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Phoenix Journal Selections 
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The Khazars, part 14 As for homosexuality--which in Arab countries was taken quite as a matter of course--Ibn Fadlan tells you that it is "regarded by the Turks as a terrible sin". But in the only episode that he relates to prove his point, the seducer of a "beardless youth" gets away with a fine of 400 sheep. Dear ones, YOU are fined with a humongous bill to the pharmaceutical Elite, the hospitals and finally slowly tortured to death with AIDS! You had better carefully consider this compromise with evil. Accustomed to the splendid baths of Baghdad, our traveler could not get over the dirtiness of the Turks. "The Ghuzz do not wash themselves after defecating or urinating, nor do they bathe after seminal pollution or on other occasions. They refuse to have anything to do with water, particularly in winter..." When the Ghuzz commander-in-chief took off his luxurious coat of brocade to don a new coat the mission had brought him, they saw that his underclothes were "fraying apart from dirt, for it is their custom never to take off the garment they wear close to their bodies until it disintegrates". Another Turkish tribe, the Bashkirs, "shave their beards and eat their lice. They search the folds of their undergarments and crack the lice with their teeth." When Ibn Fadlan watched a Baskir do this, the latter remarked to him: "They are delicious". All in all, it is not such an engaging picture but then you can allow that the traveler might be a bit fastidious and somewhat a prude so you can likely discount a measure as of exaggeration--but I can warn you; not very much for there are many records which tell the same truth. The only reason for change in habits was to win a point and/or advantage. I would dare say that the traveler did not care greatly for these people of whom he wrote. However, had there not been the contempt, he probably would not have kept recordings. His contempt was only aroused by their uncleanliness and what he considered as indecent exposure of the body; the savagery of their punishments and sacrificial rites leave him quite indifferent. Thus he describes the Bulgars' punishment for manslaughter with detached interest, without his otherwise frequent expression of indignation: "They make for him [the delinquent] a box of birchwood, put him inside, nail the lid on the box, put three loaves of bread and a can of water beside it, and suspend the box between two tall poles, saying: 'We have put him between heaven and earth, that he may be exposed to the sun and the rain, and that the deity may perhaps forgive him.' And so he remains suspended until time lets him decay and the winds blow him away". He also had similar aloofness at describing the funeral sacrifice of hundreds of horses and herds of other animals, and the gruesome ritual killing of a Rus (Rus: the Viking founders of the early Russian settlements) slave girl at her master's bier. About pagan religions he has little to say. But the Bashkirs' phallus cult arouses his interest, for he asks through his interpreter one of the natives the reason for the worshipping a wooden penis, and noted down his reply: "Because I issued from something similar and know of no other creator who made me". He then adds that "some of them [the Bashkirs] believe in twelve deities, a god for winter, another for summer, one for the rain, one for the wind, one for the trees, one for men, one for the horse, one for water, one for the night, one for the day, a god of death and one for the earth; while that god who dwells in the sky is the greatest among them, but takes counsel with the others and thus all are contented with each others' doings... We have seen a group among them which worships snakes, and a group which worships fish, and a group which worships cranes...." Among the Volga Bulgars, Ibn Fadlan found a strange custom: "When they observe a man who excels through quickwittedness and knowledge they say: 'For this one it is more befitting to serve our Lord.' They seize him, put a rope around his neck and hang him on a tree where he is left until he rots away...." -- PJ 28 -- pag. 171 Commenting on this passage, the Turkish orientalist Zeki Validi Togan, undisputed authority on Ibn Fadlan and his times, has this to say: "There is nothing mysterious about the cruel treatment meted out by the Bulgars to people who were overly clever. It was based on the simple, sober reasoning of the average citizens who wanted only to lead what they considered to be a normal life, and to avoid any risk or adventure into which the 'genius' might lead them". He then quotes a Tarter proverb, "If you know too much, they will hang you, and if you are too modest, they will trample on you". I would think you ones would consider this most closely. You have been deceived and kept in ignorance to allow you no recourse against their strength. Ibn Fadlan concluded that the victim "should not be regarded simply as a learned person, but as an unruly genius, one who is too clever by half " This leads one to believe that the custom should be regarded as a measure of social defense against change, a punishment of non-conformists and potential innovators, but goes on to give a bit of a different interpretation: Ibn Fadlan describes not the simple murder of too-clever people, but one of their pagan customs: human sacrifice, by which the most excellent among men were offered as sacrifice to God. This ceremony was probably not carried out by common Bulgars, but by their "Tabibs", or medicine men, i.e. their shamans, whose equivalents among the Bulgars and the Rus also wielded power of life and death over the people, in the name of their cult. According to Ibn Rasta, the medicine men of the Rus could put a rope round the neck of anybody and hang him on a tree to invoke the mercy of God. When this was done, they said: "This is an offering to God". Perhaps both types of motivation were mixed together: "since sacrifice is a necessity, let's sacrifice the trouble-makers". We shall go on to see that human sacrifice was also practiced by the Khazars-- including the ritual killing of the King at the end of his reign. You may assume that many other similarities existed between the customs of the tribes described by Ibn Fadlan and those of the Khazars. Unfortunately he was barred from visiting the Khazar capital and had to rely on information collected in territories under Khazar dominion, and particularly at the Bulgar court. Things haven't changed much, dear ones, as ones are also barred from travel in Khazar (Israel) this very day--to hide from the world the truth. Before we finish we shall give you lessons from ones trapped within that system. We have already given you one, Jack Bernstein, but so you do not think it one-sided in presentation and a "sour grapes", "sore loser" individual--we shall present you more. I cannot stress strongly enough to look: Yitzak Shamir is as typical a "little gray alien" from cosmic source as you are going to find anywhere. You who choose to be blind and fools might well wish you had looked more closely at Truth. Allow us a break, please. Thank you and I remind you herein, please refrain from solid food this day that we can more quickly regain balance in your system. We shall take up with more of the Caliph's mission when we return for this is a most important portion of history as impacts you this day in "time". Salu. Hatonn to clear. -- PJ 28 -- pag. 172 --- LAND OF THE VOLGA BULGARS It took the Caliph's mission nearly a year (from June 21, 921, to May 12, 922) to reach its destination, the land of the Volga Bulgars. The direct route from Baghdad to the Volga leads across the Caucasus and Khazaria--to avoid the latter, they had to make the enormous detour around the eastern shore of the "Khazar Sea", the Caspian. I realize you are angry and embarrassed to have missed so much of historical significance--even unto your doom; but chelas, don't waste time wallowing in "what might have been", deal only with this day and quickly absorb that which is offered for God always sends that which is asked for--and YOU HAVE asked for help! Even so, they were constantly reminded of the proximity of the Khazars and its potential dangers. A characteristic episode took place during their sojourn with the Ghuzz army chief (the one with the disreputable underwear). They were at first well received, and given a banquet. But later the Ghuzz leaders had second thoughts because of their relations with the Khazars. The chief assembled the leaders to decide what to do: The most distinguished and influential among them was the Tarkhan; he was lame and blind and had a maimed hand. The Chief said to them: "These are the messengers of the King of the Arabs, and I do not feel authorized to let them proceed without consulting you". Then the Tarkhan spoke: "This is a matter the likes of which we have never seen or heard before; never has an ambassador of the Sultan traveled through our country since we and our ancestors have been here. Without doubt the Sultan is deceiving us; these people he is really sending to the Khazars, to stir them up against us. The best will be to cut each of the messengers into two and to confiscate all their belongings." Another one said: "No, we should take their belongings and let them run back naked whence they came". Another said: "No, the Khazar King holds hostages from us, let us send these people to ransom them". Ah so, and does it not begin to ring clear as the tinkling bells? You must face the facts, dear ones, that the only reason that there are hostages in any of the Arab nations, of American lineage, is to apply pressure against Khazar--that which they have labeled, but is not, Israel. They argued among themselves for seven days, while Ibn Fadlan and his people feared the worst. In the end the Ghuzz let them go when it was evident the mission was in fact directed against the Khazars. These ones were friends and enemies as the winds blew one way and then another. Later they basically merged. The Ghuzz had earlier-on fought with the Khazars against another Turkish tribe, the Pechenegs, but more recently had shown a rather hostile attitude; hence the hostages the Khazars took. The Khazar menace loomed large on the horizon all along the journey. North of the Caspian they -- PJ 28 -- pag. 173 made another huge detour before reaching the Bulgar encampment somewhere near the confluence of the Volga and the Kama. There the King and leaders of the Bulgars were waiting for them in a state of acute anxiety. As soon as the ceremonies and festivities were over, the King sent for Iban Fadlan to discuss business. He reminded Ibn Fadlan in forceful language ("His voice sounded as if he were speaking from the bottom of a barrel".) of the main purpose of the mission--to wit, the money to be paid to him "so that I shall be able to build a fortress to protect me from the 'Jews' who subjugated me". No nice little Judeans here, brothers! Unfortunately, that money--a sum of four thousand dinars--had not been handed over to the mission, owing to some complicated matter of red tape; it was to "be sent" (in the mail?) later on. On learning this, the King--"a personality of impressive appearance, broad and corpulent"-- seemed close to despair. He suspected the mission of having defrauded the money. "' What would you think of a group of men who are given a sum of money destined for a people that is weak, besieged, and oppressed, yet these men defraud the money?' "I replied: 'This is forbidden, those men would be evil.' "He asked: 'Is this a matter of opinion or a matter of general consent?' "I replied: 'A matter of general consent". Gradually Ibn Fadlan succeeded in convincing the King that the money was only delayed and apparently it did actually arrive at some time as the matter was dropped and Ibn Fadlan did not again refer to it. This, however, did not allay his anxieties at the moment. The King kept repeating that the whole point of the invitation was the building of the fortress "because he was afraid of the King of the Khazars". And I might add, he had every reason to be afraid, as Ibn Fadlan relates: The Bulgar King's son was held as a hostage by the King of the Khazars. It was reported to the King of the Khazars that the Bulgar King had a beautiful daughter. He sent a messenger to sue for her. The Bulgar King used pretexts to refuse his consent. The Khazar  sent another messenger and took her by force, although he was a "Jew" and she a Muslim; but she died at his court. The Khazar sent another messenger and asked for the Bulgar King's other daughter. But in the very hour when the messenger reached him, the Bulgar King hurriedly married her to the Prince of the Askil, who was his subject, for fear that the Khazar would take her, too, by force, as he had done with her sister. This alone was the reason which made the Bulgar King enter into correspondence with the Caliph and ask him to have a fortress built because he feared the King of the Khazars. Ibn Fadlan also specifies the annual tribute the Bulgar King had to pay the Khazars: one sable fur from each household in his realm. Since the number of Bulgar households (i.e., tents) is estimated to have been around 50,000, and since Bulgar sable fur was highly valued all over the world, the tribute was a handsome one. KHAZAR COURT So far what Ibn Fadlan was to tell about the Khazars was based on intelligence collected in the course of his journey, but mainly at the Bulgar court. Unlike the rest of his narrative, derived from vivid personal observations, the pages on the Khazars contain second- hand, spotted information, -- PJ 28 -- pag. 174 and fall rather flat. Moreover, the sources of his information were biased, in view of the Bulgar King's understandable dislike of his Khazar overlord--while the Caliphate's resentment of a kingdom embracing a rival religion need hardly be stressed. The narrative switches abruptly, therefore, from a description of the Rus court to the Khazar court: Concerning the King of the Khazars, whose title is Kagan, he appears in public only once every four months. They call him the Great Kagan. His deputy is called Kagan Bek; he is the one who commands and supplies the armies, manages the affairs of state, appears in public and leads in war. The neighbouring kings obey his orders. He enters every day into the presence of the Great Kagan, with deference and modesty, barefooted, carrying a stick of wood in his hand. He makes obseisance, lights the stick, and when it has burned down, he sits down on the throne on the King's right. Next to him in rank is a man called the K-nd-r Kagan, and next to that one, the Jaw-shyghr Kagan. It is the custom of the Great Kagan not to have social intercourse with people, and not to talk with them, and to admit nobody to his presence except those we have mentioned. The power to bind or release, to mete out punishment, and to govern the country belongs to his deputy, the Kagan Bek. It is the further custom of the Great Kagan that when he dies a great building is built for him, containing twenty chambers, and in each chamber a grave is dug for him. Stones are broken until they become like powder, which is spread over the floor and covered with pitch. Beneath the building flows a river, and this river is large and rapid. They divert the river water over the grave and they say that this is done so no devil, no man, no worm and no creeping creatures can get at him. After he has been buried, those who buried him are decapitated, so that nobody may know in which of the chambers is his grave. The grave is called "Paradise" and they have a saying: "He has entered Paradise". All the chambers are spread with silk brocade interwoven with threads of gold. It is the custom of the King of the Khazars to have twenty-five wives; each of the wives is the daughter of a king who owes him allegiance. He takes them by consent or by force. He has sixty girls for concubines, each of them of exquisite beauty. Then Ibn Fadlan proceeded to give a rather fanciful description of the Kagan's harem, where each of the eighty-five wives and concubines has a "palace of her own", and an attendant or eunuch who, at the King's command, brings her to his alcove "faster than the blinking of eye". Now don't you ones give me the shocked treatment--you just fought a battle in the Middle East, killed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq to restore a KING to a throne in a pink palace who has 80 WIVES (AND THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE THE NUMBER OF CONCUBINES) AND HAS BLACK SLAVES TO DO HIS WORK. So please, don't wave your yellow ribbons and flags at me for I just don't accept it, little friends. Then you have the audacity to say that "God was on your side" and that "there were hardly any casualties". You even blame Saddam Hussein for that which is happening to the Kurds--WHEN YOUR GOVERNMENT TOLD THE REBELS IF THEY WOULD RISE UP AGAINST SADDAM YOU WOULD MILITARILY FIGHT THE WAR WITH THEM. FURTHER, AFTER THE REBELS STARTED THEIR RETREAT--NOT ONE SINGLE BULLET HAS BEEN FIRED AT ANY KURD TRYING TO LEAVE AND, IN FACT, ALL EFFORTS TO WELCOME THEM BACK HOME HAVE BEEN THWARTED BY YOUR INTERVENTION AND THAT OF THE MOSSAD INFILTRATORS. I AM SORRY, DEAR -- PJ 28 -- pag. 175 ONES, YOU WILL ANSWER FOR THIS CARNAGE AND ALL THE "STUFF" YOU CAN PARACHUTE IN UPON THOSE PEOPLE (SOME HAVE BEEN KILLED BY THE FALLING DEBRIS) WON'T HEAL THOSE WOUNDS FOR THIS KIND OF EVIL IS NEVER STRICKEN FROM THE MEMORY. After a few more dubious remarks about the "customs" of the Khazar Kagan--but you'll get them a bit later, Ibn Fadlan at last provides you with some factual information about the country: The King has a great city on the river Itl (Volga) on both banks. On one bank live the Mulsims, on the other bank the King and his court. The Muslims are governed by one of the King's officials who is himself a Muslim. The law-suites of the Muslims living in the Khazar capital and of visiting merchants from abroad are looked after by that official. Nobody else meddles in their affairs or sits in judgment over them. Ibn Fadlan's travel report, as far as it is preserved, ends with the words: The Khazars and their King are all* Jews. The Bulgars and all their neighbours are subject to him. They treat him with worshipful obedience. Some are of the opinion that Gog and Magog are the Khazars". [I suggest you ones harken-up smartly!] * The above (all) was likely an exaggeration in view of the existence of a Muslim community in the capital and even if suppressed, some would have secretly held to their religious teachings. So, you will further have to assume that "the Khazars" herein refers to the ruling nation or tribe, within the ethnic mosaic of Khazaria, and that the Muslims enjoyed legal and religious autonomy, but were not considered as "real Khazars". So far we have given you some historical data and there is much more regarding the world which surrounded the Khazars but you can research the rest on your own accounts. It is evident that there was stark barbarity of the people amidst whom they lived, reflecting their own past, prior to the conversion. For, by the time of Ibn Fadlan's visit to the Bulgars, Khazaria was a surprisingly modern country compared to its neighbors—as is always the case with the Khazars who leech off of the the ones they choose to support them. The contrast is evidenced by the reports of other Arab historians and we shall get to the works of Istakhri, al Masudi, Ibn Rusta and Ibn Hawkal in the next pages. The contrast was present on every level, from housing to the administration of justice. The Bulgars still lived exclusively in tents, including the King, although the royal tent was "very large, holding a thousand people or more". On the other hand, the Khazar Kagan inhabited a castle built of burnt brick, his ladies were said to inhabit "palaces with roofs of teak", and the Muslims had several mosques, among them "one whose minaret rises above the royal castle". In the fertile regions, their farms and cultivated areas stretched out continuously over sixty or seventy miles. They also had extensive vineyards. Thus Ibn Hawkal: "In Kozr [Khazaria] there is a certain city called Asmid [Samandar] which has so many orchards and gardens that from Darband to Serir the whole country is covered with gardens and plantations belonging to the city. It is said that there are about forty thousand of them. Many of these produce grapes". The region north of the Caucasus was extremely fertile. In AD 968 Ibn Hawkal met a man who had visited it after a Russian raid: -- PJ 28 -- pag. 176 "He said there is not a pittance left for the poor in any vineyard or garden, not a leaf on the bough....[But] owing to the excellence of their land and the abundance of its produce it will not take three years until it becomes again what it was." Caucasian wine is still a delight, consumed in vast quantities in the Soviet Union. However, the royal treasury's main source of income was from foreign trade. The sheer volume of the trading caravans plying their way between Central Asia and the Volga-Ural region is indicated by Ibn Fadlan: we remember that the caravan his mission joined at Gurganj consisted of "5,000 men and 3,000 pack animals". Making due allowance for exaggeration, it must still have been a mighty caravan and many such caravans would be on the move at any one given time. Many goods were transported including textiles, dried fruit, honey, wax and spices. A second major trade route led across the Caucasus to Armenia, Georgia, Persia and Byzantium. A third consisted of the increasing traffic of Rus merchant fleets down the Volga to the eastern shores of the Khazar Sea, carrying mainly precious furs much in demand among the Muslim aristocracy, and slaves from the north, sold at the slave market of Itil. On all these transit goods, including the slaves, the Khazar ruler levied a tax of ten percent. Adding to this the tribute paid by Bulgars, Magyars, Burtas and so on, one realizes that Khazaria was a prosperous country--but also that its prosperity depended to a large extent on its military power, and the prestige it conveyed on its tax collectors and customs officials. Apart from the fertile regions of the south, with their vineyards and orchards, the country was poor in natural resources--although for you "old folk", one native item they exported was isinglass. Surely you remember the "surrey with the fringe on top and the isinglass curtains that would roll right down"? At any rate the main commercial activity consisted in re-exporting goods brought in from abroad. Among these goods, honey and candle-wax particularly caught the Arab chroniclers' imagination. Thus Muqaddas: "In Khazaria, sheep, honey and Jews exist in large quantities". It is true that one source--the Darband Namah--refers to gold or silver mines in Khazar territory, but their location was not ascertained for documentation at that time. On the other hand, several of the sources mention Khazar merchandise seen in Baghdad, and the presence of Khazar merchants in Constantinople, Alexandria and as far afield as Samara and Fergana. I suggest that if you wish to get much out of this writing that you obtain a good map of the region and you will find it REALLY becoming pertinent as we move along. Thus Khazaria was by no means isolated from the civilized world; compared to its tribal neighbours in the north it was a cosmopolitan country, open to all sorts of cultural and religious influences, yet jealously defending its independence against the two ecclesiastical world powers. We shall see that attitude prepared the ground for the coup de theatre --or coup d'etat--which established Judaism as the state religion. The arts and crafts seem to have flourished, including haute couture. When the future Emperor Constantine V married the Khazar  Kagan's daughter she brought with her dowry a splendid dress which so impressed the Byzantine court that it was adopted as a male  ceremonial robe; they called it tzitzakion, derived from the Khazar-Turkish pet-name of the Princess, which was Chichak or "flower", (until she was baptized Eirene). So you have a rather illuminating fragment of cultural history. When another Khazar  princess married the Muslim governor of Armenia, her cavalcade contained, apart from attendants and slaves, ten tents mounted on wheels, "made of the finest silk, with gold and silver-plated doors, the floors covered with sable furs. Twenty others carried the gold and silver vessels and other treasures which were her dowry." The Kagan himself traveled in a mobile tent even more luxuriously equipped, carrying on its top a pomegranate of gold. -- PJ 28 -- pag. 177 NEXT PAGE