Chapter XXXVIII.—Many of the Jews in Crete embrace the Christian Faith.
About this period a great number of Jews who dwelt in Crete were convened to Christianity, through the following disastrous circumstance. A certain Jewish impostor pretended that he was Moses, and had been 1024 sent from heaven to lead out the Jews inhabiting that island, and conduct them through the sea: for he said that he was the same person who formerly preserved the Israelites by leading them through the Red Sea. During a whole year therefore he perambulated the several cities of the island, and persuaded the Jews to believe such assurances. He moreover bid them renounce their money and other property, pledging himself to guide them through a dry sea into the land of promise. Deluded by such expectations, they neglected business of every kind, despising what they possessed, and permitting any one who chose to take it. When the day appointed by this deceiver for their departure had arrived, he himself took the lead, and all followed with their wives and children. He led them therefore until they reached a promontory that overhung the sea, from which he ordered them to fling themselves headlong p. 175 into it. Those who came first to the precipice did so, and were immediately destroyed, some of them being dashed in pieces against the rocks, and some drowned in the waters: and more would have perished, had not the Providence of God led some fishermen and merchants who were Christians to be present. These persons drew out and saved some that were almost drowned, who then in their perilous situation became sensible of the madness of their conduct. The rest they hindered from casting themselves down, by telling them of the destruction of those who had taken the first leap. When at length the Jews perceived how fearfully they had been duped, they blamed first of all their own indiscreet credulity, and then sought to lay hold of the pseudo-Moses in order to put him to death. But they were unable to seize him, for he suddenly disappeared which induced a general belief that it was some malignant fiend, 1025 who had assumed a human form for the destruction of their nation in that place. In consequence of this experience many of the Jews in Crete at that time abandoning Judaism attached themselves to the Christian faith.
Nothing further is heard of this strange affair.175:1025
ἀλάστωρ. Æschylus and Sophocles apply this word to the Furies.