Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Another Jewish King in the Middle East

Continuing with the topic of Jewish political and military chronilces in the Middle East (see here), you can read in the Jewish Encyclopedia about Mar Zutra II, an Exilarch who was born about 496 and died about 520, having ruled from 512 to 520

At the head of a company of 400 Jewish warriors Mar Zuṭra advanced against the opposing Persian forces...Mar Zuṭra founded an independent Jewish state, with Maḥoza as his residence. He ruled as an independent king, and imposed heavy taxes on all non-Jews. In spite of his able government, however, immorality spread among his people...In a subsequent battle between Mar Zuṭra and the Persians the former was defeated; and both he and his grandfather Ḥanina were taken prisoners and decapitated, their bodies being suspended from crosses on the bridge at Maḥoza.
Persia, you know, is Iran, the former Bavel, Babylonia, of Talmudic literature.

Another account:

In the reign of Kobad (Cabades) in Persia, a fanatic reformer named Mazdak desired to introduce the doctrine of the community of property and wives, thus modifying the Zoroastrian creed. (501). The king became an adherent of the new doctrine and decreed its acceptance by the people. The lower classes eagerly availed themselves of the license thus granted. To this communism, the Jews, led by Mar Zutra II, son of R. Huna, the young exilarch, offered an armed resistance. The occasion of the revolt was the murder of Mar Isaac, president of one of the colleges. It is related that they established an independent Jewish state, having for king the Prince of Captivity, with Machuza as the capital. At last, after seven years, Mar Zutra and his grandfather, Mar Chanina, were taken prisoners, executed, and their bodies nailed to the cross on the bridge of Machuza (about 520). On account of the ensuing persecutions the office of Exilarch remained for some time in abeyance.

Geographical orientation:


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