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Title: Hebrew Humor and other Essays
Author: Chotzner, Joseph
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Hebrew Humor and other Essays" ***

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                              HEBREW HUMOUR
                               OTHER ESSAYS

                            J. CHOTZNER, Ph.D.
                       LATE HEBREW TUTOR AT HARROW

                   LUZAC & CO., 46 GREAT RUSSELL STREET

                           OXFORD : HORACE HART
                        PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY

                                TO MY WIFE


The present volume contains a collection of essays, the majority of which
were read as papers before various literary societies, such as the
International Congress of Orientalists, the Biblical Archaeological
Society, and the Jews' College Literary Association. Several of them have
already appeared in various periodicals, such as the _Imperial Asiatic
Review_, the _Jewish Quarterly Review_, and the _Jewish Chronicle_, and
are now reproduced, with some slight modification, by the courtesy of the
editors. Translations of some of the essays have also been published in
Hebrew, French, and German periodicals.

The essays, it may be remarked, deal somewhat extensively with the humour
and satire that is not infrequently to be found in the works both of
ancient and modern Hebrew writers; and, as this subject has hitherto
attracted but little attention, I am not without hope that these pages may
be of interest to the general reader.

J. C.

London, _June_, 1905.


  Preface                                                               v
     I. Humour of the Bible                                             1
    II. The Bible and the Ancient Classics                             13
   III. Art among the Ancient Hebrews                                  24
    IV. The Life of the Hebrew Women of Old                            36
     V. Curiosities of certain Proper Names in the Bible               43
    VI. Sketch of the Talmud                                           47
   VII. The Humour of some Mediaeval and Modern Hebrew Writers         58
  VIII. Yedaya Bedaresi, a Fourteenth-Century Hebrew Poet and
        Philosopher                                                    71
    IX. Immanuel di Roma, a Thirteenth-Century Hebrew Humorist, and
        a Friend of Dante                                              82
     X. Kalonymos ben Kalonymos, a Thirteenth-Century Satirist        103
    XI. Abraham Ibn Chasdai, and his Book “The Prince and the
        Dervish”                                                      117
   XII. Isaac Erter, a Modern Hebrew Humorist                         127
  XIII. Leopold Zunz                                                  140
   XIV. Samuel David Luzzatto and Zachariah Frankel                   154
    XV. The Influence of Hebrew Literature on Heinrich Heine          165
   XVI. Modern Hebrew Journalism                                      174



Page 34, line 28, read _Philo_ instead of _Plato_.

Page 37, line 27, read _conjux_ instead of _coniux_.

Page 79, line 14, read ‪פירוש‬ . . . ‪ופירוש‬ instead of ‪פרוש‬ . . .‪ופרוש‬.


                           HUMOUR OF THE BIBLE

The Hebrew Bible rightly deserves to be termed the Book of Books in the
world of letters: it is distinguished from other literary productions by
the richness of its sentences, its charm of style and diction, its pathos,
and also by the flashes of genuine humour, which here and there illuminate
its pages. Naturally its humour differs materially from the broad, rich
humour of Sterne, Cervantes, Voltaire or Heine, but it has a stamp of its
own, which is in some respects akin to that found in certain passages of
the ancient classics. One or two examples will serve.

In the first book of the _Iliad_, Homer describes a scene on Mount
Olympus, in which the Greek gods and goddesses are represented as seated
at a banquet, and waited upon by the lame Hephaestus. Observing his
halting gait, they burst into peals of laughter. Comparable, perhaps, with
this is the description of the well-known scene on Mount Carmel, when
Elijah, the true prophet of God, gathered round him the false prophets of
Baal. After they had leapt on the altar from morning unto even, crying
incessantly, “Oh, Baal, hear us,” Elijah stepped forth, and exclaimed
mockingly, “Cry ye louder, for he is a god; perhaps he talketh or walketh,
or is on a journey; or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awaked” (1
Kings xviii. 27). The Aristophanic punning on proper names is paralleled
not infrequently in the Bible. Thus, for example, the Hebrew word _Nabal_
(1 Sam. xxv. 3), which means “rogue,” is well applied as the proper name
of a man, who was noted for the baseness of his character. Characteristic,
too, is the name of one of Job's fair daughters, _Keren-happuch_ (Job
xlii. 14), which literally means “a horn (or box) of cosmetics,”
suggesting the means by which the owner of that name may occasionally have
embellished her charms. To the same class belongs the term _Tsara_
(‪צרה‬), which has the double designation of “a rival wife,” living in a
country where polygamy is in vogue, and also of “misery.” The humour
hidden in these three words is certainly not brought into prominence in
the authorized English version, where they are respectively translated by
“folly,” “Keren-happuch,” and “adversary.” From these examples it will be
seen that an acquaintance with the idiom of the Hebrew tongue is essential
to the thorough understanding of the Bible, and as Biblical critics have
hitherto paid but little attention to this particular subject, the remarks
to be offered on it in the present essay may, perhaps, be of some

A careful perusal, in the original Hebrew of certain orations in the Bible
cannot fail to impress the reader with the force of the sarcasm which the
authors, acting on the proverb, _Castigare ridendo mores_, have used in
their attacks on the shortcomings and follies of their own, and sometimes
also of other nations, with whom they happened to come into political
contact. The greatest satirist among them was undoubtedly the prophet
Isaiah, whose orations combine the pungency of satire with the charm of an
exquisite poetical style. Somewhat in the manner of Demosthenes and
Cicero, Isaiah often wages war against the vices which prevailed among the
higher and lower classes of his people. He frequently derides princes and
leaders for not preserving and upholding that true spirit of patriotism,
which generally helps to make a country secure from external invasion. “Ye
are,” he exclaims with bitter irony, “Ye are only _mighty to drink wine_,
and men of _strength_ to pour out _strong drinks_” (Isa. v. 22). Isaiah's
orations frequently contain graphic and satirical descriptions of how
things will be when that fatal day—the _dies irae_, _dies illa_—comes, on
which the enemy will reign supreme within the capital of the Judaeans,
bringing with them the suffering of famine, sickness, and pestilence.
These poorly clad and careworn men will surround the lucky owner of a
decent garment, saying: “Thou hast still clothing, be thou our ruler, and
let this ruin be under thine hand.” But he will decline the proffered
honour with the humiliating remark: “I will _not_ be an healer; for in my
house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people”
(ibid. iii. 6 and 7). The then prevailing need and distress will not be
less felt by the Jewish women, most of whom the disastrous war will have
deprived of their husbands and natural protectors. The consequence of this
will be that “On that day _seven_ women will take hold of _one_ man,
saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us
be called by thy name, and thus take away our reproach” (ibid. iv. 1).

The extravagance, wantonness, and luxurious habits of the fair daughters
of Zion, Isaiah denounces in the following drastic lines:—“Because the
daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and
wanton (or, deceiving^[3-1]) eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and
making a tinkling with their feet . . . it shall come to pass that instead
of sweet smell there shall be bad odour, and instead of a girdle a rent,
and burning instead of beauty” (ibid. iii. 16–24). And just as Isaiah
reproves the Hebrew women for their pride and arrogance, so he censures
the cowardice and effeminate habits of the men of Zion, whose motto, he
says, was “Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die” (ibid. xxii. 13).

The burlesquing of idols and idolatry always afforded a ready mark for the
sarcasm of the prophets. As Aristophanes in _The Birds_ ridicules the
Greek gods and goddesses, so Isaiah satirizes the sham gods of _his_
country, which were held in great estimation by not a few of his own
people. His description of the origin and manufacture of an idol is
certainly full of humour. “He” (the pious idolater) “heweth down a tree
(he says) and burneth part thereof in a fire; one part serves him as
firewood, by means of which he roasteth meat and is satisfied; yea, he
warmeth himself therewith, and saith: Aha, I am warm; I have seen the
fire. And out of the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven
image: he falleth down before it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it,
and saith: Deliver me, for thou art my god” (ibid. xliv. 14–17).

With equal humour Isaiah makes merry over the false prophets of Israel,
whom he compares to blind watchmen and to dumb dogs. “His (Israel's)
watchmen,” he says, “are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb
dogs, they cannot even bark; they lie down as if dreaming, and are fond of
slumber” (ibid. lvi. 10).

Sometimes the butt of Isaiah's sarcasm were persons of high standing, who
belonged to nationalities other than his own, such as the Babylonians, the
Egyptians, the Moabites, and others. Highly diverting is the sarcastic
address which he directed to one of the Babylonian kings who, after making
an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Palestine, had been ignominiously
defeated in his own country. It is to be found in the fourteenth chapter
of Isaiah, a short extract from which runs as follows:—“The whole earth is
now (after thy fall) at rest and quiet; people break forth into singing.
Yea, even the fir-trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon,
saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us. Hell
from beneath is astir at thy coming; it rouseth up the dead for thee, even
all the chief ones of the earth; it has raised up from their thrones all
the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou
also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? . . . how art thou
fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down
to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”

In an equally amusing and drastic manner is Babylon's fall described by
Isaiah. “And Babylon,” he says, “the glory of the kingdoms, the beauty of
the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and
Gomorrah . . . neither shall the Arabian pitch his tent there, nor shall
the shepherds make their fold in that place. But wild beasts of the desert
shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and
owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts
of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their
pleasant places” (ibid. xiii. 19–23).

Next to Isaiah, no other author of any part of the Bible is so prolific of
satirical remarks as the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes. For the
present purpose it matters very little whether the writer of the book in
question was King Solomon, to whom the authorship of the Book of Proverbs
is commonly ascribed, or some one unknown, who had assumed the pseudonym
of “Koheleth.” But this is certain that he does not belong to that class
of writers whose humour is but a mixture of bitterness and melancholy, and
who, like the authors of _Faust_ and _Manfred_, speak bitingly of humanity
at large. His humour is mostly of the cheerful order; and far from weeping
over the foibles and follies of the human race, he makes merry over them.
The gist of his philosophy may be said to be embodied in that frequently
quoted line from Amphis (_Gynaecocratia_, p. 481), which runs thus:—

     Πῖνε, παῖζε· θνητὸς ὁ βίος.
     ὀλίγος οὑπὶ γῇ χρόνος

(Drink and chaff, for life is fleeting; short is our time on earth). Or,
to quote Koheleth's own words: “Behold that which I have seen: it is good
and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all the
labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God
giveth him: for this alone is his portion” (Eccles. v. 17).

The objects of Koheleth's satire are of a varied description. High
functionaries of state, foolish kings, scribblers, tedious preachers,
bookworms, idlers, sceptics, fools, drunkards, women—they all come under
his scrutiny. His sympathies are always with the poor, helpless, and
oppressed, rather than for the rich and affluent, whose “abundance of
wealth does not suffer them to sleep^[6-1].” Koheleth once met a poor man,
who had long and vainly tried to obtain, in the High Court of Justice,
redress for wrongs done to him, and he put down in writing: “If thou seest
oppression of the poor, and violence done to justice and righteousness in
the provinces, do not feel astonished at that: for one that is high
watches over the high, and over them are yet higher ones” (Eccles. v. 7).
Elsewhere he condemns a land, “whose king is childish, and whose princes
_feast_ already in the _morning_,” but he praises such a one “whose
princes eat at a proper time for _strengthening_ sake, and not for the
sake of _gluttony_” (ibid. x. 16, 17). In the same chapter (5, 7) he makes
the following ironical remark: “There is an evil which I have seen under
the sun: _folly_ is set in _high places_, and the rich (in intellect)
_sit_ in _lowness_. I have seen _servants_ on _horses_, and _princes
walking like servants_ on the _ground_.”

What Koheleth thought of scribblers and tedious preachers may be gathered
from the following: “But more than all these, my son, take warning for
thyself: avoid the writing of endless books, as well as much (dull)
preaching, which is a weariness of the flesh” (ibid. xii. 12). The
bookworm, too, was no great favourite of his, for he refers to him with,
as it were, a pitiful smile: “Where there is much study, there is much
vexation, and he that increases knowledge, increases pain” (ibid. i. 18).
And again: “The wise have (as a rule) no bread, nor the man of
understanding riches, nor the man of knowledge power” (ibid. ix. 11).

Women were to some poets of antiquity, just as they are to many a writer
of modern times, a favourite subject for sarcasm, and Koheleth has also
made a few remarks about them which, in point of satire, resemble somewhat
those made by Hesiod, Simonides, and others. Though he does not compare
woman to a hog, an ape, and an ass, as several ancient writers have done,
yet the opinion he expresses about a certain class of women is by no means
flattering to the fair sex generally. “I find,” he says, “more bitter than
death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are
bonds: he that is deemed good before God will escape from her; but the
sinner will be caught by her.” And again: “_One_ (perfect) _man_ among a
thousand did I find; but _one_ perfect _woman_ among all these did I _not_
find” (ibid. vii. 26 and 28). In the Book of Proverbs, which is commonly
ascribed to the same author, there are several references to women, in one
of which a quarrelsome woman is compared to “the continual downpour on a
very rainy day.” The husband of such a woman, the author adds, would as
little succeed in hiding his wife from the outer world, as if he were
trying “to hide a _wind_, or the _perfume_ of scented oil” (ibid, xxvii.
15, 16).

In the same book (xxiii. 29–35) there is a humorous description of a
drunkard, which ought not to be omitted, when examples are quoted to prove
the existence of light humour in the Bible. It runs as follows: “Who hath
woe? who hath pain? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who
hath redness of the eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go
to seek mixed drinks. . . . Thine eyes shall behold strange things, and
thine heart shall utter nonsensical words. Yea, thou shalt be as one that
lieth down in the midst of the sea, as one that reposeth on the top of a
mast. Oh, how they have stricken me (thou shalt say), how they have beaten
me, and I felt not; when shall I awake? I shall yet seek it (the drink)

The greatest satirists among the minor prophets of the Bible were Hosea
and Amos, and their short orations abound in flashes of rich humour and
biting sarcasm. The former, for instance, when reproaching his people with
their faithlessness to their God and their king, remarks sarcastically:
“For now they say, We have no king; as we were not (even) afraid of God,
what can a (mortal) king do to us?” (Hos. x. 3). Whatever they did under
the pretension of honouring God was, in Hosea's opinion, nothing but
hypocrisy, for “although Israel has forgotten his maker, yet he _buildeth
temples_” (ibid. viii. 14). Those of his people, who fancied they would
obtain atonement for their sins by merely offering sacrifices, he derided,
saying: “They sacrifice _flesh_ for the sacrifices, and _eat_ it
(themselves)” (ibid. viii. 13).

On another occasion, Hosea ridicules certain persons who, like the
inhabitants of Samaria, worshipped the _calves_ of _Beth-aven_, though
they were otherwise not very anxious to uphold and respect the common
rights of man. And referring to them, he says with biting irony:
“Concerning them, one may (aptly) say, They slaughter _man_, but kiss the
_calves_” (ibid. xiii. 2)^[8-1]. Continuing to deride those credulous men,
who expect pardon for their sins by the offer of sacrifices, Hosea remarks
with crushing sarcasm: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifices; and the
knowledge of God, more than burnt offerings” (ibid. vi. 6)^[8-2].

One would have expected that the priests at least would set a good example
to the people; but they were as bad as the people themselves. “They were
_eating up_ the sin offerings of the people, and looked out even longingly
for their (the people's) iniquity” (ibid. iv. 8), so that they might
materially profit by it. Speaking of the king and the ruler of the people,
Hosea considered him not a bit better than his profligate courtiers, who
spent the greater part of the day in feasting and debauchery. There was
especially no end to their orgies at the celebration of the king's
birthday, and the same prophet described their behaviour on that day in
the following sarcastic terms: “It is our king's day! The princes are
already sick with the fever of wine; he himself (meaning the king)
stretches out his hands with the scoffers” (ibid. vii. 5).

Amos, too, makes a good many droll remarks on the follies and misdoings of
his people. Addressing the fat judges of the people of Samaria, who were
noted for their pompous gravity and effeminate habits, he calls them, most
appropriately, “kine of Bashan^[9-1].” These worthies were always thirsty;
and their constant cry when dealing with the poor was: “Provide for us
that we may have something to drink” (Amos iv. 1). The patricians of his
people followed the bad example of the judges. They lived an easy and
luxurious life, indifferent to the approaching common danger with which
they were threatened—the loss of their freedom and independence. Speaking
of them, Amos says bitterly: “Woe to them that put off the evil day, and
cause the seat of violence to come near, that lie upon beds of ivory, and
stretch themselves upon their couches; . . . that sing to the sound of the
harp; they invent for themselves instruments of music like David; that
drink wine out of bowls, and anoint themselves with the best ointments,
but are not grieved for the ruin of Joseph (Israel). Therefore now shall
they go _at the head_ of the captives” (ibid. vi. 4–7).

The hypocrites among his people, who, notwithstanding their dishonest
dealings with their neighbours, were exceedingly strict in their
observances of the holy seasons appointed by the Jewish law, were rebuked
by Amos in the following manner: “Hear ye,” he says, “that swallow up the
needy, and destroy the poor of the land, saying, When will the new moon be
over, that we may sell again corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth
wheat, making the _ephah small_ and the _shekel great_, and _falsifying_
the balances for _deceit_? That we may buy the poor for money, and the
needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell even the _refuse_ of the wheat?”
(ibid. viii. 4–6).

These quotations may have already sufficiently supported the argument
stated in the introduction to this essay concerning the existence of
genuine humour in the Bible. The following are intended to show that even
some of the most austere Biblical personages, such, for instance, as the
prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Moses himself, possessed a vein of light
humour, which they sometimes used with considerable effect.

Jeremiah addresses the hypocrites among his people in the following
caustic terms: “How, will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and
swear falsely, and burn incense, and walk after other gods whom you know
not; and (then) come and stand before me in this house, which is called by
my name, and say, We are _now delivered to do all these abominations_? Is
this _house_, which is called by my name, become a _den_ of _robbers_ in
your eyes?” (Jer. vii. 9).

He elsewhere recommends his people to try an experiment in the streets of
Jerusalem, which, by a curious coincidence, was once put into practice by
the Greek philosopher Diogenes, who went about the streets of Athens in
the daytime carrying a lighted lantern in his hand in search of a _perfect
man_, saying: “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and
seek in the broad places thereof, if you can find a (perfect) man . . . if
there be any that seeketh the truth, and I shall pardon it” (ibid. v. 1).

The idols, the great plague of Judaea, also received at this great
prophet's hand their proper share of ridicule. He describes them with
genuine humour, as follows: “They are upright as the palm-tree, but speak
not; they must needs be _borne_, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of
them, for they cannot do any _evil_, neither can they effect any _good_”
(ibid. x. 5).

Of Ezekiel's humour no specimens can be given here. It is, like Swift's,
rather coarse, and not altogether palatable. The curious may be referred
to the sixteenth and twenty-third chapters of the Book of Ezekiel.

Moses, though of stern and austere disposition, is also sometimes fond of
indulging in ironical remarks with pleasing propriety. So, for instance,
when he once admonished his people to give the soil of their possession a
year of rest periodically, he gave them at the same time to understand
that unless they did so willingly, they would have to do it later on by
the force of circumstances. “When,” he says, “you shall be in your
enemies' land, _then_ shall the land _rest_ and enjoy her sabbath” (Lev.
xxvi. 34). And again: “Because thou didst not serve _the Lord thy God_
with joyfulness and with gladness of heart, while there was (around) an
abundance of all things; therefore shalt thou serve _thy enemies_, whom
the Lord shall send out against thee, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness,
and _in want of everything_” (Deut. xxviii. 47, 48). The messengers sent
out by Moses to search the land of Canaan are reported by him (Num. xiii.
32) to have given the following description of it: “It is,” they said, “a
land that _eateth up_ its own inhabitants,” a sufficiently ironical

In his last famous address to his people, which is commonly called his
swan-song, Moses recalled to their mind the happy days, when God led them
“as the eagle stirreth up his nest, fluttereth over his young, spreadeth
abroad his wings, seizeth them, beareth them aloft on his pinions” (Deut.
xxxii 11–13). But at the same time he foresaw with the far-seeing eye of a
prophet, that, as soon as they will have grown “_fat_, _thick_, and
_fleshy_” they would forsake the God of their fathers, and worship idols.
And, in consequence, he gives them God's divine message, which is couched
in the following sarcastic terms: “They have moved me to jealousy with
that which is _not God_ . . . and I will provoke them to anger by a roguish
nation” (ibid. xxxii. 21).

There are a good many more fragments of delightful humour to be found in
the Bible, which, for lack of space, must be omitted here. Yet a brief
reference should be made to some of the witty puns and plays on words
(_ludus verborum_, or _Wortspiele_) that occur in the same sacred volume.
In his well-known short poetical strain (comp. Book of Judges xv. 16),
Samson, the noted wit of the Bible, purposely uses, as it would seem, the
Hebrew term _Chamor_ (‪חמור‬), because it has two meanings, namely, an
_ass_ and a _heap_. The humour of the Hebrew lines in question will at
once be noticeable by the following rendering of them:—

    With the jaw-bone of an ass
    Have I plenteous asses slain:
    Smitten thus it came to pass
    Fell a thousand on the plain.

A good pun may also be detected in the word _Ro_pheïm (physicians) and
_Re_phaïm, which latter word signifies “corpses”; or in ‪שׁפֵט‬ “a judge,”
and ‪טִפֵּשׁ‬, meaning “the stupid one.” Such and similar puns abound in
the Bible as well as in the Talmud, as, for instance, the phrase found in
the latter work: ‪אֱכוֹל בָּצֵל וְשֵׁב בְּצֵל‬ “Be satisfied with a _meal_
of _onions_, and enjoy living under the _shadow_ of thy own trees” (comp.
Talmud, _Babyl. Pesachim_, 114 _a_); but no further specimens can be given

These remarks will, it is hoped, help to show the wealth of hidden meaning
contained in the Bible, which can only be detected by the study of the
original Hebrew text, and which the translators, either through oversight
or inability, have failed to reproduce.


[3-1] The Hebrew term ‪משקרות‬ is probably derived from ‪שקר‬, meaning
“false” or “deceiving.”

[6-1] Cp. Eccles. v. 11.

[8-1] Cp. Juvenal, _Satire_ 15:—

     “A sheep or goat they may not eat, but human flesh they may.”

[8-2] Cp. Horace, _Carm._ iii. 23. 17:—

    Immunis aram si tetigit manus,
    Non sumptuosa blandior hostia
        Mollivit aversos Penates
            Farre pio et saliente mica.

[9-1] Cp. Amos iv. 1.



For several centuries past, previous to the middle of the eighteenth
century, a general notion used to prevail that the contents of the Hebrew
Bible consisted entirely of purely theological matter. This idea
originated from the circumstance that most of the commentators of the
Bible living in those times had treated it as a book that was full of
religious mysticism, which theory had commonly been accepted by their
readers as the only correct and plausible one.

These commentators have gone so far as to declare most emphatically that
even the “Song of Songs,” that masterpiece of Hebrew poetry, and one of
the few ancient literary gems extant in the world of letters, was but a
mystical allegory with much religious colouring about it. They thus
altogether ignored its many poetical charms, just as they disregarded
those to be met with here and there in other parts of the Bible.
Fortunately, however, a book appeared about the middle of the eighteenth
century, which brought about a great modification in these ideas. It
contained a number of lectures which Bishop Lowth (1710–87) had delivered
in Latin at the University of Oxford on “Ancient Hebrew Poetry^[13-1],”
and in which he essayed to prove that the Old Testament contained, besides
much theological matter, several other highly interesting things. In his
opinion its contents were of a varied description, and of such a nature
that they could not fail to attract the attention of religiously inclined
people, as well as of all those readers who had a taste for poetry,
history, philosophy, or oratory.

These lectures at once attained great popularity, and were eagerly read in
England and on the Continent, so much so that the ideas expressed therein
concerning the actual contents of the Bible were soon adopted and further
enlarged upon by several English and foreign Biblical scholars. Some of
them, and more especially Herder (1744–1803) and Sir William Jones
(1746–94), devoted their earnest attention to the study of the sacred
volume. Sir William, who was one of the most eminent Orientalists of the
day, wrote about it as follows: “I have regularly and attentively perused
the Old Testament, and am of opinion that this book, independently of its
divine origin, contains more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, more
important history, and finer strains of poetry and eloquence than can be
collected from all other books that may have been written^[14-1].” One of
the most interesting parts of Bishop Lowth's book is that which deals with
the metaphors and similes of the Hebrew Bible, and the object of the
present essay is to attempt to show that there is a striking similarity
between them and several of those employed by some of the classical
writers. As the subject is too extensive to be fully discussed within the
limits of a short essay, a radical and minute investigation cannot be
expected. The result, however, may be sufficient to conduce to a wider and
more careful study of the contents of the Bible in their relation to the
ancient classics.

At the outset, it will be necessary to show that the ancient Greeks and
Romans had come in contact with the Hebrews of old, and that they thus may
have had an opportunity of getting to know something about the existence
and the contents of the Bible. Now, in the latter volume, as well as in
Josephus (comp. Gen. x. 2–5; Isa. lxvi. 19; Josephus, _Apion_, i. 22),
this intercourse is fully recorded as an historical fact. Particularly
interesting is the passage in the Book of Joel (iv. 6), in which it is
stated that the Ionian Greeks living on the west coast of Asia Minor
(Ἰωνία) were in the habit of buying Hebrew slaves. Thus it is a curious
coincidence that the district is commonly known as the very place in which
the two most famous epic songs of the ancient Greeks, the _Iliad_ and the
_Odyssey_, were written^[15-1].

As regards the Romans, there are likewise certain historical records which
go to show that in the year 50 A. D. they had already swayed the sceptre
over the Hebrews. There are, moreover, several allusions to them in the
works of some of the, best-known Roman writers, such as Tacitus^[15-2],
Cicero^[15-3], Juvenal^[15-4], Horace^[15-5], and others. Now, if in
addition to these facts, another important circumstance is taken into
consideration, namely, that the famous Greek translation of the Bible,
called the _Septuagint_, had in olden times circulated widely in various
countries, what objection can be raised to the assumption that it
attracted the attention of some Greek and Roman writers, and influenced
them to a certain extent in the composition of several of their beautiful
metaphors and similes? It is almost universally admitted that later and
more modern versions of the Bible have exercised a perceptible influence
upon modern writers, such as Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, Racine, Goethe,
Schiller, and others, and in the same way a connexion between the Bible
and some of the ancient classics might reasonably be established.

Coming now to the main subject under discussion, we notice that metaphors
are found everywhere in the Bible, but that they especially abound in its
poetical parts. The way in which they are there employed varies greatly,
and they derive their inspiration from both animate and inanimate life.
Space, however, will not permit of more than a few illustrations, and
these will, for convenience' sake, be specially selected from Hebrew nouns
that occur here and there in the first few chapters of Genesis.

The third verse in the first chapter of Genesis, which, by the way, is one
of the most effective sentences in the whole Bible, contains twice the
term “light” (_or_, ‪אור‬). Now, this word was frequently employed by some
authors of the Bible as a metaphor. Thus, for example, using the term
“light” in a spiritual sense, and making it signify favour and grace, they
applied it, in the first instance, to God, as the Psalmist puts it, “For
with thee (O Lord) is the fountain of life: in thy _light_ shall we see
_light_” (Ps. xxxvi. 10). The same term is frequently employed by the
prophet Isaiah as the emblem of enlightenment as well as that of joy and
exultation. In fact, some of Isaiah's most beautiful metaphors are taken
from this very word, one of which runs thus:—“The people that walked in
darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the
shadow of death upon them has a light shined” (Isa. ix. 1). In another
place (ibid. xlii. 6) he says: “I the Lord have called thee in
righteousness . . . and given thee for a covenant of the people, for a
_light_ of the nations.” It is interesting to note that some of the
authors of the New Testament have often employed the term “light” in a
number of striking metaphors, tacitly borrowed, it may be observed, from
the Old Testament. Martin Luther, too, failed to acknowledge his
obligation to his Hebrew tutor, Nicolaus de Lyra, who helped him greatly
in the preparation of the famous German version of the Bible^[16-1].

Turning now to some parallels found in the Greek and Latin classics, we
meet one in the fifth ode of the fourth book of Horace, in which the
latter implores the absent Emperor Augustus to return speedily to the
Roman capital, where his noble presence was anxiously looked for by his
loving subjects. The stanza in question runs thus:—

    Lucem redde tuae, dux bone, patriae;
    Instar veris enim vultus ubi tuus
    Affulsit populo, gratior it dies,
        Et soles melius nitent.

    Restore, Great Sir, your country's light;
    For, as in spring the sun is softly bright,
    So, when on us thy countenance's beams arise,
    Fairer days appear, and smile o'er the skies^[17-1].

Homer, too, often uses light and fire as metaphors, which are in some
instances quite of a Biblical type. Take, for instance, the following
lines that occur in the eleventh book of the _Iliad_:—

    As the red star shows his sanguine fires
    Through the dark clouds, and now in night retires:
    Thus through the ranks appear'd the godlike man,
    Plunged in the rear, or blazing in the van;
    While streamy sparkles, restless as he flies,
    Flash from his arms, as lightning from the skies.

Again, in the nineteenth book of the _Odyssey_ (35–41), Homer has a
metaphor from fire, from which it may be seen that in his time a notion
was prevalent among the Greeks that a miraculous light was a sure token of
the presence of some divinity. The lines in question run as follows:—

    What miracle thus dazzles with surprise;
    Distinct in rows the radiant columns rise!
    The walls, wherein my wondering sight I turn,
    And roofs amidst a blaze of glory burn.
    Some visitant of pure ethereal race
    With his bright presence, deigns the dome of grace^[17-2].

Not less prolific in metaphors of the same description is Virgil.

But particularly interesting is one of his metaphors that occurs in the
eighth book of the _Aeneid_ (409–13), inasmuch as it seems to be a
poetical imitation of another found in the last chapter of the Book of
Proverbs, in which the model housewife—the _Esheth Chayil_—is so
beautifully described, who rises early in the morning, wakes her
housemaids, and prolongs the day with the help of a lamp. It runs thus:—

    Now, when the night her middle race has rode,
    And his first slumbers had refreshed the god,
    The time when early housewives leave the bed;
    When living embers on the hearth they spread,
    Supply the lamps, and call the maids to rise;
    With yawning mouth, and with half-opened eyes
    They ply the distaff by the winking light,
    And to their labour add the night^[18-1].

We pass now to another fruitful subject, from which the writers of the
Bible have often taken metaphors, viz. the sea, the torrent, and the
waters, generally that mostly serve to typify calamity. So Job (vi. 15)
has a long and quite Homeric metaphor, formed from a torrent, which begins
with the words: “My brothers have dealt deceitfully as the torrent, nay,
as a channel of torrents that pass away.”

Sometimes roaring waters are used in the Bible as symbols of a battle cry,
or of the tumult of an invading army. Thus we find in the eighth chapter
of Isaiah the following description of the invasion of Palestine by the
king of Assyria: “Behold, the Lord bringeth up upon thee the waters of the
river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria: and he shall come up
over all his channels, and go over all his banks . . . he shall overflow
and go over and shall reach even to the neck.” A similar metaphor is
contained in the seventeenth book of the _Iliad_ (263), which runs thus:—

    Like a mountain billow that foams and raves,
    Where some swoll'n river disembogues his waves;
    Full in the mouth is stopp'd the rushing tide,
    The boiling ocean works from side to side,
    The river trembles to his utmost store,
    And distant rocks re-bellow to the roar:
    So fierce to the charge great Hector led the strong,
    Whole Troy embodied rush'd with shouts along.

Metaphors of a similar kind are also now and again employed by Virgil, and
once he uses both fire and the torrent at the same time as similes of
uproar and destruction, which usually take place on the battlefield. The
simile in question, which occurs in the _Aeneid_ (xii. 760), reads thus:—

    As flames among the lofty woods are thrown
    On different sides, and both by winds are blown;
    The laurels crackle in the sputtering fire;
    The frighted sylvans from their shades retire:
    Or as two neighbouring torrents fall from high,
    Rapid they run; the foamy waters fry;
    They roll to sea with unresisted force,
    And down the rocks precipitate their course:
    Not with less rage the rival heroes take
    Their different ways; nor less destruction make.

An equally wide field for Biblical metaphors is supplied by the world of
trees, flowers, and plants. Man is often compared with them, but, strange
to say, in two opposite directions: sometimes, inasmuch as he is like
them, liable to decay and death; sometimes because unlike them, he does
not revive again after death. As instances, the beautiful metaphor in the
103rd Psalm may be quoted: “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower
of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is
gone: and the place thereof knoweth it no more.” To this may be added a
similar, but shorter, metaphor, the author of which was the often-quoted
Ben-Sira. Of this only a small part has been preserved in the Talmud
(_Erubin_, p. 54), which runs as follows: “_Rab_ said to _Rab Hammuna_: My
son if thou hast (aught) enjoy it, for there is no enjoyment in the nether
world (_Shéol_), and death does not tarry. And if thou sayest, I will
leave (aught) to my children, who will declare to thee the law in the
nether world? The sons of men are like the grass of the field; some of
them blossom, and some wither away.”

Homer has a striking parallel to it in the sixth book of his _Iliad_
(190), which runs thus:—

    Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,
    Now green in youth, now withering in the ground.
    Another race the following spring supplies,
    They fall successive, and successive rise:
    So generations in their course decay,
    So flourish these, when those are passed away.

Speaking about metaphors from vegetation mention should be made of an
exceedingly pretty simile composed in German by the late Ludwig August
Frankl, of Vienna, and probably borrowed from the beautiful lines
occurring towards the end of the fifty-fifth chapter of the Book of
Isaiah, viz. “As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and
returneth not hither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth
and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,” &c.
In his simile Frankl compares the heaven with a bridegroom who weds the
earth in springtime as his bride, and she late in the summer season bears
lovely fruit. The English version runs somewhat as follows:—

                       The Beautiful Month of May.

    This charming month is like a kiss,
    Given by heaven to his bride, the earth;
    Telling her with a hidden blush
    That a mother's joy will soon be hers.

Another word occurring at the beginning of the first chapter of Genesis
that is now and again used in the Bible as a metaphor, is _Ruach_ (‪רוח‬),
meaning sometimes “wind,” and sometimes “spirit,” or divine inspiration.
It is so commonly used in the latter sense that no comment is necessary
here. What is, however, worth mentioning in connexion with it is that
Homer also used it in the same sense, whenever he referred to the
influence which his deities exercised on the human mind. There are
likewise several fine Biblical metaphors modelled on _Ruach_ (“the wind”),
when it is employed either in its ordinary sense or as the emblem of
punishment and calamity. So Jeremiah (iv. 11): “A dry wind blows from the
high places in the wilderness toward the daughters of my people, not to
fan, nor to cleanse; a powerful wind it is that shall come from those
_places_ unto me, and now I will hold judgment upon them.”

Isaiah's simile, “As the trees of the wood are moved with the wind” (Isa.
vii. 2), has found a pretty parallel in Virgil's _Aeneid_ (iv. 638), which
runs thus:—

    As when the winds their airy quarrel try,
    Justling from every quarter of the sky;
    This way and that the mountain oak they bend;
    His boughs they shatter, and his branches rend;
    With leaves and fallings most they spread the ground;
    The hollow valleys echo to the sound;
    Unmoved, the royal plant their fury mocks,
    Or shaken, clings more closely to the rocks.

The following is another metaphor of a somewhat similar kind, employed by
Homer in the _Iliad_ (xvii. 57), which bears a great resemblance to the
lovely one found in the 103rd Psalm, to which reference has been made
above. It runs as follows:—

    As the young olive in some sylvan scene,
    Crowned by fresh fountains with eternal green,
    Lifts the gay head, in snowy flowerets fair,
    And plays and dances to the gentle air;
    When lo! a whirlwind from high heaven invades
    The tender plant, and withers all its shades;
    It lies uprooted from its genial bed:
    A lovely ruin, now defaced and dead.

Passing now from inanimate nature to animate things, there are in the
Bible a good many metaphors based thereon. Here, again, it is the prophet
Isaiah who furnishes us with the largest number of instances. One of them
is the bee that symbolizes an invading army, working all kinds of
mischief. Thus we read in Isaiah (vii. 18):—“On that day will the Lord
hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the river of Egypt, and
for the bee that is in the land of Assyria, and they shall all come and
rest in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all
thorn-bushes, and upon all the pastures.” A fine parallel occurs in
Homer's _Iliad_ (ii. 87), which runs as follows:—

    As from some rocky cleft the shepherd sees
    Clustering in heaps on heaps the driving bees,
    Rolling and blackening, swarms succeeding swarms
    With deeper murmur and more hoarse alarms;
    Dusky they spread, a close embodied crowd,
    And o'er the vale descends the living cloud:
    So from the tents and ships, a lengthened train
    Spreads all the beach, and wide o'ershades the plain:
    Along the region runs a deafening sound;
    Beneath their footsteps groans the trembling ground.

Towards the end of the Book of Ecclesiastes (xii. 5) a comparison is made
between an old man who gradually loses his white locks and an almond-tree
that sheds its white blossoms. Anacreon has in one of his Odes (the
eleventh) a few exceedingly pretty lines, which recall the foregoing
figure. They run as follows:—

    Oft I am by women told,
    Poor Anacreon! thou grow'st old;
    Look how thy hairs are falling all:
    Poor Anacreon! how they fall!

The Biblical story found in the fourth Book of Moses (xiv. 2–11) seems to
have been known and partly reproduced by Virgil in the first book of the
_Aeneid_, 148. There the following lines occur, which offer a most
striking parallel:—

    As when in tumults rise the ignoble crowd,
    Mad are their motions, and their tongues are loud;
    And stones and brands in rattling volleys fly,
    And all the rustic arms that fury can supply:
    If then some grave and pious men appear,
    They hush their noise, and lend a listening ear:
    He soothes with sober words their angry mood,
    And quenches their innate desire for blood^[23-1].

The few observations offered here will no doubt give some idea of the
importance attaching to a closer investigation of the whole
subject^[23-2]. Many volumes are annually devoted to the study of the Old
Testament, but these are almost exclusively written from a religious point
of view. Surely, it could not but gain in popular estimation if its great
literary worth attracted more general attention.


[13-1] _De Sacra Poesi Hebraeorum_, Goettingae, 1758.

[14-1] The words here quoted were found on the fly-leaf of Sir William's

[15-1] Lecky, in his _History of European Morals_, vol. I, p. 366, refers
to a modern writer, who maintains that Homer derived the noblest
conception of his poetry from the Old Testament; and that its contents
have greatly influenced Demosthenes and Plato.

[15-2] _Annales_, ii. 85.

[15-3] _Pro Flacco_, §§ 66–70.

[15-4] _Satirae_, iii. 10.

[15-5] _Satirae_, i. 4.

[16-1] This omission of common courtesy is recorded in the following
jocular Latin lines:-

    Si Lyra non lyrasset
    Lutherus non saltasset.

    “Had Lyra not furnished the music,
    Luther could not have danced.”

[17-1] Almost all the English translations of the extracts from Greek and
Latin poetical writings quoted in this essay are from the renderings of
Pope and Dryden. Space will not allow to give here more than a few
quotations from the originals.


    Ὦ πάτερ, ἦ μέγα θαῦμα τόδ' ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ὁρῶμαι.
    ἔμπης μοι τοῖχοι μεγάρων καλαί τε μεσόδμαι
    εἰλάτιναί τε δοκοὶ καὶ κίονες ὑψόσ' ἔχοντες
    φαίνοντ' ὀφθαλμοῖς ὡς εἰ πυρὸς αἰθομένοιο.
    ἦ μάλα τις θεὸς ἔνδον, οἳ οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἔχουσιν.


    Inde ubi prima quies medio iam noctis abactae
    Curriculo expulerat somnum; cum femina primum
    Cui tolerare colo vitam tenuique Minerva,
    Impositum cinerem et sopitos suscitat ignes,
    Noctem addens operi, famulasque ad lumina longo
    Exercet penso.


    Ac veluti magno in populo quum saepe coorta est
    Seditio, saevitque animis ignobile vulgus;
    Iamque faces et saxa volant; furor arma ministrat;
    Tum, pietate gravem ac meritis si forte virum quem
    Conspexere, silent arrectisque auribus adstant;
    Ille regit dictis animos et pectora mulcet.

[23-2] An interesting article on the same theme written by Mr. C. G.
Montefiore appeared in the _Jewish Quarterly Review_, vol. III, No. 12.


                      ART AMONG THE ANCIENT HEBREWS

The ancient Hebrews were an art-loving people, and occupied a fair
position among those Eastern nations of antiquity, who attained some
success in the production of works of artistic merit. Their success in
Music and Poetry was undoubted, and becomes even more striking when it is
remembered that it had been won by the Jewish nation at a time when in
Greece, for instance, the cultivation of these arts was still in its
infancy. The period of their artistic activity extended from the days of
Moses to the time of the destruction of the last Temple in Jerusalem by
Titus (70 A. D.). It is proposed in the present essay to deal, first with
the _Architecture_, then with the _Music_, and finally with the _Poetry_
of the ancient Hebrews.

Just as among other nations of antiquity architecture had its origin in
religion, and owed its development to religion, so it was among the Jews.
The first feeble attempt at architecture, though it is perhaps incorrect
to call it by that name, was the erection of the Tabernacle in the
wilderness. This was certainly nothing more than a large-sized movable
tent, and had no special beauty about it, but the fact that the original
design was retained and used on a larger scale at the construction of the
subsequent Temples of Jerusalem, invests it with more than ordinary
importance. From this it may also be seen that the Jewish architect, even
in those early times, had in the drawing up of its ground-plan some
glimmering of symmetry and purity of form. Noticeable also is the great
skill manifested at that time by the Jewish artisans in the manufacture of
the furniture of the Tabernacle, the beautiful covers and curtains with
their inwoven cherubims, the seven-branched golden candlestick of beaten
work, and the circular-shaped laver made by them from the metallic mirrors
presented by the women of the community (Exod. xxxviii. 8). The erection
of the Tabernacle was followed by some centuries of architectural and
artistic barrenness. This epoch includes the time of their sojourn in the
Arabian desert, and the period during which they were governed by the
Judges, and subsequently by King Saul. Those years were marked by internal
and external struggles, and consequently did not admit of the free
development of any of those arts which, generally speaking, flourish only
in times of undisturbed peace, and under the protection of a strong
government. In the reigns of David and Solomon, however, when the Jews
began to enjoy the first-fruits of peace and national prosperity, the
general spread of culture and architectural skill at once became manifest.
The sacred and royal buildings erected by the various Jewish kings, and
particularly the Temple of Solomon, show the pitch of artistic excellence
which they had attained.

There is no doubt much exaggeration in the statement made by some writers
that classical antiquity was largely indebted to the Temple for many
details of art, and that throughout the Middle Ages the form and shape of
all Christian churches were modelled after its design. Considering,
however, the attention and interest which the Temple has excited, there
can be little doubt of its extraordinary artistic value. Its original form
and mode of structure have already been so often and so minutely described
by learned men of all ages and countries that there is hardly anything new
left to be said about it. A few observations, however, concerning the
builders, and the difficulties encountered by them at its erection, may
not be out of place here. Some writers are of opinion that the fame and
magnificence of the Temple were entirely due to the skill of Phoenician
artisans, and not to the proficiency of Jewish workmen. The soundness of
this theory is, however, very questionable. In the first place, we have it
on the authority of the Biblical memorials that the assistance given by
the Phoenicians to the Jewish workmen at the erection of the Temple
consisted mainly in felling cedar-trees on Mount Lebanon, and in
manufacturing the artistic metal-work of the building. Next, the fact
already mentioned that the original Mosaic model of the Tabernacle had
been retained, and used on a larger scale in the construction of the
Temple, proves at once its purely Jewish character. We must also come to
the same conclusion when we consider that its internal and external
decoration consisted mostly of flowers and plants that only grew on
Palestinian soil.

As for the structure itself, it may be mentioned that many difficulties
had to be overcome before the actual building operations began. The summit
of Mount Moriah, on which King David had decided to erect the Temple, was
too narrow to permit of large buildings being established thereon. Thus
gigantic supports and walls had to be erected, which, owing no doubt to
their great strength and durability, have been preserved to the present
day. They bear a great similarity to the Cyclopean walls built by the
oldest races of Greece in Asia Minor, and the immensity of each block of
stone is such that it has excited the wonder of various modern travellers
(cp. Layard, _Nineveh and Babylon_, p. 62). These enormous stones were,
strange to say, put together without the aid of tools. The latter, made as
they were out of a material from which weapons of war are manufactured,
were used as little as possible at the erection of a building which was
intended, in conformity with the true spirit of Judaism, to serve as a
symbol of Peace. There is another noticeable feature in connexion with the
building, namely, that all its bronze works were cast in earthen moulds in
the valley of the Jordan. This spot was specially selected for the
purpose, on account of its fine clay soil. Thus it will be seen that even
at this early period in the history of architecture the Jews must have had
some knowledge of mining. Later on, at the time when the Romans were the
masters of the land, the mines of Phaino enjoyed a very great reputation
(cp. Ewald, _History of Israel_, ed. Carpenter, vol. IV, p. 192). A modern
writer of note (James Fergusson), in referring to the Temple of Solomon,
expresses himself thus:—“Whatever the exact appearance of its details may
have been, it may safely be asserted that the triple Temple of
Jerusalem—the lower court, standing on its magnificent terrace—the inner
court, raised on its platform in the centre of this—and the Temple itself,
rising out of the group and crowning the whole—must have formed, when
combined with the beauty of its situation, one of the most splendid
architectural combinations of the old world” (cp. Smith's _Bible
Dictionary_, _sub_ Temple).

In connexion with the Temple two other branches of architecture may be
mentioned here—the water conduits and bridges, or rather viaducts, built
by King Solomon. The former must have been of some importance; they are
quoted by Tacitus, who speaks of _Fons perennis aquae, cavati sub terra
montes_ (cp. _Hist._ vol. 12). As for the bridges or viaducts, it is said
that they were four in number, and of a peculiar construction. One led
over the valley of Gihon; another, called by Josephus _gerupha_, connected
Mount Zion with Mount Moriah, and served as a viaduct for the king on his
visiting the Temple (cp. _Ant._ xv. 11. 5). The third and fourth are
referred to in Talmud _Jer. Shekalim_, 4. 4, and in _Yomah_, 4 _b_.

In subsequent times two more Temples were built after the design of
Solomon's—one by Zerubbabel with the permission and assistance of the
Persian king Cyrus (558 B. C.), and another by King Herod (16 B. C.), who,
next to Solomon, was the most art-loving monarch the Jews ever had. During
his reign the influence of Greek taste began to make itself felt in
Palestine, and we are told that, in addition to the temple, he also built
colonnades, theatres, and castles (cp. Jos. _Ant._ xv. 8. 1). According to
the same authority (_Bell. Jud._ 5. 44), the beauty of King Herod's
residential palace was beyond all description. It consisted of a block of
various marble buildings, with artistically formed roofs, each building
having magnificent halls and colonnades. Pleasure grounds, tiny forests,
and gardens of every kind surrounded it, and elaborate waterworks were
built to give these grounds a never-failing freshness of appearance. The
Greek style did not, however, altogether supersede the Phoenician, for
even as late as the _Mishna_, mention is made of Tyrian windows and
porches (cp. Talmud, _Baba Bathra_, p. 36).

It would not be easy to describe here all the other architectural works of
Solomon and the rest of the Jewish kings. The former's palace ought not,
however, to be passed over unnoticed, especially as in splendour and
architectural beauty it rivalled the Temple itself. It consisted of a row
of large buildings, among which the king's private residence, that of the
Egyptian princes, and the so-called house of the forest of Lebanon, were
the most prominent. With the aid of his great waterworks in the
neighbourhood of the city, Solomon laid out all kinds of gardens and
pleasure-grounds, the beauty of which was enhanced by the addition of
fountains and artificial lakes (cp. Cant. iv. 13–15). At Etam he had a
magnificent park and gymnasium, which he occasionally visited. Not far
from Lebanon he erected some lofty towers ornamented largely with gold and
ivory (Cant. viii. 11; _Ant._ iii. 7. 3).

That the Greeks used ivory for the ornamentation of houses and public
buildings, may be seen from the passage in Eurip. _Iph. Aul._, where
ἐλεφάντινοι δόμοι (houses made of ivory) are mentioned.

Referring to the great taste for landscape culture displayed by the
Hebrews of old, Humboldt says that nowhere in antiquity, and not even
among the Greeks, is so much sense for the beauties of nature met with as
in the Bible. With regard to sculpture it ought to be mentioned that the
ancient Hebrews did not to any great extent cultivate this art. This was
in consequence of the law which forbade them to introduce any kind of
graven image in their places of worship. A few monuments, however, are
mentioned as having been erected by them, such as the one built by
Absalom, which, according to Josephus (_Ant._ vii. 10. 3), was a marble
column. Another, erected in memory of Queen Helena, consisted of three
small pyramids, and was considered a beautiful work of art (ibid. xx. 4.

The tools that were used in those times by Hebrew artisans were, in
addition to the more common ones, such as the axe, saw, and others, the
compass (_Mechugah_) (Isa. xliv. 13), the plumb-line (_Anach_) (Amos vii.
7), and the measuring-reed (_Kav_) (cp. Job xxxviii. 5).

As for the artisans' position it may be said that they were not merely
servants and slaves as among the Greeks and Romans, but men holding some
rank in society. For instance, of Bezaleel and Aholiab, the principal
architects of the Tabernacle, it is said that “they were filled with the
spirit of the Lord” (Exod. xxxvi. 1), and had they not been classed among
the wisest men of their time, and held in high esteem by the community at
large, no respect would have been paid to them by the Biblical memorials.
The number of Jewish artisans of every description appears to have been
considerable, and this was specially the case during the time when the
national prosperity was advancing (Jer. xxix. 2). Even during the
Captivity, and later on when the Jews were finally scattered over the
world, their Rabbis urgently recommended them to teach their children some
art or handicraft.

The same exaggeration in respect of the achievements of the ancient
Hebrews in the art of architecture is also found in reference to the
perfection which they attained in science and the art of music. However
that may be, it can hardly be denied that they were, on the whole, an
eminently musical people. This can be seen from the comparatively large
number of Hebrew words denoting song and chanting, as well as from Hebrew
poetry, a considerable portion of which has been conceived in the form of
psalmody or sacred lyric song. As among the Greeks, Jewish tradition
ascribes the invention of the first musical instrument to shepherds. Jubal
is designated in the Bible as the father of all such as handle the harp or
organ (Gen. iv. 21). Other passages in the same book relating to musical
instruments and to their use, are found in connexion with Laban, Miriam,
and Jephthah. But a real and systematic cultivation of the art of music
did not begin before the days of Samuel and Saul; the former of whom seems
to have been the founder of a regular school of music (1 Sam. x. 5). There
a great number of students received their training, and the most able
among them were subsequently selected for the choir of the Temple. Already
in the time of David 4,000 singers, mostly Levites, assisted in the
service of the Lord, being presided over by the sons of Asaph, Heman, and
Jeduthun. In subsequent ages their services are recorded in connexion with
the laying of the foundation of the second Temple (Ezra iii. 10), and
again, after the great victory of the Maccabean army over Gorgias (1 Macc.
iv. 24).

The instruments used by the ancient Hebrews were of three different
kinds—percussion instruments, such as tambourines, drums, and cymbals;
wind instruments, such as trumpets, horns, and flutes; and stringed
instruments, such as harps, psalteries, and guitars. Another peculiar
instrument is mentioned in the Talmud (_Erachin_, ii _a_) as having been
used in the Temple service, which was called _Magrepha_ (‪מגרפה‬). This is
said to have had about a hundred different tones, and was audible at a
very long distance. These instruments seem to have been used in the Temple
service after a pause in the singing. Such a pause was perhaps notified by
the word _Selah_ (‪סלה‬), which is so often met with in the Psalms, and is
translated in the Septuagint by _diapsalma_ (διαψάλμα) (cf. Bötticher, _De
inferis rebusque post mortem futuris Hebraeorum et Graecorum opiniones_,
Dresden, 1868, p. 198). That the Temple music must have exercised a vast
influence on the cultivation and development of the Church songs and music
can hardly be doubted. Martini, who was a great authority on such matters,
maintains that the first Christian choral songs were taken from the songs
of the Temple. It is quite natural, he says, that the Apostles should have
introduced into the Church services only those melodies that had been
familiar to them from their earliest infancy (cp. _Storia della Musica_,
p. 350).

But it was not in the service of religion alone that music was performed
among the ancient Hebrews: it permeated their whole public and private
life. Following the example of David and Solomon, who had attached to
their courts “singing men and singing women” (2 Sam. xix. 36; Eccles. ii.
8), the rich men in Israel often, employed music and song at their
banquets (Amos vi. 4–6). When bridal processions passed through the
streets, they were accompanied with music and song (Jer. vii. 34). The
same was the case when victories were celebrated, or when the Jewish
armies went to battle (Exod. xv. 20; xx. 19). There seems also to have
existed a kind of Jewish troubadours, who sang love-songs before the
windows of their chosen ones (Ps. xlv, title). The harvest was gathered in
to the tunes of merry songs (Isa. xvi. 10), and at funeral processions
mournful music was played (Jer. ix. 17–20).

That a high position must have been assigned by the ancient Hebrews to
those who were skilled in song and music, may be seen from the term
applied to them in the Hebrew writings. There they are frequently called
_Nebiim_ (‪נביאים‬), “Prophets,” and of Jahaziel, a Levite of the sons of
Asaph, it is said that “the spirit of the Lord came over him” (2 Chron.
xx. 14). Thus the art of music was looked upon by the Hebrews as being the
outcome of divine inspiration, and its disciples were consequently held in
great esteem by them. But music and song only flourished among them so
long as they were masters in their own country, and were free men in a
free land. When their nationality had ceased to exist, and they were led
into captivity, they hung their harps on the willows by the streams of
Babylon, and uttered those memorable and touching words: “How shall we
sing the song of the Lord in a foreign land?” (Ps. cxxxvii. 4).

The third branch of the arts to which I now pass is Hebrew Poetry. Martin
Luther, in his _Table Talk_, compares it with the sweet melody of a
nightingale, and it is frequently admitted that, the Greeks and Romans
perhaps excepted, no nation of antiquity has produced anything in the
shape of poetry that can be compared with that of the Hebrews. There are
three kinds of poetry in the Hebrew literature—_dramatic_, _gnomic_, and
_lyrical_. The latter occupies the most prominent position. The drama is
represented by two pieces, the Book of Job and the Song of Songs. The Book
of Job is considered by many as the masterpiece of Hebrew poetry. Its fine
introduction with its double scene in heaven and on earth, in which Satan
plays so prominent a rôle, was imitated by Goethe in his “Faust.” Equally
grand, though in a different style, is the Song of Songs. Herder, in
referring to it, says that it is the most beautiful piece of poetry that
has ever been produced by any poet of ancient or modern times. He is of
opinion that in no other poem has love been so charmingly depicted as
there, and even now, in spite of its great age, it has lost none of its
freshness of colouring and beauty of diction. It is a true monument of
genuine pastoral and idyllic poetry.

The gnomic poetry comprises that section of Hebrew literature which
contains pithy maxims or proverbs. To this class of poetry belong the Book
of Proverbs, the Book of Ecclesiastes, and the Proverbs of Jesus ben
Sirach, better known under the name of Ecclesiasticus. Though the
religious element is not entirely excluded from these books, yet they
chiefly treat of worldly subjects. Some passages therein contain humorous
descriptions of various human characters. The bookworm, the scribbler, the
miser, the dull preacher, the quarrelsome woman, the drunkard—they are all
referred to, and spoken of with good-natured humour and irony^[33-1].

The lyric poetry of the Jews is almost entirely of a religious nature. To
this class belong the Psalms, which are confessedly the peculiar product
of Hebrew Art. They have never been surpassed in any other literature in
simplicity of diction and originality of sentiment. Being the classical
expression of the speech of the religious mind, they have naturally become
a treasure-house for the language and thought of the Christian world. The
Christian liturgy and the songs of the Church abound with beautiful
sentences borrowed from them.

The Book of Psalms contains 150 songs, most of which are said to have been
composed by King David. Psalms occur also here and there in other parts of
the Bible, such as those of Samuel's mother (1 Sam. ii), of Isaiah (chap,
xii), of Hezekiah (ibid. xxxviii. 9), and of Habakkuk. There are also
Hebrew songs which are similar to the Psalms in respect of form, but not
of subject. To this class of Psalms belong, for instance, Jacob's last
blessing, Balaam's prophecies, the Song of Deborah, and the Lamentations
of Jeremiah. In the Psalms songs are also met with which are of a joyful
nature, such as wedding songs, love songs, and wine songs.

Hebrew poetry has many characteristics of its own, the most prominent of
which are national and local colouring, and, secondly, its profound
humility and reverence. Its writers never lose sight of the grand idea of
their nation, which subordinates all and everything in the universe to one
supreme power called God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Even man, the
   crown of the creation, is, according to them, only an _Adam_ or _Enosh_
(‪אדם‬, ‪אנוש‬), an insignificant, helpless being, in comparison to
_Eloha_ (‪אלוה‬, Arab. _Allah_), the most powerful Lord of the universe.
Thus man is compared by them to a flower that withers, to a shadow that
passes by, and to a cloud that vanishes in the air; while at the same time
they call the thunder “the voice of the Lord,” the wind “his messenger,”
the clouds “the cover of his brightness,” the lightning “his servant,” and
the sun “the herald of his majesty.” But though they let Nature be
subservient to and dependent on God, yet they preserve a loving attachment
to it, and endow it, as it were, with life and animation. They let it
share man's sentiments; it rejoices and trembles with man, and it laughs
and weeps with him.

Every extraordinary event in the life of the nation affects Nature as it
does the human mind. So, for instance, when the Hebrew exiles are
described by the prophet as returning to the land of their nativity, the
desert rejoices and changes into a beautiful garden filled with rose
blossoms, and fragrant with the perfume of sweet plants. The mountains and
the hills break forth into song, and the trees of the fields clap their
hands. In those happy days, neither the light of the sun nor the
brightness of the moon will be required by the liberated exiles, for the
Lord will be unto them an everlasting light (Isa. xxxv. 1; lv. 12; lx.
20). On the other hand, when God sits in judgment, and a great catastrophe
is imminent over the inhabitants of the land, then the earth shakes and
trembles, and the foundations of the hills move. The heaven becomes
clouded, and the brightness of the sun disappears; the moon and the stars
shine no more (Ps. xviii. 8; Ez. xxxii. 7).

The _form_ of Hebrew poetry has been widely discussed. Some writers, such
as Philo, Josephus, Eusebius, St. Jerome, and others, maintain that in
some Biblical poems the Iambic, Alcaic, and Sapphic metres were used, and
that in others the heroic metre was employed. Others, again, are rather
inclined to think that the Hebrews wrote in no regular metrical periods,
but only preserved a kind of parallelism of sentences. No one will deny
that the Greeks and the Romans have produced literary works, which in
elegance of expression and symmetry of form are much superior to those of
the Hebrews. But at the same time it will be conceded by those who have a
taste for genuine poetry, that in the freshness of colouring, depth of
thought, and vivacity of representation, the poetical pieces of the Bible
stand very high. Though written thousands of years ago, they still
preserve their sway over the human heart, and afford consolation and hope
to the afflicted and oppressed.

From what has been said it will be seen how unfounded the charge is, so
often made in certain quarters against the Jews, that they have never
rendered any particular service to the nations with whom they have come in
contact. Surely, if they had done nothing else but given them the sacred
volume, the Book of Books, which contains so many golden rules for the
cultivation of the human mind and heart, they would, for that reason
alone, be entitled to expect acknowledgment and gratitude, not only from
the present but also from all future generations.


[33-1] Cp. above, p. 5.



An erroneous notion has long prevailed regarding the place assigned to the
Hebrew woman at home and in society by the Mosaic law. Even now the idea
obtains that the law placed the Hebrew woman almost on the same footing as
the low-born slave, and denied her all mental and spiritual enjoyments;
that, because polygamy was silently tolerated by the law, and because it
gave fathers and husbands a certain amount of authority over their wives
and daughters, the position of the Hebrew woman must therefore have been
exceedingly low. But the student who closely examines the Old Testament
passages relating to her domestic and social life, will soon see that this
assumption is without foundation. A consideration of her life during
Biblical times will, in fact, show that she enjoyed more freedom than
other Oriental women of that or even of the present time, and that in some
respects her position was not much inferior to that of her modern

The Old Testament gives two distinct periods in the history of the Hebrew
woman. The first extends from the times when the Israelites became
established in Palestine, and the second from that date to the building of
the second Temple. The most prominent feature of the first period is an
extreme simplicity of manners in both sexes, occasioned by their living in
the open air or in tents. It resembles in many respects the heroic age of
the ancient Greeks, and especially with regard to the social position of
the female sex. But while in the Hebrew world the woman is known as
“Ish-shah” (‪אשה‬), “wife,” being equal in moral as well as in literal
etymology to “Ish” (‪איש‬), “man,” the Greeks had separate words for _man_
and _wife_, namely, ἀνήρ, γυνή, suggesting, perhaps, the inferior rank of
the weaker sex among them. Again, while the Greeks called their _first_
woman _Pandora_ as the bringer of all evil to man, the first woman of the
Bible, _Eve_, is introduced to us as a part of her husband's being, and as
having been created to be “a helpmeet for him” (‪עזר כנגדו‬) (Gen. ii.
18). Except Eve, who seems to have lived with her family in the open air,
the women belonging to that period dwelt in tents. Such a tent was called
in Hebrew _ohel_ (‪אהל‬), and sometimes _baït_ (‪בית‬)^[37-1], and
consisted of a walled-in enclosure covered with curtains of a dark colour
(Cant. i. 5). It was divided into two or more apartments, one being always
reserved for the females of the family; but sometimes each female had a
separate tent (Gen. xxxi. 33; cp. also Homer, _Iliad_, vi. 247–9). When
travelling the women's tents were fastened on a broad cushion (‪כר‬), and
placed on the backs of the riding camels (Gen. xxxi. 34). The occupations
of the married woman were multifarious. She rose early in the morning, and
spent the day in attending to her children, distributing food at meal
times, and weaving various textures for the use of her family (Prov. xxxi.
15). Cp. Homer, _Odyss._ x. 221; and Virgil, _Georg._ i. 293–5:—

    Interea longum cantu solata laborem
    Arguto conjux percurrit pectine telas.

The cooking was also done by the mistress of the house, and even women of
rank did not consider it beneath their dignity to help in culinary work
(Gen. xviii. 5). Sometimes a nurse was kept for the younger children of
the family, and was held in great estimation by her employers (ibid. xxxv.
8). The surplus of their manufactures was usually sold to merchants (Prov.
xxxi. 24), but was sometimes given away for religious purposes (Exod.
xxxv. 22).

The unmarried women had, besides their share of the domestic duties, the
daily task of tending the flocks and of taking them to the well, where the
neighbouring shepherds met them and indulged in gossip and hilarity (Gen.
xxix). On these occasions they moved about freely, and could even dispense
with the veil usually worn out of doors by Oriental women (ibid. xii. 14).
These diversions ended when they entered upon the matrimonial state, which
they did between the ages of twelve and eighteen years (Buxtorf, _Synag._
VII, 143). Sometimes courtship preceded marriage, as in the cases of Jacob
and Samson; but the mediation of a third party was usual in marriage
negotiations (Gen. xxiv. 4). When the parents approved of the bridegroom's
proposals, the bride was sometimes asked for her consent; but when she was
of a higher rank than the bridegroom, the father offered her hand to him
as a mark of special favour. Thus Jethro did to Moses, Caleb to Othniel,
and Saul to David. The wedding itself had no definite ceremonies connected
with it. At the wedding of Rebekah and of Ruth only a blessing was
pronounced by those present. At a much later period an oath was added in
ratification of the union (Ezek. xvi. 8). Indeed, marriage was always
considered among the Hebrews as an institution proceeding from God (Gen.
xxiv. 50; Judges xiv. 4); and the name given to it in post-Biblical times
and retained to the present day is _Kiddushin_ (‪קדושין‬), i.e.
“sanctification.” The Greeks and Romans, on the other hand, called it
συζυγία and _coniugium_ respectively, meaning “yoking together of two
persons,” and emphasizing essentially the civil nature of the union.

Though polygamy was not actually forbidden by the Mosaic law, yet it
appears from the phraseology employed at its first institution that
monogamy was the only legitimate practice. In Gen. ii. 24 it is said,
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his
wife,” and not his “wives.” Elkanah's _second_ wife is, quaintly enough,
called in 1 Sam. i _Tsara_, which term in Hebrew also means “misery.”

The simplicity manifested in the manners of the Hebrew women found its
counterpart in their attire. This was generally of a primitive order. On
festive occasions, however, apparel of a more elaborate character was used
(Gen. xxiv. 53). Personal ornaments were also sometimes worn; these were
mostly articles of gold, and, perhaps, even jewels, since precious stones
are mentioned in the Pentateuch. While in Egypt, the Hebrew women learnt
the use of mirrors, which were then made of a mixture of copper and tin.
These mirrors they gave freely for the fabrication of the laver of the
Tabernacle (Exod. xxxviii. 8). At that time they appear also to have
acquired some proficiency in singing, dancing, and playing on musical
instruments; for on the shore of the Red Sea we find them singing an ode
together with Miriam. Later on, they shared with the men the privilege of
being summoned to hear the reading of the law (Deut. xxxi. 12). An old
Sanscrit proverb says: “Women are instructed by nature, but men obtain
learning by books”; nor are illustrations wanting in the Bible to prove
the truth of this saying. The Hebrew women had already cultivated a taste
for flowers (Gen. xxx. 14), song, and music; they were active in their
households, charitable to the poor and needy (Prov. xxxi. 20); and, above
all, they were sensible of the blessing of freedom and independence.

During the second period of Biblical history, from the settlement of the
Israelites in Palestine to the rebuilding of the second Temple, a
remarkable change occurred in the life, habits, and social standing of the
Hebrew woman. The simplicity of manners which had characterized the first
period gave place in course of time to luxurious living—the result of
residing in large towns and in permanent dwelling-houses, and of closer
social intercourse with men of their own and foreign nations. The females
of the poorer and middle classes occupied the same room or rooms with
their husbands; but the wives of the rich and nobles had a separate set of
apartments for themselves, called _harmon_ (‪הרמון‬) (Amos iv. 3), most
probably derived from _harem_ (‪חרם‬) (forbidden), and akin to the modern

Yet the seclusion of women among the wealthy Hebrews was at that period
much less strict than with the modern Mohammedans, or the ancient Persians
and Greeks. As among the Greeks (Homer, _Odyss._ i. 329–331), the Jewish
females occupied the upper part of the house, as instanced in 2 Sam. vi.
16, and 2 Kings ix. 31–33, in connexion with Michal and Jezebel. But,
while the former were not allowed to see any one but their nearest
relations (cp. Wieland, _Attisches Museum_, II, 131), the latter moved
about freely, and sometimes took an active part in public life. As
instances of this may be mentioned Jephthah's daughter, Deborah, Jezebel,
Athalia, Huldah, Esther, and Noadiah. Deborah and Hannah, as composers of
excellent odes, have the honour of being the first poetesses in history.
Women were also hired to chant doleful songs at the funerals of persons of
high rank (Jer. ix. 16). Sometimes they were even employed to plead causes
at the royal courts (2 Sam. xiv. 2; 1 Kings i. 11). Then, again, there are
instances of women who, by their bravery and oratorical powers, saved a
whole town from destruction (Judges ix. 53; 2 Sam. xx. 18–23).

Their recreation consisted chiefly in paying visits to their relations and
friends, on which occasions refreshments were served (Cant. viii. 2), and
in attending at public festivals. These were of frequent occurrence:
religious celebrations, or weddings, when the women assembled in the
streets to watch the gay procession of the guests (Jer. xxv. 10); vintage
festivals and harvest festivals where, amidst merriment and laughter, men
and women danced to the strains of sweet music (Judges xxi. 21; Isa. xvi.
10; Jer. xxxi. 3,4). Recreation-houses^[40-1] also existed, and were
frequented by women of rank (Micah ii. 9), but their exact nature is not
clearly defined. The prophet Isaiah devotes a whole chapter to the
description of the dresses and trinkets worn by the Hebrew women of his
time; and even as far back as the days of King Saul, women wore rich
dresses of scarlet and gold. David, when bewailing Saul's death, says: “Ye
daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet with other
delights, who put ornaments of gold upon your dresses” (2 Sam. i. 24).
This extravagance in women's attire continued to the time of Christ; and
according to Edersheim (_Life and Times of Jesus_), a lady could then get
in Jerusalem “from a false tooth to an Arabian veil, a Persian shawl, or
an Indian dress.” The Jewish women, like the Egyptian, the Greek, and the
Roman, used precious ointments and perfumes for their heads and dresses
(Cant. i. 3). The cost of a moderately-sized bottle of those perfumes is
stated to have been equal to £6 of our money. Women of rank also used
cosmetics for the eyelashes (2 Kings ix. 30; Jer. iv. 30). Isaiah,
deriding this practice, says that the women of his time were “lying with
their eyes” (‪משקרות‬, from ‪שקר‬, Isa. iii. 16). The Hebrew term for this
paint is _puck_ (‪פוך‬), being equivalent in etymology to φῦκος and
_fucus_ of the classics. The Hebrew women must generally have been of
great natural beauty, for many such are found in the Old Testament.
According to Canticles (ch. ii), pet-names were often given to women, such
as _rose of the valley_, _dove_, _Aurora_, _sister_, _sun_, and _star_.

If the character of a nation is reflected in its proverbs, the passages in
the Bible relating to the worth of women prove the high estimation in
which the Hebrew women were held by their husbands. They joined the latter
at meals (Job i. 4), and took part in their social life—a privilege
withheld from other Oriental women even at the present day.

It is, therefore, evident that the common idea as to the low position of
the ancient Hebrew woman is incorrect. She enjoyed, at all events, much
greater freedom than was permitted to the wives of the highly-cultured
ancient Greeks. She was held in higher regard than the women that lived in
the time of Luther, who in his _Table Talk_ quotes, and as it seems
approvingly, the old Latin proverb: _Tria mala pessima: ignis, aqua,
femina_. And finally, the liberty granted by the Mosaic law to the Hebrew
women was never condemned by contemporary poets or prophets, while modern
writers and philosophers, such as Hartmann, Schopenhauer, and others, do
not hesitate to inveigh against the privileges granted to them in modern
life. In the book _Über die Weiber_ (_On Women_, vol. VI, P. 549),
Schopenhauer says that the low position of the Oriental women suits them
better than their freedom in the West.

It is true that the Old Testament has its share of gossiping,
over-curious, quarrelsome, and superstitious women, but they only form a
small proportion to the large number of model women that appear in its
pages. The esteem in which the Hebrew woman was held is shown throughout
the Bible, as the following few quotations from it will prove:—“Whoso
findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord”
(Prov. xviii. 22). “A gracious woman retaineth honour, as the hand of the
industrious increaseth wealth” (ibid. xi. 16). “A virtuous woman is a
crown to her husband” (ibid. xii. 4). “House and riches are the
inheritance of fathers: but a prudent wife is from God” (ibid. xix. 14).


[37-1] In Arabic the term _baït_ has the same signification as in Hebrew.

[40-1] The original Hebrew term means “houses of pleasure.”



Shakespeare, in one of his plays, asks “What's in a name?” That he himself
believed that there was a good deal in a name is shown by his fondness for
reading certain characteristics into the personality of the possessors of
certain names. Thus, for example, in the dialogue between King Richard and
Gaunt (cp. _Richard II_, Act 2), the former says:—

    What comfort, man? How is it with aged Gaunt?
        _Gaunt._ Oh, how that name befits my composition!
    Old Gaunt indeed, and _gaunt_ in being old!

With this may be compared Falstaff's remark in _2 King Henry IV_, Act 3,
Scene 2, where he says:—“I told you John a Gaunt he beat his own name; for
you might have thrust him and all his apparel into an eel-skin.”

In Greek literature, too, several names occur which are even more
striking, inasmuch as they foreshadow the future fate, and sometimes also
the mental or physical disposition of their bearers^[43-1]. Similarly,
certain Hebrew proper names are found in the Old Testament, which are
attended with peculiar significance. So, for instance, in the name of the
first man _Adam_ (‪אדם‬, from ‪אדמה‬, “the earth”), the final destiny of
man seems to have been predicted. At a subsequent period in Adam's life,
this hidden allusion to his future fate is made even more clear by the
words: “For _dust_ art thou, and unto _dust_ shalt thou return” (Gen. iii.

Something similar is noticeable in connexion with the first woman, _Eve_.
She was first called _Ish-shah_ (‪אשה‬, from ‪איש‬) “because she was taken
out of man,” but subsequently, after she had tasted of the “tree of
knowledge,” her name was changed into ‪חוה‬ = “Eve” (from ‪חיה‬,
“living”), which is evidently a name showing that she was destined to
become “the mother of all living.” In the name of one of her sons, _Abel_
(‪הבל‬, signifying “breath” or “nothingness”), a prophetic prediction of
his brief life seems to have been expressed; and the names of the
  descendants of her second son _Cain_, viz. _Jabal_, _Jubal_, and _Tubal_
(‪יבל‬, ‪יובל‬, ‪תובל‬), indicated their respective occupations after
reaching manhood.

At a later period in Biblical times, we meet with the names _Noah_ (‪נח‬,
meaning “rest” or “comfort”), _Abram_ (‪אברם‬, “the exalted father”), and
_Sarah_ (‪שרה‬, “the princess”), and it is interesting to notice how these
names foretold the future fate of their owners. There are three more
proper names in the Pentateuch, which belong to the same category, viz.
_Korah_, _Balaam_, and _Balak_. _Kerah_ signifies in the original Hebrew
“coldness,” exemplified by his apathy to divine ordinances, when he
brought about a rebellion against the authority of Moses. It has also
another meaning in Hebrew, viz. “baldness,” and it is curious to observe
that it gave some ardent followers of the Church of Rome a ready handle
with which to banter Calvin (Lat. _Calvus_, _Calvinus_ = “bald”) as being
homonymous with his predecessor (‪קרח‬) in schism (cf. Smith's _Dictionary
of the Bible_, sub _Korah_).

In the names of _Balaam_ and _Balak_, some of the old Jewish and Christian
commentators on the Bible have detected a particular meaning. In _Balaam_
(‪בלע־עם‬) they saw a future “devourer,” or “destroyer of the people,” and
in _Balak_ (‪בלק‬) a representation of “incompetence,” illustrating their
subsequent conduct towards the Jewish people. Similarly, too, the name of
_Achan_ or _Achar_ (‪עכר‬) (1 Chron. ii. 7), which latter word means “to
cause trouble,” and _Machlon_ and _Chillion_ (‪מחלון‬, ‪כליון‬) “the sick,
the perishing,” seem to be foretokens of the subsequent fortunes of their

Interesting, again, is the name _David_ (‪דוד‬), which means “the beloved
one,” or “the friend,” and was given to the child that subsequently became
the sweet singer in Israel. In connexion therewith a play on words may be
mentioned here, which seems to have hitherto been overlooked by students
of the Bible. When King Saul, who hated David after his victory over
Goliath, missed his presence at the royal table, he asked his son
Jonathan, “Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat?” (‪אל הלחם‬).
Thereupon Jonathan ironically replied: “David has asked leave of me to go
to _Beth-lehem_” (‪בית לחם‬). By this play on words Jonathan seems to have
intended to tell his father that David had a home of his own where there
was plenty of food (‪לחם‬), and he could therefore readily dispense with
the hospitality of the royal palace.

This play on words is found elsewhere in the Bible, in connexion with
proper names, viz. ‪בתי אכזיב לאכזב‬, “The houses of _Achzib_ (from ‪כזב‬)
shall be a ‛lie’” (Mic. i. 14); and ‪עקרון תעקר‬, “_Ekron_ (from ‪עקר‬)
shall be destroyed” (Zeph. ii. 4). It is noticeable that the idol which
the inhabitants of the latter town used to worship was ignominiously
called in the Bible “_Baal-Zebub_”—“The Lord of Flies.” It is said in 2
Kings i. 2, not without a slight touch of irony, that King _Ahazia_ had
sent messengers to this impotent deity to inquire about the issue of his
protracted illness.

There are four other proper names in the Bible which have seemingly
foretold the future characteristics of their respective possessors. These
are: _Solomon_ (‪שלמה‬), being a name which signifies “Peace” (from
‪שלום‬); _Malachi_ (‪מלאכי‬), “My Messenger,” the future Jewish prophet;
_Ezra_ (‪עזרא‬), “The Helper”; and _Nehemia_ (‪נחמיה‬), “God's Comforter.”
The subsequent history of the two latter in leading back to Palestine the
bulk of the Jewish exiles from the Babylonian captivity shows that their
names were not ill-bestowed.

There are also a few female proper names in the Bible of similar interest.
Besides the names of _Eve_ and _Sarah_, to which reference has already
been made, there is the name _Miriam_ (‪מרים‬, from ‪מרי‬, “rebellion”),
which suggests her and her brother Aaron's revolt against Moses on the
occasion of his marrying the Cushite woman. Jacob's only daughter was
called _Dinah_ (‪דינה‬, from ‪דין‬), signifying “judgment,” and that name
seems to have foreshadowed punishment for her unprotected wanderings.
_Deborah_ (‪דבורה‬), “The Bee,” made the enemies of her race feel her
sting in the great battle that she fought against them. Another Biblical
heroine, _Hannah_ (‪חנה‬, from ‪חון‬, “to pray,” or ‪חנן‬, “to be
favoured”), afterwards received that favour which her name prognosticated.
She longed and prayed for a son, whose life was to be wholly devoted to
the service of God, and her prayer was favourably received. She
subsequently became the mother of Samuel, who was the first of the regular
and unbroken succession of prophets.


[43-1] Cp. the ἑλέναυς, ἕλανδρος, ἑλέπολις of Aesch. _Agam._ 689, and the
play on the word Πενθεύς in Eurip. _Bacch._ 508.


                          SKETCH OF THE TALMUD

The old proverb “Habent sua fata libelli” is perhaps nowhere more
strikingly illustrated than in the Talmud. This gigantic literary work has
a peculiar history of its own. Now honoured, now decried, it has been at
once the study of the scholar, the butt of the sceptic, and the scapegoat
of the bigot.

In the Middle Ages, some of the high dignitaries of the Roman Church
thundered their anathemas against it, and caused edition after edition to
be publicly burnt. What strikes one most is their profound ignorance of
its real contents. They were satisfied to condemn it on hearsay evidence,
or on the strength of some garbled quotations. Henricus Seynensis, a
Capucin friar, having heard a good deal about the heretical Talmud, took
it to be a Rabbi, and swore that he would ere long have him put to death
by the common executioner. The censor, too, whose duty it was to amend any
passage or expression found in the Talmud which might be construed in a
sense hostile to the representatives of the Roman Church, displayed, as a
rule, more zeal than erudition. Thus, for the Talmud to say, for instance,
that a Roman swore by the Capitol or by Jupiter, was sufficient for the
censor to find a hidden allusion to the Vatican or the Pope, and to alter
the nomenclature, so that the Roman swore by the capital of Persia, or by
the God of Babylon. This substitution of inappropriate names rendered many
passages obscure, and this is one of the chief reasons why the Talmud has
been repeatedly condemned as an unintelligible and nonsensical production.
The great majority, however, of modern scholars, theologians, and
orientalists read the Talmud, not to refute it, but rather to bring to
light the vast store of knowledge hidden therein. And yet, in spite of the
many allusions there are to it in theology, in Biblical lore, and in
sacred geography, it still is to the majority of students a sealed book.
The object of this essay is therefore to sketch in outline its essence and
character, and to give some idea of its subject-matter.

The year 70 of the common era was a most disastrous one for the Jews.
After having bravely struggled against the formidable armies of Vespasian
and Titus for their national independence, they had finally to submit to
their conqueror. The holy Temple of Jerusalem, in which their religious,
political, and civil life was centred, was reduced to a heap of ashes
before their very eyes, and from that time forth their nationality was
destroyed, and they remained without a king and without a fatherland.
Other nations, whose vitality was less prominent, might in such
circumstances have disappeared from the face of the earth. Not so the
Jews. When the time for their national dispersion arrived, they abandoned
the sword for the pen. In the seclusion of the new homes they had made for
themselves in Persia and Syria, they devoted all their energies to the
study of their literature. Their leaders founded there colleges and
schools, in which the sacred flame of learning was kept aglow in the midst
of the darkness of the times. The Bible was still in their hands, that
sacred treasure which gave them solace for the tribulations of the past,
and patience and hope for the uncertainties of the future. From that time
forth it remained the centre of their mental activity. In spite of the
fact that the Romans had fixed the penalty of death as a punishment for
any one that imparted instruction in the Bible, teachers were not wanting
who taught its doctrines publicly to large numbers of pupils. One of them,
Rabbi Akiba by name, being asked by a friend why he continued to expound
the law publicly at the peril of his life, replied in the following
parable:—“Once upon a time a fox was walking along the river side, when he
saw the fish swimming to and fro in great consternation. He asked them
what was the matter, and what they were afraid of, whereupon they pointed
to the nets, which were spread out to catch them. Thereupon the fox
advised them to come to live with him on dry land, and be safe.” But the
fish replied: “Thou wilt never persuade us to follow thy advice, for if in
our element, the water, we have good cause for fear, surely, when we
depart from this element, the danger will be even greater.” “So it is with
us” (said Rabbi Akiba); “if our life is imperilled while our mind remains
fixed on the study of the Bible, which is the soul of our existence, how
much greater must our danger be, when we leave our element and cease to

At this time, the mental activity of the Rabbis was confined to the
exposition and investigation of the text of the Scriptures, which they
called the “written law.” But a little later their attention was also
directed to the study of the “unwritten law,” or oral traditions, to which
reference is sometimes made in the Pentateuch. Thus a new sphere of
activity was opened to them, which soon begot a science, embracing diverse
branches of study, and rising by degrees to very large proportions. The
mode of teaching adopted by these masters was somewhat similar to that
employed by Socrates. Questions were put and answered, and the decisions
of the teachers were committed to memory by the pupils. This method,
however, had the disadvantage attendant upon constant migration. Rabbi
Jehuda, surnamed “the Prince,” thereupon, towards the early part of the
third century of the common era, collected all the floating dicta of the
sages, together with the large mass of law and rulings, and recorded them
for the first time in writing. In this way a code was drawn up, the
materials of which the editor divided into six sections. The first section
is named “Seeds,” and treats principally of agrarian laws. The second,
called “Feasts,” contains the ordinances relating to the Sabbath and
festivals. The third, entitled “Women,” deals chiefly with marriage and
divorce. The fourth, called “Damages,” discusses civil and criminal law.
The fifth is named “Holiness,” and treats of sacred things, such as the
Temple, sacrifices, &c. The last section, entitled “Purification,” deals
with various Levitical and sanitary laws. The whole collection was then
called _Mishna_ (from _shannah_, “to study”), which means “learning or
teaching.” As in process of time a great many new traditions sprang up,
the _Mishna_ formed the materials for a new compilation which is called
the _Talmud_, sometimes also the _Gemara_. Both names have the same
signification—study and learning; the only difference between them is,
that the word Talmud is derived from the Hebrew, and Gemara from the
Syrian language. There are two Talmuds—the Jerusalem and the Babylonian.
The first was compiled at the beginning of the fourth century of the
common era, from the decisions of the colleges in Palestine, and the
second from those of the Academy of Sora in Babylonia.

Rabbi Ashe, who lived at the end of the fifth century A. D., is mentioned
as the editor of the Babylonian Talmud. This is the Talmud _par
excellence_, and is about four times as large as that of Jerusalem. It
covers 5,154 folio pages in twelve folio volumes. This gigantic work
became the bed-rock of Jewish literature for many centuries, and was at
the same time the link that kept the Jewish community together during the
years of their persecution in various countries. A few characteristics of
this most important work may be mentioned. The Talmud is, as the late
Emanuel Deutsch has it, a microcosm, embracing, as even the Bible does,
heaven and earth. It is a republic of literature, and a library in itself.
It treats of law, history, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, legend,
social life, theosophy, and metaphysics. It passes from myth to morality,
from legend to logic, from grave to gay, from lively to severe topics. The
Talmud is a product of those centuries when the Jews were considered
beyond the pale of the law, and it tells the story of the stormy life of
thirty generations. Though at first sight it might appear to be written
without method and system, it will soon be seen that it is composed of two
elements—the legal and the legendary, or prose and poetry. The first is
called _Halacha_ or legal decisions, and the second _Agada_ or moral
maxims and legends. As regards the Halacha, it is obvious that its laws,
its spirit, and its details, cannot be adequately analysed within the
limits of a short essay. We therefore propose to make some observations
merely on the two highly important subjects of education and capital
punishment. Basing their argument on the ordinance found in the Bible that
every parent is obliged to have his children properly trained, the masters
laid down the rule that education should be compulsory. If a child, they
say, is idle, and does not wish to study, he is not to be chastised too
severely; but he is to remain sitting among those children who are
industrious and attentive, that he may follow their good example. The
chastisement of children in schools was unknown in the Talmud. The
principal maxim of these masters was as follows: “Above all things study.
Whether for the sake of learning, or for any other reason, study; for
whatever the motive that may impel you at first, you will very soon love
study for its own sake.”

Respecting the criminal legislation of the Talmud, it may be observed that
nowhere in its pages are any traces to be found of the use of the rack or
of any other kind of torture to compel the accused to implicate himself.
The judges were obliged, according to the Talmud, to search for innocence
rather than for guilt. To judge a man charged with a capital crime, no
less than twenty judges had to be selected from among the most eminent
doctors of law; so extreme was the care taken of human life. The
examination of witnesses in such a case was so rigorous that a sentence of
capital punishment became almost impossible. The Talmud goes even so far
as to declare that the tribunal which imposes the penalty of death once in
seven or even seventy years, is a court of murderers. Thus it will be seen
that the severity of the Mosaic code had been modified by the influence of
these oral conditions, which tell us also that “paying measure for
measure” is in God's hands only, and that he who has sustained any bodily
injuries must rest satisfied with an indemnification of money.

Equally interesting, and much more entertaining, is the second portion of
the Talmud—the Agada. It is, as already stated, the poetry of the Talmud.
It contains fairy tales and words of wisdom, plays of fancy and jests,
parables and legends. The patriarchs and some of the kings and prophets of
the Bible were mostly the characters from whom the allegories of the Agada
were derived. So, for example, of Solomon, a favourite hero of the Agada,
the following pleasant little story is told: “This monarch was once
visited by Queen Sheba, who wished to ascertain in person whether all was
true that was said about him. So she appeared one day before him in his
palace, holding in each hand a bouquet of flowers. And though one was
natural and the other artificial, their resemblance to each other was so
great that it was impossible to tell from a distance which was the
production of nature, and which of art. This, however, Solomon had to
decide. Observing, by chance, a swarm of bees hovering about outside, he
ordered the windows to be opened, and as soon as this was done, the bees
rushed in, and at once fixed on the natural flowers. Queen Sheba was
satisfied with the genuine wisdom of the Jewish monarch.” From this story,
says one of the humorous Agadaists, a good moral lesson can be derived, if
applied to ladies generally, namely, that the bee only rests on the
natural beauties, and never fixes on the painted ones^[52-1].

The Agada tells another story about King Solomon. He had the reputation of
understanding every language in existence, including that of the animal
world, and once heard a bird talking to his mate that was sitting on the
dome of the Temple. “If,” he said, “I were to stamp my foot hard, the
whole Temple would collapse in a moment.” Hearing this grandiloquent
remark, King Solomon called the male bird, and assuming an angry look,
asked him what he meant by such language. Trembling with fear, the bird
excused himself, saying that he merely wished to tell his mate how strong
he was. After being cautioned not to be so boastful in future, the bird
returned to his wife, who was anxiously awaiting his return. And on her
asking him what the great king wanted of him, he answered and said: “King
Solomon urgently implored me not to destroy his beautiful Temple.”

Sometimes the Agada occupies itself with the exposition of certain
Biblical passages, which take the form of homilies. Thus, for instance,
quoting the passage in Jeremiah xlvi. 28: “Fear thou not, my servant
Jacob, for I am with thee; I will make a full end of all the nations by
whom thou art oppressed, but of thee I will never make a full end,” the
Agada speaks to the Jewish people living in exile: “Thou art grieved,” it
says, “that thy Temple is destroyed, and that thy sons and daughters are
scattered and dispersed to all quarters of the globe. But the Temple of
God is the whole universe, and wherever thou wilt address thyself to him
in prayer, he will listen to thee most graciously. Therefore, though thou
art in a strange land, do not forsake the God of thy fathers; erect
schools and colleges, and keep up the flame of knowledge in thy midst. Let
this flame be a substitute for thy fire-offering, and thy heart a
substitute for the altar of old. Both can be replaced by good actions. If
thou hast taken pity on the poor and needy, and by consoling words thou
hast soothed the grief of the widow and the orphan; or if by any
charitable work thou hast saved even one life from misery and degradation,
thou hast done a nobler deed unto thy God than if thou hadst offered him a
thousand sacrifices. Thou art grieved because thy priests are no more; but
it lies within thy power and that of every Israelite to lead as holy a
life as they did. Let each man among you be a disciple of the High Priest
Aaron, a friend of peace, a promoter of peace, and a friend of all men,
and he will be as agreeable to God as the High Priest himself. Thou art
scorned, ridiculed, and persecuted; the nations among whom thou livest try
to get rid of thee; their leaders and statesmen treat thy race like a
horde of outcasts; but do not despair of a better end. For the time is not
far distant when the dawn of brighter days will break; when the rays of an
enlightened age will disperse all the clouds of ignorance and
superstition, and then thou wilt shine again in the golden sun of

In another place the Agada quotes a proverb of its own: “Never cast a
stone into a well out of which thou hast drunk.” And after having reminded
every Israelite of his duty to be grateful even to inanimate things of
Nature from which he has ever derived any benefit, it addresses the
peoples of the world, saying—“Had you acted on this principle, how much
better would the treatment have been which Judaism and its confessors have
ever received at your hands! Have not the books of our poets and prophets
served as an ever flowing source of religious truth and morality, offering
at the same time consolation and hope to millions of your people in times
of sorrow and distress? And why did you cast stones into the well which
has so often quenched your thirst for religious and ethical knowledge?”

Seeing that, even at the present day, some curious ideas prevail as to the
domestic and social position occupied by the Hebrew woman in Talmudical
times, it may be of interest to see what the Agada has to say on this
point. It appears that Hebrew maidens used to go out into the fields and
vineyards on a certain day in the year, clad alike in white garments, so
that there might be no distinction between the wealthy and the poor, and
there they invited the young men of the neighbourhood to dance with them;
and it was their privilege on these occasions to propose marriage to their
partners, stating at the same time their different advantages. Those who
could boast of their noble birth, or who were distinguished for their
personal charms, boldly drew attention to their attractions. The less
well-favoured dwelt upon the value of enduring love and the happiness
which they were prepared to offer to those young men who would choose them
for their wives. There is other evidence in the Talmud which shows that
the Hebrew woman, unlike Orientals, enjoyed comparative freedom in public,
and was likewise allowed to take part in domestic and social affairs. It
is true that polygamy was then still legally permitted, but it existed
only in theory, and had ceased to be generally practised long before it
was wholly interdicted. A witty Agadaist tells us the following tale
regarding the evil consequences of polygamy: “An elderly man, whose hair
had already begun to turn grey, married two wives, one of them young and
beautiful, the other old and plain. The latter, thinking that her husband
would be fonder of her if he looked as old as she did, pulled out all the
black hairs in his head. Her younger rival, acting on the same principle,
removed all his grey hairs. The consequence was that, in course of time,
the unfortunate husband had no hair left on his head at all, and whenever
he made his appearance he was held up to mockery and derision^[55-1].” The
masters have some witty sayings about womanhood generally. “Ten measures
of talk,” they say, “came down to the world. Women received nine measures
for their own use, and the rest of the world one measure.” Commenting on
the passage in Genesis, “And God formed the rib, which he had taken from
the man, into a wife,” another humorous Agadaist says: “She was not formed
out of a man's head, in order that she might not be proud and keep her
head too high; not out of his eye or ear, that she should not be curious,
wishing to see and hear everything; not out of his mouth, that she might
not be too talkative; not out of his heart, that she should not be
jealous; and finally, not out of his hand and foot, in order that she
might not touch everything nor go everywhere. To avoid all these
contingencies, she was formed out of his rib, that is hidden from sight,
and might serve as an emblem of modesty and virtue.”

The Agada is especially rich in pithy maxims, which bear on everyday life,
and have a permanent ethical value. The following specimens will give an
idea of the contents of some of the rest:—“Who is strong? He who subdues
his passion.” “Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his lot.” “Morning
slumber, midday wine, and idle talk with the ignorant destroy a man's
life.” “Do not be near a pious fool.” “Luck makes rich, luck makes wise.”
“It is not the place that honours the man, but the man who honours the
place.” “What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy neighbour.” “Charity is
the most important part of divine worship.”

Commenting on the last-mentioned maxim, a moralizing Agadaist quotes the
following:—“There once lived a man in the East, who had three friends, two
of whom he loved very dearly, but the third he neglected. Once he was
summoned before the judge, where, though innocent, he was accused of a
serious crime. ‘Who amongst you,’ he said to his friends, ‘will go with
me, and plead my cause?’ The first friend excused himself immediately, and
said that he could not go on account of other pressing engagements. The
second went with him as far as the gate of the courthouse, and then he
turned and went home. But the third, whom he had always ignored, went into
the court, appealed to the judge on behalf of his friend, and obtained his
pardon. Man has three friends in the world—wealth, relations, and good
deeds. How do they behave in the hour of death, when God summons him
before his tribunal? The wealth, which was his best friend in life, leaves
him first, and goes not with him. His relations and friends accompany him
to the brink of the grave, and then return to their homes. His good works,
however, which he used to neglect during his lifetime, accompany him as
far as the throne of the All-merciful Father of men, where they speak for
him, plead his cause, and obtain for him God's favour and grace.”

From all that has been said it will be seen what a wonderful work the
Talmud is, and that many a legend, allegory, and maxim found in ancient
and modern literature has flowed from the realms of its boundless fancy.
But the student who wishes to get an insight into this treasure-house of
Rabbinical literature, should not feel discouraged if his early researches
seem to yield him nothing but dross. One of the Jewish sages once compared
the Talmud to the sea. As the moods of the sea vary, so do those of the
Talmud. Many a student has dived into this vast sea of learning and has
brought up nothing but a handful of empty shells; but there are others,
whose searchings have been wider and deeper, that have won for themselves
pearls of the finest water, and of considerable value.


[52-1] Cp. _Curiosities of Literature_, by I. D'Israeli: _sub_ Solomon and
Queen Sheba.

[54-1] Cp. _Megilla_, p. 29; _Succah_, p. 49; _Berachoth_, p. 15; also
_Menachoth_, p. 110.

[55-1] Cp. _Bab. Kam._, p. 60; _Aesop_ (_Halm_, 56), and also
_Lafontaine_, I, 17.



After the disintegration of the Jewish state in 70 A. D. a large number of
refugees went to live in Spain, in that land of flowers and sunshine that
was already known in Biblical times under the name of Tarshish. There they
lived happily for several centuries, under the rule of various Gothic
kings, until one of them, Reccared by name, who lived in 590, embraced
Christianity. This was the commencement of a prolonged period of religious
intolerance, which continued till the invasion and conquest of Spain by
the Moors in 711 A. D., when religious independence was proclaimed. The
privileges thus obtained were a direct incentive to the Jews to
participate in the literary and scientific life that flourished round them
under the immediate protection of the high-minded Caliphs. The finest
productions of Jewish thought were brought to light through the cordial
friendship which they entertained for their Mohammedan neighbours, and
their friendly intercourse resulted in far-reaching advantages to both of
them. The Arabs, by this means, became acquainted with the beautiful
legends and maxims found in the Rabbinical writings, a good many of which
they subsequently used as material for enriching their own literature;
while the Jews gained an insight into the beauties of the Arabic poetry,
which they, in their turn, essayed to imitate in Hebrew. The Spanish era,
which extended over more than six centuries, may be justly called the
golden age in the post-Biblical history of the Jews. For, while nearly the
whole of Europe was during that time plunged in the depths of ignorance
and superstition, Spanish Judaism distinguished itself by its efforts
within the field of original classical work. In fact, had it not been for
the labours of the Spanish Jews in handing over to the West some of the
literary treasures of the East, together with those of the Greeks and
Romans, it is doubtful whether these valuable works would have been
preserved to us.

The principal representatives of the Spanish Hebrew poets were—Solomon Ibn
Gabirol, Abraham Ibn Ezra, Jehuda Halevi, and Jehuda Alcharizi. But as
their lives and works have already been largely dealt with by several
eminent scholars, it is only proposed to give here a few specimens of
their humour.

Solomon Ibn Gabirol, who was born in Malaga in 1020, acquired the
reputation of being a profound philosopher, but his special claim to
recognition rests on his poetry. The leading characteristic of his verse
is its sadness, although some of his poems were written in a vein of pure
humour. His poem entitled _Kether Malchus_ (the Royal Crown) is
undoubtedly one of his best poetic compositions. It has for its theme the
loftiest of subjects—God, the Universe, and Man. Humboldt considers it to
be the noblest monument of Neo-Hebraic poetry, inasmuch as it contains
vivid flashes which recall the poetical inspiration of the prophets.

Ibn Gabirol's humour is, however, best represented in his famous
“Wine-song,” which he composed at a banquet given to him by a wealthy but
niggardly man called Moses. Gabirol and the other guests had nothing
offered to them to drink but water, and indignant thereat he wrote a few
stanzas, the refrain of which was easily taken up and chanted by the whole
company. The song runs in a free English translation somewhat as follows:—


    Full sweet of a truth is the sparkle of wine,
    But sorely we miss this blessing divine,
    And how can we waken a song or a laugh
    When we find that we simply have nothing to quaff
                                But water, mere water?


    The banquet has little contentment to bring,
    Bears little incitement to joke or to sing,
    When the potions we hoped to our future would fall
    Turn out in the end to be nothing at all,
                                But water, yes water.


    Good Moses of old caused the waters to flee,
    And led all his people dryshod o'er the sea;
    But Moses, our host, at the precedent frowns,
    And us, his poor guests, he unflinchingly drowns
                                In water, cold water.


    We sit round the table like cold-blooded frogs,
    Who live out their lives in the watery bogs;
    Well,—if we have fallen on watery days,
    Let us, too, like them, croak a paean in praise
                                Of water, dear water.


    Long, long may our host here with main and with might
    By night and by day for his temperance fight,
    And may he and his line find it writ in the law
    That their business in life will be ever to draw
                                Water, pure water^[60-1].

Gabirol died when he was only about thirty years of age. It is said that a
Moor, who fancied himself to be a great poet, being jealous of Gabirol's
success, which he was unable to equal, invited him to his house on a dark
night and put him to death.

Abraham Ibn Ezra (1088–1167) achieved a certain amount of fame because of
the genuine humour which characterized both his prose and verse. Like so
many other men of genius, Ibn Ezra had all his life been in very
straitened circumstances, but he never permitted his ill-fortune or
disappointments to interfere with his natural cheerfulness. His is the
courage which laughs at misfortunes. Thus he writes:—

    In vain I labour, all my toil is vain,
    For never can I boast of riches' gain;
    The fates have frowned upon me, since my birth,
    And failure is my portion here on earth.
    Were I to take the notion in my head
    To deal in shrouds, the cerements of the dead,
    Then to establish how ill-starred am I,
    No man who lives on earth would ever die;
    Or should I try to make wax-candles pay,
    The sun would shine by night as well as day^[61-1].

When Ibn Ezra saw that it was impossible for him to earn a livelihood in
his native country, he determined to try his fortune abroad. He thus
visited Egypt at the time when the famous Maimonides was the physician at
the Court of the Sultan Saladin. He made several vain attempts to see him,
and in the end he composed the following epigram:—

    I call on my Lord in the morning,
    I am told that on horse-back he's sped;
    I call once again in the evening,
    And hear that his lordship's abed.
    But whether his Highness is riding,
    Or whether my Lord is asleep,
    I'm perfectly sure, disappointment
    Is the one single fruit I shall reap^[61-2].

More fortunate as regards worldly possessions was Jehuda Halevi, the most
celebrated Hebrew poet since the close of the Hebrew Canon. Born in
Toledo, in Spain, about the end of the eleventh century, he received an
excellent education, and his genius showed itself very early. Though
following the medical profession with conspicuous success, he is chiefly
known as the author of some philosophical works and of numerous charming
poems in Hebrew. Some of them have been made familiar to the literary
world by Heinrich Heine, who speaks of their author as follows:—“When his
soul was on the point of leaving heaven, she was kissed by the Creator.
This kiss re-echoed afterwards in the poet's mind, and vibrated in all the
poetical offsprings of his genius.”

Particularly fine is the sacred song which Jehuda Halevi composed under
the title of “An Ode to Zion,” a condensed version of which in prose runs
somewhat as follows:—

“Hast thou, O Zion, forsaken thy captive children? Hearest thou not the
heartfelt greetings thy flock sendeth thee from the end of the earth? They
look to thee with longing hearts, and from year to year they shed their
tears on thy beautiful hills and mountains. Had I but wings I would fly to
thy ruins, that my head might touch thy sacred ground, and my feet rest on
the holy tombs of my fathers. In thy fragrant air I should breathe the
breath of life, and inhale the perfume of thy dust, and eagerly I should
drink the sweet waters of thy streams. O Zion, crown of beauty, towards
thee are bent the hearts of thy lovers; they rejoice in thy joy, and weep
with thee in the days of thine affliction. Towards thy gates they pour
forth their fervent prayers, and long for the shade of thy palm-trees. Oh
thrice happy mortal, who shall live to see the dawn of thy renewed glory,
and be present when thou wilt shine again in splendour and beauty as in
the days of thy youth.”

Jehuda Halevi has also written a considerable number of secular poems and
songs, having love, friendship, and the joys of life for their theme. Some
of them are light and humorous, as the following lines will show:—

                             A Fancy^[63-1].

    I once nursed Love upon my knee,
    I saw his likeness in my eye,
    He kissed the lid so tenderly,
    'Twas himself he kissed, the rogue, not me.

                               A Serenade.

    Awake, O my dear one, from slumber arise,
    The sight of thy face will give ease to my pain.
    If thou dreamest of one that is kissing thine eyes,
    Awake, and the dream I full soon shall explain^[63-2].

                         On a Rain Cloud^[63-3].

    Without an eye it weeps, and we
    Do laugh with joy its kiss to see,
    But when its eyeless face is dry,
    'Tis then our turn to weep and sigh.

The last of the famous quartette of Spanish Hebrew poets living in the
Middle Ages, exclusive of the famous Moses Ibn Ezra, was Jehuda ben
Shelomoh Alcharizi. He flourished in Spain in the first half of the
thirteenth century, and was famous in his day not only as a linguist and
philosopher, but even more so as a master of sparkling rhymed prose and
verse. His reputation rests chiefly on his charming book entitled
_Tachkemoni_, which consists of fifty chapters, having for their model the
peculiar form of the so-called Makāma, which the author has adopted from
his favourite Arabic poet, Al Hariri. Alcharizi and his _Tachkemoni_ have
in modern times been exhaustively criticized, so that there is very little
left to be said about him. A specimen of his humour may, however, be aptly
given here; it is an extract from the sixth Makāma of the _Tachkemoni_,
which is called “The Unlucky Marriage.”

“Thus relate Hayman the Esrachite:—While living in Tarbez, a town
pleasantly situated in the East, I sat one day in one of the public
bazaars in company with some friends. I suddenly noticed among the crowd a
haggard man whom I soon recognized as Heber the Kenite, an old and
intimate friend of my youth. I quickly ran up to him, and amidst cordial
greetings and embraces I questioned him about the state of his health, and
about his intended plans for the future. At the same time I suggested to
him that he should settle down in my neighbourhood, so that I could look
after him, and even assist him in making a suitable marriage. When Heber
heard my last remark, he sighed deeply, and said: ‘Dear friend, I entreat
you with all my heart and soul not to induce me to get married to any
woman, for my past experiences of wedlock have been so painful that I
should not like to have them repeated.’ And on my pressing him to let me
know what had happened, he told me the following tale:—

“‘Some time ago, it so happened that I was rather depressed in mind at my
lonely bachelor state, and thus I resolved to enter upon matrimonial life,
which I fancied would bring me happiness and contentment to my heart's
desire. This pleasant thought at once took hold of me, and being unable to
stay in the house, I rushed out into the street in search of some
imaginary pretty girl, whom I intended to marry, and be happy with ever
after. Presently an old and mysterious-looking woman came up, and greeting
me humbly, addressed me as follows:—“May God be with you, young man, and
grant you a long and prosperous life. From afar I have closely watched
you, and admired your handsome face and erect figure. But you seem to be
sad, and in want of a lively companion whom you would call your wife. Now
I know a most beautiful maiden in town, who would be a suitable match for
you. She belongs to an excellent family, is highly accomplished, and, as
for her looks, they are simply fascinating, and especially her eyes send
forth a glorious light, like the lovely stars in a cloudless sky. Happy
will the man be who will succeed in winning her love, but this can only be
done if he assigns to her a dowry of two thousand ducats, payable to her
father on the day of her marriage.”’

“After a short pause my friend Heber went on to relate the story of his
strange adventure, saying:—

“‘The glorious description given to me by the old woman of my future bride
caused my heart to beat loudly within me, and in answer I said that I
would willingly agree to pay the stipulated sum of two thousand ducats, if
I could only first obtain a glimpse of the lovely girl who was to be my
wife. But the woman hurried away, having assured me that my desire would
be fulfilled on the following day, when everything would also be ready for
the celebration of the marriage ceremony. Thereupon I went home in a most
agitated state and passed a sleepless night, looking forward to the happy
morning when I expected to meet my charming bride. Next day, at an early
hour, the old woman made her appearance, and told me, with a beaming face,
that my future father-in-law would soon be here to give his consent to the
wedding. And hardly had she said so, when the door of my room opened, and
my future father-in-law came in, accompanied by several elders of the
community, whom he addressed as follows:—“Brethren and friends, this young
man here, who is well off and belongs to a good family, is desirous of
marrying my daughter, and of assigning to her a dowry of two thousand
ducats. Be ye now witnesses that I fully consent to this proposed
marriage, and that I readily accept the amount of the dowry which he has
promised to pay for the privilege of enjoying the advantage of our near

“‘I was about to remonstrate against these proceedings, when the marriage
contract was quickly thrust into my hands which, after some hesitation, I
duly signed and handed over to the notary who was present. Thereupon the
preparations were soon made for the wedding ceremony and its subsequent
feast, which were to take place in the evening of that very day. When it
got dark the wedding guests arrived, and brought with them the fair maiden
that was to become my lawful wife. Her face was covered with a thick veil,
and thus standing close to me, the wedding ceremony was solemnized in the
usual way. Then the feasting and merry-making began, and lasted for some
time. But gradually the crowd of the wedding guests disappeared, and when
I was left alone with my wife, I blushingly spoke to her for the first
time the following tender words: “Oh, thou fairest of women, remove the
veil from thy sweet face, that I may behold and admire the beautiful eyes
which shine like the stars in a cloudless sky.” She removed her veil; then
lo, and behold, what an awakening! The female that stood there before me
was not a fair maiden with softly shining eyes, but rather a monster in
female guise, who had a fierce and threatening look about her, and filled
me with feelings of horror and consternation. Presently recovering from my
shock, I asked my wife whether she had any trinkets and jewels, costly
robes, and precious shawls that had been given to her by her father as a
dowry. In a husky voice she answered: “I have assuredly left a large
bundle in my father's house, which is filled with veils and slippers,
nightcaps and aprons, and several other things that my poor departed
mother had bequeathed to me as my marriage portion. All these things are
there ready for my immediate use.”’

“After a few minutes' silence, my friend Heber concluded his story as
follows: ‘On hearing the shrill voice of my wife, and the description she
gave me of her wedding outfit, I got mad with rage. Like a flash I rushed
out of the house, and ran all night on the road until I came to a thick
forest, which afforded me shelter till the following morning, when I
continued my flight from the unlovely society of my spouse. Since that
fearful night I am wandering from place to place, and all that I ask of
you, my friend, is, to let me go away in peace.’”

Light humour is also frequently met with in certain little Hebrew poems
extant, which end in a “point,” especially of the satirical kind. They are
somewhat similar in form and construction to the epigrams found in ancient
and modern literatures, and are termed in modern Hebrew _Michtamim_. They
form, according to Steinschneider^[67-1], an important branch of
Neo-Hebrew literature, and rival in excellence and copiousness any other
class of epigrams in existence.

Hebrew epigrams have both mediaeval and modern Jewish writers for their
authors, and the following rendering into English of some of them will
give the reader an approximate idea of their contents.


                 The Grey Hair. By Jehudah Halevi^[67-2].

    One day I observed a grey hair in my head;
    I plucked it right out, when it thus to me said:
    “Thou mayest smile, if thou wilt, at thy treatment of me,
    But a score of my friends soon will make mock of thee.”


                The Song of the Pen. By Alcharizi^[67-3].

    My Muse, though airy, glides softly along,
    Singing full oft a voiceless song;
    My pen, though frail and slim of figure,
    Has a serpent's tooth and a lion's vigour.


              The Unhappy Lover. By the same author^[67-4].

    O lovely maiden, thou hast drawn my heart
    To thee, as though by some magician's art,
    Yet though my love is like a glowing flame,
    Thy coldness brings me but to scorn and shame.
    Mind, if I perish through thy chill disdain,
    The folks will say, “Here's one by woman slain^[67-5].”


          The Gift of the Benevolent. By the same author^[68-1].

    The gift a noble soul may bring,
    Is like the dew that heaven sows;
    It gently falls on hill and dale,
    But how it cometh, no man knows.
    The promise of a wicked heart
    Is like unto the thunder peal,
    Lit by the lightning's lurid flash
    With ne'er a drop of rain to heal.


          Happiness amidst Troubles. By Immanuel di Roma^[68-2].

    Whenever troublous hours I find
    That rob me of my peace of mind,
    To thee I haste, my little bride,
    And all forget, when by thy side.
    Let others laud their castled towers,
    Their magic grots, their gladsome bowers:
    For me that place hath chiefest charms,
    That brings me, dearest, to thine arms.


            The Mouth and the Ears. By Palqera (1264)^[68-3].

    My friend, speak always once, but listen twice,
    This, I would have you know, is sound advice;
    For God hath given you and all your peers
    A single mouth, friend, but a pair of ears.


         The Miser and the Fisherman. By Ben-Zeeb (1785)^[68-4].

    A miser once into a river fell—
    Hard by a boatman heard his frenzied yell;
    He swiftly ran and cried, “Give me your hand,
    And I shall bring you safely back to land.”
    “Give,” moaned the miser, “when I've ne'er before
    Given, No—never!” He was seen no more.


            The Miser and the Poor. By the same author^[69-1].

    A miser once dreamed he had given away
    Some bread to a beggar he met on the way.
    In terror he woke, and he solemnly swore
    That the rest of his life he would slumber no more.


                   The Gourmand and Late Riser^[69-2].

    My piteous plight oft makes me weep—
    I cannot eat when I am asleep.


                     An Epitaph. By Ben-Jacob^[69-3].

    Here lies _Nachshon_, man of great renown,
    Who won much glory in his native town:
    'Twas hunger that killed him, and they let him die—
    They give him statues now, and gaze, and sigh—
    While _Nachshon_ lived, he badly wanted _bread_,
    Now he is gone, he gets a _stone_ instead.


               Naomi's Troubles. By the same author^[69-4].

    The weather's been so bad that I
    A place of worship could not try;
    But now that my new frock I see,
    I'll go whate'er the weather may be.


           The Miser and the Mouse. By the same author^[69-5].

    A miser saw a tiny mouse
    Nimbly running through the house,
    “Hence,” he cried, “voracious beast,
    Here is nought whereon to feast.”
    Thereupon the mouse did say:
    “Be not angry, sir, I pray:
    In me a lodger plain you see,
    And I have brought my food with me.”


                 The Penitent. By the same author^[70-1].

    A rich, but not a holy man,
    Grew old, and to repent began;
    So, to perform a pious deed
    That would procure him heaven's meed,
    He thought, and thought, then bade at last
    His _servants_ one whole day to fast.

A frequent charge preferred against Jewish literature by modern
critics^[70-2] is, that it is deficient of humour. The instances given in
this essay, as well as in some others forming part of the present volume
may, perhaps, contribute in some small degree to dissipate this fallacy.


[60-1] There is also in existence a witty epigram composed by the same
author when a certain Jewish scribbler plagiarized one of his poems, and
circulated it as his own. In this epigram Gabirol compares himself to an
ever-flowing stream, which continues its course, and does not mind if some
poor mortal draws from it now and again a bucketful of water. Cp. Dukes,
_Shire Shelomo_, p. 50.

[61-1] Cp. Geiger's _Jüdische Dichtungen_, Leipzig, 1856, p. 21.

[61-2] Cp. _Orient_, 1843, Literaturblatt, p. 658.

[63-1] This translation is taken from Mr. Joseph Jacobs' article on
“Jehuda Halevi,” published among the _Papers read before the Jews' College
Literary Society_, 1886–7.

[63-2] Cp. the above article by Mr. Joseph Jacobs.

[63-3] This translation from the original Hebrew was done by Mr. Israel

[67-1] Cp. Steinschneider, _Jewish Literature_, p. 171.

[67-2] Cp. Dukes, _Lit.-Blatt des Orients_, p. 709.

[67-3] Cp. the ninth Makāma in his _Tachkemoni_.

[67-4] Cp. the twentieth Makāma in his _Tachkemoni_.

[67-5] The latter phrase occurs in the Book of Judges ix. 54, and is here
wittily applied by Alcharizi to his own purpose.

[68-1] Cp. _Catalogue of the Hebrew MSS. of the Montefiore College
Library_, compiled by Dr. H. Hirschfeld.

[68-2] Cp. third Machberoth.

[68-3] Steinschneider, _Manna_, p. 84.

[68-4] Cp. His ‪תלמוד לשון עברי‬, p. 190.

[69-1] Cp. Ben-Jacob, _Epigrammata ac Poemata varia_, p. 104.

[69-2] Cp. Schlesinger, _Meassef_, 1805.

[69-3] Cp. Ben-Jacob, _Epigrammata_, &c., p. 19.

[69-4] Ibid. p. 7.

[69-5] Ibid. p. 101.

[70-1] Cp. Ben-Jacob, _Epigrammata_, &c., p. 38.

[70-2] Cp. Froude, _Carlyle's Life in London_, II, p. 480; and also Renan,
_Histoire des langues sémitiques_ (I, 9, 11), wherein the following
curious remark occurs: “Les peuples sémitiques manquent presque
complètement de curiosité et de la faculté de rire.”


                             YEDAYA BEDARESI


The year 1306 was a fateful one in the annals of the Jews in France. At
the beginning of that year Philip IV, surnamed _Le Bel_, issued an edict
of expulsion against all the Jews living in his dominions. The edict
practically confiscated all their property, and its terms were so rigorous
that any Israelite found on French soil after a certain time became liable
to the penalty of death.

Philip's mandate was promptly executed by the royal officers, and some
100,000 Jews were mercilessly driven out from their native land—a land in
which their forefathers had resided long before Christianity had become
the dominant religion there. In consequence of this expulsion, several
famous Jewish seats of learning, such as those at Béziers, Lunel, and
Montpellier ceased to exist. Among the refugees was Yedaya En-Bonet ben
Abraham Bedaresi, the subject of the present essay. Yedaya, known also
under the poetical pseudonym of Penini, has left no documentary evidence
concerning the incidents of his life. The best biography, however, of a
man like Yedaya is that which is found in his own works. There is some
diversity of opinion among biographers as to the exact date of Yedaya's
birth, for while Bartolocci, Wolf, and de Rossi say that he was born in
1298, Steinschneider and Neubauer put the year of his birth between 1255
and 1260, without, however, attempting to fix the year of his death.
Graetz, again, maintains that Yedaya was born in 1280, and died about
1340, and that his birthplace was Béziers and not Barcelona, as some
biographers believe^[72-1]. The only indisputable fact in connexion with
Yedaya's early education is that he entered the school of Rabbi Meshullam
of Péziers when he was fifteen years old. From Yedaya's numerous writings
it is obvious that he was a philosopher and moralist, a Talmudical scholar
and an expert in medicine, and above all a clever writer of Hebrew prose
and poetry. It is chiefly to his ability in this direction that he owes
his prominent position among the Jewish savants of the Middle Ages, and
for that reason special attention will have to be paid in the course of
this essay to his chief work entitled _Bechînath Olam_, “The Examination
of the World.” It is true that Graetz finds fault with this poetical
composition, which he condemns for its empty grandiloquence and
artificiality. But, on the other hand, Munk, in his _Mélanges_, p. 495,
and Buxtorf, in his _Bibliotheca Rabbinica_, speak very highly of Yedaya's
poetical talent; and the latter calls “The Examination of the World” an
excellent literary production. And, indeed, the same opinion will be
shared by all those readers of the _Bechînath Olam_ who, like Munk and
Buxtorf, are not prejudiced against it, on the ground that its style is
not so pure, elegant, and clear as that met with in some of the writings
of the most prominent representatives of the so-called Spanish and Italian
schools of Hebrew poetry. It has, in fact, always enjoyed an extraordinary
popularity among the Jews; and it is remarkable to notice the
comparatively large number of MSS. of the original, and of the
commentaries on it, which are to be found in various libraries. It may
further be mentioned that it has passed through more than forty-four
editions, issued both with and without commentaries, at various times and
in various countries, and has been frequently translated into German and
into Jargon, while there were Latin, English, French, Italian, and Polish
versions as well. It is interesting to note that the eleventh and twelfth
chapters of one of the German editions, issued at Prague in 1795 by Moses
Kunitz, were rendered into German by Moses Mendelssohn; and that the
French translation, published in Paris in 1629 by Ph. d'Aquin, was
dedicated to Cardinal Richelieu. The English version, which appeared in
London in 1806, was inscribed by its author, Rabbi Tobias Goodman, to “The
Most Reverend Solomon Hirschell, Presiding Rabbi of the German Jews”; and
the Latin one, which has for its title _Examen mundi, R. J. Bedrishitae,
latina interpretatione_, was done by Uchtman, and issued at Leyden in

Curiously enough the editor of the first of the forty-four known editions
of the _Bechînath Olam_, printed, as some biographers think, at Mantua
between 1476 and 1480, was a lady called Estellina, the wife of a certain
Abraham Conath. She was assisted in her task by Jacob Levy of Tarascon.
The last known edition of the book, or rather the greater part of it, was
published only a few years ago by Dr. Harkavy, of St. Petersburg, from a
MS. in his possession. Dr. Harkavy is also the owner of a hitherto
unpublished commentary thereon, composed in 1508 by Isaac Mançon of
Reggio. In some prefatory lines the author states that he was induced to
write the commentary, because he had noticed that many young men in his
country were in the habit of learning the original by heart, without
knowing anything about its contents.

As regards the style and composition of the _Bechînath Olam_, which seems
to have been composed by Yedaya after the expulsion of the Jews from
France in 1306, it must be admitted at the outset that the general reader
will not find them quite in harmony with modern taste. De Lacy, in his
_Magasin encyclopédique_, III, p. 321, censures the author for his use of
certain Biblical phrases in a sense different to that which they bear in
the Bible. But he readily admits that the Church fathers during the Middle
Ages, and certain Arabic writers, at all times, have taken the same
liberties with the Scriptures and the Koran respectively. The greatest of
the Spanish-Jewish poets, not excluding Ibn Gabirol himself, allowed
themselves the same licence, while Charizi often made his happiest points
by the witty misuse of a familiar Biblical phrase. Despite this defect, it
cannot be denied that the _Bechînath Olam_ possesses a peculiar charm of
its own.

Those who are acquainted with the Hebrew Bible, the Midrash, and the
Talmud, cannot fail to appreciate the art with which Biblical phrases,
used with an occasional striking play on words, are worked into a mosaic.
Take, for instance, the following sentences which occur in chapter IX:—

אפס כי לא תהיה תפארת הממנות נמשכת—עוד מעט ויצאה רוח אלהים לבזור
רכושיך—ויהיו כלא היו חמשים אלפי זהב אשר בקנינם מכרת נפשך• תתהפך הזמן כמעט
רגע לקחת חן וכבוד מעל ראשך—תרד אש האלהים מן השמים ותאכל אותך ואת חמשיך•

“By no means let thy pride in thy wealth endure, for at any moment a blast
may come from God, which will scatter and disperse all thy treasures. Then
will vanish as naught the fifty thousand ducats for which thou hast
bartered thy soul, and thy former honour and glory will likewise depart at
thy sudden reverse of fortune. Or a fire may come down from heaven, and
devour thee along with thy five myriads of ducats.”

Here it will at once be seen how cleverly the author uses for his own
purpose certain phrases found in the second chapter of 2 Kings in
connexion with the prophet Elijah, and how ingenious the play on the word
‪חמשיך‬ is.

As this peculiar mode of composition is a marked feature of the _Bechînath
Olam_, a few more examples of a somewhat different kind may be given here
for the sake of illustration. In chapter IV we read as follows^[74-1]:—

    Thy belongings in sooth are but passion and lust,
    Thy strength sinks asunder like light crumbling dust;
    Thy treasures, like thorns, are surrounded with stings,
    Thy most precious possessions are but worthless things,
    Thy pride is enkindled like flames in the night,
    Thy riches, like insects, soon hasten to flight.

And again, in chapter XI, the author gives the following description of
the four seasons of the year:—

    The lovely Spring gives me no peace,
    For constant cares disturb my ease.
    The Summer, too, is full of pain,
    Its glow and heat are but my bane.
    The Autumn has no charms for me,
    From cold and ills I ne'er am free.
    When Winter brings its snow and frost,
    Oh, then I am undone and lost^[75-1].

Another conspicuous feature of the _Bechînath Olam_ is its frequent use of
poetical metaphors, which the author employs with great aptitude and
force. The eighth chapter of the book in question, beginning with the
words: ‪התבל ים זועף‬ may fitly serve as an illustration of this, and the
following free English translation of it will afford the reader at the
same time an insight into the general contents of the whole poem. It runs
as follows:—

“The world is as a boisterous sea of immense depth and width, and time
forms a fragile bridge built over it. The upper end thereof is fastened to
the ground by means of weak ropes, and its lower end leads to a place
which is shone upon by the rays of the divine light, emanating from God's
majesty. The breadth of the bridge is but one short span, and has no
balustrade work to save one from falling over it. Over this narrow path,
thou, O son of man, art compelled to go, and notwithstanding all thy might
and glory, thou canst not turn either to the right or to the left. Now,
threatened as thou art on both sides with death and destruction, how canst
thou maintain thy courage, and how can thy hands remain firm? In vain dost
thou pride thyself on the possession of vast treasures obtained by thee
through violence and wickedness; for of what avail are they to thee when
the sea rises, and rages, and foams, thus threatening to wreck the little
hut (i.e. the body) wherein thou livest? Canst thou boast thou canst calm
and subdue the powerful waves, or wilt thou try to fight against them?
Drunk with the wine of thy vanity, thou art pushed hither and thither,
until thou sinkest into the mighty abyss; and tossed about from deep to
deep, thou wilt at last be merged in the foaming waves, and none will
bring thee to life again.”

The ninth and eleventh chapters of the _Bechînath Olam_ contain some
passages which refer to the author's own sufferings, at the time of the
expulsion of the Jews from France, and to the cowardice then displayed by
some wealthy French Jews, who, in order to be permitted to remain in the
country, and to retain their riches, had embraced Christianity. How
shamefully these renegades behaved, in the face of the great calamity
which had befallen their co-religionists, may be seen from the following
passages, which occur in chapter XI:—

    What care they for those gloomy envoys of fate?
    They dance all the night, and they rise very late.
    Feasting they love, and high play and flirtation,
    And laughter, and pleasure, and wild dissipation.
    They look upon evil, of whatever sort,
    As a mirth-causing jest, and an innocent sport^[76-1].

The chief fault of the book is the frequent use of Chaldaic and Aramaic
words and phrases, a proper translation of which is almost impossible, but
these are more than counterbalanced by its many merits.

Another small treatise, composed by the same author when he was eighteen
years old, is one that bears the title ‪צלצול כנפים‬, and has for its
subject “The Defence of Women.” Till about fifteen years ago there was one
MS. in existence—that in the Bodleian Library; but Dr. Neubauer published
it for the first time in the _Jubelschrift_ (Berlin, 1888), issued by some
friends of Zunz on the occasion of his celebrating his ninetieth birthday,
under the title of ‪אוהב נשים‬, “The Women's Friend” This title is more
appropriate than the one it originally bore, for the simple reason that
the treatise in question was evidently written by Yedaya in opposition to
another, composed in 1208, by the physician Judah ben Sabbatai, under the
title of ‪שונא נשים‬, “The Woman-hater.” This treatise, which Yedaya
dedicated to two of his friends, viz. to Meïr and Judah, the sons of Don
Solomon Del Infanz, is written in rhymed prose, intermixed with a few
short verses. Its style is rather heavy, and all that can be gathered from
its subject-matter is this, that a certain king, called Cushan Rishataïm,
a great woman-hater, once waged war against an army composed of the
friends of womankind, and led by a general named Seria. The latter
ultimately defeated the king and his hostile troops, and, out of gratitude
for his great victory, he was himself proclaimed king by his own
followers. Under his reign a new and happy era opened for the women, who
are then wooed and married, and loved more dearly than before; and wedded
life is everywhere declared to be the most desirable state of existence.

The ‪אוהב נשים‬ closes with the description of the appearance of Judah ben
Sabbatai's ghost on earth, and of how it agrees with all Yedaya's
statements made there, with the exception of one. Every man, the ghost
declares, ought certainly to marry once; but it would be the height of
folly on his part if he were to enter again upon the matrimonial state,
after his first marriage had turned out a failure.

In passing, it may be mentioned that the same controversy about the merits
and demerits of the married state was still carried on in the sixteenth
century among some learned Jewish writers in Italy. Among these are most
conspicious: Jacob of Fano, who in his poem ‪שלטי הגבורים‬, “The Shield of
the Mighty,” makes a strong attack on women, and Judah Sommo, of
Portaleone, who in his treatise ‪מגן נשים‬, “The Women's Protector,” which
exists in a MS. in the Bodleian Library, presents himself as a champion of
women. To these writers may be added Messer Leon (flourished at Mantua, at
the end of the fifteenth century) who, in a commentary on the thirty-first
chapter of Proverbs, eulogizes the female sex in general, and a few
specially named women in particular. Among them he mentions Laura, the
lady-love of the poet Petrarch; and it is interesting to notice the
trouble which the author takes to prove that Laura was by no means a myth,
as some writers on Petrarch consider her, but that she really existed in
person, and was remarkable for her exquisite beauty and grace.

Resuming now our review of Yedaya's literary compositions, especially of
those he wrote when he was still very young, we have to refer to a Hebrew
hymn of his, well known under the title of ‪בקשת הממין‬, the formal
characteristic of which is this, that each word of it begins with the
letter _Mem_ (מ). Bartolocci, in his _Bibliotheca Rabbinica_, III, p. 7,
gives the same hymn the title of ‪תהלה לשם‬, “Praise of God.” This seems
to have been Yedaya's first literary attempt, it being generally assumed
that it was composed by him at the age of fourteen. His father, Abraham,
himself a writer of Hebrew verses of inferior quality, was so delighted
with his son's hymn that he sang its praises in a short Hebrew quatrain.
Although, from a literary point of view, the _Supplication of the Memmin_
has little to recommend it, it has passed through fifteen editions, and
has frequently been translated into German, and once also into Latin by
Hil. Prache, who published his version at Leipzig, in 1662.

Another short composition belonging to an early period of Yedaya's life is
his ‪ספר הפרדס‬, “The Book on Paradise,” which was composed by him at the
age of seventeen, and appeared for the first time in print at
Constantinople, in 1517. It is divided into four chapters, each of which
has a different heading, while the fourth chapter is again subdivided into
four sections. The principal subjects discussed in these chapters are
(_a_) The worship of God; (_b_) Friendship and Enmity; (_c_) The Lack of
Stability in the World; and (_d_) The Desirability of Studying Science
after the usual Devotions. After having reached manhood, he wrote several
other treatises of a similar description, each of which will be briefly
noticed here.

(1) ‪לשון הזהב‬, “The Golden Tongue.” This forms part of a commentary
(existing as a MS. on the _Agada_ and the _Midrashim_), and was first
printed at Venice in 1599.

(2) A MS. bearing the inscription ‪פירוש מסכת אבות ופירוש אגדות בתלמוד‬,
Commentary on the Ethics of the Fathers, and on the Agadoth in the Talmud.

(3) ‪אגרת התנצלות‬, An apologetical Letter. This well-known and
  often-quoted letter was addressed by Yedaya to Rabbi Solomon ben Adereth
(‪רש״בא‬), on the occasion of his publicly censuring the Jewish
communities of the Provence for their occupying themselves with scientific
studies. There a passage occurs which throws some light on the author's
own ideas thereon. It was as follows:—

“We cannot give up science; it is as the breath of our nostrils. Even if
Joshua were to appear and forbid it we would not obey him; for we have a
warranty which outweighs them all, viz. Maimuni, who recommended it, and
impressed it upon us. We are ready to set our goods, our children, and our
lives at stake for it^[79-1].”

(4) A Liturgical Poem. It is composed of a number of words, each of which
begins with the letter _Aleph_ (‪א‬), and refers, according to
Graetz^[79-2], to the sufferings endured by the French Jews in 1306.

(5) A Treatise on Medicine, based on a similar work composed by the Jewish
philosopher Ibn Sina.

(6) ‪כתב הדת‬, “A Treatise on Intellect.” This, too, is based on another
book treating of a kindred subject, and bearing the inscription ‪ספר השכל‬
‪והמושכלות‬, the author of which is Al-Fabri. A Latin translation of the
latter exists under the title of _De Intellectu et Intellecto_, Venice,

(7) ‪הדעת בשכל החמרי‬, “Opinions on the Material Intellect.”

(8) ‪המאמר בהפכי המהלך‬ is a philosophical treatise on the movements of
bodies, and has been quoted by Ibn Habib under the title of ‪כתב הפכי‬

(9) ‪כתב ההתעצמות‬, “Treatise on Consolation.”

(10) Is a MS. without any title; but judging from its contents, it seems
to correspond with the ‪ספר הצורות המיניות‬ once quoted by the same Ibn

(11) ‪מדבר קדמות‬, “The Desert of Kedemoth.” This is a commentary on the
twenty-five propositions placed by Maimonides at the beginning of the
tenth chapter of his ‪מורה נבוכים‬.

(12) A Hebrew poem, having for its subject the thirteen articles as
arranged by Maimonides.

The authorship of the following four compositions is also attributed to

(1) A Divan, compiled by a member of the family of Bedaresi, that member
being, according to Luzzatto, no other than our Yedaya.

(2) ‪מעדני מלך‬, “The Pleasure of a King,” is a short treatise on the game
of Chess, and has several times appeared in print.

(3) Wolf, in the _Bibliotheca Rabbinica_, I, p. 403, attributes to Yedaya
the authorship of a commentary on another commentary, written by Abraham
Ibn Ezra on the Book of Genesis, the former of which exists as a MS. in
the Paris National Library.

(4) ‪אגרת התשובה‬, “A Letter of Response,” This letter, which was
published by Dr. Berliner in 1888, and copies of which are found in
various MSS., is attributed to Yedaya by Bartolocci and de Rossi.

Enough has been said to show the industry, which was Yedaya's most
striking characteristic. At a time when a man's mind is perturbed by
external influences, involving not only his abilities but even his
personal safety, it would seem that intellectual work would be impossible:
it was, however, at such a time that the bulk of Yedaya's work was
undertaken and executed.


[72-1] Cp. Graetz's _Gesch. d. J._, VII, p. 277.


‏    החוקים מחשכים—וכלי הנשקים שקים,
‏    הפנינים צנינים—והשושנים קמשונים,
‏    הרהבים להבים—והזהובים זבובים•


‏   1   האביב לא יאנה השקימני—כאובות במכאובות חדשים יבקעני—
‏   2   הקיץ יקוץ בחיי במצוקות יציקני—יקיצני משנת מנוחה מקטב מרירי—
‏   3   החורף יחרפני למות יחרף לבבי מהיות שלו בפגעי—
‏   4   הסתיו יסית צנה וסגריר לבלעני חנם•


‏לא האמינו לשמועתו—אורבי מחולות—אוהבי כלילות—חושׁקי יעלות—נושקו אילות—שוחרי
‏עדניו—סוחרי רנניו—חשבוהו כמהתל—ויהי כמצחק בעיני חתניו•

[79-1] Cp. Miss Löwy's translation of Graetz's _Gesch. d. J._, IV, p. 42.

[79-2] _Gesch. d. J._, VII, p. 269.


                            IMMANUEL DI ROMA


In the present essay a short sketch will be given of the life and works of
Immanuel di Roma, the Heine of the Middle Ages, as Graetz terms him,
commonly called Immanuel ben Shelomoh; and reference will also be made to
his literary and friendly relationship to the poet Dante Alighieri. It
ought, however, to be stated at the outset that, although Immanuel was the
composer of several Italian sonnets, he owes his fame mainly to his Hebrew
production entitled _Machberoth_. Apart from its value as an entertaining
book it is at the same time the chief source from which information about
its author's life is obtainable. But as such the volume is not always
entirely reliable, as certain episodes mentioned therein have hitherto not
been fully authenticated. Modern writers, however, among whom Graetz and
Güdemann may be especially mentioned, have ably utilized the old and new
material available, and, thanks to their fruitful labours, a more complete
and trustworthy sketch of Immanuel's life and works can now be given.
According to Graetz's ingenious combination of dates and circumstances
(cp. _Die Geschichte der Juden_, VII, note 3), it would seem that Immanuel
was born in the year 1265, which is also the year of Dante's birth.
Immanuel's parents, Solomon and Justa by name, belonged to a renowned
Jewish family called Ziphroni, and occupied an honourable position in the
Jewish community of Rome. They devoted great care to their son's early
education. One of his earliest teachers was Benjamin ben Yechiel, a clever
physician and a great Hebrew scholar, who made him acquainted with the
works of Maimonides. Later on he was taught by a relative, Leone Romano by
name, who held the post of Hebrew instructor to Robert, king of Naples,
and was also the translator of the works of Albertus Magnus and of Thomas
Aquinas. He had another master in Judah Siciliano, author of several
pretty Italian poems, who cultivated in his pupil's mind a taste for
poetry and literature. Through these teachers, who mingled with the best
society of Rome, Immanuel often came in contact with the members of a
secret literary and political society called “Young Italy.” It was
composed of young men of education and talent, and its object was to
propagate liberal ideas among their less enlightened countrymen, and to
induce them to shake off the yoke of the dominant Church, which at that
time pressed heavily upon them. Dante, during his brief stay in Rome, used
to attend the meetings of this society; and there young Immanuel seems to
have first entered on a friendly relationship with the poet, whose genius
and personality could not fail to impress themselves on him. In fact, he
has so many points in common with Dante, that it may well be believed that
he took him for his model. There is also a curious similarity in the
history of their life and death. Both of them, who had in the prime of
life occupied prominent positions, were obliged in their declining years
to wander forth into exile, and both found their last resting-place far
from their native city. From the literary point of view they, too,
resembled one another; but of this more will be said later on. Reference
will also be made to some recent publications which seem to show that
Dante, for his part, also entertained friendly feelings for Immanuel. The
following two lines, which occur in _Paradiso_ (Canto v. 80 and 81), show
that their author may have been favourably disposed to the race from which
Immanuel sprang. They run thus:—

    Uomini siate, e non pecore matte,
    Si ch'il Giudeo di voi tra voi non rida.

    Act ye as men, and not as stupid cattle,
    Lest the Jew in your midst should scorn you.

It is not known whether Immanuel underwent any special training to obtain
his medical qualifications. There is, however, no doubt that he practised
successfully for a number of years in his native town. On reaching manhood
he married the daughter of Rabbi Samuel, president of the Jewish community
of Rome, whose functions seem to have been secular as well as religious.

His marriage was a happy one. Immanuel considered his wife a model of
womanhood, and never wearied of singing her praises. With the exception of
the untimely death of their only son Moses, which naturally caused them
intense sorrow, nothing occurred during the greater part of their married
life that could have seriously interfered with their happiness. In his
leisure hours Immanuel continued to enlarge his acquaintance with books
treating of grammar, exegesis, mathematics, astronomy, medicine,
philosophy, and cabbala, and acquired at the same time some knowledge of
Latin, Greek, and Arabic. He occasionally wrote essays on some of these
subjects, but his favourite occupation was the composition of verses,
either in his native tongue or in Hebrew. The rhymed prose (‪מליצה‬),
which he wrote in Hebrew, was his best work. In the year 1315, when
Immanuel was just fifty years old, his father-in-law was murdered by
robbers whilst travelling in the country, and Immanuel succeeded him. In
his new position, as the spiritual head of the Jewish community of Rome,
he enjoyed a continuance of his popularity, his kindness of heart and his
great literary attainments procuring for him a large following of admirers
and friends. His fame as a scholar and a poet spread even as far as France
and Spain.

In the midst of his prosperity, however, a misfortune occurred, which
changed the whole tenor of his life. According to Immanuel's own account,
he had stood security for some friends of his, and, as the latter failed
to redeem their obligations, he himself was obliged to satisfy the demands
of the creditors. Being thus reduced to poverty he emigrated, and turned
his back for ever on the scene of his unmerited misfortune. This
explanation, however plausible it may appear, does not throw any light on
the mystery of Immanuel's forced resignation of the post he held in the
community. But it would seem that there were among his flock several
persons who hated him as the author of erotic poems, and of other
compositions in which certain religious rites were lightly spoken of.
While he had ample means at his disposal, and was independent of the
community, they dared not attack him publicly. However, they took
advantage of his monetary embarrassment to denounce him as an unbeliever
and heretic, who in their opinion was unfit to occupy his position; and
they ultimately succeeded in effecting his removal.

But, whatever the explanation, the fact remains that Immanuel left Rome as
a prematurely aged and broken-hearted man, and that he wandered about for
some time with his wife until he arrived at Fermo, a town situated in the
district of Ancona. There a wealthy and liberal-minded man, Benjamin by
name, and at the same time a great admirer of Immanuel's poems, took him
and his wife into his house, and provided for their wants. But this
happiness did not last long, for in the year 1321 he lost both his wife
and his friend Dante. Bosone da Gobbio, a renowned lawyer in his time, and
a friend of both Dante and Immanuel, on hearing of this sent him the
following lines as a token of his sorrow and sympathy:—

             Bosone to the Jew Manuello after Dante's Death.

    Two lamps of life have waxèd dim and died,
    Two souls for virtue loved and blessèd grace;
    Thou, friend, may'st smile no more with happy face,
    But weep for him, sweet song's and learning's pride.
    And weep for her, thy spouse, torn from thy side
    In all her charm of native loveliness,
    Whom thou hast sung so oft ere thy distress,
    That is mine, too, and with me doth abide.

    Not I alone bewail thy hapless lot,
    But others too: do thou bewail thine own,
    And then the grief that all of us have got,
    In this the direst year we e'er have known;
    Yet Dante's soul, that erst to us was given,
    Now ta'en from earth, doth glisten bright in heaven.

                            Manuello's Answer.

    The floods of tears well from my deepest heart;
    Can they e'er quench my grief's eternal flame?
    I weep no more, my woe is still the same;
    I hope instead that death may soothe the smart.
    Then Jew and Gentile weep, and sit with me
    On mourning-stool: for sin hath followed woe;
    I prayed to God to spare this misery,
    And now no more my trust in Him I show.

When Immanuel's time of mourning was over his host suggested that he
should devote himself to a collection and revision of his compositions.
Immanuel gladly accepted this proposal, partly because he wished to
perpetuate the memory of his beloved wife and that of his friend Dante,
and partly because he thought that this would be the best occupation for
his declining years.

The work occupied him till his death in 1330, when he was sixty-five years
old. Bosone received some lines referring to Immanuel's death, composed by
Cino da Pistoza, a noted lawyer and poet of some renown in his time. These
lines are interesting in so far as they contain an unmistakable reference
to the friendly relationship that existed between Dante and Immanuel. They
run as follows:—

       Cino to Bosone after the Death of Dante and the Jew Manoel.

    Bosone, your friend Manoello is dead,
    Still keeping fast to his false, idle creed;
    Methinks to the regions of hell he is sped,
    Where no unbeliever from anguish is freed.
    Yet not 'mongst the vulgar his soul doth abide,
    But Dante and he still remain side by side.

                             Bosone's Answer.

    Manoel, whom thou hast thus consigned
    Unto the dark domains of endless night,
    Has not within those regions been confined,
    Where Lucifer holds sway with awful might.
    Lucifer, who once 'gainst Heaven's lord,
    In lust for empire drew rebellion's sword.

    And though he in that loathly prison pine,
    Where thou hast brought him though he willed it not;
    What fool will trust this idle tale of thine,
    That he and Dante should be thus forgot;
    Well, let them for a time endure their fate,
    God's mercy will be theirs or soon or late!^[87-1]

As already stated Immanuel wrote various books on Hebrew grammar,
exegesis, and cabbala, and composed, in addition to several Biblical
commentaries, a collection of Hebrew novelettes and poems. But while his
_Eben Bochan_ and _Migdal Oz_—which exist only in MSS. and treat of Hebrew
grammar and cabbala respectively—would, at the present day, hardly be
considered to have any literary or scientific value, his commentaries on
the Bible, and more especially those on the Book of Proverbs (published at
Naples in 1487), deserve some attention. The latter is particularly
interesting, inasmuch as it throws some light on the author's views on the
study of secular subjects by his Italian co-religionists, and gives us
some idea of the general feeling and spirit of the time. The following
example will give an idea of Immanuel's method when commenting on a
passage that seemed to him to offer an opportunity for adding a thought of
his own. Thus, in the commentary on the Book of Proverbs (xxvi. 13),
Immanuel explains the passage, “The slothful (man) saith, There is a lion
in the way; a lion in the street,” as follows:—

“This passage refers specially to those persons who are too slow in the
acquirement of knowledge and wisdom, which they consider as dangerous as
it is to meet a fierce lion in the street. They say, How should we apply
ourselves to the study of general science, since among its most prominent
devotees there are so many sceptics and unbelievers; or how should we be
expected to study logic, as it is a subject that infatuates the student
and leads him to erroneous conclusions? As to philosophy (they say) we
must shun it altogether, since it owes its existence to Aristotle, who,
like the rest of the ancient philosophers, did not believe in the divine
origin of our law. But these fools (Immanuel continues) forget that we
must accept truth from whatever quarter it may come. Moreover, every kind
of science which these sluggards describe as ‘foreign’ (‪חיצונים‬),
belonged originally to the Jewish people, and was first taught in our
sacred tongue. Unfortunately those very books were lost during our
perilous wanderings through the world. Of King Solomon's numerous poetical
and scientific works we only possess three. It is more than a mere legend
that kings and learned men of different countries came to him with the
express purpose of being instructed by him in those subjects, and that
they subsequently committed to writing the information they received.
These teachings are still in the possession of other nations, while we,
ourselves, lost them during our wanderings; and it is even a wonder that
the twenty-four volumes of Holy Writ have been preserved by us up to the
present day. It is, therefore, most probable that natural science,
metaphysics, and philosophy were originally taught by Solomon, although
their origin is nowadays ascribed to Plato and Aristotle. With regard to
the excellent art of music it is well known that it originated in our
religion, and has found keen votaries in men like Asaph and Samuel; but in
our own time it is exclusively practised by Christians, while the Jews
have very little knowledge of it. As for logic, it certainly does _not_
lead the student astray, but, on the contrary, it cultivates his mind and
prepares him for the study of other sciences. Therefore, whoever calls
logic a ‘foreign’ science, or speaks contemptuously of Plato and
Aristotle, because they did not belong to the Jewish nation, is like the
sluggard who exclaims: ‘A lion is in the way.’”

This extract, being a specimen of the contents of Immanuel's commentaries
on various parts of the Bible, shows that there is nothing particularly
noteworthy in the author's exposition of the text, but that the interest
lies rather in his interpolations.

His reputation chiefly depends on his collection of Hebrew novelettes and
poems, called _Machberoth_. This volume stands unrivalled in the whole
domain of Hebrew literature. It consists of twenty-eight chapters, in
almost all of which the so-called Makāmāt form is used, that is to say,
they are written in rhymed prose, interspersed with poems. Some of these
are composed in the melodious form introduced by the Italian poet Fra
Guittone di Arezzo (about 1259), the principal characteristics of which
are _rima chiusa_ and _rima alternata_. But, although his poetry is full
of charm for style and expression, it must yield to his rhymed prose. The
principal feature of this kind of composition lies in the application of
short Biblical phrases to profane objects or actions. It was first used by
certain Arabian poets, who treated the text of the Koran after this
fashion, and who subsequently found several imitators among Hebrew
writers, especially among those belonging to the so-called Spanish school.
In fact, according to Rabbi Moses ben Chabib (about 1486), the writing of
rhymed prose in Hebrew was in his time a universally approved rhetorical
device. But there was a vast difference between Immanuel and the other
writers of this school. While the latter, as a rule, endeavoured to
preserve a spirit of reverence towards the Hebrew text, Immanuel placed no
restraint upon his pen. Not seldom he sacrificed good taste and decency to
his point, and many a simple Biblical phrase he turns into a vehicle for a
pun or satirical remark of a coarse description. His favourite subjects
were Love, Wine, and Song, and he was not less fond of occasionally making
mock of sacred things. Even the sight of an old churchyard with a heap of
ruined tombstones could not check his buffoonery. It seems to have become
a second nature with him, so much so that having once begun to scoff at
the follies of other people, he does not hesitate to make merry over his
own vanities, and it is in this sense that the strange expressions of
self-approbation, which are found here and there in the _Machberoth_, must
be construed. That Immanuel's self-praise should be regarded as serious
seems scarcely compatible with the frequent eulogies of others with which
his book abounds.

It would be at once vain and superfluous to offer an apology for the
frivolities and the uncouth wit which characterize the _Machberoth_.
Immanuel, although a Hebrew by descent and training, and eminently
proficient in Jewish lore and tradition, was at the same time thoroughly
imbued with the spirit of the Italian nation and literature. The character
of his writings will be recognized from the fact that the principal
representative of the Italian novelists belonging to the period was
Boccaccio, the author of that collection of humorous but licentious tales,
the _Decameron_. It seems reasonable to suppose that Immanuel, in adopting
the style of the Italian novelists of his time, thought he would attract
and amuse Jewish readers by reproducing in a Hebrew garb popular ideas and
expressions. In this he attained considerable success, though he was
placed at a disadvantage as compared with his Italian rivals. For, while
they had the whole world for their field, Immanuel had to content himself
with using as the objects of his satire persons and things known only to
the small circle of his own acquaintances. Thus he mostly ridiculed the
vanities and follies of his Jewish neighbours, the petty quarrels of
husband and wife, or the jealousies of the would-be literary man. But,
notwithstanding their defects, the _Machberoth_ possess a lasting charm.
They have always found a great number of readers, although they were
condemned by Moses di Rieti (died about 1500), the author of a short
history of Hebrew literature called _Mikdash Me'at_ (‪מקדש מעט‬), and
their perusal was interdicted a century later by Joseph Caro, the compiler
of the well-known code, the _Shulchan Aruch_. The best proof of their
popularity lies in the fact that they have gone through several editions,
the first being produced at Brescia, in the year 1492, and the last at
Lemberg in 1870. In recent years parts of them have been translated into
German by Steinschneider, Stern, Geiger, Fürst, and others.

As regards the title of the book and the arrangement of its parts, the
following remarks are offered. The word _Machberoth_, or, as some people
would read it _Mechabroth_, is the plural of the singular noun
_machbereth_, formed of the radix ‪חַבֵּר‬, which originally means “to
join” or “to put together,” so that in the present sense the noun
signifies “collections.” Immanuel purposely used the plural form as the
title of his book to prevent it from being confounded with a similar work
composed by Alcharizi, which is entitled _Machbereth Ithiel_, where the
same term appears in the singular. Immanuel's work consists, as already
stated above, of twenty-eight chapters, which seem to have been written at
different times, and to have then been loosely strung together. Only the
second, third, and the last three chapters of the book bear a
superscription to indicate the subject of which they treat. Several of
these chapters were composed by the author when he was still comparatively
young, and are distinguished by the same genial Epicureanism which Horace
displayed when he sang:—

    Quid sit futurum cras fuge quaerere, et
    Quem Fors dierum cunque dabit lucro

On the other hand, there is no doubt that the greater part of the
_Machberoth_ must belong to a later period in the author's life, when he
had experienced the caprices of fortune, and his troubles had disturbed
the serenity of his mind. But even then his laughter does not entirely
desert him. It ought, moreover, to be remembered that injustice would be
done to Immanuel, if his private life and character were to be judged in
the light of his writings. In these he certainly appears as an absolute
libertine, and as a scoffer at religion and religious practices; but in
real life he was very different. One would rather think that the
_Machberoth_ were intended to serve as a mirror, in which the culpable
habits of a certain class of his Jewish contemporaries were reflected. And
it is for this reason that they have more than a mere literary value. They
furnish the reader with a description of the moral and social condition of
an important section of the Italian Jews during part of the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries, and have been referred to by our modern Jewish
historians in this connexion^[92-1]. Thus, for instance, we gather from
some passages occurring in the _Machberoth_ (chap. 1) that the Jewish
community of Rome was at that period in a flourishing condition, that many
of its members lived in large and magnificently furnished houses, and that
some of them also possessed estates in the country. Further, we are told
(ibid. chap. 23) that general science, philosophy, and poetry were
assiduously studied and appreciated by the Jews of Rome, and that those
who attained great learning among them were held in high estimation. How
eager Jewish young men in Italy were in those days to increase their
knowledge of books may be seen from the following incident recorded in the
_Machberoth_ (chap. 8). A Jewish bookseller, travelling from Spain to
Rome, left at Perugia one of his boxes containing various books, together
with a list of their titles. Immanuel and his young friends were so
anxious to read the contents that, in the absence of their owner, they
broke the box open, and read the books it contained with the greatest
delight. When on his return the bookseller learnt what had happened,
Immanuel appeased his wrath by the witty remark, “that the Prophet Moses
on his once breaking the two tablets of the Covenant, not only did not
arouse God's anger, but was even praised for the act.”

Of the Jewish women of the time Immanuel does not always draw a flattering
picture. They, or rather those belonging to the best and most educated
families, mixed freely with men; but their desire for beautiful and costly
apparel led the girls to prefer the wealthy suitor to his poorer, though
perhaps more deserving, rival. A great many Jewish ladies, however, were,
according to him, modest and simple in their taste; and if he satirizes
the luxurious habits of Jewish women, and their laxity in point of good
manners, it need not be supposed that they were in the majority.

To convey to English readers some idea of the contents of the _Machberoth_
a few extracts are here given, which cannot of course be expected to
present the charm of the original, but are accurate in themselves.

After a short prologue, in which Immanuel speaks of the tendency of the
_Machberoth_ and of the reason which induced him to publish them, the
author addresses his muse in a passage, of which the following lines form
a part:—

    Oh, let thy teachings softly flow like heaven's dew,
    That they inspire mankind with what is good and true;
    And let “Immanuel” a potent watchword be,
    Ever to make all men in soul and body free.

The first chapter of the _Machberoth_ was apparently written at a late
period of the author's life, when he was in exile. He speaks bitterly of
his open and secret enemies, who were the direct cause of his ruin; but he
consoles himself with the thought that he is their superior in culture,
and that he had a wife and comforter, who excelled their wives in virtue
and beauty, and who might serve to all women as a model for imitation.
That virtue and beauty do not always go hand in hand is a frequent maxim
of his:—

    Virtue dwells rarely in the bright-eyed and fair,
    But in wrinkled old crones with silver-white hair.

The author is now in his proper element, and pretending to stand with a
friend of his on the public promenade, where the ladies of the town are
walking to and fro, he singles out two of them. The one, called Tamar, he
describes as a model of perfect beauty; and the other, Beriah by name, he
designates as the personification of ugliness. The merits of the one, and
the demerits of the other, are described by Immanuel in the following

    Tamar looketh up, like the stars shine her eyes,
    Beriah appears, and Satan's self flies.
    Tamar's form divine excites angels' desire,
    Beriah e'en crows with dismay might inspire.
    Tamar, like the sun, makes all things bright appear,
    Beriah were an omen, if seen at New Year.
    Tamar is most lovely and fair to distraction,
    Beriah gives mankind of love not a fraction.
    Tamar, bright as the moon, is yet e'er full of light,
    Beriah might be queen 'mongst the fiends of the night.
    Tamar, would I were a flower, tender and sweet,
    To be trampled to earth by her pretty feet.
    Beriah 'tis from fear of beholding her face
    That Messiah delayeth in showing his grace.
    Tamar is enchanting, delighting the eyes,
    Beriah a nightmare in woman's disguise.

Some beautiful lyrics devoted to the same subject are to be found in the
sixteenth chapter of the _Machberoth_, two of which, under the respective
headings “Thine Eyes” and “Paradise and Hell,” run as follows:—

                               Thine Eyes.

    Thine eyes are as bright, O thou sweetest gazelle,
    As the glittering rays of the sun's golden spell,
    And thy face glows as fair in the light of the day
    As the red blushing sky when the morning is gay.

    Thy tresses of gold are as neatly bedight,
    As though they were wrought by enchantment's kind might;
    Thou openest thy lips in a smile or a sigh,
    And thy pearly teeth gleam like the stars in the sky.

    Ah, shall I praise the bright charm of thine eyes,
    That move every heart, that win all by surprise?
    For peerless thy charms, and unequalled thy birth;
    _Thou_ art of heaven, all _others_ of earth.

                            Paradise and Hell.

    At times in my spirit I fitfully ponder,
    Where shall I pass after death from this light,
    Do heaven's bright glories await me, I wonder,
    Or Lucifer's kingdom of darkness and night?

    In the one, though 'tis perhaps of ill reputation,
    A crowd of gay damsels will sit by my side;
    But in heaven there's boredom and mental starvation,
    To hoary old men and old crones I'll be tied.

    And so I will shun the abodes of the holy,
    And fly from the sky, which is dull, so I deem;
    Let hell be my dwelling; there is no melancholy,
    Where love reigns for ever and ever supreme.

There are several novelettes in the _Machberoth_ dealing with various
piquant incidents, but the two following are perhaps most suitable for
quotation. In themselves they are slight enough, but they become a ready
vehicle for the author's satire. In one of them (chap. 14) a clever trick
is described; how a certain legacy hunter succeeded in obtaining a large
gift from some trustees. A wealthy Jew living in Rome had a quarrelsome
woman for a wife and a spendthrift and a fool for a son, both of whom
embittered his life. One day, the wretched man fled from his native town
with all his movables, and settled in Greece, where he lived for a number
of years in peace and contentment. Shortly before his death he made his
will, leaving all his property to his prodigal son. As executors of his
will he nominated some elders of the local community. When in due course
the father died, and the intelligence of his death and testament was made
known in Rome, the son took no steps to have the will executed. Meanwhile
a certain swindler, hearing of this, presented himself before the
executors with every sign of grief, and claimed the legacy as the son and
heir of the deceased. The executors, without troubling themselves very
much about his credentials, handed over the legacy to him. When some time
after the rightful heir appeared, he was laughed to shame, in spite of his
producing genuine credentials.

In the second novelette (chap. 23) an incident is recorded that occurred
to the author in his practice as a physician. He was once called in to a
patient, who was suffering from indigestion. Immanuel prescribed some
medicine, and advised him to remain in bed till the following morning,
when he hoped to see him again, and to find him completely recovered. Now,
the patient was by way of being a poet, and on that particular night,
feeling himself inspired, he got out of bed and composed a long poem. This
he proudly showed Immanuel on the following morning, telling him at the
same time that the medicine had done him no good. “Pardon me, my friend,”
said Immanuel, “my medicine has had an excellent effect upon you: it has
removed from your brain a large quantity of rubbishing poetry.”

Wit of another kind is shown in Immanuel's exegetical dialogue (chap. 11),
in which he explains some Biblical passages and phrases that had been
misunderstood by various persons, who had come to ask him for his opinion.
The following will serve as a specimen of the whole.

A man, who apparently considered himself an expert in Biblical lore, asked
the author quite seriously how it was that, having always been told that
the “law” had been given on Mount Sinai, in another passage, occurring in
the Book of Esther (iii. 15), it is expressly stated that “the law was
given in Shushan,” thus mistaking the Mosaic law for that promulgated by
King Ahasuerus (for the destruction of all his Jewish subjects). But
Immanuel was equal to the occasion, and in an equally serious manner said:
“You are quite right, my friend, but you seem to have misunderstood the
meaning of the word “Shushan.” The latter does not refer to the _place_,
but to the _time_ in which the law was given. This was in the
Shushan-season (‪שושן‬=“rose”), when the rose is in its full bloom, which
is, as everybody knows, in spring time.”

On another occasion Immanuel treats satirically of the theme which Horace
dealt with in his first satire, beginning:—

    Qui fit, Maecenas, ut nemo quam sibi sortem, &c.

The author represents a number of persons, each of whom is dissatisfied
with his position. They learn, however, that those very persons who had
been the objects of their envy, themselves suffered from various
unimagined evils, and accordingly declare on oath that they would never
consent to change from what they actually are.

Immanuel does not, however, restrict himself to humorous subjects. He
shows himself possessed of tender sensibility, which finds expression in
several pathetic passages. The sight of tombstones and graves, the death
of a near relative or friend, or any kindred event, at once brings with it
serious reflections. He then addresses himself to God in fervent prayer,
and pours out his innermost soul in strains that are full of warmth and
feeling, and impress the mind by their earnestness and devotion. There are
nineteen prayers and hymns to be found in the _Machberoth_, most of which
bear the stamp of the author's religious sentiments; the one that occurs
in chapter 26, beginning with the words ‪אלהים נפלו פני בזכרי וכ׳‬, has
been inserted in the so-called Roman _Machsor_ (published in the year
1436), which proves its effectiveness as a liturgical poem, and shows at
the same time that even a century after the author's death his name was
honourably remembered by the Jews of Italy.

To this class of poetry may be added a lengthy epitaph (chap. 21),
composed by Immanuel as a kind of “In Memoriam” of himself. In the same
chapter is also to be found a funeral oration in rhymed prose, which the
author set down as an exemplar of the one he expected would be delivered
at his bier after his death. But, even when discussing so serious a topic
as death and burial, Immanuel cannot abstain from making jokes on himself
and his supposed mourners. Why, he asks mockingly, should he himself fare
better than Noah and Solomon, who had to leave behind them, the one a
splendid vineyard, and the other a number of beautiful wives? Those who
mourn for him, will, he thinks, no doubt forget how to laugh after he is
no more, but he expects that they will regain their spirits when they read
his posthumous work.

The last, and in some respects, perhaps, the most interesting chapter in
the _Machberoth_, is the one entitled _Ha-Topheth-ve-Ha-Eden_, or “Hell
and Paradise.” If, after all that has been said, there is still any doubt
about the friendship between Dante and Immanuel, this chapter, as well as
the circumstances in which it was written, will effectively dispel it.
According to recent investigations (cp. Ersch and Gruber's
_Real-Encyklopädie_, _sub_ “Dante”), it would seem that Dante's _Inferno_
and _Purgatorio_ were not published before the years 1314 and 1318
respectively, because certain incidents and events that happened during
those years are mentioned therein. At that time Immanuel was about fifty
years old, and had just begun his wanderings in a state of destitution.
Now, considering that in those times, before the invention of printing, a
written copy of any important work could only be procured by wealthy
people, the question naturally arises, From whom did Immanuel obtain a MS.
copy of the _Divina Commedia_ that enabled him to compose an imitation of
it in Hebrew? This perplexing question can, however, be answered in the
following manner. Although Immanuel was not in possession of a copy of
Dante's poem, he had most likely heard it read and recited by the author
himself before the members of the political and literary society called
“Young Italy,” to which reference has already been made. And he was no
doubt so deeply impressed by the work that it remained fresh in his memory
for a number of years. It may, perhaps, be supposed that he was thus able
to write his Hebrew imitation without actually having a written copy
before him.

As regards the merits, the conception, and the style of the
_Ha-Topheth-ve-Ha-Eden_ it may be said that it holds a unique position in
Hebrew literature. In the introduction the author states that, having
reached his sixtieth year, the sudden death of a younger friend caused him
much anxiety about his own future, and he wished to know the fate that
awaited him beyond the grave. To effect this he invoked the spirit of the
Prophet Daniel. Thereupon the vision of a venerable old man appeared to
him amidst thunder and lightning, and told him that he had come to show
him his future place in the world of spirits. Immanuel asked to be first
conducted to the regions of hell, and the old man led him there. On the
way they passed through several places, which are reminiscent of Dante's
_Inferno_, such as “a valley of corpses,” and “the gate of rejection,” in
front of which “a flaming sword turned in every direction.” Myriads of
souls were then being dragged through the gate by evil spirits to receive
their punishment for sins committed by them in life, and on that gate the
words were inscribed: “Here is an entrance only, but no outlet.” These
words recall the passage in Dante (_Inferno_, iii. 9):—

    Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

Passing through the gate into hell Immanuel sees tortures inflicted upon
sinners, among whom are specially mentioned sceptics, gamblers,
adulterers, misers, spendthrifts, and hypocrites. A certain class of
Jewish preachers and precentors are also placed by Immanuel in the
infernal regions, because they were in the habit, whilst preaching or
reciting prayers, of lifting up their eyes to the women's gallery instead
of heavenwards. At the mention of these hypocrites Immanuel, remembering
his own failings, became pale with fear. But his conductor reassured him
by saying that, though he could not pronounce him quite free from sin, yet
he hoped that his virtues and his merits as an author of several excellent
books would procure for him a seat in Paradise. Presently Immanuel and his
leader leave Hell and betake themselves to Paradise. Looking round him, he
sees the souls of all the Biblical and post-Biblical personages, who have
in some way or other reflected credit on the Jewish race, either by their
literary works or by their valour, honesty, and virtue. He is greeted with
great joy by Moses, David, and Solomon, who eulogize the commentaries he
had written on their literary productions. On leaving them, Immanuel
notices another group at some distance, which was enveloped in a dazzling
blaze of glory. And asking his leader who they were, he was told that they
were _the pious of all nations_ (‪חסידי אומות העולם‬) who, during their
life on earth, had been pre-eminent in charity, virtue, and learning, and
were in consequence rewarded with seats of honour in Paradise. Close to
them Immanuel noticed a magnificent throne in the course of erection,
which he was given to understand was to be occupied by a friend, or rather
a brother of his, as he is called, Daniel by name. It is still a matter of
uncertainty to whom the author referred. But, on reading the context, it
seems an inevitable conclusion that he must, as Geiger suggested, have
alluded to Dante (Daniel). Near the throne of his friend, he was told, his
own would be erected, so that they might both be united again after death
and enjoy together heavenly bliss ever after.

The few special passages bearing on this friendship are so characteristic
of Immanuel's liberal-mindedness that a reproduction of them here may not
be out of place. They run somewhat as follows:—

“I do not know what has caused me to think of my friend Daniel, who, as an
associate and friend, was to me of inestimable worth. It was he who showed
me the path of truth and righteousness, who helped me greatly when fortune
had forsaken me, and whose gigantic intellect is still spoken of on earth
with unqualified admiration. On my asking my guide where my own throne
would be placed after my death, he said: ‘You are certainly far inferior
in greatness to your friend, whose name and fame will always be held in
great honour by posterity. Yet, because you have both lived after the same
pattern, and have both striven after truth, you shall be united again
after death. Your throne shall be erected near to his, and, sitting
hereafter close to each other, you will be like Joshua, who once was the
attendant and disciple of Moses. Having been united in life by a mutual
bond of friendship, no power shall separate your souls for ever.’ When I
heard this my joy was unbounded, so happy was I in the thought that my lot
would be like his, and that we should both have seats in Paradise. And
having asked my conductor to let me see the throne destined for my friend,
he took me by the hand, and led me to a tent where the hand of a master
builder had erected a monument wonderful to view. Angels passed to and
fro, women ornamented it with different costly textures, and numerous
spirits made it ablaze with gold, rubies, and sapphires. And soon there
stood before my wondering eye a throne formed of ebony, covered with
purple and gold, and surmounted by a beautiful, glittering crown, which
shone like the beams of the sun. This, said my guide, is Daniel's throne.
You see, my son, the work that he has erected in the world is full of fame
and renown, and equally great and glorious shall be the throne which he is
to occupy in the world of spirits.”

The _Ha-Topheth-ve-Ha-Eden_ closes with the guide's request that he should
write down for the benefit of posterity all that he saw in his wanderings
through Hell and Paradise. Thereupon he vanishes in the tumult of a storm,
which causes the author to awake from his dream.

From what has been said it will be seen that a marked mental affinity
existed between Dante and Immanuel. To both history, scholasticism, and
romanticism provided materials for their work. They were both influenced
by the new national spirit that had inspired the members of “Young Italy”
to struggle for the liberation of their countrymen—bodily and
mentally—from the yoke of priestcraft and superstition. Finally, it will
be admitted that the _Ha-Topheth-ve-Ha-Eden_ in style, dramatic effect,
and graphic description has much in common with the _Divina Commedia_,
although the condensed imitation is, of course, vastly inferior to the
original. Yet there are several features in it which are peculiar to
Immanuel. The most remarkable one is this: while Dante is narrow-minded
enough to exclude from Paradise all and every one who does not profess
Christianity, including even his leader, Virgil, Immanuel assigns places
of honour there to the good and righteous of all nations and of all ages,
provided they do not deny the existence of God and of a divine spirit in

Professor Th. Paur refers to this point in the essay that was mentioned
above, and writes as follows:—

“If we closely examine the sentiments set forth in the little poetical
volume (_Ha-Topheth-ve-Ha-Eden_), we must confess that the Jew Immanuel
need not blush in the presence of the Christian Dante. It is true that he,
like Dante, condemns those philosophical theories in which the personality
of God, the creation of the world by his power, and the existence of a
divine spirit in man are denied. But Immanuel shows more courage than
Dante by effectively stigmatizing hypocrisy in all its various shapes and
forms. He also possesses a greater spirit of tolerance than the latter had
shown towards men professing creeds different from his own—a beautiful
human _naïveté_ in matters of religion—which must be sought after with the
lantern of Diogenes among the Christians of that period.”

In the introduction to the present essay mention was made of some sonnets
composed by Immanuel in the Italian language, which show that he must have
been well versed in the literature of his native country. Three of them
were published for the first time some thirty years ago in a book entitled
_Letteratura e filosofia, opuscoli per Pasquale Garofalo, Duca di Bonita_
(Naples, 1872). Perhaps it will not be out of place, in conclusion, to
quote one of them here. Its English translation is somewhat as follows:—

“Love has never read the _Ave Maria_. It knows no law, no creed, neither
does it hear nor see: it is boundless. Love is an unrestricted, omnipotent
power, which insists on obtaining what it craves for. . . . Love does not
suffer itself to be deprived of its pride and power by a _Paternoster_, or
by any other charm; neither is it afraid of carrying into effect what it
is fond of. _Amor_ alone knows what causes me grief; whatever I may offer
him as an excuse, he meets me always with the same answer: It is my will
and wish.”


[87-1] It should be added that the eminent Dante scholar, Theodor Paur,
was strongly inclined to doubt the authenticity of these poems, and that
he was sceptical with regard to the whole question of the friendship
between Immanuel and Dante. On the other hand, he readily admitted that
Immanuel imitated the _Commedia_ in his _Ha-Topheth-ve-Ha-Eden_. (See
_Jahrbuch der deutschen Dante-Gesellschaft_, III, 1871, pp. 423–462.)

[92-1] See Graetz, _Geschichte_, VII; and Güdemann, _Geschichte des
Erziehungswesens und der Cultur abendländischen Juden während des


                         KALONYMOS BEN KALONYMOS


During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries there were in France,
Spain, and Italy several Jewish savants whose literary labours did much to
keep alive among Jews generally a taste for Hebrew literature as well as
for philosophy and general science. Among them was Kalonymos ben
Kalonymos, the subject of the present essay. He was born at Arles, a small
town in Provence, in the year 1287, being the son of Kalonymos ben Meir,
who bore the title of _Nasi_ (“the Prince”) and occupied a prominent
position in the local community. The management of civil affairs was at
that time in the hands of the resident archbishop, who confined all the
Jews within a single street, although their predecessors had been
permitted, since the middle of the fourth century, to live wherever they
chose^[103-1]. In this ghetto Kalonymos first saw the light, and there he
also spent a great part of his early youth, devoting much time to the
study of Biblical and Rabbinical lore, as well as the acquisition of the
classical and Oriental languages. He subsequently continued his studies at
a school in the neighbouring town of Salon, under the tuition of Moses of
Beaucaire and Astruc of Noves^[103-2].

As a young student he easily distinguished himself by the translation of
several philosophical, mathematical, and medical books from Arabic or
Latin into Hebrew. King Robert of Naples, who was then living in the south
of France, hearing of his proficiency, commissioned him to go to Rome and
translate some Hebrew books into Latin for him. While Kalonymos was in
Rome he was a great favourite with all who knew him intimately, and, owing
to his fine appearance, his prominent position, and his manifold
accomplishments, he had no difficulty in obtaining entry into the best
Roman society. Several of his contemporaries, and more especially Immanuel
di Roma, a friend of Dante, speak of him in high terms, and bestow upon
him, too, his father's title of _Nasi_.

Whilst in Rome Kalonymos was asked by the leaders of the Jewish community
of Avignon, where he and his parents had lived for some time, to come
thither in order to take a petition to the Pope, who was then residing
there, praying that he would exert his influence in favour of the Jewish
inhabitants of Avignon, for whose extermination the Christian population
had planned a secret plot. It is not known what the result was. Graetz, in
his History of the Jews (vol. VII, p. 305), states that Kalonymos died
about the year 1337, but he does not mention the place of his death.

Kalonymos's chief work is, by general consent, his _Eben Bochan_ (“The
Touchstone”), manuscripts of which are to be found in several libraries,
including those of Munich, Leyden, Paris, and Florence. Printed as an
_editio princeps_ at Naples in 1489, a second edition appeared at Venice
in 1558; it was subsequently published at Sulzbach in 1705, and again at
Fürth (without a date), and also at Lemberg in 1865. In 1878 Dr.
Kayserling edited the late Dr. Meisel's posthumous German translation in
verse, to which he added a brief sketch in German of Kalonymos's life and
principal works.

Among the scholars who have discussed the _Eben Bochan_ may be mentioned
Bartholocci, Wolf, Zunz, Geiger, Gross, Steinschneider, and Neubauer. It
is pretty generally agreed that it was composed about the year 1324, that
is to say, at a comparatively early period of the author's life. This
theory is supported by the fact that it contains passages in which
Kalonymos refers to his youth and unmarried state, and that its style is
in many places marked by a singular freshness and vivacity which is seldom
found in the writings of older men. The work is remarkable for its
conciseness and epigrammatic force, and is further distinguished by the
ingenuity with which Biblical and Talmudical phrases are woven into a kind
of mosaic. It is somewhat similar in style to the _Bechînath Olam_, the
author of which, Yedaya Bedaresi, was Kalonymos's contemporary. But while
Bedaresi never failed to preserve the sternness and dignity peculiar to a
moralizing philosopher, Kalonymos not infrequently relieved the
seriousness of his narrative by flashes of humour and irony. He censures
and ridicules the foibles of his Jewish contemporaries, but confesses at
the same time, more in jest perhaps than in earnest, that he himself was
not quite innocent of the same faults. One of the most humorous parts of
the _Eben Bochan_ is that at which the author makes merry over his own
misfortune in being born a male child of Jewish parents. For as such he
has during all his lifetime to bear the heavy yoke of the six hundred and
thirteen precepts (‪תרי״ג מצוות‬), together with various other Talmudical
restrictions. The following free translation will give an idea of the
author's style and mode of expression:—

    Oh, hapless sire, distraught with cares,
    Whose wife to him male children bears,
    For all of them, or rich or poor,
    Have only suffering to endure;
    This is caused by the Jewish creed,
    Whose yoke is hard to bear, indeed.
    Its many laws and regulations,
    Which are unknown to other nations,
    Every Hebrew must observe,
    With watchful eye, and straining nerve;
    E'en though he shares in public functions,
    He still must follow their injunctions,
    Which, I would tell you, have been seen
    To be six hundred and thirteen.

    But this is not the only feature,
    Which makes the Jew a hapless creature:
    For he must shun all jest and play,
    And brood o'er folios night and day,
    Mosaic and Rabbinic lore,
    And books, which he may think a bore.
    The Bible is not half enough:
    Glosses there are and other stuff,
    In which he erudite must be,
    Especially in theology,
    In all the Talmud may relate,
    In authors' quarrels and debate,
    In things particularly small,
    Of no significance at all.

    And if in an enlightened age
    He'd fain become a cultured sage,
    He must cram full his suffering head
    With languages, alive and dead,
    With ethics, logic, and philosophy,
    Astronomy also and theosophy,
    And cabbalistic learning too,
    And history, old as well as new,
    And fill his overloaded brain
    With metaphysics' idle strain.
    Oh, truly wretched and forlorn
    Is every Jewish son that's born;
    Miserable is all his life,
    Full of toil, and pain, and strife.
    Thank Heaven, life is very brief;
    And death soon brings a swift relief!

Kalonymos then goes on to say that, had Providence decreed that he should
be born a girl, his existence on earth would have been much more pleasant.

    Happier, I would surely be,
    If from this manhood I were free,
    And entered on life's weary whirl,
    As a lucky-fated girl;
    Then my life would be as bright
    As is a star in summer night.
    And when full grown, I ne'er would shirk
    From doing all a woman's work;
    From early morn till late at night,
    When shine the moonbeams' silvery light,
    I'd spend the hours in peaceful knitting,
    Contented to be ever sitting
    Amidst a busy, smiling crowd
    Of girls that sing and laugh aloud.
    When nights were dark, we'd talk together
    Of dress, and bonnets, and the weather;
    And then we'd gossip too apace
    Of all that happens in the place,
    And end the evening's conversation
    With jests, and tales of sweet flirtation.
    As time went on, I would not tarry,
    But some fit husband I would marry,
    Who, I am sure, would ne'r decline
    To give me sweets and luscious wine,
    And would enhance his sweet embraces
    With gifts of gems and costly laces.

    Oh, heavenly Father, who—'tis told—
    Didst work great miracles of old,
    How truly grateful I should be,
    If thou hadst but created me
    A girl, devoid of worldly care,
    And blessed with beauty ripe and rare.
    Alas! it is of no avail
    My hapless fortune to bewail;
    Heaven has willed that I, a man,
    Must even end as I began,
    Until grim death, a timely friend,
    Brings to my woes the wished-for end.
    Thus will I bear with patient grace
    What still befalls the Jewish race,
    And not forget those wondrous pages,
    Composed of old by worthy sages,
    Wherein 'tis said that we must bless
    Heaven in woe and happiness;
    And humbly then these words I say
    (With silent protest and dismay),
    “O Lord, I thank thee ('tis not scorn)
    That I was _not_ a woman born^[107-1].”

There are other similar passages in the _Eben Bochan_, in some of which
the author ridicules, for instance, the way in which his fellow
religionists were in the habit of celebrating the various feasts in the
Jewish calendar. They entirely overlooked, he says, the moral significance
attached to these days by their religion, but considered them to have been
specially ordained for the sake of feasting and merry-making. Even the New
Year's Day and the Day of Atonement were not spent by them in sincere
devotion, but rather in quarrelling with each other about petty religious
usages, to which they attributed much greater weight than they deserved.

Kalonymos elsewhere directs his attention to the prevailing faults of his
neighbours. The objects of his satire are: the wealthy but ignorant Jewish
snob; the conceited would-be literary genius; the questionable Talmudical
and Hebrew scholar; and, lastly, the Jewish hypocrite, the man who essays
to appear outwardly religious, while his heart is full of roguery. The
latter is described by our author as follows:—

    A hypocrite is strange of race,
    Who, with his sanctimonious face,
    Would fain appear in others' view
    As good, benevolent, and true;
    Who never cares a bit or bothers
    About the pleasant vice of others.
    But though he sets up as a saint,
    And boasts that none has made complaint
    Of any dark or base transactions
    In business or in other actions,
    Yet do not on his word rely,
    Remember “the spider and the fly.”
    For cunning is the hypocrite,
    With shrewd and money-making wit,
    And plays his game to great perfection,
    Whene'er he can escape detection;
    He robs and steals whene'er he can,
    And strips the shirt off the poorest man.
    His words may be as sweet as honey,
    But never trust him with your money;
    For once he's got it—to be plain—
    You'll never see your own again.
    Though he seems pious night and day,
    And ne'er forgets his prayers to say,
    And still performs his meet devotion,
    With bended head and endless motion,
    Yet, friend, as well as e'er you can,
    Avoid this crafty, godless man,
    Whose piety is dissimulation,
    To God a base abomination.
    Well may he sit with downcast look,
    With eyes glued to his Hebrew book,
    And shake his body to and fro
    His splendid holiness to show.
    But yet, in truth, his heart within
    Is hard as stone, and black with sin;
    And he is ever a sad disgrace
    To Jewish creed and Jewish race.

The prevailing tone of the _Eben Bochan_ is, however, serious. The author
refers to the cruel persecutions which the Jews suffered in the years 1320
and 1321, being occasioned by the Shepherds and Lepers, as well as to the
burning of the Talmud at Toulouse, which took place in the year 1319, at
the instigation of a certain person named Bernard Gui. And elsewhere,
again, in the same book, he appears in the capacity of a moralizing
philosopher, impressing his readers with the necessity of making good use
of their life, as it is so very short and uncertain. On one occasion he
uses a beautiful metaphor, which is, indeed, not quite original^[109-1],
but nevertheless striking. It runs as follows:—

“The world is like a vast and endless sea, upon which there floats a small
and fragile little boat—namely, man. It is of artistic make and form, and
looks as if it were the work of a master-hand. It is steered by the power
of the divine spirit that directs its course, and keeps it constantly
moving onward and onward, together with its heavy load of cargo—that is,
man's actions during his life. After having started from the coast where
it first came into existence it moves ever forward till it reaches the
opposite coast, where there lies a new realm called Eternity, which
consists of vast regions that shine with eternal light and splendour, and
also of others that are enveloped in everlasting darkness. And God, the
ruler of the universe, sits there on his throne, surrounded by his mighty
messengers, the angels, to judge every newcomer. Now, O Son of Man! it
will entirely depend on the nature of the cargo that thou hast landed on
the opposite coast—namely, thy deeds in thy past life, whether thou wilt
be sent to the regions that glow with eternal light, or to those in which
darkness reigns supreme.”

Towards the end of the book Kalonymos states that he composed it in honour
of ten friends. Their names are as follows:—

1. Abraham Caslari, who lived at Bezalu, near Perpignon, and was an
eminent physician and author of several medical books. 2. Maestro Benedit,
who lived at Arles, and was famous as a linguist and astronomer. He was
also physician-in-ordinary to Queen Joan, the wife of King Andrew of
Hungary. 3. Don Jonah Cavalier. 4. Don Todros Isaac, of Girone. 5. Don
Judah des Cartel. 6. Don Bonafoux Shealtiel. 7. Don Bonsenor Gracian. 8.
Don Chasdai Crescas. 9. Don Samuel Beneviste, who, according to
Kayserling, was physician-in-ordinary to Don Pedro IV, king of Aragon. 10.
Don Astruc Crespin.

Kalonymos says at the end of the _Eben Bochan_ that he finished it when he
was eighty-three years old (‪בן שלש ושמונים שנה‬), while it is generally
supposed that he died at the age of fifty. The only explanation that can
be given of this discrepancy is, that the copyist of the manuscript may
have put down by mistake that number for ‪בן שלשים ושמונה‬ =38, which
would just be the time when Kalonymos was staying at Rome.

Less popular, though not less humorous, than the _Eben Bochan_ is
Kalonymos's _Massecheth Purim_, the whole title of which in Hebrew is
given as follows:—

‏                       ‪ספר מגלת סתרים וספר מסכת פורים‬

It would appear that it was intended by the author to be a parody on the
manner in which Rabbis generally conducted discussions and debates on
trivial questions, as described in the Talmud, with special reference to
the rites and usages connected with the Feast of Purim. It was obviously a
harmless Purim prank, yet some ultra-orthodox Rabbis^[111-1] took it
seriously, and declared it to be an heretical work. Its want of popularity
among Jewish readers in past centuries, and the limited number of its
editions, must be attributed to this. It has only been printed three times
altogether, first at Pesaro in 1507, then at Venice in 1552, and lastly at
Vienna in 1871.

The Rabbis may have had yet another reason for their objections to the
work, as the author advocates therein some slight reforms in the ritual of
Purim. He puts, for instance, in the mouth of one of the disputants the
question: Why should it be forbidden to read the _Megillah_ on Purim in
the vernacular, being a language that is generally better understood, by
Jews and Jewesses alike, than Hebrew? Should an objection (he goes on to
say) be made to such a procedure on the plea that the Book of Esther
contains the word ‪ככתבם‬, which means “according to their (the Jews’) own
writing,” this obstacle could easily be removed by having the vernacular
translation written in Hebrew characters.

Incidentally we learn from the _Massecheth Purim_ that the Jews then
living in Palestine were well-to-do farmers, and that those living in
France and Italy frequently indulged in a certain game called ‪סקקרי‬,
which, according to Steinschneider, is equivalent to the Italian term _il
schachiere_, and means the chess board^[111-2]. We likewise gather from
the book that the Rabbis of that time allowed dancing, provided that the
dancers chose their partners from their own sex. It is interesting to
notice, in passing, the variety of dishes which the Jewish ladies of those
times were in the habit of preparing for the festivals. Kalonymos
mentions, by way of example, the wife of the president of a certain
Italian Jewish community, called Kardinalith ‪קרדינלית‬, who used to begin
making the preparations at least a fortnight before the advent of any
Jewish festival. Graetz's supposition^[112-1], that the lady in question
was a Cardinal's daughter, is not supported by any historical evidence.

The third original work of Kalonymos is entitled _The Letter of Response_
(‪אגרת התשובה‬), addressed to the well-known Jewish philosopher Don
Bonafoux Ibn Caspi (1280–1340), in which the latter's commentary on the
Bible is critically reviewed, and especially his leaning to what is now
called “the higher criticism”. Kalonymos expresses the opinion that it is
unwise and even dangerous to meddle with the ideas which people may have
formed in early life regarding the sacred volume, and that Ibn Caspi's
commentary on it was therefore doing more harm than good. Incidentally we
learn from _The Letter of Response_ that the writer was at the time of
penning it a struggling youth, while Caspi was a man of affluence and
position. It should, perhaps, also be mentioned that it existed at Munich
in manuscript form till 1879, and that it was then published for the first
time by the late Dr. Perles of Munich, under the title of _Kalonymos'
Sendschreiben an Josef Caspi_.

The fourth and last original work of Kalonymos is entitled _The Book of
Kings_ (‪ספר מלכים‬), and deals chiefly with arithmetic, geometry, and
astrology. It has hardly any intrinsic value at the present time as a
scientific book, but deserves to be noticed because it was one of the few
books which, as its title seems to indicate, was expressly written for the
use of King Robert of Naples. It has never been printed, but exists as a
MS. in Munich, where it was discovered some little time ago by

Kalonymos also made translations of works in various languages, the titles
of some of which will be quoted at the end of this essay. One of these,
however, deserves special mention. That is the ‪אגרת בעלי חיים‬, which
consists of a free Hebrew translation of part of an Arabic work then in
circulation under the title of _The Treatises of the Righteous Brethren_,
and was edited by a certain Abalzapha^[113-1]. It is a fairy tale,
containing a dialogue between men and beasts, in the presence of the king
of birds, in which the question is discussed, whether man has a right to
dominate over the world or not^[113-2]. Kalonymos invests this theme with
a Jewish colouring by giving the chief part of the discussion to a Hebrew
from the East, who is determined to prove by argument that the confessors
of his own creed, at least, occupy a higher rank in the world than the
animals. The former, he says, are the progeny of a noble line, and Moses
and the other prophets have furnished them with numerous wise laws and
regulations as to their proper conduct in life. They have, besides,
temples and synagogues to pray in, as well as preachers and precentors to
listen to, and their feasts and fasts afford them recreation for body and
mind. In these advantages and pleasures, says the Hebrew in conclusion,
the winged creatures do not participate, and it is therefore evident that
they were destined by their Creator to be ruled by his chosen race.

The king of the birds replies that the Hebrew's arguments prove the
reverse of what they were intended to prove. For the very fact that the
confessors of the Jewish creed need laws and preachers, penitential and
fast-days, shows clearly enough that they are not free from sin; and this
being so, they have certainly no right to claim superiority over the
winged creatures whose life is distinguished by simplicity and innocence.
To them the whole universe is one gigantic temple wherein they sing daily
praises to their Creator with a pure heart and clear conscience. They need
no preachers to admonish them, nor do they require fasts to obtain
absolution for their transgressions. Finding, as they do, food and shelter
in the fields and gardens, on mountains and in the valleys, they are
always cheerful and happy without the aid of prescribed festivals, but
their happiness is often disturbed by the wickedness of man, who has no
right whatever to treat them as inferior to his own species.

In the introduction to the ‪אגרת בעלי חיים‬ and elsewhere Kalonymos
censures the extravagant mode of living which prevailed among his wealthy
Jewish contemporaries. He stigmatizes their intense fondness for display,
which asserted itself so strongly as to arouse the envy and hatred of the
general population, and frequently with lamentable results.

Kalonymos was therefore not merely a laughing philosopher like Democritus,
but a stern moralist who ridiculed certain objectionable characteristics
of the Jews, indicating thereby the way to self-restraint and good taste.
There is also an interesting remark to be found in the ‪אגרת בעלי חיים‬,
which is to the effect that in Kalonymos's time the Greek philosophers
were reputed to have made frequent use of the books on philosophy composed
by Jewish writers^[114-1].

A few remarks have still to be made on Kalonymos's style. He writes partly
in plain and partly in rhymed prose, without, however, much elegance in
either. His excessive fondness for idiomatic phrases taken from the
Talmud, which he misapplies with extraordinary ingenuity, results in puns,
plays on words, especially on proper names. The following example will
give an idea of the nature of the whole. It does not, however, bear
translation, as the idiomatic point of the Hebrew cannot be reproduced in
English. In the _Eben Bochan_ there is a chapter wherein Kalonymos
ridicules the way in which the Hebrew grammarians of his time quarrelled
in regard to the importance which should be assigned to the accents
(‪טעמים‬) attached to the Hebrew text of the Bible. Some of them were
regarded in the light of the cabbala, and were believed to contain the
most profound secrets regarding the present and future world. Kalonymos
writes about these disputants as follows:—

    אני ראיתי מחלוקה גדולה
    בענין _קדמא ואזלא_
    וריב גדול עד שהדם נשפך
    בענין _שופר מהפך_
    ומהם אומרים מעת משה ספרא רבא בישראל קביר
    לא נהיה סוד עמוק כמו לפני _דרגא תביר_.

An instance of his plays on words may be given. He noticed that some of
his neighbours did not abstain from drinking great quantities of wine
during the so-called ten penitential days. He therefore gives them two
Hebrew names by which some of Haman's sons are known, viz. ‪פרשנדתא‬ and
‪המדתא‬. These names are composed of the words ‪פרש־דתא‬ and ‪המם־דתא‬,
which mean respectively “to be separated from, and, to distort, the law,”
and they thus depict epigrammatically and wittily the religious character
of the objects of Kalonymos's satire.

In addition to the ‪אגרת בעלי חיים‬ Kalonymos also translated several
other works and treatises composed by other authors in the Arabic, Greek,
and Latin languages, which deal chiefly with medicine, mathematics, and
astronomy. A detailed description of them will be found in the interesting
book entitled _Les Écrivains Juifs français du XIV^e siècle_, p. 424, by
Neubauer. One of these translations, entitled ‪אגרת בסדור קריאת החכמות‬,
contains the significant remark that it was made by Kalonymos by command
of King Robert of Naples. The king is there designated by the curious name
of “The New Solomon.”

There are likewise some few books and treatises in existence, treating of
various subjects, the authorship of which is attributed to Kalonymos.
Among these may specially be mentioned a Hebrew translation of a circular
letter sent by the above-named king to the Jewish community of Aix,
containing the intelligence of his son's death.


[103-1] Cp. Anibert, _Mémoires historiques_, II, 201, 397.

[103-2] Cp. Kalonymos's letter, entitled ‪אגרת התשובה‬, which he addressed
to Ibn Caspi, and to which reference will be made later on.

[107-1] Cp. The Daily Morning Prayer for the Israelite, in which the
well-known blessing occurs:

    ברוך • • • שלא עשני אשה•

[109-1] Cp. _Choboth Ha-lebaboth_, by Bachya ben Joseph Ibn Bakoda, and
‪בחינת עולם‬ by Yedaya Bedaresi, in which a similar metaphor is used.

[111-1] One of them was Moses ben Isaiah Wengrow, author of a book called
‪ברית משה‬, in which the _Massecheth Purim_ is declared to be a most
dangerous book.

[111-2] Cp. Steinschneider, _Schach bei den Juden_, Berlin, 1873. See also
I. Abrahams's _Jewish Life in the Middle Ages_, chap. XXII, p. 388.

[112-1] Cp. Graetz, _Geschichte der Juden_, VII, p. 306.

[112-2] Cp. Geiger, _Zeitschrift_, VIII, p. 118.

[113-1] According to Steinschneider (ibid.) his correct name is ‪אבואן‬

[113-2] The book under review is also mentioned by Joseph Albo in his work
‪עקרים‬, III, 2.

[114-1] Cp. Dukes, _Philosophisches aus dem zehnten Jahrhundert_, p. 21.


                           ABRAHAM IBN CHASDAI


Among the minor Hebrew poets who lived at Barcelona in the early part of
the thirteenth century there is, perhaps, none more remarkable than
Abraham Ibn Chasdai. Little is known of him beyond what may be gathered
from a letter addressed by him to his friend Alfakar. From it we learn
that the writer was a native of Barcelona and a contemporary of the famous
Hebrew grammarian David Kimchi (1160–1232), who is referred to there as
_Hazakan_ (“the old man”).

According to some historians^[117-1] Abraham Ibn Chasdai was the spiritual
head of the Barcelona Jewish community, but it is not impossible that he
also may have been somewhat intimately connected with the medical
profession. In his book _The Prince and the Dervish_ there are several
references to the healing art and its many intricacies, which suggest more
than a superficial acquaintance with the subject. But there is no doubt
whatever that Ibn Chasdai was an eminent Hebrew and Talmudical scholar,
and that he had a considerable knowledge of Arabic and Greek, which
enabled him to translate into Hebrew some books written in these two

His only book, however, which has a permanent literary and ethical value
is _The Prince and the Dervish_. Though it is only a free Hebrew
translation of an Arabic book, which was in itself a mere version of a
volume that had originally been composed in Greek, it has always enjoyed
much popularity among readers of neo-Hebrew literature. It has not only
been repeatedly published^[118-1], but it has also been translated into
several languages, including Latin^[118-2], Spanish, and Jewish German.

_The Prince and the Dervish_ possesses in an eminent degree the qualities
which make any book attractive, viz. a pleasing style and interesting
subject-matter. In style it is a happy imitation of that found in the
Bible, and is remarkable for the ingenuity with which certain verses
thereof are used in a somewhat different sense from that which they have
in it.

It consists of thirty-five chapters, full of charming tales and fables,
together with many valuable maxims and proverbs. Rhymed prose intermingled
with verse is generally used. The subject-matter is derived chiefly from
the Talmud and the Midrash, but partly also from other Oriental sources.
It is curious to note that several of the stories have been reproduced in
a somewhat modified form by Boccaccio, Lafontaine, and other writers
belonging to more modern times. But they possess a special characteristic
of their own—they invariably end with a moral.

Passing now to a more detailed account of its contents, it is necessary to
give the story, which is the framework within which the subordinate
episodes are included. It runs as follows:—

“Once upon a time there lived in a certain state in India a cruel and
despotic king, who only lived for his own enjoyment. He hated, in
consequence, every kind of religious restriction, and even persecuted
those of his subjects who, like the members belonging to the sect of the
so-called Dervishes, led a retiring and ascetic life. His hatred of them
acquired additional intensity when the chief of his courtiers disappeared
one day from the palace, and was reported to have become a Dervish
himself. A royal decree was issued, which forbade the Dervishes to remain
in any part of the king's dominions, and which at the same time fixed a
severe penalty for any disregard of the proclamation.

“Now it so happened that soon after this event a son and heir to the
throne was born to the king. He summoned his astrologers to tell him of
the future destiny of the newborn prince, and was informed that the prince
would in the future become a great friend of the Dervishes, and favour and
promote their cause. Thereupon the king ordered that the infant prince
should be taken to a secluded castle, which stood upon a solitary island,
and that he should be kept there under the closest surveillance until the
time when he should ascend the throne. This order was strictly observed
and carried out for a number of years by the king's servants. But when the
prince had grown up, he was allowed by them to walk about the island by
himself. Now on one of his walks the prince came across a strange looking
man, who was sitting and meditating in a lonely spot near the sea. This
man was the former chief courtier of the king who, as already stated, had
joined the sect of Dervishes, and afterwards led a vagrant life. The
strange appearance and peculiar attire of the Dervish attracted the
attention of the prince, who, having engaged him in conversation, was so
greatly charmed with it that he expressed a desire to have this
interesting meeting repeated. The Dervish consented, and in their
subsequent meetings many topics, including chiefly theology, ethics, and
philosophy, were discussed. The Dervish, according to the Eastern fashion,
wove tales, fables, and maxims into his discourses, which interested the
prince so much that he offered the Dervish his life-long friendship as a
mark of his sincere attachment to him. He also assured him that he would
extend his favour to the whole sect of Dervishes as soon as he should
succeed to his father's throne.”

Before proceeding to give some extracts from _The Prince and the Dervish_
it should be observed that, as already stated before, it is written in
rhymed prose, intermixed with rather heavy verse, it is impossible to
translate them literally or fully. The few passages, however, that are
here rendered will no doubt be sufficient to enable the reader to form
some notion of the most interesting portion of the book.

One of the best moral stories that occur in _The Prince and the Dervish_
is the following^[120-1]. It runs thus:—

“In the far East there was a little island, the inhabitants of which had
some strange customs, notably in regard to their selection of a king to
rule over them. Being averse to an hereditary monarchy, they used to go
once every year to the sea-shore, and choose the first poor and
shipwrecked stranger whom they happened to meet there as their king. As
such, he was driven in a state coach to a magnificent palace, and there he
was permitted to enjoy for a whole year all the rights and privileges
possessed by an Eastern potentate. But, as soon as the year of his reign
was over, the king was stripped of his royal garments, brought back to the
very spot where he had been found, and there left to himself.

“Once, however, it so happened that the stranger, whom they had selected
as their king, was a prudent man and experienced in worldly matters.
Astonished at his sudden elevation, he made inquiries of one of the
islanders whose confidence he had gained, and learned from him the real
reason. He accordingly devised a plan, from which he hoped that he and his
friend would derive some lasting advantage. They were simply to go on a
dark night to the state treasury, and to take away from thence a quantity
of jewels (which by right were the king's property for the time being),
and hide them in a cave near the sea; they would thus have some means of
subsistence when the year of the king's reign ended. The plan was speedily
carried into effect. After his year's reign was over, he was taken back to
the place whence he had come. He and his friend took possession of their
hidden treasure, and with it they went on board a passing ship, which
brought them to a foreign country, where the sale of their valuables
enabled them to live a life of comfort and happiness.”

This tale was related by the Dervish to the prince, in the course of one
of their conversations, as an illustration of human life. When we come
into existence, the Dervish said, we are, every one of us, helpless and
poor, but after we have grown up we have at our disposal all the wealth
and delights which this beautiful world of ours offers to all men. But we
must never ignore the fact that our stay on earth is but brief, and that
we are thus, as it were, kings for one year only. It therefore behoves man
to devote his brief existence to the performance of noble deeds which
will, when his life is ended in this world, procure him in the world to
come God's everlasting favour and grace.

All the tales contained in _The Prince and the Dervish_ are not, however,
of this character; there are several of a purely diverting nature. To the
latter class of tales belongs the one which treats of a large doll (chap.
31), and resembles in several respects some of the frivolous stories that
occur in Boccaccio's _Decameron_. This tale, which the curious will have
to read in the Hebrew original, shows up the fickleness of will and the
infidelity of women generally. The author here follows the example set by
several mediaeval Hebrew satirists, such as Bedaresi, Immanuel, Alcharizi,
Sabbatai, Zabara, and others, who made womankind the butt of their wit. In
the same volume a whole chapter (the 18th) is devoted to love. One of the
principal virtues of this passion, the author says, is that it often
brings into prominence certain good qualities in the lover which might
otherwise have remained concealed. To win his lady's affection he would
become courageous, active, liberal, and fond of jovial society. But love,
the author goes on to say in true Eastern fashion, has also its demerits,
for it often brings its devotees to destruction. It not seldom happens
that he who has been captivated by the charms of a fair woman gets
indolent, and spends much of his time in the pursuit of distractions. He
thus squanders his possessions, and is reduced to poverty. As a poor man
he has many cares, which weaken him both in mind and body, and throw him
on the bed of sickness. His illness is frequently fatal, and he thus pays
the penalty of unrestrained passion with his life.

In the same chapter several charming love poems occur, which resemble in
form and style those of Judah Halevy, Ibn Ezra, and Alcharizi. One of
these pieces, supposed to have been addressed by a lover to a maiden, who
had ignored his avowed affection for her, runs as follows:—

    Thrice cruel maid, may Heaven frown on thee,
    For that by day thou hidest thyself from me,
    And yet thou robbest me of my nightly rest,
    For that thy face is in my eyes impressed.

Another instance, showing how a subject is treated by the author in two
different ways, is found in chapter 17. There the question of travelling
is discussed by the prince and the Dervish, and they arrive at the
conclusion that travelling, which affords recreation for body and mind, is
specially commendable to a man who is worn out with cares and troubles, as
the change of scenery and climate cannot but be beneficial to him. And
indeed, says the author, were travelling not conducive to health and
happiness, God would surely not have commanded his faithful servant
Abraham, saying, “Get thee out of thy birthplace, and rove through the
country” (Gen. xii. 1). Elsewhere in the same chapter travelling is
depicted in different colours. It is, he says, fatiguing and by no means
pleasant; for it deprives man of his home comforts, and causes him to
renounce the society of dear and devoted friends, who make his life happy
for him. That travelling is not a boon the author proves by the fact that
Cain of the Bible was told by God to expiate the sin of his crime by being
a restless wanderer over the earth (cp. Gen. iv. 12).

A special feature of _The Prince and the Dervish_ is the fable, which
often serves as an illustration of the subject under discussion. The
following^[123-1] is a specimen:—

“King Solomon, to whom legend ascribes the knowledge of all languages,
including those supposed to be spoken by animals, once gave an audience to
a wealthy Jewish farmer, and received from him a costly present. To show
his appreciation of the gift, the king offered to bestow upon the farmer
any favour he might ask. But, to the king's surprise, the farmer asked the
favour of being initiated by the king into the secret of understanding the
language spoken by farm-yard animals. After some hesitation the king
granted the farmer's request, impressing him, however, with the necessity
of not divulging the secret to anybody else under penalty of immediate

“Now it so happened that the farmer had a shrew for a wife, and, wishing
to live in peace with her, allowed himself to be ruled by her in all
domestic affairs. One day, while occupied in the farm-yard, he overheard a
conversation between an ox and an ass, which amused him so much that he
burst out laughing. At that moment his wife appeared, and insisted on
being told the joke. He begged her not to press him to disclose a secret,
on the keeping of which his very life depended. But she remained obdurate.
Seeing that there was no way out of the difficulty, he told her that he
would fulfil her desire in a few days, but that he had in the meantime to
settle his worldly affairs, before going to meet his inevitable and
premature death. To this she agreed. Next day, while again standing in the
farm-yard, he heard his dog rebuking the cock for crowing as loudly as
ever, though he was aware of his master's approaching death. But the cock
said that since their master was a coward and a fool, he did not deserve
to be pitied by anybody. ‘Let him,’ said the cock, ‘take a lesson from me,
and his life will certainly be saved. There are in the farm-yard a number
of hens, who all obey me implicitly, as they know very well that any case
of disobedience on their part would be attended with a well-deserved
punishment. Now, our master has only _one_ wife to deal with, and if he is
idiotic enough to allow her to rule over him, he must bear the

“When the farmer heard the cock's wise remarks he regained courage, and
presently meeting his wife, he told her that he refused to let her know
his secret, and that he was fully determined to be and to remain the ruler
in his own house from that time forward. These words had the desired
effect, and from that day forth he lived with his wife in harmony and
undisturbed peace.”

_The Prince and the Dervish_ is also exceedingly rich in pithy maxims, of
which the following may serve as examples. On the question of paying
visits to one's friends, he says^[124-1]:—

    Go not too frequently thy friends to see,
    Lest they grow weary of the sight of thee;
    When rain is scanty, then we pray for more,
    But love not one continuous downpour.

Another maxim is reminiscent of the Biblical saying “For man looketh on
the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. xvi.
7). It runs thus:—

    Let not his humble vesture make thee blind
    To one whose greatness is a learnèd mind:
    For pearls may sometimes in the sand be found,
    And stores of gold lie buried in the ground^[125-1].

Humility of mind is thus spoken of^[125-2]:—

    Be ever meek and humble, nor essay
    In path of pride and haughtiness to stray:
    The tempest spares the hyssop on the wall,
    But 'neath its wrath the proudest cedars fall.

The following lines must have been written when a dear friend was about to
take leave of him. They run thus^[125-3]:—

    Now that the time has come for us to part,
    I feel how much thy loss means to my heart;
    For when the sun sinks suddenly to rest,
    'Tis then that darkness grows most manifest.

Of a more humorous nature are the following lines^[125-4] put in the form
of questions and answers:—

_Question._ What is the most useful thing to any man in life?

_Answer._ Knowledge, or wealth, or a good and loving wife.

_Question._ But, if none of these commodities man has ever got?

_Answer._ Then by keeping golden silence he might improve his lot.

_Question._ And if he cannot do so, that poor and hapless knave?

_Answer._ Then let him go away at once, and dig himself a grave.

Apart from the literary value which _The Prince and the Dervish_
possesses, it has a special importance which recalls to mind that all its
versions have been rendered by Jewish writers into different languages.
This fact lends support to the theory that the Jews have always displayed
a peculiar aptitude in the translation of books, and more especially from
Arabic, Greek, and Latin, into the sacred tongue of the Bible. By this
means they preserved to posterity many valuable literary works which might
otherwise have remained unknown or even perished. Among the more prominent
Jewish translators living in mediaeval times were, besides several members
of the famous Tibbon family, Kalonymos ben Kalonymos, Moses di Rieti,
Immanuel di Roma, Alcharizi, Judah Romano, Elias del Medigo, and last, but
not least, Abraham Ibn Chasdai, the author of _The Prince and the
Dervish_. It should also be observed that several learned Jewish linguists
have, in more modern times, been greatly helpful, in a literary sense, to
many of their less educated co-religionists by introducing to them in a
Hebrew garb some of the best-known works of general literature, including
Homer, Virgil, Horace, Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, Racine, Schiller, and
Goethe. Thus it is interesting to note that the language of the Bible has,
like the Bible itself, at all times rendered most valuable services to
Jews as well as to those of other creeds.


[117-1] Cp. Wolf, _Bibl. Hebr._, I, 57; Delitzsch, _Geschichte der jüd.
Poesie_, p. 46; Steinschneider, _Manna_.

[117-2] Among these may specially be mentioned:

(_a_) ‪מאזני צדק‬, edited by Goldenthal in 1839, being a Hebrew
translation of an Arabic work by Ghasali entitled ‪אל מיזאן‬.

(_b_) ‪ספר התפוח‬ and ‪סודות‬, which are Hebrew versions of two works
composed respectively in Arabic and Greek.

[118-1] It was printed in Constantinople in 1518; in Mantua in 1557; in
Wandsbeck in 1727; in Frankfurt a.d.O. and Frankfurt a.M. respectively in
1766 and 1769; in Zolkiew in 1771; in Fürth in 1769; in Lemberg in 1870;
in Szitomir in 1873; and in Warsaw in 1884.

[118-2] The Latin translation exists as a MS. at the Nürnberg Library; it
was done by Daniel Schwenter, having for its title _Proverbia filii regis

[120-1] Cp. chap. 13. A similar story is contained in Bachya's _Choboth

[123-1] Cp. chap. 24. The same story is contained in the universally known
_Thousand and One Nights_.

[124-1] Cp. chap. 8.

[125-1] Cp. chap. 26.

[125-2] Cp. chap. 30.

[125-3] Cp. chap. 18.

[125-4] Cp. chap. 15.


                               ISAAC ERTER

                        A MODERN HEBREW HUMORIST

Though Hebrew literature is commonly reckoned as one of the ancient
literatures it has an advantage over them which is not inconsiderable. It
is that while no other ancient literature can be said to have ever risen
to any remarkable height of excellence after the close of its golden age,
in the case of the Hebrew there were at least three noteworthy revivals
after its first classical period had ended. The first occurred some time
about the return of the ancient Hebrews from the Babylonian exile to
Palestine; the second during the Middle Ages in Spain, France, and Italy;
and the third in modern times in Galicia, a country which forms part of
the Austrian empire. During the second half of the eighteenth century a
small band of writers of Hebrew prose and poetry, who may be regarded as
the founders of what is now termed the Galician school, flourished there.
The foremost representative of the school was Isaac Erter.

He was born in the year 1792 in a small Galician village called
Janischock. His father, a poor innkeeper, in spite of his indigence, did
not neglect to have his son educated in Hebrew and Talmudical lore. When
young Erter had made some progress in these studies, which, by the way, he
only learnt mechanically and on no fixed plan, his father caused him to
marry a Rabbi's daughter, who, however, died within the first year after
their marriage. Old Erter, however, insisted upon his son marrying again;
and the second marriage proved a very happy one, in spite of the
difficulties which a married man with no definite means of subsistence is
bound to encounter. Perhaps to relieve the monotony of his life he mixed
with the members of a strange religious sect known by the name of
“Chassidim.” Their chief characteristics were the hilarity and excitement
of their lives, and their passionate devotion to their spiritual leader
called “Rebbe.” Although these “Rebbes” are, as a rule, illiterate
persons, they are nevertheless held in high esteem by their devotees, who
credit them with the possession of supernatural powers, by means of which
they are able to work miracles. But, after a time, Erter grew weary of
this society and its absurd practices, and went to live at Lemberg, the
capital of Galicia. There he soon became acquainted with several young men
of talent and culture who interested themselves on his behalf, and
procured him pupils whom he instructed in Hebrew and religious subjects.
They also made him acquainted with the works of Maimonides and
Mendelssohn, to the study of which he later on devoted many of his leisure
hours. He here passed three happy years (from 1813 to 1816), and enjoyed
the society and friendship of some genial spirits, among whom may
particularly be mentioned Rapoport, afterwards Chief Rabbi of Prague, and
Nachman Krochmal, the renowned Hebrew scholar and philosopher.
Subsequently when Jacob Ornstein, the then Chief Rabbi of Lemberg, heard
of the existence among his flock of a small and youthful band who occupied
themselves with the study of secular subjects, he became alarmed, and
forthwith excommunicated all the culprits. The immediate effect of this
upon Erter was the loss of his pupils, and with them of his livelihood. He
consequently decided to settle in the neighbouring town of Brody. On his
arrival there he met with a hearty reception from the enlightened section
of the Jewish community, and as a new Jewish school had just been
inaugurated there he was entrusted with its management. After a short
time, however, he resigned his position, and made up his mind to prepare
himself for a more independent calling. With this object Erter left his
grown-up family of daughters in charge of some friends and went to
Buda-Pesth, at the university of which town he intended to prepare himself
for the medical profession. He was then thirty-three years old, and had
neither money nor friends to assist him, but after five years' hard study,
accompanied by severe privations, he succeeded in passing all the
necessary examinations, and took his degree, and soon after began to
practise in the country. It so happened that at that time the cholera was
raging, and as Erter displayed considerable skill in dealing with the
epidemic, he drew upon himself the attention of the Austrian government,
which entrusted him with the task of preparing certain essays, treating of
the origin and spread of contagious diseases. Ultimately he returned to
Brody, and continued to practise there, making himself especially popular
among the poor, who found in him a kindly benefactor. His leisure time he
devoted to his favourite occupation, the composition of Hebrew essays, or
rather satires on Jewish subjects. He usually sent them to his literary
friends to be read and criticized before allowing them to be printed in
the current Hebrew periodicals. Among them he reckoned, in addition to
Rapoport and Krochmal, Professor S. D. Luzzatto, Shalom Cohen (editor of
the Hebrew periodical _Bikurey-Ha-Ittim_, and Dr. Letteris, the subsequent
editor and publisher of Erter's collected writings under the title of
‪הצופה לבית ישראל‬^[129-1].

The last years of Erter's life were again visited by various trials,
chiefly caused by the untimely death of his two married daughters, to whom
he had been deeply attached. He did not, however, survive them long. He
died in the year 1851.

From what has been said it will be seen that Erter's life was a hard one,
and it is to this very circumstance that the existence of the excellent
Hebrew satires contained in the _Zophe_ is due. His sad experiences during
the early part of his married life, his association with the “Chassidim,”
the treatment he had received at the hands of the Chief Rabbi of Lemberg,
and, finally, the observations he had made in his capacity as a medical
practitioner—all these, and many other things, are graphically described
therein. His style is full of humour and sarcasm, and the book possesses
the true mark of excellence, inasmuch as familiarity with it merely adds
to its attractiveness. Erter also wrote some poetical pieces, but they
bear no comparison with his masterly prose, which, as Graetz well says,
has points of resemblance to that of Heine.

The titles of the satires in question are: 1. ‪מאזני משקל.‬ 2. ‪הצופה‬
‎‪בשובו מקארלסבאד.‬ 3. ‪גלגול נפש.‬ 4. ‪תשליך.‬ 5. ‪תלונת סני וסנסני
‪וסמנגלוף.‬ 6. ‪חסידות וחכמה,‬ and each section treats of a different
subject. It would be no easy task for any one to reproduce in English, or
in any other language, the many beauties of form and style found in the
original Hebrew of these satires. Equally difficult would it be to arrange
them in order of merit, since each has a peculiar charm of its own. But
the following free translation of some parts of the satire, entitled
‪גלגול נפש‬ (“Transmigration of the Soul”), may, perhaps, give the reader
a faint idea of Erter's methods. It begins as follows:—

“I am a physician, and it is my duty to heal the wounds, and to procure a
remedy for every disease of the body. It is true that those of my
colleagues, who can boast of possessing high-sounding titles, look down
upon me with a certain contempt, inasmuch as they think that they alone
have a right to speak with authority of things they do not know much
about. But I am, nevertheless, as well qualified a medical practitioner as
they are, and my patients do not fare worse than theirs. The only
difference between them and myself is, perhaps, to be found in the fact
that they drive to their patients' houses in splendid carriages, while I
visit mine on foot. For the more horses and carriages a physician has, the
more knowledge and medical skill is attributed to him by the members of
the Jewish faith. Moreover, these distinguished and betitled physicians,
who are mostly employed by the wealthy classes of the community, are
generally handsomely rewarded for their services, even when their patients
die an untimely death, for among the rich even death is an expensive
affair. But I, whose chief practice is carried on among the poor, am
seldom rewarded for my services, and if any of them die, then his or her
soul ‘goes out for nothing.’

“I once passed in front of the house in which one of my patients had died
shortly before. He did not die quite suddenly, but had been ill for some
time, and I was called in to prescribe for him. He happened to be well
off, and after I had visited him once or twice, and he got no better, a
great crowd of his female neighbours and relations came—for the rich are
always surrounded by their relatives and pretended friends—and said
compassionately: ‘This poor sufferer is still in bed, and shall we keep
silence? Can that man (pointing to me) be expected to restore him to
health again? Where are his horses, and where is his carriage? Let us call
in some better and more skilful men, and let them have a consultation
about the case!’ Better and more skilful men were summoned; they arrived
and examined the patient. They then nodded their wise heads, and
prescribed a new medicine, which, having been fetched from the
apothecary's shop, was given to the patient. He took it once or twice, and
was soon after ‘gathered to his fathers.’”

Here follows a long and humorous description of the author's meeting with
the soul of his recently departed patient. The soul told him the story of
its many adventures during its long earthly career; how it frequently
passed over from one body into another, and how it had once also been
transferred from the body of an ass into that of a physician. In that
capacity, the soul informed the author that it had prospered greatly, not
on account of its cleverness or ability, but because it had acted on
certain practical rules which it recommended the author to follow in his
profession. The soul then goes on to explain what they are:—

“1. Powder your hair white, and place on the table of your study a human
skull and some curious skeletons of the animal world. Those coming to you
for medical advice will then say that your hair must surely have turned
white through overwork in your profession, and through your protracted
studies in the domain of natural science.

“2. Fill your library with large-sized books that are richly bound in red
and gold. No matter whether you ever open and read them or not, people
will always have a high opinion of your great acquirements and wisdom.

“3. Sell and pawn everything for the sake of having a carriage of your
own. Your patients may die right and left through your errors of judgment,
yet the fact of having your carriage waiting outside their doors will
shield you from adverse criticism.

“4. If called to a patient you must pay less attention to him and his
malady than to those persons who are round about him. On leaving the
sick-room assume a grave face, and say that the case is a very critical
one. Should the patient die then you will have hinted at his death; but
if, on the other hand, he gets well again, his relations and friends will
naturally attribute his recovery to your extraordinary medical skill.

“5. Have as little as possible to do with the poor. For, as they will only
send for you in hopeless and desperate cases, you will not gain any honour
or reward by attending them. Be therefore exceedingly reserved with them,
and keep them at a distance. Let them wait outside your house, and those
who pass by will look with amazement at the crowd patiently waiting to
obtain your services.

“6. Consider every medical practitioner as your natural enemy, and speak
always of him with the utmost disparagement. If he happens to be young,
then you must say that he has not had sufficient experience, and can do no
good; and if he is old, you must declare that either his eyesight is bad,
or that he is a little crazy, and is not fit to be trusted in important

“7. If asked to take part in a consultation with other physicians, you
will be acting wisely if you always loudly protest against the previous
treatment of the case by your colleagues. Whatever the issue of the case
may be, you will always be on the safe side.”

In the same satire Erter speaks in by no means flattering terms of his old
enemy, the Chief Rabbi of Lemberg, to whom he had already alluded in
another satire, entitled ‪מאזני משקל‬. There he had censured him for
having published a bulky commentary on the well-known code of Jewish laws,
called _Shulchan Aruch_, under the title of ‪ישועות יעקב‬, as being the
work of his own pen. But Erter shows that the contribution of the learned
divine was limited to the title-page, while the rest of it was in reality
the work of other authors. Not satisfied with this revelation, however,
Erter seizes the opportunity offered to him in the satire “Transmigration
of the Soul” to refer again to the soul of the same Rabbi, who had once
caused him such great trouble. This soul, says Erter, made him a full
confession of its origin, and declared that it had formerly belonged to a
mean, scurvy, and ill-tempered watchdog. Being too dangerous an animal to
be allowed to move freely about, it had to be kept chained to its kennel.
There it kept straining at its chain, watching all the time for any
passersby; and when it saw some one coming it began to howl and to bark
violently, and incited all the dogs in the neighbourhood to follow his
example, resulting in a deafening uproar. Woe to the person who came
within its reach without being provided with a long stick or some other
protective weapon. For the dog would attack him suddenly, and cause him
serious injuries. But, on the other hand, if the stranger were well armed,
the savage brute would, in spite of its pretended courage, retreat at once
and crouch behind its kennel. This dog once swallowed a big bone, in
consequence of which it died an untimely death, but its soul continued its
transmigration, and entered the body of a human being. When the latter
grew up and became a man he still retained the nature and the
characteristics peculiar to the canine species, or rather to a cowardly
watchdog. Unfortunately he thought fit to choose the Jewish ministry for
his calling, and as ill-luck would have it succeeded ultimately in
obtaining the guardianship of the souls of his flock. Far from following
the golden path of a true minister of the Jewish religion, who is in duty
bound to promote peace and harmony in his community, he allowed himself to
be guided by his canine instinct, and hectored every one whom he disliked.
He thundered forth his indiscriminate anathemas against those persons who
wished to enter the portals of the temple of knowledge, and induced his
adherents to assist him in carrying out his holy work. But, like his
cowardly prototype, the watchdog, he only inflicted mortal wounds on the
helpless and the unprotected, while he did not dare to harm the rich and
powerful, as well as influential members of his flock who resisted him.
When the Rabbinical tyrant died his soul, says Erter, migrated into the
body of a fox, and thence, in due course, it again entered into the human
frame of a spiritual leader of the “Chassidim.”

The “Rebbe” swindle and the clever tricks of the whole fraternity of these
performers of supernatural wonders give plenty of scope to Erter's satire,
and he is never weary of ridiculing them. In the satire under notice Erter
gets hold of the soul of such a “Rebbe,” and causes it to relate some of
the adventures through which it had passed during its earthly career.
Among other amusing stories it also gives a description of a clever trick,
by means of which its late owner, the “Rebbe,” had extricated himself from
an awkward position, and shows how he had deceived his devotees even at
the time of his death.

“My own son,” says the soul of the departed ‘Rebbe,’ “was once ill, and my
wife, his mother, came to me and implored me to offer prayers to God that
his life might be spared. ‘Be not afraid,’ I said to her, ‘the son of
God's favourite will not perish.’ Next day, and the day after, my wife
begged me again in the name of heaven and earth to intercede on behalf of
the poor sufferer whose illness had meanwhile taken a turn for the worse.
But I answered, and said, ‘Compose yourself, you silly woman. I have
already assured you that my son shall not die.’ Later in the day my wife
rushed into my room, bathed in tears, and exclaiming, ‘Alas, the Lord has
dealt very bitterly with me, and has taken from me my beloved child. What
shall I do, and what shall my life be without him, the joy of my
existence?’ Now it so happened that several of my devotees were present
when I told my wife that her son would _not_ die, and again when she
actually informed me of his death. I was thus placed in an awkward
predicament; but soon a happy thought struck me, which helped me out of my
embarrassment. I pretended to be amazed at the sad news, and exclaimed,
‘What? am I to believe that my own son has died, and no information has
reached me from heaven? No! never. You may do with my son whatever you
like, but I cannot acknowledge his death till it has been officially
notified to me from the world of spirits.’ And when, in due course, the
remains of my son were carried away to their last resting-place, I did not
tear my garments according to the general custom, nor did I follow the
funeral procession, pretending all the time to be unaware of the fact of
my son's death. But after the lapse of several days, when sitting one
evening in the midst of my adherents and devotees, explaining to them some
passages of the Bible in my own mysterious way, I suddenly burst into
tears. ‘Alas!’ I exclaimed, ‘now, just now, I begin to believe in my son's
death, for a heavenly message has just informed me of the sorrowful
event.’ Soon after, I began to mourn over my son's demise, and all the
people round about me looked on with amazement, and believed in me and in
my holiness more firmly and more truly than they had ever done before.”

The soul then goes on to relate the circumstances which caused its
departure from the “Rebbe's” body.

“One evening,” it said, “which happened to be the eve of the festival
called Simchath Torah, the ‘Rebbe’ leaped and danced, according to his
usual custom, round the _Bimah_ (‘reading platform’) of his little
synagogue, amidst the acclamations of his devotees. As on many other
occasions he had then also drunk a good deal of intoxicating wine, and
felt exceedingly jolly. In that sportive mood he called out: ‘Make room
for all the saints of the Bible, who have just come here to rejoice with
me on this joyful festival. Let me drink the health of Father Abraham and
of the other patriarchs, who accompany him.’ And amidst his shouting and
drinking he suddenly beheld a vision. It seemed to him that the walls of
the synagogue were turning round and round, and, fearing lest he might
fall to the ground, and his condition be observed by the bystanders, he
quickly exclaimed: ‘Come ye, my spiritual guests, Abraham, Isaac, and all
the rest of you, and follow me to my own room. There we will have a sacred
meeting, and discuss our secret affairs.’ Saying which, he staggered into
his own room, and locked and bolted the door behind him.

“When the devotees saw this, they said to each other: ‘No one is like our
Master; no one can be compared to our holy “Rebbe”; he is a perfect saint,
the Holy of holies to the letter. How they all left paradise, those great
and exalted personages of the Bible, and have come to his place of
worship, in order to rejoice in his pleasant company. Nay, before our very
eyes has he spoken to them as a man speaks to his friends, and amidst
leaping and dancing has he addressed them familiarly, and loudly toasted
their health. Now, they are all assembled in his room where they are
discussing certain matters concerning ourselves, such as our final release
from bondage, and our return to Zion by the help of the Messiah. Our
“Rebbe” will also succeed in subduing the powers of the evil spirit,
_Samael_, along with all the other legions of evil spirits; he will tread
him under his feet, and will thus prevent him from doing us any harm.’

“While they were thus addressing each other, and their minds were occupied
with the discussion of the ‘Rebbe's’ doings, a boy rushed in breathlessly,
and, in the greatest consternation, told all those present that he had
just seen the body of the ‘Rebbe’ lying lifeless on the ground in the yard
of his house. Thereupon all the Chassidim ran out woe-stricken and
terrified, and behold, there, on a heap of refuse, close to the window of
the ‘Rebbe's’ room, lay his corpse, the dead body of the great saint. At
the sight of which they began weeping and lamenting, and said: ‘Alas, on
account of our own sins and transgressions of the law that righteous man
had died. The evil spirit _Samael_ has overpowered him, and has thrown him
through the window into the yard.’

“But the truth is—thus the soul concludes its narrative—that he had no
quarrel with Satan, nor any fight with the rest of the evil spirits. The
evil spirit that caused his untimely death was of quite a different
nature. It was the spirit he had drunk that had cut short his existence.
For, after his heavy potations of the evening, the ‘Rebbe’ felt rather
ill. He opened the window of his room, and leant out into the fresh air.
No sooner had he done so than he lost his balance, and fell headlong on
the stones below. No immediate help being near at hand he soon after

There are several other passages in Erter's writings which treat the same
subject equally humorously, but another short extract from one of the
satires, having for its title “Piety and Wisdom,” will suffice. After
having pointed out in general terms the great advantages which the calling
of a “Rebbe” offers, the author takes the young aspirant into his
confidence, and describes its glorious prospects in the following words:—

“When,” says he, “you are a holy man, you will have a greater treasury
than the king has, inasmuch as all the gold and silver belonging to your
devotees, who may live in your district, will be yours. Any king or ruler
of a land, who wishes to levy taxes from his loyal subjects, is obliged to
appoint and employ tax-collectors for that purpose, but your adherents
will place all their money and wealth at your disposal without your asking
for it. Should any one of them fall ill, money will be sent to you to
offer up prayers for his recovery. You keep, at any rate, those monetary
presents, for if such patients die it will generally be assumed that their
death was a punishment for their previous evil doings; but if they are
restored again to life and health, then that fact will be attributed to
the efficacy of your prayers. The same will be the case when people come
to you to obtain your advice in regard to business or matrimonial matters.
If they are successful, and everything turns out to be according to their
heart's desire, then it is you and your great divine power that have
effected all this; but, on the other hand, if your counsel and foretelling
lead them astray, they will have to ascribe their failure to their own
follies and misdeeds.”

Erter succeeded in infusing a new life and spirit into the Hebrew tongue,
which is generally classed among the dead languages. To quote the words
that he himself uses on behalf of the genius of the Hebrew language, “I am
dead in the mouths of my children, but I live still in their hearts.”
Erter did more than only protest against the lack of originality in later
Hebrew writers; he himself supplied the deficiency. But he was no mere
writer of Hebrew prose. He had the welfare of his Jewish countrymen
constantly at heart, and it was with the object of improving their low
mental and social position that he wrote those satires, in which their
shortcomings and follies were censured and ridiculed. He spared no class;
Rabbi and layman alike felt the sting of his scorn, and it was by this
means that he really did some good. For some time he also edited, in
co-operation with some friends, a Hebrew periodical under the name of
_He-Chaluz_ (‪החלוץ‬), which continued to appear after his death. This
journal was intended to promote the enlightenment and learning of the Jews
in Galicia, and gradually to win their sympathies for his favourite
project, namely, the establishment of an agricultural colony in his own
country, in which Jewish young men should be employed in tilling the
ground, and in farming tracts of land on their own account. This healthy
and useful occupation, he maintained, would help to decrease, to a great
extent, the misery and poverty, which are, even now, the characteristic
feature of that particular part of the Austrian empire. And strange to say
the very plan, which was drawn up so many years ago by Erter without being
carried into effect, has quite recently been taken up again in the capital
of Austria by the most influential members of the Jewish community, at the
instigation of the late Baron Hirsch.

Erter's writings form but a slender volume, but it may safely be said that
they will outlive many a more pretentious work. True humour is a rare
possession, and Erter's style will never cease to be a source of delight
to those who have a relish for keen satire, and for an elegant and
poetical employment of the language of the Bible.


[129-1] Vienna, 1858; second edition, 1864.


                          LEOPOLD ZUNZ^[140-1]

Among the prominent Jewish scholars of the nineteenth century Zunz will
always occupy a high place. Like Moses Mendelssohn in his time, Zunz, in a
later generation, carried on his spiritual work among his people with
unceasing energy and ability, though in a somewhat different direction.
While the former rendered a lasting service to the Jews by arousing in
their minds a love for secular studies, Zunz conferred a no less important
benefit upon them by bringing to light a large mass of literary matter,
which was the result of his lifelong critical researches into Jewish
history and literature. In these two departments Zunz was, in fact, a
pioneer, and the works he published in connexion with them have proved
themselves to be of considerable assistance to the student. The present
essay is mainly intended to give the reader some notion of the contents of
Zunz's most important writings, but it will also contain a brief sketch of
his life.

Leopold Zunz^[140-2] was born at Detmold, in Germany, on August 10, 1794
(15th of _Ab_, 5554). His early life was passed at Hamburg, where his
father had opened a Hebrew school. There young Zunz received his first
training, but after the death of his father he was sent by his mother to
Samson's Free School at Wolfenbüttel, where his intelligence attracted the
attention of one of his teachers, Samuel Meyer Ehrenberg by name, who
bestowed special care upon him. Here it may be mentioned, in passing, that
Jost, the historian, was his schoolfellow, and that a close friendship
sprang up between them, which lasted both their lives^[141-1].

In 1809, when only fifteen years old, Zunz was already found capable of
assisting in tuition at his own school, but while teaching others he made
use of all the available time at his disposal to increase his own
knowledge. He attended for some years the Gymnasium at Wolfenbüttel, and
in 1815 he matriculated at the Berlin University, being the first Jew
admitted as a student to a Prussian university. The principal studies he
pursued there, were history, philology, and mathematics. He frequented
especially the lectures of De Wette, F. A. Wolf, and Boeckh. He also
employed part of his time in reading books of modern literature, and in
1817 he published a few pieces of light prose and verse in some Berlin
periodicals. From a pecuniary point of view Zunz derived very little
advantage from these literary contributions, but they were nevertheless
useful to him, inasmuch as they made his name known in some of the Berlin
literary circles, and thus paved the way for his subsequent appointment to
the post of editor-in-chief of the _Sperner'sche Zeitung_ that appeared
daily in Berlin as a political paper.

It was fortunate for Zunz that, while at the university, he still kept up
his previous studies in Hebrew and Rabbinical lore, for owing no doubt to
the knowledge he possessed of these subjects he was appointed, in 1820,
the first German preacher of the Reformed Synagogue at Berlin. This
appointment, however, he gave up voluntarily, after having held it for two
years; the reason for so doing is stated in the preface to his _Collection
of Sermons_, which he published at Berlin in 1823. It appears that Zunz,
noticing the general indifference of his congregation in religious
matters, spoke his mind pretty freely about it in the pulpit. His
audiences consequently diminished, and his position became intolerable. He
therefore resigned his office, but was lucky enough after to find
employment on the above-mentioned paper, which enabled him to marry the
lady of his choice. This was Adelaide, _née_ Berman, a relation of David
Frankel, Chief Rabbi of Berlin^[142-1].

In 1835 Zunz accepted the offer made by a section of the Jewish community
of Prague to become its preacher, but, after a year's stay at Prague, he
returned to Berlin, where he was subsequently appointed Principal of the
Training College for Jewish teachers. When, in 1850, this institution
ceased to exist, Zunz retired into private life, receiving, however, a
small pension from the Berlin community as an acknowledgment of the useful
services he had rendered to Judaism by his contributions to Jewish science
and literature. On this scanty income, sometimes slightly increased by the
profits of his books, Zunz and his wife managed to live pretty
comfortably, and even occasionally to entertain their friends. Among the
latter may specially be mentioned Professor Gans, M. Jost, Joseph Lehmann,
M. Moser, Dr. Carrière, the Deputy Warburg, and last, but not least,
Heinrich Heine. Heine seems to have been especially attached to them. He
used to read to them his poems in MS., some of them, which bear a specific
Jewish colouring, were very probably suggested by his learned
host^[142-2]. In his visits to England, France, and Italy, Zunz inspected
many rare MSS., which had been hidden away in various public and private
libraries, and likewise obtained fresh material for his literary works.

Zunz always referred to his wife in the most affectionate terms, and in a
letter addressed to a friend some time before her death he said that for a
period of forty-two years she had been a most faithful helpmate to him,
sharing all his joys and sorrows, and encouraging him in his work. Her
death, which occurred on August 18, 1874, caused Zunz the greatest sorrow,
and from that moment he became more and more melancholy, and was never
again in a fit state of mind to undertake any important literary work. Yet
he lived, though in strict retirement, to celebrate his ninetieth
birthday, on which occasion a tribute of respect was paid to him by some
of his friends and admirers, which took the shape of a volume, entitled
_Jubelschrift zum 90^{sten} Geburtstag des Dr. Leopold Zunz_. It contained
literary contributions from Steinschneider, Neubauer, Jellinek, Güdemann,
David Kaufmann, Derenbourg, and other scholars. A few years later, viz. on
March 17, 1886, corresponding to the 11th of the Hebrew month of _Adar_,
Zunz died peacefully. Zunz's valuable and interesting library was
subsequently bought by the Trustees of the Montefiore College Library at
Ramsgate, while his unpublished MSS. were taken possession of by the
Trustees of the so-called “Zunz-Stiftung,” founded at Berlin in 1864 in
commemoration of Zunz's seventieth birthday, with the object of giving
pecuniary assistance to Jewish authors, and enabling them to publish such
of their MSS. as the authorities of the “Stiftung” considered fit.

Zunz's literary labours began at an early age. In 1818 he published an
essay entitled _A Study in Rabbinical Literature_, which is specially
interesting on account of its containing a definition of the various
subjects that constitute Jewish literature, to which, however, neither
past nor contemporary students had paid due attention. It may at once be
said that, though it was originally written with the view of inducing
scholars of his time to work out the subjects mentioned therein, it was
the author himself who did the most in giving effect to his own

In 1823 he published a sketch of the life and works of the famous
commentator on the Bible and the Talmud, Rabbi Solomon Yizchaki, commonly
called “Rashi” (1040–1105). This essay may be said to be a model
biographical sketch. It contains almost all the ingredients which go to
compose an interesting and instructive whole. It is characterized by
method and the critical acumen, which is generally sadly lacking in
biographies written before his time, and has indicated new lines of
thought in more directions than one.

A few years later, in 1830, Zunz's attention was drawn to a book entitled
_Théorie du Judaïsme_, which a French priest, Chiarini by name, had
published at Paris, in which he inimically discussed the Talmud and
Rabbinical literature generally. Being himself unable to read the
Rabbinical writings in the original, Chiarini contented himself with the
repetition of almost all the adverse criticisms which had appeared in the
writings of Buxtorf, Bartolocci, Eisenmenger, and others. At the time of
the publication of this book Zunz was collecting materials for his
intended great work _Homilies of the Jews_, but he found time to write and
issue a small pamphlet under the title of _Beleuchtung der “Théorie du
Judaïsme” des Abbé Chiarini_ (Berlin, 1830), pointing out therein some of
the more flagrant inaccuracies and plagiarisms of Chiarini's book.

But Zunz did not belong to that class of critical reviewers who, though
quick in detecting the faults of others, cannot show that they themselves
would have done much better in the same field of work. For two years after
the issue of Chiarini's book (in 1832) he published a work which showed at
once the master-mind of a first-rate scholar, and gained for its author an
enduring fame. This work was entitled _Die gottesdienstlichen Vorträge der
Juden_ (“Homilies of the Jews”). There the author gives a description of
the evolution of culture among the Jews extending over more than two
thousand years. Beginning with a general survey of the great moral
influence, which the teachings of the Bible had exercised on the mind of
the Jewish people, the author goes on to define Jewish tradition, and to
describe its progress and its development. The reader thus becomes
acquainted with the history of the genesis of the Mishna, the Talmud, and
the Midrash, and likewise with the form of prayers and sermons that
prevailed at different times among the Jews. Speaking of sermons Zunz
shows in his _Gottesdienstliche Vorträge_ that preaching has at all times
formed an important part of the synagogue service, and that, during the
eighteenth century, sermons were even delivered in the vernacular in
several Jewish places of worship belonging to Portuguese congregations.
Zunz's special object was to show the injustice of the decree of the
Prussian government, which forbade preaching in synagogues, on the plea
that it was an exclusively Christian institution. This he contended was
not historically correct, as long before the dawn of Christianity the use
of homilies in synagogues was common, and ought, therefore, not to be
interfered with in modern times. Thus it will be seen that Zunz had a
double object in view in this book. In the first place, he desired to
point out to his own people the vast amount of interesting and valuable
material to be extracted from the wide field of Jewish literature; and, in
the second, he wished to afford the outer world an insight into the
intellectual life of the Jews of past ages. They were then, according to
the evidence adduced by Zunz, much more civilized and cultured than their
unscrupulous enemies declared them to be, and they had, therefore, a good
right to claim in the country of their birth perfect equality in the eyes
of the law.

Zunz's second great work, entitled _Beiträge zur Geschichte und
Literatur_, was published in 1845. It contains a number of essays on
diverse Jewish subjects, which are full of interest. In the preface to
this work the author makes the following noteworthy remarks: “Jewish
literature plays an important part in the general culture of the nations
of antiquity, and is also closely connected with the origin and the
gradual development of Christianity at large. It has likewise exercised a
marked influence on past and present generations, and participating, as it
did, in their common struggles and sufferings, it has become, as it were,
a supplement to the entire literature of the world. And indeed, if mental
activity generally may be compared to a vast and boundless sea, then
Jewish literature deserves to be designated as one of the streams which
flowed into it and helped it to a wider expansion.”

Though, as already stated, the contents of the _Beiträge_ are of a varied
description, they deal chiefly with that section of Jewish literature that
owes its existence to the Jewish writers of the Middle Ages. Mention is
made of a good many mediaeval Jewish commentators on the Bible and the
Talmud, as well as of grammarians and moralists. Instructive remarks are
made on some of them, most of whose names and writings had scarcely been
known before. Here our admiration for Zunz's rare talents must be enhanced
when it is observed how out of stray paragraphs and notes found in old and
neglected MSS., in rare prints, or on almost illegible tombstones, he has
actually created a standard book of reference, which has now become
indispensable to every student of Jewish literature.

In the course of his investigations in the _Beiträge_ Zunz touches on a
subject which ought not to be passed over unnoticed. He refers to the
crass ignorance sometimes manifested by Christian scholars in regard to
Judaism and its literature. He quotes, for example, the names of a few
French writers, who had published books dealing with Jewish subjects, of
which they knew as little as the aforementioned Chiarini. One of them,
Cupefigne by name, actually won the prize offered by the French Academy
for the best essay on the subject, _L'État littéraire des Juifs dans le
moyen âge_. But as a specimen of what he actually knew of the Talmud Zunz
quotes the following note he found in the essay. It runs thus: _Le Gemare
titre Sanhed._ _Sectio 14; le Talmud même titre_. With this kind of
Talmudical knowledge says Zunz, with just indignation, a French professor
has ventured to write a long dissertation on Rabbinical literature, for
which he was rewarded by the most learned literary society in France with
a valuable prize^[147-1].

Another masterpiece of Zunz, ranking almost as high as his _Homilies of
the Jews_, is _Die synagogale Poesie_, which deals specially with the
_Piyutim_ and _Selichoth_, and which was published in 1855. It is
virtually only the first volume of a work, which would certainly have
remained incomplete without the two additional volumes, issued in 1859 and
1865 under the respective titles _Die Ritus des synagogalen
Gottesdienstes_ and _Nachtrag zur Literaturgeschichte der synagogalen
Poesie_. Each of these volumes treats of a variety of subjects, though
they all belong to one and the same department.

Though the literary matter contained and discussed in _Die synagogale
Poesie_ is extremely copious and interesting, it is impossible to do more,
within the limits of a short essay, than to refer to it briefly. Beginning
with the Psalms the author describes the process of the gradual
development of psalmody into the so-called _Agadah_, and that of the
latter into the various kinds of prayers usually read in the synagogue,
including the “Penitential Poems,” called _Selichoth_. These, containing,
as they do, some of the most heartrending incidents in the mediaeval
history of the Jews, Zunz discusses with special warmth and feeling. One
particular passage excited the admiration of George Eliot, who printed a
translation of it in _Daniel Deronda_. It runs as follows:—

“If there are ranks in suffering, Israel takes precedence of all the
Nations;—if the duration of sorrows, and the patience with which they are
borne, ennoble, the Jews are among the aristocracy of every land;—if a
literature is called rich in the possession of a few classical tragedies,
what shall we say to a national Tragedy lasting for fifteen hundred years,
in which the poets and actors were also the heroes.”

When some later writers, including Professor Paul Legarde, criticized the
_Synagogale Poesie_ adversely, asserting that Zunz had wasted his time and
energy in the preparation of an elaborate work on the _Piyutim_, most of
which are admittedly valueless, the late Professor David Kaufmann defended
his friend, the author, in a remarkable pamphlet. He says, _inter alia_,
that in writing about the _Piyutim_ Zunz was chiefly actuated by the
desire to display before the eyes of the world the unexampled miseries and
sufferings, which the Jewish people endured during a period extending over
more than a thousand years. Thus it was obvious that, whether the
_Piyutim_ have by their existence enriched Hebrew literature or not, Zunz
has, at all events, by his long dissertation on them, brought to light a
piece of history of his people which, for various reasons, was worthy of a
permanent record.

Another noteworthy point connected with the _Synagogale Poesie_ is, that
it contains a considerable number of versified German translations of
pieces of liturgical Hebrew poetry, which renders them more intelligible
to the ordinary reader than would otherwise have been the case. The
following example may serve here as an illustration. One of the dullest
liturgical pieces composed by the Hebrew writer Kaliri (about 700 A. D.)
is no doubt the Hebrew hymn beginning with the words, _Adam-u-behemah_
(‪אדם ובהמה‬), which is read in most of the synagogues on _Hoshanah
Rabbah_. Yet Zunz translated it into excellent German. A free English
translation is appended:—

    On all that lives and moves
    Look down, O Lord, with grace;
    Preserve in health and strength
    The feeble human race.
    Oh, let the earth again
    In spring-like aspect shine,
    Producing lovely flowers,
    Delicious figs and vine.
    Let rain bedew the fields,
    The mountains high and low,
    That plants, and herbs, and trees
    Luxuriously grow.
    Arouse anew to life
    All that abides on earth,
    And let our hearts rejoice
    In lively songs and mirth.

It may be mentioned here, in passing, that some of Zunz's poetical German
translations are in style and form hardly inferior to the specimen
renderings of Eastern poetry found in the works of Goethe, Herder,
Rückert, and Bodenstedt. In fact, it is not too much to say that Zunz's
German poetry and prose are classical. His style is praised by Varnhagen
von Ense, who describes it in his _Diary_ as being in many places most
elegant and attractive.

As already stated, it was in 1859 that Zunz published an additional volume
to the _Synagogale Poesie_, called _Die Ritus des synagogalen
Gottesdienstes_, which mostly consists of inquiries into synagogal rites.
He alludes to the varied rites that had been in vogue among Jews living in
different countries, and he points out certain customs adopted by the
synagogue which had their origin in the Christian Church. To these, he
says, belong the customs of making monetary offerings in the synagogue
during the reading of the Law, which had, however, long been in use in the
Gallic Church. There, in return for such offerings, the officiating priest
was wont to read a prayer, called in Latin _Oratio post nomina_. This
prayer corresponds, according to Zunz, to the one still recited in some
synagogues by the precentor on mentioning the offerings made by the person
“called-up” to the reading of the Law, which is well known by the name of
_Mi-Sheberach_ (‪מי שברך‬). Zunz also thinks that the usage practised in
the synagogue of reciting prayers in memory of the souls of departed
parents and near relations, likewise originated in the Christian Church,
as mention is made of it in the early Christian liturgy.

The third volume forming part of the _Synagogale Poesie_ was, as already
stated, published by Zunz in 1865 under the title of _Die
Literaturgeschichte der synagogalen Poesie_. Though a small supplement was
added to it about two years later under the heading of _Nachträge zur
Literaturgeschichte der synagogalen Poesie_, it virtually closed the
series of Zunz's three epoch-making works that deal almost exhaustively
with the most important branches of Jewish science and literature. In this
particular field of study and research, Zunz proved himself to be a
first-rate critic and investigator, and there he also attained conspicuous
success. But, while admiring in Zunz his many-sided talents, and more
especially his extensive knowledge of earlier and later Hebrew literature,
credit must also be given him for the honesty with which he records the
obligations he owed to his literary friends for their aid in the
preparations of his literary compositions. Among them may be specially
mentioned Delitzsch, Rapoport, Luzzatto, Sachs, and Dukes, with all of
whom Zunz for many years carried on a lively correspondence. This helped
him greatly in his researches. Thus, for instance, in 1832, Zunz was only
aware of the existence of 200 _Selichoth_, but from the information
supplied by his friends he was enabled to add to the list of these
liturgical poems until they had reached the large number of 1,816.

It is natural that Zunz had many admirers among men of education, who were
able to read and appreciate his German works. Yet it is interesting to
note that a great many Jews, who were only slightly acquainted with
German, but had an extensive knowledge of Hebrew and the Talmud, held him
in great esteem as a Hebrew scholar. This distinction Zunz owed to his
mastery over the Hebrew style, examples of which are to be found in the
 preface to his edition of Krochmal's _Morè Nebuche Ha-Z'man_ (‪מורה נבוכי‬
‪הזמן‬), and likewise in the Hebrew periodical _Kerem Chemed_. The latter
contains a biographical sketch of the famous Jewish critic, Azariah de
Rossi (1514–98), which is not only remarkable for its learning, but also
for the excellence of its composition. Zunz also wrote some pretty Hebrew
verses, specimens of which he gave in his metric Hebrew translation of
Klopstock's _Die Sommernacht_, which appeared (in 1819) in Heinemann's
Annual, called _Yedidja_.

It is to be regretted that Zunz, when at the height of his fame, and
already advanced in years, thought fit to write an essay published in the
_Zeitschrift der deutsch-morgenländischen Gesellschaft_, vol. XXVII, pp.
669–89, embodying the views of Biblical criticism of the advanced school.
There he tries to prove, for instance, that Leviticus and certain parts of
Deuteronomy were composed at a much later date than tradition has assigned
to them, and that the Day of Atonement and the festivals of New Year and
Purim were unknown to the early composers of the Pentateuch. These views
naturally aroused the anger of all strictly orthodox Jews, and they also
brought him in conflict with his ultra-radical friend Geiger, who censured
him for his obvious inconsistency, because in another essay (published in
the second part of his _Gesammelte Schriften_) Zunz spoke of the practice
of wearing phylacteries as a noble and sacred institution which ought to
be rigorously observed, while here he questioned the sanctity of the
holiest day in the Jewish calendar. But, though Zunz subsequently defended
his apparently antagonistic views to the accepted traditions of the Jews,
it would certainly have been better for his reputation had he left
Biblical criticism alone.

Zunz was undoubtedly filled with a deep love for his people. By his
labours he showed to the world that the Jews had, like other nations, a
history, a science, a philosophy, and a remarkable literature, on the
strength of which they were entitled to claim equal rights and privileges
with their fellow men in all that concerned their intellectual, social,
and political life. In this point his aims and ideals were somewhat akin
to those of his great prototype and predecessor Moses Mendelssohn. In
fact, they had much in common both in respect of their life and their
character. Both being of humble origin, they had both at the outset of
their scholastic career to contend with poverty and want. They were both
deeply attached to their people, and did what in them lay to remove their
disabilities, and especially to encourage them in the correct use of their
native tongue. It is true that in religious matters neither of them
exercised a favourable influence on his surroundings. But this at least
will be universally admitted that the admiration entertained by Heine for
Hebrew literature was chiefly due to his long and friendly intercourse
with Zunz, which no doubt gave rise to those laudatory expressions found
in his _Perlen des Romancero_, his _Rabbi von Bacharach_, and more
especially in his book entitled _Heine über Börne_.

Was Zunz ever really happy? This question, if raised, could hardly be
answered affirmatively. Long before and after his marriage he experienced
constant disappointments; and as for the state of his mind subsequent to
the death of his wife—who, by the way, left him childless—we learn from
the correspondence he then carried on with Professor David Kaufmann, how
completely overcome he was. The fact is, that Zunz fancied that he and his
works were not sufficiently known to, and appreciated by, his
co-religionists and the literary fraternity of the day, and on this
account he once sent to Kaufmann the following characteristic lines:—

    Bist du mit Grafen nicht verwandt,
    Und Börsenrittern unbekannt—
    Du wirst—sei immerhin ein _Kant_—
    Von Zeitungsschreibern nie genannt.

On another occasion, when writing to him, Zunz complains of the
indifference manifested towards him and his works by the Jews, and with
bitter irony he goes on to say that they would no doubt have established
an annual fast-day in his memory had he been the Gedaliah of the Bible, a
governor of a Jewish province, and murdered by an assassin's hand^[153-1].

Zunz considered himself, and more especially in his declining years, a
disappointed man; but if the extent of a man's happiness is to be measured
by the amount of useful work he has done for the benefit of others, then
Zunz deserves more to be envied than to be pitied. He has certainly not
lived and laboured, as he himself fancied, in vain. He will always occupy
a foremost place in the annals of Jewish history and scholarship, and will
ever be honoured as the Nestor of Jewish science and literature.


[140-1] A sketch of the “Life and Works” of Zunz by the writer of this
article has appeared in German (in 1890) in Dr. Rahmer's _Literaturblatt_.

[140-2] In one of his letters to the late Prof. David Kaufmann, Zunz
explains the origin of his name by saying that it was originally “Zons,”
having been adopted by an ancestor of his from his little native town,
which was situated somewhere on the banks of the Rhine.

[141-1] In another of his letters to Prof. Kaufmann, Zunz mentions the
names of two works, the reading of which especially inclined him to the
serious study of Jewish historical and literary works. These were the
Jewish historical book ‪צמח דוד‬, by David Gans (1641–1718), and the
_Bibliotheca Hebraea_, by Wolfius (1689–1739).

[142-1] He also was Moses Mendelssohn's Talmudical teacher.

[142-2] In one of his letters to Prof. Kaufmann, Zunz mentions that he had
in his chest many old missives from Heine.

[147-1] In Geiger's _Jüdische Zeitschrift_ (1868) Zunz has an article
containing several other amusing mistakes made by Christian scholars, when
translating Hebrew phrases into Latin, or into the vernacular. The
following is a characteristic specimen: The well-known Hebrew phrase,
occurring in the Passover Hagadah, ‪זו פרישות דרך ארץ‬, is translated by
Rittangel by _Dispersio per omnem viam terrae_!

[153-1] This letter to Kaufmann was written at Berlin, and dated Sept. 10,




The nineteenth century is remarkable in the annals of Jewish history and
bibliography on account of the many eminent Jewish scholars it has
produced, men who greatly enlarged the field of what is known in modern
phrase as the science of Judaism. They threw new light on diverse Jewish
subjects of much importance, such as the Mishna, the Talmud, the Midrash,
and likewise on general Jewish history and literature. Especially notable
were Zunz, Rapoport, Geiger, Munk, Jost, Fürst, Jellinek, Luzzatto, and

The two last-named savants form the subject of the present essay, and are
here treated together, not merely because the centenary of their birth was
some time ago celebrated in several Jewish communities within the same
year, but because they were the renowned heads of two Rabbinical colleges,
which brought about a revival of Talmudical and general Jewish studies.

Samuel David Luzzatto was born at Trieste, in Austria, in August, 1800. He
belonged to an old Italian Jewish family, several members of which
occupied conspicuous places in the annals of Jewish history and
scholarship. The most noted among them were Moses Hayim Luzzatto
(1707–40), the well-known author of two delightful Hebrew dramas, entitled
_La-Yesharim Téhilla_ and _Migdal Oz_, and Ephraïm Luzzatto, who (in 1768)
published in London a collection of charming little Hebrew poems and
songs^[154-1], which is spoken of in eulogistic terms by Franz Delitzsch,
in his _Geschichte der_ _jüdischen Poesie_. Samuel D. Luzzatto received
his early education at the excellent Jewish Free School of his native
town, where he studied Biblical and Talmudical subjects, general science,
and ancient and modern languages. On leaving school, Luzzatto chose
literature as his future calling, and with that purpose in view he applied
himself with the utmost zeal to the study of the Italian language and
literature, which he in later years knew almost to perfection. At the age
of nineteen he became, by mere chance, known throughout the whole of Italy
as a talented writer of Italian verses. It so happened that the then
Austrian Crown Prince, who subsequently became Emperor of Austria, paid a
flying visit to Trieste, and that the leaders of the local Jewish
community commissioned young Luzzatto to write an Italian sonnet in
commemoration of the royal visit. The Prince expressed his appreciation of
its excellence by causing it to be published in several leading papers of
the country.

But a far more substantial recognition of his attainments was accorded to
Luzzatto a few years later in the shape of a professorship at the Collegio
Rabbinico, which, at the instigation of the Austrian government, had been
established at Padua in the year 1829. A little before this Luzzatto had
married the daughter of one of his former masters, and having just
finished his first important literary work on _Targum Onkelos_, called
_Oheb Ger_, he bestowed upon his firstborn son the name of “Philoxenes,”
which was a literal translation of the title of his book. The book was not
printed for some time, as the only publisher who was willing to produce
it, made the curious stipulation that the author should bind himself to
buy 200 copies of his own work! This was the _honorarium_ offered at the
beginning of last century to a Jewish scholar for an epoch-making work.
Undaunted by this discouragement Luzzatto continued his literary
occupation, and the fruits of his labours ultimately appeared in print,
partly during his lifetime and partly after his death. They dealt with a
great variety of subjects, more especially with Biblical exegesis,
homiletics, Jewish history, philosophy, and poetry. Poetry was one of
Luzzatto's favourite subjects, and he enriched it with many valuable
contributions of his own, which mostly appeared in his two volumes
entitled _Kinnor Naïm_ (‪כנור נעים‬). To Luzzatto credit is also due for
having unearthed a great number of Hebrew MSS. containing poems and songs,
which had Ibn Gabirol, Jehuda Halevi, the two Ibn Ezras, and other famous
Hebrew writers of the Middle Ages for their authors. Luzzatto devoted a
great deal of his time and attention to editing them, although he knew
very well from past experiences that work of this kind was a labour of
love only, and nothing more. He was always most willing to assist, in a
literary sense, any one who asked him for the loan of a copy of a rare
Hebrew MS., which he happened to possess, and would himself very often
copy it out with his own hands. Writing to Luzzatto, Zunz once reproached
him for his generosity to unknown persons, who often took advantage of his
kindness and abused it. In his reply to Zunz he said: “It lies in my
nature to act in literary matters just as I do. If to-day Satan himself
were to come to me and ask for a MS., which he wished to have printed in
Hades, I would kiss his hands and cheerfully comply with his request. For
surely I do not work for my own benefit, nor for any ambitious purpose of
my own.”

For many years Luzzatto carried on a correspondence with some of the most
renowned savants of his time, such as Rapoport, Zunz, Steinschneider, the
Christian professors Delitzsch, Rosenmüller, and Martinet, in addition to
whom might also be mentioned Geiger, Sachs, Dukes, Jellinek, Fürst,
Kirchheim, Reggio, and Ghirondi. They all profited more or less from the
literary contents of his letters, which they frequently utilized in their
own work. Luzzatto wrote Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, French, and German with a
certain amount of ease and fluency, but he was a master of Italian prose
and verse. A renowned Italian poetess, Eugenia Pavia Gentilomo by name,
thought so much of his taste that she always submitted her poems in MS. to
him before she sent them to the press for publication.

Though Luzzatto's general correspondence was large the bulk of it was with
Rapoport and Geiger. It is a well-known fact that Geiger was greatly
helped by Luzzatto in the preparation of his excellent German version of
Jehuda Halevi's Hebrew poems and songs. On one occasion, when Geiger
delayed in answering a long letter of Luzzatto's, the latter reminded him
of his omission in a poem consisting of four stanzas, each of which was
composed in another language. One stanza, written in French, is worth

    Monsieur le Grand-Rabbin, Abraham Violoniste^[157-1]
    Avez-vous tout d'un coup cassé le violon?
    Ne donne-t-elle plus votre main le doux son,
    L'aimable mélodie, ranimant l'esprit triste?

Equally interesting is a German poem by Geiger to Luzzatto, accompanying a
copy of Jehuda Halevi's works, in which he gratefully acknowledges his
many obligations to Luzzatto. It runs as follows:—

    Aus frommer Dichter Stamm, selbst frommer Dichter,
    Ein Weiser, Edler, mild zugleich als Richter,
    Ein Nil, der überströmend Segen spendet,
    Doch Deines Wissensfluth nicht Schlamm aussendet.
    Hast meine Fluren auch getränket,
    Dort edle Reben eingesenket.
    Die Frucht ist reif, lass sie Dir reichen,
    Nimm sie als treuer Freundschaft Zeichen.

In spite of his multifarious literary occupations Luzzatto devoted
particular care and attention to his professorial duties in the Collegio
Rabbinico. It was his ambition to make it a model for all Rabbinical
colleges. His disciples, consisting as they did of Italians, Germans,
Poles, and Russians, loved and revered their master, who, in his turn,
treated them as if they were his personal friends, and took the liveliest
interest in their affairs. He took a special pride in noting in his own
works any clever idea suggested by his pupils in the course of his
lectures, and he thus encouraged them to literary enterprise on their own
account. If the question were asked what the leading feature of Luzzatto's
character was, it might unhesitatingly be answered that it was
conscientiousness. When it is remembered how he had to struggle against
absolute poverty for many years, and how frequently his home was visited
by sickness and death, his whole-hearted devotion to his duties, his
enthusiasm in his literary pursuits, and his universal kindness become
intensified. It was this conscientiousness which led him to decline the
post of _Haham_ to the Spanish and Portuguese congregation in London,
because he thought that he could not acquire sufficient mastery over the
English language to enable him to preach in it satisfactorily.

It is interesting to note that Luzzatto's literary activity continued
almost till his death. His very last literary production was a Hebrew
sonnet composed in commemoration of the sixth centenary of the birth of
Dante. Luzzatto died after a short illness, on the eve of the Day of
Atonement, in 1865.

The limits of an essay do not permit of entering on any detailed account
of Luzzatto's multifarious books and treatises. Suffice it to say that, if
put together, they would occupy a large space in a small library. It is,
however, not the quantity but rather the quality of his writings that
commands our close attention. This is specially the case with those which
deal with the exposition of the Bible. To this particular branch of study
Luzzatto devoted much time, and to his credit it must be said that he was
one of the first Jewish scholars of the nineteenth century who took it up
seriously and with conspicuous success.

It would be idle to ignore altogether Luzzatto's faults and
inconsistencies, which resulted in a rupture with some of his best
friends. As an instance may be mentioned his quarrels with Rapoport,
Geiger, and some other friends. Again, he sometimes expressed the most
radical views concerning the _Massorah_, and, on the other hand, attacked
the works of Maimonides and Ibn Ezra on account of their liberal ideas in
the exposition of certain Biblical subjects. But, in spite of all this, we
cannot and must not diminish our admiration for a man like Luzzatto, whose
self-sacrificing efforts were always directed towards the advancement of
the interest of Jewish literature generally.



                            ZACHARIAH FRANKEL

In the first part of this essay reference was made to the similarity
between Luzzatto and Frankel in respect of their mental training, their
vocation, and the first success, which they both achieved therein. It is
now proposed to give a short sketch of Frankel's life, from which it will
be seen that he, like Luzzatto, was ever animated by the noble desire of
promoting the interests of Judaism, and its ancient and modern literature.

Zachariah Frankel was born at Prague, in Austria, on October 1, 1801,
corresponding to the 24th of _Tishri_, 5562. He was the son of well-to-do
parents, both of whom belonged to ancient Jewish families, and some of
whose members had successively held the honourable post of Chief Rabbi
there. Young Frankel received his early education in Prague. He studied
Biblical and Talmudical subjects, but also devoted part of his time to
mathematics, French, Latin, and Greek. At the age of twenty-three he went
to Buda-Pesth, at the university of which town he continued his former
studies, and there in due course he graduated as Doctor of Philosophy.
Being already well known as a Talmudical scholar and as master of Jewish
literature, and having, moreover, obtained the authorization to act in the
capacity of Rabbi, Frankel was soon elected (in 1831) the spiritual head
of the Jewish community of Teplitz, in Bohemia. After staying there for
four years, during which time he introduced into the ritual the German
sermon, which, by the way, was then quite an innovation in Austria, he was
appointed Chief Rabbi of Saxony, having his domicile at Dresden. There a
wide field of activity was at once opened for him, and he was not slow in
showing his great abilities. He soon proved himself to be not only an
eminent scholar and earnest writer and preacher, but also a man of
singularly vigorous action in communal matters. It was chiefly due to his
untiring and strenuous efforts that some of the civil disabilities, under
which the Jews of Saxony then laboured, were removed by the government. To
this category belongs the ancient form of oath, which used to be
administered to them _more Judaico_.

While at Dresden, Frankel was offered the important post of Chief Rabbi of
Berlin, which he, however, declined; but he consented to undertake the
duties of organizer and Director of the Jüdisch-theologisches Seminar
(Jewish Theological College), which was then about to be established at
Breslau, and has subsequently become famous as a model institution of its
kind. It was a post after his own heart. He cherished the hope that in his
capacity as leader and teacher of numerous disciples, who would themselves
one day be leaders in the synagogue, he would be able to serve the cause
of Judaism better than if he were always to remain the spiritual head of
one single community. Frankel lived to see the realization of his wishes;
for a great many of his pupils occupied more or less important positions
as Rabbis and preachers in different parts of the world, and some of them
worked as professors in institutions that were almost identical in
position and organization with the one over which he himself presided.

When the Breslau Seminary was opened (on August 10, 1854), there were two
conflicting currents of thought prevailing in respect of Jewish law and
custom. The Ultra-orthodox party advocated a _noli me tangere_ policy in
religious matters, and considered that any attempt towards the
modification of any antiquated usage was levelled at the whole structure
of Judaism. The opposite party, of whom there were many representatives in
Germany and elsewhere, were in favour of such radical changes in the
ritual as were calculated to create a positive revolution. In these
circumstances Frankel recommended his pupils the adoption of a middle
course in their future careers, showing that, while he tacitly admitted
the necessity of some reform in Judaism, as it then existed, he was of
opinion that the changes should be introduced gradually and with the
utmost caution. He had already expressed these views publicly, notably at
the assembly of Rabbis at Frankfort, and it is therefore obvious that he
was not averse to moderate religious reforms.

Although at the time of the opening of the Breslau Seminary Frankel
numbered among his colleagues such eminent scholars as Graetz, Bernays,
Joel, and Zuckermann, he himself was and always remained the head, in fact
as well as name. His lectures were chiefly on the Talmud, the importance
and value of which he continually endeavoured to make clear to his pupils.
He read and explained to them certain sections of it on each of the first
five days of the week, and in so doing he made a somewhat free use of the
mode of teaching that had been in vogue in the ancient Jewish academies.
He allowed and even encouraged his pupils to enter upon discussions on the
subject-matter of his lecture. By this means Frankel was able to test the
industry and talent of each individual pupil. Once a week, however, he
gave a regular lecture in the classroom, at which there was no discussion.
On these occasions he generally discoursed on the origin and development
of the oral law, extending over a period of several centuries. These
lectures were subsequently embodied in his book entitled _Darkè
Hammishnah_, to which special reference will presently be made.

There is no doubt that Frankel was greatly in favour of a free and
unrestricted investigation of Judaism and its teachings, and that he
always essayed to reconcile them with what is called in modern phrase “der
Zeitgeist.” Instances of this are to be found everywhere in his writings
and treatises, many of which appeared in the monthly magazine _Die
Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judenthums_, which he
edited from 1852 till 1868. As regards Frankel's books it may justly be
said that they are classical, but want of space precludes a reference to
more than three of them, which appear to be of special interest.

Frankel's first important volume appeared at Leipsic in 1841, under the
title of _Die Vorstudien zu der Septuaginta_ (“Studies in the
Septuagint”). Several other writers, including the renowned Jewish critic
Azarya de Rossi (1514–78), had already devoted their earnest attention
thereto, but none of them attained the same measure of success as the
author of the _Vorstudien_. Frankel throws much light on the genesis, the
composition, and the tendency of the Septuagint, and explains the reason
why its appearance was hailed with delight by the Alexandrian Jews, but
condemned by that section of the Jews which then resided in Palestine.
Equally instructive and interesting are the remarks he makes on the
influence which it exercised on several of the subsequent ancient
translations of the Bible, and on the development of the so-called
_Halacha_. But, he says, it has done much more than that. It has infused
for the first time into the thoughts and language of the civilized nations
of antiquity the lofty teachings of Judaism, and has directly and
indirectly enriched the world of letters with many suggestive ethical and
moral lessons. By the publication of this particular book Frankel
accomplished two important things: in the first place he showed the world
that the Jews, as the authors of the Septuagint, have contributed a great
deal to universal literature; and then he also made his own people
acquainted with some of the precious literary treasures which they
possessed, but which they had hitherto ignored.

His second important work, published at Leipsic in 1859, is entitled
_Darkè Hammishnah_, but it has also the following additional heading in
Latin _Hodogetica in Mishnam librosque cum ea conjunctos, Tosefta,
Mechilta, Sifra, Sifri_. It is written in an easy Hebrew style, which the
author no doubt rightly thought would be thoroughly understood by all
students of Rabbinical literature, as were not well versed in any other
language. This volume contains, as its two titles already briefly
indicate, much information on the ancient Rabbinical lore and tradition
generally, but chiefly in respect of the Mishna. The latter is fully
described there with regard to its many authors, its varied
characteristics, its idiom, and its literary and scientific value. It
seems scarcely credible, but it is a fact that this important and highly
instructive work was at the time of its appearance vehemently assailed by
some ultra-orthodox German and Austrian Rabbis, who publicly declared it
to be a dangerous book, and one calculated to undermine the very
foundations of Jewish law and tradition. On the other hand it is
gratifying to note that Rapoport at once recognized its great merits, and
did his best to defend it.

Frankel's third and last work was his _M'bo Ha-Yerushalmi_, which means
“An Introduction to the Jerusalem Talmud.” Like the _Darkè Hammishnah_ it
was written in Hebrew, and was published in 1870, that is to say, when the
author was seventy years old. What makes the _M'bo Ha-Yerushalmi_
particularly valuable is the circumstance that in it he broke entirely new
ground. It has, in fact, become an indispensable guide to all who have
chosen Talmudical literature as their special study. In it Frankel
displayed his usual thoroughness in the critical analysis of its details,
especially of its many compilers, its peculiar language, and its relation
to the Babylonian Talmud.

The aims of Luzzatto and Frankel were in a large measure identical. They
appeared in the early part of the nineteenth century when the presence of
really able men was specially needed in the Jewish camp. At that
particular time it was fast becoming evident that unless Rabbinical and
other Jewish literature received an academical and classical treatment it
would sink into utter oblivion, and it is mainly due to their exertions,
both by the spoken word and the published writing, that this misfortune
was averted. Their personal example moreover, in their capacity as heads
of Rabbinical seminaries, stimulated their pupils to embark on original
research into the various branches of Jewish science and literature, and
showed them at the same time how to do it methodically and on scientific
lines, with what results latter-day history has sufficiently demonstrated.

Like Luzzatto, Frankel was actively engaged in literary work till almost
the very day of his death, which occurred on February 23, 1875. He left no
children of his own to mourn him, but, as this essay is in its humble way
intended to show, he lives in the remembrance of his pupils, who revered
him as a teacher and loved him as a man.


[154-1] Entitled ‪אלה בני הנעורים‬.

[157-1] The point lies here in the circumstance that the term “violoniste”
is equivalent to the German word “Geiger.”



It is curious to observe that Carlyle, who frequently writes with
unqualified admiration of the literary genius of certain representatives
of modern German literature, such as Goethe, Schiller, and Jean Paul
Richter, makes only one brief reference to Heine. He there stigmatizes him
with even more than his usual savagery, “blackguard.” The injustice of
this obloquy has been amply proved by Heine's popularity on both sides of
the Atlantic among English-speaking people.

A writer in the _Quarterly Review_, some years ago, in a lengthy article
on Heine, said that his writings differed from other works of the same
nature in their bizarre and grotesque style, as well as in the delightful
humour with which they often overflow—a humour vividly reminiscent of
Aristophanes. Heine, he goes on to say, who was a direct descendant of the
prophets in mind and inspiration, somewhat resembled the two great seers
of Israel—Isaiah and Ezekiel. Like them, he found in the use of strange
metaphors and wonderful visions a ready means of appealing to the
imagination of his readers. The present essay is an attempt to show that,
in a spiritual sense, Heine really had something in common with some of
the great authors of the Bible, whose peculiar style and beautiful diction
he instinctively imitated.

The first and most important question that arises is naturally, Whether
Heine had ever read the Bible or some parts of it in the original Hebrew,
or whether he acquired his undoubtedly deep knowledge of it from a modern
version? Two of the greatest authorities, Graetz and Karpeles, say that
Heine was sent in his early days by his mother, Betty von Geldern, to a
Jewish school, where he actually learned some Hebrew, together with
various other subjects connected with the Jewish faith. However much or
little it was, Heine retained a vivid recollection of it to the end, for
in some of his later works are found some Hebrew quotations, which are
mainly short phrases and sentences that occur in the Bible and in other
Hebrew volumes of a more modern date^[166-1].

But it was not only during the time he was at the Jewish school at
Düsseldorf that he had an opportunity of learning certain important things
about Judaism and its literature. It is known that he was a keen member of
a Jewish society that was formed at Berlin in 1822 for the promotion of
the study and knowledge of Jewish history and literature; and through his
intimate acquaintance with several of the members, such as Zunz, David
Friedländer, Moser, and others, Heine learnt to appreciate the charm of
these studies. He was enthusiastic in his praises of the Bible, and
likewise found in the poetry of the great Jewish poets of the Middle Ages
a perpetual source of delight. His knowledge of them was derived from
Michael Sach's well-known volume, entitled _Die religiöse Poesie der Juden
in Spanien_ (“Religious Poetry of the Jews in Spain”). Though his
inability to read the writings of Jehuda Halevi, Ibn Gabirol, Moses and
Meïr Ibn Ezra, and Alcharizi in the original prevented him from an entire
appreciation of their merits, yet he speaks of them in his _Hebrew
Melodies_ in terms of great admiration. Referring, for instance, to
Alcharizi, he says that he was a Voltaire six hundred years before
Voltaire lived; and of his special favourite Jehuda Halevi, he says that
he was kissed at his birth by the Almighty, and that the sound of the kiss
echoed in all his poems and songs.

There can be little doubt that his own works were influenced in no small
degree by these illustrious predecessors, but it would seem that he was
even more directly inspired by the Bible itself, and particularly by the
lyric songs, which especially abound in the Book of Psalms and the Song of
Songs. He refers to it more than once in eulogistic terms, but most
characteristic are the following remarks^[167-1]: “I have to-day,” he
writes, “again looked through the Old Testament. What a marvellous book it
is! Its contents are wonderful, and so is its diction. Every word it
contains is as natural as the growing tree, the smiling flower, the
flowing ocean, the glittering star, and the living man. The Bible is
divine and emanates from God, while all the other books in existence are
but the poor products of feeble-minded mortals. The Bible is the drama of
the human race, and may, moreover, be pronounced to be the book of
books—_Biblia_. . . . The Jews ought, indeed, to console themselves for
the loss of Jerusalem and the Temple, together with the Ark of the
Covenant, and the precious jewels of King Solomon; such a loss is surely
quite insignificant when compared with that indestructible treasure, the
Bible, which they have luckily saved. . . . My admiration for it is
extremely great.”

These were the views of Heine, the sceptic and the mocker, who said, for
instance, of Judaism, that it was not a religion, but a misfortune. His
early antipathy for his religion may not improbably have been due to the
repellent effect, which the performance of a number of unattractive and to
him meaningless rites would naturally cause to a man of his aesthetic
sensibilities. But, as he grew older and more serious in disposition, he
looked upon Judaism in a different light, and he changed his mockery into
a hymn of praise and admiration. He was deeply impressed by the great
antiquity of the Jewish race, which had bravely withstood the shocks of
time, and continued to live and to endure in spite of the many obstacles
and hostile influences to which it had been subjected. In his so-called
“Confessions,” written when he was already advanced in years, he said that
he felt proud of the fact that his ancestors had been members of the noble
house of Israel, and that he was thus descended from those very martyrs,
who had given to the world a God and an admirable code of ethics, for the
sake of which they had often suffered and died.

Heine's knowledge of Hebrew was, as already stated, by no means so
extensive as to make it credible that he had of himself been able to
detect in the poetical portions of the Hebrew Bible certain beauties of
form and diction, as well as many of the graceful irregularities which
constitute a unique characteristic of their own. Yet he seems to have had
a sort of instinctive feeling for them. That such singularities are also
met with in many of Heine's lyric songs is a fact that will hardly be
disputed, though it is uncertain whether they were really imitations of
the Biblical ones or not. At all events, they possess many of the unique
qualities which distinguish the poems in the Hebrew Bible. They are
characterized by a certain peculiarity of rhythm, by their charming
word-pictures, and by their changes from gaiety to melancholy, from
sobriety to mirth. They have, moreover, supplied the theme for many of the
charming compositions of musicians, like Schubert, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy,
and Schumann. Further, though they have been repeatedly translated into
various languages by some of the most eminent scholars of the day, there
is scarcely a single version which can be said to preserve a reproduction
of the spirit of the original. The following two examples, which are
English versions of a Hebrew and German lyric song respectively, may be
considered sufficient to prove this. The Hebrew one occurs in the Song of
Songs (viii. 6 and 7), and its English translation runs thus:—

    Love is strong as death;
    The passion thereof is hard as _Shéol_;
    Its heat is the heat of fire,
    A very flame of the Lord!

    Many waters cannot quench love,
    Neither can the floods drown it:
    If a man would give all the substance of his house for love,
    He would utterly be despised^[169-1].

The second example is represented here by one of Heine's lyric songs,
which in the original German runs as follows:—

    Leise zieht, durch mein Gemüth
    Liebliches Geläute;
    Klinge, kleines Frühlingslied,
    Kling' hinaus ins Weite.

    Kling' hinaus, bis an das Haus,
    Wo die Veilchen spriessen,
    Und wenn du eine Rose schaust,
    Sag', ich lass' sie grüssen.


    Softly ring, and through me spring
    The sweetest tones to-day;
    Gently ring, small song of spring,
    Ring out, and far away.

    Ring and roam, into the home,
    Where violets you see,
    And when unto a rose you come,
    Oh, greet that rose from me.

The translation is by Sir Theodore Martin, whose versions of many of
Heine's poems and songs are generally considered to be specially good, but
it cannot truly be said that in either of these two renderings is there
much more than the pale reflection of the charm of the original.

Again, it will be found that in the Biblical lyric songs and those of
Heine there is a striking community of sentiment, and more particularly in
the idealization of womanhood or of one of its fairest representatives.
The following translation (again by Sir Theodore Martin) of two songs of
Heine may serve as examples:—


    Thou, so fair, so pure of guile,
    Maiden of the sunny smile,
    Would, to thee, it were my fate,
    All my life to dedicate.

    Like the sunbeam's tender shine,
    Gleam these gentle eyes of thine;
    Thy soft cheeks, so ruddy bright,
    Scatter rays of rosy light.

    Thy dear little mouth does show
    Pearls within, a shining row,
    But the gem of gems the best,
    Is enshrined within thy breast.

    It was love, divinely deep,
    That into my heart did creep,
    When I looked on thee erewhile,
    Maiden of the sunny smile^[170-1].


    Thou art as a tender floweret,
    So gentle, and pure, and fair;
    I gaze on thee, and sadness
    Comes over me unaware.

    I feel, as though I should lay, sweet,
    My hands on thy head with a prayer,
    That God may keep thee, my darling,
    As gentle, and pure, and fair^[170-2].

Several poems of Heine, which are coloured with what is called in modern
phrase the “Weltschmerz,” show even more clearly that their author has
inherited something of the sombre spirit of the prophets. Any one who has,
for instance, read the Book of Lamentations, or the 137th Psalm beginning
with the words “By the river of Babylon there we sat down, and when we
thought of Zion our tears did flow,” will hardly fail to detect an
identity of feeling in the fine verses of Heine on Zion. One of these
poems runs in the original German as follows:—

    Brich aus in tiefe Klagen,
    Du düsteres Martyrlied,
    Das ich so lang getragen
    Im flammenstillen Gemüth!

    Es dringt in alle Ohren
    Und durch die Ohren ins Herz;
    Ich habe gewaltig geschworen
    Den tausendjährigen Schmerz.

    Es weinen die Grossen und Kleinen,
    Sogar die alten Herr'n,
    Die Frauen und Blumen weinen,
    Es weinen am Himmel die Stern'.

    Und all die Thränen fliessen
    Nach Süden im stillen Verein,
    Sie fliessen und ergiessen
    Sich all in den Jordan hinein.

From the examples given it may be seen that whether Heine sang the praises
of his lady-love, or whether he lamented the sad fate of his
long-suffering people, he was imbued with the same spirit which abode in
the old singers of Israel. Similarly he would seem to have gone to the
Bible for his inspiration when he took the wonders of nature for his
theme. If, for instance, the 104th and the 107th Psalms, in which the
moods of nature in her opposite aspects are so effectively described, are
compared with those poems of Heine which deal with the same subjects, it
will readily be seen how close is the resemblance between Heine and the
Biblical models.

As in his poems so also in his sketches are found extraordinary visions,
which have, moreover, frequently witty turnings. All these have something
of Jewish Talmudism about them, and are in the true Rabbinic vein. Similar
visions, fancies, and witticisms are common in that section of the Talmud
which is generally called the _Agada_, wherein the grave Rabbis often
enlivened their learned discussions with curious and fantastic tales,
love-songs, and sometimes even with facetious and satirical digressions.
From them, therefore, Heine seems to have inherited much of the humour and
incisive satire, which he now and again employs as a weapon against his
own detractors and the enemies of the Jewish race.

Invested with something of a Jewish colouring are also some of his
epigrams, _bons mots_, and witty descriptions of persons and things. Of
these the following example may serve as a specimen. Speaking of Fortune
and Misfortune, Heine offers the following amusing definitions: “Fortune,
or Good Luck,” he says, “is like a young and lively girl, a relative of
ours, who is staying with us on a visit. By her unaffected merriment,
sweet singing, and airy gossip she makes her surroundings extremely happy,
and her presence is therefore hailed by us with much delight. But, alas,
she is, like a golden butterfly, flighty and restless, and cares not much
to abide in one place for any length of time. Quite different, however, is
Dame Misfortune, who may be likened to an aged relative, and a spinster to
boot, that has a bitter look about her, and a sour temper. When _she_ is
paying us a visit, she considers herself quite at home, and would thus
sit, and knit, and chatter, and moan, from morning till night. Oh, how
ardently we all long for her speedy departure from among us; but she, for
her part, is fully determined to stay on and on, for ever and ever.”

Even on his death-bed Heine could not refrain from a jest. Reviewing his
by no means irreproachable past, he said he hoped that his heavenly Father
would readily overlook his peccadillos, for _c'est son métier_. This
remark is typically Jewish, and it recalls a similar one once made by a
dying Rabbi, who had been all his lifetime extremely religious, but had
likewise always suffered much want and misery. “Do you know,” he said to
those in the sick room, “if, after all the sad experiences I have had in
the past, there is no future life, I shall be greatly amused.”

There is still one further remark to be made in conclusion. While there is
much that is fine, much that is genuinely charming in Heine's work, it
must be admitted that there is also much in which he might be said to
rival Rabelais and Swift for licence. If any excuse for this be possible
it may, perhaps, be regarded as an extenuating circumstance that he merely
reproduced in his own language some faint reminiscences from the contents
of certain parts of the Book of Ezekiel, of the Talmud, and the Midrash.


[166-1] Among these may specially be mentioned _Im eshkacheych
Yerush'layim tishkach yemini_, “If ever I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my
right hand wither”; _Lecha dodi likrath kallah_, “Come, my friend, to meet
the bride”; _Mosheh Rabbenu_, “Moses, our teacher.”

[167-1] Cp. _Heine über Börne_ in Heine's collected works.

[169-1] The author of this translation is Mr. C. G. Montefiore.

[170-1] Cp. _Song of Songs_, iv and vi.

[170-2] See the previous note.


                        MODERN HEBREW JOURNALISM

Hebrew is generally considered to be, like ancient Syriac, Arabic, Greek
and Latin, a dead language, and yet it possesses so much flexibility, and
has, moreover, been enriched in modern times with so many new words,
phrases, and expressions that it has in some respects almost become
modernized. There are at the present day, both in the Old World and the
New, quite a respectable number of Hebrew periodicals, including a few
daily papers, which seem to enjoy considerable popularity and support
among a moderately large section of the Jewish reading public. These
constitute as a whole what may appropriately be termed modern Hebrew

Modern Hebrew journalism has an interesting history of its own, and
likewise an intimate connexion with the rise and development of Neo-Hebrew
literature. It dates from the time when the sage of Berlin, as Moses
Mendelssohn is commonly called, began to issue his epoch-making German
translation of the Pentateuch, which made its first appearance in the year
1780. This translation was accompanied by an excellent Hebrew introduction
to the Bible, or rather to the five books of Moses, entitled
_O'r-La-netibah_ (‪אור לנתיבה‬), of which Mendelssohn was the author, and
likewise by an equally excellent commentary, now well known under the name
of _Biur_. Mendelssohn had several eminent Hebraists for co-operators in
the commentary, among whom may specially be mentioned Hartwig Wessely, the
renowned composer of the fine heroic poem, _The Mosaid_, called “Songs of
Glory” (‪שירי תפארת‬). The introduction and commentary were both
distinguished by their learning, as well as by the purity and freshness of
their style. They were thus a great advance on the earlier criticisms,
which were written in a Hebrew dialect that was a mere mumbling of a
decrepit tongue, and they attained great popularity among the cultured

Among those who especially profited by these works were two clever young
Jewish students, called Isaac Euchel and Mendel Bresselau. They had both
enjoyed a Talmudical and academical training, and were tutors in the house
of the wealthy and cultured Friedländers, residing in Königsberg, in
Prussia, which city in those days stood in close literary relationship to
the Prussian capital. These young men, in 1782, resolved, in the interests
of Hebrew literature; to invite all the representative and cultured Jews
in the world to help to found and to support a Hebrew periodical, the
title of which was to be _The Gatherer_ (‪המאסף‬). This invitation was
readily accepted by many educated Jews living in Germany, Austria,
Holland, France, Italy, Russia and Poland. Thus encouraged they set to
work, and soon issued the first number of _The Gatherer_, which was the
progenitor of modern Hebrew journalism. This number contained a variety of
articles written almost exclusively in Hebrew, the most notable of which
were two biographical sketches, one dealing with Don Isaac Abrabanel
(1437–1509), and the other with Joseph del Medigo (1591–1655). There were
also a few charming Hebrew poems, including some anonymously contributed
by Moses Mendelssohn, and the well-known Hebrew wine-song by Solomon Ibn
Gabirol. Wessely contributed an article on Biblical exegesis, a subject
which had been sadly neglected by the Jews of that period. _The Gatherer_
thus started under happy auspices. It had been a bond of union between
Judaism and modern culture, so much so that some Christians of note saw in
it a powerful medium for educating the general mass of the Jewish people.

_The Gatherer_ continued to be issued for fourteen years (from 1783–97),
during which time it numbered among its contributors, in addition to those
already mentioned, several other masters of Hebrew style, among whom may
specially be mentioned Isaac Satanow, Ben-Zeeb, Joel Löwe, Aaron Halle,
Moses Ensheim, and David Franco Mendes, the author of the Hebrew
historical drama _Gemul Athalia_ (“The Punishment of Athalia”).

After its demise, nearly a quarter of a century elapsed before another
Hebrew periodical of the same stamp made its appearance. This was called
_Bikkurey Ha-Ittim_ (“The Firstling of the Times”), and was started in
Vienna (in 1820) by an able Hebraist, named Shalom Ha-Cohen. It had some
of the most eminent Hebrew scholars of the day among its regular
contributors, including Rapoport, Luzzatto, and Erter, the former of whom
published therein five biographies of prominent leaders of Judaism of the
Middle Ages, which gave an important impulse to the study of Neo-Hebraic
literature. Erter, the greatest of Hebrew humorists of modern times,
contributed some of his delightful sketches of Jewish life in the Ghetto.

After about twelve years the _Bikkurey Ha-Ittim_ ceased to appear, but a
little later another annual Hebrew magazine was first issued by
Goldenberg, and then by Senior Sachs, in Vienna and Prague respectively,
having _Kerem Chemed_ (“The Pleasant Vineyard”) for its title. This
publication was, like its two predecessors, largely devoted to the
promotion of the Hebrew language and literature, but its principal
interest was the study of Jewish history, which had been generally
neglected before. Its chief contributors were Rapoport, Zunz, and
Luzzatto, the last-named of whom published therein several valuable
extracts from rare Hebrew MSS. The _Kerem Chemed_ was, with regard to its
learned contents and the purity of its style, one of the best Hebrew
periodicals that has ever existed, but it only appeared for a period of
ten years, viz. from 1833 to 1843.

Noticeable also are the _Otzer Nechmad_ (“The Desirable Treasure”), which
was edited for a short time in Vienna by Ignatz Blumenfeld, and had Dukes,
Geiger, Steinschneider, Luzzatto, Carmoly, and Kirchheim as contributors;
the _Kochbey Yitzchak_ (“The Stars of Isaac”), issued for several years by
M. E. Stern, of Vienna; and the _Jeshurun_, of which the editor, Joseph
Kobak, of Lemberg, only published four insignificant numbers at irregular
intervals. But it cannot be said that their influence on Neo-Hebrew
literature had been very extensive. There were, however, two other
magazines, which, having some special characteristics of their own, and
being, moreover, of permanent literary value, are deserving of more than a
passing notice.

One of them was started (in 1852) in Vienna by O. H. Schorr, under the
title of _Ha-Chalutz_ (“The Armed One”), and it counted among its
contributors Krochmal, Geiger, Zunz, Steinschneider, and Erter. Though
chiefly dealing with the history of Jewish literature, the _Chalutz_ was,
as its title indicates, a Hebrew periodical with radical tendencies,
advocating extensive reforms in the Jewish ritual. The editor himself, a
highly learned man, devoted several articles to a consideration of certain
abuses and superstitions found in some of the Rabbinical writings, by
which pure Judaism was thought to have been disfigured. The essays were
distinguished by the vigour of their tone, their caustic humour, and their
amusing irony, and have served as a model to more than one writer of
modern Hebrew prose.

The other was called _Ha-Shachar_ (“The Dawn”), and made its first
appearance in Vienna in 1868, under the editorship of Peter (or Perets)
Smolensky, an excellent writer of classical Hebrew prose. His own sketches
were remarkable both for humour and pathos, and have a certain ring of
Thackeray about them. Among the contributors to _The Dawn_ may be noted
Rapoport, Jellinek, and Juda Löb Gordon (1830–92). The latter was an
excellent poet and humorist, whose collected Hebrew verses were published
in 1884 by Baron Ginsburg, of St. Petersburg, in memory of their deceased
author. Several of them had previously appeared in _The Dawn_, and as they
are pretty and rich in humour the following free prose translation of one
of them may serve here as an appropriate specimen. It has a highly
orthodox Russian Rabbi for its subject, and runs as follows:—

“On a sultry Sabbath afternoon a middle-aged Rabbi was sitting in his
study dozing over a large folio of the Talmud. Suddenly an extremely
religious member of his flock rushed in full of excitement, and told him
that a Jewish lad had just been caught in the act of desecrating the holy
Sabbath by carrying a watch in the open street. On hearing this shocking
news the Rabbi gave orders that the young culprit should at once be
brought into his presence, that he might receive his well-deserved
chastisement for openly breaking one of the Rabbinical laws. When the boy
was brought in, the Rabbi looked at him, and lo and behold! he was no
other than his own little son, who had furtively gone into the street,
carrying in his waistcoat pocket the watch which had been given to him as
a ‘Bar-Mitzwah^[178-1]’ present. The Rabbi was for a moment rather
perplexed, but soon a happy thought struck him, and turning abruptly to
the excited crowd of bystanders, he addressed them as follows:—‘Rabbothay’
(gentlemen), he said, ‘I have just come to the conclusion that my boy is
guiltless of the charge you have brought against him. For, had you been as
well versed in the Rabbinical writings as I am, you would have known that
a watch is but an ornament, which is allowed to be worn by a Jew or a
Jewess on a Sabbath day even in the open street. Thus my boy had only done
what was right, and therefore deserves no punishment whatever.’ When the
people left the Rabbi's house, a wit among them observed to his neighbour,
with a sly twinkle in his eye, that their ‘Rav’ was a cunning man, indeed,
and knew how to turn matters to his own advantage, or to that of his near
relatives. Thus, when a son-in-law of his ordered a cargo of citrons from
Corfu, the ‘Rav’ forbade the members of his flock on the Feast of
Tabernacles to use citrons grown in Palestine; and he also interdicted
them from buying any ordinary wine after one of his married daughters had
opened a shop for the sale of cheap raisin wine.”

As regards the numerous Hebrew periodicals, which appear in different
parts of the world, it is enough to say that, although they are not
without merit, it is impossible within the limits of a short sketch to do
more than mention a few of the more important. Three of them are here
selected as being specially worthy of note, on account of the fruitful
work which they have done and are still doing in various ways in the field
of Hebrew literature. The first to be considered are the three or four
volumes issued annually at Berlin (under the editorship of Prof. Dr. A.
Berliner) by the society _Mekitze-Nirdamim_, these being most useful
literary publications, though perhaps not exactly periodicals. This
society has, for instance, during the last few years brought out all the
admirable religious and secular poems of Jehudah Halevi^[179-1].

Equally useful and interesting is a monthly Hebrew periodical, entitled
_Ha-Shiloach_ (“The Messenger”), which was established in Berlin about
eight years ago by Asher Ginsberg, of Odessa. A good many articles have a
permanent literary value; others again, though less scientific, are
written in such excellent Hebrew that, like Erter's works, they may be
re-read with no diminution of pleasure.

The third Hebrew periodical that deserves special notice is _Ha-Magid_
(“The Narrator”), which has, however, lately ceased to exist. It was
started about half a century ago (in 1856) at Lyck, in Prussia, by the
late L. Silbermann, Rabbi of the Hebrew congregation of that town, who
issued it weekly with the laudable object of affording entertainment and
information on general topics to those of his co-religionists, who were
unable to read papers published in the vernacular^[180-1]. The number of
Jews of this description was, fifty years ago, fairly large, but has now,
thanks to the spread of general education, been greatly reduced. Several
Jewish _literati_ used to contribute articles, and the paper had in
consequence gradually become a medium for propagating a knowledge of
Hebrew literature among its numerous readers. Since then the Hebrew
vocabulary has been greatly developed and amplified in such a manner as to
be capable of describing not only the newest move in the politics of the
world, but also the latest invention in the field of practical science. It
is interesting to notice that there are at present three Hebrew daily
papers in circulation in Russia, viz. _Ha-Yom_, _Ha-Meliz_, and
_Ha-Zefira_, which were founded respectively by L. Kantor, A. Zedernbaum,
and C. Slonimsky.

Summarizing now the merits of modern Hebrew journalism it may be said that
they are far greater than is generally supposed. In fact, it has exercised
a beneficial and far-reaching influence upon a large section of the Jewish
community. For, not only has it enriched Hebrew literature with valuable
additions, but it has also familiarized its readers, through the medium of
translations, with some of the best-known ancient and modern works on
general science and literature.


[178-1] ‘Confirmation.’

[179-1] Several other poems by the same author hitherto unknown have
recently appeared in a volume issued annually by another Hebrew literary
society, called “Achiasaph,” that was established some years ago in

[180-1] To the _Magid_ several Jewish savants have contributed interesting
articles which have a permanent literary value. In the same Hebrew weekly
also appeared a number of humorous _makāmāt_ _à la_ Alcharizi, composed by
the author of the present volume. They were subsequently published in book
form by David Nutt, London, under the title of: _Zichronoth_, or
“Reminiscences of a Student of Jewish Theology.”


    Abalzapha, 113 _n._
    Abrabanel, 175.
    Abrahams, Isr. 63 _n._, 111 _n._
    Abram (“the exalted father”), 44.
    Absalom, the monument of, 29.
    Academy, the French, 146.
    Achan, or Achar, 44.
    _Achiasaph_, 179 _n._
    Adelaide, the wife of Leopold Zunz, 142.
    Aeneid, 18, 19, 23.
    Aesop, 55.
    Agada, 51, 52, 54, 56, 147, 171.
    Agadaists, humorous, 52.
    _Aix_, the Jewish community of, 116.
    Akiba, Rabbi, 8, 48, 49.
    Albo, Joseph, 113.
    Alcharizi, 59, 63, 69, 91, 122, 126, 180 _n._
    Alexandrian Jews, 162.
    Alfabri, 80.
    Alfakar, 117.
    _Allah_, an Arabic term for the Hebrew _Eloha_, 33.
    Amos, 7, 9.
    Amphis, 5.
    Anacreon, 23.
    “_Ancient Hebrew Poetry_,” 13.
    Anibert, 103 _n._
    _Annales_, 15 _n._
    _Apion_, 14.
    Apostles, the, 31.
    Aquinas, Thomas, 83.
    Arabic language, 174.
    — translations made by Jews from the, 125.
    Architecture of the ancient Hebrews, 24.
    Aristophanes, 3, 165.
    Aristophanic punning in Hebrew, 1.
    Art among the ancient Hebrews, 24.
    _Asaph_, 30, 31.
    Ashe, Rabbi, 50.
    Asia Minor (Ιωνία), 15.
    Assyria, King of, 18.
    Astruc of Noves, 103.
    Atonement, the Day of, 151.
    Augustus, Emperor, 17.
    Athalia, 40.
    Aurora, 41.
    Avignon, the Jewish community of, 104.

    _Baal-Zebub_, 45.
    _Baba Bathra_, 36.
    _Baba Kamma_, 55 _n._
    _Bachrach, Rabbi von_, 152.
    Bachya, 109 _n._, 120 _n._
    _Balaam_, 44.
    _Balak_, 44.
    Bartolocci, 71, 78, 80, 104.
    _Bashan_, the kine of, 9.
    _Bechînath Olam_, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 105.
    Bedaresi, Abraham, 78.
    Bedaresi, Yedaya, 71–81, 105.
    _Beiträge zur Geschichte und Literatur_, 145.
    Benedit, Maestro, 110.
    Beneviste, Don Samuel, 110.
    Ben-Jacob, 69, 70 _n._
    Benjamin ben Yechiel, 82,
    Ben-Sira, 20.
    Ben-Zeeb, 68, 69, 176.
    Bernays, Jacob, 161.
    _Beth-aven_, 8.
    _Beth-lehem_, 45.
    Bezaleel, 29.
    Bible, humour of the, 1–12.
    Biblical criticism, 151.
    _Bibliotheca Hebraica_, 72, 78, 116, 141.
    _Bikkurey-Ha-Ittim_, 129, 167.
    “_Birds, The_,” 3.
    _Biur_, 174.
    Blumenfeld, Ignatz, 177.
    Boccaccio, 90, 118, 121.
    Bodenstedt, Friedrich, 149.
    Boekh, 141.
    Bosone da Gobbio, 85.
    Bötticher, 30.
    Breslau, Jewish Theological Seminary at, 161.
    Bresselau, Mendel, 175.
    Buxtorf, 38, 92.

    _Cabbala_, 114.
    Caleb, 38.
    Calvin, 44.
    _Calvinus_, 44.
    Canaan, the land of, 11.
    _Canticles_, 41.
    Captivity, Babylonian, 29, 45.
    Carlyle, Thomas, 165.
    _Carlyle's Life in London_, 70.
    Carmel, Mount, 1.
    Carmoly, E., 177.
    Caro, Joseph, 90.
    Carrière, Dr., 142.
    Cartel, Don Juda des, 110.
    Casalary, Abraham, 110.
    Catalogue of Hebrew MSS. at the Montefiore College Library, 68 _n._
    Cavalier, Don Jonah, 110.
    Cervantes, 1.
    _Chalutz, Ha_, 138, 177.
    Chasdai, Abraham Ibn, 117–26.
    _Chassidim_ (“pious ones”), Gr. Ἀσιδαῖοι 128, 134.
    Chess, 80.
    Chiarini, Abbé, 144.
    _Choboth Ha-lebaboth_, 109 _n._, 120 _n._
    Chotzner, J., 180 _n._
    Church, Gallic, 149.
    Church, Roman, 47.
    Cicero, 2, 15.
    Cino da Pistoza, 86.
    Classics, Ancient, 13.
    Cohen, Shalom, 129, 176.
    _Collection of Sermons_, 141.
    _Collegio Rabbinico_, 154, 155, 157.
    Conath, Abraham, 73.
    “_Confessions_,” Heine's, 168.
    Crescas, Don Chasdai, 110.
    Crespin, Don Astruc, 110.
    “Crown,” The Royal, 59.
    Cupfigne, 146.
    “Curiosities of Biblical Names,” 43–46.
    _Curiosities of Literature_, 52 _n._
    Cyrus, 27.

    Daniel, a friend of the poet Immanuel, 100.
    Dante, 15, 82, 83, 85, 99, 100, 103, 126.
    Dante's birthday, a Hebrew sonnet written on, 158.
    D'Aquin, Ph., 73.
    _Darkè-Hammishnah_, 161, 163.
    David, King, bewails the death of King Saul, 41.
    “_Dawn, The_,” 177.
    Deborah, 33, 40, 45, 46.
    _Decameron_, 121.
    Delitzsch, Franz, 117, 150, 154, 156.
    Democritus, 114.
    Demosthenes, 2, 15 _n._
    Derenbourg, J., 143.
    _Deronda, Daniel_, 147.
    “_Desert of Kedemoth, The_,” 80.
    “_Desirable Treasure_,” 176.
    Deutsch, Emanuel, 50.
    De Wette, 141.
    Dialect, Hebrew, 175.
    _Dinah_, 46.
    Diogenes, 10.
    _Divan_, compiled by Bedaresi, 80.
    _Divina Commedia_, 98, 101.
    Don Pedro IV, 110.
    Dryden, 17 _n._
    Dukes, L., 60, 67, 114, 150, 156, 177.

    _Eben Bochan_, 104, 108, 139, 110, 114.
    — — by Immanuel, 87.
    _Ecclesiastes_, 5, 22, 32.
    _Écrivains Juifs français du XIV^e siècle, Les_, 115.
    Edersheim, 41.
    Ehrenberg, M., 141.
    Elijah on Mount Carmel, 1, 74.
    Eliot, George, 147.
    _Elkanah_, 38.
    _Eloha_ (Arabic _Allah_), 34.
    Ensheim, Moses, 176.
    Epigram, the Hebrew, 69.
    _Epigrammata ac Poemata varia_, 69 _n._, 70 _n._
    _Ersch and Gruber's Real-Encyklopädie_, 98.
    Erter, Isaac, 127–139.
    _Erubin_, 20.
    _Esheth Chayil_, 18.
    Estellina Conath, 73.
    _L'État littéraire des Juifs dans le moyen âge_, 146.
    Euchel, Isaac, 175.
    Euripides, 28.
    Eusebius, 34.
    Eve, 43, 46.
    Ewald, J. L., 27.
    _Examen mundi_, 73.
    Exiles, Hebrew, 34.
    Ezekiel, 10.
    Ezekiel, the Book of, 173.
    Ezra, “The Helper,” 45.

    Falstaff, 43.
    Fano, Jacob of, 78.
    _Faust_, 5, 32.
    Fergusson, James, 27.
    Festivals, the Jewish, of the New Year and the Day of Atonement, 151.
    _Flacco, Pro_, 15 _n._
    Fra Guittone di Arezzo, 89.
    Frankel, Rabbi David, 142.
    — Z., 154–65.
    Frankfort, Assembly of Rabbis at, 161.
    Frankl, Ludwig August, 20.
    Friedländer, David, 66, 175.
    Froude, 70 _n._
    Fürst, Julius, 91, 154, 156.

    Gabirol, Solomon Ibn, 59, 74, 166, 175.
    Gallic Church, 149.
    Gans, D., 142.
    “_Gatherer_,” _The_, 175.
    Gaunt, John de, 43.
    _Gedaliah_, 153.
    Geiger, Abr., 91, 100, 104, 112, 151, 156, 177.
    Geldern, Betty von, 166.
    _Gemara_, 50.
    _Gemul Athalia_, 176.
    Gentilomo, Pavia, 157.
    German Translation of the Bible, Mendelssohn's, 174.
    _Gerupha_, 27.
    _Geschichte der jüd. Poesie_, 117 _n._, 155.
    _Geschichte und Literatur_, 145.
    Ghasali, 117.
    _Ghetto_, 176.
    Ghirondi, 156.
    Ginsburg, Asher, 179.
    Ginsburg, Baron de, 170.
    Goethe, 15, 32, 126, 149.
    Goldenberg, B., 176.
    Goldenthal, 117.
    “Golden Tongue,” the, 79.
    Goodman, Rabbi Tobias, 73.
    Gordon, Juda Löb, 177.
    Gorgias, 30.
    “_Gottesdienstliche Vorträge_,” 145.
    Graetz, H., 71, 72, 79, 92, 104, 112, 130.
    Grammarians, Hebrew, 115.
    Greeks and Romans, literary works of the, 34.
    Gross, 104.
    Güdemann, M., 82, 92, 143.

    _Habakkuk_, 33.
    Habib, Ibn, 80.
    Hades, 156.
    _Haham_, the post of the, 158.
    _Halacha_, 51.
    — Development of the, 162.
    Halevi, Jehudah, 61, 62, 67, 122, 156, 157, 166, 179.
    Halle, Aaron, 176.
    Halm, 55 _n._
    _Hamuna_, Rabbi, 20.
    Hannah, 46.
    _Harem_, 40.
    Hariri, 63.
    Harkavy, A., 73.
    “Hebrew Melodies,” 166.
    Hebrew Poetry, 15.
    Heine, Heinrich, 1, 62, 83, 130, 142, 152, 165–173.
    “_Heine über Börne_,” 167 _n._
    Heineman's “_Yedidya_,” 151.
    _Helena_, Queen, 29.
    _Heman_, 30.
    _Hephaestus_, 1.
    Herod, King, 27.
    _Hesiod_, 6.
    Hirsch, Baron de, 139.
    Hirschel, Solomon, Chief Rabbi of London, 73.
    Hirschfeld, H., 68 _n._
    History of European Morals, 15 _n._
    _Histoire des langues sémitiques_, 70 _n._
    _Hodegetica in Mishnam_, 163.
    Homer, 1, 17, 21, 40.
    — Translations from, 126.
    “Homilies of the Jews,” 144, 147.
    Horace, 8, 15, 91, 96, 126.
    _Hosea_, 7, 8.
    _Hoshana-Rabba_, 148.
    _Huldah_, 40.
    Humboldt, 28, 59.
    Humour of the Bible, 1–12.
    — of some mediaeval and modern Hebrew writers, 58–71.

    Ibn Caspi, 103 _n._
    Ibn Ezra, Abr., 59, 61.
    — — Moses, 63, 122, 166.
    Ibn-Sina, 79.
    _Iliad_, 1, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 37.
    Immanuel, 82–103, 104, 126.
    Infanz, Don Solomon del, 77.
    _Inferno_, 98, 99.
    Isaac, Don Todros, 110.
    Isaiah, 2, 3, 4, 5, 165.

    _Jabal_, 4.
    Jacobs, Joseph, 63 _n._
    _Jahaziel_, 31.
    _Jahrbuch der deutschen Dante-Gesellschaft_, 87.
    _Jeduthun_, 30.
    Jehuda, Rabbi, surnamed “the prince,” 49.
    Jellinek, A., 143, 152, 154, 177.
    _Jephthah_, 30.
    Jeremiah, 10, 21.
    Jerome, St., 34.
    “_Jewish Literature_,” 67 _n._
    Jewish Quarterly Review, The, 23 _n._
    Jewish Theological Seminary, 160.
    Jews' College Literary Society, 63 _n._
    _Jezebel_, 40.
    Joan, Queen, 110.
    _Job_, the Book of, 18, 32.
    Joel, the prophet, 14.
    — Rabbi M., 161.
    Jones, Sir Williams, 14.
    Josephus, 14, 27, 29, 34.
    Jost, J. M., 141, 142.
    Journalism, modern Hebrew, 174–80.
    _Jubal_, 40.
    _Jubelschrift zum 90^{sten} Geburtstag des Dr. L. Zunz_, 143.
    _Jüdisch-theologisches Seminar_, 160.
    _Jüdische Zeitschrift_, Geiger's, 147.
    Juda Siciliano, 83.
    Judaeans, the, 2.
    Jupiter, 47.
    Juvenal, 8 _n._, 15.

    Kaliri, 148.
    Kalonymos ben Kalonymos, 103–17.
    — ben Meïr, 103.
    Kantor, L., 180.
    Karpeles, G., 166.
    Kaufman, David, 140, 143, 148, 152.
    Kayserling, M., 104.
    “_Kerem Chemed_,” 151, 176.
    _Keren-happuch_, 1, 2.
    “_Kether Malchus_,” 59.
    “_Kiddushin_” (Sanctification), 38.
    Kimchi, David, 117.
    “_Kinnor Naïm_,” 156.
    Klopstock, 151.
    Kobak, Joseph, 177.
    “_Kochbey-Yitzchak_,” the, 177.
    _Koheleth_, 5–6.
    _Korah_, 44.
    _Koran_, 73, 89.
    Krochmal, Nachman, 128, 177.
    Kunitz, M., 73.

    Laban, 30.
    Lacy, de, 73.
    Lafontaine, 55, 118.
    _Lamentations_, the Book of, 33, 170.
    Layard, 26.
    “_Layesharim Téhilla_,” 154.
    Lebanon, 28.
    Lecky, 15 _n._
    Legard, Professor Paul, 148.
    Lehmann, Joseph, 142.
    Leon, Messer, 78.
    _Letteratura e filosofia_, 102.
    Letteris, M., 129.
    “Letter of Response,” 112.
    _Levites_, 30.
    Library, the Montefiore College, 68 _n._
    _Literatur-Blatt des Orients_, 67 _n._
    Literature, Neo-Hebrew, 67, 174, 177.
    — Rabbinical, 57.
    _Literaturgeschichte der synagogalen Poesie_, 150.
    _— Nachtrag zur_, 147.
    Liturgical Hebrew poetry, 148.
    Löwe, Joel, 176.
    Lowth, Bishop, 13, 14.
    _ludus verborum_, 11.
    Luther, Martin, 16, 32, 42.
    Luzzato, Ephraïm, 154.
    — Moses Chayim, 154.
    — S. D., 80, 129, 154–65, 176.
    Lyra, Nicolaus de, 16.
    Lyric songs, 30, 167–69.

    Maccabean army, the, 30.
    _Machbereth Ithiel_, 91.
    _Machberoth_, 82.
    _Machlon_, 44.
    _Magid, Ha_, 179, 180 _n._
    _Magasin encyclopédique_, 73.
    Magnus, Albertus, 83.
    Magrepha, 30.
    Maimonides, 70, 80, 83, 128.
    _Malachi_, 45.
    Malaga, 59.
    _Manfred_, 5.
    Mançon, Isaac, 73.
    _Manna_, 68, 117.
    “Marriage, The Unlucky,” 63.
    Martin, Sir Theodore, 169, 170.
    Martinet, Professor, 156.
    Martini, 31.
    _Massecheth Purim_, 110.
    _Massorah_, the, 162.
    _M'bo Ha-Yerushalmi_, 163.
    _Méassef_, the, 69.
    _Mechilta_, 163.
    Medigo, Elias des, 126.
    — Joseph des, 175.
    _Megilla_, 54.
    — the, 111.
    Meisels, Dr., 104.
    _Mekitze Nirdamim_, 179.
    _Melitz_, Ha, 180.
    “_Memmin, The Supplication of the_,” 78.
    _Mémoires historiques_, 103.
    _Menachoth_, 54 _n._
    Mendelssohn, Bartholdy, 168.
    — Moses, 73, 128, 140, 152, 174, 175.
    Mendes, David Franco, 176.
    Meshullam, Rabbi, 72.
    “Messenger,” the, 179.
    Metaphors of the Bible, the, 19.
    Metre of Biblical Poems, the, 34.
    _Michtamim_ (epigrams), 67.
    _Midrash_, 118, 145, 173.
    _Migdal Oz_, 87, 154.
    _Mikdash Me'at_, 90.
    Milton, 15, 126.
    Miriam, 39, 46.
    _Mishnah_, the, 145.
    _Monatsschrift_, the, 162.
    Montefiore, C. G., 23 _n._, 169 _n._
    _More Judaico_, 160.
    _Morè Nebuchey Ha-Z'man_, 151.
    _Morè Nebuchim_, 80.
    _Moriah_, Mount, 27.
    _Mosaïd_, the, 179.
    Moser, M., 142, 166.
    Moses ben Chabib, Rabbi, 89.
    — of Beaucaire, 102.
    — the swan-song of, 11.
    Munk, S., 72, 154.
    Music of the ancient Hebrews, 29,30.

    Nabal, 1.
    “_Nachtrag zur Literaturgeschichte der synagogalen Poesie_,” 147, 150.
    _Nassi_, the, 102.
    _Nebiim_, the, 31.
    _Nehemia_, 45.
    Neubauer, A., 71, 77, 104, 115, 143.
    Nineveh and Babylon, 87.
    _Noah_, 44.
    Noadiah, 40.

    _Odyssey_, 15, 17.
    “Offerings” in the Synagogue, 149.
    “_Oheb Ger_,” 155.
    Old Testament, the study of, 23.
    Olympus, Mount, 1.
    _Onkelos, Targum_, 155.
    _Oratio post nomina_, 149.
    _Orient_, the, 61.
    Ornstein, Rabbi, 128, 133.
    _Othniel_, 38.
    “_Otzer Nechmad_,” 176.
    Oxford University, lectures delivered at the, 13.

    Palestine, 19, 30.
    Palqera, Shemtob, 19, 39.
    Pandora, 37.
    “Paradise, the book on,” 78.
    Pasquale Garofalo, Duca di Bonita, 102.
    Paur, Theodor, 87, 102.
    Pedro IV, Don, king of Aragon, 110.
    Penini, Yedaya, 71.
    “Penitential Prayers,” 147.
    Pentateuch, the, 49.
    “_Perlen des Romancero, Die_,” 152.
    Petrarch, 78.
    _Phaino_, 27.
    Philip IV, 71.
    — d'Aquine, 73.
    _Philosophisches aus dem zehnten Jahrhundert_, 114 _n._
    Phoenicians, the, 26.
    “Piety and Wisdom,” 137.
    _Piyutim_, the, 147, 148.
    “Pleasant Vineyard,” The, 176.
    “Pleasure of a King, The,” 80.
    Poems, penitential, 147.
    _Poesi Hebraeorum, de Sacra_, 13.
    Poetry of the Ancient Hebrews, 13, 24, 32.
    Pope (the poet), 17 _n._
    Pope, the, of Avignon, 104.
    — allusions to the, 47.
    “Prince and the Dervish,” the, 115–23.
    Prache, Hill, 78.
    _Proverbia filii regis Nazari_, 118 _n._
    Proverbs, the Book of, 5, 18, 32.
    — of Ben-Sira, 32.
    Psalms, the, 33, 147, 167.
    “Punishment of Athalia,” 176.
    Purim, the Feast of, 111.
    _Purgatorio_, the, 98.

    _Quarterly Review_, The, 171.

    _Rabbi von Bacharach_, the, 152.
    “Rabbinical Literature,” a study in, 143.
    Rabelais, 173.
    Racine, 15, 126.
    Rahmer, 140.
    Rapoport, S. J., 128, 129, 150, 154, 157, 159, 176, 177.
    “Rebbe,” the, 134, 136, 137.
    “Recreation houses,” 40.
    Reformed Synagogue, the Berlin, 141.
    Reggio, J. S., 156.
    “Reminiscences of a Student of Jewish Theology,” 180 _n._
    _Review_, the _Quarterly_, 171.
    Richard II, King, 43.
    Richelieu, Cardinal, 73.
    Richter, Jean Paul, 165.
    Rieti, Moses di, 90, 126.
    “Righteous Brethren,” the Treatises of the, 113.
    Rittangel, 147.
    “Ritual,” the Jewish, 177.
    Ritus, die, 149.
    Robert, King, of Naples, 102, 112, 115.
    Romano, Juda, 126.
    — Leone, 83.
    Rossi, Azaria de, 71, 80, 151, 162.
    Rückert, Friedrich, 149.

    Sabbatai, Juda ben, 77.
    Sachs, M., 150, 156, 166.
    — Senior, 176.
    Saladin, Sultan, 61.
    Samaria, 8, 9.
    Samson, 11, 38.
    Sarah, 44.
    Sanscrit, 39.
    Satanow, Isr., 176.
    _Satirae_, 15 _n._
    Saul, King, 25, 38.
    Schachiere, il, 111.
    Schiller, F. von, 15, 126, 165.
    Schopenhauer, 42.
    Schorr, O. H., 177.
    Schubert, 168.
    Schumann, 168.
    Schwenter, D., 118 _n._
    _Septuagint_, the, 15, 162.
    _Shacar, Ha_, 177.
    Shakespeare, 15, 43, 126.
    Shealtiel, Don Bonafoux, 110.
    Sheba, Queen, 52.
    _Shéol_, 20.
    “Shield of the Mighty, The,” 78.
    “_Shilóach_,” _Ha_, 179.
    _Shirè Shelomo_, 60.
    _Shulchan Aruch_, the, 90, 133.
    _Sifra_ and _Sifri_, 163.
    Simonides, 6.
    Sina, Ibn, 79.
    Slaves, Hebrew, 15.
    Slonimsky, 6, 180.
    Smolensky, Peter, 177.
    Socrates, 49.
    Solomon, King, 52, 53, 123.
    — ben Adereth, Rabbi, 79.
    “_Sommernacht, Die_,” 151.
    Sommo, Juda, 78.
    “Song of Songs,” the, 13, 32, 167, 168.
    “Songs of Glory,” the, 174.
    _Sora_, Academy of, 50.
    “Stars of Yitzchak,” the, 177.
    Steinschneider, M., 67, 71, 91, 111, 117, 143, 177.
    Stern, M. E., 91, 177.
    Sterne (the poet), 1.
    _Storia della Musica_, 31.
    “Studies in the _Septuagint_,” 162.
    “Study in Rabb. Literature,” 143.
    _Succah_, 54 _n._
    “_Supplication of the Memmin_,” 78.
    Swift, Dean, 173.
    _Synagogale Poesie_, Die, 147, 148.
    Syriac, 50, 174.

    Tabernacle, the, 15, 27.
    _Table-Talk_, Martin Luther's, 32.
    Tachkemoni, 63, 67.
    Tacitus, 15, 27.
    Talmud, the, 34, 118, 145, 173.
    — sketch of the, 47–58.
    Talmudism, Jewish, 171.
    _Tarshish_, 58.
    Temple of Solomon, 25.
    — the second, 39.
    Thackeray, 177.
    _Théorie du Judaïsme_, 144.
    _Thousand and one Nights, the_, 123 _n._
    Tibbon family, the, 125.
    Titus, 48.
    Toledo, 62.
    _Topheth ve-Ha-Eden, Ha_, 98, 101, 102.
    _Tosefta_, the, 163.
    Toulouse, the burning of the Talmud at, 109.
    “Transmigration of the Soul,” 130, 133.
    “Treatises of the Righteous Brethren,” 113.
    _Tubal_, 44.

    Uchtman, 73.
    “_Über die Weiber_,” 42.

    Varnhagen v. Ende, 149.
    Vatican, the, 47.
    Vespasian, 48.
    Virgil, 18, 19, 37, 101, 126.
    Voltaire, 166.
    _Vorstudien zu der Septuaginta, Die_, 162.
    _Vorträge, Die gottesdienstlichen_, 144.

    Warburg, 142.
    “_Weltschmerz_,” _Der_, 170.
    Wengrow, Isaiah, 111 _n._
    Wessely, Hartwig, 174, 175.
    _Wieland's_ “_Attisches Museum_,” 40.
    “Wine-song,” the, 59.
    Wolf (Wolfius), 71, 80, 104, 117.
    — T. A., 141.

    “_Yedidya_,” 151.
    Yitzchaki, Rabbi Solomon, commonly called “Rashi,” 144.
    “_Yom_,” _Ha_, 180.

    Zabara, Joseph Ibn, 121.
    Zedernbaum, A., 180.
    “_Zefira_,” _Ha_, 180.
    “_Zeitschrift der deutsch-morgenländischen Gesellschaft_,” 151.
    “_Zicronoth_,” 180.
    _Zion_—Elegy, 62.
    Ziphroni family, the, 82.
    “_Zophe_,” Ha, 129.
    Zuckermann, Dr., 161.
    Zunz, Leopold, 77, 140–54, 156, 161, 177.
    “_Zunz-Stiftung_,” 143.

                          Transcriber's note:

The original spelling of the book has ben retained, even when wrong
(Bosone da Gobbio [_Gubbio_], Bezalu, near Perpignon [_Besalú, near
Perpignan_]), or variant (Juda/Jehuda/Jehudah Halevi/Halevy). The original
transliteration of Hebrew words, which does not always follow uniform
rules, has been preserved. Similarly, inaccurate quotations (e.g.
Falstaff's remark “I told \you\ John a Gaunt...” were not rectified.

Corrections reported in the _Errata_ have been carried into the text.

The following typographical mistakes have been corrected:

  • p. 54, last line: neighourhood → neighbourhood
  • p. 78, l. 2: Jacob of Fano, who in his pom → Jacob of Fano, who in his
  • p. 106, l. 33: and looks at if it were → and looks as if it were
  • p. 181, col. 2, l. 33: _Boekh_ → _Boeckh_
  • p. 182, col. 1, l. 26: _Conat, Abraham,_ → _Conath, Abraham,_
  • p. 185, col. 2, l. 6: _Poesie Hebraeorum,_ → _Poesi Hebraeorum,_
    [in conformity with the 1758 Göttingen edition cited]
  • p. 186, col. 1, l. 34: “_Sommernacht, Die_, → “_Sommernacht, Die_,”

Some page references in the Index have been found to be wrong, and have
been corrected:

  • Baba Kamma, 56 _n._ → 55 _n._
  • History of European Morals, 115 _n._ → 15 _n._
  • Humour of the Bible, 1–13. → 1–12.
  • Lyric songs, 189 → 30, 167–69.

Entries in the Index, which were either italicized or enclosed in double
quotes, were left as found.

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