The Jewish Foundation of Islam


Jewish Foundation of Islam

1. Preface

2. The Jews of Arabia





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First Lecture:  The Jews In Arabia


The question of the chief source, or sources, of Muhammad Mohammedanism has long been discussed, and quite recently has called forth a number of scholarly investigations throwing new light on this or that feature of the subject. 1 The Arabian prophet himself declared Islam to be the true heir of the old Hebrew revelation-in which term he would include also the New Testament. Whether it can be said in some true sense that Muhammad Mohammedanism grew out of Judaism, may appear in the progress of these lectures. It is fitting that this Jewish Institute of Religion should give the opportunity, through the medium of the Stroock Foundation, for a new treatment of the subject by a representative of the other great religion which traces its origin to the Israelite faith.

The history of Islam is of great interest in every part, but most of all in its beginnings. What we are now called upon to notice is not that it is the religion of some 200 millions of men, but that its inception was in remarkable degree the work of one man; of whose life, private and public, we have a considerable amount of definite knowledge. Its sacred book, the quean Koran, was his own creation; and it lies before us practically un-changed from the form which he himself gave it. We thus seem to know the origins of Muhammad Mohammedanism much more intimately than those of any other world faith. There is another side, however, and the serious problems are many, even here at the outset. The man and the book stand out pretty clearly to our view, but the surroundings are badly blurred. We know very little about the Mecca of that day, and we have scant information regarding either the materials or the processes by whose aid a great religion was then coming into being. Apparently a root out of dry ground, an Arabian religion intended for Arabs, it nevertheless was designed and expected by its founder to conquer the world. There was behind this confidence more than mere self-assurance, more than pride in the quran Koran and trust in Muslim armies. Muhammad Mohammed firmly believed that the new faith was an old faith, and that its evident foundations went far outside Arabia.

It did indeed sweep over all Western Asia, Egypt, North Africa, and a portion of Europe, in an incredibly short time. We can see certain external reasons for this: the impetus of an awakened race, whose country was already too narrow; and the comparative weakness of the civilized nations which were encountered. More important still, however, was the driving power inherent in the new religion itself. Where did the cameleer of Mecca get the materials of the faith which set the neighboring world on fire, and which today, after thirteen centuries, is the religion of many peoples and parts of the earth?

Unquestionably the first impression gained by a reader of the quran Koran is that Muhammad Mohammed had received the material of his new faith and practice mainly from the Jews of the Hijaz. On almost every page are encountered either episodes of Hebrew history, or familiar Jewish legends, or details of rabbinical law or usage, or arguments which say in effect that Islam is the faith of Abraham and Moses. It is natural to suppose that all this was ultimately derived from Israelites; and that these Israelites were Muhammad Mohammed's own neighbors is the unescapable impression constantly produced by his language: he is speaking to those who were within reach of his voice, not to far distant or imaginary hearers.

These facts, if taken by themselves, would obviously indicate that the Arabian prophet's religious education had been thoroughly Jewish. Even so, we should be reduced to conjecture as to the details of the process: how, and in what form, he obtained his instruction; what teachers and what means of teaching were available. But there are many more facts to be taken into account. Islam is a fusion of diverse elements, some easily identified, others of obscure origin. The quran Koran contains a considerable contribution from Arabian paganism, which Muhammad Mohammed adopted, whether by his own choice or under constraint. The borrowing from the native heathendom is usually obvious enough, and yet even here some things are doubtful. There is also in the quran Koran a distinctly Christian element; how pervasive and how important, is at present a subject of controversy. Its sources have been even more problematic than those of the Jewish teaching.

Abraham Geiger's brilliant little study, Was hat Muhammad Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen?, 1833 (reprinted in 1902), held the field for many years, even after the progress of Islamic studies had left it far behind. There followed a reaction in favor of Christianity as the main source of Muhammad Mohammed's inspiration. To this, the great influence of Wellhausen gave an impetus which has been lasting. In his Reste arabischen Heidentums, 1887, 204-212, he treated briefly the origin of Islam, which he held to be prevailingly Christian, employing arguments which at the present day seem surprisingly weak throughout. He was influenced especially by the fact that Muhammad Mohammed's converts were at first called "sabians SåbiŸans" by the Mekkans. Since much has been made of this fact in recent years, it will not be out of place to notice it briefly here. The Sabians (otherwise known as the Mandaeans) were a Gnostic sect in southern Babylonia. There was constant traffic across the desert from Irak to Mekka, and the existence of this sect was perhaps known to many in the Hijaz. When muhammad Mohammed awoke to the fact of great religions in the world, his interest was very naturally aroused by the report of this ancient community, belonging neither to Judaism nor to Christianity, and yet bearing a certain resemblance to both. His knowledge of its existence was very possibly gained from his Mesopotamian Jewish instructor, who will be mentioned frequently in the subsequent lectures. He mentions the Sabians several times in the quran Koran (22:17; 2:59; 5:73); 2 and in view of his fondness for strange names and words, especially in the early part of his career, they might be expected to appear oftener. The Mekkans heard the name from muhammad Mohammed, and it provided them with a very convenient epithet, used of course derisively. That they did in fact thus employ it, is attested not only by several passages in Ibn Hisham's Life of the Prophet, but also by an undoubtedly contemporary record, the verses of suraqa Suråqa ibn auf ˙Auf ibn ahwas al-Aøwaã (Aghani XV, 138), in which he rallies the poet Lebid on his conversion.

The only point of connection between muhammad Mohammedans and Sabians which Wellhausen is able to find lies in the fact that the latter were baptists, while Islam prescribed certain washings. He remarks (p. 206): 'The five prayers and ablutions go back to the very earliest Islamic time, and muhammad Mohammed laid great weight on them.' This, however, can hardly stand as evidence. The five prayers are later than the quran Koran; and as for the relatively simple ablutions, it seems clear that they were merely derived from Jewish custom. These matters will be considered later. As for muhammad Mohammed and the Sabians, I am in full agreement with Bell, op. cit., 148, that it is "extremely improbable that he knew anything about them." 3 The quran Koran mentions the Magians of Persia in one passage (22:17), and here also it is probable that he knew hardly more than the name.

Wellhausen's verdict nevertheless remains in force. It is quoted with approval, and with repetition of his several arguments, in Nöldeke-Schwally, Geschichte des quran qorans Qoråns, I, 7 f. H. P. Smith, The Bible and Islam (New York, 1897), accepts the demonstration, and asserts (p. 315), "The impulse came from Christianity." Rudolph, Die Abhängigkeit u. s. w., 63-71, elaborates the arguments, and generally expresses himself cautiously, but remarks (p. 67), "Nach alledem ist die Richtigkeit der These Wellhausens kaurn zu bezweifeln." Many others follow in the same track, asserting that the influence of Christianity was more potent than that of Judaism in starting muhammad Mohammed on the course which he followed; giving him the outlines of his conception of a new religion and providing him with the essentials of its material. Many of those elements which on their face appear to be manifestly of Israelite origin are explained as properties which had been taken over by the Christians and came through them to the Arabian prophet.

This latter argument can be turned the other way with at least equal force. The two religions, Judaism and Christianity, had much in common in that day; each had continued to exercise some influence on the other. Jews had some knowledge of Christian literature, and vice versa. There are in the quran Koran numerous passages in regard to which one might say (and some scholars actually have said): "Here is distinctly Christian doctrine"; or even, "Here is a saying plainly suggested by such and such a verse of the New Testament." Another, with equal justification, could claim the same utterances as showing Israelite influence, and find equally close parallels in the Hebrew scriptures. In not a few such cases the religious conception, and even the formula in which it is expressed, can be found in the pagan religious records of Western Asia, centuries before Islam and independent even of Hebrew thought. Men think alike, and religious ideas in particular bud and blossom in linguistic forms which admit of no great variation. Mere verbal resemblances, even when close and extended, are likely to mislead the one who is looking for them. Very much that is easily included in a collection of "parallel passages" may be as easily excluded as due to inevitable coincidence in human thought and speech. When such a collection is once undertaken it is hard to find a stopping place, and the grains of wheat are soon buried under the bushels of chaff. I confess to having brought away such an impression of fruitless abundance from my reading of the exhaustive study by Ahrens, "Christliches im quran Qoran" (mentioned above). Rudolph's far briefer and well chosen list of "parallels" (10-17) likewise affords no evidence that the prophet had ever become acquainted with any portion of the N. T. scriptures; and his own sound and well stated conclusions (18 ff.) deserve careful reading.

I have been unable, in spite of continued efforts, to get sight of Andrae's book. From the extensive use of it by Ahrens, however, in the publication just mentioned, it is possible to see the manner, and in part the material, of his argument. The latter author (p. 18) quotes Andrae's main conclusions, to the effect that '"die eschatologische Frömmigkeit des quran Qorans auf das nächste mit der religiösen Anschauung verwandt ist, die in den syrischen Kirchen vor und zur Zeit muhammad Muhammeds herrschte"; "die Predigt (des quran Qorans) hat bestimmte Vorbilder in der syrischen Literatur"; wir finden im quran Qoran "nicht nur die religiösen Gedanken, sondern in mehreren Fällen sogar die homiletischen Formeln und feststchende erbauliche Redewendungen," wie sie uns bei den syrischen Schriftstellern entgegentreten.' Ahrens concludes (ibid.): "Damit ist der quran Qoranforschung, soweit es sich um den Anteil des Christentums an der Entstehung des Islams handelt, eine sichere Grundlage gegeben."

On the contrary, the foundation just described, so far from being "sicher," is of the most insecure and unsatisfactory character. The religious and moral exhortations of the quran Koran are in the main of very general application, and are expressed in terms which could be paralleled in any literature of popular instruction. The ideas expressed (except for the frequent polemic against the Christian Trinity) are those which were common to all the principal religions and sects, Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic (all more or less syncretistic) in that time and part of the world. There certainly is no safe ground for saying (as some have said): 'This quran quranic Koranic teaching is Gnostic,' or 'This is Manichaean'-in our dense ignorance of the type of Christianity that was known in the Hijaz, and especially, the type of Judaism that was actually present in Mekka in muhammad Mohammed's time, and from which we know him to have derived such a very large proportion of what we find in the quran Koran. The general knowledge of certain Christian doctrines, and of specific Christian terms, was much more widespread in Arabia in the prophet's time than the scholars of a former generation realized. New evidence has been collected, as will appear. The most of the catchwords and other characteristic properties which muhammad Mohammed has been credited with introducing to his fellow-countrymen are now seen to have been well known to them before his day. "Christliches im quran Qoran" there is, indeed, and that in considerable amount; but the question of its origin has hardly been brought nearer to settlement by recent discussions.

Ahrens sees reason for believing that muhammad Mohammed received his teaching, now from Arians (pp. 154 f.), now from Nestorians (18, 173), and again from Gnostics and Manichaeans (15, 18, 167). Christian hermits, presumably in the Hijaz, told him what to say (186). His slaves, doubtless from Abyssinia and Syria (these of course Monophysite), gave him the continuous instruction which he needed (187 f.). muhammad Mohammed's New Testament material, he decides, is taken from nearly every part of the Christian scriptures: Gospels, Acts, Pauline Epistles, and the Book of Revelation (172 f.).

Certainly to many students of the quran Koran this equipment of the Arabian prophet will seem excessive, and the supposed course of training a bit bewildering. I shall endeavor to show, in subsequent lectures, that in the quran Koran itself there is no clear evidence that muhammad Mohammed had ever received instruction from a Christian teacher, while many facts testify emphatically to the contrary; and that, on the other hand, the evidence that he gained his Christian material either from Jews in Mekka, or from what was well known and handed about in the Arabian cities, is clear, consistent, and convincing.

It is quite fruitless to attempt to distinguish between Jewish and Christian religious teaching at the outset of muhammad Mohammed's career on the simple ground of essential content, naming the one or the other as that which exercised the original and determining influence ("den entscheidenden Einfluss," Rudolph, 65) over him at the time when his religious ideas began to take shape. The doctrines which fill the earliest pages of the quran Koran: the resurrection, the judgment, heaven and hell, the heavenly book, revelation through the angel Gabriel, the merit of certain ascetic practices, and still others, were quite as characteristically Jewish as Christian. muhammad Mohammed was a thoughtful man, and, in addition, a man of very unusual originality and energy. The "initial impulse" came from his early and continued contact with representatives of "a religion" far superior to Arabian paganism, ultimately representative also of a higher civilization. He lived among Israelites, and knew much about them. He had seen Christians, and heard more or less in regard to them. At first and for some time he thought of the Christians as a Jewish sect which had begun well, but eventually had gone wrong. In the Mekkan Suras of the quran Koran Jews and Christians form essentially a single class. After his break with the Jews, in the Medina period, he gave some particular attention to the Christians, in contrast with the Jews. Even then, it is plain that he knew very little about them, and the most of what he did know he had received at second hand. Indeed, his acquaintance with either their history or their doctrines is surprisingly slight and superficial. I trust that it will appear, as our discussion proceeds, that while muhammad Mohammed's "Islam" was undoubtedly eclectic, yet both in its beginning and in its later development by far the greater part of its essential material came directly from Israelite sources; for, as I shall endeavor to show, the evidence that he had a wide and intimate acquaintance with Judaism is overwhelming in its amount and character.

By "Islam," in the title of these lectures, I mean the Islam of the prophet himself. The prime source therefore, indeed almost the only Arabic source, for our present study is the quran Koran. The Muslim Tradition (hadith øadæth) gives a picture of this primitive period which is so untrustworthy in its religious content that it very rarely can be given any weight. The only safe course is to leave it out of account. Christian and pagan historians and geographers have almost nothing to contribute to our knowledge of this particular time and place. The South Arabian inscriptions give some useful information, as will be seen, in regard to pre-muhammad Mohammedan beliefs, though it touches our subject but indirectly. At some points of truly high importance we unfortunately are obliged to depend mainly on conjecture. One of these is no less a subject than the origin and true character of the nominally Israelite communities with which muhammad Mohammed came in contact. There are interesting and perplexing questions here, which never have been satisfactorily answered: Who these Israelites were; whence they came; when and how they formed their settlements in western Arabia; what degree of civilization they maintained, and how true a type of Judaism they represented. Some of the numerous replies which have been made to these and similar queries will be noticed presently. At the time when Geiger wrote his illuminating little book (mentioned above), no one doubted the presence of a genuine and authoritative Jewish tradition in Mekka and Medina. At the present time, this is very commonly doubted, or denied.

Some things become obscure when the searchlight is turned upon them. Certainly the average student of quran Koran, Bible, Talmud, and Mid-rash could easily receive the impression that rabbis and scribes, experts in halacha and haggada, and well informed laymen besides, had for a considerable time been close to muhammad Mohammed's ear, and continued to be within reach of his tongue. He persistently attacks the "people of the Book" in a way that shows unmistakably that he thought of them as acquainted, one and all, with their scriptures. It is their knowledge that impresses him, and their refusal to receive him and his "Muslims" into their privileged circle that exasperates him. What he is lashing is a real Israelite community, close at hand, not a distant or imaginary learned people. Yet we hear it said repeatedly, in these days, that there were no genuinely Jewish settlements in Mekka and Medina. What has become of them? The "loss of the Ten Tribes" has a worthy counterpart in this puzzle. I have a theory to propound here as to the origin and character of these Israelite neighbors of the Arabian prophet. Its validity can best be judged after the material of the remaining lectures has been presented.

It might seem to us strange that Israelites in any large number should have chosen to settle in the Hijaz. We might indeed expect to find them in some other parts of Arabia, even at an early date. Yemen was always a rich country; and if the Queen of Sheba could come to Solomon, Hebrew merchants could make their way to the Sabaean mountain cities. There were emporia in northeastern Arabia, on the Persian Gulf, comparatively easy of access, which might seem attractive to any who could enjoy a continuing summer temperature of 120o Fahrenheit (or more) in the shade. But the considerations which would lead even adventurous traders and colonists to migrate with their families into the remote wilderness of perpetual sand and scanty oases east of the Red Sea are at first sight not so obvious.

There was good reason, however, for the choice; though only vigorous and enterprising men would be moved by it. From time immemorial an important trade route had passed through the narrow coastal strip on the western side of the great peninsula, This was for many centuries a highway of commerce between India and eastern Africa on the one hand, and the cities of Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor on the other hand. The Greek historians tell of the lively traffic, and in Ezekiel 27:19-22 we have a catalogue of the wares which were brought from Yemen to the city of Tyre. Eventually the Roman shipping through the Red Sea, with its lower freight charges, dealt a severe blow to the camel express line, whose business temporarily declined. For various reasons, certain emporia of Yemen fell into insignificance, or even into ruin. Great changes in the commercial centers of gravity, due to new phases of the Roman colonial policy, had their effect on the traffic of this route. Petra was abandoned, Palmyra not rebuilt. Other cities along the great highway, east of the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee, found that the days of their prosperity were numbered. But the old trade route never lost its importance, and what is more, its great days were not over.

How early, may we suppose, were Hebrew settlements to be found in northern Arabia? Perhaps as far back as the seventh century B.C., when the main dispersion was beginning; perhaps even earlier; there is nothing to make the supposition impossible. History shows the Hebrews always pushing out, and far out, along the arteries of commerce, after their eyes had once been opened to the opportunities in foreign lands. But it seems very unlikely that any Hebrew trading settlements worthy of the name should have arisen in western Arabia before the time when Jerusalem was devastated by the armies of Nebuchadrezzar.

Now it happens that there was an extraordinary reason why merchants in large number should have been attracted to Arabia in the last years of the Chaldaean period and immediately thereafter. Cuneiform documents, recently discovered, have given us a glimpse of a surprising little chapter of western Asiatic history of which we had hitherto been in almost total ignorance. For reasons which we can only partially conjecture, the neo-Babylonian king Nabonidus transferred his royal residence, to the city of Teima, near the northern border of the Hijaz. 4 His son, Belshazzar, was left in charge of Babylon, The main facts, as far as they are now known, are excellently set forth in Professor Dougherty's volume entitled Nabonidus and Belshazzar, published by the Yale University Press in 1929. The name of the city is familiar in the Bible. In Gen. 25:15 Teima is one of the descendants of Ishmael. The city as an important trading station is mentioned in Is. 21:14 and Jer. 25:23; Job 6:19 speaks of "the caravans of Teima." The oasis, with its remarkable water supply, could support a considerable population; and the prestige given to it by the residence of the Great King helped to make it not only the most important point in the famous artery of commerce, but also a cosmopolitan center. This seems well illustrated in the Aramaic inscribed stele of Teima, now in the Louvre. It is a votive monument, set up in the temple of an Aramaic deity. The priest who erected it has an Assyrian name, but the name of his father is Egyptian. The date of the monument is probably the early part of the fifth century B.C.

One reason, at least, why Nabonidus chose Teima for his royal residence is easy to see. The city was, and had long been, the junction of great trade routes. At this point the line of traffic from Yemen through the Hijaz to Syria was crossed by the line which ran through the desert from Egypt to Mesopotamia-a route which the Babylonian monarch doubtless wished to improve, as well as to control. Another important caravan track ran from Teima around through hail HaŸil and Riad to Gerrha on the Persian Gulf. And finally, a part of the merchandise that was brought up through the Red Sea by boat or raft, after being landed at Yenbo or Aila was brought to this distributing center. 5 After the Great King had taken his eventful step, there was not in all Western Asia an opportunity of promising colonization comparable to the one offered by the oases of Teima and the northern Hijaz. It was not the call of a temporary condition, but the sure promise (fulfilled in the event) of a permanently prosperous development.

After the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem and the devastation of Judea by the Chaldaeans, in the year 586, the Jews of all that region were temporarily scattered. Some groups migrated to more remote lands, especially to those cities where Jewish colonies were already in existence; other companies doubtless returned to the neighboring regions on the east and south, to Moab, Ammon, and Edom, where they had taken refuge a few months earlier, as we are told in Jeremiah, chapters 40-43. Others, probably a large number, retired to Egypt (2 Kings 25:26). We certainly may take it for granted that all the loyal Jews in this temporary dispersion wished to see Jerusalem restored, and that very many of them returned as soon as the way was open; on this whole difficult subject I may refer to my Ezra Studies, pp. 297-301. But whatever may have been the conditions in Jerusalem and Judea in the years immediately subsequent to the catastrophe, and especially after the death of Nebuchadrezzar, in the year 561, we can now for the first time see with certainty the conditions of a very important migration of Jews into northwestern Arabia.

Nabonidus reigned from 555 to 538 B.C. Was Teima destined to be the residence of other Babylonian kings? Whether or no, the eyes of all the neighboring world were turned to that city, and to the new opportunities of traffic in its vicinity. The Arabs were not a people capable of taking full advantage of what was offered; the call was obviously for outsiders, and it sounded loudest in Palestine and the countries east and south of the Dead Sea, in Syria, and in Egypt. Among all those who could hear and heed, there were none more likely to enter and take possession of the field than the recently expatriated Jews. I think we may regard it as certain that the Jewish settlements in the Hijaz, which we find so flourishing in the time of muhammad Mohammed, were established at this early date, the latter half of the sixth century B.C., under the impulse here described. I shall presently give further reason for this belief. If this origin of certain large colonies is assumed, we may take it for granted that they suffered many changes, through increment (especially), loss, and other shifting conditions, during the many centuries from which we have no record of their existence. There was good reason for their prosperity, for the caravan trade between Yemen and the northern lands was always active, and (as we have seen) there was other traffic inside Arabia and across the desert to Babylonia.

South of Teima, the next important station on the great route is the oasis of Khaibar. This is known to us as a very prosperous Jewish settlement, and it is reasonable to suppose that it was founded at this same time. The name is very likely Hebrew, an Arabic variation of Kheber, "community" (Margoliouth, muhammad Mohammed, pp. 355 f.). It was reputed the richest city of the Hijaz. The settlement was raided by muhammad Mohammed and his followers in the seventh year of the hijra, as a sort of consolation prize after the humiliating failure of the attempt of the Muslims to enter Mekka. The quran Koran (48, 18 f.) boasts of "a victory and great booty"; and in fact the plunder was enormous.

About one hundred miles farther south lay the city of Yathrib (later known as Medina). Here, again, the Jewish colonists entered, and eventually constituted a large and very important part of the population. It does not seem to be the case that they founded Yathrib, as is sometimes asserted, nor even that they were among the earliest settlers in that city. This place at all events must have been from time immemorial a station of primary importance on the caravan route. The city lies in a very fertile and well watered valley, and has convenient access to the Red Sea at Yenbo. The name Yathrib is apparently Egyptian, identical with the well known city-name Athribis. In the time of muhammad Mohammed, the Jews constituted three separate communities, two of them occupying strongly fortified positions outside the city. The fate of these three tribal communities, under muhammad Mohammed's displeasure, is well known. Two of the tribes were plundered and banished, and the men of the third were butchered.

Some three hundred miles south of Yathrib (that is, Medina) lay the cities of Mekka and taif ŪåŸif. There is no evidence that the latter city ever contained an important Jewish settlement. Mekka, on the contrary, contained in the time of muhammad Mohammed a strong Jewish element, to whose existence the quran Koran gives abundant and unimpeachable witness. We have no direct testimony, worthy of credence, as to the antiquity of the settlement. The fanciful tales told by the Arab traditionists are all worthless for our purpose. As in the case of the settlements at Teima, Khaibar, and Yathrib, we must content ourselves with indirect evidence, aided. by conjecture. I think it will ultimately be recognized as probable that all four of these Jewish settlements were constituted in the same early period, primarily as commercial enterprises, under the impulse just described. If there really was a Hebrew colonizing movement southward along the Arabian trade route in the day of Teima's glory, the stream of migration cannot have stopped short of Mekka. That city, presumably as old as the caravan traffic through the Hijaz, must have been important as early as the sixth century B.C., though perhaps not for all the reasons which can be given for its paramount influence in the Arabia of muhammad Mohammed's day. At this latter time, Mekka was the principal meeting point for the Arabian tribes; which resorted thither, not so much because of the renowned sanctuary, and the rites connected with it, as because of the great opportunity of inter-tribal trade afforded by the sacred territory and the sacred months. Long before the rise of Islam, indeed, Mekka had been famed for its open market. It was also known for its hospitality to any and every variety of Arabian superstition. During all the time (of duration unknown to us) in which it possessed a truly central sanctuary, its people would doubtless have been undisturbed by the entrance of a foreign faith. Israelite settlers might well have been molested on religious grounds at Yathrib, and certainly would have been at taif ŪåŸif (where nevertheless there was a Jewish settlement); but at Mekka they would have been tolerated.

As has already been remarked, the caravan trade through the Hijaz had its ups and downs. All through the Persian and Greek periods of west Asiatic history it was flourishing. In the middle of the first century of the present era came the epoch-making discovery by Hippalus of the regular alternation of the monsoons; and soon after, the Periplus was compiled, putting the navigation around the southern coast of Arabia and through, the Indian Ocean on a new and safe basis. These things, especially, led to such a development of Roman shipping in the Red Sea that the land traffic was for a time considerably diminished. The commerce by sea between India and Egypt, which also in the time of the Ptolemies had been in the hands of the Arabs and the Abyssinians, was now taken over by the Romans. The South Arabian tribes were chiefly affected by the new conditions, and at this time began a considerable migration northward, extending even to the northern border of the Syrian desert. Under Byzantine rule, however, especially from the time of Justinian onward, the shipping was neglected, and prosperity returned to the caravan routes. During this favored era, which included the lifetime of Mohammed, Mekka gained in importance, and attracted new immigrants. Among these, if I interpret the Koran rightly, were Jews, one of whom is given very significant mention by the prophet.

The theory of Israelite colonization thus far sketched implies a very extensive migration from the north; and indeed, any migration at the time and under the conditions supposed would naturally have been extensive. Arabia was not a safe destination for small companies of exiles traveling with their wives and children and their household goods. The theory would easily account for the reported size and influence of the Jewish settlements of the Hijaz in muhammad Mohammed's day, in view of the wide interval of time, the occasional increase from later migrations, and the added likelihood that Arab tribes professing Judaism were incorporated in considerable number. It would also establish the antecedent probability that these Israelites continued to preserve the faith and the culture of their ancestors. As to this, more presently. We may now take account of other theories which have been propounded in regard to these Jewish-Arab tribes and cities.

This has been a very enticing field for conjecture. The Arab historians found plenty of material with which to operate: genealogies extending from their own day back to Adam; lively anecdotes of Hebrew patriarchs who entered the history of Arabia; movements of Jewish tribes; names and precise details of Israelite personages and communities. European historians of course recognized the worthlessness of much of this information, especially in the field of remote antiquity, though even here there was strong temptation to find something usable. Dozy's very learned and ingenious, but also very fanciful essay entitled Die lsraeliten zu Mekka, now rarely referred to, gave an extreme example of conjecture based on supposed tradition; though having the merit of employing extra-Arabian sources, and of supposing a real Hebrew migration, however small. His thesis, based largely on I Chron. 4:38-43, was that portions of the tribe of Simeon, moving southward from the time of David and especially in the reign of Hezekiah, settled in northern Arabia and formed the nucleus of the colonies found so many centuries later in the Hijaz. Dozy's compatriot, J. P. N. Land, added the conjecture that Simeon was an Ishmaelite tribe which had temporarily joined the Hebrews. No form of the theory, however, could either survive the criticism of 1 Chronicles (to say nothing of the Arab sources employed) nor account for the size and character of the settlements. Later writers, realizing the absence of trustworthy material in all this, made no further use of it.

A too easy-going treatment of the question supposed that Jewish traders and small trading groups had continued to sift down into Arabia, taking up their abode in one after another of the principal stations; until, whether through long continued influx or through the adoption of Judaism by native tribes, they had become so numerous in this or that place that their culture and their religion could make an impression on their Arab neighbors. As to the superiority of genuine Hebrew culture over that of the native tribes of the Hijaz, even in the larger cities, there can of course be no question. It may also be granted that the impression of culture and religion which a community can make on its environment depends more on the quality of those who make up the community than upon their number. But it is quite certain, an undisputed fact, that in the principal cities of the Hijaz, in muhammad Mohammed's time, a very large portion of the population professed Judaism. What manner of Israelites were these? Even if the supposed companies of merchants included many of the better class, such as would wish to maintain the traditions of Palestinian civilization, it seems very unlikely that in a gradual process of immigration they could naturally form communities distinct from their surroundings. Yet we have to account for a number of Jewish tribes, and at least one Jewish city. No succession of mere trading ventures could possibly explain what we see. Hence arises the question of proselyting; whether it is likely to have been undertaken on a large scale by Jewish traders in Arabia, and whether from its probable result could be explained the condition which we find. The hypothesis of native clans converted through propaganda has played a foremost part in some recent discussions, as a way of accounting for the origin and the apparent character of the nominally Israelite population. The discussion of this question may be reserved for the present: whether it can reasonably be held that these undeniably large and influential Jewish settlements consisted mainly of native Arab tribes which had been converted to a more or less superficial Judaism.

August Müller, Der islam Islåm im Morgen-und Abendland, I, 36 f., has some well considered remarks on the general subject. 'Yathrib, like a large part of the northern Hijaz, was in the hands of the Jews. When and whence they had colonized the land, no one knows. Probably it was by fugitives from the Roman-Jewish wars, since it would be hard to suppose an earlier time. For, in spite of their having adopted the Arab ways of life and thought so completely, they still retained their religion and some special peculiarities, which in the course of many centuries they would have been obliged to give up. They spoke among themselves a peculiar Jewish Arabic.' (This last sentence is worthy of especial attention, even though the means of proving and illustrating the fact are very scanty.) As for the date which Müller suggests for the colonization, it must be pronounced extremely improbable. This was a time when conditions in the Hijaz were quite uncertain, when all western Asia knew that the caravan traffic was declining, when Yemenite tribes were moving northward into Palestine and Syria because of hard times. The caravan trade was already well manned; there was no call now for a great influx of outsiders, such as there had been in the day when the Babylonian power promised a new development of northern Arabia. In the Roman time, all the world was open, and Arabia was perhaps the least promising of all accessible regions. There were in that day, moreover, historians who might well have preserved some record of any large Jewish migration southward; whereas in the neo-Babylonian time the history of Palestine is a blank. The supposition of the earlier date, which Müller finds difficult, really makes everything far more easily comprehensible. It is true, as he says, that these immigrants adopted the Arab ways of life and thought very thoroughly; but why he should suppose that in the course of additional centuries they would have been obliged to give up their religion and their "special peculiarities" is not clear. In the countries of Europe and other parts of the earth, even after very many centuries, these fundamental properties have been preserved, while in all else the native ways of life and thought have been adopted. We certainly have no reason to doubt that the professed Israelites of Teima, el ola el-˙Ölå, Khaibar, Yathrib, Fadak, Mekka, and still other places, had been in these locations for a very long time.

The fact is, that outside the quran Koran we have very little trustworthy information in regard to the Israelites of northwestern Arabia. This is sufficiently demonstrated by D. S. Margoliouth in his brilliant little monograph (the Schweich Lectures for 1921) entitled The Relations between Arabs and Israelites prior to the Rise of islam Islåm, He is principally concerned with the conditions in southern Arabia, but he also throws a well deserved dash of cold water on the theories of those who know too much about ethnic relations in the Hijaz. The epigraphic evidence from the south, which he and others discussed, will be found, however, to give us no real help.

The decipherment of the South Arabian inscriptions brought a new element into the discussion; how important an element, is not yet clear. It was well known that the Jews had played an important part in the history of Yemen shortly before the time of muhammad Mohammed. This meant certainly that they were very numerous; and probably, that they had been there long. It was natural to expect that some information in regard to them would be gained from this new epigraphic material. The problem of the Jews in the cities of the Hijaz was again brought forward. Might not the Judaism which inspired the quran Koran have come up from the south, rather than down from the north? A new and unexpected turn to the question came from one of these very cities of the Hijaz. Besides all the monuments-a veritable multitude-which were found in the extreme south of Arabia, there came to light in northern Arabia, between Khaibar and Teima, a series of inscriptions in the old South-Arabian characters. These are the so-called lihyanic Liøyånic inscriptions, all coming from the one place el ola el-˙Ölå, now identified with the Biblical Dedan. 6

The date of these monuments is uncertain; the guesses range from 600 B.C. to the third or fourth century of the present era. It was a natural hope that they might contribute something toward the answer to our present problem, at least attesting the presence of Jews in the Hijaz. This possibility seemed to be brought nearer by the fact that the inscriptions employ a definite article ha, like the Hebrew-and, it should be added, like certain other dialects of the Semitic group. The search here for Hebrew names, or for definite indication of Israelite religious beliefs, has not been successful. In the main, the inscriptions are evidently pagan; and occasional features which might be interpreted as Jewish are really of too general a character to be used as evidence.

This little Himyarite settlement is an isolated phenomenon, and indeed remarkable. It is not at first obvious why a migration of city-dwellers from Yemen, who date their inscriptions by the regnal years of kings of lihyan Liøyån, should have settled in this place, just south of Teima. I would hazard the conjecture that the same commercial opportunity, beginning in the sixth century B.C., which brought down colonists from the north also exercised its attraction in the south. el ola El-˙Ölå was a station of high importance in the caravan traffic through Arabia. Accepting the identification with Dedan, there are several Biblical passages which show that the place was well known to the Hebrews. In Is. 21:13 f, it is mentioned in connection with Teima. It was a frontier city, and apparently the northern limit ordinarily reached by the South Arabian carriers. "At el ola el-˙Ölå the Yemenite Arabs handed over their goods to the Nabataean Arabs, who took them to Teima. There the merchandise was divided: some went north; some was carried through Aila to Egypt; still other passed via hail HaŸil to Babylon" (O'Leary, 103 ff.). Here is obviously the best of reasons for a South Arabian colony in the north, and there seems to be good reason for supposing that it was founded when, or soon after, Nabonidus took the step which meant so much to that region. But these immigrants, at all events, were not Israelites, nor do their inscriptions give any clear evidence of contact with them.

As for the 'Hebrew' definite article, it is also employed by those Bedouin tribes of South Arabia which migrated northward, as far as the upper Euphrates, at the beginning of the present era, scrawling their Thamudenic and Safatenic graffiti in debased Himyarite characters. There is no need to look for Hebrew influence in this grammatical feature, especially since the demonstrative element ha hå is so pervasive in all Semitic speech.

There remains, however, the fact of South Arabian Judaism, and the question of the extent to which it may have influenced the beginnings of Islam. The quran Koran contains some South Arabian material, as will appear; not, indeed, characteristically Jewish material. The real question concerns the main substance of muhammad Mohammedanism, not minor features. The large Israelite colonies in Mekka, Yathrib, Khaibar, and Teima were not themselves of Yemenite origin; this fact is clear and undisputed. But if, as many suppose, they were in culture and religion one-fourth Hebrew and three-fourths pagan; and if there is evidence that Judaism was, or had been, the state religion in one or more of the Yemenite kingdoms; then we might have some reason to believe that muhammad Mohammed's inspiration came, in some way, from the south. There are two questions here; and to the more important of the two, relating to the Jews of the Hijaz, I believe that a convincing answer can be given. The question of Jewish ascendancy in southern Arabia is more difficult.

It is well known that in the fifth and sixth centuries of the common era the Jews played an important role in Yemen. See, for example, the brief summary in Margolis and Marx, History of the Jewish People. They were at times influential politically, but by no means to an extent which would be likely to cause the spread of Judaism to other parts of the Arabian peninsula. On the contrary, Christian influence was paramount in Yemen during a part of this period. The only prospect of finding the prime source of Arabian Judaism in South Arabia therefore lay in the great collection of Himyaritic (Sabaean and Minaean) inscriptions already mentioned.

The subject is far too extensive to be entered upon here. These extremely important documents of an ancient high civilization, perhaps from 1000 B.C. onward, have been deciphered and elucidated by Halévy, Glaser, Mordtmann, D. H. Müller, and others; more recently especially by Rhodokanakis; and the question of a Hebrew element, both political and religious, has been eagerly discussed. It must suffice here to refer to the summary given by Margoliouth (Arabs and israelites Israelites, pp. 59-70). He notes the presence, in a number of these inscriptions, of a monotheism which certainly may point ultimately to Hebrew influence, though he is inclined to think that it "developed out of paganism rather than out of Judaism" (p. 63). He remarks that "the supposed Judaism of the Himyari kings seems to elude the inquirer when he endeavours to lay hold on it" (p. 62). His final conclusion as to this matter is stated on p. 69: "It is clearly less certain than it used to be that Judaism ever held sway in any part of Arabia"; p. 81: "Supposing that a Jewish kingdom ever existed in South Arabia, it left little impression on the North Arabian mind"; and again, p. 70: "The origin of the Jewish communities of Yathrib or Medina must also remain in obscurity."

To some, perhaps to many, these conclusions will seem unduly skeptical. My own belief is, that as far as they concern the interpretation of the Himyaritic monuments they are fully justified; expressed, as they are, with caution. The problems of the northern settlements, however, are altogether different from those in the far south. In the latter case, the difficulty lies in the lack of evidence; in the former, the evidence is abundant, the difficulty is in the interpretation. The investigator is disappointed by the scarcity of Israelites in the one place, and scandalized by their apparent multitude in the other. In the absence of a plausible theory of extensive immigration, the hypothesis of converted Arab tribes seemed the only recourse.

Hugo Winckler, in his essay entitled "Arabisch-Semitisch-Orientalisch" published in the Mitteilungen der Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft (1901, 4), pp. 1-223, was the first to say this emphatically. After remarking (72 f.) that Wellhausen believed the "Beni Israel" of the quran Koran to be truly such in their racial origin, he replies, "Das ist unmöglich." We cannot suppose, he continues, that genuine Jews could have been in the Hijaz in such numbers. "Das Judentum, welches sich Arabien unterworfen hatte, ist durch die 'propaganda,' nicht durch Einwanderung oder gar Eroberung verbreitet worden." (The supposition of a Jewish military conquest of the Hijaz would indeed be amusing.) He concludes, that the wealthy "Israelite" tribes at Medina, as well as numerous others of which we hear, must have been coalitions of native clans induced by propaganda to profess Judaism.

Winckler's contention seemed indeed to be supported by what had been observed in the more favored parts of the ancient world. Eduard Meyer, Ursprung und Anfänge des Christentums, II, p. 353, would explain on a similar theory the great number of Jewish communities found not only in Western Asia but also in all the lands about the Mediterranean Sea, at the beginning of the present era and even earlier. Harnack, in his great work on the spread of Christianity (Mission und Ausbreitung, 4te Aufl., I, 12 f.), remarking that the Christian emissaries found the soil everywhere prepared for them by Judaism, explains the astonishing spread of the latter as mainly the result of successful proselyting. How otherwise account for the immense numbers which are so well attested? Georg Rosen, in his interesting little volume, Juden und Phönizier (1929), treats quite fully one principal phase of this theory. His son Friedrich, in a "Nachwort" to the volume, pp. 113 ff., quotes with good reason Wellhausen's remark (Isr. u. jüd. Gesch.,5 p. 329), that the Jewish propaganda was a very different thing, in quality and lasting effect, from that of any other of the religions of the time; and also the saying of George Foot Moore (Judaism, I, 324), that Judaism was "the first great missionary religion of the Mediterranean world." The fact of very extensive and highly successful propaganda is indeed certain, though both its amount and its methods may have been somewhat overdrawn. The Hebrew Dispersion began considerably earlier and in greater volume than Meyer has supposed (Ezra Studies, 153, Note 23), while on the other hand Palestinian Jewry was constantly replenished from the surrounding lands. The remarkable fact remains, however; and when, for instance, the poet Horace alludes to the danger in Rome of forcible conversion to Judaism (Sat. I, 4, 142 f.), we know that behind the humorous exaggeration there was a background of popular gossip, which in turn had its origin in the knowledge of sudden and wholesale gains made by the Roman Jews.

Professor Margoliouth in his despair (as I should venture to term it) inclines to Winckler's view, The Jews of Yathrib, he remarks, have the Arab tribal organization. The names of the tribes are Arabic, and so, with few exceptions, are the names of the individual members of whom we happen to hear. We have no record of any outstanding Jewish antagonist of muhammad Mohammed; "neither do the supposed Jews of Medina appear to have produced any man whose name was worth preserving" (pp. 61, 70 f.).

All this suggests, he would conclude, that the "children of Israel" whom muhammad Mohammed so constantly addresses were merely Arab tribes made Israelite by conversion-whatever that might mean.

Before weighing these arguments it is well to take into account the conditions in which the fruitful propaganda was undertaken, and the process by which great numbers were won over. The gain to be made, and the means of making it, were not the same in northern Arabia as in Egypt, Rome, and the highly civilized provinces of Asia and the Mediterranean shores. Moore's remark, quoted above, is elaborated by him (ibid.) as follows: "The Jews did not send out missionaries into the partes infidelium expressly to proselyte among the heathen. They were themselves settled by thousands in all the great centres and in innumerable smaller cities; they had appropriated the language and much of the civilization of their surroundings." Through all that early period the Jews were active in making proselytes, but in the main their influence was quietly pervasive. The successful appeal was made where their prosperity, their cohesion, and their superiority in culture, morals, and religion were manifest. "They appropriated the language and much of the civilization of their surroundings." The adoption of the native tribal organization, so fundamental to all Arabian life, would have been inevitable, even without the supposition of a long interval of time. The adoption of Gentile names is a very familiar fact in both ancient and modern times. And as for learned rabbis in Medina, could any one expect the traditions utilized by the first Muslim historians (who wrote long after muhammad Mohammed's day) to take notice of them? The Jewish tribe-names are like any other, though that of the Banu zaghura Zaghõra (Margoliouth, 6o), obviously Aramaic, is worthy of notice. The name of the Banu qainuqa Qainuqå˙ is descriptive of their occupations (smiths and armorers).

The superficial "conversion" of hordes of pagan Arabs by a few propagandists would appear, from the Jewish point of view, to be hardly worth the effort, even if we could make the thing seem plausible. From the standpoint of the Arabs themselves, what sufficient advantage can they possibly have seen in making profession of a religion about which (according to the hypothesis) they can have had little knowledge, and the results of which, in culture and morals, they cannot have seen exhibited in any decisive way? The hypothesis of propaganda really requires the presence in northwestern Arabia of genuine and large Jewish communities of long standing; that is, we are left with the problem still on our hands. The fact of the Israelite city of Khaibar, "the richest city of the Hijaz," is one very significant item among many. Such a civilization is not produced in a short time. Native Arab tribes "converted" in the manner supposed would have been certain, we should imagine, to welcome and accept the prophet of their own number who promised them a truly Arabian continuation of Judaism adapted to their own special needs, while based squarely on the Hebrew scriptures. But the Jews of Mekka, Medina, and the rest of the Hijaz knew better, and would not yield an inch.

I have thus far been speaking mainly of the great number of Arabs professing the Israelite faith, in muhammad Mohammed's time. Their quality, in civilization and religion, must also be considered. The weakest point in Professor Margoliouth's argument is his treatment, or lack of treatment, of the quran Koran. He descants (p. 71) on the woful ignorance which that book displays in regard to Hebrew matters in general, and attributes the ignorance to muhammad Mohammed's soi-disant Jewish mentors. But is it always the case that a great mass of strange and miscellaneous information is correctly reported by its recipient? We who are teachers by profession would hardly consent to be held responsible for everything which a half-trained pupil might hand out. There can be no question as to muhammad Mohammed's ignorance in many matters; but the amount of material, historical, folk-lorish, legislative, and religious, which he transmits with substantial correctness from purely Jewish sources is truly astonishing. This will appear plainly, I think, in the subsequent lectures. It is in great part material which he could only have obtained from learned men, well acquainted with the Hebrew sacred literature and the standard Jewish tradition. He revered, from the outset, both this great tradition and the people who embodied it-until his claim to be the world-prophet led to the clash which resulted in bitter enmity.

Margoliouth will have it that muhammad Mohammed had small respect for the Israelites of Mekka and Medina, saying (p. 81), "In relation to the native Arabs he thought of them as an inferior caste." I cannot imagine how this saying could be justified from the quran Koran, unless it means (as its context might possibly be held to imply) that the unbelieving Jews were destined for an especially deep-down compartment in the infernal regions. Of course all unbelievers stood on a lower plane than the Muslims. The quran Koran repeatedly speaks of "the children of Israel" as the most favored people on earth-up to the time of Islam; and in addressing them the prophet always reminds them that they know their scriptures. As has already been said with emphasis, he is not speaking of an imaginary people, but of his own neighbors. They were a people who in education and other inherited advantages stood higher than his own fellow-countrymen. Tribes which were Jewish merely in name could not possibly have made any such impression on him. As far as muhammad Mohammed and the quran Koran are concerned, the theory of Arab tribes superficially made Israelite by proselyting certainly breaks down completely, as an attempt to account for the origin of the main body of "the people of the Book" known to the prophet. Unquestionably some Arab tribes, as well as numerous smaller groups, had cast in their lot with the Israelites, in the centuries before muhammad Mohammed's day; gained over less through active propaganda than by the advantages which were silently offered. I shall show in a subsequent lecture that the quran Koran, in at least one place, takes account of certain of these brethren by adoption. They formed at all times a relatively small and unimportant element.

I have tried to sketch the theory of an ancient and extensive movement of colonization, a Hebrew migration southward into the Hijaz in the sixth century B.C., an ethnic transplanting which rooted deep and for many generations obeyed the injunction to be fruitful and multiply; and we may now return to it for a moment in closing. It implies a genuine Hebrew stock, and an authentic religious and literary tradition always kept alive and in continuous connection with the learned centers in the greater world outside Arabia. While presenting no historical difficulty, it can fully account for the relatively high civilization in the Jewish communities of Mekka, Yathrib, Teima, Khaibar, and other cities of that region.

It is a familiar fact that the Mishna takes account of Arabian Israelites. Shabb. 6, 6 notes that "the Arabian Jewesses go out wrapped in a veil, so that only their eyes are seen." Ohaloth 18, 10, speaking of the various places where dwellings in which pagans have lodged may be occupied by Jews without the contraction of ceremonial uncleanness, names "the tents of the Arabs." This is perfectly indefinite, to be sure, and each one of us is free to locate these particular Arabian Jews according to his own preference; still, the fact that they were numerous enough-and accessible enough-to be included in the Mishnic legislation is worthy of a thought in connection with the theory here advanced.

Among the early authorities cited in Talmud and Midrash is a certain Simeon the Teimanite (). This, again, seems ambiguous inasmuch as the adjective could refer equally well either to the Edomite city (or district) teiman Teimån or to teima Teimå. Since, however, the latter city is so well known as a strongly Jewish center even in pre-muhammad Mohammedan times, we may infer with confidence that it was the home 7 of this rabbi Simeon who was influential enough to be quoted as an authority. The passages are: Mechilta to 14, 15 (ed. Friedmann 29 b); Mishna Yadayim 1, 3; Yebamoth 4, 13 (an important passage); Tosephta Berachoth 4, 24 (p. 10); Sanhedr. 12, 3; Besa 2, 19; Bab. Talmud Zebachim 32 b; Baba Qamma 90b; Besa 21 a. 8 Margoliouth, Relations, 58 f., takes notice of the Arabic words occurring in the early Jewish tradition, including the Mishna, and names a number of them, but remarks in conclusion: "On the whole, however, it is surprising how rarely the rich language of the Mishna and its copious technicalities of agriculture and commerce can be satisfactorily illustrated from Arabic." Might not one rather say, that it is noteworthy that this rich language should draw at all upon the Arabic in the terminology of agriculture (!) or even of commerce? And when, in the formula for a bill of divorce given in Gittin 85 b, (!) , the first of the three terms is Arabic, the plain evidence of communities of Arabic-speaking Jews is striking and important.

Far more important, however, is the testimony contained in the quran Koran. The Israelite tribes with their rabbis, their books, sacred and secular, their community of faith and action, and their living contact with the past, are there; they are no phantom. All through the quran Koran there is evidence of a Jewish culture, which muhammad Mohammed greatly admired, and of Jewish learning, which he very imperfectly assimilated. Of this culture, and of muhammad Mohammed's attempt to digest the learning, the subsequent lectures will try to take account.