Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Side Trip to Iran to Visit Serach Bet Asher

Special post for Dina from Jerusalem and all her Jewish friends in Israel and anywhere else including Iran.

According to Hebrew tradition it was Serah, the daughter of Asher and granddaughter of the Jewish patriarch Jacob, who first informed Jacob that Joseph was alive and the ruler of Egypt. Serah, play the harp for him and sing a song with the words "Joseph is alive." It’s believed that out of gratitude for this Jacob asked God to make her immortal and his prayer was granted. Following the legend to the time of Moses, it was Serah who informed Moses where to find the bones of Joseph, so he could carry them back to the promised land as Joseph desired.

The fact of her being the only one of her sex to be mentioned in the genealogical lists seemed to indicate that there was something extraordinary in connection with her history; and she became the heroine of several legends. According to the Midrash Serach was “the wise woman” who caused the death of Sheba ben Bichri. According to another legend she lived until the tribe of Asher was exiled by Shalmaneser V, went with them into exile, and died there. A site in Pir-i Bakran also known as Linjan (or Kukuli) is a village located 30 km southwest of Isfahan, Iran (somewhere between Isfahan and Shiraz) is identified as a notable tomb that attributed to Serah bet Asher and a synagogue in that city is named in her honor.


Dina said...

Meead, maybe you should change your field of study at the university!
Where do you find all these things? Thank you for teaching me about Serach bat Asher. Those rabbis of Talmudic times really knew how to weave stories/midrashim. What a story!
The photo of the cemetery is hauntingly beautiful, from another world.
Thank you for the greetings and teachings. Bless you.

Babooshka said...

Fascinating and a Dina says you really have done some remarkable research.

Erin said...

i enjoyed this post very much...the information most informative and interesting. thank you for sharing this with us.

Hilda said...

That's a fascinating story and legend. Thank you, Meead. Your photo is beautiful too. Quite desolate, but still beautiful.

Baruch said...

Thanks for sharing such an interesting photo and info

Petrea said...

I love posts like this, with beauty, history, and greetings across the world. Thank you, Meead.

Marites said...

A really very informative post, like it. The picture is beautiful too.

Glennis said...

Very informative, interesting legend, nice photo too.

Fahad said...

Thanks Meead for your post!

Dina, ("where do you find?"): internet and, for instance, a recent interesting dissertation about Iranian anti-Semitism during the Qajar period by Daniel Tsadik. Read more about it here:


I have visited Lanjan, Sarah's shrine and the huge Jewish cemetery recently and took plenty of pictures. It is a rather hidden village in the vicinity of Esfahan. See the pictures here:


Maybe you know the legend that Esfahan has in fact been founded by Jews who, after having been freed from Babylonian captivity in 539 BCE, settled at the Zayandeh Rud rather than returning to Jerusalem.

Meead said...

Thank you Fahad for your comment. I do not know who you are and what thoughts you have in your mind but your comments imply that you are trying to convince me (and maybe others) that Iranians are not as nice as I'm describing and they are sort of Anti-Semitic. I don't know the guy who wrote that dissertation about Iranian anti-semitism but thankfully you already mentiond the full title of that work which is about "anti-Semitism during the Qajar period". During when? Qajar period? Have you ever asked an Iranian about what do they think about Qajar dynasty? As far as I know, among all other dynasties and empires the Persia had, Iranians know Qajar dynasty as the worst one. I'm not saying that they think it was terrible just because of anti-semitism but because of many other reasons. Although they had their own style of architecture and urban design which was unique but almost all the Qajar Shahs were awful and they were just seeking their own benefits. Have you read anything about Naser-e-din Shahe Qajar or who else? Fath-Ali Shahe Qajar? No one remembers any good memory of those Shahs.

I'm trying to promote love and peace between Iranians and Israelis (and in general Jewish people) in addition to some criticism just to show them that Iranians are not those people who they may think or hear from the media everyday and all of a sudden I see your comments which strongly implies a different story.

About anti-semitisim ... this word literally can be used for any religion and not only Judaism. Have I ever told you about my personal experience in the US when I tell some people I'm from Iran or I'm a Muslim? I guess the way some of them behave me can be considered as anti-semitisim. When you are in the line with your friends taking a plane to go to a national conference in Washington D.C. to present your research work and you are singled out, double and triple checked by security officers, and you've been looked at a terrorist; what do you feel? If I was a person from a non-muslim country in Europe, would they do the same to me? Don't you call it discrimination against me in the same of security?

What about when your American friends do not invite you to their "American" parties when all the other your friends are invited and you are the only person who is not invited? Even when they want to go out to a bar or dance to have fun for some time at Friday night and you see they talk to each other and invite all the other guys around you but skip you, I don't think if you might feel good?
Should I write a PhD dissertation about "American anti-semitism against Muslims during Bush Administration"?

I'm not asking you stop commenting on my blog or stop debating some of things I say but I like you to help me make people understand each other better in an optimistic way. I can always find some clues from anyone to think he/she is a bad guy. If I do so, I would never find a friend.

I like your blog a lot truly. Nice pictures and nice texts. Good job!

Fahad said...


Don't get me wrong. I am interested in Iran which I consider as one of the cradles of civilization. I loved your posting about Pir Bakran because I have visited the site only 4 months ago. It was my second visit, the first time my Muslim friends and colleagues 'intruded', together with me, the site, without a guide. We missed a lot, in particular the huge cemetery.

As regards anti-Semitism, I am mainly interested in the causes. It is a phenomenon which has led, over centuries, to the most incredible sufferings and genozides. It was and still is prevalent in the diversest societies. In Iran, the situation worsened with the rise of Shi'a Islam, believe it or not, during Shah Abbas' reign. The Qajari Shahs might be an especially disgusting example, but as I understand Tsadik (it is a good book, try to get it in your library) the influence of Shah Nasir al-Din Qajar (who reigned incredible 50 years) could not prevent pogroms among the Jews which were mainly initiated by the Ulema. I read that with great interest, after my visit to Pir Bakran (which is mentioned together with the legend of Sarah in the book).

Jews in Iran are living with Iranians for at least 2500 years, mainly in peace. Don't forget that very fact. They are Iranians.

Anonymous said...

thank you so mach for this photo it meens so mach to me!
have you visit inside the site? or heard about mircales that happened to pepole there?

Anonymous said...

Hi every body:-)
In the Book "Gabriel's palace, by: Howard Schwartz", there are mentioned many of mystical stories including "The chronicle of Serah Bat Asher".