by ARIEL TOAFF
Ritual murder accusations have been made against the Jews for thousands of years. The murders were sometimes alleged to have been accompanied by ritual cannibalism, but not always. In every case, it is rather improbable that the testimonies which have come down to us from antiquity were known and disseminated in the Middle Ages and could constitute a significant point of reference for later accusations of crucifixion and ritual cannibalism. 
As early as the second century before Christ, the almost unknown Greek historian, Damocritus, who probably lived in Alexandria, recorded a violently biased anti-Jewish testimony, at that time referred to under his name in Suida's Greek dictionary. According to Damocritus, the Jews were accustomed to render worship to a golden head of an ass; every seven years, they abducted a foreigner to sacrifice him, tearing the body to pieces. 
This horrible rite is said to have taken place probably every seven years in the Temple of Jerusalem, sanctuary of the Jewish religion.
Damocritus’s report is evidently intended to stress the barbarism of the Jews, the "haters of mankind", who practiced superstitious and cruel cults. It should nevertheless be noted that the Greek historian made no reference either to any need to collect the victim's blood or other forms of ritual cannibalism.
A report only partly similar to that reported by Damocritus is found in the polemical, Contra Apione, by Flavius Josephus, quoting the tendentiously anti-Jewish rhetorician, Apione, who lived at Alexandria during the 1st century of the Christian era. According to Apione, Antiocchus Epiphane, entering the Temple of Jerusalem, is said to have been surprised to find a Greek, stretched on a bed and surrounded by exquisite foods and rich dishes.
The prisoner's report was extraordinary and horrifying. The Greek said that he had been captured by the Jews and taken to the Temple and concealed from everyone, while they force-fed him on all sorts of foods.
At first, it the unusual circumstances in which he found himself did not greatly displease him until the sanctuary attendants revealed the fate waiting in store for him: he was fated to die, the predestined victim of homicidal Jewish sacrificial practices.
"(The Jews) carry out this (rite) every year, on a pre-established date. They catch a Greek merchant and feed him for a whole year. They later take him into a forest, kill him and sacrifice him according to their religion. They then savor the viscera, and in the moment of sacrificing the Greek, they swear their hatred of all Greeks. They then dump the remains of the carcass into a ditch". 
Flavius Josephus reports that the history recounted by Apione was not invented by him, but was, rather, derived from other Greek writers, an indication that its dissemination must have been much more widespread than we are led to imagine based on the two only surviving accounts, i.e., of Damocritus and Apion. 
Compared to the first, the second describes a number of variants which are undoubtedly important. The sacrificial ceremony is now annual, and held on a fixed date, even if the account does not specify the Jewish holiday on which it allegedly took place.
Furthermore, ritual cannibalism is now stressed in an explicit and brutal manner, even if there is still no mention of any need for human blood, which, as we have seen, is said to have become the preponderant element starting with the Middle Ages. On the other hand, that both Greeks and Romans are alleged to have ended up as a meal for ravenous Jews is shown by the fact that Dio Cassius, writing of their rebellion at Cyrene (115 of the Christian era), hastened to mention, in disgust, that the Jews were accustomed to feasting upon the bodies of Greek and Roman enemies slain in battle. Not contenting themselves with the satisfaction of this alimentary predilection, they painted their bodies with the blood of their enemies and used their intestines as belts. 
A more delicate matter than the above seems to relate to a passage in the Talmud (Ketubot 102b) which might be interpreted as an indirect confirmation of the phenomenon of ritual murder during an ancient epoch, although we don’t know how widespread or how widely approved it may have been. The passage concerns a so-called "outside" baraita, or mishnah, i.e., one not incorporated into the codified and canonical text of the mishnah (dating back approximately to the third century A.D.) -- which seems to be one of the oldest -- and may therefore be traced back to Palestine at the time of the second Temple.
"A man is killed, leaving a son of a tender age in the care of his mother. When the father's heirs approach up and say, 'Let him grow up with us', and the mother say 'Let him grow up with me', he (the boy) should be left with the mother, and should not be entrusted to the care of anyone entitled to inherit from him. A case of this kind happened in the past and (the heirs) killed him on Passover Eve (Hebrew: weshachatuhu ' erev ha-Pesach)". 
[Note: Babylonian Talmud text:
"If a man died and left a young son with his mother,  [and while] the father's heirs demand, 'Let him be brought up with us' his mother claims, 'My son should be brought up by me', [the son] must be left with his mother, but may not be left with anyone who is entitled to be his heir.  Such a case  once occurred and [the heirs] killed him on the eve of passover!  - If that were so  it should have been stated,  'To wherever she is,' "
We know that the Hebrew verb shachet has the meaning of "butcher", "kill", as well as to "immolate", as, for example, as a sacrifice (as for example, Exodus 12:21 "Thou shalt sacrifice the Passover lamb", we-shachatu ha-pesach).
If in the case in question were merely a question of a simple murder committed by heirs for profit, the statement that the murder was committed "on Passover Eve" would be quite superfluous.
In fact, in support of the law providing that the child should be entrusted to the mother instead of persons entitled to inherit his property, it would have been sufficient merely to state that, in the past, a child had been killed by his heirs.
When and how the murder occurred is in fact superfluous. Unless we recall to mind a circumstance, presumably well known, in which the child murder, which deserved to be condemned, actually occurred, but only for material and egotistical motives.
At this point, it might be noted that the most ancient Christian authors appeared to make no use of this Talmudic passage in their anti-Jewish polemics, although the passage shows a relationship between the cruel killing of a child and the Jewish Passover, which might have been used by them in support of the ritual murder accusation. But perhaps their failure to do so was due to poor knowledge of Talmudic literature and rabbinical literature in general on the part of Christian polemicists, who were often ignorant of Talmudic and rabbinical language and interpretive categories. 
Be that as it may, it is advisable to stress that the reading "They killed (or immolated) him on Passover eve" (we-shachatuhu 'erev ha- Pesach ), appears in all the manuscript and ancient versions of the Ketubot treatise in question, as well as in the first edition of the Talmud, printed at Venice in 1521 by Daniel Bomberg. Later, no doubt for the purpose of defending themselves against the ritual murder accusation brought by those who had, in the meantime, discovered the potential value of the embarrassing passage, the Jewish editors of the Talmud replaced the passage with a more anaemic, less embarrassing reading: "they killed him on New Year's Eve ('erev Rosh Ha-Shanah), or "they killed him the first evening" ('erev ha-rishon). 
The latter version might suggest that the child's heirs got rid of him in a violent way as early as the evening of the day upon he was entrusted to them, with the obvious intention of getting their hands on the estate as soon as possible.
The editors of the famous Vilna edition of the Talmud (1835) justified their decision to adopt the reading "they killed him the first evening" in a glossa to Ketubot 102b, in which they rejected the preceding version – but without explicitly mentioning it – containing the reference to "Passover Eve", as the circumstance under which the unhappy child is said to have been cruelly killed. "Whoever preceded us in the Talmud", they stressed, "fell into error and preferred a reading completely torn out of context". 
That Christian Europe of the Middle Ages feared the Jews is an established fact. Perhaps the widespread fear that Jews were scheming to abduct children, subjecting them to cruel rituals, even antedates the appearance of stereotypical ritual murder which seems to have originated in the 12th century.
As for myself, I believe that serious consideration should be given to the possibility that this fear was largely related to the slave trade, particularly in the 9th and 10th centuries, when the Jewish role in the slave trade appears to have been preponderant. 
During this period, Jewish merchants, from the cities in the valley of the Rhône, Verdun, Lione, Arles and Narbonne, in addition to Aquisgrana, the capital of the empire in the times of Louis the Pious [Louis I]; and in Germany from the centres of the valley of the Rhine, from Worms, Magonza and Magdeburg; in Bavaria and Bohemia, from Regensburg and Prague - were active in the principal markets in which slaves (women, men, eunuchs) were offered for sale, by Jews, sometimes after abducting them from their houses. From Christian Europe the human merchandise was exported to the Islamic lands of Spain, in which there was a lively market. The castration of these slaves, particularly children, raised their prices, and was no doubt a lucrative and profitable practice. 
The first testimony relating to the abduction of children by Jewish merchants active in the trade flowing into Arab Spain, comes down to us in a letter from Agobard, archbishop of Lyon in the years 816-840. The French prelate describes the appearance at Lyons of a Christian slave, having escaped from Cordoba, who had been abducted from Leonese Jewish merchant twenty four years before, when he was a child, to be sold to the Moslems of Spain. His companion in flight was another Christian slave having suffered a similar fate after being abducted six years before by Jewish merchants at Arles. The inhabitants of Lyons confirmed these claims, adding that yet another Christian boy had been abducted by Jews to be sold into slavery that same year. Agobard concludes his report with a comment of a general nature; that these were not considered isolated cases, because, in every day practice, the Jews continued to procure Christian slaves for themselves and furthermore subjecting them to "infamies such that it would be vile in itself to describe them". 
Precisely what kind of abominable "infamies" Agobard is referring to is not clear; but it is possible that he was referring to castration more than to circumcision. 
Liutprando, bishop of Cremona, in his Antapodosis, said to have been written in approximately 958-962, referred to the city of Verdun as the principal market in which Jews castrated young slaves intended for sale to the Moslems of Spain. 
During this same period, two Arab sources, Ibn Haukal and Ibrahim al Qarawi, also stressed that the majority of their eunuchs originated from France and were sold to the Iberian peninsula by Jewish merchants. Other Arabic writers mentioned Lucerna, a city with a Jewish majority, halfway between Córdoba and Málaga in southern Spain, as another major market, in which the castration of Christian children after reducing them to slavery was practiced on a large scale by the very same people. 
Contemporary rabbinical responses provide further confirmation of the role played by Jews in the trade in children and young people as well as in the profitable transformation of boys into eunuchs. These texts reveal that anyone who engaged in such trade was aware of the risks involved, because any person caught and arrested in possession of castrated slaves in Christian territories was decapitated by order of the local authorities. 
Even the famous Natronai, Gaon of the rabbinical college of Sura in the mid-9th century was aware of the problems linked to the dangerous trade in young eunuchs.
"Jewish (merchants) entered (into a port or a city), bringing with them slaves and castrated children [Hebrew: serisim ketannim]. When the local authorities confiscated them, the Jews corrupted them with money, reducing them to more harmless advisors, and the merchandise was returned, at least in part". 
But if one wishes to interpret the significance and scope of the Jewish presence in the slave trade and practice of castration, it is a fact that the fear that Christian children might be abducted and sold was rather widespread and deeply rooted in all Western European countries, particularly, France and Germany, from which these Jews originated and where the greater part of the slave merchants operated. Personalities in the clergy nourished that fear, conferring religious connotations upon it with an anti-Jewish slant, failing to account for the fact that slavery as a trade had not yet gone out of fashion morally and, as such, was broadly tolerated in the economic reality of the period.
On the other hand, the abduction and castration of children, often inevitably confused with circumcision, which was no less feared and abhorred, could not fail to insinuate themselves in the collective unconscious mind of Christian Europe, especially the French and German territories, inciting anxiety and fear, which probably solidified over time, and, as a result, are believed to have concretized themselves in a variety of ways and in more or less in the same places, as the ritual murder.
In the Hebrew calendar, Pesach, Passover, comes one month after the feast of Purim, which commemorates the miraculous salvation of the Jewish people in Persia during the reign of King Ahasuerus I (519-465) from the threat of extermination linked to the plotting of the King’s perfidious minister, Haman. The Book of Esther, which examines all these explosive matters and exalts the saving function of the Biblical heroine as well as that of Mordechai, Esther’s uncle and mentor, concludes with the hanging of Haman and his ten sons, as well as with the beneficial massacre of the enemies of Israel. Leon of Modena in his Riti, describes Purim in precisely this manner, stressing a carnival-like atmosphere of celebrations and convivial opulence in which restraint and inhibition were dangerously weakened.
"On the 14th of Adar, which is March, is the festival of Purim, in memory of everything we read in the Book of Esther, which saved the people of Israel from being exterminated through the machinations of Haman, and he and his sons were hanged [...]. After the ordinary orations, with remembrance only of the escape which occurred at the hour of death, we read the entire History or Book of Esther, which were written on parchment in volume as the Panteuch, and we call meghillah, i.e., volume. And some hearing Haman's mentioned, beat as a sign to curse him [...] They make much rejoicing festivities and banquets [...] an effort is made to serve the most sumptuous meal possible and eat and drink more than usual, after which friends go out to visit each other, with receptions, festivities and revelry". 
For a number of reasons, not least that of its not infrequent proximity to Holy Week, Purim, also called the "festival of the lots", came, in time, to acquire openly anti-Christian connotations and the related celebrations became openly suggestive in this sense, both in form and substance, sometimes audaciously and openly.
Haman, equated with that other Biblical arch-enemy of the Jews, Amalek (Deut. 25: 17-19), whose memory was to be blotted out from the face of the earth, was transformed, over time, into Jesus, the False Messiah, whose impious followers were once threatening the Chosen People with extermination. 
Moreover, Haman was killed, hanged, as Jesus was said to have been, and there was no shortage of exegetic material reinforcing this paragon. In the Greek translation of the Septuagint as well as in Flavius Josephus (Ant. Jud. Xi, 267, 280), Haman’s gallows was interpreted as a cross, and the execution of King Ahasuerus’s belligerent minister was described, in effect, as a true and proper crucifixion.
The equation between Amalek, Haman and Christ was self-evidently obvious. Haman, who, in the Biblical text is referred to as talui, "the hanged one", was confused with He who, in all anti-Christian Hebraic texts, was the Talui by antonomasia [the replacement of a proper name by an epithet], i.e., the crucified Christ. 
The sensational trial of the most prominent members of the Ashkenazi communities of northern Italy, accused of vilifying the Christian religion was held in Milan in the spring of 1488. In reply to inquisitors demanding the name used by Jews with reference to Jesus of Nazareth, Salomone da Como, one of the accused, answered unhesitatingly:
"Among ourselves we call him "Ossoays" ("that man", from the Hebrew oto' ha-ish, according to the German pronunciation), or Talui ("the hanged one", "the crucified one"), while, when speaking to Christians, we always refer to him as ‘Christ’" .
It is not surprising that a text by 4th century writer Evagrius describes the Jew Simone, in an argument with a Christian, Theophilus, should have equated "the cursed and despised Passion of Christ" with Haman’s ‘crucifixion’. 
According to the great English anthropologist James George Frazer, Christ died while playing the role of Haman (the dying god) in a drama of Purim in which (Jesus) Barabbas, the double of Jesus of Nazareth, played the part of Mordechai (the god that resurges).
In the model of the god that dies and is reborn -- which is common in the Near East -- Haman is said to have played the part of death and Mordechai that of life, while the celebration of Purim is said to constitute the Hebraic ritual of death and resurrection.
Based on this consideration, one might hypothesize that, in the past, the Jews, at the culmination of the festival, might have been accustomed to putting a man to death in flesh and blood reality, and that Jesus was crucified in this context, playing the role of Ahasuerus’s tragic minister, the arch-enemy of Israel. 
There is no shortage of testimonies of the celebration of rituals, within the framework of the carnival of Purim, intended to vilify and outrage the image of Haman, reconstituted in the semblance of Christ hanging from the cross. First, the emperor Honorius (384-423) and, in his footsteps, Theodosius (401-450), prohibited the Jews from the provinces of the Empire from setting fire to effigies of Haman crucified in contempt of the Christian religion.
Probably to be associated with the preceding prohibitions is the report, mentioned by the late chronicler Agapius [10th century] and dating back to 404-407 A.D., during the reign of Theodosius II [Flavius Theodosius, Roman Emperor of the East, 401-450 A.D.], that certain Jews of Alexandria, forced to submit to baptism, are said to have rebelled, giving rise to a sensational protest, stating that, in their eyes, such a ceremony possessed the fascination of a certain originality.
They are said to have taken an image of the crucified Christ, heaping insults upon the Christians, mocking them with the words: "This is our Messiah?" . It is not impossible that the episode formed part of the framework of the Hebraic Purim celebrations.
Before 1027, at Byzantium [Constantinople, now Istanbul], baptized Jews were required to curse their ex-fellow-Jews "who celebrated the festival of Mordechai, crucifying Haman on a beam of wood, in the form of a cross, and then setting fire to it, accompanying the vile rite with a torrent of imprecations directed at those faithful to Christ". Again, in the very early 13th century, Arnol, prior of the monastery at Lübeck, censured the wickedness of the Jews in bitter terms "in crucifying the figure of the Redeemer every year, making him the object of shameless ridicule". 
Even the Hebrew texts do not seem to be sparing on information in this regard. The Talmudic dictionary Arukh, consisting of the rabbi Natan b. Yehiel of Rome in the second half of the 11th century, contains reports that the Jews of Babylon were accustomed to celebrate the festival of Purim in a particular way.
"It is the custom among the Jews of Babylon and the rest of the entire world for the boys to make effigies shaped like Haman and hang them on the roofs of their houses for four or five days (before the festival). In the days of Purim, they prepare a phallus and throw it among these images, while they stand around singing songs". 
The above mentioned rites were culinary, even symbolically cannibalistic in nature. The effigies of Haman-Christ were of sweet pastry, to be destroyed, avidly consumed by youngsters and children during the days of carnival. 
During the Middle Ages, the sweet delicacy enjoying absolute primacy in the sumptuous banquets of Purim was a typical biscuit, once again bearing the pathetic figure of Haman as a gastronomic butt of ridicule.
The so-called "Haman's ears" (onze' Aman), presented in a variety of versions according to the various traditions of the Jewish community, gained a position of great importance in the feast of Purim. In Italy, they were strips of puff pastry shaped like ass's ears, fried in olive oil and powdered sugar, which quite resembled the Tuscan cenci and Roman frappe prepared during carnival time. Among Oriental and north African Jews, the puff pastry was roasted and covered with honey and sesame seeds. 
The Italian Ashkenazim did not much care for the overly-Mediterranean taste of these [latter] biscuits, which they called "galahim frit" in contempt, "fried priests" (literally "people with the tonsure"), confirming the detestable relationship between Haman, Israel’s bitter enemy, and the arrogance of Christianity, with its priests. Their version of the "ears" were called Hamantaschen or "Haman's pockets", and was more elaborate. These consisted of a large triangle-shaped cake of egg pasta filled with a sweet brownish mixture based on poppy seeds. 
Nor should we be surprised to find that, even in the relatively recent past, there was no shortage of people in Germany who shared the belief, curious even if not very original, that the Ashkenazi stuffed their Hamantaschen with the coagulated blood of Christian boys martyred by them . Modern anti-Semites gather and disseminate this cannibalistic fable today from their university chairs, particularly in the Arab countries, making it the subject of ridiculous pseudo-historical research. 
Turning back centuries, however, we must note, following Frazer, that the ritual of Purim did not always conclude with the bloodless hanging of a mere effigy of Haman. Sometimes, the "effigy" was a flesh-and-blood Christian, crucified for real, during the wild revelry of the Jewish carnival.
One of these sources of which we can attain with regards it Socrates Scolasticus, history of the Church in the 5th century, which, from its Historia Ecclestiastica (VII, 16) refers to a case occurring in 415 at Inmestar, near Antioch, in Syria. 
The local Hebrews, in their debaucheries and intemperate revelry to celebrate Purim, after getting suitably drunk, according to the prescriptions of the ritual, which provided that they must drink so much wine that they can no longer distinguish Haman from Mordechai:
"...took to deriding the Christians and Christ Himself in their boasting; they ridiculed the cross and anyone trusting in the crucifix, putting the following joke in practice.
"They took a Christian child, tied it to a cross and hanged him. Initially they made him the object of jokes and drollery; then, after a while, they lost control of themselves and mistreated him to such a degree that they killed him."
The report, which makes no mention of miracles occurring at the site of the relics of the martyred child, seems to possess all the indications of truthfulness. Moreover, as we have seen above, there are people who have viewed the immoderate celebrations of Purim, accompanied by anti-Christian insults and violence, as the core from which the belief in Jewish ritual homicide of Christian children is thought to have developed during the Middle Ages, as an integral part of a ritual centered around on the festival of Pesach, considered the ideal culmination of Purim. 
The case of Inmestar is not an isolated one. A Jewish source, the memoires of rabbi Efraim of Bonn, takes us to France, to Brie-Compte Robert, in 1191 or 1192. 
A servant of the Duchess of Champagne was found guilty of the murder of a Jew and was held in prison for that offense. The other Jews of the village decided to rescue the prisoner in exchange for money and executed him during the festival of Purim, hanging him. 
"A perfidious Christian killed a Jew in the city of Brie, which is in France. Then the other Jews, his relatives, went to the lord of the region (the Duchess of Champagne), and implored her (to hand over) the murderer, who was a servant of the King of France. They therefore bribed her with their money in order to be able to crucify the killer . And they crucified him on the eve of Purim" .
The vengeance demanded in a loud voice by the Christians of Brie, headed by Philippe II August, King of France (1165-1223), was not long in coming.
The entire adult Jewish population of the city, totaling about eighty persons, were tried and condemned to be burnt at the stake ("wealthy persons, rich and influential, some of them famous rabbis and people of culture, who refused to sully themselves [in the baptismal waters] and to betray the One God, were burnt alive proclaiming the unity of the Creator"). The children, who were Jews and circumcised, were taken en masse to the baptismal font to be made Christians. No festival of Purim ever concluded in a more tragic manner for the Jews, overturning and thwarting the saving and hope-giving meaning of the Biblical account of Esther and Mordechai.
The blasphemous parody of the Passion of Christ sometimes had the most tragic consequences. But this obvious fact did not always suffice to cool hot heads and restrain fanatical, agitated minds. The Christians were not too subtle about it, since they certainly didn't need excuses or pretexts to perpetrate indiscriminate massacres of Jews or to plunge Jewish children into the beneficial waters of baptism by force. The spiral of violence, having due regard to the discrepancies between the relative power and size of the two conflicting societies, could not be extinguished. The serpent bit its own tail, leaving its imprint of blood on the sand. Each society was, in a sense, its own victim, but neither noticed.
To give a few examples, on 7 February 1323, a few days before the festival of Purim, a Jew in the Duchy of Spoleto was condemned for striking and insulting the cross. 
On 28 February 1504, precisely coinciding with the festival of Purim, a beggar from Bevagna accused the local Jews of the place, transformed into evil spirits, of having cruelly crucified him. 
It was still in the days of Purim, in February 1444, that the Jews of Vigone, in Piedmont, were accused of having pretended to butcher an image of Christ Crucified as a joke;  again, it was in the month of February, this time in 1471, that a Jew from Gubbio brought a legal action to "scrape" the image of the Virgin Mary from the outside wall of his house. 
Purim was followed by Pesach, but the story, during that violent month, was no different, even without any strict need to play cruel and lethal cruel tricks on Christian boys, or to stone Jews and their houses en masse during the "holy hailstorm of stones". On 21 March 1456, a Jew of Lodi entered the cathedral of San Lorenzo at nightfall with a drawn sword, directing himself without hesitation, where he walked straight up to the main altar and proceeded to make log wood and splinters out of the image of Christ Crucified, with the evident intention of chopping it to bits. His fate was sealed. The culprit was lynched on the spot, amidst the rejoicing of a jubilant crowd, and vengeance was wreaked. 21 March 1456 corresponded to the 15th of the Month of Nissan of the Jewish year 5216 and the first day of Pesach. The matter was thus described by the commander of Lodi to the Duke of Milan:
"In our dear city of Lodi, on the 21st day, 17 hours, of the present month [March], according to the common reports, a Jew entered the cathedral with sword in hand to cut the crucifix of Christ to pieces, for which offense the whole territory rose up against him and they ran to the Jew’s house [...] and killed the above-mentioned Jew and dragged him on the ground". 
In the early modern age, the carnival-like festivities of Purim finally lost those qualities of aggressiveness and violence which had been characteristic since the early Middle Ages, but never renounced the clearly anti-Christian meaning it possessed according to tradition. Thus wrote Giulio Morosini, known as Shemuel Nahmias at Venice when he was still a Jew, a shrewd former disciple of Leon da Modena:
"During the reading [of the megillah of Esther], whenever Haman is named, the boys beat the benches of the synagogue with hammers or sticks with all their might as a sign of excommunication, crying in a loud voice 'May his name be blotted out and may the name of the impious rot. And they all cried 'Be cursed, Haman, Be blessed, Mordechai, Be blessed Esther, Be cursed Ahasueruss.' And they continue like that until evening, just as on the morning of the first day, never ceasing to express their justified contempt for Haman and the enemies of Judaism at that time, covertly spreading poison against Christians, under the name of Idolaters [...] they therefore cry out in a loud voice Be Cursed all the Idolaters. 
But at an even earlier time, the illustrious jurist Marquardo Susanni, protected by Paolo IV Carafa, the fervent and impassioned founder of the Ghetto of Rome, mentioned the wild hostility of the Jews towards Christianity as well as the peculiar carnival-like characteristics of Purim. According to him, "during the feast of Mordechai", the Jews did not hesitate to greet each other by saying, in contemptuous tones:
'May the King of the Christians go down to ruin immediately, the way Haman went down to ruin". 
 Cfr. G.L. Langmuir, Thomas of Monmouth. Detector of Ritual Murder, in "Speculum", LIX (1984), p. 824.
 Cfr. Th. Reinach, Textes d'auteurs grecs et romains relatifs au Judaisme, Paris, 1895, p. 121, no. 60.
 Josephus, Contra Apion, II, 7-1: "et hoc illos facere singulis annis quodam tempore constituito. Et comprehendere quidem Graecum peregrinum, eumque annali tempore saginare et deductum ad quamdam silvam occidere quidem eum hominem, eiusque corpus sacrificare secundum suas solemnitates, et gustare ex eius visceribus, et iusiurandum facere in immolatione Graeci, ut inimicitas contra Graecos haberent, et tunc in quandam foveam reliqua hominis pereuntis abjicere", Cfr. Rheinach, Textes d'auteurs grecs et romains, cit. pp. 131-132, no. 63.
 For an examination of the story of Damocritus and Apione on the ritual homicides committed by the Jews in the Temple of Jerusalem, see, among others, J. Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, 1934, p. 16; D. Flusser, The Blood Libel against the Jews According to the Intellectual Perspectives of the Hellenistic Age, in Studies on Hellenistic Judaism in Memory of J. Levy, Jerusalem, 1949, pp. 104-124 (in Hebrew); Id., Moza 'alilot ha-dam ("The Origins of the Blood Accusation") in "Manhanaim", CX (1967), pp. 18-21; J.N. Sevenster, The Roots of Pagan Anti-semitism in the Ancient World, Leyden, 1975, pp. 140-142.
 Cfr. Reinach, Textes d'auteurs grecs et romains relatifs au Judaisme, Paris, cit., pp. 196-197, no. 112.
 Thus, the final passage of this haraita is translated by rabbi Dovid Kamenetsky, in the recent edition of the Babylonian Talmud, with a version in English (Talmud Bavli, Schottenstein Edition, Tractae Ketubos, III, New York, 2000, c. 102b and no. 32): "for it once occurred that a boy was entrusted to those fit to inherit him, and they butchered (or: slew) him on Pesach eve".
 "In the Latin translation of extracts from the Talmud contained in Latin manuscript 16558 B.N., which is the principal source of knowledge of rabbinical literature in the Christian world in the 13th century, the Ketubot treatise is not explicitly mentioned there [...]. It does not contain the passage which interests you (Ketubot 102b). I have never found it used in polemics; nevertheless, the link made between Pessach might very well have encouraged belief in 'ritual murder'; but the authors of the anti-Jewish accounts on this subject obviously know nothing about Jewish literature. [...]. Among the number of accusations made of ritual murder, I do not recall ever having found an argument based upon this Talmudic passage" [written communication dated 2 August 2001 from Professor Gilbert Dehan, to whom I wish to express my deepest thanks).
 A. Steinzaltz notes, in this regard, that "in some later editions (of the Talmud), the Rosh Ha-Shanah (New Year's) version appears instead of Pesach, in the fear that this expression might constitute evidence to be used by those who accuse the Jews of ritual murder". (Talmud Bavli, Ketubot, Jerusalem, 1988, vol. II, p. 457). And nevertheless, the first writer to use the text of Ketubot in this sense seems to be the famous Augusto Rohling, University professor and one of the more caustic Austrian anti-Semitic polemicists, author of Der Talmudjude (Munster, 1871). The passage of Ketubot 102b was revealed by him and publicized with ill-concealed satisfaction in a brochure entitled Ein Talmud fur rituelle Schächten, which saw the light in 1892. Hermann L. Strack replied to him, arguing passionately but only somewhat convincingly, in the fourth edition (London, 1892), of his classic essay on Jews and human ritual sacrifice (The Jew and Human Sacrifice. Human Blood and Jewish Ritual, pp. 155-168).
 Talmud Bavli, Vilna, Menachem (Mendele) Man e Simcha Zimel, 1835. It should be noted that this edition preceded by more than half a century the "revelations" of Rohling, in a act of surprising self-censorship. It is not impossible that the editors of the Vilna Talmud intended to respond to doubt and embarrassment within the Jewish world on the interpretation of this text in the original version, rather than reply to the external attacks which were still long yet to come.
 In this regard, see Ch. Verlinden's now famous classic, L'esclavage dans l'Europe medievale, Brugge, 1955, vol. I, pp. 702-716. For a rather over-simplified interpretation of the role of the Jews in the slave trade, see B. Blumenkranz, Juifs et Chrétiens dans le monde occidental (430-1096), Paris 1960, pp. 18-19, 184-211, to which the same Verlinden replied (A propos de la place des juifs dans l'économie de l'Europe occidentale au IXème siècles. Agobard de Lyon et l'historiographie arabe, in Storia e storiograph. Miscellanea de studi in onore di E. Dupre -Theseider, Rome, 1974, pp. 21-37).
 Cfr. Verlinden, A propos de la place des juifs, cit., pp. 32-35.
 "Et cum precedens scedula dictata fuisset, supervenit quidam homo fugiens ab Hispanis de Cordoba, qui se dicebat furatum fuisse a quoda Judeo Lugduno ante annos IIti IIIor, parvum adhuc puerum, et et venditum. Fugisse autem anno presenti cum alio, qi similiter furatus fuerat ab alio Judeo ante annos sex. Cumque huis, qui Lugdunesis fuerat, notos quereremus et invenirem dictum est a quibusdam et alios ab eodem Judeos furatos, alios vero eptos ac venditos; ab alio quoque Judeo anno presenti alium puerum furatum et venditum; qua hora inventum est plures Christianos a Christianis vendi et comparari a Judeis, perpatrarique ab eis multa infanda que turpia sunt ad scribendum" (Epistolae Karolini aevi, in "Monumenta Germaniae Historica", III, Hannover, 1846, p. 185). For an analysis of this text, see, in particular, B. Blumenkrantz, Les auteurs chrétiens latins au Moyen Age sur les Juifs et le Judaisme, Paris, 1963, pp. 152-168; Id., Juifs et Chrétiens dans le monde occidentale, cit., pp. 191-195; Verlinden, A propos de la place des juifs, cit., pp. 21-25.
 For a useful discussion of this topic, see Blumenkrantz, Juifs et Chrétiens dans le monde occidental, cit., pp. 194-195, no. 142; Id., Les auteurs chrétiens, cit., p. 163, no. 53.
 "Carzimasium autem greci vocant amputatis virilibus et virga puerum quod Virdunenses mercatores ob immensum lucrum facere et in Hispaniam ducere solent " ["Virgin boys whose genitals have been amputated are referred to by the Greeks as 'eunuchs'. These boys are castrated by merchants at Verdun at an immense profit and are usually taken to Spain "], cit., in Verlinden, A propos de la place des juifs, cit., p. 33).
 On the Arab sources attesting to the role of Jewish merchants in the eunuch trade, cfr. Verlinden, L'esclavage dans l'Europe médiévale, cit., p. 716; Id., A propos de la place des juifs, cit., pp. 22.
 On the rabbinical responses relating to the trade in castrated young slaves and on the role of Lucena [outside Córdoba] as a center for the castrations, see A. Assaf, Slavery and the Slave-Trade among the Jews during the Middle Ages (from the Jewish Sources), in "Zion", IV (1939), pp. 91-125 (in Hebrew); E. Ashtor, A History of the Jews in Moslem Spain, Jerusalem, 1977, vol. I, pp. 186-189 (in Hebrew).
 The text of Natronai Gaon is reported in Assaf, Slavery and the Slave-Trade, cit., pp. 100-101.
 Leon de Modena, Historia de' riti hebraici, Venice, Gio. Calleoni, 1638, pp. 80-81.
 The first to have linked the rise of the Christian stereotype of ritual murder to the feast of Purim and to the hanging/crucifixion of Haman/Jesus was Cecil Roth in his now classic study (C. Roth, Feast of Purim and the Origins of the Blood Accusations, in "Speculum", VIII, 1933, pp. 520-526).Recently following in Roth's footsteps have been Elliot Horowitz and Gerd Mentgen, adding further documents attesting to phenomena of anti-Christian violence during the celebration of Purim (cfr. E. Horowitz, And It Was Reversed. Jews and Their Enemies in the Festivities, in "Zion", LIX, 1994, pp. 129-168, in Hebrew; Id., The Rite to Be Reckless. On the Perpetration and Interpretation of Purim Violence, in "Poetics Today", XV, 1994, pp. 9-54; G. Mentgen, The Origins of the Blood Libel, in "Zion", LIX, 1994, pp. 341-349; Id., Über den Ursprung der Ritualmordfabel, in "Aschkenas", IV, 1994, pp. 405-416). On the status quaestionis, see the precise summary of I.J. Yuval, "Two Nations in Your Womb": Perceptions of Jews and Christians, Tel Aviv, 2000, pp. 179-181 (in Hebrew), and the recent stimulating monograph of E. Horowitz, Reckless Rites. Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence, Princeton, (N.J., 2006.
 On this subject, see T.C.G. Thornton, The Crucifixion of Haman and the Scandal of the Cross, in "Journal of Theological Studies", XXXVII (1986), pp. 419-426; A. Damascelli, Croce maledizione e redenzione. Un' eco di Purim in Galati 3, 13, in "Henoch", XXIII (2001), pp. 227-241.
 "Quomodo (judaei) vocant Iesum de Nazaret quem adorant christiani? [...] Dicit quod (inter se) vocant Ossoays et Talui et quando locunt cum Christianis vocant Christo" ["How do the Jews speak of those who adore Jesus of Nazareth ? [...] [Amongst themselves] they call him Ossays and Talui but when they are speaking to Christians, they call him Christ"] (cfr. An. Antoniazzi Villa, Un processo contro gli ebrei nella Milano del 1488 Milan, 1986, p. 111).
 The expression used in the text is "maledicta et ludibriosa passio" ["cursed and filthy passion"] (cfr. Damascilli, Croce, maledizione e redenzione, cit.).
 Cfr. J.G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, London, 1913, IX, pp. 359-368, 392-407 (translated as Il ramo d'oro. Studio sulla magia e la religione, Turin, 1991).
 Cfr. Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, cit., p. 234.
 Cfr. H. Schreckenberg, Die christlichen "Adversos Judaeos". Texte und ihr literarisches und historisches Umfeld, Frankfurt am Main - Bern, 1982, p. 543; Mentgen, The Origins of the Blood Libel, cit., pp. 341-343. This last essay stresses the link between Purim, known as the "feast of the lots", and the date upon which the annual lottery of the Jewish community to establish the location of which to carry out the annual ritual murder (Norwich, Valreas, etc.).
 Natan b. Yechiel, Arukh, Pesar, G. Soncino, 1517, cc. 162v-163r (s.v. shwwr). See also Shoshanat ha' amaqim. 'Emeq ha-Purim. Ozar minhagin we-hanhagot le-chag Purim ("Treasure of the Rites and Customs of the Feast of Purim"), Jerusalem, 2000, pp. 111-112.
 The custom is reported in the ritual scripts of rabbi Chaim Palagi, Mo'ed le-chol chay ("A Time Established for Every Living Thing?"), Smyrna, B.Z. Rodit, 1861, c. 243rv.
 In this regard, see my Mangiare alla giudia. La cucina ebraica in Italia dal Renascimento all'età moderna, Bologna, 2000, pp. 166-167.
 Cfr. ibidem, p. 166. On the Haman-taschen in particular, see N.S. Doniach, Purim or the Feast of Esther. An Historical Study. Philadelphia (Pa.), 1933, p. 103.
 The reference occurs in J. Trachtenberg, The Devil and the Jews, Philadelphia (Pa.), 1961, p. 154, no. 43.
 To give an example, the 13 March 2002 Saudi daily newspaper "Al-Ryad" carried an article on the Jewish feast of Purim, authored by a zealous professor at the university named after King Faysal. The historian Umaya Ahmed Al-Jalahama, his article, claimed that in the preparation of the Jewish sweets known as "Haman's ears", Jews must provide themselves with the coagulated blood, in the form of lumps or powder, of a Christian boy, or even a Moslem boy. As we have seen, this addition is as bold as it is unhistorical, which nevertheless seems fully understandable, considering the scope of the essay as established by the author, and the public for whom he was writing.
 For a description and evaluation of Socratesù text on the facts of Inmestar, see, among others, Strack, The Jew and Human Sacrifice, cit., p. 176; J. Juster, Les Juifs dans l'Empire romain; leur condition juridique, economique et sociale; Paris, 1914, vol. II, p. 204; Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, cit., p. 234; Trachtenberg, The Devil and the Jews, cit., pp. 127-128; Blumenkranz, Les auteurs chrétiens, cit., p 58; M. Simon, Verus Israel. Etude sur les relations entre chrétiens et juifs dans l'Empire romain (135-425), Paris, 1964, p. 160.
 The hypothetical derivation of the stereotype of the blood accusation at Pesach based on Jewish behavior at Purim, maintained by Roth (cfr. Roth, Feast of Purim, cit. p. 521; "It would not have been altogether unnatural had the coarser spirits among the Jews themselves introduced into the proceedings a spirit of mockery of the [Christian] religion", and of the many who follow Roth, among them, recently, Mriri Rubin, with reference to the accusation of the desecration of the Host (cfr. M. Rubin, Gentile Tales. The Narrative Assault on Late Medieval Jews , New Haven, Conn, 1999, p. 87: "That Jews, roused by festivity and fellowship, may have played about, even played a practical joke on their neighbors and their beliefs is all to believable"), is rejected with disdainful presumption by Langmuir. The affair of ritual murder, in both its variants of the crucifixion and the consumption of blood, is said to have been a brilliant, entirely ecclesiastical and medieval Christian invention. Those historians, in particular, those Jewish historians, attempting to link these accusations with real Jewish behavior, even if misinterpreted, are said to have fallen into error intentionally, for fear of facing Christian historiography openly, which is believed to be incapable of understanding the power of the irrational in the human mind, or, worse, because these historians have become befuddled by the fanciful presumption that the Jews play a role of some weight in history (cfr. Langmuir, Toward a Definition of Anti- Semitism, Berkely - Los Angeles - Oxford, 1990, pp. 209-296: "Whether they were insensitive to the powers of irrationality, reluctant to attack Christian historiography too openly, or concerned to attribute an active role in history to Jews, they were predisposed to believe that something Jews had done - however misinterpreted by Christians - must have been a major cause of the change [...] exuberant Jewish conduct at Purim cannot be used to explain the accusation.").
 The village in question is Brie-Compte-Robert in the Isle-de-France, as shown in the works by William C. Jordan and Shim'on Schwarzfuchs, referred to in the note below, and not Bray-sur-Seine, as claimed by the majority of preceding scholars.
 The episode is discussed, not only in the works by Roth, Horowitz and Trachtenberg, already cited, but by W.C. Johnson, The French Monarchy and the Jews. From Philip Augustus to the Last Capetians, Philadelphia (Pa.), 1989, pp. 36, 270-271; Id., Jews, Regalian Rights and the Constitution in Medieval France, in "AJS Review", XXIII (1998), pp. 1-16; Sh. Schwarzfuchs, A History of the Jews in Medieval France, Tel Aviv, 2001, pp. 155-156 (in Hebrew).
 The text uses here the verb talah (li-tlot, wa-yitlu), which, as we have seen, may be indifferently translated as "to hang".
 The quotation is taken from the Sefer Zechirah di Efraim of Bonn. Cfr. A.M. Haberman, Sefer ghezerot Ashkenaz we-Zarfat ("Book of Perscutions" in Germany and France"), Jerusalem, 1971, p. 128.
 Manuele da Visso was accused and condemned "super eo quod dicebatur dixisse et fecisse aliqua illicita de Cruce" (cfr. A. Toaff, The Jews in Umbria, I: 1245-1435, Leyden, 1993, p. 76-77).
 "Quod omnia eius brachia et etiam genua sibi dicti spiritus asperuissent et devasstassent cum quibusdam stecchis" (cfr. Toaff, The Jews in Umbria. III: 1484-1736, Leyden, 1994, pp. 1116-1118; Id., Il vino e la carne, Bologna, 1989, p. 171-172).
 The Jewish defendants were held guilty "de jugulatione Christi in formam crucifixi" (cfr. R. Segre, Jews in Piedmont, Jerusalem, 1986, vol. I, pp. 171-172).
 Cfr. M. Luzzati, Ebrei, chiesa locale, principe e popolo. Due episodi di destruzione di immagini sacre alla fine del Quattrocento, in "Quaderni Storici", XXII (1983), no. 54, pp. 847-877; Toaff, Il vino e la carne, cit., pp. 156-158.
 Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, Jerusalem, 1982, vol. I, pp. 199-200.
 Cfr. Giulio Morosini, Derekh Emunah, Via della fede mostrata agli ebrei, Rome, Propaganda Fede, 1683, p. 836.
 "Et in festo Mardochai quod adhuc (Judaei) celebrant XV Kalendas martii, ubi conterunt ollas in Synagogis, dicentes: sicut contritus est Aman, sic contetatur velociter regnum Christianorum" ["And during the feast of Mordechai, which the Jews still celebrate on the 15th of March, they smash jars in the synagogue, saying: thus Haman was destroyed, thus may the kingdom of the Christians rapidly be destroyed"] (Marquardo Susanni, Tractatus de Judaeis et aliis infidelibus, Venice, Comin da Trino, 1558, cc. 25v-26r).
REVISION DATE SEPT. 14, 2007
ROSH HOSHANA, NIGHTFALL (5768)
Revised by the original translators, Feb. 2011