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AN UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT 1 

By S. Schechter, Jewish Theological Seminary of 
America 

INTRODUCTION 

One of the most interesting episodes in Jewish history 
is the story of the conversion of the Khazars to 
the faith of Israel, which, according to some au- 
thorities, took place some time about the middle 
of the eighth century, according to others, early 
in the first half of the seventh century. Important, 
however, as the event was, it left very few traces 
in mediaeval Jewish literature. The references to it 
are rare, casual and short; and it is safe to say that, but 
for the famous Dialogue of R. Judah Halevi, known under 
the title of the "Book Kuzari" (nmn ^DD ), the very name 
Khazar would have disappeared from the pages of Jewish 
annals. But the "Kuzari" is so overwhelmingly theological 
in its contents, that the few sentences of an historical nature 
hardly left any impression upon the mind of the student. 
In this way it came about that even the meager facts re- 
corded there by R. Judah Halevi of the country of the 
Khazars, such as their independence as a nation, their search 
after a religion and their final conversion to Judaism were 

1 Full lists of authorities on the subject are given both in the Jewish 
Encyclopedia and in the Encyclopedia Britannica at the end of the article 
Chazars and Khazars respectively. 

181 



l82 THE: JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

heeded only by a few, and even these few were not agreed 
as to the authenticity of the story on which the Dialogue is 
based, some thinking it a mere fiction, serving as a back- 
ground for the dramatis personae engaged in the disputation. 
It was only in the sixteenth century when Isaac b. 
Abraham Akrish, known as a collector and publisher of 
books, recovered in his travels between Constanti- 
nople and Egypt (?) the correspondence between Hasdai 
Ibn Shaprut, minister at the court of Abdulrahman 
III, caliph of Cordova, and Joseph, the king of the Khazars, 
that the kingdom of the Khazars was transferred from the 
region of fable to that of fact. This correspondence not 
only contained the story of the conversion of a whole 
kingdom to the creed of Judaism (which interested Ibn 
Shaprut most), but offered also a great deal of information 
as to the origin of the Khazars, their ethnological pedigree, 
the geographical position of their country, their feuds with 
the neighboring tribes, and their diplomatic relations with 
the larger powers then dominant. The scepticism of some 
scholars still continued for a time, but it nearly disap- 
peared through subsequent researches in various ancient 
chronicles and books of travel, (especially those coming 
from Arabic sources) revealing a large mass of material 
unknown or unnoticed before, and confirming more or less 
the account brought to light by the discovery of Akrish. 2 
Thus, at last, the Khazars have come into their own; room 
has been made for their country in all historical maps, 

2 Menahem Man in his Sn*1B» JV1NP, ch. 10, which deals with Khazar 



history, speaks of D^mj? H JIB p»nt* UH. The Hebrew translation has 
here ftlQlNn *DDn. Has Man really had access to Arabic sources? About 
the attitude of the various scholars in different ages towards this correspond- 
ence, see Harkavy, Russische Revue, vol. XI, p. 143, seq. In the following 
notes we shall quote this periodical as R, R. 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCH£CHT£R 183 

whilst accounts are given of their origin, their conversion, 
and ultimate disappearance from the stage of history in 
almost every encyclopedia or mediaeval history having any 
claim to completeness. 

The discovery of Akrish, forming the only Hebrew 
source of the history of the Khazars, was made accessible 
to the world by him in his work (ncrnD blp), published 
at Constantinople in 1577. It was then reprinted separately, 
but more frequently together with the "Kuzari," represent- 
ing a sort of prologue to the theological dialogue following 
it. A new edition of a part of this correspondence, the 
answer of the king of the Khazars to Shaprut, offering 
sometimes better readings and in some cases new matter, 
particularly in its geographical parts, was published by Dr. 
Harkavy in the periodical, DTm &|DK» ("Measeph Nida- 
him"), No. 8, from a St. Petersburg MS., brought by Firk- 
ovitsch from Egypt, while he gave also a full German 
translation of it, with critical notes, in the sixth volume of 
the Russische Revue, pp. 69-97. The Orient and especially 
Egypt having thus far proved the most important 
source of material bearing on the Khazars, it would have 
been strange if the Genizah, which yielded such a rich 
harvest in all departments of Jewish literature and Jewish 
history, should not have given us one fragment, at least, 
relating to this great conversion episode. My ex- 
pectations in this regard were fulfilled, the Genizah furn- 
ishing us with a fragment bearing on the Khazar story, 
affording quite new matter. It was discovered several 
years ago, but was only properly examined within the last 
few months. We shall now present it to the readers of this 
Review. 



184 THE: JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

The fragment measures 20 x 15 cm. (794 x sH m 
and consists of one quire numbering two leaves or four 
pages. The original folding when discovered was in such 
a way as to give the pagination 209, 211, 205 and 207, and 
it was only by re- folding it in the manner reproduced here 
that continuity was made possible. It is written in a beau- 
tiful hand, in square characters, but not without a certain 
turn toward cursive. There is further the combination of 
Aleph and Lamed in S» chiefly in ^«n^\* It was probably 
written somewhere in the Orient about the twelfth century 
if not earlier. The combination of the particle, hw, with 
the following noun in Kntpbs? into one word (1. 41) also 
points to an early date. Quite peculiar to the MS. is the 
way of writing l)p or Nntp with a p instead of D used with- 
out an exception in Hebrew literature wherever mention of 
the Khazars is made. 4 It should, however, be noted that 
the writer or the copyist had very little consistency even in 
his reproduction of names. Thus, he speaks indifferently of 
nip and Knrp (11. 7, 11, 18, 54, etc.). 5 In mentioning Byzan- 
tium, he alternates it with jnpD (1. 16) and JV (1. 37), whilst 
for Turkey he has both tfpnitt (1. 57) and '•pnitD (1. 92). 
The style, though not entirely biblical, is in a clear 
and fair Hebrew, with occasional rabbinical phrases 
(see 11. 13, 19, 29, 36, 43, 79). Of paitanic diction, either in 
the vocabulary or in the allusive epithets, it is entirely free, 

8 This combination is by no means a sign of a late date. We have in the 
Genizah a MS. written in Jerusalem and dated 1036, in which this combination 
constantly occurs. 

* The spelling JWnT3 and W1T3 occurs in the Itinerary of Benjamin, ed. 
Adler, pp. 14 and 68 (see notes), whilst The Travels of Petafaah (ed. Grunhut) 
writes K»*1T3, p. 3- 

5 See Gratz, Geschichte der Juden, 4th ed., vol. V, p. 197, note 1. Cf. 
also Hebrew translation of Gratz, vol. V, p. I99> note 10. 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCHSCHTER 185 

except in one case when it refers to the covenant of 
Abraham as the J^ n *K rn^ 0- 38). 8 

We shall now attempt to give some analysis of the con- 
tents of our text, showing at the same time its relation to, 
as well as its deviation from, the Khazar correspondence 
known before. Our references to citations from king 
Joseph's letter will be given from the Harkavy edition in 
the "Measeph Nidahim" mentioned before, which has also 
the advantage of having its lines numbered. For the sake 
of brevity, we shall designate it as A. In the case of the 
letter of Ibn Shaprut, we shall cite the Wilna edition of 
the "Kuzari" ( nnan "1DD ) of 1904, which is the most 
accessible. 

To be noted at first is the fact that our text, not less 
than A, professes to present a correspondence. This is evi- 
dent enough from the phrase "WK^ ynifc >^n (Behold, "I 
make it known to my lord" — 1. 83 and 84)/ and from 
the reference to the sea "through which thy messengers 
came to Constantinople" (1. 87). Who the person was to 
whom the letter was addressed, it is impossible to say with 
certainty in the defective state of the MS. The probability 
is very strong in favor of Ibn Shaprut, as no other record 
of a Jew is left who showed such an interest in the Khazar s 
as to send there a special expedition. The possibility of 
another Jewish grandee, likewise a contemporary of King 
Joseph, betraying the same curiosity as the Vizier of the 
Caliph of Cordova, and possessed of the means enabling 
him to fit out expeditions ; which expedition also makes its 
way first to Constantinople — such a possibility is so remote 

6 See Gen. 17, 4. Mr. Halper drew my attention to the Diwan des 
Abraham Ibn Bsra, p. 6, where we have a hymn beginning with pDH 5N. 

T A has "\b ^3« 5?m& (11. 30, 115) and never »3H« , professing to be 
written by the king. 



1 86 TH£ JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

that it cannot be taken seriously into consideration. 
But in contradistinction to A, our letter makes no 
claim to have been written by royalty. The writer is a mere 
subject of king Joseph, whom he describes as "my lord" (1. 
62). I need hardly remind the reader that also in the case 
of A, it was suggested by some authorities that the letter 
was written by one of the King's secretaries. 8 But the dif- 
ference between the two documents goes much deeper. 

The central event of the correspondence is naturally 
the story of the conversion. Now, there is a certain agree- 
ment between the two documents. The champions are the 
same, Jews, Christians and Mohammedans, and so is in 
both documents the consent of the three sects as regards 
the truth of the Hebrew Scriptures, which proves decisive 
in favor of the Jewish creed (see 11. 16-31 and A, 11. 
65-100). The first lines, again, of our text, speaking of 
the ancestors who would not or could not bear the yoke 
of the worshipers of idols, wherefore they fled to Khazaria 
(11. 1 and 2) imply a partial or preliminary conversion on 
the part of the Khazars 9 preceding the one described in the 
sequel and corresponding more or less with that of Bulan 
in A. The expression 2)&b, "to return," (1. 18; see 
also 1. 36), suggests also that we have to deal here 
more with a revival of Judaism, or repentance, than 
with an initial conversion. We may thus assume 
that in the missing pages there was a reference 
to some sort of a conversion of the Khazars, equal 

8 See Gratz, ibid., p. 348. Cf. Harkavy, R. R., VI, p. 75 (n. 2) and 
p. 92. 

9 See notes 1, 2 and 3 to the Hebrew text. I must remark, however, 
that I am not quite certain whether IINB"! in 1. 3 refers exactly to the 
Jewish immigrants, as DH D,1 was only supplied by me. For all we know, 
he may perhaps have had 0*2*1 0*ft*, or some similar expression. 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT— SCHKCHTKR 187 

to that narrated by A. On the other hand, it is clear that 
the author of our text attributes the final and real conversion 
of the Khazars and the Judaization of Khazaria, or a part of 
it, not to any supernatural agency, but to the proselytiz- 
ing activity of a band of Jews or D'Hirr (see 1. 9) or i?&W 
(11. 35 and 36) among the natives, or the "men of Khazaria." 
According to him, the course of events may be described 
somewhat as follows : At some time, the people of Khazaria, 
or a certain number among them, embraced Judaism, 
but a relapse came, so that they remained without Torah 
(1. 3), which practically means in this case without any 
religion, though they did not entirely return to their 
ancient paganism. This fact of their having left paganism 
was enough to induce a number of Jews living before in 
heathen countries to immigrate to Khazaria. The 
material condition of these new immigrants was ap- 
parently a satisfactory one, but spiritual decay set 
in, and in the course of time they became neglectful 
in their religious duties, so that they too "were 
without Torah and Scripture" (11. 3-4) though they 
still observed the Covenant of Abraham and a few also kept 
the Sabbath (11. 6-7). *° But they were threatened with 
complete assimilation owing to their intermarrying with the 
inhabitants of the land with whom they constantly asso- 
ciated (1. 4). This condition of affairs lasted "many 
days" which means a long time (see 1. 12). At last 
God had mercy upon them and the revival came 
(1. 13), brought about by Serah, a Jewish woman, the 
wife of a Jewish general who, together with her father, 
turned his heart and "taught him the ways of life" (11. 
13-16). But this was not a conversion, as it is distinctly 
stated that he was a Jew 'HIST (1. 10), and what Serah 

10 See notes 4 and 7 to the Hebrew text. 



l88 TH^ JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

and her father had to overcome was not the prejudices of 
a gentile, but the indifference of an indolent, easy-going 
Jew. But as he was one of the most successful generals of 
the Khazars in his time, having on one occasion put the 
enemy to flight (11. 9, 10 and 11), his renewed zeal for the 
creed of his ancestors apparently not only affected his 
Jewish brethren, but also gave fresh religious impetus 
to the native population. It was then, as it would 
seem, that the work of proselytizing among the 
people began, which provoked the jealousy of the 
kings of Macedon (or Greece = Christians; 1. 16) and 
the kings of Arabia (= Mohammedans; 1. 17). The main 
danger lay evidently in that, by their "blasphemies" (1. 18), 
they also influenced the princes of Khazaria, whose hearts 
they turned to evil (11. 18, 20, 21). These princes prob- 
ably consisted of the proselytes who were still wavering in 
their minds. Thereupon, they had recourse to the disputa- 
tion, which resulted in favor of the Jews and caused both 
the Jews as well as the new proselytes, or the men of 
Khazaria to return in "perfect repentance" (1. 36). To 
these were added fresh immigrations from Bagdad, Khora- 
san (}DTD), and from Greece, who strengthened the hands 
of the natives (11. 37-38). u The primary cause of the con- 
version was thus the zeal of a pious Jewess for the faith of 
Israel, whilst the immediate cause was the victory of the 

11 A has no distinct reference to these facts (see 11. ioo and 105). The 
best parallel is Masudi (translation Sprenger), I, p. 404, where he speaks 
of "the Jews from all the Muslim districts and from the Byzantine Empire," 
who came to Khazaria. See also Paris edition, II, p. 8. Cf. Gratz, Geschichte, 
ibid., p. 198, text and note, as well as Harkavy, R. R. t X, 314. According to 
our text this immigration under Sabriel, the first real Jewish king of Khazaria, 
took place long (perhaps centuries) before the persecution of the Jews by 
Romanus (see note 22). The text in Masudi seems to allow of differing 
explanations. See Chwolson Achtzehn Hebraische Grabschriften, etc., p. 101; 
cf. also Marquart, Osteuropaische und Ostasiatische Streifziige, p. 6. 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCH£CHTER 189 

Jewish general, which gave him all the authority required 
for the creation of a new order of things, raising Judaism 
to the dignity of the established religion of the court and of 
the bulk of the Khazar population, and resulting in the 
election of a new king. 

On the other hand, it should be remembered that, ac- 
cording to the historians, Khazaria was governed by two 
rulers: the one bearing the title of grand Khagan, who 
occupied a position somewhat similar to that held by the 
Mikado a generation ago — looked upon as a sort of divinity 
by the population, leading a strictly secluded life, and never 
coming into direct contact with his subjects; the other 
possessing the title of Peg or Pen, who represented a kind of 
vice-Khagan or vice-king, but possessing all authority by 
reason of his being the real governor of the country. 12 It is 
thus not impossible that the constitutional changes just 
indicated only affected the office of the vice-king. In this 
case, we shall, of course, have to take the expression ^D 
(11. 7, 42) in a rather loose sense, referring to the vice- 
Khagan or Peg. 13 If we could now assume that Sabriel is 
in some way an equivalent to Obadiah, we might then 
recognize in our text the supplement to the story of this 
king whom A also considers as the real founder of 



12 See Cassel, Magyarische Alterthumer, p. 206, note 2 and Gratz, 
Geschichte, ibid., p. 198. 

18 I,. 7 of our text states «ntp p«3 *f?& IM «Sl, "and there was no 
king in the land of Khazaria." As to Sabriel, before his election he is called 
N32 ItP or general (11. 11, 12) and again as it seems Hin*n SvtJn ItPn (1. 21) 
which is identical with «ntp^ f?11Jin ItT (1. 41). The old versions, Wilna ed. \a, 
have also SnJtD Wil (who is the same as the 1K32 "It? of the Kusari, II, 1). 
Cf. Cassel as above. A 1. 51 has ^ai^B StP omitting SnJD which is probably 
a mere clerical error. 



I90 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

Judaism in Khazaria, but on whose political activity he 
dwells no further, 14 

But even this interpretataion would not remove the 
discrepancies between our text and A. For, apart from 
other considerations, according to this latter, the disputa- 
tion falls under Bulan, who reigned long before Obadiah. 
Further, according to A, this pious king is a great-grandson 
of Bulan (1. 106), whilst, according to our text, he must 
have been a descendant of a Jewish immigrant. That 
he only assumed his Jewish name when he ascend- 
ed the throne would merely prove that in the 
assimilation times they adopted Khazar names. When the 
author of our text further volunteers the information (of 
which A knows nothing) that they maintain that their an- 
cestors were of the tribe of Simeon, but that they cannot 
probe the truth of the matter (11. 43-44), it is only consistent 
with the whole trend of his narrative which is chiefly con- 
cerned with the nucleus of the old Jewish population of 
that country, who, according to him, were the mainspring 
in this whole Judaizing movement. 15 Very peculiar is his 
explanation of the title of Khagan (PD), losing 
with him its historical significance, as it is not confined to 

** The name ^N'13D is not known to me from Jewish literature. If we could 
assume that it is a corruption of ^Nlia}? (Jer. 30, 26) or "WDJJ (I Chron. 
5, 15) we might recognize in him rVDiy (the meaning of both being the 
servant of God) generally held to the king who introduced the Jewish 
creed in Khazaria. Bulan belongs more or less to the domain of legend. 
A has the words n3"fen M» BHn fcttiTI (1. 106) but he does not explain how 
this regeneration was brought about nor the impulse actuating Obadiah in 
his zeal for the proselityzing work. 

a5 See about this point Abraham Epstein, Bldad ha-Dani, pp. XXVIII, 7 
and 25, All the parallels have the tribe Simeon and the half of Manosseh. It is 
remarkable that Carmoly in his 3py» "UTT \#Vpy (justly considered by all 
scholars to be a forgery) speaks only of ppDtP ttetf (pp. 10 and 12). 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCHECHTER 191 

royalty but marks a mere judge chosen from among the 
wise men. 16 I hardly need indicate how all this, as well as 
other points in our account, is at variance with all that is 
known about the history of the Khazars from other 
sources. Another peculiar feature worth noting in the 
presentation of the conversion story of our text, is that of 
the cave in the valley of Tim , from which they brought 
the Holy Book to be explained by the sages of Israel (11. 
32-35). This story is entirely missing in A, but we have 
some reminiscence of it in the Letter of Ibn Shaprut as well 
as in the "Kuzari," which shows that it formed an essential 
feature in the conversion story." 

Next in importance to the story of the conversion in 
our text are the political complications following upon it. 
A, which gives whole lists of nations and tribes subject to 
the Khazars (A, 11. 1 18-130), never enters upon details of 
war. He is satisfied with such a general statement as "from 
the day that our ancestors came under the wings of the 
Shekinah, He subjected to us all our enemies and humiliated 
all the nations and tongues around us" (A, 11. 103-105). In 
another place he has a special reference to the 
Russians, against whom the Khazars guard the mouth 
of the river and with whom they had hard battles, 
or they would exterminate the whole of the Mo- 
hammedan country as far as Bagdad (A, 11. 131, 
135). Our text is more complete in this respect. 
Thus in A, mention is made of the Alani ( D^K), with a 

16 I have not found this explanation of the term pD in any other work, 
Slucki, in his edition of the Kuzari, p. 47, says D3n Uuh Snp »SlNl . I have 
some doubt as to the word D»BB1»n (1. 40) whether it is not indifferently 
used, and may thus perhaps stand for regents or some other high dignitaries. 

17 See Ibn Shaprut's letter, p. 3b and Kuzari, II, 1. The valley of SlPfl 
I could not identify. 



192 the: Jewish quarterly re;vie;w 

single word, the name occurring in the list of the subjected 
nations (1. 124), whilst our text devotes to this nation 
several lines (11. 44-60). 18 The defective state of the MS. 
makes it impossible to form a clear notion of the story our 
author intended to give us, but a few facts may be gleaned 
nevertheless. The most important is that the conversion 

18 Our text reads always |Stf. The Itinerary of Benjamin, ed. Asher, 
speaks of the land of JT27N and of the nation called ]HVH (p. 62), but 

ed. Adler (p. 41) has ]bi<. See also Marquart, p. 485. Cf. Jossippon, ,ch. 1, about 
the ten families into which Togarmah branched off, of which Khazar is the 
first. The third in this list is DUp^vN, which gave great difficulties to the 
commentators. I understand that Dr. Harkavy suggests in his Russian book 
on the Khazars the reading DIJN77N . This emendation is greatly supported 
by Dr. Gaster's Chronicles of Jerachmeel, p. 67, where the third in this list is 
|7N (Alan). See also Dr. Gaster's remarks to the passage in his Introduction, 
p. lxxvii. The following extracts from Constantinus Porphyrogenete's 
De Administrando Imperio, chs. X and XI, for which I am entirely indebted 
to my friend Dr. Max Radin, will help to illustrate the relations between 
the Khazars and the Alani: "About Khazaria: How war is to be 
made upon them and by whom. The Uzi are in a position to make 
war upon the Khazari, inasmuch as they border on them. likewise, 
the chief of Alania, because the nine frontier provinces of Khazaria 
are adjacent to Alania, and the Alani can, if they wish, plunder 
them and can cause great harm and want to the Khazari by so doing, for 
from these nine frontier provinces the Khazars derive all the necessaries of 
life and all their wealth. Chapter XI. About the Fort Cherson and the Fort 
Bosporus: Since the chief of Alania is not at peace with the Khazars, but 
regards the friendship of the Roman Emperor as preferable, if the Khazari 
are not willing to maintain peace and friendship towards the IJmperor, he 
(the Alan chief) can injure them greatly, by lying in wait on the roads and 
attacking them unexpectedly when they proceed against Sarkel and the 
frontier provinces and Cherson. For, if the afore-mentioned chief (of the 
Alani) takes care to bar their passage, Cherson and the frontier provinces 
will enjoy profound peace. For since the Khazari fear an inroad of the 
Alani and have no opportunity of attacking Cherson and the frontier 
provinces with an army, because they cannot make war with both, they will 
be forced to be at peacej." Migne, Patr. 113, p. 177-178. Cf. Harkavy in 
Geiger's Judische Zeitschrift, III (1864-5), pp. 291-292. 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCHSCHTER 193 

(perhaps even more the election of a new "King") was 
not taken in a meek spirit by the defeated parties, so that 
there was the fear of a combination of the nations around 
them. This made it necessary on the part of the Khazars 
to terminate the feud and conclude peace with their neigh- 
bor, the king of the Alani, lest he join their enemies when 
they rise up to war against them (11. 44-47). How long 
this peace lasted, we have no means of determining, as we 
do not know how many kings intervened between Sabriel 
and Benjamin. Nor is it quite certain how far, considering 
the abrupt manner of our author, we have a right to refer 
the ttb^ni (1. 44) "and he (the king) made peace" to 
Sabriel; but this is clear, that in the time of king Ben- 
jamin, the peace was broken (see 11. 49-55), an alliance 
having been formed against the Khazars, consisting of the 
king of Asia, the king of Turkey, the ^B, and the king 
of Macedon (Constantinople — 11. 50-52 ). 19 Only the king 
of the Alani, who, it would seem, had himself Jewish sub- 
jects (1. 53) , 20 remained loyal and, whilst the allies fought 
against the Khazars, he attacked them successfully in their 
own country and the result was that they were utterly 
defeated by king Benjamin (11. 52-55). 

The amity between the king of the Alani and the king 
of the Khazars does not seem to have been of long du- 

19 See note 26 to the Hebrew text. By iODK (11. 51, 92) are perhaps 
meant certain Caucasian tribes. See Kohut, Aruch Completwm, I, p. 179 (JODK 
3). The name 7*3" S I am unable to identify. Perhaps it is a corruption 
of |K»7B (— Polianes) who paid tribute to the Khazars. See Chronique dite 
de Nestor, traduite, par I,ouis Leger, Paris 1884, p. 12. 

20 DHirpfi film nn»W DfiSpO ^ (l. 53), which I take to refer to the 
Alani, though the missing words just before this line, make it impossible to 
speak with certainty. See also Gratz, Geschichte, ibid., p. 200, where it is 
maintained on the authority of some Arabic sources that some of the vassals 
of the Khazars accepted the religion of their Jewish masters. 



194 TH # JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

ration. For our author proceeds to record that in the 
time of King Aaron (the successor of Benjamin), the 
king of Greece (Constantinople) succceeded in persuading 
the king of the Alani to fight the Khazars (11. 55-56). 
Aaron then made a counter-move in hiring the king of 
Turkey (to attack the king of the Alani) (1. 57). Here we 
have several gaps in the MS., but so much we can see, that 
Aaron came out victorious, and that the victory was fol- 
lowed by a marital alliance : Joseph, the son of Aaron, mar- 
ries the daughter of the king of the Alani and this latter 
takes the oath of fealty to Aaron, and the happy result of 
all this was that from that day the fear of the Khazars 
"fell upon the nations which surrounded them" (11. 56-61 ). 21 

Of more importance are the complications of the Kha- 
zars in wars with Russia, which, as is well-known, had in 
the end the most disastrous results for the former. Of 
this, however, our writer gives no indication as he finishes 
his report with the words: "Then the Russians became 
subdued under the hand of the Khazar" (1. 83). A, as al- 
ready mentioned, has only a general reference to these wars. 
The author of our text gives the following presentation of 
the matter. 

According to him, the first clash of the Khazars 
with the Russians fell in the time of king Joseph. The 
cause of it was, as it seems, a persecution of the Jews in 
the days of the "wicked Romanus" (of Constantinople), 
leading to retaliation on the part of Joseph (11. 61-63) 22 

21 The Aaron mentioned in our text is probably Aaron the second, the son 
of Benjamin (1. 55) and the father of Joseph (1. 59). Note that all these 
wars accordingly belong to the times of the last three Jewish Kings of 
Khazaria of which A records not less than thirteen (A 110-112.) Cf. Harkavy, 
note B"S, in the Hebrew translation of Gratz's Geschichte, ibid., p. 121. 

22 See notes 37 and 38 to the Hebrew text. About Romanus' perse- 
cution of the Jews, see the authorities referred to above, note 11. Gratz's 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCH^CHTER 195 

who "trod down many of the uncircumcised." 23 Romanus 
then persuaded iJ^n , the king of Russia, to whom he sent 
great gifts, to inflict evil upon the Khazars (11. 64-65). 
i:6n then surprised the country of the ""IMD in the night, 
during the absence of the commander, and captured it. 
When the matter became known to '•SB^Il (whose Hebrew 
name was nDQ Pesah), he attacked in retaliation the cities 
of Romanus of which he captured three, apart from many 
hamlets. From there, he marched against iBHlty . . 24 (11. 
64-69). Here come several lines, the first half of each of 
which is torn off, but we can read so much, that Pesah 
was victorious in his march, and turned in the end against 
U^n , whom he also defeated (11. 73-75). He then threat- 
ened to continue the war against ubn unless the latter 
would consent to attack Romanus, the instigator of the 
hostilities (11. 72-79). ubn then reluctantly marches 
against Constantinople, where he wages war on the sea for 
four months, but he is defeated by the Greek fire of the 
Macedonians and loses all his mighty men. Being ashamed 
to return to his land, he fled by way of the sea to Persia, 
where he and his host perished (11. 79-82). 

Hebrew records know nothing about all these facts, 
and it is to non- Jewish sources that we have to turn for 
matter corroborative of our story, but these sources again 

objection to the date, so that he thinks Masudi confused Romanus with Leo 
is not convincing. As remarked above, we have probably to deal here with 
different immigrations, whilst the fact that no other source speaks of a perse* 
cution tinder Romanus (who reigned from 919 to 945) does not prove much. 
The assertion of Sprenger that Masudi refers to Romanus II, is not clear to 
me. 

23 D*S*1J? D^S*1 rh^D. See Lamen. i, 15. I hardly need draw attention 
again to the state of the MS., which makes my statements in the text lack 
in certainty. 

24 See note 41 to the Hebrew text. 



196 ths Jewish quarterly rsvi^w 

offer so many statements at variance with our text, as to 
make the two accounts entirely irreconcilable. Thus, there 
can hardly be any doubt that l^n is identical with Oleg, 
the famous chieftain with whom the Russian nation makes 
almost its first appearance on the stage of history. 25 Like- 
wise, we may identify the ""Q»D with the Seviri or Sewer- 
ians of whom we know from Russian sources that they 
were vassals of the Khazars and were subsequently attacked 
by Oleg who forbade them to pay tribute to the Khazars. 26 
But here we meet with the difficulty that, according to the 
Russian authorities, this event took place in 884 and that 
it was Oleg who bore the victory over the Khazars. 27 
Our text apparently places the event during the reign of 
king Joseph, who flourished about 940, while the death of 
Oleg occurred, according to all authorities, in the year 
912. 28 The same chronological difficulty presents itself in 
the part which Romanus plays in our story. For the fact 
that there was a persecution of the Jews of Greece during 
his reign one may perhaps refer to Masudi. 29 That; further, 
the Russians invaded Constantinople under Romanus and 
were beaten off by the means of the Greek fire is sufficiently 
corroborated by the testimony of Byzantine writers. 80 But 

25 The works mainly used by me in connection with this part of our 
text, are: Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Umpire (ed. Bury), 
Theodor Schiemann, Russland Polen und Livland, Berlin 1886, and 
the Nestor Chronicle, mentioned above, note 19. 

28 See Nestor, pp. 18 and 22, and Schiemann, I, pp. 48 and 49. How 
far these Sewerians can be identified with the WlD or *1N1D of A (11. 33 and 
118) I am not able to say. See Harkavy R. R., VI, p. 93. 

27 See Schiemann and Nestor, ibid., cf. also the Index to Nestor by the 
editor Leger, under the names Kozares, Oleg, and Severiens. 

28 See Nestor, p. 33, and Schiemann, p. 51. 

29 See above, note 21. 

80 See Gibbon, VI, pp. 155 and 156, and Schiemann, p. 53. 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCHECHTER 197 

according to these Greek sources, it was Igor, the successor 
of Oleg, who led the Russian expedition against Constan- 
tinople and suffered defeat at the hands of Romanus at 
some time in the year 94 1. 31 Of Oleg's expedition the 
Byzantine writers have nothing to record, while, accord- 
ing to the Russian sources, the expedition by Oleg occurred 
in the year 907, long before Romanus ascended the throne, 
and it was the Russians who defeated the Greeks and forced 
on them a treaty of peace to their advantage. 32 Such contra- 
dictory statements cannot well be reconciled and we must 
accordingly accept the view that the writer of our text had 
his information only from secondary sources and confused 
both persons and dates. 33 On the other hand, our text 
shows at least one criterion which speaks for a very early 
date. It is that we have here the only document which 
comes nearest to the Scandinavian form of the name of 
this Russian hero, u6n (Scandinavian Helgi), instead of 
;6k or J^K (Oleg), thus testifying to the theory of the 
Norse origin of the founders of the Russian Empire. This 
affinity of names was long ago suggested by all modern 
authorities on this subject, but it is our text which really 
gives the form resembling most the one surmised 
by these authorities, a fact indicating that our 
author derived his information from very ancient or 
even contemporary sources, when the heroes of the 

31 See Gibbon and Schiemann, ibid. 

32 See Nestor, p. 22, seq.; Gibbon, p. 155, text and notes, and Schiemann, 
p. 49, seq. 

33 One might perhaps suspect that we have here a confusion between 
Oleg and Olga (or Helgi and Helga), who played an important part in the 
reign of her husband Igor, but it does not seem probable. 



I98 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

earliest period in Russian history were still called 
by their Scandinavian names. 34 His reference again 
to the escape of a portion of the Russian army to Persia 
after its defeat by Romanus, which is mentioned by very 
few authorities, but is nevertheless testified to by some 
writers, would also speak for the acquaintance of our 
author with the history of those times. On the other 
hand, it would seem that the whole story of Oleg, as given 
by Russian historians, entirely based on the chronicle of 
Nestor, is not beyond all doubt, and that both its facts and 
its dates may be questioned. However, I do not wish to 
press this point. I must leave the decision of this, as well 
as any other question connected with Russian history, to 
Russian scholars and specialists in Russian history and 
geography, my knowledge of these subjects being derived 
only from second or even third-hand sources. 

The last lines of our MS. are geographical, and en- 
tirely differ from A. In giving the name of his country, 
the writer has recourse to books (11. 84-85), which named it 
DlJplK Arkanos. In this we may recognize the ancient name 
of the Caspian Sea, designated as Mare Hyrcanum 35 and af- 
terwards called the Sea of the Khazars. But his appeal to 
books makes it doubtful whether it was still the name of 
his country in his time. He further tells us that the name 
of the metropolis is *irp divided by the river Atel 

34 See about this point Bury in his Appendix to Gibbon, VI, p. $$3, 
seq., Schiemann, p. 48, and Iyeger in the Index to Nestor, p. 344. 

33 See Kiepert, Atlas Antiquus, map I; Harkavy, R. R., XI, p. 162, and 
Marquart, p. 9, note 1. But the land of the Khazars is never called D13p1N 
in Hebrew literature. 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCH^CHTER 199 

which passes through it. This is also confirmed by other 
writers. 36 But his description of the river as being "south 
of the sea which comes from .... Vin through which thy 
messengers came to Constantinople" (11. 86-87) is unin- 
telligible to me. 37 Atel, as we know, is identical with the 
Volga and is thus in the north of any sea in the direction 
of Constantinople. His additional explanation "And I be- 
lieve that it starts from the Great Sea" (1. 87-88), does not 
improve matters. By the Great Sea is usually meant the 
Mediterranean, but this is the very sea which Shaprut's 
messengers must have traversed on their voyage from 



36 See A, 11. 116 and 136; Cassel, Magyarische Alterthumer p. 217, text 
and notes (giving references to Arabic writers); Carmoly, Itineraires, pp. 15 
and 23, and Harkavy, R. R., XI, p. 380, as to the situation of the capital of the 
Khazars. As to its name, cf. Harkavy, R. R., X, p. 324, the quotation he 
gives there from a Persian author according to which the name of the city 
was Chasar. See also Marquart, p. 3. A close parallel to it we have in the 
S«*W JVIKtP of Man. There he says: 

oxp 0»i:nn jib pr vi "ins) *\y m bjxt j» 
away a axajp pa 15? ts«n xt : kAkn "jxa jjn "a 

ts"t pes h ep« jtsaiKN "a tn Banxa bh p^xs tsn 

. J>T JWStPXp H JIB 
The Hebrew translation is incorrect. 

37 See note 47 of Hebrew text. Possibly there is some confusion here 
between the Volga and the Don which were supposed by some to mingle 
somewhere a little higher in the north and which latter emptied into the 
Maeotis (Azoff). But even this would hardly justify the expression ^D^D. 
See also "Die Chazaren," by Kutschera (Wien, 1910) p. 121, and his hypothesis 
regarding the position of the river by which the Khazar capital was situated. 



200 THE) JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

Spain to Constantinople. 88 The description again of 
the distance between that sea and the country of the 
writer, as 2160 D*n (ris), is also not clear to me, as this 
would only amount to 72 parasangs. And so are his other 
distances between his country and Constantinople which are 
given as 9 days on sea and 28 days on land, whilst the extent 
of the dominion of the Khazars he gives as 50 days. All 
these geographical points are obscure to me and I do not 
consider myself competent to deal with them in any 
adequate way. 39 The last line, which abruptly ends in the 
middle of a sentence, gives a list of the nations fighting 
with them, two of which I am unable to identify. 40 

We shall now try to give a summary of the results of 
the preceding remarks. It must be evident from what we 
have said thus far that A and our text represent two doc- 
uments addressed probably to the same person, but com- 
posed by different writers. A gives us a document 
professing to be written by the king who was a direct 

38 See however Ibn Shaprut's letter where he describes the situation of 
Cordova as being 73 32101 Smi D\1 p N2Vn D3»yiK 7N ^n»n D»7 7NDE>D 
pxn. He speaks further of the 31E" V1PI« f»K ItM* SlTtn D* (zb). The term 
71T»n 0* is thus the ocean. The words of our text "]BP1D h\1Hft 0*n |D 
would then correspond with SnJH D*fl ]» NSlTl of Ibn Shaprut. 

39 Ibn Shaprut in his fetter says that between the kingdom of the 
Khazars and Constantinople is 15 days on sea, but does not give the distance 
on land. Whether the words >iH« fAtPOD p« (1. 91) also includes the 
vassals and the tributaries, I have no means of determining. It is also 
difficult to say whether the writer understood by D**l exactly the same 
measure which the Talmud meant by it, 

40 These are D12U and VJT17. Perhaps the latter might be identified 
with the Iyusinin ( p3217) of the "Chronicles of Jerachnteel," p. 68. See also 
Gaster's remarks in the Introduction, p. I/XXVII. 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCHECHTER 201 

descendant of the Khazar dynasty and derived his pedigree 
from Japheth, whilst our text, as is clear enough, raises 
no such claims; it is written by a mere subject. The writer 
again is, if we are not quite mistaken in our interpretation, 
more concerned about the Jewish than about the native 
population of that country, the former of which gave the 
Khazars their first Jewish king. 41 They differ also largely 
in style. They differ further in the subject matter, A 
omitting features characteristic of our text (such as the 
story of the wars with the Alani and the Russians), whilst 
in some points they are distinctly at variance. On 
the whole, it may perhaps be said that in A the 
theological tendency is more predominant, whilst in 
our text it is the narrative element which is prom- 
inent. 42 Thus our text can never have formed a 
part of A, or represented a different version of the same 
document, as was the case with Harkavy's edition of the 
Khazar letter, which formed only a completer and more 
correct text of Akrish's discovery. It is not likely that 
the king of the Khazars caused his secretaries to write two 
letters or that somebody would have had the courage to 
write a different letter after the king had sent the one writ- 

41 I am not unaware that the terms Hin* or OV-jin* occurring in our text 
could be strained to apply to the original proselytes or semi-proselytes of the 
Khazari population. But I do not see the necessity to force this meaning 
upon a term otherwise plain enough whilst the whole drift of our text points 
to a tendency of emphasizing the importance of a Jewish nucleus working as a 
leaven among the Khazars. 

42 The best way to realize this difference is to compare the story cf 
the disputation of A (11. 64-96) and our text (11. 16-35). Our text is not 
only shorter, the writer hurrying over the theological arguments as of no 
consequence to him, but has also a different vocabulary. 



202 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

ten or dictated by him. The question now confronting us 
is, Which of the two is authentic? This question, I think, 
cannot be answered with any amount of certainty as long as 
our text is not completed by other new finds, which will 
give us not only the beginning of the document, but may 
reveal to us more matter and a fuller text relating both to 
the geography and to the history of the time. In its present 
shape, one cannot suppress the feeling that we have before 
us events which extended over many generations, crowded 
into too narrow a compass, and it is not impossible that the 
list of nations fighting against the Khazars, in the middle 
of which our fragment breaks up, was only an introduction 
to more historical and chronological matter, connecting in 
some way the preceding statements, or at least supplement- 
ing them. In any case, our text, I am sure, forms an im- 
portant contribution to the history of the Khazars, and as 
such I am certain it will be welcome to students especially 
to those whose Russian and Arabic knowledge will enable 
them to continue their researches of which a humble begin- 
ning is made in the preceding pages. The facsimile, map 43 
and English translation 44 accompanying the Hebrew text 
will, I hope, prove helpful to the student. 

In conclusion, I take the opportunity of record- 
ing my sincerest thanks to my friend, Dr. Max Radin, 
whom I had occasion to consult many a time whilst writing 
this article, particularly in matters relating to Byzantine 

43 This map is taken from the Spruner Menke Hand-Atlas fur die 
Geschichte des Mittelalters, 3d ed., Gotha 1880. Europa, No. IV. 

44 For an English translation of the correspondence between Ibn Shaprut 
and King Joseph as published by Akrish, see Miscellany of Hebrew Literature, 
I, 73, seq* 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCHECHTE)R 203 

history. I am also under great indebtedness to Mr. Ben 
Zion Halper of Dropsie College, for his aid in reading the 
MS. and for various valuable suggestions. I am also under 
obligation to several gentlemen for their readiness in help- 
ing me to procure the necessary books. My special thanks 
are due to Mr. Frederic W. Erb of the Columbia University 
Library, who spared no trouble in providing me with books, 
periodicals and maps connected with this subject, otherwise 
inaccessible to me. 



204 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

HEBREW TEXT 

*i . . . . ^ tiuk DrroBD mw k^d-ik i 

^..<3K Dibapn d^^k naiy bw hkb6 2 

8 &6n -ik^i min &6n n^nn vn «n?p 3 

4 Dn . . . . •"! ymn •awb wnnnn nnsDi min 4 

5 n n^n Doy i«v»i DrwyD no^i 5 

7 . . . pdi wow n^D nnan pi 6 inx nvb vm 6 

8 . . . k ^ «nrp pw i^d mn &61 nn^n na Dnoip 7 

ib6 Dmby ini&B> nuinw nDntai nsw wn *\m 8 

dusd nonb»a D^irrn dhw ikvp Dya ny an* 9 

na mini imm ina nirp "Da ovn ini*o Dyan 10 

wb nrp '■buk Drvby iniDsn irp by own Dnvn u 

dw d^ nb«n Dnm vm jifc>&on 9 dbbb>m ksv 12 

nm^ra :wb -wn nb na min ^ P n "^k *w x 3 

Kin dji "bwnb irnobrn nw hid in^K wan •o 14 

inn pm ^k rnyjn ^na on mn binD •o n&ro 15 

jnpD •obo yiD^o wi * D"nn inn irnin Kinn 16 

inbfcn n«D dnb mn nb«n onmn na my ••abon '17 

10*6 banB* by d^ito nn amp np ba Dra^bo 18 

nnn Dnnyi^D dh^ DHimn rmoKn ywb Dsb no 19 

na it^i -iDob ub p«B> Dnm nm niow ba 1 T 20 

lib hd ninNi bnan -ien -id*oi jnb on^n nb 21 

jr ••Mnoi bants* 'oano iku* Dnm nimnb 22 

dhd nna ba Da^abi ni^eb it:pi my •■mtidi 23 

1 Perhaps we should supply 1*6 J O or lS^ »S '3. 

2 Perhaps it read here ^[3«] O #[mp ntP] oAap'l . The ^ at the 
end of the line is doubtful. 

3 Supply here tfSa [OH OJt l]nKB»1. 

4 Supply Dil[»y l^yn]^. Cf. Ps. 106, 35. The n before the final D 
is very doubtful. 

5 Ivine 9, below, would suggest [nO!"DO];i. 

6 Read nn». 7 Read [om]p»l. 8 Supply [d]«. 
9 Read DtDBtTDD. 10 See Isai. 48, 17. 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCHECHTER 205 




k 









L^tySHSg 






***s*€j 















CAMS 



206 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

nbm p wi innna u ............. k hb> . , 24 

bariB» '■Dan irunm my ■oba 12 . p • . ■ b • • 25 

Tynb own mnsn xnrp 13 . . . w ton . . 26 

"inxi 15 nnanb D^nym D^wn lb'nnn " n . . 27 

inns -in&o owm D»T,rrn onnam 1G • . »n . 28 

banty ruby uv iy rw*oa w nw» ba n 29 

own n^n 16 r\2wu pa ba own *ijn Dnroo 3° 

npibno DHTa nbaa dji mpnvm n»K D-anym 31 

•ob iK^yin birn nypaa myo run «nrp np vibki 32 

wan p iron u-osb Diensi dc -ib>k onaon na 33 

Ditsnsn hbud rrnnD onao de> nam myon nmn 34 

n^ n3i ")b>k D^i^xin Dnana ban^ ^an 35 

DHnTn ibn^i nt^bp na^na xnrp *bok ay b«"iB» 36 

•■b'jk hu ipnnm jr pxoi pTia jidi itq t» «ub 37 

*bmk orrby id-^i 19 p»n aa maa iprnnn pan 38 

p&yba idb> p*nipi DSirb D^ann jo nnx pan 39 

v-iriK iDp^ D^ai^n niDer lKipj p by pa nrp 40 

w won «nrpbB> brun -ibtn orn ny pa 41 

lryiaa onowi ibob Dirby im^bci bamaD 42 

dhow wra bn« vn pynw aae>£ wrnaa ^ 43 

irja^ jb« ibo Dy ibDn D^m nam rmoK by 44 

wnuoD n^N mown ba& ne^pi nry jb« nnbo "a 45 

nonbob niDwn wby miyrr p D^ann wok ^a 46 

11 Of the word coming after fitP, beginning with X, the upper stroke 
of a S is still discernible. We should thus perhaps supply DrPflf?]N nt8>[ytt] 

mnn» [n*rm 

18 The remaining letters and the context suggest: 0.11 DO*6]D p[* "l^oS] 

13 Supply [<]ty[j« f11TJ?S] «na[S] . However, the B> of »tWK is very 
doubtful. 

14 The traces of two or three letters before the H , which is also very 
doubtful, are too faint to suggest anything. The rest is torn off. 

M Read Q^nDnS, as below, 28. 

10 The letters ^3 are very doubtful, though to judge from the context 
it must have read here D^aijjn VPJ?n. 

17 Supply *?«["!&» »»3Pl]. 18 See Exod. 16, 35. 
19 Allusion to Abraham. See Gen. 17, 3. 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCHECHTER 20J 















208 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

21 n p by ^wp by Kin dj sjdw 47 

22 k nnn *m mm wik tin b*k 48 

M -irp nwbo by wa Kbi wtodd 49 

!5 ip^ 24 by mown b mwu ibon 50 

26 m k^dk ibo nonbftb wm \)~ipn ibc> 51 

27 mm rrn jbx ib& pi pnpoi b^"ai .... 52 

28 . . . Dobsn lbx DHimn mifi onoi^ vn onvpo ^ 53 

iy "n ') dvik by ibn [ba ibcn Knrp by i&nbj 54 

pnK ^E'o on ^bDnCpD^n vsb " dbjpi a0 KsnD pa 55 

-inm iv ibo wron ^ "irp by [bx ibo Drib; ibon 56 

ibo bisn 82 rrn ^ *rpiiB ibo dk pnK vby 57 

npn ik 33 irra^ s n ima^n pnK ^ab jbx 58 

rrnoK jbx ibo ib M y . . . tk n^ab fprb mb iro dk 59 

n»w nbaj 35 Kinn ornoi n ib&n pnK mnbsri 60 

ibon nor ^^ Djn . ddu^d ib>k mown by "irp 61 

yjnn owon ^3 nwn nvna n S6 wk 62 

Doon DJ11 D^bny dui nb^D WKb B7 . nn 63 

wo-i k*dvi ibo ubnb mbnji nuno nb^ 3S 64 

nnon nnabn nb^b "-dod nno by Kim my-ib 65 

>v^bnb "inn inn "nnwn 21 Tpan d^ n\n Kb o 66 

in 5jk pirn dudvi 4(V vy by Km 3 hp^n noa Kin 67 

onvnan 12b nrr»»y Bnbs? nain n^K nyi b^ko 68 

n-by onb^i 4I . . lcnit? by K3 d^di ikd nmn 69 

20 See Exod. i, 10. 

21 Probably there followed here: [lltyS 1»y D^]n. Cf. 1. 44. 

22 The biblical reference: Gen. 35, 5 and below, 1. 45, suggest supplying 

below, 1. 45 [ipk mown Sy n»nS]». 

23 Only a trace of a D or a n is visible. I,ine ss would suggest that 
we had here ^0»J3 «0»3 ^3«. 

24 Here is just space for *tn?p. 

25 Perhaps we should supply flSya DH7. 

28 Read *t»p11B1. The rest of the line is torn off whilst the beginning 
of the next is obliterated, which might possibly be supplied by 1. 92. 

(Continued on page 212) 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCHECHTER 20g 












TO 






■few 



2IO THE) JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

D^bina v^xn l» invi 70 

fc»N dwh ens imD^ b*n&» 71 

bn naiy DDb ddk> bsx 42 n 72 

DHD D^KVDJn ba TIN . . 43 pl 1DTI T 73 

Dn^i nonbob ubn by "ibn d^di 31 44 74 

kvd^ nDS "oab D*nb« inyoa^ D^nn 75 

dodvi »3 "id^i maooD npb -ipk bb£> 45 76 

ouon by ib p dk noa ib id^i tin 46 'oswn 77 

na *6 d*o ybyn ib«i »3 nnonbj *ie>k3 13 onbni 78 

imia bya ib'i *n»pj DipJK ny rrna in didn 79 

Dtr ibsn do D^nn nyaiK wbjbdip by onbn 80 

ba ai£>b Dba^ aw &K2 oonpD naj o miaa 81 

injno bai Kin D£> bsn do did ba ibi un« 82 

•ojh nrp n* 1 nnn D^yua d^dd rn tk 83 

Dneoa ukvd n^^3 una d^ wi«b yniD 84 

i3iyn -imn dgfi nrp naboon vy dc^i di^tik 85 

*1^X 47 . . V1HD N3H D^b po^D im b^x naina 86 

JD OK HDHDai K^tMBDIpb TnibP 13 my 87 

wnn D\n jd npim ujwdi i^id bmn dvi 88 

K^tMBDipb wyiN pai on d>wi hkdi D^aba 89 

dv d^ mw n&jooi d^ r\ywr\ do 90 

woy D^nb^n mn w D^on wtk nbK>DD pan 91 

nnbi ipum D13TI 3ki3*6k 3^31 k^dk 92 

42 One or two letters are visible before the J1, which may be the re- 
mainder of a 7 or a 3. 

43 The T is most probably the remainder of *Pft. After the 1 following 
IDll the leg of a p is still discernible, thus suggesting np'Y, followed by fiN. 
The IDn stands for D"DTl. 

44 Probably it was mn. Supply *B7 DDM. 

45 Before 77tt> , signs resembling an J? , possibly also a H , are seen. Perhaps 
we should supply 77tS>[n T»y]... 

46 Traces of T7 are visible, making it likely that it read HXT7. 

47 The end of the word is torn off, whilst the letter preceding the hole 
is illegible. Perhaps it is a 7. But there is no certainty about the other 
letters either, save the ft. If we could assume that the letters looking like 21 
are a clerical error for a ft, then we would have the remainder of [jT13]7ftnft. 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCHECHTER 211 



too sll^wi^m o^it* ^ 
worn w^^iSWffiB*:^! 







212 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 



27 Supply *rtp *tMK. 28 Supply aSlJD. 

29 We should expect here n[3tt D3]*l. I must also remark that the 
traces after M look somewhat like t5\ 

30 See II Chron. 31, 1 8. 8 * This word can also be read "flS. 

32 After JTfi a faint trace of an X is visible. The rest is illegible. Per- 
haps we had here [TN lSm]«. 

33 The rest is obliterated. Perhaps we should supply here ^[ftTJJ "pEH] , 
84 Read )j[StW]' Perhaps we should read at the end of the line flJlOfcQ. 

Cf. Ps. 89, So. 

36 After the "f?Bfi traces of various letters are visible, which suggest 
supplying fi[lT2ri]. But they are all doubtful to me. 

86 Perhaps we should read the last word 1*1 [TJD]. The other letters are 
too faint to suggest anything to me. 

37 The context would suggest supplying [l]i1H [JHIJ *HMO], Some trace 
of- a 3 at the beginning of the faded place is still to be seen, but it is very 
doubtful. 

38 Supply at the beginning of the line J?ttHn as above 1. 62. 

89 Reading fairly certain, but it gives no sense. Perhaps it means "the 
Reverer." Perhaps it was *irP!3n. 

40 This word can also be read »*HP. 

41 The letters following W*\W look somewhat like M but there is still 
room for one or two letters. 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCH^CHT^R 213 

TRANSLATION* 

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i — Armenia and our ancestors fled from them [for 

they could not] 
2 — bear the yoke of the worshipers of idols. And [the 

princes of Khazaria] received them [for the men of] 
3 — Khazaria were first without Torah. And [they too] 

remained without 
4— Torah and Scriptures and made marriage with the 

inhabitants of the land [and mingled with them.] 
5 — And they learned their deeds and went out with them 

[to the war continually.] 
6 — And they became [one] people. Only upon the cov- 
enant of circumcision they relied. And [some of 

them] 
7 — observed the Sabbath. And there was no king in the 

land of Khazaria. Only 
8 — him who won victories in the battle they would appoint 

over them as general 
9 — of the army. Now (it happened) at one time when 

the Jews went forth into the battle with them as 
10 — was their wont that on that day a Jew proved mighty 

with his sword and put to flight 
11 — the enemies who came against Khazaria. Then the 

people of Khazaria appointed him over them as general 
12 — of the army in accordance with their ancient custom. 

And such was the state of their affairs for many days ; 

*The lines preceded by numbers correspond, as far as possible, with the 
Hebrew lines of the text. Words in square brackets indicate supplied mat- 
ter, and thus cannot claim certainty and for which the notes to the Hebrew 
text should be consulted. 



214 TH £ JEWISH QUARTKRI.Y REVIEW 

13 — until the Lord had mercy and awakened the heart of 
the prince to do repentance. 

14 — For his wife, whose name was Serah, turned him and 
taught him profitably. And he also 

15 — consented, for he was circumcised. But also the father 
of the young woman, a righteous man in that genera- 
tion, 

16— taught him the way of life. And it came to pass that 
when the kings of Macedon 

17 — and the kings of Arabia heard of these things, they 
waxed exceeding wroth. And they sent 

18 — messengers to the princes of Khazaria with words of 
blasphemy against Israel, saying: 

19 — "What mean ye by returning to the belief of the Jews 
who are subject under 

20 — the hands of all the nations?" And they spake words 
which are not for Us to tell. And they turned the 

21 — heart of the princes to evil. Then said the great prince, 
the Jew; "To what end, 

22 — increase words? Let there come (men) of the wise 
men of Israel and of the wise men of Greece, 

23 — and of the wise men of Arabia. And let everyone of 
them tell before us and before you. 

24— [the work of his God and we shall see] the end/' And 
they did so and he sent 

25— [messengers to the kings of Greece] and to the kings 
of Arabia. But the wise men of Israel also offered 
themselves 

26— [to come to the aid of the men of] Khazaria. There- 
upon the Greeks opened with their testimony 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCH£CHT£R 21$ 

27 — .and the Jews and the 

Arabians began to contradict them. And after this 

28 — [the Arabians bore witness] and the Jews and the 
Greeks contradicted them. And then opened 

29 — [the wise men of Israel their testimony] telling from 
the days of the creation, until the day when the chil- 
dren of Israel came up 

30 — from Egypt, and until they arrived at an inhabited 
country. (To the truth of this), the Greeks 

31 — as well as the Arabians bore witness and confirmed it, 
but there arose also dissension amongst them. 

32 — Then said the princes of Khazaria, "Behold, there is 
a cave in the valley of Tizul ^ipn. Bring forth for us 

33 — the books which are there and explain them to us." 
And they did so and went 

34 — into the cave. And behold, there were there Books of 
the Law of Moses, and the wise men of Israel ex- 
plained them 

35 — in accordance with the words which they spake first. 
Then 

36 — Israel, together with the men of Khazaria, returned 
in perfect repentance. But also the Jews began 

37 — to come from Bagdad, from Khorasan JD1D and from 
the land of Greece and strengthened the hands of the 
men of 

38 — the land, and encouraged themselves in the covenant 
of the Father of the Multitude. And the men of the 
land appointed over them 

39 — one of the wise men as judge. And they call his name 
in the tongue of 



2l6 THE) JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

40 — Khazaria, Khagan, JJ3. Therefore, the judges who 
arose after him are called by the name 

41 — Khagan p3, even unto this day. As to the great 
prince of Khazaria, they turned his name into 

42 — Sabriel and they made him king over them. Now 

they say in our land 
43 — that our ancestors came from the tribe of Simeon, but 

we are not able to probe 
44 — the truth of the matter. Now the king made 

peace with our neighbor, the king of the Alani, 

45 — because the kingdom of the Alani is the strongest and 
the hardest of all the nations that surround us. 

46 — For the wise men said, "Lest when the nations shall 
rise up to wage war against us 

47 — He also join unto our enemies." Therefore [he con- 
cluded peace with him to help] 

4& — one another in distress. And there was the terror of 

God [upon the nations which] 
49 — surround us. And they came not against the kingdom 

of Khazaria. [But in the day of] the king [Benjamin] 
50 — all the nations rose up against [the men of Khazaria] 

and brought them into straits [according to the 

counsel] 
51 — of the king of Macedon. And there went to battle 

the king of Asia [and Turkey] 

52 — and Painil iwB and Macedon. 

Only the king of the Alani was in support of 

[Khazaria.] 
53 — For some of them observed the Torah of the Jews. 

[All] these kings 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCH^CHTKR 2\J 

54 — waged war against Khazaria. But the king of the 
Alani went against their land [and smote them with 
slaughter,] so 

55 — that they could not recover. And the Lord smote them 
before the king Benjamin. But it happened also in 
the days of king Aaron 

56 — that the king of the Alani fought against Khazaria, for 
the king of Greece incited him. 

57 — But Aaron hired against him the king of Turkey [for 
he was then his friend.] And the king of the 

58 — Alani fell before Aaron who caught him alive. But 
[the king] honored him [very much] and took 

59 — his daughter as wife for his son Joseph. Thereupon 
the king of the Alani swore unto him in truth. 

60 — and Aaron the king sent him [to his house]. And, 
from that day there fell the fear 

61 — of Khazaria upon the nations which surrounded them. 
And also in the days of my lord, the king Joseph 

62 — when there was 

the persecution in the days of the wicked Romanus. 

63 — [And the matter became known] to my lord he 
trod down many of the uncircumcised. But Romanus, 
[the wicked,] also 

64 — sent great gifts to Helgu, the king of Russia, and 
enticed him 

65 — for his own evil, and he came in the night upon the 
province of the Sewerians vr UED and took it by de- 
ception. 

66 — For the commander, the head of the princes, was not 
there. But when the matter became known to Bulshazi 



2l8 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

67 — or Pesah, the Reverer, he marched against the cities 
of Romanus in fierce anger and smote 

68 — both man and woman. And he took three cities be- 
sides the hamlets 

69 — very many. And from there he marched against 
Shorshu and fought against it. 

70 — And there came out of 

the earth like worms 

71 — Israel and there died 

ninety men of them 
72 — But he made them serve 

under tribute and saved 

73 — [from] the hands of 

Russia. [And he took] all those to be found of them 

74 — , [sword] and from there 

he went out to battle against Helgu and he fought 

75 — months and God subdued 

him before Pesah and he found 
j6 — of the plunder which he took from the 

Sewerians, but he said, "Romanus 
77 — beguiled me (to do) this." Then Pesah said to him, 

"If this be so, march against Romanus 
78 — and fight against him as thou didst fight against me, 

and I will depart from thee, but if not, here 
79 — J shall die or live until I shall have taken vengenance," 

And thus he marched against his own will 
80 — and fought against Constantinople four months on 

sea. And his mighty men fell 
81 — there. For the Macedonians prevailed over him by 

fire. And he fled but was ashamed to return to 



UNKNOWN KHAZAR DOCUMENT — SCHECHT^R 219 

82 — his land. And he went to Persia by the sea and he 

fell there, he and all his camp. 
83 — Then the Russian became subdued under the hands of 

the Khazar. Behold, I 

84 — make it known to my lord that the name of our land 

as we found it in books is 
85 — Arkanus, and the name of the royal city is Khazar, 

and the name of the river that passes 
86 — through its midst is Atel ^BK and it is south of the 

sea that comes from through which 

87 — thy messengers came to Constantinople. And I believe 

that 
88 — it starts from the Great Sea. But our province is 

distant from that sea 

89 — two thousand and one hundred and sixty ris, and be- 
tween our land and Constantinople 

90 — is nine days by sea and twenty-eight days by land, 

91 — and the land of the dominion of my lord is fifty days* 
Behold, (these are) those who fight against us. 

92 — Asia, Bab al abwab, Zibus, Turkey, and Luznu.