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Notes and Discussion. 503 

A Rumour about the Ten Tribes in Pope Martin V.'s Time. 

The legend of the Ten Tribes formed the Jews' romance and national 
epic. Though the ideas and hopes it inspired in different centuries 
have been but sparingly recorded, a sufficient number of literary 
documents, 1 nevertheless, exists to enable us to note the vigour and 
persistency with which it has maintained itself down to our day. The 
Hebrew's imagination, degraded and borne to the ground in Europe, 
flew swiftly and unhesitatingly to Asia, where it refreshed itself by the 
establishment of ideal kingdoms and the contemplation of fancied 
Jewish power. The misery in sight it regarded as transient, the 
deliverance in prospect as inevitable. Far away, in distant India, 
lived the Ten Tribes, with their hero-kings and overwhelming armies, 
impatiently awaiting the last of the ten signs which would give them 
the signal for marching to the relief of their suffering brethren 
pining in captivity. The billows of the Sambation still heaved, 2 an 
indication that the hour of deliverance had not yet struck, for 
through the dry bed of this river would the tribes have to pass to 
commence their victorious expedition. 

Signs and wonders were sent to preserve the faith in this salvation 
from death or decay. Sometimes the crescent above the Omar Mosque 
in Jerusalem was reported to have shifted, or a pillar broke, or a gate 
sank in the ground. Sometimes a blessed message was brought by a dove 
on its wings, or was found in Hebrew characters among the branches 
of a tree by a well. It was also reported that the rescuers beyond the 
mysterious stream, whenever they heard of the oppressions of their 
brethren in the West, were roused to a pitch of wild excitement, and 
seized their weapons to begin their march. Occasionally came a 
living confirmation of the faith that was slumbering in the popular 
consciousness. An ambassador of the great deliverer, a descendant 
of the Ten Tribes, a Reubenite or a Danite would appear, at one time 
in the Holy Land, at another in Egypt, till at last David Reubeni 
proceeded to Europe and delivered himself in the capital of Christen- 
dom of his message from the king of the Ten Tribes. They were still 
engaged in a fierce contest with the Asiatic Christians who were 
under the sway of Prester John. But the issue was already decided, 
and the joyful news was on the road that the Sambation had begun 
to dry up, and the signal had been given for the grand expedition to 

Hitherto, attention has been concentrated only upon the dissemina- 

' Neubauer, the Jewish Quabtebly Review, 1. 14, etc. 
2 Kaufmann, Revue des Etudes Juives, xx., 285. 

504 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

tion of these marvellous tales among the Jems. But the fact has been 
altogether lost sight of that outside the Ghetto too, they met with 
acceptance, as the credulous character of mediaeval times would 
indeed have led us to expnct. The intercourse of Pope Clement VII. 
and Joao III., the King of Portugal, with David Reubeni would be 
absolutely inexplicable, unless we assumed that the belief in the reality 
of the Ten Tribes had been long fostered in the Church by traditions 
already become venerable. 

The existence of Prester John and his Christian realm was 
credited, and faith in the Jewish kings of the Ten Tribes and their 
formidable power was a correlative of this belief. Prester John's 
letter to the Pope, which explicitly mentions a Jewish state, 
and speaks of its vastness, was therefore welcomed as a message of 
good omen disseminated in a Hebrew translation. 1 

The acceptance by the Church of the belief in the existence of the 
Ten Tribes, however confidently it may be inferred from David 
Eeubeni's and Solomon Molcho's careers, has been hitherto unsup- 
ported by documentary evidence. The remarkable letter, which is 
now published for the first time, changes the conjecture into a 
certainty, and the fables concerning the Ten Tribes become a historical 

We are indebted to the Jewish grammarian, Joseph b. Jehuda 
Sarko, 2 teacher and secretary in the first half of the fifteenth 
century to various Italian congregations, for having preserved this 
letter for us in his collection of Epistles, which, on account of its 
specimens of style, he entitled " Fruit of the Lips." Not a single 
word of explanation accompanies this letter, nor is any reference 
given which would enable us to determine its purpose and occasion. 
But its literary art proves that the writer must have been a dis- 
tinguished Hebraist and stylist ; perhaps Sarko himself, if, as is 
possible, the collection only contained his own compositions. It was 
the custom in Jewish communities at that time — in imitation of the 
courts and State chancelleries who appointed the most distinguished 
humanists as secretaries — to entrust their secretaryships to Jewish 
poets and writers. Hence, the letters of that period are valuable 
products of the new Hebrew literature, and official documents even 
are illuminated by a splendid style. A pearl of this kind is the letter 
which I wish to incorporate in the literature of the Ten Tribes. 

A complete series of fresh discoveries will have to be made before 
we can place this document in the right historical light, or vividly 

1 Neubauer in 1* fy pip iv., 19. 

* M. Lattes, Catalogo dei codici ebraici delta hibliotcca Marciana, p. 8 
No. 13 ; Halberstam, TVobv nbnp. No. 2!U. 

Notes and Discussion. 505 

realise the persons it mentions, who at present pass before our view- 
as mere phantoms. Our ignorance, however, does not impair the 
reality of the narrative. That a new discovery should suggest new 
problems is a phenomenon with which we are quite familiar in Jewish 

The report had again penetrated into Europe of the rising of the Ten 
Tribes to free their brothers from the yoke of their oppressors. The 
year 1419 was computed to be the date when Obadiah's prophecy 
against Edom [Rome] was to be fulfilled. In the month of Nissan — 
the month of deliverance — the embassy arrived at Borne. And the 
prophet's prediction had been realised. Terror reigned in the 
Capitoline Hill, the mountain of Esau. Two Popes then ruled 
contemporaneously. The letter speaks, therefore of the Pope in our 
territory, viz., the Pontiff at Borne, Martin V. We would have been 
glad to ha ve had more details about the terror into which the report 
of a distant Jewish kingdom threw the Papal Court. But the fear 
of discovery closed the writer's mouth. What if the letter were 
intercepted and fell into the hands of the Christian authorities. At 
all events, the rumour was so strong, the excitement it aroused so 
intense and persistent, that two distinguished members of the Jewish 
community, possibly of Borne, resolved to travel to the East, where, 
being nearer the scene of the events, they could hope to obtain 
reliable information. B. Elias, a scholar of wide-reaching fame, which 
attracted pupils from remote lands, offered to set out on a pilgrimage 
to Jerusalem and bring back whatever authentic information he 
could there obtain. He was accompanied by a yonnger man, 
Benjamin b. Elchanan, descended from a notable family, and 
personally already celebrated for his scholarly attainments. The 
intrepid envoys, it was anticipated, would receive encouragement and 
assistance in their mission from the Nagid of Egypt, B. Amram. 
Messengers and pilgrims returned from Palestine had disseminated 
the report that in Egypt the Jews still enjoyed a remnant of power, 
and that their Nagid realised in a measure the patriarch's blessing : 
"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah." To B. Amram, then, 
the community sent a letter commending the pilgrims to his kind 
notice. Whatever the letter omitted would be explained by B. Elias, 
whose lips the letter would unseal. The dangers to which the Jews, 
pining in the Kingdom of Edom, were exposed would account to the 
Nagid, who lived under the shadow of Islam, for the brevity of the 
written communication, and the necessity of verbal declarations on 
all essential points. 

Like a flash of lightning in the night, that leaves a thicker darkness 
behind, is this epistle. By a tantalising chance it has not even come 
down in a perfect state. Its rhymes, which follow the word D'p 

506 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

suddenly break off three lines before the apparent end. This clearly 
proves that something is missing before the last page in Halber- 
stam's MS., No. 231. The last portion, from D3*J"jm onward, 
beginning on a fresh page, belongs to another document. The con- 
clusion to ours is wanting. 

But the embassies from the Ten Tribes were not yet to come to an 
end. Throughout the fifteenth century Italian Jews sent home from 
the Holy Land letters teeming with references to the numerous signs 
that indicated the march of the Ten Tribes. These were sedulously 
copied and widely disseminated among the communities of Italy. 1 
And thus David Reubeni's appearance forms the close of a series of 
antecedent events, without which it would be as erratic and inex- 
plicable as a solitary rock jutting out from the wide and level plain. 
The letters which announced the existence of a kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes and their imminent enterprise were like seeds scattered over 
Italy. And when David Reubeni came, he found the faith in his 
mission fully ripe. But the Christian world, too, had made itself 
acquainted with these tales, and had begun to reckon seriously with 
a phenomenon, the truth of which was inferred from the confidence 
and positiveness with which it was recounted, and which, from 
repeated reports, had at last come to be believed. This would make 
Abraham Jagel's statement 2 intelligible that Clement VIII. not only 
entered into personal communication with David Reubeni, but 
equipped an expedition for the discovery of the Ten Tribes. 

Cod. Halberstam, 231, f. 167 a. 

rbwxh bmn nixon a^>x n»em b»x i^nrv zhvi nx e»npi -cy 
rnxsn 1 ?! mas'? to i^m a:b uh noiyn n^nmi birw mxo nixoi t"h 
tone lias amn ns\xi spin ns\x tins *3 )»bx a^x *pt? 3py nu^ 
ne'x ^31 «n |»oi?yi? anoy iriri Ww nj ^xnx rbii may n:am 
n^ion bip^> • d^ i? "]VQi n»on u ne>x nans 1 ?! n^zb n^ea n,Wn 
»D3B> D"i23^ myy\ ibb> tyo 1 ? ioj> nx '« npa "o ijyot? mrxa n*?inj 
bmV ^nt^ vnai d^ onyno onn^a a^x yjj nnnian pxo n» 
anwrn wi Bjixcjn aaion 3na [nnye>n] ms? nwi mayo nayi 
nt unnoa noiyn nvafexn anan -]!?d nvna nyan nyiorm aaivna 
tnpm • erp'ny ansnm nam ii?naa mon inonm itjt a^oy iyon 
^>t3po icy nno e»x rro» jyc6 nay p*a cnn loan ptni T,'?in yo^j 
e»x '.ti » B'pisoi a^xnx px iid^i d^ds? yitaa^> »B»»nn f^xn nnx 
rwim ty myi ia'nv!?a bib bsrw mxi un^o hwo o*nbnn jo nnx 

1 T by pip iv., 1 24, etc. 5 /*«?, 41, 1. 1. 

Notes and Discussion. 507 

133? nrr n n*-« nnbi inn wbd ippa* mm pnno pnxo n»X3i 
pin? nnsy nx p,D3j spoaa n wpx 'n nn {yn 1 ? wnaon nan: nn 
D85»s>' *b» ^30 ivsi anpn Ty a?w ayn nun? pip 1 ? nvinnn^yi 
?npn?i • b^xji crnaxa dp n?i wy vm "" ?3*na npa?i »:pn ^na i?y 
a?iy nnm x'n n3n n "in^yo rhu nnxsn m»ax mp» nja mb 
na npn mnan lojn • uynvn b<»2> m?a ny p33 nw -pi33 xds pa* 
unbnp hhsw n^nai pnxn moo mn it nmyn?i nmn?i annnn 
ann ?x ?x naoxai nn: inn: anon pn?x iii p»»M i»en np^xoi 
uyT m * D»pino nn 1 ? py jja nrcn pnxn nm an*2> na? -pac? 1 ? 
■p?n aipoi ir?x nn nx nxa 1 ? djidoi B3? nnnjnn in Tonai 
npisrn nxrn nyiD^n nnn ?y nioy?i o^iy nn roioxa n nas 1 ? 
i-idjd noy? • D'pna aa\x mxo 'nippi n^ppincrai aixno nsno: 
uanpa umn fjx urw -patrj x?aiDn nnunuy nynv nnan novy 
nn pv-i ?y rp?x nn lmo maa xa^i .nV "pea n?yo n?n:i *:a nnc?? 
moans n»na nm nnn myon runan n,n*y pci n,nnxani ~\unp 
n^xxDin nviyn nsy nn wyoo 3ne» 31x^1 n?T ni?n -p -ik>n pn?N 
rnyiorn ?y atyn nnnm n^nn nnn?i mpn 1 ? • anioy crioa n,3 
pan?i vnimx ne>ni npaxK> no ?aai nen» nr '•n jbix ?33 nrionn 
n>xn? nxnioi nnna nixai ni33 n 1 ? nmcni nsio nnsns vojjbi myx 
V3B iw nsTx "vy^ n^yoi n^HD 1 ? hjhod 1HD73 ♦ o^nsi k>x nn'?3 p 
33^ 31031 nnDt5>3 ivix ?xi nr uoipD ivan Tino^j 131B> ny nnyio 
lymosyi njyan n?nni nn^ irmnas'i iynni i30 ,! ?nn nawa nyioeo 

* D'pavi D^biy m?in3 dji nmna irapn wnya naman nch3 niK>a*n 
iisoa nixpn uina kjt xrn !?y u^y nnx nn7D ncx hpbji iaxn» m 
^n;n j?'N3 »3j;b>ji untaa n dtidd iroai nao m^ji ^xixa ywm 
"]rbyn maD^ .T-n 11 xm -nn nr ivpx Sb mb^j 333 irax nn xm jn 
i>N"K}» nix ^ob ob nno^p3 nnn^ n3T» nnxi p?n pm ^3 ^t na^> 
nana xa 1 xa mia hy uvnx3 yotyan ?ipn nx ^3^1 yn>i ^n?^n xm 
DHin»n d^be' nn nvnn!? nmx ?C3 ^rn innoxi uS n3n 'n^i 
nnnai ponn' D33? • D'p*von nnn »jbo nn 103 nn ncx o^oxn 
'oy Sy nini naioV nsp^n ^yoo nnx xti f\*pw ny pox' myna 
S37 '» n* nynui nbw ij»n»?d71 dV^3 13D »n»i n3xn? ib^dv x?i my 
D3'j»yi ww * D<pi2ni nninna ny^? nyro nyci nyn iiotnx'i nt?a 
D'ycn 'yyi n:^nn ?xu irv 1 ? xaa na^nxi umx ansn ?xna» ?3 ay 
nix?B3 nxT" myiD nnp \vxz mpa m»o» c^nn* ns»n' nn?o* na^an 

• o»p>T3 aniDN axi nnn bm3e>? xnp? icy nnsy "'' , 3ica nixn uwyi 
xny? B3wyi irryi a^in b'-cjk nsnxo n?nm pp' n? nawy3> 
bvb nn?n uwy nnanon »b asainD ?yi mjidb ?y ainn ?x xana 

l l 2 

508 The Jewish Quarterly Revieic. 

,"Dinn ns nha unax \v*2 navw ua»y mm jvaxi !n bv Din» pty> 

: ntso 
David Kaufmann. 


Following in the footsteps of W. Brandt (The Mandaic Religion, 
p. 134), Lagarde has shown that a passage from the Sidra Rabba, 
the holy book of the Mandians, is borrowed from the 114th Psalm 
(Mittheilungen, Vol. IV., p. 44). He even ventures so far as to 
allege "that what the Mandians have borrowed is a more original, 
and more complete, though more ornate form of the Psalm." In 
reality, the verses, in which the Mandaic version is richer than the 
114th Psalm, are in no way so constituted as to incline one to regard 
them as forming an original part of the Psalm. Moreover, the two 
most important of these Mandaic verses probably come from another 
Psalm, an idea which has escaped Lagarde. They are contained 
in lines 6 and 9, according to Lagarde's arrangement and trans- 
lation. Line 6, jrVKlK^]? XDnXB'D "tWO Kns^KI, " and the 
hinds of the forest destroyed their young," line 9, IN27 ,| ?2 KTlfcO 
W13NJVD, "and the cedars of Lebanon are broken." Both these lines 
are undoubtedly taken from the 29th Psalm. In line 9 one 
can see at a glance the resemblance to the Targum of Psalm 

xxix. 9, jn^> « TV "IIDD "H *bp, and 1. 6 is merely 

a paraphrase to the words in Psalm xxix. 5, nV'H ^IfV. For 
the "destroying their young'' in the Mandaic is certainly nothing 
else than a reference to untimely births brought about by a shock, 
which meaning som9 apply to 771IT (see the commentary of Ibn 
Ezra i. 1). S5t2nSE'D is either a Mandaic idiom, with which nn£* 
of Genesis xxxviii. 9 may be compared, or an incorrect rendering, 

as Lagarde believes, of 73^, which denotes, " to bring forth in 
pain " and " to destroy." In the latter case we must assume that 
the Mandaic trauslator read ''ST. in place of 771IT. At any rate 
it is clear that this translator enriched the glowing description of 
the effect of the appearance of God upon nature, which he derived 
from the 114th Psalm by two incidents which he took from the 29ih 
Psalm that depicts a similar scene. The " voice of God, " which 
in the latter Psalm is the cause of this wondrous effect, is simply 
omitted by the writer altogether. 

W. Bacher.