Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tough Jews in History: Part 1

The following is piece from a Wikipedia article I wrote about about the Abir Warrior Arts being taught in Israel.

The Habbani Jews of Southern Yemen

In 1912 Zionist emissary Shmuel Yavnieli came into contact with Habbani Jews who ransomed him when he was captured and robbed by eight Bedouin in southern Yemen. Yavnieli wrote about the Jews of Habban describing them in the following way.

''The Jews in these parts are held in high esteem by everyone in Yemen and Aden. They are said to be courageous, always with their weapons and wild long hair, and the names of their towns are mentioned by the Jews of Yemen with great admiration.''

There are a number of legends about the origins of the Jews of Habban. The most prominent is that they descend from Judean soldiers who were stationed in southern Arabia by King Herod of Jersualem during the Second Temple Period. Herod dispatched a unit of Jews in the region to assist the Romans with fighting wars in the area. Unlike the Jews of northern Yemen the Habbani Jews wore: Jambiyya (curved knife), Matznaph (turban) and Avne`t (sash). It was also common for the Sultans of Arabia to use Habbani Jews as soldiers in their armies or as personal guards.

Benjamin of Tudela (twelfth century) found an independent Jewish warrior tribe living in the highlands of Khorasan near Nisapur, numbering many thousand families, regarding themselves as descendants of Dan, Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali, under a Jewish prince of the name of Joseph Amarkala ha-Levi.Benjamin of Tudela, ed. Asher, pp. 83 et seq. Another independent Jewish tribe bent upon warlike expeditions is mentioned by Benjamin as living in the district of Tehama in Yemen.‎

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