Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/507

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he said, "there was a larger congregation of Jews, who also had a synagogue; Jews dwelt in other provinces also." At the beginning of the eighteenth century we have further accounts from the Jesuits. Gozani, one of them, wrote a letter from Kaifeng Fu, dated November 5, 1704, giving full details of the Jewish customs and describing their synagogue.

Later on Domengo sketched a plan of the Communal buildings, and Fathers Gaubil and Cibot obtained copies and translations of the inscriptions on the walls and on certain monumental stones.

Quite recently Pére Tobar has published a most valuable work on these inscriptions.[1] Facsimiles and translations into French of the inscriptions on the stone tablets or steles, severally dated 1489, 1512, and 1663, are given along with twenty-three horizontal and seventeen vertical inscriptions which were found in the synagogue.

The following are abstracts of the dated inscriptions:—

"Abraham was the nineteenth in descent from Adam. The Patriarchs handed down the tradition forbidding the making and worshipping of images and spirits, and the holding of superstitions.

"Abraham pondered over problems of nature, and arrived at the belief in the one true God, and became the founder of the religion we believe in to this day. This happened in the 146th year of the Tcheou (Chau) dynasty. His belief was handed down from father to son till Moses, who, it is found, was alive in the 613th year of the Tcheou (Chau) dynasty.

"He was endowed with wisdom and virtue. He spent above forty days on the summit of Mount Sinai, refraining from meat and drink (while) communing with God. The fifty-three portions of the Law had their origin with him. From him the Law and tradition was handed down unto Ezra, who was likewise a patriarch. Man in his daily pursuits must ever have God before him. We pray three times a day, morning, noon, and evening.

"It is encumbent upon the Jew to venerate his ancestors. Twice in the year, in the spring and in the autumn, he offers them oxen and sheep together with the fruits of the season.

"Each seventh day is devoted to rest, and a fresh period of good deeds thus commences anew.

"Our religion came originally from Tien Tcheou (India?) in the first year of Long Hing of the Song dynasty.

  1. Inscriptions Juives de Kaifeng Fu, par le P. Jérôme Tobar, S. J., Variétiés Sinologiques, No. 17, Shanghai, 1900.