Books of Cochin

Meir Bar-Ilan

The aim of this paper is to analyze some 18th century information concerning Jewish books found in Cochin, India, books that were - or were not - composed there.

The basis of this paper is a new look at 'History of the Jews at Cochin', that was known to scholars in Germany and then translated into Hebrew more than 200 years ago. The question is whether the stories in that 'history' are true or false. It is argued that despite some legaendary details the 'history' is rooted in true history: Jews at Cochin came there from Yemen. Busieness, cultural and inter-marriage connections between the two places are put forward.

Later on, the finding of some pseudepigrapha books is discussed, books that are not known from elsewhere. According to Cochin's Jews the books were composed in the land of Israel, moved to Yemen (with their owners) and later came to India with refugees from Yemen (in the Middle Ages). These books are: Riddles of Solomon, 'The Prophecies of Gad, Nathan, Shemaya and Ahiya'. It is argued that this testimony is correct.

It is also proven that a pseudepigraphic work by the name of Iggeret R. Yohanan ben Zakai was composed under the influence of Kabbala on the one hand, and The Words of Gad the Seer on the other. That book was composed at Cochin and its commentary was written by a SHaDaR who lived at Cochin in the 18th century.

The electronic address of this file is:

last updated: October 28, 1996 - June 29, 2001