Ancient city and republic in northern Africa; of special interest to Jews on account of the Phenico-Semitic origin of its inhabitants, its government under the suffetes, recalling the "shofeṭim" (judges) among the Hebrews, and on account of the religion of the inhabitants. The city, called ("New City") in native inscriptions (Lidzbarski, "Nordsemitische Epigraphik," i. 365), is mentioned in Jewish writings since Talmudic times only as ("Ḳarthigini"), a name equivalent to the Byzantine form Kαρϑαγένη and in agreement with the Syriac (Payne Smith, "Thes. Syr." cols. 3744, 3765), the Greek form Kαρχηδών being found with the latter. Notwithstanding the peculiar form, perhaps chosen with reference to the founder Dido (+ γυνή, "Woman-City"), the Hebrew word certainly designates Carthage in Africa, not Cartagena in Spain. Later Jewish chronicles, which make the founding of Carthage contemporaneous with David, use the variants "Ḳarṭagena" (Yuḥasin, ed. London, 236b), "Ḳarṭigini" (with ט instead of ח, as sometimes even in the Talmud; David Gans to the year 3882), "Ḳartini," and "Ḳartigni" ("Seder ha-Dorot," s.v. "David"), sometimes adding the curious remark that the Talmud refers to two cities of Carthage, which is, however, an erroneous conclusion.


Josephus Flavius writes Kαρχηδών like the Greeks. He says it is recorded in the public documents of Tyre that King Solomon built the Temple at Jerusalem 143 years and eight months before the Tyrians founded Carthage ("Contra Ap." i. § 17). Josephus intends to prove by this statement the antiquity of the Jewish people, drawing the same conclusions from Menander's account of the reign of Hiram, according to which Hiram came to the throne 155 years and eight months before the founding of Carthage, and the Temple was built in the twelfth year of his reign (ib. i. § 18). Through this computation Josephus refutes the grammarian Apion, who placed the exodus from Egypt at the time that the Phenicians founded Carthage (ib. ii. § 2). The Maccabean Judah formed a treaty with the Romans for the reason, among others, that he had heard that the Romans had vanquished the Carthaginians ("Ant." xii. 10, § 6; compare "B. J." ii. 16, § 4; vi. 6, § 2). Josephus does not say that any Jews lived at Carthage.

In the Bible and the Talmud.

Although Carthage is not mentioned in the Bible, modern scholars are inclined to identify the Biblical Tarshish with Carthage, since it is thus translated in the Septuagint, the Targum, and the Vulgate, Ezek. xxvii. 12. A unique statement in the Talmud, based probably on the legend of the emigration of the Girgashites, identifies Kenizzi (Gen. xv. 19) with Carthage (Yer. Sheb. 36b; Yer. Ḳid. 61d; Gen. R. xliv. 23). But a wide-spread rabbinical legend identifies the land of the Amazons with Carthage (Lev. R. xxvii. 1), or with Africa (Tamid 32b), in both instances agreeing with classical tradition. Carthage was considered one of the four largest cities of the Roman empire (Sifre, Num. 131; p. 47b, ed. Friedmann). An amora of the third century has the following curious sentence: "From Tyrus to Carthage Israel and his 'Father in heaven' are known; from Tyrus to the west and from Carthage to the east Israel and his God are not known" (Men. 110a); which is probably meant to indicate the extent of the Semitic race.

Jews in Carthage.

The fact that the Talmud mentions the Carthaginian teachers of the Law, R. Abba, R. Isaac, and R. Ḥana, proves that Jews were living in that city, although Frankel, without reason, takes it to mean an Armenian city ("Mebo," pp. 6b, 66a), and Kohut a Spanish city ("Aruch Completum," vii. 220). It is evident from the introduction to the work "Adversum Judæos," ascribed to Tertullian, that Jews were living in Carthage; and they are found still further west (Schürer, "Gesch." 3d ed., iii. 26, note 64). Münter ("Primordia Eccl. Afric." p. 165, Copenhagen, 1829) mentions a certain R. Jisschak (the one in the Talmud?). The Jews of Africa (see Africa) are often referred to in the correspondence between Jerome and Augustine; and in recent times there has been found in Gamart, near the city of Carthage, a great Jewish necropolis with many inscriptions in Latin (see Catacombs). From the conquest of Carthage by the Vandals (439) to the subjection of the latter by the Byzantines (533), the holy vessels from the Temple of Jerusalem, that had been taken from Rome, were kept in Carthage (Evagrius, "Scholasticus," Fragment iv. p., 17; Procopius, "Bellum. Vand." ii. § 9). The Jews then passed under the rule of Justinian, who instructed Solomon, the governor of Africa, to transform the synagogues as well as the churches of the Arians and the Donatists into orthodox churches (Novellæ, No. 37). Solomon, however, was soon compelled to flee from the rebellious Africans.

Under the Arabs.

In 692 the city was wrested from the Christians by Ḥasan, a general of the calif 'Abd al-Malik, and in 698 the Greeks were permanently driven from Carthage and Africa by Musa (Weil, "Gesch. der Chalifen," i. 478). Previous to this the Arabs had founded the city Ḳairwan, which became as important to the Jews as Carthage had been. Following Arabic writers, Parḥi defined the situation of Carthage as 36° latitude by 35° longitude ("Kaftor wa-Feraḥ," ed. Edelmann, 26b).

  • Movers, Phönicier, ii. part i. 142, 144, 350;
  • Böttger, Lexikon zu den Schriften des Flavius Josephus, p. 79;
  • Neubauer, G. T. p. 411;
  • Krauss, Lehnwörter, ii. 572;
  • Delattre, Gamart ou la Nécropole Juive de Carthage, Lyons, 1895;
  • Rev. Et. Juives, xliv. 2-28.
G. S. Kr.
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