EDITOR'S NOTE—Seljukian Sultans. Dynasty of Turks (1038-1157). Seljuk’s territory was divided by two of his grandsons, Toghril and Chaghri, whose son Alp Arslan (r. 1063-72) and grandson Malikshah (r. 1072-92) led the empire to its heights of secular and religious achievement. After the deaths of Malikshah and his vizier Nizam al-Mulk, the Seljuk state grew progressively more decentralized, until, by the mid-twelfth century, the dynasty’s rule continued only locally, with Sanjar (r. 1097-1157); other lines were in Rum (i.e., Anatolia, 1077-1307), Syria (1078-1117), Iraq (1118-1194), and Kerman (1041-1186).
EDITOR'S NOTE—Kings of Karasmé. Khwārazm, Iranian region at the Oxus River, south of the Aral Sea. Although in the eleventh century, Khwārazm came into Seljuk hands, the local shahs gradually turned against the Seljuks, whom they defeated decisively in 1181, thereby ending Seljuk rule in Persia.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Bostenay. Bustenai ben Haninai (c. 618-670), the first exilarch under Islam. Supposedly married to Izdundad, one of the captive daughters of Chosroes II, king of Persia. According to tradition, the exilarch (Resh Galuta), scion of the House of David, was, among other things, guardian of orphans and illegitimate children.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Alschiroch. Possibly an ironic allusion to Shīrkūh I b. Ayyūb Abū Salāh al-Din (Ayyūbīd(e), “the lion of the mountain”; c. 1169), uncle of Saladin. According to Malcolm’s History of Persia, Saladin and his uncle were forced to flee to Egypt when Shīrkūh slew a high-born man who had insulted an unprotected female (1:379).
EDITOR'S NOTE— And, lo! a mighty chariot now appeared, . . . Disraeli’s description here is reminiscent of Merkavah Mysticism, the branch of Kabbalism that developed around mystical interpretations of Ezekiel’s chariot. According to some interpretations, the figure seated on the chariot was said to be the Messiah.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Kourds. Kurds, pastoral and agricultural people who inhabit a plateau region in adjoining parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, as well as the Armenian and Azerbaidzhan parts of the Caucasus.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Scherirah. Possibly based on Sherira ben Hanina Gaon (c. 906-1006), head of the academy at Pumbadita from 968-1006, who believed that the exilarchs all descended from Bustenai, from whom he claimed descent.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Kisloch. Possible derivative of the word kishlak, referring to winter quarters, often in warmer, low-lying areas, of pastoral nomads in Inner Asia, and thence to those regions like Persia and Anatolia into which Turksmen and others from central Asia infiltrated.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Bastinado. See Author’s Note 21.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Brusa. Bursa, also called Burusa by the Ottomans after the ancient city of Prusa, on the northern foothills of the Mysian Olympus. Became the main capitol of the Ottoman state between 805 and 1402; known for its silk trade.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Honain. Possible allusion to Hunayn (d. 873), a multilingual Syrian who translated a number of Greek scientific works into Arabic; or Hunayn ibn Ishaq (d. 874), the first physician to translate Greek medical works into Arabic.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Frank. Group of Germanic nations that conquered Gaul in the sixth century, and from whom France received its name. Generically, a name given by the nations bordering on the Levant to an individual of Western nationality.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Zimri. Literally, “my strength or protection (is the Deity)”; name of two biblical figures. The first (Numbers 25) became symbol of the worst rebellion against God and his Word; the second Zimri, who reigned as king for only seven days (1 Kings 16), symbolized the slave who turned against his master.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Rabbi Maimon. Possible allusion to the Maimon family—Maimon ben Joseph (d. 1165/1170) and his son Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides; 1135-1204). Both were outstanding and influential scholars, in this context significant for their argument that conversion to Islam is preferable to martyrdom. Maimonides is Disraeli’s ostensible source for his account of Alroy’s death (see Author’s Note 82).
EDITOR'S NOTE—Abarbanel. Abrabanel or Abravanel, family name of prominent Jews in fifteenth-century Spain who, during the time of the Forced Conversion of 1497, were baptized, but in the seventeenth century, reverted to Judaism and revived the name. Records indicate that members of the family emigrated to Amsterdam, London and America, as well as Poland and southern Russia. Disraeli’s reference to Abarbanel, of Babylon, is likely a fanciful anachronism, both in terms of time and place.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Rabbi Akiba. See Author’s Note 10.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Shimei, of Damascus, on ‘Effecting Impossibilities.’ Possible reference to Joseph ben Judah ibn Shim’on (twelfth-thirteenth centuries), physician, poet, and philosopher, contemporary of Maimonides, who wrote a theological-philosophical treatise on the creation of the world, A Treatise as to Necessary Existence (English translation, J. L. Magnes, 1904).
EDITOR'S NOTE—the initial letter of every section is a cabalistical type. Allusion to notaricon, a form of kabbalistic numerology (gematria), in which the initial letters of words in a phrase are used to create mystical acrostics.
EDITOR'S NOTE—afrite. On afrite and dive, see Author’s Note 50.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Hassan. As clarified later, this reference is to Hasan-i Sabbāh, a Persian leader who rebelled against both the Seljuk sultanate and the Abbasid caliphate around 1090. A charismatic leader, Hasan organized a secret society whose members would be known as Assassins, their mission being to eliminate the enemies of what they considered to be the true faith.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Togrul, the Turkish Sultan of Persia. Possible reference to Toghrïl b. Muammad (d. 1134), though more likely Toghrïl b. Arslan, whose death in 1194 signalled the end of the Saljuk dynasty.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Bactiari. Bactria, or Bactriana, ancient country in southwest Asia between Hindu Kush and the Oxus River; modern Balkh, district in northern Afghanistan corresponding closely to ancient Bactria.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Chrosroes. Apparent reference either to Khusrau-Shāh (d. 1160), or his son Khusrau-Malik, last of the Ghaznavids, the dynasty founded by Abū Mansūr Sebük-Tegin (d. 997) who oversaw the Turkishization of Khwārazm. The Ghaznavids were overthrown by the Saljuks.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Benomi. Possible reference either to Benammi (“son of my kindred”), son of the younger daughter of Lot (Genesis 19:38), or Benoni (“son of my sorrow”), name given by Rachel to her son Benjamin (Genesis 35:18).
EDITOR'S NOTE—Would a king have kept his awful covenant like solemn Jephtha? Son of Gilead and a concubine, Jephtha (“he will open”) sacrificed his daughter in compliance with a vow that in exchange for victory against the Ammonites, he would sacrifice the first thing to greet him upon his homecoming (see Judges 11:29-40).
EDITOR'S NOTE—Ibrahim. Common Muslim name; possible allusion to the thirteenth Umayyad caliph who, upon being acclaimed Caliph in 744, was defeated by Marwan II, who forced Ibrahim to renounce his rights to the caliphate.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 1. We shall yet see an ass mount a ladder. “If an ass can ascend a ladder, knowledge can be found among launderers” (translation found in Alexander Altmann, “The Ladder of Ascension,” in Studies in Mysticism and Religion presented to Gershom G. Scholem on his Seventieth Birthday by Pupils, Colleagues and Friends, ed. E. E. Urbach et. al. (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, The Hebrew University, 1967), 31.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 3. Robert Ker Porter, Travels in Georgia, Persia, Armenia, Ancient Babylonia . . . during the Years 1817, 1818, 1819, and 1820 (2 vols.; London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orne, and Browne, 1821-22).
EDITOR'S NOTE— Note 9. Sefer ha-Peli’ah and Sefer ha-Kanah are anonymous late medieval commentaries about the earliest kabbalistic treatise, the Sefer Yezirah, an anonymous text written between the third and sixth centuries. The Sefer ha-Bahir is a pseudonymous treatise of the second half of the twelfth century, attributed to the first-century mystic Nehunia ben haKana. Disraeli’s choice of texts seems to have derived from William Enfield’s History of Philosophy. (p. 404; see Note 10).
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 10. William Enfield. The History of Philosophy from the Earliest Periods: Drawn up from Brucker’s Historia Critica Philosophiæ (2 vols.; London, 1791). In the 1837 edition, see Book IV, chapter 2: "Of the State of the Jewish Philosophy from the Destruction of Jerusalem to Modern Times" (pp. 402-8), and chapter 3: "Of the Jewish Philosophy, Exoteric and Cabbalistic" (pp. 408-18).
Disraeli’s note is a mixture of fact and folklore. Rabbi Akiva (c. 50-135 C.E.), one of the greatest scholars of his age, and Simeon bar Yohai (mid-second century C.E.), one of Akiva’s most prominent pupils, did hide out in a cave for twelve years, in fear of Roman retaliation against the Jewish insurgence led by the zealot Bar Kokhba (d. 135 C.E.). However, the overlay of cabbalistic lore is a later accretion. The Zohar, the central treatise of Jewish mysticism, was probably written by Moses de Leon, in the late thirteenth century; and on the Sefer Yezirah, see Note 9. The error here is not Disraeli’s; he merely repeats inaccurate information contained in Enfield.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 10. See Calmet, art. Cabala. Augustin Calmet, An Historical, Critical, Chronological and Etymological Dictionary of the Holy Bible, trans. Samuel D'Oyly and John Colson (3 vols.; London, 1732), rev. ed. Calmet's Great Dictionary of the Holy Bible: Historical, Critical, Geographical, and Etymological, edited by C. Taylor (3 vols.; London: C. Taylor, 1797-1801). Here, too, Disraeli repeats the distortions found in his source. Calmet refers only to Gematria, numerological practices which comprise only one aspect of Kabbalah.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 10. Lightfoot, vol. ii. p. 371. John Lightfoot, “Parergon concerning the Fall of Jerusalem, and the Condition of the Jews in that Land After,” in The Whole Works, ed. John Rogers Pitman, 13 vols. (London, 1822), 3:400.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 10. Vide Basnage, vol. v. p. 384, &c.. Jacques Basnage, 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). The discussion of Kabbalism starts in Book III, Chapter 10, “The Sixth Order of the Jewish Doctors, the Cabbalists. A general Idea of the Cabbala, taken from the Zohar, and from the Explication of the Mercava, or Chariot of Ezechiel” (p. 184), and ranges through Chapter 28, “Of the Use that may be made of the Cabbala” (p.255), with sporadic references throughout the text.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 12. Lightfoot, vol. i. pp. 485, 486. John Lightfoot, “The Harmony of the Four Evangelists, among Themselves, and with the Old Testament” (The Whole Works, 3:400). Urim and Thumim were priestly devices for obtaining oracles. After the era of prophecy ended, bat kol remained the sole direct source of communication with God. Often perceived in dreams or as the sound of a reverberation, bat kol, literally “daughter of a sound,” designates a small voice, as distinguished from the normal tone.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 12. Consult also the learned Doctor, vol. ii. pp. 128, 129. This citation is inappropriate for the 1822 edition, and Disraeli does not provide enough information to locate the reference.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 19. Sandys. George Sandys, A Relation of a Journey begun An. Dom. 1610. Foure Bookes. Containing a Description of the Turkish Empire, of Ægypt, of the Holy Land, of the Remote Parts of Italy, and Ilands Adjoyning, 2nd ed. (London, 1615), Book I, p. 66.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 27. Cardonne. Denis Dominique Cardonne (1720-83), French Orientalist whose Miscellany of Eastern Learning. Tr. From the Turkish, Arabian, and Persian Manuscripts, in the Library of the King of France, was published in 1771 (2 vols., London).
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 27. Decline and Fall, vol. x, p. 39. Chapter LII, 750-960. “Magnificence of the Caliphate, Its Consequences on private and public Happiness,” of Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 3rd. ed. by J. B. Bury, ed. (7 vols.; London: Methuen, 1907), 6:25.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 36. The gate of Sion. Zion Gate, actually part of the wall built by Suleiman the Magnificent in the sixteenth century. The southern portion of the wall contains the Zion Gate, that is, the Gate of the “Prophet” David, since it is located near “David’s Tomb,” on Mount Zion.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 37. King Pirgandicus. I have been unable to locate the specific Talmudic reference to King Pirgandicus, though Moses Gaster includes a comparable story in his edition of the second volume of Ma’aseh Book: Book of Jewish Tales and Legends. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1934). See #250, “Story of the Wicked King Frederick Who Beguiled Eleven of the Wisest Sages of Israel to Drink Wine with Him” (2:651-54).
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 39. Asmonean princes. The Hasmonean family, a group of pietists, led by Mattathias, and his sons Judas, Jonathan and Simon, who defeated the Seleucids. Biblical accounts of their tales can be found in the Books of Esther, Daniel and Maccabees.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 40. Rabbi Hillel. First century B.C.; greatest of the Pharisees, the faction of the Hasmonean kingdom that opposed the Temple cult of the Sadducees, in favor of synagogue worship. Hillel and his contemporary, Shammai, were the first leaders of the rabbinic movement.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 44. Valley of Jehoshapat. Area between Scopus and Olivet and Jerusalem, named after King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20). Historically, the Valley resonates among the three Middle Eastern religions. Not only is this the area where Jehoshapat demonstrated his faith, but Christians believe it to be the place where the faithful will gather for Christ’s Second Coming (Acts 1:11), and Moslems, the location where all souls pass in judgment.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 44. Tombs of Zachariah and Absalom. Reference to monuments located in the Kidron valley which date from the Hellenistic or Roman periods, with no connection to the biblical burial places.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 45. Siloah. Site of natural springs within a circle of ten miles around Jerusalem (see Nehemiah 3:15); also, the location where Jesus gave the blind man back his sight (see John 9:1-12).
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 48. Temple of Dendera. Dandarah or Denderah (ancient Tentyra), a village in central Egypt on the west bank of the Nile River, opposite the city of Qinā. Dandarah is famous for the temple dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Hathor, begun in the first century B.C.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 52. Rameses the Second. Ruled Egypt from 1292-1225 B.C.; known for expanding Egypt’s power through the conquest of Syria and Palestine; most likely the pharaoh mentioned in Exodus for enslaving the Jews and forcing them to build Pithom and the city of Raamses.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 56. Janissaries of the Sultan. Shock troops of the Ottoman Empire, founded at the end of the fourteenth century, suppressed by force, including a massacre in 1826. During the occupation, many Albanians were recruited to become Janissaries.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 62. It is the Sabbath eve.. The text for the entire note comes from Lightfoot, “Of Adoration: The Eighth Article” (The Whole Works 3:55-6). The reference to the tractate Shevith from the Jerusalem Talmud is erroneous—Lightfoot had used it to document a passage not quoted by Disraeli. The reference to Luke, also from Lightfoot, is cited correctly. The quotation, ‘as wool was not put to dye, unless it could take colour while it was yet day,’ is cited by Lightfoot, but not quoted. It derives from the Mishnah, and is quoted in the tractate Sabbath (18a), in the Babylonian Talmud.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 80. Ameniph the Second. Aakheperure Amenophis II (r. 1425-1401 B.C.), son and successor of Tuthmosis III. Medeenot Abuh—“Town of Habu”; modern name for the site occupied by the temple of Rameses III; also refers to the Christian community established within the precincts of the temple.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Note 82. Germen Davidis of Ganz. David Ben Solomon Gans (1541-1613), chronicler, astronomer and mathematician, the first part of whose Żema David (Offspring of David, Prague, 1592), contains a history of the Jews through the sixteenth century. Disraeli’s reference is to Ganz’s Chronologia Sacra-Profana A Mundi Conditu ad Annum M.5352 vel Christi 1592, dicta צמח דוד German Davidis, trans. Guilielmum Henric Voustium (1644), pp. 300-1, and 303):
According to R. Maimonides, when the Sultan asked what a messiah was and what sign there was of his reign, Alroy responded that if his head were cut off, he would be restored to life. The king then ordered that he be decapitated, and was obeyed; but Alroy had made the claim only to avoid the torment of torture.
Seven years before the above-mentioned incident, the Israelites themselves had cut short their own Beliel, who had pretended to be their messiah. At his ascension, though, which they had welcomed, he turned the Jews against each other, and it is said, they petitioned for the destruction of their own messiah. His cursed name was David El-David, or Alroy. He came from the city of Amadia, where there was a large settlement of around 1000 wealthy, important, honest and fortunate families. Indeed, this group basically lived together near the river Sambation, and were more like a large community. This was at the border of Mede, where they spoke in the language of the Targum. From there, however, they extended to the region of Golan, a distance of fifty days, an area under the imperial rule of Persia, which demanded an annual tribute from all men over the age of fifteen. There was one man, David El-David, who studied under Chisdai, Head of the Captivity, and at the excellent academy of Baghdad, where he became learned in Talmud and esoterica, including books of divine and Chaldaic magic. This David audaciously and arrogantly provoked an uprising against the king, gathering the Jews who lived in the Chafton mountains, and persuading them to fight against all nations. Ostensibly, there were signs which these ignorant men, easily persuaded by magic and prestidigitation, believed. They consecrated him as a great man of God, praising and extolling him as their Messiah.
When that certain Jew was declared Messiah, he prospered greatly, drawing many of the Israelites in the Persian Empire towards him. Hearing about this man and his power, the king proposed that he come speak with him. He sent a message to the Jewish congregation in this region, saying: “Unless this man is restrained and immediately turned over to me, all of your children and women will be killed.” The entire Israeli population gathered to argue with this man. They supplicated, cried and wailed, asking him to return to his private life, so that all of these afflictions might be averted. This same king had sent an emissary with his merciless soldiers, who were believed to have suppressed all of the Persians. Alroy responded: “Let your servants come, without flinching. Why should I be afraid? What does my heart consist of? No matter what this Persian king and his soldiers do, I will still be restored.” They asked him what sign he had that he was the Messiah. He responded: “The good fortune to be revived. Indeed, the Messiah has no other sign.” He responded in this manner to many similar questions, that his only prosperity was his fate. Thus, in this manner he proudly avoided their indignities. (Translation mine)
Dedication and Preface from the first edition
EDITOR'S NOTE—“Caliph Vathek,” the “Epicurean,” “Beckford,” “Moore,” and still more perhaps Chateaubriand. Vathek, an Arabian Tale, by William Beckford (1759-1844), published in English in 1786; Thomas Moore (1779-1852), author of Lalla Rookh. (1817); François Auguste René, Vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), French writer and statesman, a pioneer of the romantic movement.
EDITOR'S NOTE—Rev. Michael Adler’s able article in the “Jewish Encyclopedia.” Michael Adler, “Alroy, or Alrui, David (called also El David and Menahem ben Suleiman ibn Al-rui),” The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls, 1901).
EDITOR'S NOTE—Mr. Zangwill, in his “Dreamers of the Ghetto.” Israel Zangwill (1864-1926), English-born Jew whose novel, Dreamers of the Ghetto, comprises a series of sketches about historical figures, including Benjamin Disraeli and Shabbetai Zevi, who were forced to mediate between their lives as Jews and the external world.
EDITOR'S NOTE—The source for Basnage’s account is Solomon ibn Verga, Shevet Yehudah (Adrianople, 1553).
EDITOR'S NOTE—As can be seen, the earliest version of this passage is suffused with what has been interpreted as Alroy's possibly incestuous love for his sister; in later versions, Disraeli suppresses the praise, thereby focusing more sharply on the hero's messianic mission.