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THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA

by Isidore Singer
THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA 2 far as the head- waters of the Donetz in the prov-ince of Lebedia ( K. Grot, “ Moravia i Madyary,” St. Petersburg, 1881; J. Danilevski and K. Grot, “ O Puti Madyar s Urala v Lebediyu,” in “ Izvyestiya Impera-torskavo Russkavo Geograficheskavo Obshchest-va,” xix.). It was probably about that time that the chaghan of the Chazars and his gran-dees, together with a large number of his heathen people, embraced the Jewish religion. According to A. Harkavy (“ Meassef Niddahim,” i.), the conversion took place in 620; according to others, in 740. King Joseph, in his letter to Hasdai ibn Shaprut ( about 960), gives the following account of the conversion: “ Some centuries ago King Bulan reigned over the Chazars. To him God appeared in a dream and promised him might and glory. Encouraged by this dream, Bulan went by the road of Darian to the country of Ardebil, where he gained great victo-ries [ over the Arabs]. The Byzantine emperor and the calif of the Ishmaelites sent to him envoys with presents, and sages to convert him to their respective re-ligions. Bulan invited also wise men of Isra-el, and proceeded to examine them all. As each of the champi-ons believed his reli-gion to be the best, Bulan separately questioned the Mohammedans and the Christians as to which of the other two religions they considered the bet-ter. When both gave preference to that of the Jews, that king perceived that it must be the true religion. He therefore adopted it” ( see Harkavy, “ Soobshchenija o Chazarakh,” in “ Yevreiskaya Bibli-oteka,” vii. 153). This account of the conver-sion was con-sidered to be of a legendary nature. Harkavy, however ( in “ Bilbas-ov” and “ Yevreiskaya Biblioteka”), proved from Arabic and Slavonian sources that the religious disputation at the Chazarian court is a historical fact. Even the name of Sangari has been found in a liturgy of Constantine the Philosopher ( Cyrill). It was one of the successors of Bulan, named Obadiah, who regenerated the kingdom and strengthened the Jewish religion. He invited Jew-ish scholars to settle in his dominions, and found-ed synagogues and schools. The people were in-structed in the Bible, Mishnah, and Talmud, and in the “ divine service of the hazzanim.” In their writ-ings the Chazars used the Hebrew letters ( Harkavy, “ Skazaniya,” etc., p. 241). Obadiah was succeeded by his son Hezekiah; the latter by his son Manasseh; Manasseh by Hanukkah, a brother of Obadiah; Hanukkah by his son Isaac; Isaac by his son Moses ( or Manasseh II.); the latter by his son Nisi; and Nisi by his son Aaron II. King Joseph him-self was a son of Aaron, and ascended the throne in accordance with the law of the Chazars relating to succession. On the whole, King Joseph’s account agrees generally with the evidence given by the Ar-abic writers of the tenth century, but in detail it contains a few discrepancies. According to Ibn Fadlan, Ibn Dastah, and others, only the king and the grandees were followers of Judaism. The rest of the Chazars were Christians, Mohammedans, and heathens; and the Jews were in a great minority ( Frähn, “ De Chazaris,” pp. 13– 18, 584– 590). Ac-cording to Mas‘ udi (“ Les Prairies d’Or,” ii. 8), the king and the Chazars proper were Jews; but the army consisted of Mohammedans, while the other inhabitants, especially the Slavonians and Rus-sians, were heathens. From the work “ Kitab al- Buldan,” written about the ninth century ( p. 121; cited by Chwol-son in “ Izvyesti-ya o Chazarakh,” etc., p. 57), it ap-pears as if all the Chazars were Jews and that they had been converted to Judaism only a short time be-fore that book was written. But this work was probably in-spired by Jai-hani; and it may be assumed that in the ninth cen-tury many Cha-zar heathens be-came Jews, ow-ing to the religious zeal of King Obadiah. “ Such a conver-sion in great masses,” says Chwolson ( ib. p. 58), “ may have been the reason for the embassy of Christians from the land of the Chaz-ars to the Byzantine emperor Michael. The report of the embassy reads as follows: ‘ Quomodo nunc Judæi, nunc Saraceni ad suam fidem eos molirentur convertere’ ” ( Schlözer, “ Nestor,” iii. 154). The history of the kingdom of the Chazars un-doubtedly presents one of the most remarkable fea-tures of the Middle Ages. Surrounded by wild, nomadic peoples, and themselves leading partly a nomadic life, the Chazars enjoyed all the privileges of civilized nations, a well- constituted and tolerant government, a flourishing trade, and a well- disciplined standing army. In a time when fanaticism, igno-rance, and anarchy reigned in western Europe, the kingdom of the Chazars could boast of its just and broad- minded administration; and all Embrace Judaism. Succession of Kings. Internal Adminis-tration and Commercial Relations. Map Showing the Distribution of Religions in Europe in the Tenth Century, C. E., Indicating Extent of the Kingdom of the Chazars. ( After Schrader, “ Atlas de Géographie Historique.”) ChazarsAac— Apo  | Apo— Ben | Ben— Cha | Cha— Dre | Dre— Goa  | God— Ist  | Ita— Leo  | Leo— Mor | Mor— Phi | Phi— Sam | Sam— Tal  | Tal— Zwe   P  a g   V  ie w Search  | F i n d  | H o m e | I n d e x   P  a g   V  ie w

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THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA 2 far as the head- waters of the Donetz in the prov-ince of Lebedia ( K. Grot, “ Moravia i Madyary,” St. Petersburg, 1881; J. Danilevski and K. Grot, “ O Puti Madyar s Urala v Lebediyu,” in “ Izvyestiya Impera-torskavo Russkavo Geograficheskavo Obshchest-va,” xix.). It was probably about that time that the chaghan of the Chazars and his gran-dees, together with a large number of his heathen people, embraced the Jewish religion. According to A. Harkavy (“ Meassef Niddahim,” i.), the conversion took place in 620; according to others, in 740. King Joseph, in his letter to Hasdai ibn Shaprut ( about 960), gives the following account of the conversion: “ Some centuries ago King Bulan reigned over the Chazars. To him God appeared in a dream and promised him might and glory. Encouraged by this dream, Bulan went by the road of Darian to the country of Ardebil, where he gained great victo-ries [ over the Arabs]. The Byzantine emperor and the calif of the Ishmaelites sent to him envoys with presents, and sages to convert him to their respective re-ligions. Bulan invited also wise men of Isra-el, and proceeded to examine them all. As each of the champi-ons believed his reli-gion to be the best, Bulan separately questioned the Mohammedans and the Christians as to which of the other two religions they considered the bet-ter. When both gave preference to that of the Jews, that king perceived that it must be the true religion. He therefore adopted it” ( see Harkavy, “ Soobshchenija o Chazarakh,” in “ Yevreiskaya Bibli-oteka,” vii. 153). This account of the conver-sion was con-sidered to be of a legendary nature. Harkavy, however ( in “ Bilbas-ov” and “ Yevreiskaya Biblioteka”), proved from Arabic and Slavonian sources that the religious disputation at the Chazarian court is a historical fact. Even the name of Sangari has been found in a liturgy of Constantine the Philosopher ( Cyrill). It was one of the successors of Bulan, named Obadiah, who regenerated the kingdom and strengthened the Jewish religion. He invited Jew-ish scholars to settle in his dominions, and found-ed synagogues and schools. The people were in-structed in the Bible, Mishnah, and Talmud, and in the “ divine service of the hazzanim.” In their writ-ings the Chazars used the Hebrew letters ( Harkavy, “ Skazaniya,” etc., p. 241). Obadiah was succeeded by his son Hezekiah; the latter by his son Manasseh; Manasseh by Hanukkah, a brother of Obadiah; Hanukkah by his son Isaac; Isaac by his son Moses ( or Manasseh II.); the latter by his son Nisi; and Nisi by his son Aaron II. King Joseph him-self was a son of Aaron, and ascended the throne in accordance with the law of the Chazars relating to succession. On the whole, King Joseph’s account agrees generally with the evidence given by the Ar-abic writers of the tenth century, but in detail it contains a few discrepancies. According to Ibn Fadlan, Ibn Dastah, and others, only the king and the grandees were followers of Judaism. The rest of the Chazars were Christians, Mohammedans, and heathens; and the Jews were in a great minority ( Frähn, “ De Chazaris,” pp. 13– 18, 584– 590). Ac-cording to Mas‘ udi (“ Les Prairies d’Or,” ii. 8), the king and the Chazars proper were Jews; but the army consisted of Mohammedans, while the other inhabitants, especially the Slavonians and Rus-sians, were heathens. From the work “ Kitab al- Buldan,” written about the ninth century ( p. 121; cited by Chwol-son in “ Izvyesti-ya o Chazarakh,” etc., p. 57), it ap-pears as if all the Chazars were Jews and that they had been converted to Judaism only a short time be-fore that book was written. But this work was probably in-spired by Jai-hani; and it may be assumed that in the ninth cen-tury many Cha-zar heathens be-came Jews, ow-ing to the religious zeal of King Obadiah. “ Such a conver-sion in great masses,” says Chwolson ( ib. p. 58), “ may have been the reason for the embassy of Christians from the land of the Chaz-ars to the Byzantine emperor Michael. The report of the embassy reads as follows: ‘ Quomodo nunc Judæi, nunc Saraceni ad suam fidem eos molirentur convertere’ ” ( Schlözer, “ Nestor,” iii. 154). The history of the kingdom of the Chazars un-doubtedly presents one of the most remarkable fea-tures of the Middle Ages. Surrounded by wild, nomadic peoples, and themselves leading partly a nomadic life, the Chazars enjoyed all the privileges of civilized nations, a well- constituted and tolerant government, a flourishing trade, and a well- disciplined standing army. In a time when fanaticism, igno-rance, and anarchy reigned in western Europe, the kingdom of the Chazars could boast of its just and broad- minded administration; and all Embrace Judaism. Succession of Kings. Internal Adminis-tration and Commercial Relations. Map Showing the Distribution of Religions in Europe in the Tenth Century, C. E., Indicating Extent of the Kingdom of the Chazars. ( After Schrader, “ Atlas de Géographie Historique.”) Chazars Aac— Apo | Apo— Ben | Ben— Cha | Cha— Dre | Dre— Goa | God— Ist | Ita— Leo | Leo— Mor | Mor— Phi | Phi— Sam | Sam— Tal | Tal— Zwe < < P a g e > > < < V ie w >> Search | F i n d | H o m e | I n d e x < < P a g e > > < < V ie w >>
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