MUSA OF TIFLIS or AL-TIFLISI (called also Abu 'Imran Meshwi al-Za'farani):
Karaite founder of a new sect in the beginning of the ninth century; a native of Za'faran, a town of Persia; hence his name "Al-Za'farani." He later removed to Tiflis, after which city he was also called.
Musa's sect is variously known as the Abu 'Imranites (Hadassi, "Eshkol ha-Kofer," alphabet 98), the Meshwites (Japheth b. 'Ali, in his commentary on the Twelve Minor Prophets), and the Tiflisites (idem, Commentary on Ex. xii. 2; Joseph Bagi, in "Iggeret Ḳiryah Ne'emanah"). While adopting several Karaite doctrines—such as the prohibitions against marrying a niece, against eating the flesh of a pregnant beast and its embryo, as also the beginning on Sunday to count the fifty days between Passover and Pentecost (thus fixing the incidence of the latter festival on Sunday)—Musa deviated in many important points from the teachings of that sect; so that he is considered by them as an apostate, and his religion as a heresy against which they invoke the divine punishment. The chief tenets of his new religion are (1) that God, after creating the world, departed, leaving it to be directed by itself, and (2), in common with the 'Ibadites and Mujabbarites, disbelief in the resurrection of the dead (Japheth b. 'Ali, in Dukes, "Mittheilungen," p. 30). He deviated from the Karaites in certain points concerning ritual law also; for instance, he reckoned the first day of the month not from the appearance of the new moon, but from the disappearance of the old one; and he regarded the prohibition against eating fat as applying to the fat of sacrifices only and as not being effective in captivity (Hadassi, l.c.).
Pinsker and Grätz identify Musa al-Tiflisi with the Biblical commentator Moses ben Amram ha-Parsi quoted by Abraham ibn Ezra in his commentary on Ex. xii. 5 and on Amos vii. 2. The former reference relates to Moses ben Amram's opinion that only the first Passover sacrifice in Egypt had to be a lamb, and that after the Exodus the sacrifice might be made with a calf instead, an interpretation refuted by Ibn Ezra. Grätz even thinks that "Ben Amram" should be corrected to "Abu Amram"; but Fürst with more reason is of opinion that the Moses ha-Parsi of Ibn Ezra was a different person from Musa al-Tiflisi, who was not thought worthy to be quoted (comp. Hadassi, l.c.). According to Geiger, the Abu 'Imran al-Za'farani who is mentioned by Japheth b. 'Ali is identical with the Judah ha-Parsi cited by Abraham ibn Ezra (Commentary on Ex. xii. 2; Lev. xxv. 19; Num. iii. 29); but Pinsker and Grätz conclude that Judah ha-Parsi is identical with Judah of Hamadan or Yudghan. Steinschneider ("Jewish Literature," p. 118), confusing three persons, thinks that Moses ben Amram ha-Parsi, Judah ha-Parsi, and Musa, the subject of this article, were one and the same man (comp. S. Munk in Jost's "Annalen," 1841, p. 77).
- Fürst, Gesch. des Karäert, i. 83 et seq.;
- Gottlober, Biḳḳoret le-Toledot ha-Ḳara'im, pp. 103, 171, 201;
- Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., pp. 202, 449 et seq.;
- S. Pinsker, Liḳḳuṭe Ḳadmoniyyot, pp. 24, 26.