Khazars or Khozars

Khazars Or Khozars is the name of a Finnish people, a rude but powerful nation, north of the Caucasus, related to the Bulgarians and Hungarians, which in the 8th century embraced Judaism. After the dissolution of the empire of the Huns they settled on the borders of Europe and Asia, and at one time possessed a realm near the mouth of the Wolga (by them called Atil or Atel), on the Caspian Sea (after them sometimes called Khazar Sea), where the Kalmucks (q.v.) now live. They gave much uneasiness to the Persians, especially during the reign of Khosru I (q.v.), and in the 7th century, after the downfall of the Sassanians, the Khazars' went across the Caucasus, invaded Armenia, and conquered the Crimea, hence called at one time Khozari or Cho (a)zari. The Byzantine emperors trembled before the warlike skill of the Khazars,.and paid large tributes to keep them at a respectful distance from Constantinople; the Bulgarians and other peoples were their vassals; the Russians (Kievians) appeased their desire for conquest by an annual tribute, and with the Arabs they were waging constant warfare. But by degrees, as they abandoned their nomadic habits, their warlike spirit decreased, and they largely fostered commercial intercourse with the outer world. They exchanged dried fish, the furs of the north, and slaves for the gold and silver and the luxuries of southern climates. Merchants of all religions-Jews, Christians, and Mohammedans- were freely admitted, and their superior intelligence over his more barbarous subjects induced one of their kings, Bulan, to forsake their coarse, idolatrous worship, greatly mixed with sensuousness and licentiousness, and to embrace (A.D. 740) the Jewish religion. "By one account," says Milman (Jews, 3:138), "he was admonished by an angel; by another, he decided in this singular manner between the claims of Christianity, Moslemism, and Judaism. He examined the different teachers apart, and asked the Christians if Judaism were not better than Mohammedanism; the Mohammedan, whether it was not better than Christianity. Both replied in the affirmative; on which the monarch decided in favor of Judaism." According to one statement secretly, to another openly, ha embraced the faith of Moses, and induced learned teachers of the law to settle in his dominions. Of course at first, the change of religious belief was confined to the royal household, and the four thousand nobles of the land, who, with Bulan, embraced Judaism; but soon the new religion spread, and ere long the majority of the nation bowed in adoration to the one and ever-living God. Judaism actually became a necessary condition to the succession to the throne, but there was the most liberal toleration to all other forms of faith. SEE OBADIAH. Rabbi Hasdai, a learned Jew, who was in the highest confidence with Abderrahman, the caliph of Cordova, first received intelligence of this sovereignty possessed by his brethren through the ambassadors of the Byzantine emperor. After considerable difficulty, Hasdai succeeded in establishing a correspondence with Joseph, the reigning king. The letter of Hasdai is extant, and an answer of the king, which does not possess equal claims to authenticity. The whole history has been wrought out into a religious romance, entitled Cosri, SEE JEHUDA HA-LEVI, which has involved the question in great obscurity. Basnage rejected the whole as a fiction of the Rabbins, anxious to prove that " the sceptre had not entirely departed from Israel." Jost inclines to the belief that "there is a groundwork of truth under the veil of poetic embellishment." The latest writers upon the subject admit without hesitation, and Jewish writers almost boast of the kingdom of Khazar. Comp. Frahn's Commentary of Ibn-Foszlan " De Chazaris" (in the Memoires de l'Academnie Imperiale des Sciences de Petersbourg, 1822, vol. viii); D'Hosson. Peuples du Caucase; Duftrmery, in the Journal Asiatique, 1849, p. 470 sq.; Reinaud, Abulfedc, Introd. p. 299; Vivien de St. Martin, Les Khazars (in the Memi. a l'Academie des Inscriptions et des Belles-Lettres, Paris, 1851). The Khazars became extinct as a nation in A. D. 945, when they were conquered by Swaitoslaw [duke of Kiev (q.v.)], and their name, otherwise almost forgotten, was preserved in the archives of the Muscovite. See Schweitzer, Juzdriissiche Volker; Carmoly, Itineraires de la Terre Sainte (Brux. 1847), p. 1-104; Rapoport, Kerenm Chemed, 5:197 sq.; Cassel, in Ersch und Gruber, Encyklopadie; Gritz, Geschichte d. Juden, 5:211 sq.; Rule, Karaites, p. 79 sq. SEE KIEF. (J. H.W.)

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.