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32566 Part 3

Caleb b. Elijah lived first at Adrianople, and subsequently in Constantinople. He is the author of various theological, homiletic, mathematico-astronomical, and polemical treatises, and liturgical and poetical works. His moderate attitude toward Jesus he borrowed from Hadassi, who in turn had borrowed it from irisani; this attitude had previously been taken by the heresiarch Abu 'Isa and, following him, by Anan, to attract the good will of the Mohammedans, who worship Jesus as a prophet. His poetic compositions contain interesting details of contemporaneous history—as the references in the elegies (in "Gan ha-Melek") to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492) and Lithuania (1495); in the "Patshegen Ketab ha-Dat" to the forcible transposition of the Jews of Adrianople and Provato to Constantinople (1455)—and various personal details referring to contemporary Karaites, Karaite customs and observances, etc.


Moses b. Elijah Bashyai (1544-72), great-grandson of the above-mentioned Elijah Bashyai, was a man of great mental activity, who in a short life of twenty-eight years (later Karaites say eighteen years) produced a goodly number of works (on his literary activity see Jew. Encyc. ii. 575-576). On his travels through the East, especially Egypt, he had the opportunity of learning Arabic, becoming acquainted with various old Karaite works in the Arabic original, and translating passages from them into Hebrew. He succeeded in finding and copying fragments of Anan's code, though it seems not in their original form. He also studied rabbinical literature. These favourable opportunities, however, did not improve his historical judgment, for he, too, blindly accepted the untruthful inventions of the later Karaites as well as their spurious genealogies.


Abraham ben Jacob, contemporary of Elijah Bashyai, and his opponent in the question of the burning of candles on Friday evening, and Judah Gibbor, a liturgical poet of the beginning of the sixteenth century, are also of some importance in the Karaite literature of the Byzantine period; as also are Judah Poki Tchelebi (c. 1580), author of "Sha'ar Yehudah," on marriage prohibitions among the Karaites, and others. The friendly intercourse between Byzantine Rabbinates and Karaites during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is noteworthy, the latter not seldom being instructed by Rabbinic Jews. Comtino's pupils have been mentioned above; Abraham Bali studied with the Rabbinate Shabbethai b. Malchiel. Afendopolo refers to a Karaite ceremony (1497), on the occasion of the dedication of a Pentateuch roll, in which several Rabbinates took part. The more moderate views regarding the Karaites held by the famous rabbi of Constantinople, Elijah Mizrai, are known from his response was he the only rabbi holding such views, for as early as the beginning of the fourteenth century Shemariah of Crete endeavoured to incorporate the Karaites with the Jewish nation.


The Oriental Karaites were rapidly declining during the Byzantine period, especially after Moses Maimonides went to Egypt, at that time the chief seat of Karaism in the East. Although this famous scholar was on the whole tolerant toward the Karaites, permitting, for instance, the Rabbinate Jews to circumcise Karaite children on Saturday according to the rabbinic ritual, he yet endeavoured to keep Karaite influences away from his congregation and to abolish the Karaite customs which had crept in among the ignorant Jews. Maimonides' influence on the Oriental Karaites was so great that his code (under the title of "ibbur," without any specification) is often quoted as a fully recognized authority in the Karaite religio-legal works of that time.


The authority and reputation which Maimonides enjoyed among the Jews and Mohammedans had a depressing and disintegrating influence on Oriental Karaism; the few Oriental writers of that period were frequently obliged to borrow from the Byzantine authors the same material which the latter had previously borrowed from the earlier Oriental Karaites. Henceforth Karaism, of course, could no longer gain ground by new acquisitions; on the contrary, various Karaite communities in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Babylonia, Persia, and northern Africa gradually disappeared, partly by being converted to Islam—in itself a sign of internal weakness and intellectual decay—but mostly through being annexed by Rabbinic. Estori Fari mentions a wholesale conversion of Egyptian Karaites to Rabbinic in 1313, when a descendant of Moses Maimonides was Jewish governor ("nagid").


The third and last epoch of Karaism is the Lithuanio-Russian epoch. As early as the twelfth century the traveller Pethahiah of Regensburg found Ananite rigorists in southern Russia, occupied at that time by Mongolian Tatars. After the Taurian peninsula was conquered by the Mongols in the thirteenth century, several Oriental Rabbinates’ and Karaites, and the so-called "Krimchaks," settled there. The epigraphs at the end of some Pentateuch rolls now in the St. Petersburg Imperial Public Library, and dating from the fourteenth century, are the earliest Crimean documents.


At the end of that century the Lithuanian grand duke Witold settled some Crimean Karaites, together with captive Crimean Tatars, as colonists in Lithuania. A part of the city of Troki, in the government of Wilna, was assigned to these settlers, whence some of them subsequently emigrated to other Lithuanian cities, to Lutsk, in Volhynia, then belonging to Lithuania, and to Halitsch, in Galicia. These Karaites, on coming in contact with the European Rabbinates and developing their literary taste, began to correspond with their Byzantine coreligionists, and at the end of the fifteenth century Lithuanian pupils were studying with Elijah Bashyai.


The Karaites of Troki were the first to achieve distinction, among the most noteworthy of them being Isaac b. Abraham Troki (1533-94), pupil of Zephaniah Troki and author of the well-known anti-Christian "izzu Emunah" (1593), which was completed by his pupil Joseph Malinowski. This work evidences the author's acquaintance with the doctrines of the Christian churches and sects, Isaac acquiring this knowledge chiefly through his acquaintance with the clericals and theologians of the various Christian confessions. Apart from this book, which in Wagenseil's Latin translation made the author's name famous, Isaac's work is unimportant, including only some liturgical hymns, and compendiums of the religious laws in Aaron ben Elijah's "Gan 'Eden."


 His above-mentioned pupil, Joseph Malinowski of Troki, produced the same kind of mediocre work. Zerah b. Nathan, a contemporary and correspondent of the polyhistor Joseph Solomon Delmedigo, studied mathematics and physics, and by his questions induced Delmedigo to write the "Iggeret Auz." Solomon Troki wrote for Professor Puffendorf a detailed treatise on Karaism entitled "Appiryon" (c. 1700), and also some polemical essays against Rabbinism and Christianity. Abrahim ben Josiah, who lived in the Crimea, was also probably a native of Troki; he is the author of a work on Karaite dogmatics which contains many polemical passages against Rabbinic ("Emunah Omen," 1712).


The example of the Karaites of Troki was followed by the Karaites in Galicia and Volhynia, and by some in the Crimea, most of the latter having come from the two former countries. Among the best-known of these is Mordecai b. Nisan Kokisow, who replied to questions regarding the nature of Karaism addressed to him by the Swedish king Charles XII. ("Lebush Malkut") and by Professor Trigland ("Dod Mordekai," 1699), these answers, in the commonplace Karaite style, being for the great-et part compilations from Afendopolo and Moses Bashyai. Simah Isaac Lutski (flourished c. 1740-1750) went from Lutsk to the Crimea, where he composed his works, compiling a bibliographical summary of Karaite literature ("Ora addiim"), which is noteworthy as a first attempt in this direction, in spite of its many shortcomings.


Isaac b. Solomon, Karaite akam living at Chufut-Kale in the beginning of the nineteenth century, wrote several books, including a work on Karaite dogmatic ("Iggeret Pinnat Yirat"), and a work on calendar science ("Or ha-Lebanah") after Immanuel's "Shesh Kenafayim." Joseph Solomon Lutski, akam at Eupatoria in the third and fourth decades of the nineteenth century, annotated the works of both the Aarons, and wrote an account of the exemption of the Russian Karaites from military service ("Teshu'at Yisrael," 1828), and some hymns. The publication of several earlier Karaite works, part of them for the first time, is due chiefly to him. David b. Mordecai Kokizow wrote on calendar science and Karaite marital law, and also composed liturgical hymns and various treatises ("ema Dawid," ed. 1897).


 Mordecai b. Joseph Sultanski, akam at Chufut-Kale in the fifth and sixth decades of the nineteenth century, is the author of two works, "Peta Tiwah" and "Teib Da'at" (1857-58). Solomon Beim, akam at Odessa, wrote in Russian a historical treatise on Chufut-Kale and the Karaites (1862), in which the spurious and forged documents are treated as genuine history. Elijah Kasas published Hebrew poems ("Shirim Aadim," 1857) and a Hebrew grammar in the Tatar Karaite dialect ("Le-Regel ha-Yeladim," 1869), and translated various works from the French. Judah Sawuskan published two works by Aaron ben Elijah of Nicomedia, for which he wrote introductions (1866); some Hebrew essays and poems by him have also been printed in Hebrew periodicals.


 


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