LECTURES ON THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS

By Rev. Dr. Moses Margoliouth

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LECTURE I

 

                Before I begin with the immediate subject which brings me before your notice this evening, I would venture to crave your indulgence if my lisping, broken accents, and my limited attainments, should reflect the credit upon your noble Institution which it so richly deserves. I humbly trust, that you will kindly take into consideration that it is comparatively but a short time since I began to pay attention to your language and literature.

                It is but little more than eight years since I landed on the shores of England, and eight years to a day (October 28, 1845) since I arrived in your town of Liverpool, at a time when you, in all probability, little thought of erecting such a magnificent edifice for so laudable a purpose. As for me, I positively aver that I did not then entertain the least ambition of ever appearing before you as lecturer in any shape whatsoever, being then totally ignorant of your language. I trust, therefore, to your kind and well-known courtesy, that you will put the best construction you possibly can on my humble efforts.

                Whilst it would be unpardonable presumption in me, seeing as I do before me such a host of learned and highly-gifted men, to imagine that there were not those present who, from more extensive reading, were not better acquainted with several, if not with all the subjects which will come before them in the progress of these lectures; it would be, at the same time, regarded as mere affectation and false modesty if I pretended that there were not others as conversant with these subjects than myself, and to whom it may be in my power to impart some information which they may not before have possessed.

                The history of the Jews--part of which I purpose bringing before you in this and five following lectures--stands indeed associated with all that is sublime in the retrospect of the past, affecting in the contemplation of the present, and magnificent in the future history of mankind.

                No one who has any feeling at all can help manifesting it at the mention of the name Jew--a name “big with a word of import.” The Jew stands forth until the present day, in the face of the whole world, a living and lasting miracle--a mighty, though shattered monument, in every fragment of which is inscribed, in letters of the brightest gold, the truth of holy writ. No wonder, therefore, that Lord Rochester, when a conceited infidel (for such is the character of all infidels), was obliged to make the following confession: “I reject all arguments with one singe exception, that founded on the existence of the Jews; that alone baffles my scripture infidelity.” I say, no one can help feeling interested in the history of the most ancient and venerable people on the face of the whole earth. The Jewish people can trace back their progenitors to the very cradle of the human race: the nations about them are infantine when compared with their hoary antiquity. The following are the words, respecting them, of a learned English divine, father of the celebrated Addison, author of “The Spectator:”--”This people, if any under heaven, may boldly glory of their antiquity and nobleness of descent; there being no nation who can prove its pedigree by such clear and authentic heraldry as the Jews. For, though a ridiculous vanity hath tempted some to date their original before that of the world, and others, with great assurance, have made themselves sprung from their own soil, yet the Jews, by an unquestionable display through all periods since the creation, can prove their descent from the first man. So that all other nations must have recourse to the Jewish records to clear their genealogies and attest their lineage.“ The interest in the history of such a people must at all times be intense, and, if at all times, more especially so now.

                It is a singular fact that, at this present moment, that people draws the eyes of all the civilized nations with an intensity never experienced before. The facilities of locomotion have covered Syria and Palestine with visitors of the curious, or the devout; the claims of the rightful proprietors of Canaan engage the attention of the statesman; the tide of worldly interest rolls back upon the shores of Palestine; and upon a question as to the possession of the land of promise, lately depended, perhaps still depends, the peace of Europe, the fate of the habitable world. The dominion of the heathen Roman has long since ceased, the conquest of the Khosroes is forgotten, the Saracens have passed away, the Crusaders and the Caliphs have alike crumbed into dust; all those are gone, and have left scarcely a vestige behind, whist the Jews are once more brought prominently into view. They exist still in very great numbers, and in all the separatedness of their original character, in spite of all the persecutions they have gone through. How true did the Jew speak when he said, “persecution cannot dismay us--time itself cannot destroy us.” I repeat again, the interest in the history of such a people must be intense.

                The portion of Jewish history to which I wish particularly to call your attention in this first series of lectures, is that connected with this country up to the year 1290, when all the Jews were banished by Edward the First. The second series, which I may deliver at some future period, will form the history of the Jews from the time of Oliver Cromwell to our own day.

                Difficult as the historian may find it to fathom the origin of the first inhabitants who peopled this country, certain it is that the most difficult part of the same is that of the Jewish early introduction and establishment in this realm; which is enveloped almost in impenetrable obscurity. The sources from which we can draw any information at a on the subject, are very scanty. English historians afford us no information whatever, and neither have the ante-expulsion Jews bequeathed us any records or chronicles of their antiquities in this country. We are left therefore to conjecture from the glimmering sparks which we now and then catch in the pages of foreign literature; but no one can venture to fix a positive date to the first landing of the dispersed of Judah on the shores of Britain.

                In order to prevent erroneous conclusions, however, it may be well just to state the probable reason why the ante-expulsion Jews yield us no light on their early history. I am aware that prejudice will readily exclaim, as a reason, “The Jews had no learned men amongst them to record their passing events;” or, “They were too much absorbed in money getting, so that they could not find time to think of anything else.” But any one acquainted with the national character of the Jews will at once produce an array of facts which will prove incontrovertibly the fallacy of such reasons. I have already demonstrated elsewhere, that there never has been a period in their history when they were destitute of first rate genius and learning. It is a striking fact, that there is no science in which some Jewish name is not enrolled amongst its eminent promoters. They always entertained a profound love for learning, and were inspired with an uncontrollable energy in the pursuit of knowledge.. They grace the literary pages of Spain, as pre-eminent philosophers, philologists, physicians, astronomers, mathematicians, historians, grammarians, orators, and highly-gifted poets. D’Israeli does not improperly put the following sentence into Sidonia’s mouth: “You never observe a great intellectual movement in Europe in which the Jews do not greatly participate” (Coningsby, vol. ii. p. 201)--which he illustrates by notorious facts, and which Dr. Wolff corroborates. But besides all this, we shall see from their history in this country, even from the little that we can gather of it, that the ante-expulsion Jews really had learned men, who were able even to vie with the most learned ecclesiastics of their day, as I shall show in the progress of these lectures. Mr. Moses Samuel, a learned Jew of this town, (Liverpool) observes--”Let me tell you,” addressing his brethren in this county, “that you had great men living in England eight hundred years ago. The sayings of the wise men of Norwich and of York are quoted in some of the additions made by the expounders of the Talmud.” A modern Christian writer bears testimony to the same effect; he says--”Their (i. e. Jews’) schools afforded a far more superior education than those of the Christians, and the children of the latter were invariably instructed in those schools in arithmetic and medicine, and also in higher branches of study.”

                But what then may the reason be for the melancholy deficiency of their own historical records? The probable reason strikes me to be this; the severe ill-usage’s which have been their painful lot to encounter. For the history of the then Jews is an extremely dreary tale of woe.

                The Jewish historian finds himself in the same dilemma in which Gildas, commonly called “the wise,” found himself; who sadly lamented (in the beginning of his epistle, in which he has undertaken to give some account of the ancient British Church) the want of any domestic monuments to give him certain information. “For,” saith he, “if there were any such, they were either burnt by our enemies, or carried so far by the banishment of our countrymen, that they no longer appear, and therefore I was forced to pick up, what I could, out of foreign writers, without any continued series.” So it is with the Jewish historian.

                Fearful in length is the catalogue of the massacres, extortions, and persecutions which the Jews have sustained in this country during the dark ages of its annals. Consider how many times they were plundered, how often fire was set to their houses, which destroyed all their possessions. Behold them at York, how that before they destroyed their own persons, they first burnt every thing belonging to them--view them just before their final banishment, robbed on every side--all which I shall show more fully in their proper places. I say, take all this into consideration, and the probable reason will suggest itself--viz., that the Jewish records perished with their persons and other possessions. It is not too much to assume, for any one who knows the real character of the Jews, that they were in possession of valuable documents relative to their earliest introduction into this country, but which were lost with the rest of their valuables, by which not only they themselves sustained a great loss, but also their survivors.

                Deprived as we are of the Jewish own information respecting this important inquiry; and silent as are the ancient English historians about their first setting foot on Albion’s ground, which put it beyond the modern historian’s power to ascertain the positive date of their doing so: still any one who, having paid critical attention to the subject, must come to the conclusion that those English historians who fixed the time of their introduction into this country to be coeval with their Norman conquest, were wrong. It is highly probable that the Jews visited this country at a very early period.

                Be it recollected that the Jewish nation had been trained to be a wandering nation, to prepare them, no doubt, for their mighty dispersion. Their progenitor, Abraham, seems to have been a type of the same, who was commanded (Genesis, xii. 1), “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee;” and his descendants have ever and anon manifested a peculiar migratory disposition, as you always find in holy writ.

                Methinks, however, I hear some one say, It may be all true that the Jews betrayed a migratory disposition at a very early period of their history, which must, however, be confined to the east, for surely it cannot be imagined that they traveled as far as the west, at a remote age; especially, when we take into consideration the rudeness of the state of navigation in those days. I would respectfully call to such objectors’ minds a statement of an eminent ancient writer--I mean Tacitus--who says that the first colonizing expeditions were performed by water, not by land; and the result of research into the affinities of nations seems to have established, that at no time, however remote, has the interposition of sea presented much obstacle to the migratory dispositions of Mankind.

                As I said before, however, that Abraham’s descendants were trained to be a wandering people, so say I, moreover, now, that they were trained to be a maritime nation; in which pursuit we find them employed soon after they entered the land of promise. Not only did they possess the small sea of Galilee, but they were placed all along the upper border of the great, or Mediterranean, Sea; and no sooner were they established in their country than they began to be engaged in maritime affairs, as we read in sacred history (I Kings, ix. 26-28)--”And King Solomon made a navy of ships in Ezion-geber which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon., And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to King Solomon.”

                As aso in chap. x. 22--”For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish, with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, &c.”

                The Israelites, therefore, had an opportunity of traversing the known world at a very early period of their history, and thus made known the wisdom of their heaven-taught monarch; we can, therefore, admit in the amplest magnitude of signification the narrative contained in verses 23-26 of the same chapter. “So King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.

                “And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.

                “And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and armour and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.

                “And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem.”

                It will be interesting to our subject to take a brief view of the navigating expeditions of the Phoenicians at that period, which was their most prosperous epoch, and who, with far more knowledge of the art of navigation than modern assumption gives them credit for, were to be seen in the Mediterranean, the Baltic, the Atlantic--everywhere upon the waters; and in doing so, I must refer you to the twenty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel, where we have a concise, but precise description of their marine expeditions, which is as follows--”O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea, which art a merchant of the people for many isles, thus saith the Lord God; O Tyrus, thou hast said I am of perfect beauty.

                “Thy borders are in the midst of the seas, thy builders have perfected thy beauty.

                “They have made all thy ship boards of fir trees of Senir; they have taken cedars from Lebanon to make masts for thee.

                “Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars; the company of the Ashurites have made thy benches of ivory, brought out of the isles of Chittim.

                “Fine linen, with broidered work from Egypt, was that which thou spreadest forth to be thy sail; blue and purple from the isles of Elishah was that which covered thee.

                “The inhabitants of Zidon and Arvad were thy mariners: thy wise men, O Tyrus, that were in thee, were thy pilots.

                “The ancients of Gebal and the wise men thereof were in thee thy calkers; all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to occupy thy merchandise.

                “They of Persia, and of Lud, and of Phut, were in thine army, thy men of war; they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set forth thy comeliness.

                “The men of Arvad with thine army were upon thy walls round about, and the Gammadims were in thy towers: they hanged their shields upon thy walls round about; they have made thy beauty perfect.

                “Tharshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kind of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs.

                “Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were thy merchants: they traded the persons of men and vessels of brass in thy market.

                “They of the house of Togarmah traded in thy fairs with horses, and horsemen, and mules.

“The men of Dedan were thy merchants; many isles were the merchandise of thine hand; they brought thee for a present horns of ivory and ebony.

                Syria was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of the wares of thy making: they occupied in thy fairs with emeralds purple, and broidered work, and fine linen, and coral, and agate.

                Judah and the land of Israel, they were thy merchants; they traded in thy market wheat of Minnith, and Pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm.

                Damascus was thy merchant in the multitude of the wares of thy making, for the multitude of all riches; in the wine of Helbon, and white wool.

                “Dan also and Javan going to and fro, occupied in thy fairs; bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were in thy market.

                “Dedan was thy merchant in precious clothes for chariots.

                Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar, they occupied with thee in lambs, and rams, and goats: in these were they thy merchants.

                “The merchants of Sheba and Raamah, they were thy merchants: they occupied in thy fairs with chief of all spices, and with all precious stones, and gold.

                Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad, were thy merchants.

                “These were thy merchants in all sorts of things, in blue clothes, and broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, bound with cords, and made of cedar, among thy merchandise.

                “The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market, and thou wast replenished and made very glorious in the midst of the seas.

                “Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters; the east wind hath broken thee in the midst of the seas.--Ezek. 27:3-26.

                It would be beside my subject to enter into an investigation, on this occasion, of all the places mentioned in this portion of Scripture. I will therefor confine myself to the meaning of Tarshish, which bears close connection with the object I have in view. After a rigorous and critical examination of different works written on it, I am led to adopt the view of the profoundly learned Bochart--viz., that the Tarshish of the Scriptures was the Tartessus of Spain, with a district around including Cadiz. Let us view for a moment the state of Spain in ancient times. Its treasures of gold and silver were immensely vast. We read in Strabo a description of the natives by Posidonius, who, he says, used mangers and barrels of gold and silver. Such a country could not fail being very attractive to the Phoenicians. Indeed, it is a well authenticated fact that the Phoenicians did trade to Carthage and Spain.

                But we also read of Israel’s monarch (l Ki. l0:21-22)--”And all King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver; it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.              

                “For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, &c.” Now if Tharshish be Spain, the conclusion is inevitable, the Israelites must have visited the western countries in the days of Solomon.

                The conclusion resulting from the examination of the meaning of Tarshish, is confirmed by two very ancient sepulchral monuments found in Spain. As these monuments attracted the attention of the learned Christian antiquarians about two hundred years ago, it may not be uninteresting to give a short sketch of their history, and especially since they form an important link in the chain of evidence of the very early wanderings of the Jews.

                The Duke of Savoy, formerly viceroy of Velencia, presented Francis Gozanga, Bishop of Mantua and General of the Franciscans, with a manuscript which was originally dedicated to Alfonso Duke of Segorbe and Count of Ampurias, written in an antique Spanish dialect, in which the ruins of Saguntum are noticed. After many Roman monuments being described, a sepulchral monument, bearing a Hebrew epitaph, is mentioned as being of far greater antiquity than the Roman monuments; for the characters were more ancient than the square alphabet now in use, which must have been the Samaritan, as those characters were used by the Hebrews prior to their Babylonish captivity. In consequence of the stone being much fractured and defaced, the following could only be deciphered, but which gives us still a somewhat correct idea of its date. Following is the Spanish manuscript version:--”De Adoniram la fossa es esta, que vigne Salomo del Re servent dia, y mori tribut lo pera rebre....” The following is a literal English translation:--”This is the grave of Adoniram, the servant of King Solomon, who came to collect the tribute, and died on the day....”

                The Bishop of Mantua published a history of the Franciscan order, in which he mentioned, on the authority of the manuscript alluded to, the existence of the above-mentioned monument. Villalpando, a learned Jesuit and a shrewd critic, read the book, but not being willing to put implicit confidence in the bishop’s startling assertion, desired his brethren, the Jesuits, who lived in Murviedro, a beautiful little place built from the ruins of Saguntum, to make great search for that particular stone on the site described; his request was complied with; an investigation was instituted. The Murviedro natives immediately pointed out a large stone near the gate of the citadel, which was commonly called by the natives, “The Stone of Solomon’s Collector.” There was an almost obliterated Hebrew inscription on the selfsame stone, but not corresponding to the one looked for: which we shall presently notice. There was, however, a manuscript chronicle preserved in the town, in which they found the following entry: “At Saguntum, in the citadel, in the year of our Lord l480, a little more or less, was discovered a sepulcher of surprising antiquity. It contained an embalmed corpse, not of the usual stature, but taller than is common. It had, and still retains on the front, two lines in the Hebrew language and characters, the sense of which is--’The sepulcher of Adoniram, the servant of King Solomon, who came hither to collect tribute.’ Of this Adoniram, the servant of Solomon, mention is made in the 5th chapter [14th verse] of the first book of Kings, and more expressly in the 4th chapter [6th verse] of that book. The Hebrew letters rendered into Roman are these: ‘Ze hu keber Adoniram ebed ha Melec Selomo, seba ligbot et hammas, voniptar yom.’

                In page 112 of the same chronicle they found the following: “The marble mausoleum of surprising antiquity, which was discovered at Saguntum in the year of our Lord, l482, and was inscribed with the Hebrew letters which are these in Roman, ‘Ze hu keber,’ &c. still exists in the citadel before the outer gate.” Villalpando did not stop there; he succeeded in possessing himself afterwards of a careful copy (through others of his order) of some other manuscript, which make honorable mention of the same monument.

                Were the rabbis the originators of this circumstance, I would certainly have hesitated before I brought it before you; not because I think that every thing rabbinical is of necessity absurd, ridiculous, and false; but in order to conciliate the strong prejudices of some who do think so, and treat every thing coming from that quarter with contempt; and generally, because they do not understand them. Not a word of the whole transaction is mentioned by any of the rabbis. The investigation was set on foot by Christian authors of great learning and extensive reading. Nor can it be said that it was a story conjured up by the Jesuits. There was no object in their doing so. They were never friendly to anything Jewish; and in Villalpando’s time the most venomous animosity prevailed in their breast against every thing Jewish. Again, if their object was to deceive, why did they not make out the inscription on the monument which the natives have pointed out to them, to correspond with the one recorded in the Duke of Savoy’s ancient manuscript. There is not the remotest affinity between the two epitaphs. All the incidental circumstances connected with those monuments seem to me to conspire to attest that it was not their object to deceive in this matter.

                Now, I wish to call your attention for a few minutes to the inscription which Villalpando’s friends discovered on the stone pointed out to them by the natives. [Pastor Margoliouth here gives the Hebrew characters.] The inscription, as given, though it makes rhyme, certainly makes no sense whatever. To say the least, it is very bad Hebrew, it Hebrew at all; and is enough to puzzle the worst Hebrew scholar to make any sense of it. Strange to say, however, there were found such bad Hebrew scholars, who were able to favor the world with a literal translation, as they think, of the inscription; and it is the following: “Of Oran Nebahh, the President, who rebelled against his prince. The Lord has taken him.... and his glory to King Amaziah.” The only words which I conceive to be Hebrew are Marah, which has been translated “rebelled,” instead of bitter; yah, the Lord; and Melech Amaziah, King Amaziah. I candidly confess, that were I asked to translate the above, I would have humbly acknowledged my ignorance, without the least compunction. I find, however, in an old Hebrew book, called Darcay Noam, or “Ways of Pleasantness” (written by R. Moses, bar Shem Tob, Aben Chaviv, above a century before Villalpando instituted the inquiry), an account of an epitaph which, I have no doubt, is none other but the same with the one which the Jesuits attempted to decipher; and the following is the rabbi’s account of it according to his own words: “When I was in the kingdom of Valencia, at the synagogue of Morvitri [Murviedro], all the people at the gate, as well as the elders informed me, that a sepulchral monument existed there, of a prince of the army of Amaziah, King of Judah; I hastened, therefore, to inspect it. The monument stands on the summit of a hill; whither having ascended with labour and fatigue, I read the inscription, which was in verse, and as follows:--

                Raise with a bitter voice, a lamentation for the great prince; the Lord has taken him.”

                I could not read more; but at the conclusion was the word “To Amaziah.” It seems evident that there was more than one Hebrew monument at Murviedro.

                I hesitate not in saying that, after having examined rigorously these and various other evidences bearing on the same question, I see no reason for disbelieving that there were Jews in Spain in the time of David and Solomon--startling as it may appear. It is easy indeed to treat the arguments of a young lecturer with a sneer, and to resolve them into the rashness, or conceit, of inexperience; allow me to suggest, however, that denial is not answer, and that of all logic flat contradiction is by far the most illogical.

                Villalpando did certainly not arrive hastily at his conclusion; but it was after mature consideration that he decided that there existed colonies of Hebrews all over the world, in the reigns of David and Solomon, and that the Hebrews thus scattered remitted large sums of money for the erection and support of the temple.

                The short time allotted for a lecture of this kind, prevents me from dwelling much longer now on this subject. To do justice to this investigation would require a whole series of lectures, exclusively, on it. I proceed, therefore, at once to trace the probable footsteps of the Israelites into Britain.

                Taking for granted that it is highly probable that the Jews visited Spain in the days of David and Solomon, in company with the Phoenician merchants; may we not extend the probability also to Britain?

                Appian tells us, that the Spaniards of his time used to perform the passage to Britain in half a day. Britain was a place of attraction to mercantile persons at a very early period, and London was styled by the ancients, at a remote date, “nobile emporium.” There remaineth now no doubt whatever respecting the early intercourse between the Phoenicians and the Britons--all historians are unanimous upon it.

                Sir Isaac Newton tells us, “With these Phoenicians came a sort of men skilled in religious mysteries.” Might they not have been Jews? True it is that we cannot appeal to monuments in order to establish our position; but we can, at the same time, appeal to the languages of the Hebrews and ancient Britons, which furnish a strong argument that they have known something of each other.

                I begin with the name your country bears, viz. Britain. Various are the conjectures which antiquarians and philologists advanced in order to account why this island is so called. Herodotus calls the British Isles Cassiterides, which signifies, the island of tin. It is a name whereby the Phoenicians jealously contrived to conceal from their Mediterranean neighbors the locality of these islands, being the remote sources of their wealth. Bochart, a profound Oriental scholar, shows that Britain is a corruption of the Hebrew words Barat-Anach, which are in signification the same with Cassiterides. Is it not highly probable that Jews came over to this island with the Phoenicians, and named it according to its peculiar quality; which designation was ultimately adopted by the aborigines when they began to have intercourse with the Jews.

                Any one having paid critical attention to the early history of this country, can scarcely remain in doubt as regards the existence of an intimate acquaintance between the Jews and the old Britons or Welsh. An eminent Cornish scholar of last century who devoted a great deal of his time to prove the affinity between the Hebrew and Welsh languages, observes, “It would be difficult to adduce a single article or form of construction in the Hebrew grammar, but the same is to be found in Welsh, and that there are many whole sentences in both languages exactly the same in the very words.”

                Now, if the aborigine Britons knew not the Jews, where could they have got hold of such whole Hebrew, purely Hebrew, sentences? I say, then, again, Is it not highly probable, if not demonstrated, that the Jews visited this island at a very early period, and tried to teach the natives the lessons which they have themselves learned?

                They possessed already the simple but most sublime Mosaic records, written above l000 years before the history of Herodotus; the Psalms and Proverbs written l040 years before Horace; and probably Isaiah and Jeremiah, for they were written 700 years before Virgil. Many Jews were fathers in literature before any of the present nations, especially those of Europe, had their existence. Did time permit, I would have called your attention to some of the proper names which have prevailed among the aborigines Britons, as Solomon, of which name, according to Lloyd’s Cambria, they anciently had three kings. We read of a Duke of Cornwall, Solomon by name, openly professing Christianity about the middle of the fourth century; Daniel, also Abraham, Asaph, and Adam, from which circumstance some antiquarians attempted to prove that the Welsh are descendants of the children of Israel. (See the Jewish Expositor, 1828, pp. 125-130) I think that I am very moderate in endeavoring only to establish a probability of the Jews mixing with the Britons earlier than it is generally supposed.

                It may not be out of place here to state that “The isles afar off” (Jer. 31:10) were supposed by the ancients to have been Britannia, Scotia, and Hibernia. The following statement was made by a celebrated and venerable divine of the Church of England, when pleading the cause of the “London Society for promoting Christianity amongst the Jews”--I mean the Rev. Dr. Marsh:--”The command is to declare the Lord’s purpose concerning Israel ‘in the isles afar off’ (the expression always used by the Hebrews for these islands--known to them through the reports of the merchants of Tyre--Britannia, Scotia, and Hibernia). The proclamation is to be made here.” This notion receives additional force from the command contained in the 7th verse of the same chapter. “For thus saith the Lord, sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.

                “Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it  in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattereth Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock.”

                The prophet seems to behold Britain in his vision. There can be no doubt that Britain is now the chief of the nations. Her monarch’s territory is one upon which the sun never sets. The expression “The end of the world,” mentioned in Isaiah 62:11, is also supposed to mean Britain, which was a common appellation for this island in remote ages. An expression which readily brings to our mind the phrase

                “....ultimo Orbs Britannos.”

                I wish now to call your attention to another circumstance, which also gives color to the idea, that the Jews visited this country earlier than is generally supposed.

                There existed once a very amicable alliance between the Hebrews and the Romans. It is a well-known fact, that many Jews served as soldiers in the Roman army; they resided in great numbers at Rome and other western countries in the days of the Caesars. Josephon ben Gorion informs us that when Julius became Caesar, Hyrcanus sent messengers to Rome to renew the alliance, which had just then expired. Now (B.C. 55) Caesar invaded Britain twice, and defeated its gallant natives in several battles, and compelled them to give hostages, and ultimately planted the Roman standard in this country. Why should it be a thing unlikely that the Jews went with him as warriors into Gaul, and aided in his conquests, and from thence accompanied him into Britain, and remained here under the protection of the Roman banner. For to assist each other in war was just in accordance with their original agreement, which is preserved in the first book of the Maccabees, 8:22-29, and which is as follows:--”This is the copy of the epistle which the senate wrote back again, in tables of brass, and sent to Jerusalem, that there they might have by them a memorial of peace and confederacy:--

                “Good success be to the Romans, and to the people of the Jews, by sea and by land for ever: the sword also and enemy be far from them. If there come first any war upon the Romans, or any of their confederates throughout all their dominion, the people of the Jews shall help them, as the time shall be appointed, with all their heart. Neither shall they give any thing unto them that make war upon them, or aid them with victuals, weapons, money, or ships, as it hath seemed good unto the Romans, but they shall keep their covenant without taking any thing therefore. In the same manner also, if war come first upon the nation of the Jews, the Romans shall help them with all their heart, according as the time shall be appointed them. Neither shall victuals be given to them that take part against them, or weapons, or money, or ships, as it hath seemed good to the Romans, but they shall keep their covenants, and that without deceit. According to these articles did the Romans make a covenant with the people of the Jews.

                A copy of a letter preserved in Josephon ben Gorion, which the Jews of Asia sent to Hyrcanus and to the nobles of Judah, contains the following passage:--

                “Be it known to you that Augustus Caesar sent, by the advice of his ally, Antoninus, throughout all the countries of his dominion, as far as beyond the Indian Sea, and as far as beyond the British territory, and commanded that in whatever place there be man or woman of the Jewish race, servant or handmaiden, to set them free without any redemption money. By the command of Caesar Augustus and his ally, Antoninus.”

                In the “Branch of David,” a Jewish chronicle of some importance, written by Rabbi David Ganz, we have the following paragraph:--

                “A.M. 4915.--Caesar Augustus was a pious and God-fearing man, and did execute judgment and justice, and was a lover of Israel. And as to that which is recorded in the beginning of the book, “Scepter of Judah,’ that Caesar Augustus caused a great slaughter amongst the Jews, his informant deceived him, for I have not met even with a hint respecting it in all the chronicles I have ever seen. On the contrary, in all their [i.e. Gentile] annals, and also in the fifteenth chapter of Josephon, it is recorded that he was a faithful friend of Israel. He also records in the forty-seventh chapter, that this Caesar sent an epistle of freedom to the Jews in all the countries of his dominion; to the east as far as beyond the Indian Sea, and to the west as far as beyond the British territory (which is the country Angleterre, and which is designated England in the lingua franca.”)

                The Jews in this country chronicle the same event, annually, in their calendar; in the following words:--”Augustus’s edict in favor of the Jews in England, C.A.E. l5.”

                An ingenious antiquary of the seventeenth century, Mr. Richard Waller by name, came to the same conclusion in consequence of a curious Roman brick which was found in his time in London, when digging up the foundation of a house in Mark-lane. The brick had on one side a bass-relief, representing Samson driving the foxes into a field of corn. The whole circumstance is thus related in Leland’s Collections, in the preface to the first volume, pp. 70, 7l:--

                “And now I shall take notice of a very great curiosity found in the Mark-lane--more properly called Mart-lane, it being a place where the Romans, and not improbably the ancient Britons, used to barter their commodities, as tin, lead, &c. with other nations, it may be the Greeks, who often came into this island to purchase the like goods.... The curiosity I am speaking of is a brick, found about forty years since [i.e. about l670], twenty-eight feet below the pavement, by Mr. Stockley, as he was digging the foundation of an house that he built for Mr. Wolley. This brick is of a Roman make, and was a key-brick to the arch of a vault where a quantity of burnt corn was found. ‘Tis made of curious red clay, and in bass-relief on the front hath the figure of Samson putting fire to the foxes’ tails, and driving them into a field of corn. This brick is deposited in the museum belonging to the Royal Society’s house, Fleet Street.” Dr. Leland then gives an extract from a letter of Mr. Richard Waller, which is the following: “How the story of Samson should be known to the Romans, much less to the Britons, so early after the propagation of the Gospel, seems to be a great doubt, except, it should be said, that some Jews, after the final destruction of Jerusalem, should wander into Britain; and London being, even in Caesar’s time, a port or trading city, they might settle here, and in the arch of their granary record the famous story of their delivery from their captivity under the Philistines.”

                All these circumstantial evidences are sufficient, to my mind, to establish a probability, at least, that the Jews visited this country at a remote age.

                Baronius may therefore be right after all, that St. Peter preached the Gospel in Britain, notwithstanding the learned Stilling-fleet’s opposition. The principal argument which the Bishop of Worcester advances against St. Peter’s visiting this island for the purpose of preaching the Gospel, is, that St. Peter was emphatically called the “Apostle of the Circumcision;” but--argues the learned prelate--as there were no Jews in Britain at that time, consequently Baronius must be wrong. With all due deference to the most learned Stillingfleet, I venture to say, that his lordship took for granted what remains to be proved. Baronius himself must certainly have been convinced that there were Jews in this realm in the days of the Apostles, or else he must have contradicted himself. He states that, until the 65th year of our Lord, the Gospel was preached to none but to the Jews; but he also tells us, that A.D. 6l, Peter came over to Britain in order to preach the Gospel. Of course, he must have meant, to the Jews of Britain.

                Lippomanus declares, and Nicephorus makes use of his declaration, that St. Peter preached also to the Britons; “for he carried,” says the latter, “the same doctrine to the Western Ocean and to the British Isles.”

                But methinks I hear one say, Suppose there were a few Jews in this island, would that circumstance afford St. Peter sufficient encouragement and invitation to visit it. I answer, yes--there was encouragement and invitation enough for an apostle to the Jews to travel such a great distance. The Jews, being thus far removed from Jerusalem, had no opportunity of hearing any thing of the awful scene that was exhibited on Calvary, they would, therefore, be free from all the prejudices which prevailed in the breasts of their brethren in Palestine. The apostle might, therefore, calculate on sure success, for he would come to them, and preach the things noted in their Scriptures of truth respecting their Messiah, who was then universally expected by them. St. Peter would unfold to them the ninth chapter of the Book of the Prophet Daniel, where the time of Messiah’s first advent was fixed, as also that He was to “be cut off, but not for himself;” all of which is, to unprejudiced and unbiased minds, so self-evident, that the then British Jews could not but believe, especially when preached by a holy and pious countryman of their own. Dr. Wolff’s last journal of his travels to Bokhara convinces me, that where the Jews are ignorant of the controversy at issue between Jews and Christians, the Gospel meets with an easy and favorable reception by them, as you will perceive from the following extract:--

                “Here I may as well notice the Jews of Yemen generally. While at Sanaa, Mose Joseph Alkaree, the chief rabbi of the Jews, called on me. He is an amiable and sensible man. The Jews of Yemen adhere uniquely to the ancient interpretation of Scripture in the passage (Isaiah 7:l4), ‘A virgin shall conceive,’ and they give to the word ---- the same interpretation, virgin, that the Christians do, without knowing the history of Jesus. Rabbi Alkaree asserted, that in Isa. 53, the suffering of the Messiah is described as anterior to his reign in glory. He informed me that the Jews of Yemen never returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonish captivity; and that when Ezra wrote a letter to the princes of the captivity at Tanaan--a day’s journey from Sanaa--inviting them to return, they replied, ‘Daniel predicts the murder of the Messiah, and another destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and there fore we will not go up until He shall have scattered the power of the holy people, until the thousand two hundred and ninety days are over.’ I demanded, ‘Do you consider these days to be literal days?’ The Alkaree replied, ‘No; but we do expect the coming of the Messiah from the commotions now going on at Yemen. We think he begins to come from Temen, i.e., Yemen, for you see the tents of Cushan are now in affliction, and the curtains of Midian tremble. There is now war in the wilderness unprecedented in our memory. There are twelve gates at San. As soon as one of them--the Bab Alstraan, which is always kept closed--is opened, we expect Him. Rechab and Hamdan are before it.’ I then expounded Isaiah 53, and read him the holy history of Jesus. He said, ‘Your exposition is in better agreement with the ancient interpretation; I approve it much more than that of our nation, which ascribes the passage to Josiah.’ This kind Jew assisted me in the distribution of Testaments among his people. Sanaa contains l5,000 Jews. In Yemen they amount to 20,000. I conceive the total population of the Jews throughout the world amounts to l0,000,000. I baptized here sixteen Jews, and left them all New Testaments.”

                The latest intelligence we received from Persia bears testimony to the same striking fact. The following is an extract from a letter of the Rev. H. A. Stern, dated Tehran, June l9, l845:--

                “May 16th, Kermanshah.--We were visited by Hassan Khan Kalentar: he was very polite, and offered us the use of his house, but we declined his offer, preferring to remain where we were. We went to the Jewish quarter, which is situated in the lowest part of the town, and inquired for the synagogue. A crowd of Jews quickly surrounded us, and conducted us to it. We had to wait several minutes while a messenger was despatched for the keys. On entering, we descended into an extremely poor place of worship, affording he strongest evidence of the poverty and oppression of the Jews here. They told us that they had repeatedly laid down expensive carpets, and ornamented the books of the law, but the soldiers had as often broken in at night, and stolen every article of value. We then called upon one of the mullahs or rabbis, and preached Jesus of Nazareth to him. He confessed he had never heard of the message of salvation, and was entirely ignorant of every thing respecting a Redeemer. He repeatedly said, ‘Did our forefathers so err?’ During our conversation the greater part of the Jewish population had crowded round the door, and the people were anxiously listening to what was said.

                “May 17th.--We went again to the synagogue, and had scarcely entered before we were called up to the oratory. The mullah, with whom we had the conversation after our former visit, said he was very sorry that we did not come before the reading of the law, as he would have conferred the honor upon us. Some of the Jews gave us vases of roses which were standing near the reading-desk; and at the conclusion of the service, two of the mullahs and another influential Jew requested the congregation to remain quiet while we addressed them. We did so, for some time, on the first advent of the Messiah, his rejection by the Jewish nation, his sufferings and atonement, the reason of his coming in humility the first time, and of his future coming in glory. We entreated them to believe in Christ, and no longer to reject the proffered salvation. One of the Mullahs said, “We are in captivity, and groan under oppression. What can we do?”

                “I--’Believe in Jesus Christ, and he will redeem you. It grieves us much to see you scattered like sheep without a shepherd--instead of hearing the lovely songs of Zion, to hear the wailings of affliction. Shall the gold always remain dim, and the sword always reek with your blood? No: come to Jesus, hear the blessed Gospel, and you will then find peace here and life eternal hereafter.’ Upon which, the whole synagogue--men, women, and children--loudly answered, ‘Amen! speedily, speedily; and may the blessing of God rest upon your heads!’ We spoke Hebrew, and the mullahs interpreted all we said to the people. We have each of the mullahs a New Testament, and presented a Bible to the synagogue. Thus were we enabled, by God’s grace, to preach Christ to no less than three hundred souls, and in a public synagogue.

                “As we were on our way home, one of the mullahs sent a messenger to invite us to his house; but his wife being ill, and he poor, we did not accept the invitation.”

                But Dr. Wolff’s late enterprise convinces us, likewise, that it is possible for a man who is inspired with benevolence and zeal, to travel 5,000 miles, in order to deliver two fellow-creatures only. Considering the superiority of the Apostle’s mission, there will be no reason to object to the probability of St. Peter’s visiting the Jews in this island, few as they may have been, in order to rescue them from that eternal death which ever dying never dies.

                As to St. Paul’s being one of the first heralds of salvation in this island, there can scarcely be any doubt on the subject. Indeed, if we do not believe it we must make up our minds to reject all the hitherto authentic historians. By them we can prove to a demonstration, that St. Paul did preach the Gospel in Britain. However, as to prove this is not my object at present, I shall, therefore, only confine myself to a few writers on the subject.

                Dr. Burgess, late Bishop of Sarum, one of the most learned and pious bishops of our Church, has shown most satisfactorily, in the tracts he published, that whilst to the Apostles generally--to St. Paul most particularly is Britain indebted for the foundation of her national Church. Clemens Romanus, who was an intimate friend and fellow-laborer of St. Paul, declares in his Epistle to the Corinthians, that “St. Paul having been a herald of the Gospel both in the east and in the west, he received the noble crown of faith, after teaching righteousness to the whole world, and gone even, to the utmost bounds of the west:” an expression, well known to every scholar, that always designated, or at least included, the British Islands.

                Theodoret, one of the most learned and sound Church historians of the fourth century, mentions Britain among the nations which had received the Gospel. He states in his observations on Psalm 116, that “Paul carried salvation to the islands which lie in the ocean.” Jerome shortly afterwards writes, when commenting on The fifth chapter of Amos, that “St. Paul’s diligence in preaching extended as far as the earth itself.” Again, “after his imprisonment he preached the Gospel in the western parts” (De Script. Eccl.), in which (as is evident from a passage in his Epistle to Marcella) he included Britain. Venentius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers, who lived in the fifth century, states that “Paul having crossed the ocean, landed and preached in the countries which the Britons inhabit.” I could multiply quotations on this subject almost without end; but they would be as tedious, as they are unnecessary. I may, however, observe that some of the greatest men of this country, who spent a great part of their lives in such researches--viz. the most learned Ussher, Parker, Stillingfleet, Cave, Camden, Gibson, Godwin, Rapin, and a great many others--have clearly shown that St. Paul was the founder of the British Church. But Archbishop Ussher proves also, that St. Paul did not quit this island before he had appointed the first bishop or bishops, and the other ministers of the Church--that Aristobulus was the first bishop he had appointed. Some of the old Welsh writers state, that Bran, son of Llyr Llediaeth (who had been a hostage for several years at Rome, for his son Caradoc or Caractacus), brought with him as preachers, on his return from Rome, one Aristobulus, an Italian, and two Israelites, named Ilid and Cynvan (Hughes’ Hora Britanica, vol. 2, p. 23), which must have taken place soon after St. Paul left Rome.

                As far as the investigation of my subject is concerned, all the above rays of historical light converge to one point, which is, that some Jews must have been in this country during the first century; yea, the government of the British Christian Church was established and set in proper scriptural order by Jews themselves, be they who they may--Peter, Paul, Simon Zealotes, Joseph of Arimathea. So that the British Church actually owes to the Jewish nation a great debt of gratitude, for her beautiful and scriptural order, and for all her godlike religion.

 

[End]