In the Talmud it says: “Hiyya states, ‘The Messiah cannot appear until the Exilarchate at Babylon and the Patriarchate at Jerusalem have ceased'” (Sanhedrin 38a).
The Babylonian Exilarchs were the Heads (Rosh Galuta) or Princes (Nasi) of the Royal House of King David of the lineage of King Solomon. The Patriarchate in Jerusalem was a branch of this dynasty as were the Western Exilarchs in Narbonne, France.
In the 6th century the Babylonian Exilarch Mar Zutra II (508-520), the son of Huna-vi (484-508), had established an autonomous Jewish Kingdom called Mahoza in Mesopotamia. Mar Zutra II
After his death the Bustanoi line regained the Exilarchate in the person of Natronai ben Habibai in 771. He was succeeded by Moses ben Isaac Iskoi from another line of the Bustanoi. Natronai ben Habibai went into exile in Spain. Moses ben Isaac Iskoi was succeeded by his son Isaac Iskoi ben Moses, the 10th Exilarch since Bustanoi. The Exilarch Bustanoi had been married to the daughter of the King of Persia, Omar ibn Kattab, and this is why the line from Ahunai of Palestine (that was not descended from Bustanoi) was
Judah’s (Zakkai’s) son David regained the Exilarchate after Isaac Iskoi ben Moses, while his two brothers Gershom and Machir had earlier left for France, where Machir was to become the founder of a Western Exilarchate at Narbonne. David ben Judah was to be the forefather of many of the remaining Babylonian Exilarchs. However his family split into two competing dynasties for the Exilarchate. David ben Judah’s grandson Zakkai was not an Exilarch but two of Zakkai’s sons Josiah (Hasan) (930-933) and David (918-940) became Exilarchs. David ben Zakkai’s descendant Hezekiah II ben David I (1021-1058) deposed Josiah ben Zakkai’s great-grandson Daniel ben Azariah who had re-established the Jerusalem Patriarchate at the end of the 10th century. Daniel’s son David fled to Egypt and established a rival Exilarchate in Egypt supported by the Fatimide Muslim Dynasty. Tamerlane removed the Exilarchs in Babylon in 1401 and the Royal House transferred to Baghdad. The Davidic Nasis [princes] of Bagdad ruled over the Jewish Community in Iraq until 1700.
To re-capitulate: The Patriarchate of Jerusalem (Palestine) had been founded by a son of the Babylonian Exilarch in 520 and his descendants ruled over the Jews of Palestine until the 8th century. The son of Ahunai of the Palestinian Patriarchial Family was Zakkai who returned to Babylon where he married the daughter of the Exilarch Hananiah ben David. After his father-in-law’s death, Zakkai became the Babylonian Exilarch. Zakkai took the name Exilarch Judah. Two of his sons Gershom and Machir went to Narbonne and founded the Western Dynasty of Exilarchs there.
The Western Exilarchs reigned in Narbonne (southeast France) until 1306 when they were expellled from France. From this Western Exilarchate came many Nasis of the Royal House as leaders of the Jewish Communities. The Beneveniste families were descendants of the Western Exilarch. They numbered important figures such as Isaac Benveniste, the Nasi of Aragon Jewry. In the early 1200’s, Isaac Benveniste was the Royal Physician to King James I of Aragon (also a descendant of the Western Exilarch Machir Todros) and he was the prominent figure at the Jewish councils at Montpellier and Saint-Gilles in 1214 and 1215. Pope Honarius III acknowledged him in his position of leadership amongst the Jewish Communities. Isaac Benveniste was the great-grandson of Sheshet ha Nasi of Barcelona. His father was Sheshet Benveniste who served Raymond Berenger IV Count of Barcelona, and he continued to serve his son Alfonso II and grandson Pedro II both Kings of Aragon and Catholic descendants of Machir ben Judah of Narbonne. Sheshet ha Nasi the grandfather of Sheshet Benveniste was a member of the Western Exilarchic family of Narbonne. Isaac Benveniste’s descendant Samuel Benveniste (died after 1356) was also a physician to the brother of King Pedro IV of Aragon. Samuel’s descendant Abraham Benveniste (1406-1454) was the ‘Court Rabbi’ under King John II of Castile. From Abraham Benveniste descended the famous Marranoes Gracia Nasi (called ha Geveret or La Senora) and her nephew and son-in-law Joseph Nasi Duke of Naxos.
Male descendants of David from the Middle East had come to Narbonne in southeast France and been given the Kingdom of Septimania. As well as being the temporaral rulers of this semi-autonomous region they were also the spiritual heirs of the Exilarchy. Like the Jewish Kingdom of Mahoza, the new Jewish Kingdom of Septimania in Southern France and Northern Spain did not last long. As a Kingdom or Principality Septimania was to last three generations or so but as the seat of the Western Exilarch it lasted for three centuries when the head of the male line transferred to Barcelona, Spain. The Jewish female line descendants continued in Narbonne until the expulsion in the 14th century. Ermengarde the Viscountess of Narbonne in the 12th century married into the Halevi family and from then on the Jewish leaders in Narbonne were only of the Davidic family on the female line. The male line of the Exilarchs continued in Barcelona and then Toledo and transferred to Portugal at the time of the expulsion in 1492. Joseph Nasi the Duke of Naxos was the last great Nasi Exilarch of the Royal House of David. Solomon Abenaes, Duke of Mytilene, succeeded him.
Sir Iaian Moncrieffe refers to the work of Professor Arthur Zuckerman of Columbia University who wrote of the Jewish identity of Theuderic, Duke of Toulouse in his book ‘A Jewish Princedom in Feudal France’. He explains how as a reward for the assistance of the Jews of Narbonne to King Pepin he granted them in the 8th century a Jewish principality in Septimania which acknowlegded Carolingian overlordship. Pepin installed Machir son of the Babylonian Exilarch as the Jewish King of Narbonne. In the French Chansons [ballads] he was called Aimeri but was known amongst the nobility as Theuderic or Thierry, Duke of Toulouse. Professor Zuckerman states that he was recognized by the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad and by Pepin as ‘The Seed of the Royal House of David’. Zuckerman also mentions an assertion that the Western Exilarchs were of purer blood than those in the East. Machir (Theuderic) married a sister of Pepin called Alda. His son Guillaume [i.e. William] d’Orange, is also famous in the French Chansons and was nicknamed ‘Hook Nosed’. He was fluent in Arabic and Hebrew. The Heraldic device on his shield was the same as that of the Eastern Exilarchs — the Lion of Judah. Guillaume observed the Sabbath and Sukkot during his campaigns.
It was in the 11th century that the Catholic descendants of Machir and Gershom had conquered Palestine and established the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Charles Martel had defeated the Muslim armies in 732 and they retreated to Narbonne. This was the start of a seven-year seige. In order to gain the allegiance of the Jewish populace in Narbonne Charles sent to Iraq for a son of the Babylonian Exilarch to come and lead the Jews of France. This was done possibly at the urging of his wife of Jewish ancestry Rutrud (Ruth) of the famous Leviti family of Merovingian France. Impeccable genealogists, such as Professor David Kelley and Sir Iaian Moncrieffe (the Queen’s Albany Herald), confirm the account of the Davidic origins of Theodoric (Aimeri) of Narbonne and his descendants.
“The Jews in Babylonia had been administered since the time of the captivity in the sixth century BC, by their own Exilarchs or ‘Princes of the Captivity’. These were descended from King Jehoiakin of the Royal House of David. They lived in great state in their own palace, and continued until overthrown by Tamerlane in the fifteenth century AD. The Jews of Narbonne in Septimania (now southern France, but then under Moslem Spain) assisted the Franks to capture the city from the Ummayad Caliphs of Spain. In return the Frankish king obtained from the Ummayad’s traditional enemy, the Abbasid Caliph of Islam at Baghdad, overlord of the Exilarchs in Babylonia, a prince of the Royal House of David. This prince was intended to be the local ‘Jewish King’ in Narbonne. Gershom ben Judah and his younger brother Machir arrived in 739. Charles Martel made Machir the Count of Narbonne and his brother Gershom Count of Vienne. Machir married Charles Martel’s daughter Alda (Aude/Olba/Alba/Aldana) by his wife Ruth, also known as Swanchilde (Sunnihilda). The dating of the arrival of the Exilarch Family to France has been confused. Some accounts such as the Chansons placing it in the reign of Charlemagne, others in the reign of Pepin as Machir married Pepin’s sister Aude (Aldana/Olba/Adel/Alba). Some Jewish sources state that he arrived in the reign of King Charles and later people thought this meant the famous Charlemagne [whose name means “Charles the Great”]. It was in fact however in the reign of Charles Martel (the grandfather of Charlemagne) that Machir and his family in France. Charles Martel was the effective ruler of France and the father of King Pepin but Charles was not officially King though in later accounts he may have been so referred to, thus confusing the records.
Machir’s sister known as Bertha Bigfoot married the son of Charles Martel, Pepin, and became the mother of Charlemagne. Bertha (also called Bertrada) gave birth to Charlemagne in 742. Bertha’s mother was said to be called ‘White Flower’ (Blanche Fleur) or Lilly-which is the origin of the name of the House of Lily for the French Kings. Lily is also a title acquainted with the Davidic House and the future Messiah as the ‘Lilly of the Valley’. Charlemagne was referred to as “David” by his followers. When Charlemagne became King in 768 on the death of his father King Pepin-I, he proclaimed Machir the Western Exilarch, King of Septimania. Machir was his maternal uncle [the brother of his mother]. The families of Machir, Gershom and Bertha were to replace the old Merovingian Dynasty-and they took to themselves the Merovingian names and titles. As a result the genealogies became confused and later generations obscured the fact of this powerful Jewish Dynasty in Europe. Later genealogists hid the origin of the mother of Charlemagne with a false genealogy linking her to the Merovingians. They did the same for all the Exilarch family. You must remember that The Carolingians were replacing the Merovingians and they had a need for legitimatizing themselves by appearing to be a continuation of the Merovingian line. Fortunately in many cases they have only thinly disguised the genealogies so that it is possible to reconstruct them. One of Machir’s descendants, Bertrand de Bar-sur-Aube, a native of Champagne was the author of two chansons de geste between 1190 and 1217. They were called ‘Aimeri de Narbonne’ and ‘Girart de Vienne’. ‘Aimeri de Narbonne’ centered on Aimeri, son of Hernaut de Beauland, Count of Narbonne. As a youth he accompanied Charlemagne after the slaughter of Roncesvals and because he was the only warrior brave enough to besige Narbonne, Charlemagne gave it to him after Narbonne’s capture as a fief. Aimeri then went to Pavia to seek the hand of Hermenjart, daughter of Desier. He was aided by Girart de Vienne. On his return to Narbonne with his bride he had to reconquer Narbonne from the Saracens. The French Chansons tell of the Davidic Dynasty mixing up Machir’s grandsons and nephews with his sons. Other Jewish sources tell us that Machir had four sons whose Jewish names were Nathan, Menachem, Nehemiah and Yakar. These four sons were Theodoric, Duke of Ripaurien; Guillame de Gellone Duke of Septimania; Harald King of Lethra and Jutland; and Alberic (Oliba) Count of Toulouse and Carcassone. Guillame’s Jewish name was Nathan Kalonymus. His son was Bernard of Septimania known as Bernart de Brubant in the Chansons. Bernart deriving possibly from Ben or bar Natan. Bernart de Brubant’s son was Bertran de Narbonne in the Chansons who is identified with Bernard Naso’s son Bernard the Hairyfoot.
Many of the descendants of Machir and Gershom became zealous Catholics and some were in the Church and were even declared saints such as St. Mayeul, St. Odo, and St. Hugh of the Cluniac Reform. In the secrecy of their families the Mystical Traditions of Judaism were passed on and some of their descendants such as St. Hildegarde and St. Matilda were great mystic saints. These mystical traditions could readily be understood in Catholic terms as well as Jewish. This was demonstrated later when many Hebrew-Catholics started to reveal these mysteries to the general public as well as on the Jewish side Moses de Leon revealed them to the Jewish public. Whole families of saints arose from the Davidic House such as the Family of St.Matilda the Holy Roman Empress, wife of Emperor Henry I the Fowler.
Saint-Gilles (in Narbonne, France) was a Jewish Rabbinical Yeshivah and a center from which Jewish spiritual mysticism (Kabbalah) spread throughout Europe. Saint-Gilles had been founded by Isaac Benveniste’s ancestor Guillame I Curtnez (Hooknosed), Duke of Narbonne and Western Exilarch in the 9th century.
Athol will continue to reveal the Davidic ancestry of ancient monarchs who were important in the formation of European States and whose descendants are still with us. The origin of the Welfs, the Davidic ancestry of the Plantaganent kings of England in detail, of William the Conqueror, of the kings of Denmark, of Rollo of Normany, of the founders of the Kingdom of Russia, of Sweden, and Norway, of the ancestors of Queen Victoria, of Princess Diana, and of Prince Phillip.