FARḤI, ḤAYYIM MU'ALLIM:
Minister of the Pasha of Damascus and Acre; born at Damascus about the middle of the eighteenth century; assassinated in 1820. This remarkable statesman for more than forty years governed a part of the Turkish empire. His father, Saul Farḥi, was minister of the treasury to the Pasha of Damascus, and he himself, while still a young man, showed skill in state affairs. When Aḥmad Jazzar, Pasha of Acre, obtained also the pashalic of Damascus, he recognized the ability of the young Farḥi and promoted him to the position of minister. Farḥi utilized his influence to help his coreligionists. His love for his master and his desire to continue his services to the Syrian Jews were so strong that he bore even the most outrageous treatment on the part of the pasha.
During the siege of Acre by Napoleon in 1799, Farḥi was the soul of the defense, frustrating all of the enemy's strategic plans. Napoleon, knowing that it was owing to the efforts of the Jewish minister that he could not conquer the place, tried, but in vain, to win him over.
After Jazzar's death in 1808, Farḥi was confirmed in his dignity by Jazzar's successor, Sulaiman Pasha. The Jewish poets sang of Farḥi as a new Solomon, finding his name (from the Hebrew "faraḥ," meaning "to bloom") to be synonymous with the happiness of the country.
Farḥi was assassinated during the reign of Sulaiman's successor, Abdallah, who, although one of Farḥi's pupils, was his bitter enemy; and the body, in spite of the prayer of the Jews that it might be granted decent burial, was thrown into the sea.
- Lebrecht, in Magazin für die Literatur des Auslandes, 1850, pp. 461, 503;
- Carmoly, Revue Orientale, i. 2-9;
- Orient, Lit. 1850, cols. 728-732, 742-748, 777-780;
- Travels of Lady Hester Stanhope, iii. 124;
- Joseph Schwarz, Tebu'ot ha-'Areẓ, ii. 46a;
- Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., xi. 215.