books, and we are told that at Paris twenty-four carts filled with copies of the Talmud, etc., were consigned to the flames. (See TALMUD).
The Jews were also forbidden to hold social intercourse with their Christian neighbors, and the murderer of a Jew, if he were a Christian, went unpunished. Need we wonder, then, that when, in the following century, a religious epidemic, known as the Rising of the Shepherds, seized the common people in Languedoc and the central regions of France (A.D. 1321), they indulged in horrible massacres of the detested race; so horrible, indeed, that in one place, Verdun, on the Garonne, the Jews, in the madness of their agony, threw down their children to the Christian mob from the tower in which they were gathered, hoping, but in vain, to appease the daemoniacal fury of their assailants. "One shudders to read of what followed; in whole provinces every Jew was burned. At Chinon a deep ditch was dug, an enormous pile raised, and 160 of both sexes burned together! Yet Christianity never produced more resolute martyrs; as they sprang into the place of torment; they sang hymns as though they were going to a wedding;" and, though "savage and horrible as such self-devotion is, it is impossible not to admire the strength of heart which it discovers; and, without inspiration, one might foretell that, so long as a solitary heart of this description was left to beat, it would treasure its national distinction as its sole remaining pride." At last, in 1594, they were indefinitely banished from France, and the sentence rigidly executed (see Schmidt, Gesch. Frankreichs, 1, 504 sq.). Such is the frightful picture of horrors and gloom which the Jews of Germany, France, England, and Italy offer in their medieval history. "Circumscribed in their rights by decrees and laws of the ecclesiastical as well as civil power, excluded from all honorable occupations, driven from place to place, from province to province, compelled to subsist almost exclusively by mercantile occupations and usury, overtaxed and degraded in the cities, kept in narrow quarters, and marked in their dress with signs of contempt, plundered by lawless barons and penniless princes, an easy prey to all parties during the civil feuds, again and again robbed of their pecuniary claims, owned and sold as serfs (chamber servants) by the emperors, butchered by mobs and revolted peasants, chased by the monks, and finally burned in thousands by the Crusaders, who also burned their brethren at Jerusalem in their synagogues, or tormented by ridicule, abusive sermons, monstrous accusations and trials, threats and experiments of conversion."
In Spain and Portugal, indeed, the days of prosperity to the Jews lingered longest. As we have already noticed, they enjoyed in these countries, while they remained under Moorish rule, almost equality with the Moslems. As in France under the Carlovingians, so in Spain under Saracen rule, their literature betokens an uncommon progress in civilization — a progress which left far in the distance another nations, even those who professed to unfurl the banner of the Cross. But this was especially true of the Spanish Jews. Acquainted with the Arabic, they could easily dive into the treasures of that language; and the facility with which the Jews mastered all languages made them ready interpreters between Mussulman and Christian. It was through their original thinkers, such as Avicebron (Ibn-Gebirol, q.v.) and Moses Maimonides (q.v.), that the West became leavened with Greek and Oriental thought (Lewes, Philos. 2, 63), and the same persecuted and despised race must be regarded. as the chief instruments whereby the Arabian philosophy was made effective on European culture. "Dans le monde Musulman comme dans le monde chretien," said the late professor Munk, of Paris (Melanges, p. 335), "les Juifs exclus de la vie publique, voues a la haine et au mepris par la religion dominante, toujours en presence des dangers dont les menacait le fanatisme de la foule, ne trouvaient la tranquillite et le bonheur que dans un isolement complet. Ignores de la societe les savants Juifs vouaient aux sciences un culte desinteresse." But all their ability, learning, and wealth did not long ward off the unrestrained religious hatred of the common people, who felt no need of culture, and enjoyed no opportunities to borrow money from them. The world, which before seemed to have made a kind of tacit agreement to allow them time to regain wealth that might be plundered, and blood that might be poured out like water, now seemed to have entered into a conspiracy as extensive to drain the treasures and the life of this devoted race. Kingdom after kingdom, and people after people, followed the dreadful example, and strove to peal the knell of the descendants of Israel; till at length, what we blush to call Christianity, with the Inquisition in its train cleared the fair and smiling provinces of Spain of this industrious part of its population, and brought a self-inflicted curse of barrenness upon the benighted land (Milman, Hist. of Jews, 3; comp. Prescott, Ferd. and Isabella, pt. 1, ch. 7; Jost, Gesch. d. Israeliten, 6, 75, 110, 184, 216, 290; Da Costa, Israel and the Gentiles, p. 221).
The condition of the Jews in Spain continued to be favorable from near the close of the 11th century (to which time we traced them in the preceding section) until the middle of the 14th century, when the star of their fortune may be said to have culminated. It is true, the Mohammedan power was now on the wane, but then the Christian rulers felt not vet sufficiently well established in the peninsula to take severe measures against the Jews (Da Costa, Israel and the Gentiles, p. 189 sq., 224). A capitation tax was paid by the numerous synagogues, and presents were made to the infante, the nobility, or the Church; but in every other respect the Jews lived like a separate nation, framing and executing their own civil and criminal jurisdiction. It is true they had not here a Reshgelutha as their authority, but a substitute was afforded them in the ‘"rabbino mayor," the Jewish magistrate, who "exercised his right in the king's name, and sealed his decrees, which the king alone could annul, with the royal arms. He made journeys through the country to take cognizance of all Jewish affairs, and inquire into the disposal of the revenues of the different synagogues. He had under him a ‘ vice-rabbino mayor,' a chancellor, a secretary, and several other officers. Two different orders of rabbins, or judges, acted under him in the towns and districts-of the kingdom." The first important danger that threatened them was in 1218 when a multitude of foreign knights and soldiers gathered together at Toledo preparatory to a crusade against the Moors. The campaign was to be opened, as had been done in Germany, by a general massacre of the Jews; but, by the intervention of Alphonso IX, surnamed the Good, the attempt was in a great measure defeated, and the Jews continued to prosper, after a similar attempt made by the Cortes of Madrid had failed, until the middle of the 14th century. By this time the general hatred against the Jews had spread alarmingly in all countries of Europe, as we have already had occasion to see, in consequence of the terror which the black death caused throughout that portion of the globe. They were now also in Spain confined to particular quarters of cities in which they resided, and attempts were made for their conversion.
In 1250 an institution had even been erected for the express purpose of training men to carry on successfully controversies with the Jews, and, if possible, to bring about their conversion. But very different. results followed the bloody persecutions. which were actually and successfully inaugurated against them at Seville in 1391, 1392. These were the outbursts of priestly and popular violence, and had no sooner commenced in that city than Cordova, Toledo, Valencia, Catalonia, and the island of Majorca followed in its train; immense numbers were murdered, and wholesale theft was perpetrated by the religious rabble. Escape was possible only through flight to other countries, or by accepting baptism at the point of the sword, and the number of such enforced converts to Christianity is reckoned at no less than 200,000. If the persecutions in Germany, England, France, and elsewhere had severely tried the Jewish race, these persecutions in Spain completely extinguished all hope of further joy, for they hit, so to speak, the very core of the Jewish heart, and form a sad turning point in the history of the Jews, and the 15th of March, 1391, forms a memorable day not only for the Jew, not only for the Spaniard, but for all the world; it was the seed from which germinated that monster called the Inquisition — (Grä tz, Gesch. d. Juden, 8, 61 sq.). Daily now the condition of this people, even in the Spanish peninsula, grew worse and worse, until it fairly beggars description. A.D. 1412-1414 they had to endure another bloody persecution throughout the peninsula, and by the middle of the 15th century Ewe read of nothing but persecution, violent conversion, massacre, and the tortures of the Inquisition. "Thousands were burned alive. ‘ In one year 280 were burned in Seville alone.' Sometimes the popes, and even the nobles, shuddered at the fiendish zeal of the inquisitors, and tried to mitigate it, but in vain. At length the hour of final horror came. In A.D. 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella issued an edict for the expulsion, within four months, of all who refused to become Christians, with the strict inhibition to take neither gold nor silver out of the country.
The Jews offered an enormous sum for its revocation, and for a moment the sovereigns hesitated; but Torquemada, the Dominican inquisitor-general, dared to compare his royal master and mistress to Judas; they shrank from the awful accusation; and the ruin of the most industrious, the most thriving, the most peaceable, and the most learned of their subjects — and consequently of Spain herself — became irremediable." ( (See INQUISITION) in this volume, p. 601 sq.) This is perhaps the grandest and most melancholy hour in their modern history. It is considered by themselves as great a calamity as the destruction of Jerusalem. 300,000 (some even give the numbers at 650,000 or 800,000) resolved to abandon the country, which a residence of seven centuries had made almost a second Judaea to them. The incidents that marked their departure are heart rending. Almost every land was shut against them. Some, however, ventured into France, others into Italy, Turkey, and Morocco, in the last of which countries they suffered the most frightful privations. Of the 80,000 who obtained an entrance into Portugal on payment of eight gold pennies a head, but only for eight months, to enable :the .to obtain means of departure to other countries, many lingered after the expiration of the appointed time, and the poorer were sold as slaves. In A.D. 1495, king Emanuel commanded them to quit his territories, but at the same time issued a secret order that all Jewish children under 14 years of age should be torn from their mothers, retained in Portugal, and brought up as Christians. Agony drove the Jewish mothers into madness, they destroyed their children with their own lands, and threw them into wells and rivers, to prevent them from falling into the hands of their persecutors. Neither were the miseries of those who embraced Christianity, but who, for the most part, secretly adhered to their old faith (Onssie, Anussin — " yielding to violence, forced ones") less dreadful. It was not until the 17th century that persecution ceased. Autos-da-fe of suspected converts happened as late as A.D. 1655 (Chambers, s.v.). (See MARRANOS).
6. The discovery of America, the restoration of letters occasioned by the invention of the art of printing, and the reformation in the Christian Church opened in a certain sense a somewhat more beneficial era to the Jews. It is true, they reaped the benefits of this transformation less than any other portion of European society; "still, the progress of civilization was silently preparing the way for greater justice being done to this people; and their conduct, in circumstances where they were allowed scope for the development of their better qualities, tended greatly to the removal of the prejudices that existed against them." They found a friend in Reuchlin (q.v.), who made strenuous exertions in behalf of the preservation of Jewish literature. Luther, in the earlier part of his public career, is supposed to have favored the conversion of the Jews by violent means (questioned by some; comp. Grä tz, Geschichte des Jueden, 9, 220 sq.; 333 sq.; Etheridge, p. 440 sq.; Jost, Gesch. des Juedenthuss u. s. Sekten, 3, 217); and it is a fact that all through Germany where the Protestant element, if any where, was strong in those days, their lot actually became harder than it had ever been before. See below. On the other hand, we find a Roman pontiff (Sixtus V, 1585-90) animated by a far more wise and kindly spirit towards them than any Protestant prince of his time. In 1588 he abolished all the persecuting statutes of his predecessors, allowed them to settle and trade in every city of his dominions, to enjoy the free exercise of their religion, and, in respect to the administration of justice and taxation, placed them one a footing with the rest of his subjects. Of course, all this was done for a consideration. The Jews had money, and it he made them furnish freely, but then they enjoyed at least certain, advantages by virtue of their possessions.
Strange indeed must it appear to the student of history that one of the first countries in modern days that rose above the barbarism of the Middle Ages, and granted the Jews the most liberal concessions, was a part of the possessions of their most inveterate enemy, Philip II of Spain, and that one of the principal causes contributing to this change was the very instrument selected by the hatred of the Dominicans — the bloody Inquisition. It was the active, energetic, intelligent Hollander, readily appreciating the business qualifications of his Jewish brother, that permitted him to settle by his side as early as 1603. It is true, the Jew did not enjoy even in Holland the rights of citizenship until, after nearly two hundred years of trial (1796), he had been found the equal of his Christian neighbor whenever he was permitted to exchange the garb of a slave for that of a master. It was Holland that afforded to the hunted victims of a cruel and refined fanaticism a resting place on which they could encamp, and finally enjoy even equality with the natives of the soil.
Many of the Portuguese Jews (so the Jews of the Spanish peninsula are termed) left their mother country, and in this new republic vied with its citizens in the highest qualities of commercial greatness. Soon came the Jews of Poland and Germany also to enjoy the special privileges which the Dutch stood ready to administer to them. Denmark and Hamburg partook of the liberal spirit, and there also the Jews were heartily welcomed. In England, also, they soon after (1655), by the success of t
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Jew'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/j/jew.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.