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Jews. The White Jews reside at this place. The Black -Jews have also a Synagogue here; but the great body of that tribe inhabit towns in the interior of the province. I have now seen most of both classes. My inquiries refer chiefly to their antiquity, their manuscripts, and their sentiments concerning the present state of the Jewish nation.'
JERUSALEM OR WHITE JEWS.
• On my inquiry into the antiquity of the White Jews, they first delivered to me a narrative, in the Hebrew Language, of their arrival in Ipdia, which has been handed down to them by their fathers, and then exhibited their ancient brass Platë, containing their charter and freedom of residence, given by a King of Malabar. The following is the narrative of the events relating to their first arrival.
6“ After the second Temple was destroyed, (which may God speedily rebuild !) our fathers dreading the Cone queror's wrath, departed from Jerusalem, a numerous body of men, women, priests, and Levites, and came into this land. There were among them men of 'repute for learning and wisdom; and God gave the people favour in the sight of the King, who at that time reigned here, and he granted them a place to dwell in, called Cranganor. He allowed them a patriarchal jurisdiction urithin the district, with certain privileges of nobility; and the Royal grant was engraved, according to the custom of those days, on a plate of brass. This was done in the year from the creation of the world, 4250, (A. D. 490;) and this plate of brass we still have in possession. Our fore-fathers continued at Cranganor for about a thousand years, and the number of Heads who governed were seventy-two.
Soon after our settlement, other Jews followed us from Judea ; and among these came that man of great wisdom, Rabbi 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.
* This circumstance of the Jubilee Trumpets is to be found in a similar account of the Jews of Malabar, published in the “ History of the Works of the Learned," for March, 1699. It is not necessary to suppose that these trumpets belonged to the Temple ; for it is well known, that in every considerable town in Judea there were Jubilee trumpets.
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 latter 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 favour and confidence, (agreeably 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 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 :
«« 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 shall run-1, 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 the elephant: 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 consequence of the Jews at the period 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
* The original is engraved on both sides of the plate, the fac-simile forms two plates. These are now deposited in the Public Library at the University of Cambridge.
of A Copy of this Hebrew translation was sent to the Uni. versity with the other MSS..--I have a copy in my possession.
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, Carbinah, 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 PERUMALY 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