History of the Jews in Great Britain #1
The Messianic Israel movement is growing worldwide, and incorporates an understanding of the Two Houses of Israel as separate branches of God's people. An upholding of Torah (Biblical Law) principles, Hebraic dress and worship rituals, and faith in Yahshua (Jesus) are also distinctives of this Biblical faith.
Dr. Moses Margoliouth (1819-1871)
LECTURES ON THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS
By Rev. Moses Margoliouth
Part One of Two
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.