Nāder Shah

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NĀDER SHAH , Persian king of the Turkish-speaking tribe of Afshār, originating from the northeastern region of Iran, who according to reliable sources acted as the head of a band of highway robbers and later became the king of Iran (1736–47). Nāder was a Sunni and thus aimed at diminishing the influence of the Shiʿite religious authority which became predominant in Iran during the Safavid period (1501–1736). This trend of thought to some extent brought relative relief to the Jews, who suffered extreme persecution and conversions under the Safavids. He may have entertained the idea of uniting all the monotheistic religions, at least in Iran, but he never acted seriously to implement his idea except for ordering the heads of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims to translate their holy books into Persian. The translation of the Jewish Holy Scriptures was made by Rabbi Bābāi ben Nuriel of *Isfahan. The translation was made into *Judeo-Persian (Persian language in Hebrew letters). It was later transliterated into Persian script by a Muslim. The manuscripts of these Bible translations are preserved in the Vatican Library, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, and the *Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem.

In addition, Nāder entered Jewish history for being involved in two other events: (1) According to the Chronicle of *Bābāi ben Farhād (written around 1730), during his wars to expel the invading Afghans from Iran (1722–30), Nāder, who in the Chronicle is called by his pre-royal name, Tahmasb Nader-Quli, extracted a large amount of money from the Jews of *Kashan and Isfahan and treated them badly. (2) Nāder, who made *Meshed the capital city of Iran, was responsible for the transfer of many Jews from *Kazvin and *Gilān provinces to the east and northeast of Iran which eventually resulted in the settlement of a group of Jews in Meshed around 1746. Nāder's mistreatment of the Jews in the Eastern Caucasus is described by Altshuler.


M. Altshuler, Yehudei Mizrah Kavkaz (1990), index; W.J. Fischel, "Bible in Persian Translation," in: Harvard Theological Review (1952), 3–45; A. Levi, "Eduyot u-Te'udot le-Toledot Yehudei Mashhad," in: Pe'amim 6 (1980), 57–73; L. Lockhart, Nadir Shah: A Critical Study Based Mainly upon Contemporary Sources (1938); V.B. Moreen, Iranian Jewry During the Afghan Invasion (1990); A. Netzer, "Korot Anusei Mashhad le-fi Ya'akov Dilmanian," in: Pe'amim 42 (1990), 127–56; idem, Oẓar Kitvei ha-Yad shel Yehudei Paras be-Makhon Ben-Zvi (1985), 14, 17, 74, 87, 115, 143.

[Amnon Netzer (2nd ed.)]