Imagens das páginas
PDF

his method; and represented to him, that the conversion of those children was a greater act of charity, than the saving them out of the lion's mouth. It is likely he consented to his request, for numbers of Jewish children were baptized, all by their own free choice, and the emperor was soon after poisoned by Sedecias, his Jewish physician, lately mentioned, who is supposed to have been hired to that vile deed by those of his own nation s. These are likewise accused to accused of have had a great hand in the troubles that happened under assisting this reign, by the incursion of the Normans into several pro- '** Norvinces, particularly that of Aquitain, where they were very mans> numerous; and tho' it is likely the French authors have charged them with more crimes than they were guilty of, and other such as the betraying the cities of Bourdeaux, Perigucs, <bc. treasons. which those barbarians plundered and burntr, whilst the Jews are said to have been exempted from the common calamity: yet there is no doubt to be made, that they resented the loss of so many of their children, tho' no violence was used in converting them (Z), and that they would willingly have joined with any other nation, by whom they hoped to be freed from such a sensible hardship. Especially if we add to • it, that they were still liable to the ignominious sentence passed against them by Charlemagne, of being buffetted three times a year at the church door, which was not indeed executed on all the Tholofan Jews, but was in time confined to their syndic or head magistrate, who received that punishment in the name of the rest. To this we may add, that tho' their credit was ever so high at court, during the life of the treacherous Sedecias, yet they were liable to many insults

* Flor. Collect, de Baptis. Hæbr. Dachery Specileg. vet. Script, torn. xii. p. 52. « Du Moulin Hist. Normand. p. 38. incert. Auct. de gest. Normand. ap. Du Chene, p. z.

(Z) Florus, a deacon of the tests to the emperor, that he

church of Lions in this reign, dismissed the rest of them intac

tells us, that the bishop above- tos, untouched (38). But tho*

named contented himself with there might be no violence used

sending for those young Jews, in their conversion, yet there

and asking them whether any might be other indirect means'

of them were willing to become practised to induce them, such as

Christians j upon which six of caresses, promises, gifts, C3V.

them begged on their knees equally capable of working npon

to be baptised, whose example them, and disagreeable to flieir

was followed by seven and for- parents. '-•*'

tjr more. And that prelate pro

(38) FUr. SMS, it Baptist, Hair. ap. backer. seUB. torn. xii.

R t and

State ofthi
Jews dur-
ing the
\ath and
11 ih cen-
turies.

and affronts from the populace in cities at a distance from it. Thus, for instance, those of Beziers in Languedoc, were yearly wont to be driven about with vollies of stones, from PalmSunday to the Tuesday in East er--week u, which indignity they at length redeemed by a tribute which they paid'to the bifliop of the place.

It is now time to close the ninth century, and to pass on to the tenth and eleventh, which we shall be forced to join, to avoid breaking offthe thread of the facts which happened in the middle interval between them. We begin, as usual, with those of the east, who were, during that time, if we may believe their historians, in a most flourishing condition; especially with respect to learning, which began now to revive among them, and the vast number of their doctors, that then flourished, whilst almost the rest of the world, especially the Christian countries, were buried in darkness and ignorance; insomuch that the Jewi/h academies, not being capable of containing the overgrown multitude of their scholars, they were Learning obliged to build a neiv one (A). They even add, that they never begins to had, in any age, before or since, so many and such excellent Jiourijh. doctors as now. It proved, however, but a short-lived glory, partly thro' the broils that were bred between the chiefs of the captivity and their professors and doctors; but more especially by the zeal of the cruizaders, who made it an uncommon piece of merit to massacre all the Jews, before they went upon the conquest of the Holy-land; all which, joined together, caused the total downfal of their academies, and the utter expulsion of the nation from those eastern countries, and obliged them to take refuge in Spain and France, and other parts of Europe, of all which we shall now give an account in as few words as the subject will admirof; Their ata- DAVID, the then chief of the captivity, and a man of demies a haughty ambitious spirit, had raised the prerogative of that

Catel Hist. Languedoc,lib. iii.

(A) The reader may recollect that we closed the ninth century with »n account of the feuds that reigned between the heads of those academies, which had quite stopped the progress oflearning amongst them. What caused the revival of it at the beginning of this, was the example of the Arabs, among

whom it began to flourish about this time. And tho' it chiefly consisted in the study of physic, dialectics, astronomy, and astrology, yet it so far inspired the Jenics, with such a fresh relish to them that they immediately applied themselves to the fame study, and set their academies again in a flourishing condition.

dignity dignity beyond all his predeceflbrs (B), and reigned as abso- ruined bj lute as any eastern monarch; which raised such dissentions their disbetween him and the chiefs of the academies, as quicklysentions. hastened their downfall That of Pundebita had chosen R. Mijbifber for their chief, and David immediately appointed another, and the jealousy which reigned between those two arose to such -a height, during the space of five years, that the only expedient they could think of to put an end to it, was to erect two schools in that place, tho' it had a contrary effect. That of Sora had scarcely raised itself up from the low degree it had formerly sunk into, When David sent likewise thither one R: Jom Tob, a man so ignorant and unfit, that the academy must have been soon abandoned, had not they sent for a proper person from Egypt, to preside over, and raise the character of it. This was R. Saadiah, a man of great learn- R. Saadiing and abilities, and who madeit his first care to explode the ah opposed doctrine of the transmigration of fouls, which had gone cur- by the rent for many ages, not only among the Persians and Arabs, c^>'efbut even among the Jews. He had already made some progress in it, when the prince of the captivity sent for him to subscribe to a new regulation which he thought was repugnant to the Jewish laws, and which he therefore stiffly refused to sign, and thereby made him so far his utter enemy, that he was forced to retire, and seek for shelter in some place out of his reach, where he continued till the breach between them was happily made up (C).

The w Gantz Tzemach, p. 130.

(B) The Jews complain that language, with which Saadiah their chiefs till then used to having acquainted his scholars, pay tribute to the Khalifs, but they raisedan uproar about him, that he found means to shake in which they gave him some off that ignominious yoke; to severe blows. 1 he academy which two things chiefly con- was soon divided into two partributed, -viz. his long reign of ties, in which that of Saadiah thirty years and upwards, and so far prevailed, that David was the weakness of the then Khalif, deposed from his dignity, and Mochtader, who had been de- his brother 'Joseph appointed in posed twice by his officers, and hisroom. It wasnotlong howwas wholly governed by them f. ever, before David got himself (C) This refusal, we are told, restored, and Saadiah was obso exasperated the Jewi/h chief, liged to 'flee and leek out for that he sent at first his son to a safe retreat, where.he contihim, with a threatening to have nued seven whole years, his head broke, if he did not It was during this recess that obey, and other opprobrious he composed the greatest part ■\ Dt itc vid.jVp, vtl. & p. 515, &s>j

Jews •very The Jewifi nation was at this time so numerous and powMimenus. erful, that they reckoned no less than nine hundred thousand of them in the city of Pherytz-Shiboof (D). This number may probably have been greatly exaggerated by the Jeivifi writers. However, here it was that they had founded a new academy, at the head of which was the'famed R. Sherira, under whom it flourished about thirty y$ars. He. was a man of great learning,, but .a mortal enemy to the Christians, especially to the monks-; and was, on that account, highly respected by his scholars and the whole nation, and being at length worn out with age, left the chair to his son Hay, whom the Jews styled the most excellent of all the excellent. The rest of his character and writings the reader may fee in the margin (E). .:.••..'••.. He

Found a new aca demy.

A. C.

1037.

of those books which were since
published after his death, and
go under his name. He found
means nevertheless, to be recon-
ciled to his haughty prince, and
was again restored to the chair;:
and having outlived him by se-
veral years, enjoyed it, quietly,
and with great success. HowT
ever, the deposition of the chief
shows that that dignity was nei-
ther absolute nor' unalienable:
besides, we find some of the
chiefs of the academics chosen
to be princes' of the captivity,
tfeo' this did not often happen.
As for the choice of the acade-
mic chiefs, it was done by the
plurality of votes ; though the
prince's authority did not a lit-
tle influence it. Sometimes not
only the doctors but the people
joined in the election; and we
have an instance of it, during
this tenth century, when the aca-
demy of Pundcbita wanting a
professor, and two candidates
having offered themselves, wix.
one Aaron, a rich merchant, and
Nehemiab, a learned rabbi, the
former was chosen by the inter-
est of the people, and the latter

succeeded him about seventeen years after, that is, intheyearof Christ 959.

(I>) This city, -whose name signifies the breach of Safer, ifood about five miles distant from Babylon, and is by some supposed to have been built by Saporll. king of Persia, a great conqueror, who built many cities in that kingdom. Others ascribe the honour of it to rabbi Sbiabour Ot Sapor XV\ though he only founded the academy of

"(39)

(E) He is pretended to be

lineally descended from king David, and as such bore the lion in his arms, as did all the kings of Judah, pursuant to Jacob's prophecy concerning that tribe (40). But what hath rendered him still more famoni, was the number and variety of his writings, such as his treatise on buying or felling, pledges, wage?, and on the interpretation of dreams, which lait was printed at Venice, among some other pieces of R. Solomon Jarchi, on the fame subject (41), an. 1623. At Amsterdam, an.

[ocr errors]

He is said to have been the last, as well as the greatest, of all the Caons, or sublimes, and to have presided at that academy

I6j6, and 1642. And atWetmersdorff, with the Shahare Zion, or Gates of Sion, an. 1690 (42). His book intitled Mijbpbete Sbebughoth, or judgments on oaths, in 20 sections, printed at Venice, an. 1602, in which those on buying and selling, above-mentioned, were likewise printed there. His poetic treatise, intitled Muffar Hajbekel, or on the forming of the understanding, printed at Paris, an. 1562, and at Venice, an. 1579. His Pirujb Shemoth 42 and 72, or an exposition of the names of God, written with 42 and with 72 letters (43). And lastly his-questions on the book called Jetzirah, or a treatise of the formation, is remarkable for shewing the manner in which the great name of God was anciently written at Jerusalem; which being somewhat curious and uncommon we have here subjoined (44).

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

great cabbalist, and hath not only explained the terms of that art, but his treatise of the voice of God, with power, is full of cabbalistical principles. His reputation was so great among those of his nation, that they flocked to him from all parts, to consult and hear him; and he was chosen chief of the academy of Pundebita, as well as of that of Pherutz-sbiabboor, in which last he had succeeded his father, from the 29th year of his age. There is even some probability that he was chosen likewise chief of the captivity, during his father's life-time; but they both did, by some means, so exasperate those of their nation, that they fell into disgrace sometime after, under thekhaliphat of Al-KaJer, who being come to the crown, \ raised a kind of persecution against the Jews, for having taken too great advantageof the civil discords that then reigned, and had assumed greater privileges than they had a right to claim. Among them Sherira, and his son Hai, were accused of having raised their authority beyond its due bounds, and condemned to be stript of all their wealth, dignities, and privileges. The former, who was then near 100 years of age, was apprehended and imprisoned, but the latter had the good luck to escape, and soon after to be restored to his academy, over which he presided till the year 1037 (45).

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »