Jews in Shushan

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Life’s Handicap, as published and frequently reprinted between 1891 and 1950.

[Title] Jan Montefiore writes: No city called Shushan exists in North India or Pakistan. Shushan is the Old Testament name for Susa in Iran where Jews lived during their ‘Babylonian exile’; see the Book of Esther in the Old Testament I 1-2 and passim. Lahore is presumably called ‘Shushan’ in order to emphasise the city’s alienness to Jews. [J.M.]

[Page 338, line 10] Elahi Bukhsh a man of this name also appears in “Gemini” (Soldiers Three).

[Page 338. line 22] list in this context, the selvage, or edge of cloth used to make slippers and cushions, etc.
duster-cloth usually a cheap material of vivid pattern used for making cleaning and polishing-cloths.

[Page 339, lines 6-8] There be eight of us….etc this is Minyan, the quorum of ten male adults of thirteen years or over necessary for public synagogue services and certain other religious ceremonies. [Encyclopædia Judaica, Vol.12, p. 67.]

[Page 339, line 8] synagogue assembly of members of the Jewish faith for worship or instruction. and the building for those purposes.

[Page 339, line 8] …get leave from Calcutta Calcutta, the seat of government from the days of the East India Company until 1912, when the capital moved to New Delhi, became one of the most prosperous cultural and economic centres of Jewish life in India: the first Synagogue, Neveh Shalom, was named in honour of its founder Shalom Aharon Ovadiah HaCohen in 1798.

The colony prospered until after World War II when social, economic and political changes in the Middle East brought about a decline. [Encyclopædia Judaica, Volume 5, p. 39].

[Page 339, line 11] tribe of Judah Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, was the founder of the tribe named after him. See the Books of Genesis and Exodus in the Old Testament.

[Page 339, line 28] pillar of dust an echo of the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness described in Exodus 13, 21: the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud ….. and by night in a pillar of fire.

[Page 339, line 23] Cutch at that time a State in Gujerat, Bombay/ [See also Hobson-Jobson p. 286 ff.]

[Page 339, line 27] saltpetre nitre, or potassium nitrate; in certain circumstances forms on the soil in hot climates.

[Page 339, line 31] fly their kites a popular hobby in India.

[Page 341, line 4] Gentile in this context, a person not of Jewish blood.

[Page 342, line 30] ‘The Ten Little Nigger-Boys’ a well-known nursery-rhyme and also a song (1869) by Frank Green of which there are several versions now considered offensive. It tells of the ten perishing one by one, until there are none. [It may have been inspired by “Ten Little Injuns” by Septimus Henry Lee Warner (1819-1870)]

[Page 342, line 31] the Dead March music from the oratorio Saul (1739) by George Frederick Handel (1685-1759), often played at funerals.

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2006 All rights reserved