Kariyah, al-

views updated


KARIYAH, AL- (Qar ʿiyya, al- ), a Jewish sect which existed in *Egypt (near Cairo) until the middle of the 19th century. David Alfasi in his Agron (s.v.kar) maintains that they were descendants of the sons of Kareah (Jer. 40:8ff.), who led a remnant of the Judeans into Egypt after the murder of Gedaliah. Another, more likely, explanation is that of Judah *Hadassi in his Eshkol ha-Kofer and *Kirkisānī in his Kitāb al-Anwār (chapter 9) which derives the name from the Arabic qarʿ (cf. the talmudic קרא), meaning "pumpkin, gourd," since the sect, for reasons of ritual purity, used only vessels made of pumpkin shells. These writers report that the al-Kariyah would not employ hired labor and rested on Sunday. Kirkisānī quotes David al-Mukammis, who regards them as a pre-Christian sect later influenced by Christianity. Harkavy is inclined to agree with this theory, as they may have been one of the many Essene sects in Hellenistic Egypt; this would explain their ascetic life and opposition to hired labor. If Sunday rest was not adopted by them later under Christian influence, there may be some confusion due to the strictness of Sabbath observance which the al-Kariyah extended to the festivals as well. This is reported by Hadassi, who does not mention Sunday rest at all.


S. Pinsker, Likkutei Kadmoniyyot 1 (1860), 166; A.E. Harkavy, in: Graetz-Rabbinowitz, 3 (1894), 500f.