Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

opinions of all classes of men respecting God's ancient people, without marvelling at the interest taken in their state and prospects. Men who make the laws which govern mighty nations have learned to respect them, and some who look forward inquiringly, wondering what may be the future destinies of the kingdoms of the world, acknowledge the existence of this nation, and their claims on that one land, which no people have long possessed in peace or been able to govern. The Christian, whilst reading that « when the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel,”* will observe that in God's disposal of the different nations, he had special reference to the peculiar people that He careth for their land, and that “His eyes are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year,"+ and that whatever may be the desires and the plans of men, his merciful purposes will be accomplished “ when Zion shall no more be termed forsaken; neither shall her land any more be termed Desolate ; but she shall be called Hephzi-bah and her land Beulah : for the Lord delighteth in her, and her land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin so shall her sons, dispersed, now scorned, “marry her," now forsaken by them; "and as a Bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride so shall her God rejoice over her." I

But what does the widely-spreading interest respecting the Jews betoken? The rich and the poor, the statesman and the private Christian, * Deut. xxxii. 8.

† Deut. xi, 12. $ Isaiah lxii, 4, 5.

[ocr errors]

now

“ think upon the stones of Zion and it pitieth them to see her in the dust." Is not this a sign that “the time to favour Zion, the set time is come;" when the Lord their God will restore them to his favour, and fulfil to believing and obedient Israel his gracious promises, and effect so wondrous a change that men shall call them “ The Holy people, the Redeemed of the Lord," and Zion, “ Sought out, a city not forsaken.”

An instance of the interest respecting Jews, to which we have referred, is afforded by the publication of an interesting little work entitled “ An Appeal in behalf of the Jewish Nation," by E. L. Mitford, Esq. The author was “ for upwards of five years connected with Mogadore, and other parts of the dominions of Morocco, and had thus an opportunity of becoming intimately acquainted with the state of the very large section of the Jewish people who are spread through its various towns." The object of his publication is to show the “advantages which England would derive from the re-establishment of the Jews in Palestine, under British protection.” We have referred to the work for two purposes, one as affording an instance of the growing attention paid to the state and prospect of the Jews; the other to extract from it a deeply interesting and affecting narrative of a daughter of Israel, who chose death rather than deny her own-her fathers' God.

Of the Jews of Morocco, Mr. Mitford says:

“ They are a very fine race, and are partly the descendants of those Jews who were banished by the Christian rulers of Europe from their several dominions, and forced to take refuge in the adjacent Mohammedan countries, where they

Isaiah lxii. 12.

enjoyed at least a precarious protection, preferable to the state of outlawry, in which they only possessed their lives in fear and trembling in Christian Europe.

“ It were needless to enter into the details of the atrocities practised towards this unprotected nation in Spain and other countries of Europe, for so many centuries: but it is not foreign to the subject to remark, in the way of warning, that the decline and downfall to its present state of anarchy of the Spanish nation is easily and naturally traced, being mainly attributable (second only to the just retribution of Providence) to the persecution and banishment from her soil of this wealthy, intelligent, industrious, and unoffending race.

“One of the most horrible means of oppression which is brought to bear on this condemned race, but of which fortunately the instances are comparatively few, arises primarily from the contempt with which they are regarded; their evidence being esteemed utterly worthless, before the tribunal of the cadi against a Moslem, while the evidence of two Moslem witnesses (though often false) is sufficient to convict a Jew, and subject him to the penalty of the grossest crimes. It will easily be perceived how this unlimited power can be applied to the purposes of avarice, sensuality, and religious bigotry, when taken in connexion with the fact, that nothing more is required to make a Jew or Christian a Mohammedan by their law, than the deposition of two witnesses to the simple circumstance of their having pronounced the words, “There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the apostle of God.” Against this testimony the protestations of the Jew are vain, and the penalty of recantation is burning at the stake. Although the instances, as I before mentioned, are few, this is too great a power not to be much too frequently used for the worst purposes; sometimes the threat is sufficient to gain the proposed end, but if that fails, false witnesses are employed, when the victim, who is generally wealthy, purchases his life at a ruinous price, and the circumstance is hushed up; or if poor, which is seldom, he is obliged to conform to his new faith, hated by his own people, and despised and always suspected by his adopted brethren.

“Some cases are, however, attended by circumstances of a graver nature, and have a more tragical ending; one of them I will narrate, which took place while I was in that country, and with which I was therefore well acquainted. The individual sufferer was an interesting young Jewess of respectable family, residing at Tangier, and much is it to be regretted that our Consulgeneral had not influence, or if he did possess any, that he did not exert it to avert the horrid catastrophe. This young creature was summoned before the tribunal of the cadi by two Moors who deposed to her having pronounced their confession of faith. This, however, she utterly denied, but in vain, and the cadi had no alternative, even had he possessed the inclination, but to decree her conformity to Islamism on pain of death.

"I was never able to obtain correct information as to whether the witnesses were actuated by sinister motives, or whether the poor girl really did repeat the fatal words in jest. There is, doubtless, much friendly intercourse existing between the Jews and the better disposed Moors, in which gossip and jesting are sometimes carried beyond the verge of safety, considering the relative position of the parties. Again, in a language like the Arabic, in which the name of God so constantly occurs, there are many ejaculations repeatedly uttered by the Jews which approach very near to this formula, and might, therefore, be mistaken for it. Be this as it may, the affair was of too serious a nature to be passed over lightly by the Jewish community, who deserve the credit of uniting for mutual protection, where their national and religious integrity are concerned, and, consequently, every exertion was made, but unsuccessfully, by influence and money, to crush it in the bud. It had, however, become too public not to reach the ears of Mulia Abderahman, to whose decision it was therefore referred, and the parties repaired to Fez for the

purpose. “Whatever might have influenced her accusers, there could be no doubt of the motive of the Sultan in enforcing the decree, which was, to obtain another plaything for his harem ; in fact, so well known was his character in this respect, that from the moment of her being ordered to his presence, no one expected any other result for few possibly imagined, nor did the Sultan himself, that she would have courage to brave the alternative rather than abandon the faith of her fathers. Such, however, was the case. first sent to the Serail, where every means were employed to shake her constancy ; threats, blandishments, and the most brilliant promises were tried by turns, and were equally unsuccessful. Even her relations were allowed to see her, to endeavour by their persuasions to divert her from her resolution ; but with a firmness which against such assaults could have been the effect

She was

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »