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A HITHEBTO UNKNOWN MESSIANIC MOVEMENT 139 



A HITHERTO UNKNOWN MESSIANIC MOVEMENT 

AMONG THE JEWS, PARTICULARLY THOSE OF 

GERMANY AND THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE. 

The remarkable letter which, no doubt, came to Oxford 
from the enchanted hoard of the Geniza at Cairo, and which, 
thanks to Dr. A. Neubauer, has been communicated to the 
public in the Jewish Quarterly Review, IX, 2 7-29, reminds 
us of the potsherd mentioned in the Talmud (Jebamot, 92 b ), 
underneath which a pearl was found. The newly discovered 
document is as mysterious as an equation with three 
unknown quantities, or as an enigma which it is impossible 
to solve. We do not learn anything about the place where 
the letter was written, nor whither it was directed, nor to 
whom it was written. The very fact that it appears to have 
been written in the Byzantine Empire — a part of the globe 
where the mediaeval history of the Jews is more unknown 
than anywhere else — makes us despair of being able to 
elucidate this obscure relic, which gives us, in every name 
it contains, a new riddle to solve. 

Yet, on closer inspection, we hit upon points which assist 
us in fixing the time and place of the events described there, 
with that amount of certainty which history is at all able to 
attain ; and thus a forgotten and buried chapter of Jewish 
history is brought to light, which must be designated as 
most memorable and far-reaching. 

The clue to the solution is furnished in this case by the 
name of the Head of the College, Rabbi Abiathar ha-Cohen. 
But the way in which the name is given is confusing. He 
is said to have sent the letter from Tripolis to Constantinople. 



I40 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

Are we to assume that the letter was written in Tripolis, or 
that the sender, Abiathar, lived there ? Was he an African 
or a Palestinian ? Because it is impossible to decide which 
Trablus is meant here. Fortunately, the name of Abiathar 
is exceedingly rare in Jewish literature *. If, therefore, we 
come across a Eabbi Abiathar, who is also mentioned to have 
been a Cohen and the Head of a College, we may assert with 
a degree of probability, bordering upon certainty, that we 
have met with the Abiathar of our letter. Now, a Rabbi of 
that description did exist. The St. Petersburg MS. of the 
grammatical work Musktamil was copied for Eliahu ha- 
Cohen in the year 1423 of the Seleucidean era, i.e. in ma, 
in Fostat, i.e. Old Cairo ; and this Eliahu is described there 
as the son of Rabbi Abiathar ha-Cohen, Head of the College, 
and as a grandson and great-grandson of Gaonim 2 . At that 
year Rabbi Abiathar was already dead. The title Head of 
the College, by which he is distinguished, denotes that he 
had been at the head of the Jews of Egypt, and that he 
performed all the duties which we find connected with the 
dignity of Nagid. We recognize in him a leading figure 
among the Jews in the midst of his activity, from the letter 
itself, in which it is supposed that all important messages 
referring to the Jewish community would reach him first. 
We see at a later period that the Jewish congregations 
placed all questions referring to Messianic subjects, or to 
movements among the ten tribes, before the Nagid of 
Egypt 3 ; thus was Isaac Cohen Sholal still considered as 
an oracle on that class of subjects *. In the same way the 
message of salvation here is expected first from Rabbi 
Abiathar. Perhaps he was not called Nagid yet, if 
we rightly understand the information that the Vizier 

1 C£ Zunz, Literaturgeschichte der Synagogctien Poesie, p. 704 (=Nachtrag, 
P- 38). 

! Bacher, in the Sevue des Etudes Juives, XXX, 235, where jViYm must be 
read for a'Yn'N. 

s Kaufmann, in the Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. IV, p. 505. 

* v ■» yap, IV, 32 sq. 



A HITHBETO UNKNOWN MESSIANIC MOVEMENT 141 

Chalif al-Afdhal had given Rabbi Meborach the title of 
"Prince of Princes," i.e. the official character of a Nagid, 
for the first time 1 . Rabbi Abiathar had the title of " Head 
of the College," i.e. Head of the house of study of the "Pride 
of Jacob" or Gaon 2 . 

But it requires two points to describe a line ; we can, in 
the same way, arrive at complete certainty only by fixing 
a second point. Who is Rabbi Tobias, who is all along 
distinguished by the words "our teacher," and who has 
played a leading part among the Jews of Salonichi ? Not 
" probably," but " undoubtedly 3 ," Tobias b. Eliezer, the 
author of the invaluable compilation of Midrashim and inter- 
pretations to the five books of Moses and the five Scrolls, 
entitled Lekach Tob. This assumption fixes the period of 
Rabbi Abiathar's activity as the end of the twelfth century, 
whilst, at the same time, it exhibits Rabbi Tobias in a new 
light. We know now that this scholar, a native of Castoria 
in Bulgaria, was perhaps Chief Rabbi at Salonichi, and we 
are sure that he was an influential person there. We 
learn even something about his relations, namely, that his 
nephew, the son of his brother Judah, who bore the name 
of his father, a man distinguished by later generations 
with the honourable name of Rabbi Eliezer the Great, also 
lived in Salonichi, where, according to a legend, Elijah the 
Prophet appeared to him and gave him presents. We are 
now no longer obliged to look for Rabbi Eliezer the Great i 
in Mayence ; we meet him on Byzantine soil, where Rabbi 
Tobias had originally lived and worked. 

But the letter, so obscure at first sight, supplies us also 



1 Vide Jewish Quabtebly Beview, vol. IX, p. 36, D'-iwrt to iou? dici 
wotoa -raw S*TO' '33 to "itu irwrai. Nathanael, who was personally known 
by Benjamin of Tudela, is also quoted by the latter as D'-ran n© tooro '31 

3 Cf. A. Harkavy, Studien und Mittheilungen, III, 29, and IV, 414, Index. 
8. v., and Kaufmann, Revue des Etudes Juives, XVII, 304. 

' Neubauer, I.e., p. 26. 

4 Cf. S. Buber, 3110 npS irmn (Wilna, 1881), I, p. «"'. 



142 THE JEWISH QUAETEBLY EEVIEW 

with a date. The writer, Menachem ben Eliah, declares, 
towards the end, that he was unable to come "thither," 
which we now know means " to Cairo," because the armies 
of the Germans were in constant motion, without anybody 
being able to tell in which direction they would ultimately 
march. Now, the personalities as fixed by us brought us to 
the beginning of the twelfth century ; this information can, 
therefore, refer only to the first crusade, which brought the 
hosts from Germany into the Byzantine Empire. They were 
first called thither by the Emperor Alexius Comnenus for the 
deliverance of Jerusalem from the hands of the Seldjuks, but 
were afterwards received by him with fear and trembling. 
The period alluded to must be more especially the autumn 
of 1096, at which time the German crusaders were still 
separated from the others, and extended their raids as far 
as the neighbourhood of Nicaea, where they met with their 
fate \ We are therefore pretty safe if we fix the date of 
the letter as 1096. 

But we must be on our guard, and not confuse the 
Germans mentioned at the end of our document with the 
Germans referred to at the beginning. This was, however, 
done by Dr. Neubauer 2 , and through this error he was unable 
to get a clear understanding of the historical disclosures 
offered by this letter. It is impossible, in this case, that by 
"the Germans" the crusaders are meant. For the latter 
would under no consideration have taken their wives and 
children, and certainly not their wealth, with them. It was 
rather their custom to leave their debts behind them, and it 
was on no occasion a particular desire on their part to wait 
for the movement of the lost ten tribes before departing for 
the Holy Land. 

The Germans mentioned by Menachem ben Eliah at the 
beginning of his letter are German Jews. However much 

1 Vide Buber, 1. c, p. 16 sqq. ; Neubauer, I.e., 26, considers him to be the 
one of Mayenee. 
8 Ibid., s6. 



A HITHERTO UNKNOWN MESSIANIC MOVEMENT 143 

exaggerated the number of Jews may be who are said to 
have emigrated in their thousands, so much is certain that 
it must have been a powerful movement which had taken 
hold of the German Jews in the year 1096, and induced 
a host of them to start for Palestine by way of the Byzan- 
tine Empire. Both the Jews and Christians of the Greek 
Empire were at a loss to understand the motives that had 
induced these hosts to leave home and hearth. When 
questioned, they probably answered by quoting Jeremiah 
xxxi. 7, a verse which had set them wandering with 
a mysterious force. They thought that the advent of the 
Messiah was predicted there to take place in the 256th 
lunar cycle (fan) x : " Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout 
at the head of the nations : proclaim it, praise, and say, 
Save, God, thy people, the remnant of Israel." This 
promise they kept constantly before their eyes, and thus an 
insatiable yearning was stirred up in all circles of European 
Jews, which ultimately vented itself, in the eleventh year of 
the Messianic jubilee cycle, in a universal migration to the 
Holy Land. Their minds were in a state of excitement, the 
tension and expectation had reached the fever-point; as 
a matter of course, the tokens were not wanting which 
from time immemorial were connected in the mind of the 
believing multitude with the advent of the Messiah. It 
was told that the ten tribes, behind their dark mountains 2 , 
had commenced stirring, and wished to unite with their 
brethren, from whom they had been so long separated. 
Geographical distances disappear in the minds of those 
who foster Utopian dreams ; and thus Menachem ben Eliah 
makes the Jews of Germany relate that the dark mountains, 
situated near their own country, had all at once become lit 
up before them with great brilliancy. 

1 Hebraeische Berichte fiber die Judenverfolgungen wahrend der Kreuz- 
ziige, edd. Neubauer-Stern, pp. 1, 36, 8i, 153. 

1 l^nn 'nn. Cf. Josippon, ii. 10 ; Bashi to Amos, iv. 3 ; Petachja of 
Begensburg (vide Travels, ed. A. Benisch, pp.46, 100 sq., oSirn 2UD, Tour du 
Monde, ed. Carmoly, p. 77), and Abraham Jaghel in T to yap, IV, 40. 



144 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

The fact that the movement was universal, and was 
connected with the Messianic hopes of the year 1096, is 
proved by the circumstance that Menachem ben Eliah 
expressly states that the Jews of France 1 had at that time 
dispatched a special messenger to Constantinople for the 
purpose of obtaining reliable information about the success 
of the work of deliverance, and whether the time of freedom 
had really arrived. 

Reports of a similar nature were spread in the Byzantine 
Empire even about the Chozars. It was told that seventeen 
congregations had started, and had not been deterred by 
a wandering through the desert, as long as they could reach 
those tribes who were no longer willing to abide in their 
safe homes. 

All that had come to the knowledge of Menachem ben 
Eliah of Messianic hopes and the intended realization of 
them, appeared to him premature and rash, and in oppo- 
sition to the prophetic word of Micah iv. ia, that the 
gathering of Israel to the threshing-floor of the Holy Land 
was to precede the great day of the deliverance. But now 
the time seemed to have arrived when the threshing-floor 
would be full ; for a mysterious migration had moved 
Israel in all places, in order to lead them together to Zion. 

The tokens also, which only a short time ago were held 
in light esteem, in consequence of the blindness and false 
wisdom of the people, became now true and credible. 
Small gatherings, congregations consisting of members all 
feverish with Messianic excitement, had arisen in Abydos a , 
who stated that they had seen signs and wonders, who told 
of the appearance of the prophet Elijah, who had come to 
them as the harbinger of the Messianic era. But the 
congregation of Constantinople, and the not less important 

1 fyjotOD f*to. The Arabic name for France is usually written rraiDN ; 
cf. Moses b. Ezra's Rhetorics in Harkavy's B'mJ l^CNO, p. 103 ; nariDN nDlS 

2 ]tw nipaa, according to new -Greek pronunciation, and in the 
accusative, which is frequently used in names of places in later time. 



A HITHERTO UNKNOWN MESSIANIC MOVEMENT I45 

unnamed congregation in which the writer of our letter 
lived — Smyrna, Adrianople, or whatever other town it may 
have been — gave no ear to the impatient fanatics, and 
found themselves in duty bound to excommunicate them. 

But now the signs of the deliverance showed themselves 
continuously and irrefragably. Christians and Jews, 
citizens and magistrates 1 of the town of Salonica, attested 
loudly that at that place men, whose trustworthiness was 
above suspicion, had themselves seen Elijah, not in a dream, 
but in the flesh, and when awake. Signs and wonders were 
believed to have appeared suddenly in great numbers. 
A grandson of Rabbi Eliezer the Great, the son of the 
latter's son Rabbi Jehudah, and nephew of Rabbi Tobias, 
the great teacher and revered Rabbi of Salonica, was able 
to show a staff handed him by the prophet Elijah, the 
great forerunner of the Messiah. Rabbi Tobias himself had 
caught the excitement. In a message to Constantinople, 
entrusted by him to one of his disciples, he gave a narrative 
of the wonderful events and incidents. Michael Jenimtseh, 
i.e. the German, a fellow-citizen of Menachem ben Eliah, had 
himself read Rabbi Tobias's letter to Constantinople, from 
which he gained the information that the learned Michael 
ben Aaron 2 , who was known to Rabbi Nissim — evidently 
the head of the congregation to which Menachem ben Eliah 
originally belonged — as a man blind in both eyes, and who 
lived in Salonica, had recovered his eyesight during that 
period of signs and wonders. It is unfortunate that Michael 
Jenimtseh forgot to take a copy of Rabbi Tobias's letter 
home with him ; but he was a well-instructed man, who 
can be fully trusted with having been able to reproduce 
correctly and faithfully the contents of the letter, which 
was evidently written in Hebrew. 

Constantinople was the focus in which all the rays of 
this movement centred. Another message also reached that 

1 Thus I think o'JlsAan D«JDDM ought to be translated. 

2 Neubauer, ibid., p. 26, calls him Ben Aaron, through a misunder- 
standing of the text. 

VOL. X. L 



146 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

city, and great importance must have been attached to it, as 
having come from the Holy Land, the scene of the develop- 
ment of events in the near future. The head of the school 
of Egypt, the teacher and guide of the Egyptian Jews, 
Rabbi Abiathar ha-Cohen, had received a letter from Trablus 
in Palestine, obviously referring to this new Messianic move- 
ment 1 . He forwarded it to Constantinople by a Christian 
messenger of the name of Lugos. Four men of the congre- 
gation to which Menachem ben Eliah belonged had seen that 
letter in his possession, but they also neglected to take at 
once a copy which they might have taken home with them. 
But Menachem ben Eliah was certain that he could expect 
shortly a copy both of this epistle, of which the four ignorant 
men had omitted to take a copy, and of the letter of Rabbi 
Tobias, of which mention had been made to him by the 
learned Michael. 

The greatest impression was produced by the report that 
the Jews of Salonica were suddenly enabled to enjoy 
complete security and confidence. In the very hotbed of 
hatred of the Jews, of which Rabbi Nissim may, from his 
own experience, have told many a tale, a Messianic and divine 
peace had settled, as if it had come down from heaven. Its 
Jewish inhabitants, enveloped in their Talith, fasting, and 
intent upon works of piety, had commenced to renounce 
their worldly occupations. 

It could not but be considered as a miracle that in a place 
where no Jew enjoyed security of existence, nor any of the 
ordinary joys of life, the congregation was able to indulge 
without hindrance in their fanatic expectations, and was all 
at once exempt from taxes; the poll-tax and the double 
census 2 , which may have been exacted from them double 
as from the Jews of the Holy Roman Empire, not being 
at that time exacted from them. This could only have 

1 This is indicated by the phrase Dta«-ra p un>0o aro. 

2 rfruVu = p-lj>., Charadj or poll-tax, O'ttpW, which the vocalization shows 
to be a dual, may mean, like Hp, census. 



A HITHERTO UNKNOWN MESSIANIC MOVEMENT 147 

been brought about in a miraculous way, and by warning 
from above. The Emperor or, as the writer, wont to 
use Arabic terms, says, the Sultan 1 , Alexius Comnenua 
himself, and the Patriarch 2 , were believed to have ex- 
tended their support to the Jews. They should only sell 
their houses and chattels, and follow the Messianic call, 
without let or hindrance. Had the report about the 
expedition of the ten tribes reached the Emperor of the 
Byzantine Empire also ? Did the orthodox Alexius give 
some amount of credence to the tales of the great Jewish 
force about the Sambation, and fear the latter as the 
avengers of all the injustice done to the Jews, in the same 
way as, at a later period of history, the Popes Martin V and 
Clement VII were inclined to take these traditions seriously ? 
Some belief in the protection or, at least, the connivance 
from the highest quarters must have been alive among the 
Jews of the Byzantine Empire ; for the same people who, 
only a short time before, endeavoured to suppress and keep 
secret every manifestation of Messianic hopes, now showed 
a bold front and dared openly to avow their aspirations to 
the whole world. 

Menachem ben Eliah was now himself intent openly to 
await, with his native community, the work of deliverance, 
and to further it by acts of pious devotion. Fasting and 
penance became the order of the day. There were many 

1 Other Arabisms, like p. 28, 1. 7, at the bottom : "pwi = 1 & £» or 
y 1— 6..p«, p. 29, 1. 6, tesn = JJLC jj-», show the influence of the Arabic 
dialect, which came so natural to the writer that he used it, p. 27, 1. 18, 
po TO'on= 4; jlj \j Jixj. The names n"€3TQDip and rvpyhv show also this 
Arabic colouring. 

s Vnan prawn, literally, " the great archbishop." This mode of spelling 
the word shows that pran was the later designation of "archbishop," and 
confirms the correctness of the reading in the Chronicle of Oria (vide 
Mediaeval Jewish Chronicles, ed. Neubauer, II, 120, 1. 18) miMNrt "b nan, which 
one might feel inclined to consider a mistake for 'nm«m. A later tradition, 
in its translation of prasi nm into "bishop and archbishop," still held 
to this meaning of prat*. Vide Grunbaum, Judisch-Deutsche Chrestomathie, 
38, 529, 544- 

L % 



I48 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

who fasted daily ; others kept regularly the Mondays and 
Thursdays as fasts; they scourged themselves, and there 
was no end to the confessions of sins. Formerly, they 
used to be anxious to conceal all reports of Messianic 
visions that appeared either to Jews or to Christians ; but 
such reports assumed now an unheard-of significance, and 
were loudly proclaimed. Thus, long before the reports from 
Salonica had attracted universal notice, at a time when 
profound peace prevailed, a Jew of the tribe of Aaron main- 
tained that he had received in a dream the prophecy that all 
the Jews of Romania, i.e. the Byzantine Empire 1 , were to 
assemble at Salonica, and thence to set forth on the great 
expedition. At that time this man had to submit to severe 
reproaches for his vision; like all dreamers, he was con- 
sidered as God's enemy, who was guilty of arbitrarily and 
presumptuously dreaming of the deliverance, and of being 
desirous to "hasten the day of the Lord 2 ." But now 
Tobias from Thebes 3 appeared with the message from 
Salonica, that at that place signs and wonders had really 
appeared, and that other congregations had in truth 
assembled there. This Tobias was shortly to come also to 
Cairo to give an account of his experiences in these events. 
That which the Aaronite had vaguely seen in a dream had 
now become reality. 

Menachem ben Eliah's only desire now was to obtain the 
confirmation of those forebodings of the approaching advent 
of the Messiah which were announced from the Holy Land 
from Rabbi Abiathar of Cairo, for it was supposed that in 

1 Cf. Zunz, Die Ritus, p. 79 c. 

3 The obscure words ?-jw <"» wra> err '3 mom seem to have this 
meaning. 

» D^n. In Charizi's Tachkemoni, ed. Lagarde, p. 92, Michael b. Kaleb the 
poet is said to be yan TCO. I take this opportunity for correcting the corrupt 
rhymes of this passage from my old MS. of the Tachkemoni : BW dweSi 
W -taw ten ■ras.'vra irw Drra. Dr.Neubauer, p.26, says that "Tobiah of Thebes 
was perhaps not identical with Eabbi Tobiah." Of course, the messenger, 
a native of Thebes, who visited Salonica for a very short time only, has 
nothing whatever in common with the Rabbi of Salonica. 



A HITHEKTO UNKNOWN MESSIANIC MOVEMENT 149 

his circle all information and messages received were duly 
accredited. The fear 1 of spreading reports of that nature 
no longer existed, the narratives of these events having 
even reached the ears of the Emperor, who had received 
them without prejudice against the Jews, but, on the 
contrary, in a rather friendly and favourable spirit. Only 
then, when the confirmation by Eabbi Abiathar of the 
message of salvation would have arrived, the preparations 
for the work of deliverance would be recommenced to their 
full extent. Menachem ben Eliah says, in conclusion, that 
he was about to come himself to Cairo, but that the raids of 
the German armies — evidently the crusaders — of which 
nobody could say in what direction they would be under- 
taken, had prevented him from doing so. 

It seems that a letter of Eabbi Nissin or Nissim, who 
most likely also made inquiries at Cairo about the same 
matter, was enclosed in that of Menachem 2 . 

With this, all information about an event which must 
have stirred the Jews of Europe far and wide, suddenly 
ceases. But this rapid flash of light, as rapidly extinguished, 
suffices to give a new and lucid illustration to the tragedy 
of Jewish history during the first crusade. A dreadful 
awakening was to follow the Messianic dream of the 
European Jews. The year 1096 brought them, instead of 
the longed-for meeting with the lost tribes, the most 
terrible calamity that had befallen them since the destruc- 
tion of the Temple. They met with the murderous brutality 
of the crusaders. Instead of witnessing the assembly of 
the dispersed on the promised soil, they saw enormous 
hordes pouring into the Holy Land through depopulated 
Jewries and over thousands of Jewish corpses. The 
threshing-floor was full, the signs had not spoken false ; 

1 For the fact that the fear of involving the Jewish congregations in 
difficulties with their governments on account of such reports existed also 
at a later period ; vide v te ynp, IV, p. 33, 1. 3 ; p. 31, 1. 18 ; and Jewish 
Quarterly Review, vol. IV, p. 507 : wt wn to wto diin rvote ro'N rr>B3i. 

2 This may be the sense of the otherwise unintelligible remark : aron Tt 
tod pD'J rn yo pnxinrr rn teao. 



150 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

but it was the hordes of enemies who had held a harvest 
of death in Israel. 

It certainly was not the first movement called forth by 
the hopes of a rising of the ten tribes, especially among the 
Jews of the German Empire ; but it was the first movement 
of the kind of which we have any information, thanks to 
this newly discovered document. We now see what a hold 
the belief in the saviours behind the dark mountains must 
have had on the hearts of the Jews of Germany, and that 
only an impulse, a tenaciously spread rumour, was enough 
to arouse the slumbering yearning and incite to action. It 
was only with the German Jews that the legend could 
originate of a miraculous deliverance, at a time of dire 
religious oppression, by a brother from the tribe of Dan, 
who would suddenly appear among them as an angel from 
heaven, in order to defeat, by his wisdom and his superiority 
in religious debate, the priest who had conjured up all the 
danger 1 . The belief in the ten tribes prevailed so strongly 
among the Jews of Germany, that not even the horrible 
awakening by the terrors and deathblows of the crusades was 
strong enough to dispel the dream. Thus only we under- 
stand what Benjamin of Tudela tells us at the end of his 
Itinerary, that he found the pious congregations of Germany 
so deeply imbued with the conviction of an early deliverance, 
that they only waited, as it were, for a stimulus in order to 

1 Abraham Jaghel, t te yap, IV, 39, tells of a Megilla, which he had 
seen in the house of Gershom b. Abraham Cohen Porto in Mantua, in 
which the miraculous deliverance of the Jews of Germany was recorded. 
That scroll was said to be read on Pentecost in all German congregations. 
In the letter of the Rabbis of Jerusalem to the Beni Moshe, of the year 1830, 
the deliverer of the German Jews is said to be Dan, one of the Beni Moshe. 
Vide ibid., 54. Juda b. Abraham of Cologne, who died as a martyr on 
June 27, 1096, at Altenahr (?), and who. on account of great influence, is 
praised in high-flown terms as the leader of the congregation of Cologne, 
is said to have been of the tribe of Dan, oin caco rrn »im. But the 
expression seems to me to indicate that he performed the functions of 
the chief of the Beth-Din. Vide Hebraeische Berichte, pp. 20, 22. At 
1565 we find in Turin an Italian rabbi by name Nathanael b. Schabbatai 
■o-in nnctton. Compare Mortara vihmm 'oan maio, p. 19. 



A HITHERTO UNKNOWN MESSIANIC MOVEMENT 151 

assemble and leave the country. " Rejoice, brethren — thus 
they greet their guests from distant parts — for God's help 
comes in a moment. If we had not been afraid that the 
end had not yet approached, we should already have 
bestirred ourselves. But we cannot yet do so till the 
spring will have arrived, and the voice of the turtledove 
will have been heard, and the messengers of deliverance 
come and speak for ever : God be highly praised ! " In the 
letters they write to each one they say : " Keep steadfast to 
the Law of Moses. There you find mourners for Zion and 
mourners for Jerusalem, who implore God's mercy, and 
cover themselves with black garments, and pray to God." 
Scarcely a hundred years had elapsed since very un- 
Messianic horrors, perpetrated by abandoned assassins, 
had made an end of Messianic fanaticism and voluntary 
emigration, when Benjamin found them again ready to 
form new enterprises in the same direction. And after 
scarcely another hundred years, towards the end of the 
thirteenth century, troops of German Jews again left home 
and hearth, fired by Messianic messages, unconcerned about 
the evil consequences to their brethren that remained 
behind, and the wrath of the Emperor, which was to fall 
as a flash of lightning upon the head of the German Jews, 
Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg. 

Thus it becomes more and more evident that the romance 
of the ten tribes is not a literary fiction, but a conviction 
and hope, entering deeply into Jewish life, frequently 
manifesting itself as a powerful historical motor, pervading 
all parts of the Diaspora, and mostly so in the German 
congregations that were famous for their piety. From 
Eldad ha-Dani till David Reubeni the stream of these 
Messianic aspirations, which so often imperilled the calm 
and steady development of Israel, flows on, and if the regular 
course of it seems so often to be lost to us, still recent dis- 
coveries always show us the traces of its continuity. 

David Kaufmann.