EXPULSIONS, The Jews underwent expulsions during the time of the Assyrian and Babylonian kingdoms (see Assyrian *Exile; Babylonian *Exile). Pagan *Rome also adopted on rare occasions a policy of removing the Jews from the capital, considering them an undesirable element: there is some vague information on the expulsion of the Jews from Rome in 139 B.C.E. among the other "Chaldeans." In 19 C.E. Tiberius ordered the expulsion of all the Jews in Italy if they would not abandon their faith. In 50 C.E. Claudius expelled them from Rome. From the end of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (135 C.E.) until the capture of Jerusalem by the Muslims (638), the Jews were prohibited from entering that city and its boundaries. The policy of expelling Jews was however only adopted by victorious Christianity from the fourth century C.E., in implementation of its objectives to separate the Jews from the rest of society, and degrade and oppress them so that they would convert to Christianity. Individual expulsions from Islamic countries, such as the expulsion from *Tlemcen (N. Africa), are also recorded during the tenth century (see J. Miller (ed.), Teshuvot
While the motives for the expulsions fall into differing and variegated categories, the root of them all was hatred of the Jew. This hatred was at times exploited by fiscal considerations of the rulers responsible for the expulsions.
Socio-economic factors contributed to the hostility of the Christian merchants and craftsmen toward their Jewish rivals, the hatred of Christian debtors for the Jewish money-lenders, and, on the other hand, the occasional feeling that there was no need for the Jews as moneylenders for interest and that they did not fulfill any other economic-social function. Tendencies and sentiments of national and political consolidation also played their part. In Spain, the desire to isolate the *New Christians from Jewish influence was also a factor in the expulsion. In an epoch when the menace of death hovered continually over the Jews, especially in places where they had grown accustomed to expulsion and rapid readmission, expulsion was considered the lightest of possible evils. *Judah Loew b. Bezalel (the Maharal of Prague) thought that the era of exile in which he lived was more tolerable because its principal sufferings consisted of expulsions, which he described as the divorce of a woman by her husband. The Jews of *Frankfurt, when they were actually expelled, also felt that "we went in joy and in sorrow; because of the destruction and the disgrace, we grieved for our community and we rejoiced that we had escaped with so many survivors" (poem by R. Elhanan b. Abraham Helin, at end of pt. 3 of Ẓemaḥ David, 1692). The general expulsions were however considered disasters, and the expulsion from Spain in particular became a fearful memory for the nation. The expulsions always resulted in losses to property and damage to body and spirit. In addition to the losses caused by forced sales – when the buyer realized that the Jew was compelled to abandon all his real property, and at times many of his movable goods – insecurity and vagrancy left their imprint on the social and economic life of the Jews, especially in the German and Italian states. Highway robberies and losses suffered during the enforced travels also increased the damage to property. Much information is available on attacks and murders committed against expelled Jews who left their country and the protection of the authorities. Even in those expulsions where instructions were given to protect the departing Jews, such as the expulsions from England and Spain, there were numerous attacks. The wanderings were the cause of many diseases and also reduced the natural increase. A shocking description of the sufferings of the exiles from Spain and Portugal is given in the writings of the kabbalist Judah b. Jacob *Ḥayyat. He relates of himself and his companions after they had reached the safety of Muslim Tunis: "We ate the grass of the fields, and every day I ground with my own hands in the house of the Ishmaelites for the thinnest slice of bread not even fit for a dog. During the nights, my stomach was close to the ground – and my belly my cushion. Because of the great cold of the autumn – we had no garments in the frost and no houses to lodge in – we dug trenches in the refuse heaps of the town and put our bodies therein" (introduction to Minḥat Yehudah (Mantua, 1558), 3a).
The expulsions left their impress on the entire nation and its history, both materially and spiritually. They maintained and constantly intensified the feeling of foreignness of the Jews in the Diaspora. The consecutive expulsions from England, France, and Spain resulted in a situation where after 1492 there were no Jews living openly on the European coast of the Atlantic Ocean in a period when this had become the center of world traffic. The expulsions of the late 15th century resulted in the return of many Jews to the Islamic countries, in particular to the Ottoman Empire. The Jews were also driven into *Poland-Lithuania. Frequently, the expulsions caused the centers of gravity of Jewish life to be removed from one place to another, the creation of new centers of settlement, messianic movements, and a renewed relationship with Ereẓ Israel; it was no coincidence that the kabbalists of *Safed were Spanish
For expulsion by the Nazis, see *Holocaust.
S.P. Rabinowitz, Moẓa'ei Golah (1894); B.L. Abrahams, in: JQR, 7 (1894/95), 75–100, 236–58, 428–58; A. Marx, ibid., 20 (1907/08), 240–71; R. Straus, Die Judengemeinde Regensburg im ausgehenden Mittelalter (1932); idem (ed.), Urkunden und Aktenstuecke zur Geschichte der Juden in Regensburg (1960); E.M. Kulisher, Europe on the Move (1948), index, S.V. Jews; I. Sonne, Mi-Paulo ha-Revi'i ad Pi'us ha-Ḥamishi (1954); Baer, Spain, index; JSOS, index.
[Haim Hillel Ben-Sasson]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.