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King of Persia from 591 to 628. Chosroes, on the plea of avenging the death of his father-in-law, the Byzantine emperor Maurice (Mauritius), who had been murdered by the usurper Phocas (602), invaded Asia Minor and Syria at the head of a large army. The Jews joined the Persians in great numbers under the leadership of Benjamin of Tiberias, a man of immense wealth, by whom they were enlisted and armed. The Tiberian Jews, with those of Nazareth and the mountain cities of Galilee, marched on Jerusalem with the Persian division commanded by Shahrbaraz. Later they were joined by the Jews of southern Palestine; and supported by a band of Arabs, the united forces took Jerusalem by storm (July, 614). Ninety thousand Christians are said to have perished. The story that the Jews purchased the Christian prisoners from their Persian captors and put them to death in cold blood is a pure invention. In conjunction with the Persians, the Jews swept through Palestine, destroyed the monasteries which abounded in the country, and expelled or killed the monks. Bands of Jews from Jerusalem, Tiberias, Galilee, Damascus, and even from Cyprus, united and undertook an incursion against Tyre, having been invited by the 4,000 Jewish inhabitants of that city to surprise and massacre the Christians on Easter night. The Jewish army is said to have consisted of 20,000 men. The expedition, however, miscarried, as the Christians of Tyre learned of the impending danger, and seized the 4,000 Tyrian Jews as hostages. The Jewish invaders destroyed the churches around Tyre, an act which the Christians avenged by killing two thousand of their Jewish prisoners. The besiegers, to save the remaining prisoners, withdrew.

The immediate results of these wars filled the Jews with joy. Many Christians became Jews through fear. A Sinaitic monk embraced Judaism of his own free will, and became a vehement assailant of his former belief.

The Palestinian Jews were free from the Christian yoke for about fourteen years; and they seem to have deluded themselves with the hope that Chosroes would resign Jerusalem and a province to them, in order that they might establish a Jewish commonwealth. Not only did Chosroes, however, do nothing to promote the establishment of a Jewish commonwealth, but, on the contrary, it is probable that he taxed the Jews oppressively.

Results of the Invasion.

Thus there arose great discord between the allies, which ended in the deportation of many Palestinian Jews to Persia. This treatment caused the Jews to go over to the Roman emperor Heraclius, who had succeeded Phocas, and who concluded a treaty (627), promising them amnesty and other advantages. Chosroes, defeated by Heraclius in a series of battles, fled from his capital, but was seized and, after a confinement of four days, executed (Feb. 28, 628).

  • Th. Nöldeke, Ancient Iran. s.v. Persia, in Encyc. Brit.;
  • Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, v. 23-27, note 8, pp. 393-396.
K.A. R.
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