Name given to the eastern division of the Roman empire. On May 11, 330, Constantinople became the capital of the Roman empire, and the Greek Orient thereafter developed independently. In these countries of the Eastern empire, including Palestine, the Jews lived in greatmasses, so that the fate of the Jewish people was decided in Constantinople.Privileged Position.
The association of "navicularii" (ship-and cargo-owners) of Constantinople had attempted to force the Jews and the Samaritans to join them and to share in the burdens of the society; but a decree dated Feb. 20, 390, bearing the names of the emperors Valentinian II., Theodosius, and Arcadius, decided that the communities of the Jews and the Samaritans could not legally be forced to join the navicularii, and that at most their wealthy members only could be taxed ("Codex Theodosianus," xiii. 5, 18). This decree was most important to the Jews, for many of them were ship-owners, and more than one-half of the shipping in Alexandria was controlled by Jews (Synesius, "Epist." iv.). While in the Western em0.pire the Jews were compelled to fill civic offices, the Eastern empire accorded certain privileges at least to the elders ("viri spectabiles") and to the patriarchs of the community ("Cod. Theod." xvi. 8, 14). The rule of Arcadius was on the whole favorable to the Jews, and these privileges of the patriarchs were renewed Feb. 3, 404. In 412, disturbances of the Jewish service and the confiscation of Jewish synagogues were forbidden (ib. xvi. 8, 21). In 438 Theodosius II. had all laws codified and published relating to the Jews ("Novellæ Theod." title iii.).Ill-Feeling Between Jews and Christians.
In the mean time several events had occurred to disturb the relations between Jews and Christians. In 343 a riot is said to have broken out among the Jews of Palestine, during which they killed many Greeks and Samaritans (Theophanes, "Chronographia," ed. Migne, cviii. 139); and similar events are reported in the "Chronicon" of Jerome (compare Theodoret, iv. 6) as occurring in the fifteenth year of Constantius' reign (352). In fact, even Talmudic sources speak of the hardships inflicted upon the Jews under Cæsar Gallus at the hands of his general, Ursicinus. The Roman army captured Diocæsarea (Sepphoris), the stronghold of the uprising, and, among other cities, Lydda and Tiberias, which were completely destroyed. The leader of the rebellion is called by the Romans "Patricius," and in Jewish sources "Natrona"; the latter, however, seems to be an assumed Messianic name, like that of Nehemiah ben Ḥushiel, who, according to an obscure passage of the Midrash (on Ps. lx. 3), died before the gates of Jerusalem in the war against Constantinople. Among other severe penalties, Constantius renewed the law which forbade the Jews to enter Jerusalem (Sozomen, ii. 9, iii. 17). The severe measures against them were somewhat relaxed during the short reign of Julian the Apostate, but as early as the reign of Theodosius I. outrages were committed upon them, the bishop of Callinicus burning the synagogue in Osrhoene (Ambrosius, "Epist." xxix.; see Ambrose). Though in 402 Atticus, bishop of Constantinople, cured a paralytic Jew by baptizing him (Theophanes, l.c. p. 223), Arcadius did not encourage such baptisms, and issued a decree "de his qui ad ecclesias confugiunt" ("Cod. Theod." 1. 2).
But under the bigoted Theodosius II. the clergy had a free hand in Jew-baiting. In Alexandria, through the fanatic bishop Cyril, open hostility broke out between the Jews and the Christians, and Cyril succeeded in cruelly expelling the Jews from the city in 415 (Socrates, "Hist. Eccl." vii. 15; Theophanes, l.c. p. 223). The prefect of the city complained, but at Constantinople the bishop was supported; nor did the authorities there interfere when the Jews were driven from Crete. On the other hand, Theodosius II., with perfect justice, threatened punishment to the Jews for insulting the Christian religion by some Purim joke ("Cod. Theod." xvi. 8, 18, 21).
According to a report falsely ascribed to Athanasius, the Jews of Beirut are said to have insulted the image of Jesus (Leo Diaconus, "Hist." x. 5, ed. Migne, cxvii. 896). In Imnestar or Immum, a little town between Antioch and Chalcis, a similar occurrence is said to have caused the death of a Christian boy; and the perpetrators of the joke were of course severely punished (Socrates, l.c. vii. 16; Theophanes, l.c. p. 227). In consequence of this event the Christians of Antioch took away from the Jews their synagogues (423). The emperor himself did not respect the property of the Jews, for in 429, after the extinction of the patriarchate, he seized its tax, which formerly went to the patriarch, for the imperial treasury ("Cod. Theod." xvi. 8, 29).In Constantinople.
It was Theodosius, also, who expelled the Jews from Constantinople proper, assigning them to a district on the other side of the Golden Horn above Galata, called Stenum (Στενόν), Stanor, or Stanayre (but now changed to Juderia or Judeca), in which was also their cemetery. Hitherto they had occupied in the city itself a special quarter, the copper market (χαλκοπράτεια), containing their synagogue, which was turned later into a Christian church. They were now under the jurisdiction of a special strategus; but Manuel Comnenus again put them under the municipal authorities (Du Fresne, "Histoire Byzantine," ii. 167, Paris, 1680). Benjamin of Tudela, also, did not find the Jews in the city itself, but across the inlet. A staircase, which probably led to the Jewish cemetery, was called 'Eβραικι σκάλα (Ducange, "Notæ in Alexiadem," ad 161 D.). Jews and Samaritans here held such large manufacturing interests that merchants in general were called "Samaritans" (Schwarz, "Samarit. Pentat." p. 42).Samaritans.
The feeling of Emperor Zeno (474-491) against the Jews is illustrated by a remark at the races of Antioch. The "Party of the Green" murdered many Jews, threw their corpses into the fire, and burned their synagogue. "They should have burned the living ones also," said the emperor (Malalas, "Chronographia," ed. Bonn, p. 389). The charioteer Kalliopas, who had come to Antioch from Constantinople, also caused a massacre of the Jews, July 9, 507 (Malalas, ib. p. 396). Small wonder that there was a baptized Jew, Bassus, even in the Palestinian city Paneas (idem, p. 239). Palestine suffered much in those days; Acre and Ptolemais were destroyed by earthquakes; and in Beirut the synagogue fell (Joshua Stylites, ch. xlvii.). In 523 Justin renewedthe decree of Theodosius the Younger, forbidding the Jews and the Samaritans to hold positions of honor ("Codex Justinianus," i. 5, 12). Although nominally no difference was made between Jews and Samaritans, the latter were even more oppressed, since they could not act as witnesses, nor will away their property. During the reign of Zeno, in 490, at Pentecost, the Samaritans of Nablus fell upon the Christians, maltreated their bishop, and desecrated their church; as a punishment the emperor took away their holy mountain, Gerizim, presented it to the Christians, and built a church there.
Under Justinian (527-567) the Samaritans rose again, chose Julian b. Sahar for their king (June, 530), fell upon the Christians, and burned their churches. The emperor's troops suppressed the riots, killed 20,000 Samaritans, and executed the leaders. Many Samaritans thereupon were converted; the others remained at Nablus and in the vicinity of Mt. Gerizim (Theophanes, l.c. p. 411; Procopius, "Historia Arcana," ch. ii.; "Chron. Paschale," ed. Bonn, p. 619). The Jews did not take part in this riot (Malalas, l.c. p. 445), the immediate cause of which was a quarrel at an athletic game. It is known that Jews and Samaritans were employed as charioteers (ib. p. 446). During a race at Cæsarea in Palestine both the Jews and the Samaritans engaged in a riot (Theophanes, l.c. ad annum 555) against the Christians, pulled down their churches, and killed Stephen, the prefect of the city. The emperor had the rioters severely punished by Amantius, or Adamantius (Procopius, l.c. ed. Bonn, pp. 150-152). It was perhaps in mockery of the Jews that there was in the circus of Constantinople the inscription παλαιστινάρχης ("Ruler of Palestine") as the name of a horse (Kumanudes, Συναγωγὴ 'Λέξεων Aθησαυρίστων, p. 248, Athens, 1883). On the other hand, the Jewish era ("æra mundi") is found on an inscription from the year 858, at Nicæa in Bithynia ("Byzantinische Zeitschrift," i. 77). The Jews had always defended the Persians. When Tella in Mesopotamia was besieged by Kobad in 505, the Jews, through treachery, fell into the hands of the Greeks, and were all massacred by the Greek general Leontius (Joshua Stylites, ed. Wright, ch. lviii.).
Justinian was the first emperor who not only curtailed the civic rights of the Jews, but interfered also in their religious customs and traditions. He forbade the celebration of the Passover if it fell before the Christian Easter (Procopius, l.c. ch. xxviii.), because a Christian sect, the Quartodecimani, still celebrated this festival together with the Jews. An anonymous writer violently attacks both the Jews and the Quartodecimani for this (Photius, "Myriobiblon," ed. Migne, ciii. 390). The ancient community of Barion in northern Africa was even forced into baptism by Justinian (Procopius, "De Ædificiis," vi. 2), perhaps because it had resisted Belisarius in his expedition against the Vandals. After Belisarius had conquered the empire of the Vandals he carried to Constantinople the venerated treasures of the Temple, which they had taken from Rome; but, on the advice of a Jew, Justinian sent them to Jerusalem (Procopius, "Bellum Vand." ii. 9). The Jews, having good reason to stand by the Goths, heroically defended Naples in southern Italy against Belisarius in 536 (Procopius, "Bellum Goth." i. 8). It was an evil day for the Jews of Italy when they too came under Byzantine rule. Under Mauritius, in 584, a church in Jerusalem fell; the emperor sent Jews from Constantinople to restore it.War Between Rome and Persia.
Under Phocas occurred the bloody uprising of the Jews of Antioch. Phocas himself was murdered, but his successor, Heraclius (610-642), also waded in the blood of the Jews. During his reign important events took place in Palestine, which are differently reported in the various chronicles. In the fourth year of Heraclius' reign, according to a Syrian source ("Rheinisches Museum für Classische Philologie," xlviii. 164), Sahrparz, general of Chosroes II. of Persia, conquered Damascus, in the following year Galilee, and in the year after Jerusalem, killing 90,000 persons there. "The Jews bought the captive Christians for a small sum, and in their wickedness put them to death"; but the source of this remarkable statement, Bar Hebræus Abulfaraj, is careful to qualify it by adding that "most of the Christians were killed by the Persians and only a small number by the Jews." Eutychius (Ibn Baṭriḳ), however, asserts that the Jews helped the Persians in this massacre of countless Christians, and George the Monk speaks of myriads of Christians murdered by the Jews at the bidding of the Persians, which statement is corroborated by Theophanes ("Byzantinische Zeitschrift," iii. 343). At all events the Jews dealt cruelly with the Christians, thereby hoping to induce the Persians to cede Jerusalem to them. According to the Syriac source the hope was not realized; on the contrary, all Jews from that city and the vicinity were exiled to Persia. When, after fourteen years, Heraclius came as victor into Palestine, the Jews of Tiberias and of Nazareth, under the leadership of Benjamin of Tiberias, joined him as allies; the emperor would have kept peace with them had not fanatic monks instigated him to a massacre. Only a few Jews escaped into Egypt or sought refuge in caves and in forests (Eutychius, ii. 241).Heraclius.
In atonement for the violation of an oath to the Jews, the monks pledged themselves to a fast, which the Copts still observe; while the Syrians and the Melchite Greeks ceased to keep it after the death of Heraclius; Elijah of Nisibis ("Beweis der Wahrheit des Glaubens," translation by Horst, p. 108, Colmar, 1886) mocks at the observance. Heraclius is said to have dreamed that destruction threatened the Byzantine empire through a circumcised people. He therefore proposed to destroy all Jews who would not become Christians; and he is reported to have counseled Dagobert, king of the Franks, to do the same (Pertz, "Monumenta Germaniæ Historica," i. 286, vi. 25; compare Joseph ha-Kohen, "'Emeḳ ha-Baka," tr. Wiener, p. 5). The saying of the Tiburtine sibyl (Sackur, "Sibyllinische Texte," p. 146, Halle, 1898), that the Jews of the Byzantine empire would be converted in one hundred and twenty years, seemsto refer to these occurrences, since about one hundred and twenty years elapsed from the time of the Persian war under Anastasius, in 505, to the victory of Heraclius in 628. It has been thought that a Jewish apocalypse also refers to this expedition of Heraclius against the Persians (Buttenwieser, "Elias-Apokalypse," Leipsic, 1897; see Apocalyptic Literature, Neo-Hebraic; see, however, "Jew. Quart. Rev." xiv. 359). No further persecutions of the Jews under Heraclius are reported. But the Jews again showed their warlike spirit when, as Nicephorus narrates, they stormed the Church of St. Sophia at Constantinople, which at that time was protected by the empress Martina and her son Heracleonas. Heraclius' dream was fulfilled in an unexpected way. Judea, Syria, and Egypt fell into the hands of the circumcised Arabs and ceased to exist for the Byzantine empire; and the Jews were no longer excluded from Jerusalem.The Iconoclasts.
The Byzantine empire was now considerably smaller, but all the more bitter were the persecutions originating there. It is said that Leo the Isaurian (718-741) as an itinerant pedler met some Jewish fortune-tellers, who predicted that he would win the Roman empire if he abolished idolatry (Glycas, "Annal." i. 280; Gibbon, "Decline and Fall," v. 185). The iconoclasts, of whom Leo was the first, were nick-named "Jews," as the pure Jewish religion forbade image-worship. The sentence of a wise man was frequently quoted: "You have often heard that the Hebrews and Samaritans condemn images, hence all those who condemn them are Jews" (Mansi, "Sacrorum Conciliorum," etc., xiii. 167). The reading of Isa. xl. 18, at Christmas, 814, so affected Emperor Leo V., the Armenian, that he turned iconoclast. The same may be supposed of the Isaurian, who was acquainted with Jews and Arabs. Nevertheless he forced the Jews of his empire to be baptized (723), many submitting, but at the first opportunity returning to their ancient faith. Others fled to freer countries, a number of Greek Jews going to the Crimea, to the Caucasian districts, or to the kingdom of the Chazars, where they effectively planted the seeds of Judaism.Basil I.
The former comrade in arms of Leo the Armenian, Emperor Michael II., stood in peculiar relations to Judaism. Many Jews were living in Amorion, a city in upper Phrygia. The Greek inhabitants belonged to a sect which, while believing in baptism, lived according to the Mosaic law in all things except circumcision. In spiritual as well as in temporal affairs it had as its leader a man or a woman who must have been born a Hebrew. Michael the Phrygian in his youth had belonged to this sect. Thus he had been ruled by Jews before he in turn ruled them (Additions to Theophanes, ed. Migne, cix. 56). The so-called "Attinganes" also may be regarded as Jews (Basnage, "Histoire des Juifs," v. 1482). Basil I., the Macedonian (867-886), third ruler after Michael, affected the lot of the Jews as no other Greek emperor had done. Knowing well that the religious disputations which he convoked between Jews and Christians led to no results, he promised relief from the burdensome taxation, and honors and offices to all Jews who should elect to be baptized. Perhaps by threats rather than by promises, he induced many Jews to be converted, although, as the source expressly adds, they returned to Judaism immediately after the emperor's death (ib. p. 341; Simeon Magister, ib. p. 690; Georgius Monachos, ib. p. 842; Cedrenus, in the "Compendium," p. 241). The Chronicle of Aḥimaaẓ (Neubauer, "Medieval Jewish Chronicles," vol. ii.) shows the far-reaching consequences of the emperor's edict. From Otranto the terrible news spread even to the Byzantine provinces of southern Italy, and it was only through a miracle, when Shephatiah b. Amittai cured the insane daughter of the emperor, that five Jewish communities there were saved; while more than one thousand communities were forced to submit to baptism. Shephatiah expressed his sorrow in touching penitential songs; and this characteristically Byzantine act became the subject of Maḥzor commentaries. The Chronicle of Aḥimaaẓ says that Basil's son, Leo VI., the Philosopher, restored religious freedom to the Jews; this agrees with the statements found in the continuation of Theophanes. However, the "Basilica," that "corpus juris" which was begun by Basil and continued and completed by Leo VI. and Constantine VII. Porphyrogenitus, contains some stringent measures in regard to the Jews. But more rigidly than these imperial edicts were the edicts of the Church enforced.
The heretical patriarch of Constantinople, Photius, who had for his teacher a Jewish necromancer, and who was himself the tutor of the imperial philosopher, collected the ecclesiastical laws into the nomocanon. The sixth ecumenical council (680-681), which was the third convened at Constantinople, prescribed in Tit. iv., canon 78, that the Samaritans, with whom there had been trouble, should not be admitted too hastily to baptism. The seventh ecumenical council, the second held at Nicæa, in 787, dealt in the eighth canon with the same subject; this time, however, in regard to the Jews, who, it said, ought to remain Jews rather than mock at Christianity under the mask of Christians. Emperor Constantine VIII., in 1026, added to these laws a regulation for a special Jew's oath.Messianic Hopes.
Soon afterward the Byzantine Jews were stirred by events of world-historic importance. At the time of the first crusade (1096), Messianic hopes filled both the Germanic and the Greek Jews, who expected no less than that Palestine would be restored to the Jews. A letter found in the genizah of Cairo ("Jew. Quart. Rev." ix. 27-29), which was sent from Tripolis to Constantinople, seems to indicate that Emperor Alexius Comnenus and the Patriarch (this is the interpretation of the "great Hegemon") exempted the Jews, perhaps only those of Salonica, from taxation, either because they were unable to pay taxes on account of the stress of the time, or because the emperor, fearing lest they should sympathize with the Latin crusaders, tried to secure their loyalty. Signs were reported from Salonica which were taken to announce the advent of the Messiah. These hopes, however, were deceptive; the Jews suffered untold misery at the hands of the crusaders, and Palestine, wrested from theMohammedans, was not even allowed to be the sanctuary of Jewish piety (ib. x. 139-151).In Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries.
About the year 1000 Elijah of Nisibis ("Beweis der Wahrheit," p. 42) gave the following description of the Byzantine Jews: "The Romans tolerate many Jewish inhabitants within their borders, protect them, permit them to worship in public, and to build synagogues. The Jew in his country openly declares: 'I am a Jew.' He cherishes his religion, prays in public, is not called to account for it, nor is he prevented from observing it, and no difficulties are put in his way." The Nestorian metropolitan here shows how much better was the condition of the Jews than that of the Christian heretics. Moreover, it appears that the Greek Jews were more favorably circumstanced than their brethren in most of the other countries of Europe; the Greeks found the conduct of the Latins toward the Jews unjust and abhorrent (Basnage, "Histoire des Juifs," v. 1749). Therefore it is an error on the part of the traveler Pethahiah to speak of the bondage of the Jews in Greece. He himself testifies at the end of his work that there were a great many Jewish communities in Greece; consequently they could not have been so badly treated. The traveler Benjamin of Tudela (about 1170) also testifies to the peace and prosperity enjoyed by the Greek Jews. In Otranto, the last town in southern Italy that remained under Byzantine rule, there were 500 Jews, but in Corfu only one Sicilian Jew; in Arta (or Larta), 100 families, whose leader was significantly called "Rabbi Heracles"; in Achelaos were 2 Jews; in Patras, 50; in Lepanto, 100; in Krisso near Mt. Parnassus, 200 Jews, engaged in agriculture; in Corinth, 300; in Thebes, 2,000. A Jew from Thebes is mentioned in the Messianic letter from Tripolis, and Judah al-Ḥarizi also mentions this city. Its Jewish scholars stood second only to those of Constantinople, and the best silks and purple stuffs of the whole Byzantine empire were manufactured by its Jews. Silkculture had been quickly learned by the Byzantine Jews, who became masters of the art, some of them being transported to Sicily by Roger, king of Naples. In Eubœa there were 200 Jews; in Taburtrissa, 100; in Rovinaca, 100; in Armiros, a great commercial city, 400; in Vissena, 100; in Salonica, 500; in Mitrizzi, 20; in Drama, 140; in Christopolis, 20; in Rodosto, 400; in Gallipoli, 200; in Kilia, 50. In Zeitum, on the borders of Wallachia, Benjamin found 50 Jews. The Wallachians pillaged the Greeks, but did not molest the Jews; they even gave to their children Jewish names, and called themselves brothers to the Jews. In Constantinople—that is, across the inlet—lived 2,000 Rabbinite and 500 Karaite Jews, separated by a wall. In addition to celebrated teachers, there were silk-workers, merchants, and bankers; they were often disturbed by the tanners near whom they lived. On the Greek islands also were many Jews: on Mitylene were 10 communities, on Chios 400 families, on Samos 300, on Rhodes 400, and on Cyprus several communities, among whom were some heretics.Internal Constitution.
Benjamin of Tudela, and Justinian in his one hundred and forty-sixth novella, describe quite accurately the communal affairs of the Jews of the Eastern empire. Since the extinction of the patriarchate they had no central authority. In the several communities the heads of the academies ("reshe pirḳe," ἀρχιφερεκίται) managed the affairs, assisted by the elders (πρεσβύτεροι) or masters ("magistri"). In Palestine the rabbis were designated by the Greek expression "wise men" (σοφοι), a title that survived in the Sicilian communities during the whole Middle Ages ("Jew. Quart. Rev." vi. 235). The delegates to the communities were called ἀπόσολοτ. The "Cod. Theod." xvi. 8, 10 also mentions the primates of the Jews. When Benjamin of Tudela visited the Jews at Salonica, they had their own mayor (ἔΦορος). This was during the reign of Manuel Comnenus (1143-80), who, as has been said, put the Jews of Constantinople under the jurisdiction of the common courts. He permitted his physician, Solomon the Egyptian, to ride a horse. At Corfu, where the Jews were increasing, the Jewish syndics dressed like the Christian syndies, but were not permitted to carry a sword. Here the Jews retained their old constitution even under Venetian rule (Romanos, in "Hestia," Athens, 1891; "Rev. Et. Juives," xxiii. 69-74; concerning the Jewish community of Corfu see Romanos, l.c.).
The once powerful Byzantine empire grew ever weaker, Arabs, Bulgarians, Venetians, and Turks despoiling it of its most beautiful provinces. There came a time when Jewish funds helped to sustain the weakened realm. In 1237 the pope, Gregory IX., permitted the king of France to send money obtained from the Jews to the Byzantine empire (Stern, "Stellung der Päpste zu den Juden," Nos. 198-200, Kiel, 1895). Under the Bulgarian czar, Joannes Alexander (1331-65), who married a Jewess called after baptism "Theodora," the Jews are said to have made themselves obnoxious and to have created disturbances (Jirecek, "Gesch. der Bulgaren," p. 312, Prague, 1876). In Bulgaria the Jews were employed as executioners (ib. p. 380). This was a Byzantine custom, as may be learned from a letter of R. Jacob de Venice to Fra Pablo Christiani (Kobak, in "Ginze Nistaroth," 1868, pp. 1-31; compare "Monatsschrift," 1870, p. 117). The spirit of intolerance still permeated the polemical work of Emperor Joannes Cantacuzenus (1347-55), which was, however, directed against the Mohammedans rather than the Jews (ed. Migne, cliii., cliv.); a century later this spirit entirely disappeared. One often meets polemical writings against the Jews (Jahn, "Anecdota Græca Theologica," p. xvi., Leipsic, 1893), and the Greek opponent declares that he uses the Jewish language (ib. p. 1).Jewish Relics at Constantinople.
The beautiful city of Constantinople fell into the hands of the Turks in 1453, and, curiously enough, the Greeks mourned with songs patterned after the Hebrew Threni. Countless monuments of art, many pertaining to Judaism, were destroyed. Nearly all the personages of the Old Testament had statues here, which were reverenced by the Jews, even though they served Christian purposes. The staff of Moses, and the cross, both brought by Constantine the Greatfrom Jerusalem, were considered the most precious treasures of the empire. Until 1204 the statue of a rider with winged feet stood in the cattle market ("forum tauri"), representing Bellerophon, though the people regarded it as Joshua when he bade the sun stand still. Abraham Zacuto held the characteristic if erroneous opinion that Job was buried in Constantinople "(Yuḥasin," ed. London, p. 6). The Midrash books, most of which received their final form in the Byzantine empire, often speak of the new Rome, or Babel, as it is also called, especially in regard to the size of this city (Midr. Teh. xlviii. 4; B. B. 75b; see also Berliner's "Magazin," xix. 239). In a late Midrash the throne and circus of Constantinople are discussed, and Benjamin of Tudela describes the throne. Under the name "Kostantine" the city is often mentioned in the later Midrash and Targum, and even more frequently in the Jewish literature of the later Middle Ages. Aside from its figurative names, such as "'Uz," "Buz," "Magdiel," etc., the Byzantine empire is usually called "Romania," for the Byzantines always considered themselves Romans.Liturgy.
The name is especially applied to the ritual, and mention is frequently made of a Roman or Grecian ritual (Zunz, "Ritus," p. 79) and of a Roman Maḥzor (ed. princeps, Constantinople, 1510). Affinity to the Greek ritual is shown not only by those of Corfu and of Kaffa (a city of the Crimea, which like many others was influenced by Constantinople), but also by those of Germany, France, and Italy, into each of which, the Byzantine empire being the medium, the Palestinian ritual was introduced; while Spain and the farther Orient were guided by the Babylonian ritual. Technical terms for the liturgical poetry in Hebrew (as "ḳeroba") and especially in Greek (as "piyyuṭ," from ποιητής, ποίησις, from λειτουργία, from σύνδικος or σύντεκνος from ψαλμός) spread from here to the European countries. The influence of the Byzantine Jews on Judaism in general is in fact much greater than has heretofore been acknowledged.Jewish Authors.
As long as the academies of Babylonia flourished they were much frequented by Greek Jews, especially by Jews from Constantinople, whose knowledge of the Greek language was often of advantage to the Geonim (Harkavy, "Teshubot ha-Geonim," pp. 24, 105). Hai Gaon learned Greek from them for his lexicographic work. Even Naḥmanides in Spain studied under a Greek scholar (on B. B. 8a). Matthew of Edessa (1136) mentions in his chronicle a great Hebrew scholar of Cyprus, named Moses, who even in matters of religion judged between Greeks and Armenians (Wiener, in "Hebr. Bibl." vi. 116). Ibn Ezra mentions "the wise men of Israel in the land of Javan" (on Jonah i. 2). In his introduction to the commentary on the Pentateuch he speaks of the Greeks as forming a special school of Bible exegesis. Their method is the so-called "Derush," though they held it superfluous to compile older Midrash works. Two eminent representatives of this method, both from Castoria in Bulgaria, are Tobiah b. Eliezer, author of "Lekaḥ Ṭob" (edited by S. Buber), and his pupil Meïr, author of "Or 'Enayim." Tobiah also took part in the Messianic movement of 1096, mentioned above, and both are cited by their countryman Judah (Leon) Mosconi of Ochrida in Bulgaria (about 1360; Berliner's "Magazin," iii. 95), who in recent times became known as the owner of a valuable library ("Rev. Et. Juives," xl. 63). The work "Kebod Elohim" of R. Abraham Cohen of Patras is preserved in manuscript. Joseph "the Greek" is known as a translator. In the sphere of this Greek learning were also the Jews of southern Italy and of Sicily, prominent among whom was Shabbethai Donnolo (about 970) of Oria, physician to the Byzantine viceroy Eupraxius. The well-known Isaiah di Trani also lived in Greece, and from his responsa may be gleaned the fact that some rabbinical observances were neglected by the Greek Jews ("Jew. Quart. Rev." iv. 99). Whether Hillel b. Eliakim, the Midrash commentator, lived in Greece or in southern Italy is not known. The Mishnah commentator Isaac Siponto also deserves mention, and a certain R. Baruch from the land of Javan is named as a Talmudic authority. Shemariah b Elijah Cretensis, in Spain called simply "the Greek," a philosopher and grammarian, was prominent in the fourteenth century. The "Greek" Zerahiah (fourteenth century) is the author of "Sefer ha-Yashar." Besides these there were in Greece several liturgic poets; but they were unfavorably criticized by the competent judge Judah al-Ḥarizi, who singles out for commendation only the poet Michael b. Kaleb of Thebes. Since Abraham ibn Ezra and Maimonides ("Niṭ'e Na'amanim," 17b) also pass adverse judgment on the scholars of Greece, the intellectual endowments of the latter must have been mediocre.Karaites.
But the Byzantine empire was and remained the classic land of the Samaritans and the Karaites. The frequent uprisings of the former have already been mentioned. The literary activity of the Karaites is most noteworthy. They seem to have had a systematic organization, for Aaron b. Judah Kusdini (about 1120) is named as the leader of the Karaite communities of the Byzantine empire (Fürst, "Gesch. des Karäerthums," i. 211). Distinction was attained by the "Jew" Assaf, probably a Karaite (time uncertain), and by the polyhistor Caleb Afendopolo (fifteenth century), a distinguished botanist, this being a rare attainment among the Jews of the Middle Ages. In Constantinople lived also Judah Hadassi (twelfth century), the greatest Karaite scholar. Most of the Karaite books were destroyed in the frequent conflagrations at Constantinople (Wulfer, in "Theriaca Judaica," p. 289).
In the writings of the Rabbinite as well as in those of the Karaite Jews, Greek, the mother tongue, often has the ascendency, to the extent of entire Greek glosses (Perles, in "Byzantinische Zeitschrift," ii. 570-584). But such words as for "Roman," and for "Byzantine coin," are also found in Western authors; the Jews also used Greek money in Turkish times (year-book "Jerusalem," v. 167). Jerahmeel, who, probably in the eleventh century, made an epitome of the Yosippon, also gives evidence of the thoroughly Greek culture of the Byzantine Jews. "It is certain that in Magna Græca, as in Constantinople, Greek was the vernacularlanguage, and would therefore be used by the Jews" (Neubauer, in "Jew. Quart. Rev." xi. 367). Two facts, both relating to the religious service, especially illustrate how deeply the Jews were steeped in Greek culture. Emperor Justinian was requested by a party of the Jews to have the weekly portions from the Torah translated into Greek. He willingly consented, hoping that thereby the Jews might be converted; he issued, in 553, a decree ordering the Jews to use either the Septuagint translation or that of Aquila. But the Jews reconsidered the matter be-times and retained their old custom. Even more remarkable is the fact that in Candia the Hafṭarah for the afternoon of the Day of Atonement—the Prophet Jonah—was recited in Greek (Elijah Kapsali, ed. Lattes, p. 22). This text, dating from the twelfth or the thirteenth century, is considered by many to be the oldest extant specimen of the Greek vernacular. A complete translation of the Bible into Greek, for the use of Jews, exists in several manuscripts. Such a translation, together with an Aramaic and Spanish translation, was first printed at Constantinople in 1547.
As Greek culture had well-nigh disappeared before the invention of printing, the intellectual products of the Byzantine Jews are to a great extent unknown; here, as well as in the political history of the time, new investigations may lead to fresh discoveries.