AUTHOR'S NOTE (PREFACE)—Contarini Fleming, vol. iii.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 1—We shall yet see an ass mount a ladder. Hebrew proverb.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2—Our walls are hung with flowers you love. It is the custom of the Hebrews in many of their festivals, especially in the feast of the Tabernacle,* to hang the walls of their chambers with garlands of flowers.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 3—The traditionary tomb of Esther and Mordecai. ‘I accompanied the priest through the town over much rain and rubbish to an enclosed piece of ground, rather more elevated than any in its immediate vicinity. In the centre was the Jewish tomb—a square building of brick, of a mosque-like form, with a rather elongated dome at the top. The door is in the ancient sepulchral fashion of the country, very small, consisting of a single stone of great thickness, and turning on its own pivots from one side. Its key is always in possession of the eldest of the Jews resident at Hamadan. Within the tomb are two sarcophagi, made of a very dark wood, carved with great intricacy of pattern and richness of twisted ornament, with a line of inscription in Hebrew,’ &c.— Sir R. K. Porter’s Travels in Persia, vol. ii, p. 107.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 4—A marble fountain, the richly-carved cupola supported by twisted columns. The vast magnificence and elaborate fancy of the tombs and fountains is a remarkable feature of Oriental architecture. The Eastern nations devote to these structures the richest and the most durable materials. While the palaces of Asiatic monarchs are in general built only of wood, painted in fresco, the rarest marbles are dedicated to the sepulchre and the spring, which are often richly gilt, and adorned even with precious stones.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 5—The chorus of our maidens. It is still the custom for the women in the East to repair at sunset in company to the fountain for their supply of water. In Egypt, you may observe at twilight the women descending the banks of the Nile in procession from every town and village. Their graceful drapery, their long veils not concealing their flashing eyes, and the classical forms of their vases, render this a most picturesque and agreeable spectacle.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 6—I describe the salty deserts of Persia, a locality which my tale required; but I have ventured to introduce here, and in the subsequent pages, the principal characteristics of the great Arabian deserts: the mirage, the simoom,* the gazelle, the oasis.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 7—Jackals and marten-cat.* At nightfall, especially in Asia Minor, the lonely horseman will often meet the jackals on their evening prowl. Their moaning is often heard during the night. I remember, when becalmed off Troy, the most singular screams were heard at intervals throughout the night, from a forest on the opposite shore, which a Greek sailor assured me proceeded from a marten-cat, which had probably found the carcass of some horse.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 9—A circular and brazen table, sculptured with strange characters and mysterious figures; near it was a couch, on which lay several volumes. A cabalistic table, perhaps a zodiac. The books were doubtless Sepher Happeliah, the Book of Wonders; Sepher Hakkaneh, the Book of the Pen; and Sepher Habbahir, the Book of Light. This last unfolds the most sublime mysteries.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 10—Answered the Cabalist. ‘Simeon ben Jochai, who flourished in the second century, and was a disciple of Akibha, is called by the Jews the Prince of the Cabalists. After the suppression of the sedition in which his master had been so unsuccessful, he concealed himself in a cave, where, according to the Jewish historians, he received revelations, which he afterwards delivered to his disciples, and which they carefully preserved in the book called Sohar. His master, Akibha, who lived soon after the destruction of Jerusalem, was the author of the famous book Jezirah, quoted by the Jews as of Divine authority. When Akibha was far advanced in life, appeared the famous impostor Barchochebas, who, under the character of the Messiah, promised to deliver his countrymen from the power of the Emperor Adrian. Akibha espoused his cause, and afforded him the protection and support of his name, and an army of two hundred thousand men repaired to his standard. The Romans at first slighted the insurrection; but when they found the insurgents spread slaughter and rapine wherever they came, they sent out a military force against them. At first, the issue of the contest was doubtful. The Messiah himself was not taken until the end of four years.’ — Enfield, Philosophy of the Jews, vol. ii.*
‘Two methods of instruction were in use among the Jews; the one public, or exoteric; the other secret, or esoteric. The exoteric doctrine was that which was openly taught the people from the law of Moses and the traditions of the fathers. The esoteric was that which treated of the mysteries of the Divine nature, and other sublime subjects, and was known by the name of the Cabala. The latter was, after the manner of the Pythagorean and Egyptian mysteries, taught only to certain persons, who were bound, under the most solemn anathema, not to divulge it. Concerning the miraculous origin and preservation of the Cabala, the Jews relate many marvellous tales. They derive these mysteries from Adam, and assert that, while the first man was in Paradise, the angel Rasiel brought him a book from heaven, which contained the doctrines of heavenly wisdom, and that, when Adam received this book, angels came down to him to learn its contents, but that he refused to admit them to the knowledge of sacred things entrusted to him alone; that, after the Fall, this book was taken back into heaven; that, after many prayers and tears, God restored it to Adam, from whom it passed to Seth. In the degenerate age before the flood this book was lost, and the mysteries it contained almost forgotten; but they were restored by special revelation to Abraham, who committed them to writing in the book Jezirah.’ — Vide Enfield, vol. ii. p. 219.*
‘The Hebrew word Cabala,’ says Dom Calmet, ‘signifies tradition, and the Rabbins, who are named Cabalists, apply themselves principally to the combination of certain words, numbers, and letters, by the means of which they boasted they could reveal the future, and penetrate the sense of the most difficult passages of Scripture. This science does not appear to have any fixed principles, but depends upon certain ancient traditions, whence its name Cabala. The Cabalists have a great number of names which they style sacred, by means of which they raise spirits, and affect to obtain supernatural intelligence.’—See Calmet, art. Cabala.*
‘We spake before,’ says Lightfoot, ‘of the commonness of Magick among them, one singular means whereby they kept their own in delusion, and whereby they affronted ours. The general expectation of the nation of Messias coming when he did, had this double and contrary effect, that it forwarded those that belonged to God to believe and receive the Gospel; and those that did not, it gave encouragement to some to take upon them they were Christ or some great prophet, and to others it gave some persuasion to be deluded by them. These deceivers dealt most of them with Magick, and that cheat ended not when Jerusalem ended, though one would have thought that had been a fair term of not further expecting Messias; but, since the people were willing to be deceived by such expectation, there rose up deluders still that were willing to deceive them.’—Lightfoot, vol. ii. p. 371.*
For many curious details of the Cabalistic Magic, Vide Basnage, vol. v. p. 384, &c.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 11—Read the stars no longer. ‘The modern Jews,’ says Basnage, ‘have a great idea of the influence of the stars.’ Vol. iv. p. 454.* But astrology was most prevalent among the Babylonian Rabbins, of whom Jabaster was one. Living in the ancient land of the Chaldeans, these sacred sages imbibed a taste for the mystic lore of their predecessors. The stars moved, and formed the letters and lines, when consulted by any of the highly-initiated of the Cabalists. This they styled the Celestial Alphabet.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 12—The Daughter of the Voice. ‘Both the Talmudick and the latter Rabbins,' says Lightfoot, ‘make frequent mention of Bath Kol, or Filia Vocis, or an echoing voice which served under the second temple for their utmost refuge of revelation. For when Urim and Thummim, the oracle, was ceased, and prophecy was decayed and gone, they had, as they say, certain strange and extraordinary voices upon certain extraordinary occasions, which were their warnings and advertisements in some special matters. Infinite instances of this might be adduced, if they might be believed. Now here it may be questioned why they called it Bath Kol, the daughter of a voice, and not a voice itself? If the strictness of the Hebrew word Bath be to be stood upon, which always it is not, it may be answered, that it is called the Daughter of a Voice in relation to the oracles of Urim and Thummim. For whereas that was a voice given from off the mercy-seat, within the vail, and this, upon the decay of that oracle, came as it were in its place, it might not unfitly or improperly be called a daughter, or successor of that voice.’—Lightfoot, vol. i. pp. 485, 486.*
Consult also the learned Doctor, vol. ii. pp. 128, 129: ‘It was used for a testimony from heaven, but was indeed performed by magic art.’*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 13 — The walls and turrets of an extensive city. In Persia, and the countries of the Tigris and Euphrates, the traveller sometimes arrives at deserted cities of great magnificence and antiquity. Such, for instance, is the city of Anneh.* I suppose Alroy to have entered one of the deserted capitals of the Seleucidæ.* They are in general the haunt of bandits.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 16 — By the holy stone. The Caaba.—The Caaba is the same to the Mahomedan as the Holy Sepulchre to the Christian. It is the most unseemly, but the most sacred, part of the mosque at Mecca, and is a small, square stone building.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 17 — I am a Hakim. i.e. Physician, an almost sacred character in the East. As all Englishmen travel with medicine-chests, the Turks are not to be wondered at for considering us physicians.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 18 — Threw their wanton jerreeds in the air. The Persians are more famous for throwing the jerreed than any other nation. A Persian gentleman, while riding quietly by your side, will suddenly dash off at full gallop, then suddenly check his horse, and take a long aim with his lance with admirable precision. I should doubt, however, whether he could hurl a lance a greater distance or with greater force and effect than a Nubian, who will fix a mark at sixty yards with his javelin.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 19—Some pounded coffee. The origin of the use of coffee is obscure; but there is great reason to believe that it had not been introduced in the time of Alroy. When we consider that the life of an Oriental at the present day mainly consists in drinking coffee and smoking tobacco, we cannot refrain from asking ourselves, ‘What did he do before either of these comparatively modern inventions was discovered?’ For a long time, I was inclined to suspect that tobacco might have been in use in Asia before it was introduced into Europe; but a passage in old Sandys,* in which he mentions the wretched tobacco smoked in Turkey, and accounts for it by that country being supplied with ‘the dregs of our markets,’ demonstrates that, in his time, there was no native growth in Asia. Yet the choicest tobaccoes are now grown on the coast of Syria, the real Levant. But did the Asiatics smoke any other plant or substance before tobacco? In Syria, at the present day, they smoke a plant called timbac; the Chinese smoke opium; the artificial preparations for the hookah are known to all Indians. I believe, however, that these are all refinements, and for this reason, that in the classic writers, who were as well acquainted with the Oriental nations as ourselves, we find no allusion to the practice of smoking. The anachronism of the pipe I have not therefore ventured to commit, and that of coffee will, I trust, be pardoned.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 20—Wilder gestures of the dancing girls. These dancing girls abound throughout Asia. The most famous are the Almeh of Egypt,* and the Nautch of India.* These last are a caste, the first only a profession.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 21—For thee the bastinado. The bastinado is the common punishment of the East, and an effective and dreaded one. It is administered on the soles of the feet, the instrument a long cane or palm-branch. Public executions are very rare.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 23—A vaulted, circular, and highly embossed roof, of purple, scarlet, and gold. In the very first style of Saracenic architecture. See the Hall of the Ambassadors in Alhambra, and many other chambers in that exquisite creation.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 24—Nubian eunuchs dressed in rich habits of scarlet and gold. Thus the guard of Nubian Eunuchs of the present Pacha of Egypt, Mehemet Ali,* or rather Caliph, a title which he wishes to assume. They ride upon white horses.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 26—As Abyssinian giant. A giant is still a common appendage to an Oriental court even at the present day. See a very amusing story in the picturesque ‘Persian Sketches’ of that famous elchee, Sir John Malcolm.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 27—Surrounded by figures of every rare quadruped. ‘The hall of audience,’ says Gibbon, from Cardonne,* speaking of the magnificence of the Saracens of Cordova, ‘was encrusted with gold and pearls, and a great basin in the centre was surrounded with the curious and costly figures of birds and quadrupeds.’—Decline and Fall, vol. x, p. 39.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 28 — A tree of gold and silver. ‘Among the other spectacles of rare and stupendous luxury was a tree of gold and silver, spreading into eighteen large branches, on which, and on the lesser boughs, sat a variety of birds made of the same precious metals, as well as the leaves of the tree. While the machinery effected spontaneous motions, the several birds warbled their natural harmony.’—Gibbon, vol. x. p. 38, from Abulfeda,* describing the court of the Caliphs of Bagdad in the decline of their power.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 29 — Four hundred men led as many white bloodhounds, with collars of gold and rubies. I have somewhere read of an Indian or Persian monarch whose coursing was conducted in this gorgeous style: if I remember right, it was Mahmoud the Gaznevide.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 31 — Instead of water, each basin was replenished with the purest quicksilver. ‘In a lofty pavilion of the gardens, one of those basins and fountains so delightful in a sultry climate, was replenished, not with water, but with the purest quicksilver.’— Gibbon, vol. x. from Cardonne.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 32—Playing with a rosary of pearls and emeralds. Moslems of rank are never without the rosary, sometimes of amber and rare woods, sometimes of jewels. The most esteemed is of that peculiar substance called Mecca wood.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 34 — You have been at Paris. Paris was known to the Orientals at this time as a city of considerable luxury and importance. The Embassy from Haroun Alraschid* to Charlemagne, at an earlier date, is of course recollected.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 35—At length behold the lost capital of his fathers. The finest view of Jerusalem is from the Mount of Olives. It is little altered since the period when David Alroy is supposed to have gazed upon it, but it is enriched by the splendid Mosque of Omar, built by the Moslem conquerors on the supposed site of the temple, and which, with its gardens and arcades, and courts, and fountains, may fairly be described as the most imposing of Moslem fanes. I endeavoured to enter it at the hazard of my life. I was detected, and surrounded by a crowd of turbaned fanatics, and escaped with difficulty; but I saw enough to feel that minute inspection would not belie the general character I formed of it from the Mount of Olives. I caught a glorious glimpse of splendid courts, and light airy gates of Saracenic triumph, flights of noble steps, long arcades, and interior gardens, where silver fountains sprouted their tall streams amid the taller cypresses.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 36 — Entered Jerusalem by the gate of Sion.* The gate of Sion still remains, and from it you descend into the valley of Siloah.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 37—King Pirgandicus. According to a Talmudical story, however, of which I find a note, this monarch was not a Hebrew but a Gentile, and a very wicked one. He once invited eleven famous doctors of the holy nation to supper. They were received in the most magnificent style, and were then invited, under pain of death, either to eat pork, to accept a pagan mistress, or to drink wine consecrated to idols. After long consultation, the doctors, in great tribulation, agreed to save their heads by accepting the last alternative, since the two first were forbidden by the law of Moses, and the last only by the Rabbins. The King assented, the doctors drank the impure wine, and, as it was exceedingly good, drank freely. The wine, as will sometimes happen, created a terrible appetite; the table was covered with dishes, and the doctors, heated by the grape, were not sufficiently careful of what they partook. In short, the wicked King Pirgandicus contrived that they should sup off pork, and being carried from the table quite tipsy, each of the eleven had the mortification of finding himself next morning in the arms of a pagan mistress.
In the course of the year all the eleven died sudden deaths, and this visitation occurred to them, not because they had violated the law of Moses, but because they believed that the precepts of the Rabbins could be outraged with more impunity than the Word of God.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 39 — The Tombs of the Kings. The present pilgrim to Jerusalem will have less trouble than Alroy in discovering the Tombs of the Kings, though he probably would not as easily obtain the sceptre of Solomon. The tombs that bear this title are of the time of the Asmonean princes,* and of a more ambitious character than any other of the remains. An open court, about fifty feet in breadth, and extremely deep, is excavated out of the rock. One side is formed by a portico, the frieze of which is sculptured in a good Syro-Greek style. There is no grand portal; you crawl into the tombs by a small opening on one of the sides. There are a few small chambers with niches, recesses, and sarcophagi, some sculptured in the same flowing style as the frieze. This is the most important monument at Jerusalem; and Dr. Clarke,* who has lavished wonder and admiration on the tombs of Zachariah and Absalom, has declared the Tombs of the Kings to be one of the marvellous productions of antiquity.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 40—‘Rabbi Hillel* was one of the eminentest that ever was among the Jewish Doctors, both for birth, learning, rule, and children. He was of the seed of David by his mother’s side, being of the posterity of Shephatiah, the son of Abital, David’s wife.* He was brought up in Babel from whence he came up to Jerusalem at forty years old, and there studied the law forty years more under Shemaiah and Abtalion,* and after them he was President of the Sanhedrim forty years more. The beginning of his Presidency is generally concluded upon to have been just one hundred years before the Temple was destroyed; by which account he began eight-and-twenty years before our Saviour was born, and died when he was about twelve years old. He is renowned for his fourscore scholars.’— Lightfoot, vol ii. p. 2008.*
The great rival of Hillel was Shammai. Their controversies, and the fierceness of their partisans, are a principal feature of Rabbinical history. They were the same as the Scotists and Thomists. At last the Bath Kol interfered, and decided for Hillel, but in a spirit of conciliatory dexterity. The Bath Kol came forth and spake thus: ‘The words both of the one party and the other are the words of the living God, but the certain decision of the matter is according to the decrees of the school of Hillel. And henceforth, whoever shall transgress the decrees of the school of Hillel is punishable with death.’
AUTHOR'S NOTE 41—A number of small, square, low chambers. These excavated cemeteries, which abound in Palestine and Egypt, were often converted into places of worship by the Jews and early Christians. Sandys* thus describes the Synagogue at Jerusalem in his time.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 44 — The Valley of Jehoshapat* and the Tomb of Absalom. In the Vale of Jehoshaphat, among many other tombs, are two of considerable size, and which, although of a corrupt Grecian architecture, are dignified by the titles of the tombs of Zachariah and Absalom.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 45 — The scanty rill of Siloah.* The sublime Siloah is now a muddy rill; you descend by steps to the fountain which is its source, and which is covered with an arch. Here the blind man received his sight; and, singular enough, to this very day the healing reputation of its waters prevails, and summons to its brink all those neighbouring Arabs who suffer from the ophthalmic affections not uncommon in this part of the world.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 46 — Several isolated tombs of considerable size. There are no remains of ancient Jerusalem, or the ancient Jews. Some tombs there are which may be ascribed to the Asmonean princes; but all the monuments of David, Solomon, and their long posterity, have utterly disappeared.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 47—Are cut strange characters and unearthly forms. As at Benihassan,* and many other of the sculptured catacombs of Egypt.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 48—A crowd of bats rushed forward and extinguished his torch. In entering the Temple of Dendera,* our torches were extinguished by a crowd of bats.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 51 — An avenue of colossal lions of red granite. An avenue of Sphinxes more than a mile in length connected the quarters of Luxoor and Carnak in Egyptian Thebes. Its fragments remain. Many other avenues of Sphinxes and lion-headed Kings may be observed in various parts of Upper Egypt.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 52—A stupendous portal, cut out of the solid rock, four hundred feet in height, and supported by clusters of colossal Caryatides.* See the great rock temple of Ipsambul in Lower Nubia.* The sitting colossi are nearly seventy feet in height. But there is a Torso of a statue of Rameses the Second at Thebes,* vulgarly called the great Memnon, which measures upwards of sixty feet round the shoulders.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 55—That celestial alphabet known to the true Cabalist. See AUTHOR'S NOTE 11.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 56— The last of the Seljuks had expired. The Orientals are famous for their massacres: that of the Mamlouks* by the present Pacha of Egypt, and of the Janissaries of the Sultan,* are notorious. But one of the most terrible, and effected under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances, was the massacre of the Albanian Beys by the Grand Vizir, in the autumn of 1830. I was in Albania at the time.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 57—The minarets were illumined. So, I remember, at Constantinople, at the commencement of 1831, at the departure of the Mecca caravan, and also at the annual feast of Ramadan.*
AUTHOR'S NOTE 59—One hundred thousand warriors were now assembled. In countries where the whole population are armed, a vast military force is soon assembled. Barchochebas was speedily at the head of two hundred thousand fighting men, and held the Romans long in check under one of their most powerful emperors.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 60—Some high-capped Tatar* with despatches. I have availed myself of a familiar character in Oriental life, but the use of a Tatar as a courier in the time of Alroy is, I fear, an anachronism.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 61—Each day some warlike Atabek,* at the head of his armed train, poured into the capital of the Caliphs. I was at Yanina,* the capital of Albania, when the Grand Vizir summoned the chieftains of the country, and was struck by their magnificent arrays each day pouring into the city.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 62—It is the Sabbath eve.* ‘They began their Sabbath, from sunset, and the same time of day they ended it.’— Talm. Hierosolym. in Shevith, fol. 33, col. 1.
The eve of the Sabbath, or the day before, was called the day of the preparation for the Sabbath.—Luke xxiii.54.
‘And from the time of the evening sacrifice and forward, they began to fit themselves for the Sabbath, and to cease from their works, so as not to go to the barber, not to sit in judgment, &c.; nay, thenceforward they would not set things on working, which, being set a-work, would complete their business of themselves, unless it would be completed before the Sabbath came —as wool was not put to dye, unless it could take colour while it was yet day,’ &c. — Talm. in Sab., par. 1; Lightfoot, vol. i. p. 218.
‘Towards sunsetting, when the Sabbath was now approaching, they lighted up the Sabbath lamp. Men and women were bound to have a lamp lighted up in their houses on the Sabbath, though they were never so poor—nay, though they were forced to go a-begging for oil for this purpose; and the lighting up of this lamp was a part of making the Sabbath a delight; and women were especially commanded to look to this business.’ — Maimonides in Sab., par. 36.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 63 — The presence of the robes of honour. These are ever carried in procession, and their number denotes the rank and quality of the chief, or of the individual to whom they are offered.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 66—Slippers powdered with pearls. The slippers in the East form a very fanciful portion of the costume. It is not uncommon to see them thus adorned and beautifully embroidered. In precious embroidery and enamelling, the Turkish artists are unrivalled.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 69—Six choice steeds sumptuously caparisoned. Led horses always precede a great man. I think there were usually twelve before the Sultan when he went to Mosque, which he did in public every Friday.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 70 — Six Damascus sabres of unrivaled temper. But sabres are not to be found at Damascus, any more than cheeses at Stilton, or oranges at Malta. The art of watering the blade is, however, practised, I believe, in Persia. A fine Damascus blade will fetch fifty or even one hundred guineas English.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 71—Roses from Rocnabad.* A river in Persia famous for its bowery banks of roses.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 72—Screens made of the feather of a roc.* The screens and fans in the East, made of the plumage of rare birds, with jewelled handles, are very gorgeous.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 74—To send him the whole of the next course. These compliments from the tables of the great are not uncommon in the East. When at the head-quarters of the Grand Vizir at Yanina, his Highness sent to myself and my travelling companions, a course from his table, singers and dancing girls.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 75—The golden wine of Mount Lebanon. A most delicious wine, from its colour, brilliancy, and rare flavour, justly meriting this title, is made on Lebanon; but it will not, unfortunately, bear exportation, and even materially suffers in the voyage from the coast to Alexandria.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 77—Alroy retired to the bath. The bath is a principal scene of Oriental life. Here the Asiatics pass a great portion of their day. The bath consists of a long suite of chambers of various temperatures, in which the different processes of the elaborate ceremony are performed.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 78—We are the watchers of the moon. The Feast of the New Moon is one of the most important festivals of the Hebrews. ‘Our year,’ says the learned author of the ‘Rites and Ceremonies,’* ‘is divided into twelve lunar months, some of which consist of twenty-nine, others of thirty days, which difference is occasioned by the various appearance of the new moon, in point of time: for if it appeared on the 30th day, the 29th was the last day of the precedent month; but if it did not appear till the 31st day, the 30th was the last day, and the 31st the first of the subsequent month; and that was an intercalary moon, of all which take the following account.
‘Our nation heretofore, not only observing the rules of some fixed calculation, also celebrated the feast of the New Moon, according to the phasis or first appearance of the moon, which was done in compliance with God’s command, as our received traditions inform us.
‘Hence it came to pass that the first appearance was not to be determined only by rules of art, but also by the testimony of such persons as deposed before the Sanhedrim, or Great Senate, that they had seen the New Moon. So a committee of three were appointed from among the said Sanhedrim to receive the deposition of the parties aforesaid, who, after having calculated what time the moon might possibly appear, dispatched some persons into high and mountainous places, to observe and give their evidence accordingly, concerning the first appearance of the moon.
‘As soon as the new moon was either consecrated or appointed to be observed, notice was given by the Sanhedrim to the rest of the nation what day had been fixed for the New Moon, or first day of the month, because that was to be the rule and measure according to which they were obliged to keep their feasts and fasts in every month respectively.
‘This notice was given to them in time of peace, by firing of beacons, set up for that purpose, which was looked upon as the readiest way of communication, but, in time of war, when all places were full of enemies, who made use of beacons to amuse our nations with, it was thought fit to discontinue it.’
AUTHOR'S NOTE 80—Playing chess. On the walls of the palace of Amenoph the Second, called Medeenot Abuh,* at Egyptian Thebes, the King is represented playing chess with the Queen. This monarch reigned long before the Trojan war.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 81—Impaled. A friend of mine witnessed this horrible punishment in Upper Egypt. The victim was a man who had secretly murdered nine persons. He held an official post, and invited travellers and pilgrims to his house, whom he regularly disposed of and plundered. I regret that I have mislaid his MS. account of the ceremony.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 82—In the Germen Davidis of Ganz,* translated into Latin by Vorstius, Lug. 1654, is an extract from a Hebrew MS. containing an account of Alroy. I subjoin a passage respecting his death for the learned reader. ‘Scribit R. Maimonides, Sultanum, interrogasse illum, num esset Messias, et dixisse, Sum, et quæsivisse ab illo regem, quodnam signum habes? Et respondisse, ut præcideret caput, et se in vitam reversurum. Tunc regem jussisse ut caput ejus amputarent, et obiisse; sed hoc illi dixisse, ne gravibus tormentis ipsum enecaret.’
‘Septem annis ante decretum hoc, de quo supra locutisumus, habuerunt Israelitæ vehementes angustias propter virum Belial, qui seipsum fecit Messiam; et rex atque principes valde accensi sunt excandescentiâ contra Judæos, ut dicerent, eos quærere interitum regni sui Messiæ petitione. Maledicti hujus nomen vocatum fuit David El-David, aut Alroy, ex urbe Omadia; et erat ibi cœtus magnus, circiter mille familias divites, refertas, honestas et felices continens. Atque Ecclesia hæc erat principium cœtuum habitantium circa fluvium Sabbathion, atque erant plus quam centum Ecclesiæ. Erat hic initium regionis Mediæ, atque lingua eorum erat idioma Thargum: inde autem usque ad regionem Golan est iter 50 dierum, et sunt sub imperio Regis Persiæ, cui dant quotannis tributum a 15 annis et ultra aureum unum. Vir autem hic David El-David studuit coram principe captivitatis Chasdai et coram excellente Scholarcha in urbe Bagdad, qui eximius erat sapiens in Thalmude et omnibus scientiis exoticis, atque in omnibus libris divinatorum, magorum et Chaldæorum. Hic vero David El-David ex audacia et arrogantia cordis sui elevavit manum contra regem, et collegit Judæos habitantes in monte Chophtan, et seduxit eos, ut exirent in prælium cum omnibus gentibus. Ostendit iis signa; sed ignorabant quanam virtute: erant enim homines, qui asserebant istud per modum magiæ et præstigiationis fieri; alii dicebant, potentiam ejus magnam esse propter manum Dei. Qui consortium ejus veniebant, vocabant eum Messiam, eumque laudabant et extollebant.
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“In regno Persiæ alio quodam tempore surrexit vir quidam Judæus, et seipsum fecit Messiam, atque valde prospere egit; et numerosus ex Israele ad illum confluxit populus. Cùm viro audiret rex omnem ejus potentiam, atque propositum ejus esse descendere in prælium cum ipso, misit ad Judæos congregatos in regione sua, iisque dixit: Nisi egerint cum hocce viro, ut e medio tollatur, certo sciant, se eos omnes gladio interempturum, et uno die infantes ac fœminas deleturum. Tunc congregatus est totus populus Israelis simul, atque contendit ad virum illum, ceciditque coram illo in terram: vehementer supplicatus est, clamavit atque ploravit, ut reverteretur a via sua: et cur seipsum et omnes afflictos conjiceret in periculum: jam enim regem jurasse se immissurum eis gladium, et quomodo posset intueri afflictionem omnium cœtuum Persiæ. Respondit: Veni servatum vos, et non vultis. Quem metuistis? Quisnam coram me consistet? Et quid aget rex Persiæ, ut non reformidet me, et gladium meum? Interrogarunt eum, quodnam signum haberet quod esset Messias: Respondit, QUIA FELICITER REM GERERET, NEQUE MESSIAM OPUS HABERE ALIO SIGNO. Responderunt multos similiter egisse, neque prosperâ usos fuisse fortunâ; tunc rejecit eos a facie sua cum superba indignatiore.’