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Babai ben Farhad


BABAI BEN FARHAD (18th century), author of a versified short history of the Jews mainly of *Kashan and *Isfahan. His chronicle is called Ketāb-e sargozasht-e Kāshān and comprises approximately 1,300 verses written in Judeo-Persian (Persian using Hebrew script). The chronicle deals with the persecutions of the Jews in the above cities in the years 1729–30, when they were forced to convert to Islam for a period of seven months. The chronicle also notes some interesting details about the Afghan invasion of Isfahan and Kashan, as well as Naderqoli Khan's (later Nader Shah) wars against them. The author mentions Mahmud and Ashraf, the leaders of the Afghans (especially the latter), favorably while he criticizes Naderqoli for his harsh measures against the Jews. We know from other historical sources that the Zoroastrians also mention the Afghan conquests favorably and even assisted them (as in the occupation of Kerman). The Jews and Zoroastrians were accorded by the Afghan conquerors superior status to Shi'ites in the socio-political structure of Iran. According to the chronicle, the Jewish community of Kashan was wealthy, mostly involved in the silk trade. According to the author, there were 13 synagogues in Kashan; nevertheless, he mentions with disapproval the lack of religious observance among most of the Jews of his town. Another Jew from Kashan named Mashi'aḥ ben Raphael appended approximately 80 verses to Babai ben Farhad's narrative in which he mentions favorably Mollā Ebrāhim, the leader of the Jews of Kashan, who together with a number of supporters was instrumental in getting the Jews who had been forced to accept Islam to return to Judaism.


W. Bacher, "Les Juifs de Perse aux xviie et xviiie siècles d'après les chroniques poétiques de Babai b. Loutf et de Babai b. Farhad," in: rej 53 (1907), 85–110; A. Netzer, Kronika shel Babai ben Farhad (1978), 1–38 (photoprint of ms no. 917 of the Ben-Zvi Institute of Jerusalem); V.B. Moreen, Iranian Jewry during the Afghan Invasion (1990).

[Amnon Netzer (2nd ed.)]

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