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Alroy, Edited by Sheila A. Spector


Basnage, Jacques. The History of the Jews, from Jesus Christ to the Present Time: Containing Their Antiquities, Their Religion, Their Rites, The Dispersion of the Ten Tribes in the East and the Persecutions this Nation has Suffer’d in the West. Being a Supplement and Continuation of the History of Josephus. Trans. Tho. Taylor. London, 1708. Book VII, chapter ix. Of the false messiahs that appear’d in the East and West, in the Twelfth Century. 632-3.

XI. But the most Famous of all Impostors of the Twelfth Century was David Alroy, or Eldavid.* He is commonly placed in the Year 1199 or 1200. But Benjamin of Tudela, who travelled in the year 1173, having mention’d him as a Man that appear’d ten Years before, it cannot be doubted but that he was somewhat elder.

XII. This Impostor was born in a City call’d Amaria, in which were reckon’d a thousand Jewish Families that paid Tribute to the King of Persia. He addicted himself at first to the Prince of the Captivity, and to the Head of the Synagogue at Bagdet, who was a famous Man, well versed not only in the Study of the Talmud, but in the knowledge of Magick, so common among the Chaldeans. When he had learn’d some Secrets, he gain’d the Jews, the Inhabitants of a Mountain called Haphtan, and excited them to take up Arms, and to that purpose deluded them with the shew of some false Miracles. The King of Persia being inform’d of this Insurrection, and the Conquests Eldavid made, was afraid of him, and summon’d him to appear immediately at Court, with a Promise, that if he could prove himself the Messiah, he would submit to him, and acknowledge him to be a King sent from Heaven. Eldavid, contrary to all Expectation, presented himself, and maintain’d to the King that he was the Messiah. He was put in Prison, and they waited to find him miraculously escap’d out of it. The thing so happen’d, as the King was deliberating about the nature of the Punishment to be inflicted on him, news was brought that Eldavid was escap’d; Couriers were immediately dispatch’d after him, who related that they had heard his Voice, without seeing him, or being able to take him. The King, who believ’d that his Guards had been corrupted, march’d at the Head of his Army as far as the Banks of the River Gozan; there he heard Eldavid’s Voice, who cried O Fools, but no body could see him: He was perceiv’d a moment after, dividing with his Cloak the Waters of the River, and passing over it. The Prince’s Faith was stagger’d; he was afraid it was the Messiah; but his Officers re’assur’d him, by perswading him it was all Legerdemain. The Army passed the river without finding the Criminal.

XIII. The King wrote immediately to all the principal Jews in his Kingdom, to oblige them to deliver up Eldavid, upon pain of being massacred without Mercy, if they did not do it. Zacheus the Prince of the Captivity, wrote to him to save the Nation, by surrendring himself; but he laugh’d at this request, and would not make himself a Sacrifice for the People. He continued his Disorders, till his Father-in-Law, tempted by the Promise which Zaid Alladin made him, of ten thousand gold Crowns, invited his Son-in-Law to Supper, made him Drunk, and cut off his Head, which was sent to the King of Persia. This Prince did not stand to his word, but demanded that all Eldavid’s Followers should be deliver’d up; and upon their refusal, which was grounded upon the Impossibility of the thing, he order’d abundance of Jews to be murder’d in his Kingdom.

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Published @ RC

January 2005