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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
The Bible has no general name for Africa, any more than it has for Europe or Asia. The word "Ham," from the Hebrew root (to be hot), which is applied in the later Psalms (78:51; 105:23,27; 106:22) to Egypt, is the nearest approach to a general name, inasmuch as it applies directly to the hot southern countries (Book of Jubilees, ). Next in importance is the term "Cush," corresponding to the Greek ἔθνος Κουσσαῖον, the Cushite tribe, in Plutarch's "Lives" ("Alexander," ), and also occurring frequently in the works of other Greek writers in the form Κοσσαῖοτ (Knobel, "Völkertafel der Genesis," p. 250, Giessen, 1850). The "Kossaioi" or the "Kissia Chora" of the ancients, it is true, are to be sought in Asia, but it is supposed that a migration of these peoples took place, and there are many philological, historical, and ethnological proofs of such an occurrence. Since two of the peoples mentioned as belonging to the sons of Ham (Genesis 10:6), Mizraim and Canaan, are perfectly well known, it is evident that the enumeration proceeds from south to north; and on this basis Cush must be the southernmost of the Hamitic peoples. The ancient Greeks and Romans regarded these peoples collectively as Ethiopians (Knobel, "Völkertafel der Genesis"), which goes far to prove that the terms "Cush" and "Ethiopia" are nearly equivalent. Both terms were used originally to designate various nations in Asia and Africa, but their use was afterward limited to the countries south of Egypt. Even in its closer application, the Hebrew term "Cush," as used in Genesis 10, includes peoples outside of Africa. One, at least, of the descendants of Ham, Sheba (Genesis 10:7), must be identified with a nation in southwest Arabia (Dillmann, "Die Genesis," 5th ed., p. 181, Leipsic, 1886). A definitely bounded African continent, as known to-day, was not thought of by the Biblical writers. On the contrary, the territory on both sides of the Red Sea formed for them an ethnic unit, which was sharply distinguished from the rest of Africa.
Extent of Africa.
After Ethiopia, Egypt and Libya are the two most important lands of Africa. The Hebrew name for Egypt is (compare the Phenician Muẓra, for which read Musra in Stephanus Byzantinus under the word Αίγυπτος; Babylonian, Muẓri, Miẓir—(Schrader, "K. A. T.," 2d ed., p. 89; ancient Persian, Mudraja; Septuaginta, Mestrem; South Arabian, Miẓr; Arabic Maẓr). The Hebrew term has not been sufficiently explained, but it certainly shows a dual form which can best be interpreted as referring to the upper and lower districts. From a philological standpoint, however, the form may be differently explained, and the seeming sign of the dual may be regarded as a locative ending (Barth, "Nominalbildung in den Semitischen Sprachen," p. 319). The two names Cush and Mizraim, therefore, designate the entire eastern portion of the African continent known to antiquity. Several of the countries adjacent to Egypt are also found in the table of peoples as given in Genesis. "Phut" is mentioned as of equal rank with Egypt (Genesis 10:6; compare also Nahum, 3:9; Jeremiah 46:9; Ezekiel 27:10, 30:5, 38:5). The Septuagint, a recognized authority in Egyptianmatters, Josephus, and Jerome, all interpret Phut as referring to Libya (Dillmann, "Die Genesis," p. 178), from which it may be assumed that the Biblical writers included in their perspective also that great expanse of territory west of Egypt called Libya, by which name ancient writers often designate the whole of Africa. Authors like Herodotus were unacquainted with any African countries to the west of Libya. Some, indeed, have endeavored to explain the Biblical Havilah as an African region; and Josephus ("Ant." 1:6, § 1) even identifies it with the land of the Gætuli, which view is also held by the medieval chronicler Jerahmeel ("Jew. Quart. Rev." 11:675; Gaster, "Chronicles of Jerahmeel," 1899, p. 68). The land of the Gætuli is placed by the ancients on the borders of the Sahara (Sallust, "Bellum Jugurthinum," 19:11); though it is hardly probable that writers who do not appear to have known even the western coast of North Africa should have been acquainted with an interior country south of ancient Numidia, now Algeria. The Old Testament takes no cognizance of the negro race, though Jeremiah 13:23 may be considered a passing reference to a dark-skinned people. Cush refers only to Ethiopia, and there exists no ground for assuming that the Biblical writers had a more extended knowledge of the African continent.
All other Biblical names that have been supposed to apply to individual parts of Africa belong to the realm of myth.
Other Biblical Identifications.
The term "Sofala" for the east coast of Africa is of the same origin as the Hebrew (shefelah), or coastland (Winer, "B. R." 3d ed., s. "Ophir"), but the assertion that the Biblical gold-producing Ophir is to be located in that region is utterly without foundation. This semifabulous land has been located with more justification in Mozambique and Zambesia. The statement that Tunis is the Biblical Tarshish is erroneous, and was long ago refuted by Abraham Zacuto ("Yuḥasin," p. 231b, London, 1857). Nevertheless, it is the serious opinion of Zacuto that Epher (Genesis 25:4) gave his name to the continent when, as Zacuto thinks, the children of Keturah migrated thither ("Yuḥasin," p. 233b). This is also the opinion of the Arabian Ibn Idris (Rapoport, "'Erek Millin," p. 184). Benjamin of Tudela, a noted traveler of the twelfth century, considered Tunis the same as Hanes (Isaiah 30:4), and also identified the modern Damietta with the Biblical Caphtor. According to legend, the city Sabta () was built by Shem, the son of Noah, and it is even related that Joab, the general of David, reached it ("Yuḥasin," p. 226a). Israel ben Joseph Benjamin, a traveler of more recent times, whose descriptions of various countries were written in French, German, and English, and translated into Hebrew by David Gordon ("Mas'e Yisrael" [Israel's Travels], p. 109, Lyck, 1859), relates the same legend, but does not mention the "Yuḥasin." In a geographical work by Abraham Farissol, "Iggeret Orḥot 'Olam" (Letter on the Ways of the World), fols. 18 and 30, even paradise is said to have been situated in the Mountains of the Moon, in Nubia (Zunz, "Geographische Literatur der Juden," in "Gesammelte Schriften," 1:179, Berlin, 1875).
Without doubt Egypt is, historically, the most important of the countries of Africa. Indeed, it was considered by the ancients as belonging rather to Asia than to Africa, and was, with Palestine, the classic land of Jewish history. For centuries an important historic connection existed between the land of the Israelites and the kingdom of the Pharaohs, a connection which the tablets discovered in 1887 at Tell el-Amarna have established beyond the possibility of doubt. When the national life of Israel in Palestine ceased, an important section of the people, carrying with them the prophet Jeremiah, wandered back to Egypt. Thus, for the second time, Egypt became the home of the Jewish race, and much of later Jewish history was made upon its soil. To what importance the Jews attained here can best be inferred from legends concerning them, originating in other countries. An Ethiopic apocryphal book contains a legend respecting Jeremiah which narrates that, in answer to a prayer of the prophet, the reptiles of the dry land and the crocodiles of the rivers were exterminated (R. Basset, "Les Apocryphes Éthiopiens," 1:25, Paris, 1893; and also "Chron. Paschale," ed. Dindorf, 1:293; Suidas, under the word 'Αργολαι). According to Jewish legend similar blessings descended upon Egypt at the advent in the land of the patriarch Jacob (Midrash Tanḥuma on Genesis 67:10, quoted by Rashi). A native legend declares also that, previous to the arrival of Joseph, the son of Jacob, the present province of Fayum was covered by a great lake, which received its water from the Nile, but that Joseph drained it and turned it into a dry plain (Baḥr Yusufs; Ritter, "Erdkunde," part , "Afrika," p. 804, Berlin, 1822).
Jewish Soldiers in Egypt.
In ancient times the Jews performed military service for the Egyptians; for, according to the letter of Aristeas, King Psammetichus, probably the second of the name, employed Jewish mercenaries in a war against the Ethiopians, and it is reported that these Hebrew soldiers distinguished themselves by their courage. Even more remarkable is the legend recounted by Josephus ("Ant." 2:10, § 2), according to which Moses himself was an Egyptian general, and conducted a successful invasion of Ethiopia (Meroe?). The Hebrew Josephus (Josippon, chap. ), indeed, reports that Zepho, son of Eliphaz, son of Esau, who was brought to Egypt as a captive by the viceroy Joseph, escaped thence to Carthage, where he was appointed general by King Angias. The source of this legend is not known, but it recalls the Talmudic legend (Yer. Shab. 6:36c), that the Girgashites went to Africa, a statemenṭ based upon the fact that Carthage was colonized by Phenicians; hence from Canaan. Again Jerome, in "Onomastica Sacra," ed. Lagarde, Göttingen, 1887, represents Gergesæus as establishing colonies (colonum eiciens), which story is undoubtedly based on the Talmudic legend. This recalls the inscription said by Procopius to have been found in Africa, which describes Joshua as a robber, because he conquered Canaan (see "Jew. Quart. Rev." 3:354; Barker, "Supposed Inscription upon 'Joshua the Robber,'" illustrated from Jewish sources). These wide-spread legends are ample proof that the continent of Africa occupied an important place in the thoughts of Jews.
The next most important land of Africa, from the point of view of Jewish history, is Cush (Ethiopia), the influence of whose king, Tirhakah, upon the history of Israel in the days of King Hezekiah is plainly discernible. According to 2 Chronicles 14:8 et seq., the Ethiopian king Zerah invaded Judah and advanced as far as Mareshah; but the passage offers many historical difficulties. A war of the Ethiopian king Kyknos with the Syrians and the Children of the East is described in Yalḳuṭ. (Ex. § 168, 52d) and in the Sefer ha-Yashar (on Exodus 2), but the source of the legend is unknown. Ezekiel indicates Ethiopia as the border-land of Egypt, and designates(29:10, 30:6) Syene, the present Assouan, as the most southern city. This probably exhausts what the Biblical sources and the legends connected with the Bible contain on Africa.
Greek and Roman Age.
About the time that Greek and Roman culture began to influence the northern portion of Africa the Jews began to spread into these regions; indeed, they went even beyond the confines of the Roman empire. Egypt, according to the testimony of Philo, was inhabited, as far as the borders of Libya and Ethiopia, by Jews whose numbers were estimated at a million. The great mercantile city of Alexandria was the intellectual and commercial center of African Jewish life. Alexander the Great had conferred upon the Jews full rights of citizenship, and they guarded these rights jealously. In Cyrene also they were of importance; and their progress may be traced by the aid of inscriptions as far as Volubilis, in the extreme west of Mauretania (Schürer, "Gesch." 3d ed., 3:19-26). Throughout the Grecian countries they formed themselves into separate political communities (πολίτευμα; see P. Prerdrizet, in "Revue Archéologique," 1899, 35:45), while in the Latin districts they not only founded communities, but built synagogues, some of which were very beautiful. According to Jerome, the Jews dwelt in a continuous chain of settlements, from Mauretania eastward, throughout the province of Africa, and in Palestine, reaching as far as India ("Ep. 129 ad Dardanum," ed. Vallarsi, 1:966). If they were interrogated on Biblical matters they gave no answer ("Ep. 112 ad Augustinum," 1:744), probably in order to avoid being drawn into disputes with Christians. Jerome, it is true, claims they did not know any Hebrew. When Jerome's Bible translation, the Vulgate, was to be introduced among the African Christians, the Jews spread the report that the translation was false and thereby aroused strife among the Christian congregations (Jerome, ibid., and S. Krauss in the "Magyar Zsidó Szemle," 7:530, Budapest, 1890). But Judaism in these regions did not dissolve or merge into Christianity; on the contrary, it continued to maintain its independent existence. Only in Egypt, particularly in Alexandria, where the path to Christianity had been smoothed by Jewish Hellenism, undoubtedly great masses of Jews went over to Christianity; but even there they continued to exist until the beginning of the fifth century, when Bishop Cyril expelled them from that city, which had been their home for many centuries. They must have returned at the first favorable opportunity, for in 640 the calif Omar, the conqueror of Egypt, found 40,000 Jews in Alexandria.
Rabbinical sources show much familiarity with, and great interest in, this part of the world. The Biblical names of Hamitic peoples are explained in the Talmud and Midrash from the standpoint of Greco-Roman geography. According to the researches of Epstein ("Les Chamites de la Table Ethnographique," in "Rev. Ét. Juives," 24:8; S. Krauss, "Die Biblische Völkertafel im Talmud, Midrasch, und Targum," in "Monatsschrift," 39:56) the following African peoples are mentioned: Syenians, Indians (that is, African Indians), Sembritæ (south of Meroe), Libyans, Zingians (on the east coast of Africa), Mazakians (in Mauretania, mentioned in Sifre, Deut. 320 and in Yeb. 63b; in Ex. R. 3:4 reference is made to a Mauretanian girl). A collective term for the dark-skinned Africans is Cushites, which often occurs in this literature. The terms "Barbar" and "Barbaria," which very frequently occur in connection with the term Cushites, do not indicate the Berbers or Barbary country of Africa, but the Scythian peoples of the north of Europe. The word "Barbaria," which occurs in Ptolemy and in Cosmas Indicopleustes in about the same sense as the modern Barbary, and which has come to the Arabs in the form "Barbara" (Yakut, 1:543), only appears in later Jewish literature in this sense, and is applied to the coast of Somaliland (see Tomaschek, under the word "Barbaria," in the "Realencyklopädie für Classische Alterthumswissenschaft").
Meaning of "Africa."
On the other hand, the rabbinical term , which has been wrongly explained as Phrygia, or Iberia in the Caucasus, means nothing else than the present Africa ("Monatsschrift," ibid.), and is intended to denote either the entire continent or the Roman province Africa. Thus, when the "sons of Africa" appear before Alexander the Great to accuse the Jews of the reconquest of Palestine (Sanh. 91a), and the Egyptians almost immediately present another charge against them, the reference can only be to the province of Africa, since the "sons of Africa" who demand the restoration of Canaan are, without doubt, the Girgashites, who had been compelled to emigrate to Africa (Yer. Sheb. vi, 36c.). Since the legend of this Girgashite emigration is intimately connected with the founding of Carthage, Africa is thus identified with it even more closely (Tamid, 32b, and the parallel passage, where , "African land," is evidently the same as Carthage). The Septuagint (Isaiah 23:1), and Jerome (on Ezekiel 27), who, though a Christian, was taught by Jews, and very often the Aramaic Targum on the Prophets, identify the Biblical Tarshish with Carthage, which was the birthplace of a number of rabbis mentioned in the Talmud (compare above the identification with Tunis). Africa, in the broader sense, is clearly indicated where mention is made of the Ten Tribes having been driven into exile by the Assyrians and having journeyed into Africa (Mek., Bo, 17; Tosef., Shab. 7:25; Deut. R. 5:14; and especially Sanh. 94a). Connected with this is the idea that the river Sambation is in Africa. The Arabs, who also know the legend of the Beni Musa ("Sons of Moses"), agree with the Jews in placing their land in Africa (compare Bacher, "Ag. Tan." 1:298; Epstein, "Eldad ha-Dani," p. 15). The probable basis of this legend must be sought in the actual existence of the FALASHAS in Africa. Rabbi Akiba, who traveled in Africa, on one occasion made use of an African word (Rapoport, in "Bikkure ha-'Ittim," 4:70,1823).
Besides the north of Africa, the great region to the west of the Red Sea—the land of Ethiopia or Abyssinia (Habesh), together with its adjacent countries, inhabited from time immemorial by the tribe of the Falashas, who profess the Jewish faith—possesses a special interest for Judaism. The native legend narrates that the queen of Sheba (1 Kings, ) bore a son called Menelek to Solomon, and that Menelek was educated in Jerusalem and afterward introduced the Mosaic law into his own country. This, however, only makes intelligible the rapid dissemination of Christianity in Ethiopia. With this may be compared the conversion of the eunuch of the queen Candace in Acts, 8:27. According to the royal annals of Abyssinia, a large part of the land was inhabited by Jews, even before the common era. This refers, in all probability, to the FALASHAS (Ritter, "Erdkunde," part , "Afrika," p. 218, Berlin, 1822). The undeniable relationship of the Ethiopian language (Geez) to other Semitic dialects stamps the Ethiopiansas a Semitic tribe, an assumption that is confirmed by their physical appearance. The nomadic Zalans, who live apart from the state church, also consider themselves Israelites (Flad, "Die Abyssinischen Juden," Basel, 1869; also the monograph of Metz in "Monatsschrift," 1879,; and Epstein, "Eldad ha-Dani," Presburg, 1891).
The flourishing condition of North Africa brought about by Roman civilization did not last beyond the fourth century. The Vandal hordes conquered the province of Africa, and although as Arians they were well disposed toward the Jews, still the latter suffered greatly. When the Byzantines became masters of this region the little congregation of Borion, which claimed to trace its origin back to King Solomon, was forced by Justinian to accept baptism (Grätz, "Gesch. der Juden," 5:30). But the Byzantine dominion soon gave way to the Saracen; and the Jews were permitted to progress in peace. Under the influence of the vivifying Arabic culture the Jews awoke to a new life. The holy city of KAIRWAN, from which so many learned Jews have derived their names, is situated in Tunis (Ibn Ḥaukal, "Orient. Geogr." pp. 19, 20, quoted by Ritter, c., p. 913), and is not identical with the ancient Cyrene, as Rapoport, the biographer of the North African scholars, asserts ("Bikkure ha-'Ittim," ed. 1826, p. 68; ed. 1831, p. 16).
The city of Kairwan, says the Spaniard Abraham ibn Daud, was the most strongly fortified place in the whole Ma'arab ("West"), as the Jews, following the example of the Arabic "Maghreb," called all North Africa, except Egypt. Natronai ben Ḥabibai, who was a candidate for the exilarchate in Babylon, was obliged to go into exile in this region in 773 (F. Lazarus, in Brüll's "Jahrbücher," 10:176). Others, however, hold that, in the last instance, under the term "Ma'arab," Palestine must be understood.
The community of Kairwan was under the jurisdiction of a leader, who bore the title of rosh (head). The other congregations of the Maghreb were probably organized in the same manner. In Kairwan Jewish learning flourished greatly. The "sages of Kairwan" are mentioned in the "Pardes" of Rashi; to them the rabbinical decisions of the Geonim Ẓemaḥ (concerning the adventures of the traveler Eldad ha-Dani), Sherira (regarding the succession of the Amoraim and the Geonim), and Hai were addressed. In the tenth century the naturalist and philosopher Isaac Israeli lived in Kairwan. Like Saadia Gaon, he was of Egyptian birth, being a native of the plains of Fayum, not far from the Libyan desert, where the Jews lived in the undisturbed pursuit of their religious practises. Saadia being considered a descendant of the house of David, the Egyptian Jews must, therefore, have belonged to the noble families of Israel. From the eighth to the tenth century the Maghreb was, after Babylonia, the most important country for the Jews. The great rabbinical school upon which the Geonim Jacob ben Nissim, Ḥushiel, and Hananeel conferred great glory was also situated in Kairwan. Hananeel (commentary on Exodus 10:14) is authority for the statement that, in answer to the prayer of Moses, the locusts were banished from Egypt, and that thenceforward the land remained free from that plague. Hananeel shows also some knowledge of Greek, a surprising fact, inasmuch as the Arabic tongue and Arabic culture were all-prevalent in those regions. Abraham Zacuto, who lived in Tunis during the sixteenth century, writes in the "Yuḥasin" (p. 212, ed. London), as does also the chronicler Joseph ben Zaddik Arevalo (quoted by Neubauer, "Mediæval Jewish Chronicles," 1:92, Oxford, 1887), that the rabbinical administration had its seat in Kairwan. The next important town of Morocco was Fez, from which the Karaite Moses Alfasi and the Talmudist Isaac Alfasi derived their names. The Karaite Moses Dari derived his name from another Moroccan city. In the Middle Ages an extensive intercourse existed between Spain and the northern coast of Africa lying directly opposite; the commerce was maintained mainly by Jews. Leo Africanus ("Africæ Descriptio," Zurich, 1559), himself of Jewish birth, reports that in North Africa the Jews were the only masons, locksmiths, goldsmiths, metal-founders potters, silk-weavers, painters, and minters (Kayserling, "Zur Gesch. der Juden in Marocco aus Alter und Neuer Zeit," in "Monatsschrift," 1861, 10:401).
In the twelfth century, while the ALMOHADES, who had come from North Africa, were devastating Spain, thousands of Spanish Jews were obliged to seek refuge in North Africa. In speaking of this persecution Abraham ibn Daud (ed. Neubauer, p. 77) says that Ibn Tumart had massacred all the Jews, from Zala, "the end of the world," to Almeria, in Spain. The same author (p. 80) mentions Tangier (? Tangah) as the remotest settlement of Jews: compare the fragment, p. 190, "the congregation of Israel is scattered from the city of Zala in the extreme Maghreb [Zala in Tripoli, on the Greater Syrtis, is probably meant] up to Tangier [Tanja, so read with the variant, , Tandut, which must be read , Tanga] at the beginning of the Maghreb; also in the utmost end of Africa and in all Africa [this last clause is found only in London edition, p. 214b] and in Egypt." The lands of Asia and Europe then follow. Ibn Daud also calls the Maghreb "the land of the Philistines" (ib. p. 60).
Renaissance of Egypt.
The persecutions of the Almohades forced Moses Maimonides to leave Spain, and, after remaining for a short time in Fez, he took up his abode in Fostat, near Cairo, Egypt. Thus, through this great philosopher, the center of African Judaism became, for a time, transferred to Egypt. The office of nagid (in Arabic raïs), which made its holder the spiritual head of a large section of the Jews, remained for a long time in the family of Maimonides. It is only necessary to read the chronicle of Joseph Sambari (ed. Neubauer) to perceive that Egypt had become, as it were, a second holy land for Judaism. About 1170 Benjamin of Tudela traveled in Africa, and compiled some very exact data concerning Egypt. Compare Asher's edition, and also Lelewel ("Géographie du Moyen-Âge," vol. , Brussels, 1852). In connection with this, it is interesting to note that Benjamin knew of warlike Jews in Libya. The Jewish population of Cairo (New-Mizr) was composed of two elements—Palestinians (Syrians) and Babylonians (Irakians), who had separate synagogues—concerning which many legends were in circulation. The synagogue in Old Cairo (Fostat) was even more celebrated. An inscription on its wall announced that it had been erected thirty-eight years before the destruction of the Second Temple. According to Obadiah Bertinoro, who saw it, this was legible in the sixteenth century ("Jahrbuch für die Gesch. der Juden," 3:246, Leipsic, 1863). The Arabic writers Abdallatif and Makrizi also mention it. See the note of Munk on "Benjamin of Tudela," ed. Asher, 2:200. Judah Alḥarizi ("Taḥkemoni," chap. 46) came across a large congregation of Maghrebis in Cairo. Karaites also existed in Egypt in great numbers, and periodically stood higher in the esteem of the government than the Rabbinites. Concerning the EgyptianSamaritans see the data of Heidenheim in the "Vierteljahrsschrift für Deutsche und Englische Theologische Forschung und Kritik," 3:354-356 (1867), and N. Brüll in "Jahrbücher," 7:43-45 (1885). Cazès treats of Jewish antiquities in Tripoli in the "Rev. Ét. Juives." 1890, 20:78-87. The list of town names in Morocco and Algeria, given for halakic purposes ("Rev. Ét. Juives," 5:249), is of geographical importance.
The Barbary States.
In the Middle Ages only the northern part of Africa is of importance, for general as well as for Jewish history; but the adventurer Eldad ha-Dani attracted general attention in the ninth century by his romantic tales and thereby aroused interest in the Jews of unknown regions of Africa. Fleeing from the massacres in Spain in 1391 and seeking refuge in Africa, the Jews added materially to the population of the Barbary states. The cities of Algiers, Bougie, Constantine, Miliana, Oran, Tenez, Tlemçen and others were settled by exiled Jews and Maranos, and they became communities of importance by virtue of the intelligence peculiar to the Spanish Jews. Algiers sheltered such rabbinical authorities as Isaac ben Sheshet and Simeon ben Ẓemaḥ Duran. A century later, at the time of the great expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal, the same process was repeated, but on a greater scale and under much sadder conditions. It was on the northern coast of Africa that the heartrending incidents took place which are described with such horrible vividness in "Shebeṭ Yehudah" and other chronicles. Hunger, pestilence, and the sword carried off the unhappy refugees by hundreds; those who escaped death were sold into slavery or were forced to renounce their faith. Since that time the descendants of these refugees have lived in the Barbary states, especially in Morocco, in continual misery. Only in Egypt did the Jews retain a position of some importance. In 1517 Egypt came under Turkish rule; and, as in the rest of Turkey, Jewish names came to the fore, mainly of Spanish scholars and diplomats. Under the viceroy Aḥmed Shaitan the Jews were greatly oppressed, but were saved in an almost miraculous manner. In the sixteenth century David Reubeni told a wonderful tale of a Jewish kingdom, by which he probably meant that of the Falashas. The Jews in the Maghreb were just as eager to listen to fantastic Messianic announcements as their brethren in other lands; they also loved to dwell in Jerusalem. In 1521 an anonymous Italian pilgrim reported that all classes of Jews were to be found in Jerusalem, there being among them Mostarbino, or Moriscos, and Maghrebim from the Barbary states "Shibḥe Yerushalaim," p. 21). Jews took a prominent part in the Portuguese conquests and discoveries in and around Africa. The Jews of Saffee and Arzilla also distinguished themselves by their bravery (Kayserling, "Theilnahme der Juden an den Portugiesischen Entdeckungen" in "Jahrb. für die Gesch. der Juden,"; also Kayserling, "Geschichte der Juden in Portugal," 10:157-166).
The Modern Period.
The number of Jews in Egypt greatly decreased in modern times, but recent events have again attracted them to the land which first saw them emerge as a nation. The census of 1897 enumerated 25,200, of whom fully one half were foreigners; the Fayum only contained nine. There have been indeed remarkable fluctuations in the Jewish population of Egypt. Meshullam Volterra, about 1490, found in Alexandria only sixty Jewish families (Luncz, "Jerusalem Jahrbuch," 1881, 1:176), yet the Jews there remembered the time when 4,000 families had dwelt within the city. Meshullam found neither Samaritans nor Karaites there. Jacob Safir ("Eben Sappir," Lyck, 1866) found no Jews in Upper Egypt or the Fayum, but 30,000 were reported to be in Syene (Assouan). South of Egypt, in Abyssinia, live the Falashas with a population variously estimated between 80,000 and 200,000 souls. The Jewish population of Morocco is estimated at about 100,000, according to Nossig ("Materialien zur Statistik des Jüdischen Stammes," p. 105, Vienna, 1887), who bases his figures upon the statistical reports of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Paris and the data of Gerhard Rohlfs. Benjamin Gordon, however, gives their number as 200,000. The Jewish tax furnishes a profitable source of revenue for the government. Here the Jews are subject to the most degrading laws, to oppression and insult by both government and people, and they have even been murdered with impunity. The Alliance in Paris and the Anglo-Jewish Association in London do their utmost to protect them, but, unfortunately, with little success. These institutions also maintain excellent schools in all north Africa, as well as throughout the Orient. The Jews of Morocco and Algeria are of the true Oriental-Jewish type. Fair hair and blue eyes are never found among them. In Algeria, which has been under French rule since 1830, there were, in 1891, about 50,000 Jews. Both in Algeria and Morocco the Jews affect a peculiar pronunciation of the Hebrew (J. J. L. Bargès, "Tlemçen," Paris, 1859). All travelers, both of earlier and later time, remark upon their peculiar ritual (see Zunz, "Ritus"). Tunis, which is a French protectorate, contains about 45,000 Jews. Here the Italian and Spanish Jews, though much fewer than the natives, possess great influence, even greater than those in Egypt or Morocco. In the vicinity of Zaghwan, in Testur and Beni Zit, the Jews live in the mountains as nomads. In Tripoli (including Fezzan and Barka), which is under Turkish rule, they number about 6,000, of whom 3,000 live in Tripoli proper. In the Sahara there are about 8,000 Jews, whose settlements reach as far as Timbuctoo. Mordecai Abu Sereur, who traveled through Morocco, mentions a warlike tribe in the Sahara, the Daggatouns, who claim to be of Jewish origin (see his book, "Les Daggatouns, Tribu d'Origine Juive Demeurant dans le Désert de Sahara," translated from Hebrew into French by I. Loeb, Paris, 1881. English translation by Henry S. Morais, Philadelphia, 1881). According to the "Yuḥasin," 215a, the Jews of Ouargla were Karaites. Jews live also among the Kabyles (Benjamin Gordon, c., pp. 117, 119, 120). In South Africa Jews live in Cape Colony, Natal, and in the former Boer republics. They enjoy great prosperity, and have formed congregations after the English model. Their number is probably about 20,000. In 1879 a report was circulated that French explorers had discovered Satikinga, an island near the coast of Africa, exclusively populated by Jews.
Loeb, in the article "Juifs" in "Dictionnaire Universel de Géographie" of Vivien Saint-Martin, p. 28 of the reprint, Paris, 1884, gives the following numbers for Jews in Africa: Egypt, 8,000; Abyssinia (Falashas), 200,000; Tripoli, 60,000; Tunis, 55,000; Algeria and Sahara, 43,500; Morocco, 100,000; Cape Colony, 1,500; total, 468,000. Of these, the estimate for the Falashas is probably double the reality, while the numbers at the Cape have been largely increased—probably to 25,000.
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Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Africa'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/a/africa.html. 1901.
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29