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Monthly Repository.


JUNE, 1819.

[Vol. XIV.


The Nonconformist.

Sketch of the History and Literature of the Spanish Jews.

N connexion with the general pro

been done to the Jews; and I have deemed it a not uninteresting object to collect together some scattered notices of those of the Spanish Peninsula. The neglected pages of their history are adorned with many an illustrious name, and the tardy tribute of admiration has now been paid to their merits, even in the countries whence they were driven by the malignity and the madness of untutored bigotry. In Spain and Portugal their writings have been lately made the subjects of learned and laborious criticism, and the obligations of science to its unwearied promoters, the Jews of the middle ages, have been distinctly recognised.* The Spanish Rabbies occupy a deservedly high place in the annals of Hebrew literature; and their descendants, when driven from the land of their forefathers, maintained for some time the reputation of their talents. But the sparks of superior intellect were not long preserved among the scattered embers, and the existing race (in this country at least) seem to have nothing to connect them with their ancestors but their language and their names, and, perhaps, a lingering and undying love for the paternal land which they still venture to call their own. †

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No. XI.

Inquiry soon gets perplexed amidst the darkness of remote antiquity, and perhaps the fables and traditions of un

little to invite the historian and the sage. Whether or not we are disposed to believe (on rabbinical authority) that the fleets of Solomon conveyed large bodies of Jews to Spain, and that they then founded some of its principal cities; † it is extremely probable that the decree of Claudius, which drove the Jews from Rome, and the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, induced great numbers to settle there. In the time of Hadrian we know that Spain was filled with their numerous colonies. §

here) have had scarcely any intercourse with Spain, they have still preserved, and employ in many of their religious services, their original language; and the enthu siasm with which they still think and speak of their "fatherland," seems almost romantic. Purchas mentions, that in his time they preached throughout the Levant in Spanish.

In the mountainous parts of Spain many gious rites, and in Portugal a greater numJewish families still preserve their reliber. Araijo (the minister of the latter country) lately caused a censns to be taken of the Hebrew inhabitants of Viseu and Braganza, and found they amounted to many thousauds. During Lent (when every Catholic is expected to attend his parish church for confession) they commonly emigrate to the larger towns, that they may escape unnoticed in the greater mass of population.

Mariana aud Montano refer the settlement of the Jews in Spain to a very remote age. Vide Basnage also, VII. ix.

+ Malaga, said to be so called from the Hebrew word Malach, as it produces an abundance of salt.

These are said (in the Jewish Chro nicles) to bave fixed principally at Merida, Basnage, VII. x. 8.

Dura nacion que desterró Adriano. Lope de Vega; Gibbon's Decline and Fall, xxxvii.

The first mention of the Jews in Spanish history, appears to be about the year 300, when the liberitan Council decreed that no Christian woman should be allowed to marry a Jew, and that the sacrament should be denied to those who had any intercourse with the Jewish people.+

Under the Gothic monarchs the Jews had often to suffer the pillage and spoliation of their property, of which their rulers availed themselves whenever it suited their necessities; but they were free from personal sufferings till the time of Sisebut, who, instigated by Heraclius, compelled immense numbers to recaut, and after confiscation of their goods, drove from his kingdom all who refused to be baptized. Many pretended to embrace Christianity, but relapsed as soon as the fear of immediate punishment was removed, and their faithlessness only subjected them to new and greater indiguities. The humanity of Sisenandus granted them a temporary respite from persecu. tion; but in the reign of his brother Chintila, the fifth Council of Toledo, ¶ (A. D. 637,) decreed that no

Corona Gotica, I. 57. Consult Notes to the second volume of Mariana, (fol. ed.) 483-499.

Not long ago an inscription of the fourth century was found at Adra, (anciently Abdera,) referring to a colony of Jews there. Mariana, I. 360.

Heraclius is said to have been alarmed by a prophecy directed really against the Saracens, but which he understood to refer to the Jews, that his crown and his people were in great danger from the circumcised. After driving the Jews from his own provinces, he induced Sisebut to follow in his footsteps, and the latter went far beyond him. Corona Got. II. 106.

Among the laws of the Visigoths we find the following: Horum omnium transgressor quisquis ille repertus fuerit et centum flagella decalvatus suscipiat et debitâ multetur exilii pœnâ; res tamen ejus ad principis potestatem pertineant. Legum Visigoth. Lib. xii. Sec. 3.

Isidore wrote strongly against this barbarous decree, and it was condemned by the fourth Toledo Council. Isid. Cron. Got. 651; Concil. Tolet. iv. Cap. 56.

He ordered that no Jew should be baptized by force. Mariana, VI. v. 283. "Vedando el concilio Toledano Tomar el cétro al Rey sin que pri


king should take possession of the throne, until he had sworn to shew no favour whatever to the Jews, and to permit none but Christians to live uninolested in his kingdom. No decrces, uo persecutions were successful in rooting out this all-enduring race; and but a few years after (653), Recesuintus applied to the then assembled bishops, (at Toledo,) requesting their advice how to proceed against "the apostate Jews." + Egica made another representation to the same body in 693, entreating them to punish the perfidious Hebrews, whom he accused of plotting with the Moors the subversion of his government. In consequence, the Council (after promising protection and patronage, earthly and heavenly rewards to those who would consent to be converted commanded that the whole Jewish nation should be given up to perpe tual slavery; that all their goods should be confiscated, and their children torn from them, to be taught the principles of Christianity. §

Witiza, that enlightened, though calumniated prince, was a noble exception to the bigotry and ferocity of

Limpiase el verdadero
Trigo con propia mano

De la cizaña vil que le supriure
La Santa ley en la coroua imprime."
Lope de Vega.

Ordenáron por decreto particular que no se diese la posesion del reyno á ninguno antes que expresamento jurase que no daria favor en manera alguna á los Judios, ni aun permitiria que alguno que no fuera Christiano pudiese vivir en el reyno libremente. Mariana, VI. vi. 292. See also Dialogue III. of Amador Arraiz, 13, and Concil. Tolet. vi. 3.

Mariana, V. ix. Note, 309.

Præsertim quia nuper manifestis confessionibus indubiè percepimus hos in transmarinis partibus Hæbreos alios consuluisse ut unanimiter contra gentem Christianam agerent. Concil. Tolet. xvii.

The calm and patient endurance with which the Jews, that "Povo pertinàz no antigo rito," as Camoens calls them, submitted to every species, seems to have excited the astonishment of all Catholic historians. "No le basta (says Faris ! Souza) no le basta á esta gente desventurada el verse arastrada, escarnecida, peregrina, despojada de bienes y de honra y echada en las brasas para disimular un poco mas su pertinacia y obstinacion, y ne digo olvidar su ley."

this period. He recalled the expa triated Jews. *

During the reign of the infamous and ill-fated Roderic, we hear little of the Jews. Too deeply engaged in his licentious pleasures in the early part of his reign, and too much perplexed and confounded by the miseries they so speedily entailed on him at a later period, he does not appear to have interfered with this obstinate and untractable people.

Though, if sometimes the liberality of a monarch, more tolerant than the rest of his race, gave to the Jews a short and uncertain repose, during this long era of almost uninterrupted calamity, it may well be imagined they would rejoice in the prospect of a permanent security; and when the Moors were led by their victorious chiefs to the invasion and conquest of Spain, no doubt they found the Jews but little disposed to resist their progress. In truth, Mahommedanism, even in all its proselytizing fury, was far more amiable than the barbarous Christianity of this period, which of fered no choice to its victims but conversion or banishment, torture and death. An easy tribute purchased the protection of the successful invaders, who prudently conciliated and caressed a widely extended people, whom common sufferings and sorrows had bound together in the closest connexion. Under the favour of the Caliphs they rose renewed and invigorated from their depressed and degraded state; † "and he," says one

• We shall find a reason for the slanderous attacks of Catholic writers upon this monarch, if we recollect that he was both humane and liberal. He invited back all who had been banished by the injustice of his father, to whom he restored their wealth, their honours and their reputation; be boldly denied the authority of the Roman Pontiff'; he permitted and encouraged the clergy to marry; in a word, he was a Reformer, born, perhaps, an age too soon, After the repeated calumnies of more than ten centuries, the persevering historical diligence of Dr. Gregorio Mayans has restored to him that fame which is so justly bis due. Vide Defensa de Witiza Valencia. 1772.

The Jews were no doubt much indebted for their extraordinary advance in science, to their Moorish masters, whom, however, they often surpassed. The era

"who has not

of their historians, heard of the glory, the splendour, the prosperity in which they lived, is ignorant of that which is most notorious." When the successors of Ali drove the Jews from their oriental stations, great numbers fled to Spain, where they were most cordially welcomed; and as they brought with them much Eastern learning, their arrival gave additional splendour to the schools which at this period were rising in reputation, and afterwards produced so many illustrious men, and had so extensive an influence on rabbinical literature. †

Cordoba, celebrated in all times for its sages and its heroes, § the birthplace of the Senecas and Lucan—of Abengrad and Maimonides-of Zubar, Abulcasem and Averroes-of Juan de Mena, || Gongora ¶ and Ces

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Cordoba, casa de guerrera gente Y de sabiduria clara fuente.

So Gongora:

O siempre gloriosa patria mia

Tanto por plumas como por espadas. I cannot deny myself the pleasure of quoting Juan de Mena's eulogium on his native place:

O flor de saber y caballeria,
Cordova madre, tu hijo perdona

Si en los cantares que agora pregona,
No divulgare tu sabiduria.

De sabios valientes loarte podria,
Que fueron espejo muy maravilloso,
Por ser de ti mismo seré sospechoso,
Diráu que los pinto mejor que debia.

Laberinto, Estr. Cap. xxiv. See Lope de Vega's animated admiration of Gongora, in his Laurel de Apolo,

pedes. Cordoba soon obtained so extended a fame, that Jewish students flocked to it from every quarter, and about this period the title of Sapientissimi was conferred by common consent on the Spanish Rabbies. The accident which connected two of the most famous of the Persian Jews, Rabbi Moses and his son Hanoc, with the Cordoba school, greatly height ened its reputation. These illustrious men were raised to the highest dignities, and shared the particular favour of the Caliph Hakim; who, indeed, took every opportunity of encouraging the study of Hebrew lite rature. § So great was the increase of the Jewish people under the protection of the Moors, that the school of second rank in Spain (Toledo) is said to have contained, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, no less than 12,000 students, while Barce-lona and Granada had also risen into great renown. ||

At this period the era of Rabbinism begins-that of Gueonim having ended with the decay of the Persian academies.

R. Moses, who died A. D. 1015, was succeeded by one of his most learned disciples, Samuel Hatevi, on whom the title of Rabnagid was first conferred in Spain. He was a man of rank and influence, being minister of state to the king of Granada, who, in the spirit of his father Hakim,

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Castro, Prol. to Bib. Esp.

They were made prisoners while at sea by pirates, and brought to Spain. Though their persons were totally unknown, they were received with uncommon kindness at Cordoba, and when their names were discovered, the Jews gave vent to the most enthusiastic expressions of gratitude and joy.

§ Hakim wished to render it unneces sary for his Jewish subjects to travel to the East for instruction, and, in consequence, co-operated with them in making Cordoba superior to the oriental schools. When R. Moses wished to return to Persia, Hakim compelled him to remain where he


R. Moschi Mikkatzi, Buxtorff, Cap. i. Nomologia, Par. ii. Cap. xxvii. The number is probably an exaggeration, and may be understood, perhaps, of Jewish inhabitants of Toledo.

greatly promoted the spread of Rabbinical learning, by ordering the sa cred books to be translated into Arabic, and by favouring the learned Jews with repeated marks of his friendship and esteem. †

Joseph Hatevi was selected to fill the honourable station his father had occupied; whose talents, indeed, but not whose prudence, he possessed. The attempts he and other Rabbies made to convert the Moors to the religion of Moses, caused a terrible tumult, and led to a violent persecution, in which he, with many others, perished. §

The Academy of Cordoba continually received new accessions of talent and consequent splendour from the influx of oriental Rabbies; among whom Isaac Alphasi, who died in 1103, æt. 90, is entitled to honourable distinction. ||

No period of the literary history of the Jews is so distinguished as the close of the tenth, and the beginning

He employed in this work the learned Rabbi Joseph Ben Isaac ben Schatnes, had found an asylum in Spain." who had been driven from Babylonia, and

An historian, with means to consult and ability to employ the inedited materials connected with the reign of the Moors in Spain, which exist in the Escurial and the Torre at Lisbon, might, I am persuaded, produce a most interesting and important work; and such a work (founded mainly on the authority of Arabic writers) is much wanted,

miration and reverence, as a profoundly Maimonides speaks of him with adlearned and incomparable writer.

§ At this period flourished R. Levi Basand collected the Laws of the Jews (transseli, who wrote on the Rights of Woman, lated in 1655, by Hottinger), Abengiad, a famous poet, and Abraham Ben Chija, commonly known by the title of Hanari, (or Prince,) on account of his distinguished

talents as an astronomer.

The following is an imperfect translation of the beautiful Hebrew inscription which adorned his tomb:

Be it engraved, that the light of the world is gone out;

And the fountain of wisdom ensepulchred here.

Mourn, daughters of Zion! The earth is in its decay,

And darkness is over the land:weep and lament!

The tables are broken again! Alphasi is dead!


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Abenezra, died in Egypt, aged 70, and was buried in the land of his forefathers (Galilee). "His death was mourned for three whole days by Jews and Egyptians, and the year of his decease was called lamentum lamentabile."*

of the eleventh century. Maimonides and Kimki (contemporaries) are certainly three of the most illustrious men who have ever adorned the synagogue. They were all of them natives of Spain. Abenezra is celebrated as an astronomer, physician, poet and grammarian. * He is said to have invented the equator to divide the sphere. † His works have been often reprinted and translated into many languages, among which his Commentaries are considered of great interest and importance. He was known to the Jews by the title of Chacam, or the Wise. He was the friend of Moses Ben Maimon, (Maimonides,) whose writings hold, in the general opinion of his nation, the next place to the Talmud and the Mishna.§ He composed (it is said with equal purity) in Hebrew, Chaldee, Greek and Arabic. When Abdelnumen (King of Cordoba) expatriated the Jews who would not embrace Mahommedanism, he fled to Cairo, where he was patronized by the Sultan, who chose him for his physician.

Ilis genius, learning and judgment ¶ have given his works an enduring fame, and they have been repeatedly translated by eminent scholars in Germany, Holland, France and England." He

Consult Zacnth's Book of Lineages, Relando's Analecta Rabbinica, and Assemani's Catal, of the MSS. of the Vatican.

+ Hil. Altobel Seni. Tab. X. Cap. xii. One of his poems on the Game of Chess was translated into Latin by Thomas Hyde, and published at Oxford in 1694, with the original text.

It was a common saying among the Jews-"Desde Moseh hasta Moseh, no se levantó como Moseh." Castro, I. 37.

He must have been in great repute, for he writes to his friend, R. Samuel Thibon," Muchos (enfermos) tienen que esperar hasta por la noche porque son tantos que acuden que me ocupan toda la tarde; de modo que algunas veces me rinde el sueño de tal manera que me quedo Traspuesto en la misma conversacion sin poder articular palabra." Ibid.

Jos. Scaliger says of him, that he was the first among the Jews who left off trifling. Primus fuit inter Hebræos qui nagare desiit. Eichhorn calls him one

of the first, if not the very first, of learned



Buxtorff, Carpzovius and Baashuy

Ros Hamedakdekim, or Prince of David Kimki, entitled by the Jews Grammarians, is highly extolled for his immense erudition, not only by Rabinnical writers, but by Hottinger, Buxtorff and Wolfius; as a learned commentator, second to none—as a master of his language, superior to any. †

Time would indeed fail me were I to attempt to give a correct idea of the love of learning, the spirit of inquiry, which distinguished the Spanish Jews. We possess the names

Pococke, Prideaux and Clavering. He is said to have first composed the Jewish creed, which see in Purchas's Pilgrimage, XIII. i. 194.

mention the sacred poetry of Judah Hatevi, • Conuected with this period I cannot but born in Cordoba, 1126, much admired by the Jews. Onarias (Meor Henaim, Cap. xxxvi.) recommends parents to engrave on the hearts of their children an early love for his writings. I must also refer to a singular composition of this time, the considerable allowance should be made for Travels of Benjamin of Tndela. Though the exaggeration of the writer, much interesting information may be collected from this curious narrative. It has been translated into Latin by the celebrated L'Empereur, whom Dr. Aikin, in his Arias Montano, and also by Constantine Constantine. Biographical Dictionary, calls the Emperor A curious anachronism.

The heads of the Cordoba school, after Cozi, Moses Nachman, Solomon Ben Adethe thirteenth century, were: Moses Ben reth, Perez Ben Rabbi, Gerson, Apinim, Aser, Campanton and J. Aboab, who was expatriated by Ferdinand.

A Spanish poet of the twelfth cenjectionable confession of faith into the tury (Gonzalo de Berceo) puts an unob

mouth of a Jew:

Dissoli el Judeo: io creer non podria
Que esse que tu dices que nació de

Que Dios es; mas fo ome cuerdo e sin

Proféta verdadero io al non creeria.

Milagros de nuestra Señora. The whole

G. J. and D. Vossius, Zeller and of the poem is a most amusing specimen of Vorstius, Justiniani, Cramer and Deveil, the devotion and credulity of the age.

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