Skip to main content

Full text of "Journeys In Persia And Kurdistan ( Vol.Ii)."

See other formats

LETTER xxin         JEWISH DEGRADATION                       155

Hamadan, no legerdemain of the imagination can re-create
the once magnificent Ecbatana, said by the early Greek
writers to have been scarcely inferior to Babylon in size
and splendour, with walls covered with " plates of gold,"
and fortifications of enormous strength; the capital of
Arbaces after the fall of Nineveh, and the summer resort
of the " Great King," according to Xenophon.

The Jews are supposed to number from 1500 to 2000
souls, and are in the lowest state of degradation, morally
and socially. That bad act of Sarah in casting out " the
bondwoman and her son" is certainly avenged upon her
descendants. They are daily kicked, beaten, and spat
upon in the streets, and their children are pelted and
beaten in going to and from the school which the
Americans have established for them. Redress for any
wrongs is inaccessible to them. They are regarded as
inferior to dogs. So degraded are they that they have
not even spirit to take advantage of the help which
American influence would give them to get into a better
position. The accursed vices of low greed and low
cunning are fully developed in them. They get their
living by usury, by the making and selling of wine and
arak, by the sale of adulterated drugs, by peddling in the
villages, and by doing generally the mean and dishonest
work from which their oppressors shrink. Many of them
have become Moslems, the law being that a convert to
Islam can take away the whole property of his family.
A larger number have, it is believed, joined the secret
sect of the Babis. I never heard such a sickening
account of degradation as is given of the Hamadan Jews
by those who know them best, and have worked the most
earnestly for their welfare.

There are a number of Armenians in Hamadan, and
several villages in the district are inhabited exclusively
by them. There are also villages with a mixed Persian