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Samuel, a Levite of Jerusalem, with his son, Rabbi Jehuda Levita. They brought with them the silver trumpets, made use of at the time of the Jubilee, which were saved when the second temple was destroyed; and we have heard from our fathers, that there were engraven upon those trumpets the letters of the ineffable name. * There joined us also from Spain, and other places, from time to time, certain tribes of Jews, who had heard of our prosperity. But at last, discord arising among ourselves, one of our chiefs called to his assistance an Indian king, who came upon us with a great army, destroyed our houses, palaces, and strong holds; dispossessed us of Cranganor, killed part of us, and carried part into captivity. By these massacres we were reduced to a small number. Some of the exiles came and dwelt at Cochin, where we have remained ever since, suffering great changes from time to time.-There are amongst us some of the children of Israel
(Beni-Israel) who came from the country of Ashkenaz, from Egypt, from Tsoba, and other places, besides those who formerly inhabited this country.?
“The native annals of Malabar confirm the foregoing account, in the principal circumstances, as do the Mahomedan histories of the later ages; for the Mahomedans have been settled here in great numbers since the eighth century.
“The desolation of Cranganor, the Jews describe as being like the desolation of Jerusalem in miniature. They were first received into the country with some favor and confidence, agrceably to the tenor of the general prophecy concerning the Jews; for no country was to reject them: and after they had obtained some wealth, and attracted the notice of men, they are precipitated to the lowest abyss of
• This circumstance of the jubilee trumpets is to he found in a simuar account of the Jews of Malabar, published in the History of the works of the learned," for March, 1600. It is oot necessary to suppose that these trumpets belonged to the temple; for it is well known, that in every considerable town in Jadea there were jubilee trumpets.
human suffering and reproach. The recital of the sufferings of the Jews at Cranganor, resembles much that of the Jews at Jerusalem, as given by Josephus.
“I now requested they would shew me their brass plate. Having been given by a native king, it is written, of course, in the Malabaric language and character; and is now so old that it cannot be well understood. The Jews preserve a Hebrew translation of it, which they presented to me: but the Hebrew itself is very difficult, and they do not agree among themselves, as to the meaning of some words. I have employed, by their permission, an engraver at Cochin, to execute a fac-simile of the original plate, on copper.* This ancient document begins in the following manner, according to the Hebrew translation:t
“ 'In the peace of God, the king, which hath made the earth, according to his pleasure. To this God, I, Airvi BRAHMIN, have lifted up my hand, and have granted by this deed, which many hundred thousand years shail run-I, dwelling in Cranganor, have granted, in the thirty-sixth year of my reign, in the strength of power I have granted, in the strength of power I have given in inheritance to, Joseph RABBAN.'
“Then follow the privileges of nobility; such as permission to ride on an elephants to have a herald to go before, to announce the name and dignity; to have the lamp of the day, to walk on carpets spread upon the earth; and to have trumpets and cymbals sounded before him. King Airvi then appoints Joseph Rabban to be chief and governor of the houses of congregation (the Synagogues,) and of certain districts, and of the sojourners in them. What proves the importance of the Jews at the period
* The original is engraved on both sides of the plate, the fac simile forms two platcs. These are now deposited in the public library at the University of Cambridge.
A copy of this Hebrew translation was sent to the University with tije otier DISS. I have a copy in my possession,
when this grant was made, is, that it is signed by seven kings as witnesses. “And to this are witnesses, king Bivada Cubertin Mitadin, and he is king of Travancore. King Airla Nada Mana Vikriin, and he is the Samorin. King Veloda Nada Archarin Shatin, and he is king of Argot. The remaining four kings are those of Palgatchery, Colastri, Carbinath, and Vara-changur. There is no date in this document, further than what may be collected from the reign of the prince, and the names of the royal witnesses. Dates are not usual in old Malabaric writings. One fact is evident, that the Jews must have existed a considerable time in the country, before they could have obtained such a grant, The tradition before mentioned assigns for the date of the transaction, the year of the creation 4250, which is, in Jewish computation, A. D. 490. It is well known, that the famous Malabaric king, Ceram Perumal, made grants to the Jews, Christians, and Mahomedans, during his reign; but that prince flourished in the eighth or ninth century.
THE BLACK JEWS.
“It is only necessary to look at the countenance of the black Jews to be satisfied that their ancestors must have arrived in India many ages before the white Jews, their Hindoo complexion and their very imperfect resemblance to the European Jews, indicate that they have been detached from the parent stock in Judea many ages before the Jews in the west; and that there have been interinarriages with families not Israelitish. I had heard that those tribes, which haci passed the Indus, have assimilated so much to the customs and habits of the countries in which they live, that they may
be sometimes seen by a traveller, without being reeog. nized as Jews. In the interior towns of' valabar, I was not always able to distinguish the Jew from the
Hindoo. I hence perceived how easy it may be to mistake the tribes of Jewish descent among the Afghans and other nations in the northern parts of Hindostan. The white Jews look upon the black Jews as an inferior race, and not of a pure cast: which plainly demonstrates that they do not spring from a common stock in India.
“The black Jews communicated to me much interesting intelligence concerning their brethren the ancient Israclites in the east; traditional indeed in its nature, but in general illustrative of true history. They recounted the names of many other small colonies resident in northern India, Tartary and China; and gave me a written list of sixty-five places. I conversed with those who had lately visited many of these stations, and were about to return again. The Jews have a never-ceasing communication with each other in the east. Their families, indeed, are generally stationary, being subject to despotic princes; but the men move much about in a commercial capacity; and the same individual will pass through inany extensive countries. So that when any thing interesting to the nation of the Jews takes place, the rumour will pass rapidly throughout all Asia.
“I inquired concerning their brethren, the Ten Tribes. They said that it was commonly believed among them, that the great body of the Israelites are to be found in Chaldea, and in the countries contiguous to it, being the very places whither they were first carried into captivity; that some few families had migrated into regions more remote, as to Cochin and Rajapoor in India, and to other places yet farther to the east; but that the bulk of the nation, though now much reduced in number, had not to this day removed 2000 iniles from Samaria. Among the black Jews I could not find many copies of the Bible. They informed me, that in certain places of the remote dispersion, their brethren have but some small portions of the scriptures, and that the prophetical books were rare; but that they themselves,
from their vicinity to the white Jews, have been supplied, from time to time with the whole of the Old Testament.
“From these communications I plainly perceive the important duty which now devolves on Christians possessing the art of printing, to send to the Jews in the east, copies of the Hebrew scriptures, and particularly of the prophetical books. If only the prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel were published among them, the effect might be great. They do not want the law so much. But the prophetical books would appear among them with some novelty, particularly in a detached form; and could be easily circulated through the remotest parts of Asia.”
“Almost in every house I find Hebrew books, printed or manuscript; particularly among the white Jews. Most of the printed Hebrew of Europe has found its way to Cochin, through the medium of the Portuguese and Dutch commerce of former times. When I question the Jews concerning the old copies of the scriptures, which had been read in the synagogues from age to age; some told me that it was usual to bury them, when decayed by time and use.
Others said that this was not always the case. I despaired at first of being able to procure any of the old biblical writings; but after I had been in the fountry about six weeks, and they found that I did not expect to obtain them merely as presents, some copies were recovered. The white Jews had only the Bible written on parchment, and of modern appearance, in their synagogue; but I was informed that the black Jews possessed formerly copies written on goat skins; and that in the synagogue of the black Jews there was an old record chest, into which the decayed copies of their scrig.