Babylonian Jewry

peter_kirk at sil.org peter_kirk at sil.org
Sun Nov 21 00:28:08 EST 1999


The Babylonian Jews are alive and well and living down my street - 
seriously! Well, maybe. There is here in Azerbaijan, also in the north 
Caucasus, a community of "Mountain Jews" who have been in this area 
for many centuries. Previously they lived in mountain villages, now 
mostly in a number of towns. Some of them literally live in my street, 
others have recently moved to Israel. Their history is obscure, but 
many people hold that they are descendants of the Babylonian Jews. 
Others have suggested that they are descendants of the lost northern 
tribes, but they have surely had contact with the rest of Jewry more 
recently than that (but before their 19th century contact with 
Ashkenazi Jews migrating from Russia). Their traditions, I am told, 
are similar to Sephardi but with significant differences also. Their 
language is Iranian, close to Tat and to the language of the Bukhara 
Jews and sometimes known as Judeo-Tat, and includes many Hebrew loan 
words; it was formerly written in Hebrew (square) script. Maybe the 
Jews of Bukhara in Uzbekistan are also of Babylonian origin. Estimated 
numbers: 71,000 speakers of Judeo-Tat, 60,000 speakers of Bukharic or 
Judeo-Tajik - doubtless only a fraction of the actual descendants of 
the Babylonian Jews.

I'd be interested to see what that expensive CD encylopedia has to say 
about these Mountain Jews.

Peter Kirk


______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Babylonian Jewry
Author:  <rvining at log.on.ca> at Internet
Date:    20/11/1999 14:08


                                                BABYLONIAN JEWRY

When the  Persians conquered Babylonia and allowed the exiles to return 
home, not many did.(1)It was a minority of Jews who returned from the 
Babylonian exile under the benevolent rule of the Persian monarch, 
Cyrus.(2)

<snip>




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