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Judaism and Its History 


Dr. Abraham Geiger 

Rabbi of the Israelite Congregation at Frankfort on the Main 

Translated from the German 
CuHarites NEwBuRGH 

The Bloch Publishing Co. 
New York 

Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1911 
in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. CO. 

—— ewe VV SS 

“wn G 

Preface to the First Edition. 

The following pages owe their origin to a Course of 
Lectures before a limited audience of educated persons. As 
they met with friends among those, so they seek them now 
among an educated public at large. 

Ought subjects of such serious, profound importance as 
those considered in these pages to venture into the vast 
market of life, if their treatment claims to present new results 
gained from new points of view? It can not be contested 
that the results which science has apparently established with 
the aid of all the means at her command, should be made the 
property of all educated people. But as long as such proof 
has not been furnished in full, would it not be preposterous 
to drag them before the public at large? I have seriously 
considered these doubts. For the views expressed herein 
differ in important points from those generally prevailing, and 
I have thus far not had the opportunity to substantiate all 
of them so fully as to be able to refer to works previously 
published. I can only refer to my book, ‘The Original Text 
and Versions of the Bible,” to my essay, “‘Sadducees and 
Pharisees,”’ and a few other shorter articles published in my 
“‘ Jewish Review for Science and Life” and in other periodicals. 
Notwithstanding those doubts, I could not resist the tempta- 
tion presented by a finished manuscript. Considering that 
life is short and time is fleeting, I think myself to have the 
permission of saying with the wise Hillel, ‘‘ Praise to God, 
day by day.” It is not always advisable to defer and repress 
that which we deem useful until, perchance, it might become 
more useful. It shall remain the literary task of my life to 
elaborate, in closer connection and more exhaustively, the 
historical views presented in these pages. In the mean time I 
trust that they may in their present form disclose the back- 
ground, afford an insight into the serious studies upon which 
they are based, and make them sufficiently clear for those 
acquainted with the subject-matter and the original sources. 

On the other hand, the very importance of the questions 

I JUDAISM AND Its History 

treated upon, as they require on the one side a thorough and 
cautious consideration, may on the other side even involve 
the demand not to withhold too long our own views gained 
by honest research. The questions are, after all, on every 
lip, and the man can least be exempted from answering them 
of whose official and literary position such answers may pre- 
eminently be expected and demanded. Historical facts must 
be explained for everyone, because they are the sources 
whence convictions, rules for belief and practice are derived. 
How then under such circumstances, and especially in our 
time, characterized by mental and spiritual commotion, could 
the impulse to a publication of one’s own attempted solution 
be repressed? May, then, my views also mingle with the 
crowd of diverging opinions and testify for themselves. 

To provide them with a passport in the form of extensive 
proofs and citations would be entirely out of place in a 
preface. Yet one thought I desire to recommend to the con- 
sideration of my readers. Just because the events treated 
upon herein have exercised a lasting influence, views have 
been formed of them which are regarded as completely 
settled, so that any deviation from them appears as highly 
extraordinary. Most men find it difficult to transpose them- 
selves, regardless of the later conceptions, into the very time 
of the events and tendencies then prevailing, and to consider 
with open eyes that which then actually existed, and not that 
which it became in the views of a later period. Men are so 
accustomed to identify the present mode of thinking, which 
has been developed in the course of two thousand years, with 
that then existing; words and terms which at the time when 
first used, had quite a different meaning, are now taken in a 
sense which was gradually attributed to them and is now 
prevailing. Hence, when we read the ancient writings 
containing those expressions, according to the modern use 
of language, we must necessarily arrive at gross miscon- 
ceptions; nevertheless, resistance is made, whenever the 
original meaning is demonstrated and the whole mode of 
thinking at that time elucidated accordingly. The terms 
Pharisees, this world, the world to come, the kingdom of God, 


and the like, belong, according to my settled conviction, to 
that class of words whose meanings have undergone an 
important change. I appeal therefore, to impartial exami- 
nation, in order that it may gain the strength to wean itself 
from traditional prejudices and acquire the insight to view 
properly into historical events long past. If it be conceded 
that two thousand years have not vanished away without 
leaving their traces in the entire process of thought of man- 
kind, it is absurd to allege that ideas and words which through- i 
out such a period thave exercised a decisive influence upon 
thought and practice, had no other meaning in former times 
and were not changed as to their significance with the change 
of external conditions and sentiments. Yet, if we desire to 
comprehend Antiquity, we must understand its mode of 
thought and speech, and not measure it by our own standard. 
How far my views will meet with approval, time naturally 
will show; I am prepared for opposition from some quarters. 
Whenever it shall be presented to me with quiet and soberness, 
I shall examine it with all candor and willingly confess all 
errors proven; but I shall also persist in the truth of my 
conviction and, if need be, defend it whenever I regard it as 
well founded. Irritation can not affect me. Through labors 
of many years in the domain of the life and science of Judaism 
I have acquired the experience that opposing scorn to many 
an unaccustomed expression could not prevent its extensive 
general recognition at a later time. If I have also entered 
the domain of Christianity as far as the subject of these 
lectures required it, and have unhesitatingly presented con- 
victions which may be now and then in sharp conflict with 
those ordinarily current, every fair-minded thinker will soon 
recognize that I have not done so wantonly nor from insidious 
hostility, but because I was forced into it by the necessity 
for authentification of my own conviction, while laboring in 
the cultivation of my own soil. It is high time that Jews } 
should openly declare how they understand events from the’) 
very consideration of which comes the difference of the two/ 
religions. If free expression of opinion is both a right an 

must not be denied, and a duty that must not be neglected, 

| ae 

6 JUDAISM AND Its History 

an opponent should even be glad when contradiction presents) 
an open front, so that he may know whither to direct his) 
mental weapons during the contest, and is not compelled to, 
grope in uncertain darkness in warding off hidden attack from*, 
the ambush of silence. With zealots who regard every 
contradiction as blasphemy, every view different from their 
own as damnable, and who would therefore close its mouth; 
who love to strengthen the weakness of their arguments by 
the violence of their proceeding—with such zealots, considera- 
tions like those mentioned will have no weight; with calmness, 
I look forward to condemnation by them. And for their use, 
I say: I alone and exclusively bear the responsibility of all I 
have said in these lectures. How many or how few of my 
co-religionists share my views, [do not know. Hence, I make 
exclusive claim to the entire honor of being attacked. My 
words must not afford a pretext for an accusation against Jews 
and Judaism. Butshould that, nevertheless, be done under the 
hypocritical pretence of piety, a new, sad example would be 
shown of the value placed in certain circles—I will not say 
upon the vaunted word of love, but in general—upon justice 
and fairness. 

If I have here added a few words to what I have declared 
in the lectures, I owe yet an explanation for all omissions. 
Originally it had not been my intention to give such scanty 
review, as is contained in the twelfth lecture, to the long 
period from the destruction of the Second Temple to the 
present time. The narrow limit of time only, and the num- 
bers of the lectures ultimately made that brevity a necessity. 
But I trust that I shall meet no serious blame on that account. 
The earlier period remains the foundation and could not yield 
to a shorter consideration than has been given to it. For the 
present, the survey of that later period may be regarded as 
a preliminary account of the transition to the present time. 
To be able to present this period also according to its funda- 
mental ideas and decisive events in a similar manner, in a 
new course of lectures, is a hope to the realization of which I 
look forward with delight. 

May these leaves, then, borne by favorable breezes, reach 
the hands of appreciative readers. 

Frankfort on the Main, March 11, 1864. 

Preface to the Second Edition. 

Faster than I had expected, the demand for a second 
edition has appeared. The fact is to mea glad guaranty 
that the book has not lacked notice in wider circles of educated 
persons, and probably found attention and approval, too. If 
the organs of criticism have so far kept silent about it, I am 
far from interpreting their silence as intentional in a demon- 
strative sense, neither does that give me reason to assume 
that the book made no impression. Besides a few short 
notices, three notable papers have published lengthy discus- 
sions last year; viz., Die Grenzboten (No. 41), Die Augs- 
burger Allgemeine Zeitung (Supplement No. 3821), and 
Steinschneider’s Hebrew Bibliography (No. 42). Their 
verdict was not an agreement in all parts with the views of 
the author, yet at any rate such a one as is declared upon 
something worth noticing. The reviewers differed widely 
among themselves, so that their verdicts often mutually cancel 
each other in surprising manner. It appeared to one of them 
that my remarks on Renan and Strauss touched them but 
very little, while the other one found that I had thrown 
strong light upon their central points. If this one thought 
proper to designate my review of some sayings of Jesus as 
subtle, the third was of the opinion that just that view would 
meet with most approval. The last one again emphasized 
the doubt expressed by myself, whether views ought to be 
offered in popular presentation to the public at large before 
being scientifically authenticated by all parties; and this with 
a certain amount of reproachful aside. In contradiction to 
that, the first one declares that whoever knows my other 
scientific labors, would find nothing new in the book. The 
reviewer of the Allgemeine Zeitung seems to enjoy, relative 
to that point, a naive ignorance which behaves in the manner 
of self-admiration or arrogance, belonging to that mental 


8 JuDAIsM AND Its History 

Considering those contradictions in which the preliminary 
representatives of public opinion are moving, and considering 
the mere indicatory manner by which, notwithstanding 
greater detail, they rather touch the results, without entering 
deeper into examination of those and the investigations 
leading to them, I have no cause for making essential changes 
in the book. From the surprise expressed by the Christian 
reviewers at my giving to Judaism both in Antiquity and in 
relation to Christianity, continuous justification of existence 
as a religious force and a future and a mission for the future 
—from that surprise they will gradually recover. To be 
shaken out of a prejudice in which one has been comfortably 
rocked, is inconvenient. But that can not induce me to 
cease from designating the prejudice, spread ever so far, as 
prejudice, and I feel neither desire nor need of working over 
a book which has proceeded out of the author’s inmost mental 
and spiritual life, as long as my presentation has not been 
proven erroneous. I have therefore limited myself in this 
edition to smoothing occasional crudities in expression. I can 
now point more definitely to a supplement, because a course 
of lectures which I am delivering this winter is continuing 
the consideration of the history into the Middle Ages and 
will be published later. 

Meanwhile, may the book begin its journey for the second 
time, and gain new friends in addition to the old ones. 

Frankfort on the Main, January 15, 1865. 


Preface tothe First Maibioni i hes Tg 3 
Preface to the Secondi ditions: 22) Umer Mee 7 
First Lecture: On the Nature of Religion............. 13 

Second Lecture: Religion in Antiquity and Religion in 
Hoyo Few teva WAR ARCA ZAR RUG EM SE a a Oe 24 
Third eekure: | REVElation oie sean ole nals. 39 

Fourth Lecture: Nationality, Slavery, Woman’s Position 49 

Fifth Lecture: Sacrificial Service and Priesthood, 

Dividedi Nationality sy : ios 2U Ane acetate gas 61 
Sixth Lecture: Exile and Return, Tradition........... 77 
Seventh Lecture: Hellenism, Sadducees and Pharisees.. 90 
Eighth Lecture: Sadducees and Pharisees, The World to 

Comey Fillets Gergen Gi Se ee a ue rape Mais 2 106 
Ninth Lecture: Parties and Sects, Origin of Christianity 122~__ 
Tenth Lecture: Evolution of Christianity............ Be 

Eleventh Lecture: Christianity as an Ecclesiastical World 
Power. The Destruction of Jewish Nationality ....152 

Twelfth Lecture: In the Dispersion................. 163 
Appendix: A Glance at the Latest Works on the Life of 

First Parr 

Closing with the Destruction of the Second Temple 
In Twelve Lectures, with an Addition 


Judaism and Its History. 

On the Nature of Religion. 

If I ask your attention for a series of Lectures on Judaism, 
its essence, formation, development, its relation to similar 
appearances in history, on the mission which it undertook to 
fulfill and the manner in which it has fulfilled it, on the mission 
which still remains to it, both for the present and a long 
future—the subject, presenting a grand world-historic phe- 
nomenon, may well demand your sympathy. A grand, 
world-historic phenomenon—not conveying the idea that 
Judaism, like many other historic phenomena, entered upon 
the world’s stage for a certain time, and during that time 
exerted great influence, but as something finite, disappeared 
again and has become merely a subject for historical con- 
sideration. No, we may call it a world-historic phenomenon 
as an institution reaching back into that period whence 
historical knowledge began for the world, having not only 
existed for thousands of years and still existing, but because 
passed, as it were, as an immortal traveler through history, 
continuously accompanying history and co-operating with 
history from its very beginning to thisday. A world-historic 
phenomenon, because it had given birth to kindred phenomena, 
Christianity and Islam, and projected them into history as 
grand energies which exerted their transforming, vivifying 
effect upon great multitudes, ruled the whole tendency of 
their mind and affected the entire development of the con- 
ditions and of Judaism too, through them. And notwith- 

14 JupAtIsM AND Its History 

standing Judaism presents such a world-historic phenomenon 
—may claim such great importance—notwithstanding, or 
perhaps on that very account, the opinions expressed con- 
cerning it are most conflicting; the importance of Judaism is 
denied out and out, or it is asserted that it has lost all 
importance a long time ago, or at least for our time. 

Judaism, such is the first assertion, is a Religion, is one 
of the various forms in which religion presents itself in the 
life of man, in history; but religion itself is something beyond 
which we have progressed. Obscure, blind belief, hypotheses 
that can not be proven and should not be proven, which the 
human mind can not master, but which take possession of it 
and subjugate it—such conceptions have been relegated to 
the rear, long ago. Such ideas may have been very appro- 
priate for a time when mankind was yet in its earliest infancy, 
groping its way in attempts to understand its environment, 
while the premises were lacking by which it might have 
arrived at knowledge. But we are the knowing ones, we 
have already reached such an eminence as affords us the 
means to pronounce the most decided judgment so that we 
are no longer fit subjects for blind belief and submission. 
But granted even that religion may still claim in our time 
some authority, that it embraces higher truths which man 
evolves from his own mind, higher truths concerning God, 
the human soul, freedom of will, immortality, virtue, etc., 
and that those truths, arranged in compact order may be 
designated as a System of Religion; what validity can be 
adjudged to the claim pre-eminently asserted by Judaism and 
after its manner also by other religions, the claim to Revelation, 
through the medium of which those truths have reached the 
mind without being produced by it; the claim that those 
truths made their appearance within mankind in an extra- 
ordinary manner and have thus been handed down without 
being reproduced anew by each and every generation. We 
have conquered for ourselves the autonomy of the mind; all 
claims raised against it, such as Judaism raises, are unjustified, 
and still more so when the turbid admixture of tradition is 
added to be also received as a truth. Or does Judaism 



perchance repudiate revelation and tradition? Does it want 
to be satisfied with the glory of having first proclaimed those 
sublime truths that have become common property of 
mankind—that it was the first to clearly enunciate ideas 
which are destined for all mankind and have completely 
taken possession of it? Be it so! Let it rejoice in that 
glory! But so runs the further assertion, even this glory can 
not be granted toit undiminished. The truths, as enunciated 
by Judaism, are imperfect; other, later religions have given 
them proper profundity and made them perfectly clear, on 
one side filling all gaps in magnificent manner, and on the 
other side, removing all superfluous matter and correcting all 
errors. Accordingly, Judaism is antiquated, is a ruin which 
has been preserved for a small circle, but which is no longer 
a determinative energy, its spiritual life became stunted and 
has fallen to the rear, while other religions have gone forward 
and extended their power over the world. Judaism remained 
within a small circle for which, it is still further asserted, it 
may perhaps still have had some importance in a period 
likewise passed away during the Middle Ages; for those 
professing it, it was a medium of spiritual and moral life. 
At a time when barriers of separation were the rule and 
fashion, when every small group existed as a close corporation 
and the members of each one of those had their growth and 
development only within such narrow confines, Judaism also 
had its authoritative and beneficent influence. But now we, 
especially those who think and have attained to a higher 
plane of culture, have progressed far beyond that point. 
Mankind has become a unit; mental and spiritual life, thought. 
and feeling, though manifesting themselves in many forms, 
are nevertheless one and the same in essence, all mental, 
treasures have become a common inheritance of humanity; 
the individual is satisfied with being a man. Those occupy- 
ing a higher point of view among all parties and associations 
constitute a unit; Judaism has lost its importance for the 
present age for those who stand on the summit of our time. 
Those are powerful and weighty objections. Let us 
approach them. The thinking man must unswervingly face 

16 JupDAIsM AND Its History 

all doubts, must not cowardly hide himself before them, and 
even when such doubts are presented in the form of assertions, 
he must not at once despair and surrender to them. 

We are the knowing ones. This assertion is put forward 
with proud consciousness by our age in opposition to a sage 
of whom it is said that he had brought wisdom from heaven 
to earth by announcing that the highest degree of knowledge 
consisted in knowing that we know nothing. During the two 
thousand years since that saying was given to the world, 
we have made immense progress, and results of which there 
was then not the slightest presentiment are now either 
common property of all, or at least of those who more seriously 
devote themselves to research. Natural science has made 
giant strides. It now knows how to dissolve substances 
which were formerly considered indissoluble. It under- 
stands how to follow up the forces which bind and dissolve; 
it knows how to come at the volatile and evasive elements, 
how to fathom their laws deeper and deeper and reduce them 
to higher laws. How far it may progress, who can foresee? 
What depths it may yet penetrate, who can foretell? It has 
watched the secret ways in which growth and decay proceed, 
and has arranged them in a system of rules and laws. And 
yet, however farther and farther it may penetrate, for we 
can put no limits to its progress, will it not meet individual 
matters which can not be dissolved? Will it not ultimately 
come up with original substance that will ever remain original 
substance? With an original energy that will ever remain 
intangible and inexplicable? Will it not everlastingly be 
compelled to imagine laws and rules which must be supposed 
as existing, without being able further to prove them? Grant 
even one law is established, one order is arranged. The 
human mind will not quiet down at the point of blind force, 
will not be satisfied with standing still upon arrival at a 
certain point. With a presentient glance it will always 
perceive the ordering mind that must have put it up in 
such manner. Man, conscious of his own reason, can never 
resist that impulse. 

Nature presents herself to us in a great variety of beings 



according to classes and species; they are different and 
distinct; though they touch each other, they do not pass 
Over, one into the other. Modern investigation has made 
the bold advance to search out how from the lower orders 
the higher ones might have evolved, how from the most 
imperfect organisms, the higher ones gradually shaped them- 
selves. Whether it will succeed in clearing up also that 
mystery, whether such production of one from the other shall 
prove to be the truth—that is the business of the naturalists 
to decide, now or in the future. But this much we see: 
species do exist, they do not change one into the other, they 
are apart and they remain apart. The same force which 
created them at the beginning, one out of the other, as 
alleged, should necessarily continue the same process, should 
even at this time produce an animal out of the plant and 
perfect it to the higher organism. But the present world 
does not present to us such a phenomenon, each kind remains 
within its fixed limits, it continually begets only individuals 
of its own kind, and not one is transformed into another. 
Hence it is not a necessarily propelling force, but an ordering 
one which puts up each kind according to its peculiarity and 
preserves it, one that is not blindly rushing ahead without 
stopping, but which preserves nature as a whole, composed 
of different parts, so that it is unchangeable both as a whole 
and in its variety. Nature is ordered according to a definite 
will, according to an independently ruling reason, and is 
preserved in that arrangement; the whole universe is one 
structure, united notwithstanding its great variety, forming 
a harmonious whole, notwithstanding its various parts. 
That is wisdom, arrangement according to purpose and plan, 
so that even destroying forces present themselves as trans- 
forming ones, in order to cause the rising of new and nobler’ 
creations. That can be only the work of conscious reason— 
no, never that of a force propelling without purpose. It is 
a bold word which a great astronomer once uttered when he 
presented his work upon the mechanism of the heavens to 
his sovereign. The monarch expressing surprise at not 
finding God mentioned in the book, the man of science said, 

18 Jupaism AND Its History 

“T do not need that hypothesis.” Of course, it was not 
necessary for him in his explanation of the laws and their 
operation, at the same time to state how those laws originated 
and who fixed them everlasting and unchangeable; but what 
a man in a certain specialty may put aside, that a thinking 
man can not avoid, he is compelled to seek a higher cause 
that works according to rational principles. 

Man has to explain not only nature surrounding him— 
he himself must be explained together with it; he is part and 
parcel of nature, and to know himself is a task which he can 
not avoid. But just to himself man becomes the greatest 
enigma, the more he reflects upon himself. It has been 
attempted to connect man very closely with similar creatures; 
species of apes have been mentioned as being but very little 
apart from man. Some kinds of apes, so it was said, have 
the appearance of being sunk in melancholy, as if pervaded 
by a longing desire to get out of that close restraint of mind. 
A contemplative sentiment, such as man attributes to the 
animal, but simply attributes, if he regards and conceives 
animal stupor as melancholy. The distance between the 
most highly organized animals and man remains a gap that 
can not be filled. To draw the most remote parallel between 
man who, despite his inconsiderate bodily strength, notwith- 
standing he is in many ways with regard to corporeal qualities 
inferior to other animals which are stronger and swifter, has 
nevertheless become lord of the earth, of all creation, who 
more and more gains dominion over everything in inanimate 
and animate nature, who accommodates himself to every 
place and knows how to control all conditions; to draw even 
the most distant comparison between man and any animal 
which leads an unprogressive life, which continuously remains 
on the same plane and is limited to a certain part of the 
world; which, without exercising any influence upon the rest 
of creation, perishes and leaves no trace behind—such a 
comparison, it must be admitted, looks like childish behavior, 
throwing away and destroying its own valuables. 

No, man is of an entirely different genus. Man who is 
bound to time and space like all other corporeal and earthly 


creatures; individual man who is tied to a certain locality, 
who lives and moves within a small particle of time, never- 
theless on the other hand overcomes time and space within 
him, he can transpose himself into the most distant regions, 
can place the past before him, presuppose the future, has a 
conception of what is beyond the present. Such faculty can 
not be the attribute of the body. The body is circumscribed 
by space and time. Man has the power of recollection, he 
bears within him that which is past, he can recall it, bring | 
back the most various things from his memory, knowledge 
has become his property; secure in the possession of knowl- | 
edge of one thing, he progresses step by step. Yet, where, in 
what part of his body is it? Let us pronounce the word | 
which would not exist at all if the thing did not exist: it is | 
the spirit. Man has a spirit, a faculty which is connected 
with his body in so far as it moves and animates him, but 
which is still far more because it leads him to rational con- 
templation, opens for him an insight into objects which his 
physical vision is unable to perceive or to grasp. That isa 
great word pronounced by the thinker who inaugurated the 
modern system of thought: “I think; therefore I am.” 
The consciousness of the fact that I think, affords me the 
guaranty that I am; I might doubt all that surrounds me, 
might lose faith in my own existence, my physical vision is 
very deceptive, it assures certainty only .through my con- 
sciousness. In fact, man sees all objects presented to him 
from without in a reverse position as they are mirrored on 
his retina, and his belief that he sees them as they really are, 
is the result of our thought, which effects the transposition 
with imperceptible velocity. Properly speaking, man sees 
no distance, the impression made of an object through the 
medium of ray is fixed within his sense of seeing. One object 
appears as near to him as another, no matter how much the 
one may be removed or the other brought nearer to him. It | 
is for that reason that, at first, nothing appears distant to a 
blind person on gaining sight; every object presents itself to 
his vision as though it were close to him. Thought, habit 
only, teaches man to size the objects lying between, and from 

| ci ee 

20 JUDAISM AND Its History 

that he concludes that some objects are not so near as they 
are reflected upon his organ of sight, that they are at different 
distances. Sounds approach one after another; their con- 
nection is expressed only through our thought; through our 
mental grasp they become a unit; their harmony is within 
us; it is, as it were, awakened within us by the sounds suc- 
ceeding each other. And the same can be proven with 
regard to all other senses. Thought gives shape to the 
perception of our senses, thought which, at the same time, 
furnishes man with expression for all feelings, sentiments 
and ideas. For language, the most faithful reflector of the 
spirit, constitutes the connecting link between man’s inmost 
essence and the outer world; language most decisively marks 
him apart from all other creatures, language which, born as 
it were, of inward clearness, in its turn renders thought 
intelligible and gives it full and complete clearness. And 
nevertheless, that being upon whom the mark of dominion 
is so distinctly stamped, who can view the universe and all 
time through his spirit and its mind, that being feels himself, 
at the same time, limited, meets everywhere bars set up to 
his life and thought. An individual may advance ever so far 
and still remains an atom of humanity, so mankind itself is 
but a part of creation, and creation in its turn streams forth 
from the source of a greater Spirit. The limits adhere to 
man; being but a part, he can not arrive at a complete knowl- 
edge of the Original Cause of the whole; he must ever bear 
within himself the consciousness that he is but a fractional 
part, a fragment, incomplete. 

And yet man feels that he occupies a high position in 
other respects according to resolutions, according to principles 
which he forms for himself; he proceeds according to his own 
will, he chooses, he is the author of his own deeds; no com- 
pulsion from without drives him on, he reflects, judges, and 
decides accordingly—what a boundless distinction! Oh, if he 
only could rejoice thereat in perfect ease! Even there, a 
mighty conflict arises within him. Whatever I may choose, 
however I may decide, I am induced thereto by certain 
reasons. These depend upon knowledge, and this I have 


derived from certain causes; aye, I am a child of my time, I 
suffer myself to be impelled and guided by what my time 
presents as truth; I am a product of my environment, I am 
not my own creator, I am not the author of my own actions. 
The desire everywhere to recognize the law of cause and effect | 
crowds against my freedom, shows a necessary continuance of 
cause and effect, until I arrive at causes that are without me. } 
And yet, man in his deepest self-consciousness feels that he 
is free, that his will is vested with the power to oppose and 
dominate all external influences. He is seized with repentance 
when he recognizes an action of his to be wrong; but he must 



reproach himself only with actions that have been prompted 
by himself, and not with those to which he was impelled by 
uncontrollable necessity. Thus, then, man is free and yet 
again in bonds! Here also, he perceives his limits, feels that 
he has not arrived at that degree of perfection for which he 
longs and of which he has presentiments. He is endowed 
with a double nature: the consciousness of his greatness and 
eminence, and over against that, the humiliating feeling of 
his dependence; on the one hand, the impulse to raise himself 
to that source whence has proceeded his own mental and 
spiritual faculty which is not self-creative even because it is 
dependent; and on the other hand, his inability to completely 
occupy that highest plane. Now, is not this true religion: 
the consciousness of man’s eminence and lowness; the aspira- 
tion to perfection, coupled with the conviction that we can 
not reach the highest plane; the presentiment of the Highest 
which must exist as a freely acting will, of the Wisdom whence 
also our little fragment of wisdom proceeds, of an infinitely 
ruling Freedom whence also our limited freedom has sprung 
forth—is not that longing for the higher, that soaring up with 
all the strength of our soul, the very essence of religion? 
Religion is not a system of truths, it is the jubilation of the 
soul conscious of its eminence and, at the same time, its 
humble confession of its finiteness and limitations. Religion 
is the aspiration of the spirit after the ideal; the pursuit after 
the loftiest ideas; the desire to reach maturity in spiritual 
life and to dive deeper and deeper into it; to conquer the 

PCR OU ae 

aby ay) JUDAISM AND Its History 

corporeal and earthly; and on the other hand, the unavoidable 
sentiment that we are still linked with the finite and limited. 
Religion is the aspiration after the Most High whom we 
conceive as the sole, full truth; the soaring up to the All- 
encircling Unity which man, through the whole nature of his 
spirit, presupposes as a whole, as the foundation of all that 
exists and shall be, as the source of all earthly and spiritual 
life, of which he bears within him the vivid conviction, though 
he be unable to completely know it. All that may be desig- 
nated as an ancient conception; nothing but presentiment, 
longing, assumption, which can not be satisfactorily proven. 
But such is the very nature, the very essence of man, and it 
must be so, because he is a disconnected being, a fragment 
torn from the whole spiritual life to which he feels himself 
attracted without being able to perceive it in its entirety and 
perfection. The great saying of Lessing: ‘If God, holding 
in one hand complete truth, and searching after truth in the 
other, were to say to me, ‘Man, choose!’ I should ask God 
and say, ‘The whole truth is not for me, searching after 
truth is fit for me,’” is a saying of the most profound and truest 
religiousness. Yea! longing after the Highest, attachment to 
the Whole, striving toward the Infinite despite our finiteness 
and limitations—that is religion. Therein we have also the 
guaranty for the Highest and Infinite, because we long to rise 
up to it; for the Eternal Wisdom, for the Free Agency that 
encompasses and produces everything out of itself, because 
we aspire thereto, because we bear the longing after it within 
ourselves. It can not bea fiction, the offspring of our imagi- 
nation; it is the noblest reality within us. Religion is not an 
invention of idle priests; it existed and exists in mankind, and 
every good and noble aspiration—when man, putting aside 
his seclusive selfishness, lovingly and fervently attaches him- 
self to his country and gives to it his own life and welfare 
and gladly labors for all and is filled with the desire to strive 
toward the Highest—is the work of religion. Though religion 
may present itself according to its rise in various outward 
forms, religion, as such, is a necessity, the noblest feature 
within man. It will cease only with man, not among men. 


As long as the spirit’s yearning for the Spirit of All remains, 
as long as that must remain, so long religious life will exist. 
Religion is life. All actions of man, as far as they are 
prompted by and are striving toward higher views, are the 
work of religion, and the results of religion. Religion will 
become purer, more enlightened, its essence and function will 
be better understood, and it will always remain in existence, 
because man’s longing and imperfection will always remain. 
The more he advances, the more he will feel this distance from 
the Infinite and Eternal Wisdom; but he will also the more 
devotedly look up to it, draw from it, bow to it with fervency 
and humility. If Judaism did and still does work such an 
effect as a religion, it is one of the noblest animating forces 
among mankind. 


Religion in Antiquity, and Religion in 

The preceding considerations do not lay claim to estab- 
lishing new foundations confirming truths thereby. That 
would be in conflict with the essence of religion: it would 
divest it of its very peculiarity of being the inheritance of 
humanity. Religion is an eternal, self-containing force, not 
a fragile thing which, soon breaking down, is put up again in 
an altered manner. Nor did our essay mean to adduce new, 
decisive evidences for religion, to prove its existence. Religion 
is not philosophy, the slowly progressing thinking power of 
man; it is an inborn longing of a whole man who thinks, feels, 
and wants to act morally and right. Our intention was 
merely to invite you to again examine whether science, 
especially natural philosophy and the knowledge of man, had 
now so far progressed as to have so clearly solved the enigma 
of existence, of the nature of man, and to have so thoroughly 
explained all antagonism that man’s desire for looking 
beyond, for breaking through finiteness, for seeking some 
explanation which may satisfy the wants of his inmost soul, 
even if it may not afford the most perfect evidence—that 
such a desire ought to be repudiated as something foolish and 
uncalled for. Religion is not philosophy; it is rather the 
manifestation of the force of attraction spread throughout all 
nature. Wherever we turn, we discover in the separate parts 
of the life of nature a propulsion of one toward the other, a 
sensation of one part being attracted by another, that every 
being is invested with the desire of one for another. The 
same force of attraction moves man, but with this difference, 
that he is conscious of it; he feels the desire to associate, to 
step out of his finiteness and to connect himself with the 


Infinite, to nestle himself lovingly, with all the fervency of 
his soul, near the Source of Wisdom and Love. Philosophy, 
like every other science, is the toilsome conquest of indi- 
viduals, of those endowed with faculties of a higher order. 
Religion is a common property of humanity, it is a peculiar 
susceptibility of man, which irresistibly develops itself within 
him, more or less clearly illuminating him with its truths. 
Hence, religion has existed from eternity and will exist unto 

While religion is thus the most individual element which 
appears to man as his deepest, innermost quality and dis- 
tinguishes him as an individual in his belief and practice, 
constituting the inmost motive power of his whole being, it 
forms, on the other hand, the bond of all mankind, just 
because it is something common to all, the connecting link 
between the several parts, as well as between them and the 
whole. Everything in each man is vested with the desire of 
union with all men; mankind has the desire that all individuals, 
while completely preserving their independence, may put 
aside their distinct exclusiveness and co-operate together as a 
united whole. Such mingling of the separate individual with 
the common interest is primarily manifested in the tribe and 
the nation. A nation appears as a unit, distinct from other 
nations, and yet as a conglomeration of a large number of 
widely differing human beings. Thus also, religion primarily 
presents itself as the religion of a tribe, but with the instinct 
to conquer all mankind, to gather all under its banner. If 
that instinct is powerful enough, if religion, though presenting 
itself as a tribal or national religion, yet rises superior to its 
nationality, if it continues its existence after the fetters 
which national life had put upon it have been broken, if it 
does not die when the people among whom it lived have lost 
their existence as a nation, then indeed, it has successfully 
passed the trial of its reliability and its truth. Judaism has 
proved itself a force outliving its peculiar nationality and 
therefore may lay claim to special consideration. But the 
fact of enduring existence alone should not sway our judg- 
ment; an examination into its intrinsic worth alone can afford 

26 JUDAISM AND Its History 

us a true measure for our estimate. A comparison between 
Judaism and other religions at a time when they had not yet 
come into contact with it and had not yet been affected by 
its influence, will furnish us the surest conviction of its 
superiority over the other religions of Antiquity. 

Without doubt, the most talented nation of Antiquity 
which was distinguished by noble culture and which exerted 
the most profound influence upon the development of the 
whole human race, whose art and science have had the most 
vivifying and quickening effect upon all times, so that when 
they were again dug up from under the rubbish that had 
covered them so long, they appeared as a refreshing well from 
which humanity drank with greedy drafts—that nation was 
the Greek nation. As Pallas Athene comes forth armed and 
equipped from the head of Zeus, thus also the Greek nation 
appears on the stage of history completely furnished with the 
noblest weapons of the mind, decked out with the loveliest 
bloom of life. Even in its first authors and poets, it displays 
its whole inner being, presenting, though not yet grown out 
of its infancy nor fully emerged from semisavagery, a har- 
monious, complete nature. Its most ancient poet, Homer, 
has remained an unequaled pattern for all time. He exhibits 
an imagination which boldly soars up and yet is not unbridled, 
a taste for the beautiful and harmonious expressed in the 
noblest euphony. How much joy we derive from beholding 
the beautiful, noble forms of his creation! Men of giant 
strength and yet sobered and moderated by an innate feeling 
for the decorous; figures that, though high and sublime, move 
and affect us by their childlike traits. Nausicaa in her 
maiden modesty, Penelope’s touching faithfulness, the 
stalwart, bold Hector affectionately bidding farewell to his 
wife and playing with his child—those are everlasting, noble, 
human figures to which we return again and again with 
heartfelt elation. And what strange religious belief did that 
richly endowed nation bring forth! How imperfect and 
childish is its belief concerning the Divine, its mythology! 
Its gods—for of an only God there is no mention—are a set 
of powerful turbulent aristocrats presided over by a more 


powerful one. A more powerful one, but by no means an 
All-Powerful One; for his power is not effectual everywhere, 
is barely able to execute what his will had resolved to accom- 
plish. Why, the other gods at one time ventured to bind 
him; of which he was once reminded by Thetis, who saved 

‘‘When the other Olympians did once threaten to bind him” 

she called Briareus to her assistance, 

“ Py 

for his strength is greater than even his father’s. 

His power being thus limited, that of the other gods is 
still more so. It is true, they surpass man; but after all, 
they are but greater, more exalted men whom even mortals 
can resist, and who are even wounded by bold heroes. Why, 
Cypris and Ares, the god of war, receive wounds at the 
hand of the impetuous Diomedes! And when Venus com- 
plains of her disgrace, her mother consoles her with the reply: 

“Many of us who inhabit Olympian houses have suffered 
Grief at the hands of men 

Above the gods there stands a mysterious, unconquerable 
power, before which even the gods must bow. Ate, the 
goddess of mischief, dements them, so that Agamemnon refers 
to her in order to clear himself from responsibility, saying, 

“What then, indeed, could I? All things are done by the goddess, 
Jove’s all-powerful child, Ate, dementing all mortals. 

She allures them to sin, and one at least, she misguided; 

Jove himself, she seduced, oreo oy surpasses supremely 

Men and gods in power 

and then relates how she deceived him: 

ff . .« Jove did not suspect her deception, 
Uttered ic fatal oath and sustained deep grief for his rashness.” 

Jove has no power to control unavoidable Fate, Moira, 
and breaks into this lament: 

“Woe me! Woe me! Fate now wills that Sarpedon, of mortals 
Dearest, should fall by the hand of Patroclus, the son of Mencetius.”’ 

28 JUDAISM AND ITs History 

The same doctrine resounds centuries thereafter, out of 

“The pow’r of Fate supremely rules indeed, 
No Ares can, nor courage bold, 

Nor towers, nor the blackened ship 

Borne by the waves, escape its blows.” 

Thus even Ares, the god of war, must yield to that mys- 
terious power. 

That an omniscience of the gods, or even of the highest 
god, can not be even imagined, is evident from the idea that 
they are ruled by Ate, are demented and deceived by her, 
because they are ignorant of what is to happen. Therefore, 
we must not be astonished to hear very strange statements 
concerning the life of the gods, how they indulge in sweet 

“Now all beings, the gods as well as the warriors gallant 
Slept all night; but slumber would flee from the eyes of 
Jove, who pondered within his soul . . . . .” 

He was awake, not because he never sleeps nor slumbers, 
but because reflections in which he indulged drove sleep 
away. Those imperfections, those ideas unworthy of God, 
are deeply rooted in moral defects to which the gods are heirs, 
in foibles exhibited with the most open naivety. We have seen 
that Ate dements them and causes them to do wrong; they 
also revel in repasts, indulge in the most sensual pleasures, 
break faith and promises, perpetrate fornication, dispute and 
quarrel in the most intolerable manner, so that even Jove can 
not help complaining to Thetis: 

“Fatal, indeed, it is, that strife and contention with Here 

Thou wilt excite, who will upbraid me with gibes and reproaches, 
Why, she quarrels already with me in the midst of th’ immortal 
Gods; /sunceasing (ania bel yenr 

They are cruel and arbitrary, envy men their happiness 
and welfare; and if they now and then protect the cause of 
justice, it is merely the whim of the moment, which at another 
time is frustrated by all sorts of causes. 


If then, the gods are such, it is but natural that the men 
who have produced such divine ideals and looked up to them, 
can not aspire to true perfection. Man, it is true, is often 
better than his principles, and the Greeks may also have 
been better than their mythology would lead us to suppose 
them to have been. Nevertheless, the ideal of the divinity 
above us and the ideal of the morality within us is too close, 
that the defects of the former should not make an impression 
on the latter. Let us consider how that is shown in Hellen- 
ism. It is emphatically man’s limitations and evanescence: 
All must die and pass away; man has no power to contend 
against the gods, and whenever he ventures to do so, guilt 
and horrible ruin will pursue him. Therefore man should 
put off all pride, abstain from all bold aspirations, move 
within certain limits. Moderation—Sophrosyne—is the true 
virtue, the taste for the proper and decorous, for harmony, 
the intelligence for judging and limiting; virtue is the middle 
of the road between all extremes, preventing all excesses. 
Accordingly, to the Greek, virtue is the Useful, the Agreeable; 
but the inner striving for higher purity, the desire to put off 
human moral defects, and to lean on the Divine as the source 
of all purity, had not come clearly to the surface with the 
Greeks. The consciousness of our sinfulness, of the dis- 
position of our nature which is limited also as to purity; the 
consciousness of the continual struggle which we have to 
make against sensuality, in order to be able to follow our 
impulse toward the good and perfection—a struggle which 
ennobles and elevates man, which through repentance even 
leads him to worthy victory—such ideas were almost com- 
pletely hidden from Greek perception. If the later poets 
who drew from the noblest elements of Greek nature, if the 
tragic poets preeminently emphasize guilt as the cause of the 
most difficult entanglement in human existence, the guilt is 
almost always brought over upon the sufferer, not the result 
of his own doings, but inherited from sire to son down to 
succeeding generations. Because someone would not honor 
the gods, scorned them, dared to contend against them, 
defiled himself by heavy guilt, that guilt passes over upon a 

30 JUDAISM AND Its History 

succeeding generation which suffers and_ perishes by it, 
without taking an active part in the matter. It is not a 
really moral struggle, not a guilt from which man has to 
cleanse himelf; it is blind Fate that throws the sin, posterity 
is laid in chains by the cruel decree of ancient guilt. Of 
course, we are moved at seeing such a struggle, when great 
strength shakes its fetters; we feel our weakness, we bow in 
reverent fear, it is a taming of passions, as Aristophanes 
expresses it, but not a moral elevation. But how different 
it is if man, though conquered physically, gains the victory 
within himself by his moral exertions, by his struggles against 
external adversities; if noble thoughts give support to him; 
when profound ideas gain the ascendency within him in spite 
of the actuality without which does not permit their execu- 
tion; if the individual as the representative of a higher idea 
must yield, but nevertheless rises a hero, a victor even in 
defeat:—that higher conception we find but little exhibited 
in Hellenism. 

Greek philosophy is not blind to those shortcomings and 
defects; it did not hesitate to express its censure. In the 
sixth century before the Christian era, Xenophanes, the 
founder of the Eleatic School, severely inveighs against a 
belief in such gods. Their plurality is an objection to him; 
only a unity agrees with a true conception of Deity. He 
censures also the idea that, even if the gods are not mortal 
they had a beginning, as if 

“It were not so wicked to believe they had been born, 
As to present them vested with mortality.” 

When sacrifices and dirges are part of the worship of the 
goddess of the sea, Leucothea, he denounces the contradic- 

“If she be mortal, sacrifice should not be offered to her; 
If she be goddess, funeral dirges should not be sung for her.”’ 

Thus also, he inveighs against the fancy that the gods 
occupy certain localities, that they have certain forms, and 
especially the sensual qualities that are. attributed to them 
without hesitation: 


“Hesiod and Homer attribute unto the gods 
Whatever disgraces the mortals and calls for censure, 
Robbery, and adulterous practice, and cunning deception.” 

Here we perceive a full and clear acknowledgment of the 
imperfect idea of Deity in Hellenism, a severe censure pro- 
nounced by one of the more ancient Greek philosophers, but 
one which was hardly repeated with such scorching emphasis. 
Later philosophers have not entirely abstained from censure, 
but they preferred an attempt to idealize, to teach purer ideas 
of Deity and man’s relation to it, without undertaking such 
a distinct fight against the current belief. Such action on 
their part undoubtedly proceeded less from fear of the issue 
of a conflict between their conviction and error, it rather 
seems as though they felt that such a conflict would involve 
the very essence of the nation, that it would cut the nerve of 
national life by openly assaulting the history of their gods. 
They sought to remain more or less in agreement with the 
popular belief, either by ignoring it, or by attempts to explain 
it. But if, nevertheless, a bold expression now and then 
ventured out among the people, such a decided opposition 
arose that the critic was soon forced into silence. Anaxagoras 
and Protagoras were compelled to go into exile; Socrates, 
who treated the popular belief with great discretion, had to 
drink the poisoned chalice. The popular belief of the Greeks 
was not susceptible of transformation or reformation; it had 
to remain such as it was, or cease altogether. A religion 
which bears within itself a more powerful idea than it can 
exhibit in the transient imperfection of the time, may, in the 
course of its development, cast away many a side-shoot, 
efface many antiquated expressions and produce new ones by 
its creative energy. But a religion that has completely 
exhausted itself by its very appearance, whose stem, blossom, 
and fruit, fully correspond to its root and have taken all 
available substance out of that, must perish down to its very 
root, when its blossom and fruit are injured. Such was the 
case with Hellenism. 

Considering that one of the most talented nations of 
Antiquity produced such crude religious conceptions, we need 


hardly cast an examining glance at the multitude of other 
nations that have passed away without leaving any vestige 
of culture; nations that lived in rude savageness must naturally 
have had rude notions concerning the Deity and man’s rela- 
tion to it. And when we contemplate the groups of nations 
surrounding the Jews, nations that far surpassed that little 
people in power and kept it encircled, some of which for a 
time exerted decisive influence upon the destiny of the world, 
we shall feel horrified at the savage cult that prevailed among 
them, at the excesses presented as divine worship: human 
sacrifices offered up to Moloch, who robbed mothers of their 
children to consume them in his red-hot embrace, degenerate 
debaucheries as pleasing worship of their gods. The standing 
expression of the bible, ‘‘to go a-whoring after the gods of 
the nations,’’ may be taken in its most literal meaning. A 
horrible picture! 

Now, in the midst of such surroundings, Judaism ap- 
peared, and, like the witch of Endor at seeing Samuel, we may 
well exclaim, ‘“‘I see God ascending out of the earth;’” out of 
the earth that is defiled, given up to sensuality, desecrated by 
low practices, out of that earth I behold the Divine arise in 
lustrous purity. The name attributed in Judaism to God 
was afterwards most significantly considered as ineffable, 
because no name can comprise Him, is adequate to His being; 
the very sounds of that name have been lost, and we do not 
know its true pronunciation. But its meaning is certain. 
“He is’? is that meaning; as God, speaking of Himself, 
proclaims in holy writ, “I am who I am,” so man says of 
Him, ‘He is!’’—the Only Existence, the All-comprising, 
both for nature and for the life of man. He is and as such 
All-comprising naturally also absolute Unity. That term of 
unity resounds through all the writings of Judaism and the 
fundamental axiom of Israelis: ‘‘Hear, O Israel, He is is our 
God, He is is one.”’ That Existence which comprises all, is 
the Sole, fully living Individuality, but at the same time, as 
the Most Universal One, indivisible. ‘‘Ye saw no manner of 
form,’’ you heard only utterances, you observed only the 
brilliant light beaming forth from Him, sounds proceeding 


from Him; those are merely effects; but to represent Him by 
an image, Judaism had avoided as a great monstrosity, as 
the greatest abomination. For that Infinity, the Jews have 
at all times sacrificed their lives. It was this that at first 
appeared as something curious in the eyes of heathendom: 
a religion without idols. Even Juvenal still refers to it, 

_ “Nil praeter nubes et coeli numen adorant” 

Nothing but cloud and a God of heaven they worship. 

“There is no image in the Temple of the Jews!” Tacitus 
scornfully writes—a queer religion without images. And 
just that was its very core, the conviction of the All-compris- 
ing—‘‘the whole earth is full of His glory.” And to this 
Unity, to this idea of the All-comprising One, naturally 
omnipotence is joined. Should there be anything impossible 
for God? ‘Is God’s hand, perchance, waxed short?” Nor 
are the pages of Judaism less full of the conception of God’s 
omnipotence, of that supreme wisdom which penetrates and 
searches everything; of the eyes of God that see through 
everything, not merely beholding the outward appearance, 
but looking into the heart, into the innermost mind of man. 
No man can fully grasp true wisdom which is so sublime and 
can be found only with God. Thus Job teaches, taking his 
beautiful poetical comparison from the science of mining: 

“There is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it. 
Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone. Man 
setteth an end to darkness, and pierceth down to the bottom, to the 
stones of darkness and the shadow of death. The flood breaketh forth 
before him, which runneth about there, forgotten by the foot, removed 
from men, The earth, out of which cometh bread, is turned up under it 
as by fire. There is a place of sapphires and precious stones, and it hath 
dust of gold. That path no fowl knoweth and the vulture’s eye hath not 
seen it. . . . Mancutteth out rivers among the rocks, and he seeth 
every precious thing. . . . But where shall wisdom be found? Where 
is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof, it is 
not found in the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in me, and 
the sea saith, It is notin me. . . . Destruction and death say, We 
have heard the fame thereof with our ears. God understandeth the way 
thereof, and He knoweth the place thereof.” 

34 JuDAIsM AND Its History 

A grand presentation of wisdom, hidden from the eyes of 
men, and seen through only by God! 

But all that is surpassed by the conviction of God’s 
Holiness, of the purity that can not bear the sight of evil, 
nor tolerate wrong. ‘“‘Of pure eyes, so that He can not behold 
evil, nor look on iniquity.” 

God is pure, holy,. He alone, and no other being besides 
Him. In His holiness, He is all-kind, gracious, merciful: 
“Self-existent, eternal, almighty, gracious and merciful, 
long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and in truth,” that 
is the keynote running through all doctrines and convictions 
of Judaism. He is the Loving One, who though He also 
awards punishments, loves the repentant and extends His 
hand to him, that he may turn from his evil ways, for He 
rejoices in all His works and accords His love to all of them. 

Guilt is not fate irretrievably clinging to man: ‘I have 
no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but that he may turn 
from his ways and live,” that he may attain the true and 
pure, higher life. The certainty of His justice, of His bound- 
less love for man, is based upon such immovable foundation 
in Judaism, that even the saddest experiences can not shake 
the conviction thereof. Poets and prophets complain of 
sufferings and trials; they present the riddles of human 
experience; they can not understand why many fare well 
or ill on the earth contrary to their practices; they confess, 
too, that they are unable to find the full explanation of such 
facts. But they are far from uttering any doubt of the 
justice of God on that account; their conviction remains 
unshaken, that His proceeding is based on supreme justice. 

The relation of men to God and to each other tends toward 
the same ideal. Man is a finite, limited, dependent being; 
that thought is often repeated in Judaism. 

But the complaint about it is by no means as predominant 
as in Hellenism. The fact is accepted with quiet resignation, 
together with the consciousness of man’s high position, and 
that consciousness breaks forth everywhere as with jubilation. 
At the very beginning it is said: ‘Let us make man in our 
image, after our likeness,” a likeness to God, which is soon 


explained as referring to the spirit. ‘‘He breathes into his 
faculties the spirit of life.’ Endowed with that likeness, 
man is soon represented in his greatness. The psalmist says: 
“Thou hast crowned him (man, who is so insignificant and 
puny) with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have 
dominion over the works of Thy hands.’”’ Everywhere man 
is presented to us in that high position which advantage 
actually gives him the impulse for further development and 
aspiration to higher eminence. For man has the capability 
of higher development: 

“Yea, there is a spirit in mankind and the inspiration of the Almighty 
giveth them understanding.” 

Reason being a ray from Divine Reason, ennobles man, 
awakens within him the desire more and more to rise toward 
the Supreme Reason. But the most essential element in 
him is the consciousness of his moral power, which is innate 
in man and is the foundation of his real nobility; and which, 
even because it awakens his aspiration to perfect purity, 
makes him feel his limitations along that line, and the bars 
to moral life so much the more. He feels that sensuality 
accompanies him from his infancy, that it is a part of his 
nature, so that a conflict is started between his sensuality and 
his spiritual ideals: ‘‘the desire of man’s heart is evil from his 
youth.” That sentence expresses the imperfection which is 
also manifested in the moral life, an appetite the allurements 
of which we have the power to resist. In ancient time the 
question was raised, why the bible begins with an account of 
the beginning of time instead of the first commands, and why 
all that introduction. The answer runs: “He hath showed 
to His people the power of His works,’ and though com- 
mandments do not occupy the first space, yet the pages con- 
tain considerations replete with religious element. The 
question was prompted by a narrow, literal view. But when 
we read that beginning of the bible, we discover a deep 
significance in the naive and simple presentation which even 
at this day not only fascinates us, but furnishes material for 
reflection. Not only that creation is presented in its well- 


constructed order, the conflict within man is brought in too. 
We behold man first in his innocence, then soon in struggle 
with craving that is, of course, part of his nature; he must 
control it if he does not want to become a prey to sin. Physi- 
cal desire did not allure the first man only, it is part of the 
nature of all men and in that way the mother of sin which 
is not an involuntary inheritance from father to son but is 
committed by every one individually. Sin proceeds also 
from selfishness, from the narrowminded separation of man 
from his fellow-man; it is the product of envy and manifests 
itself as discord; Cain is filled with ill-will against his brother. 
There we meet the great word: ‘‘Sin lurketh at the door, 
unto thee is its desire, but thou canst rule over it.” 

At the entrance into the outer world, in our connection 
with it, sin is lurking; but thou art a man, endowed with 
the sublime power of the will, who is not bound to yield to sin, 
to whom sin is not an external, invincible power, but a 
desire within, which can be kept down by using thy better 
force. The doctrine of man’s striving for self-ennoblement, 
of the conflict from which he can and should proceed as victor, 
is presented to us everywhere. With that moral conviction, 
connected as it is, with the consciousness of his limitations 
on that point, he moves toward Eternal Purity and seeks its 
aid in loving devotion. Love of God is an idea which pagan- 
ism did not know, which Judaism presents with such sublime 
simplicity, as though it were a matter of course: ‘Thou 
shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy 
soul, and with all thy might.” “Though my flesh and my 
heart faileth, God is the strength of my heart and my portion 
forever.’”’ “‘It is good for me to draw near to God.”’ “‘Whom 
have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth 
that I desire besides Thee.” 

Those are expressions found scattered about in great 
numbers. The full devotion, the intensity of feeling, where- 
with moral man attaches himself to the Highest Moral Purity, 
to God’s holiness, the expression of such a relation to the 
Most High, determines also the relation of men to each other, 
produces the mutual attachment of men to each other in 


love: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ is an ad- 
monition which in like manner is treated as a matter of course 
and is not especially accentuated; it bears its own emphasis 
within itself, because it runs through the whole law, whose 
every provision breathes love. I shall point only to one noble 
moral flower, the like of which is probably not to be found 
in the law books: 

“Thou shalt not respect the person of the poor in judgment.” 

That the person of the rich and respected should not be 
given advantage is also emphasized, of course; and such 
admonition appears natural against the temptation of favor- 
ing the rich man, in view of the benefits that his good will 
might afford, or of violating justice in favor of the influential 
one on account of his power. But Judaism presupposes 
also sympathy, commiseration with misfortune as such, a 
profound fundamental trait, that it apprehends justice might 
be violated in suit-at-law in favor of the poor, who might be 
favored even if in the wrong, just because he is in distress. 
Beware also of such an act! Sympathy and pity are emo- 
tions that have their proper place and use, but even those 
noble feelings must be silent before justice. In that script- 
ural command, there is a height of conception, a sublimity 
of moral view, which we can but reverence. 

And this Religion has also in its very nature the impulse 
to offer its blessings as the religion of humanity. It is an ex- 
alting strain resounding from all prophets and poets in the idea 
that the acknowledgment of God will spread over all the 
world; it is not to be a narrow nationality but a complete 
humanism. Because God is the Sole Father of all men, be- 
cause Love turns toward all men and should bring its 
quickening and consecrating power to all: 

‘God shall be king over all the earth: in that day there 
sha be one God, and His name one. 

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares and 
their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift sword 
against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” 

A time shall come when all nature is transformed, when 

38 JUDAISM AND ITs History 

enlightened mankind will so prevail that savagism exists no 
more and even the wild beasts’ havoc ceases, ‘‘and the suck- 
ling child shall play on the hole of the adder, and the weaned 
child shall put his hand on the basilisk’s den; they shall 
not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth 
shall be full of the knowledge of God, as the waters cover 
the sea.’’ 

The religion shall be a light to all people: ‘‘My house 
shall be a house of prayer unto all nations.”” At the consecration 
of the Temple, Solomon prays also for the stranger who cometh 
out of a far country: ‘‘Hear Thou him, O God in heaven, 
Thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger 
calleth to Thee for.”” That is a grand sweeping look beyond 
oneself, beyond the barrier, an aspiration manifesting that 
the idea in Judaism is mightier than the vessel in which it 
first appeared; it seems as if from every side we hear the 
ancient teacher’s words: ‘‘Let the vessel be broken, but 
preserve the precious contents,’’ the contents that cannot 
be contained by the physical outside matter. 

In such manner, Judaism presents itself to us, and its 
very simplicity and originality reveal its inexhaustible glory. 
Even the foregoing short outlines show the vastly different 
form in which that religion entered the world, how it was 
the only one of its kind, unlike all other religions in Antiquity. 
Besides, it must be considered that it arose among a nation 
that did not develop a finished logical system of philosophy, 
that is not distinguished by works of other sciences or of art, 
and yet brought forth such conceptions and views unaided, 
as if prompted by some inner force. How did it happen 
that such a people, a mere tribe surrounded by so many 
mightier nations, which had no opportunity of having an 
unobstructed view of the great events in the world, which 
had to fight many battles for its bare existence, which was 
confined within a limited territory, and had to employ all 
its resources to defend itself against its powerful enemies— 
how did it happen that such a people rose to those sublime 
conceptions? It is an enigma in the world’s history. Who 
will give us a complete solution? 



There are facts of such an overwhelming power that 
even the most stubborn opinion must yield to them. Such 
a fact is the origin of Judaism in the midst of rude surround- 
ings, like a vigorous growth out of a barren soil. We have 
essayed to draw, in a few scanty outlines, a comparison 
between the convictions, presentiments and assertions that 
prevailed in Antiquity in general, and those presented by 
Judaism. Even that incomplete sketch must convince the 
unprejudiced mind that we behold an original energy which 
has preserved its significance for all times and has proven 
to be a creative force. Let us for a few more moments, dwell 
upon the principal representatives, the organs of that religious 
idea, upon the Prophets. In them we perceive characters of 
quiet greatness, of simple sublimity; of fervor with modera- 
tion; of boldness with humble submission—traits that are 
imposing and make us feel the very breath of a higher spirit. 
Our ancient teachers observe: ‘‘No two prophets deliver 
the prophetic message in the same strain and expression. 
Each one of them is complete within himself, each has a 
peculiar, distinct character of his own, and yet all have the 
same general characteristics and are animated by one great 
idea. Isaiah, bold, noble, severely serious, and yet lovingly 
indulging in the most joyful and glorious hopes, full of the 
most cheerful confidence; hence hurrying from gloomy pre- 
dictions and threats of severe chastisement over to a descrip- 
tion of a most brilliant future. Jeremiah, tender-hearted, 
looking sad into the tangled and desperate condition of 
his time; hence plaintive and reproving his contemporaries 
with. severity, yet never despairing, yet full of cheerful con- 
viction that the idea he proclaims must prevail, if not in his 
time, certainly in the future. Ezekiel, as if overwhelmed 


by the idea that animates him, as if dazzled by the light 
surrounding him, indulges in bold figures in the effort to 
represent the glory of his visions, yet clearly and fully con- 
scious whenever moral precepts are to be distinctly emphasized 
to his people; and withal, endowed with that clear, compre- 
hensive vision which penetrates the very heart of man and 
calls attention to his faults and virtues.’’ Our ancient teachers 
finely describe that difference: ‘‘Isaiah appears as a man 
of the palace, familiar with the manners and the pomp of a 
court, with the divine appointments, speaks only in general 
terms of its brilliancy; standing on an eminence, he draws 
the sublime in his own light. Ezekiel appears as a villager 
who is suddenly brought into brilliant city life, and in his 
excitement does not know where to stop in his picturing of 
both the detail and the whole of his impressions.’”’ They 
differ, but all are devoted to one great idea, all are sustained 
by the same higher spirit. 

They love their country with intense fervor; their speeches 
and admonitions are addressed to the people at widely dif- 
ferent times, to uplift them, to strengthen and encourage 
them, to support their country and the national life. They 
love their country, take profound pleasure in describing it 
as a land flowing with milk and honey, a land in which a man 
“may eat bread without stint,’’ ‘‘whose stones are iron, 
out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass’’; joyfully they de- 
scribe it as a land that has been favored by God with the most 
various blessings, but the most essential matter to them 
always remains: ‘‘For from Zion goeth forth the Law, and 
the word of God from Jerusalem.” ‘‘Mountains around 
about Jerusalem, but God round about His people.” 

And with naivety and affection, the condition of that 
land in comparison with Egypt is described: ‘The land 
whither thou goest in to possess it is not like the land of 
Egypt from whence you came out, there ye sowed seed and 
watered it with your own labor, as a garden of herbs: but 
the land whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and 
valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land 
which God forever careth for: His eyes are always upon it, 


from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the 

Egypt, it is true, is a garden of God in the eyes of the 
Israelites, a land which, by the annual overflowing of the 
Nile and by canals, carries water everywhere; which may be 
cultivated with the sure hope of success; which exhibits, with 
but rare exceptions, its fertility from year to year and offers 
its rich treasures in abundance; but nevertheless, Palestine 
is prized more highly: a land of valleys and mountains, need- 
ing rains, depending upon Nature’s moods, so that the eye 
of God has to be upon it from the beginning of the year to 
its end: and therein consists the glory and the excellence of 
the country. 

They glorify that land as an especially favored and gifted 
one; and even when it has vanished from them, when it has 
been taken from them, their strength is not broken, they are 
not bound to its soil; their love for their earthly country rests 
upon their love for a higher one from which a ray descends 
upon the former. The poet, after bewailing the destruction of 
the city, the banishment of its inhabitants, after having 
indulged in lamentations, exclaims: “Thou, O God, remain- 
est forever; Thy throne, from generation to generation’’—a 
thought which runs through thousands of years, even after 
the national life has disappeared. Can it be wondered at 
that such a cheerful confidence exerted a powerful influence 
also on later generations? You hear the same words centuries 
thereafter. The state was destroyed a second time, every 
hope blasted, the last flickering light, kindled by Ben Kosiba, 
was put out, and Roman oppression lay heavy upon the 
people. Rabbi Akiba with some friends visited Jerusalem, 
and they saw a jackal running out from where formerly the 
Holy of Holies had been standing. Akiba’s companions 
wept and rent their clothes; Akiba remained quiet, almost 
cheerful. His friends asked, ‘“‘Since when have you become 
so indifferent to the misfortunes of our people? Do you 
not see the second fulfillment of the words: ‘Yea, for this 
do we weep, because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, 
jackals wall about upon it?’”’ “Well, my friends,” replied 

42 JUDAISM AND Its History 

Akiba, ‘‘indeed those words have again been verified; but 
the other will also come true: ‘Thou O God, remainest 
forever, Thy throne from generation to generation.’ I live 
in unshaken, firm confidence.” 

That the prophets did not look for security of their per- 
sons when the interests of the cause demanded their devotion; 
that they labored with entire unselfishness, regardless of 
appreciation or glory or praise, is attested by every word 
uttered by them. It appears as though the words spoken by 
one of them resounds through all their sermons: 

“T gave my back to the smiters and my cheeks to them 
that plucked off the hair, I hid not my face from the shame 
and spitting, for God the Lord will help me; therefore shall 
I not be confounded, therefore have I set my face like a flint, 
I know I shall not be ashamed.” 

And though from different sides they heard cries such 
as these: ‘Prophesy to us of wine and strong drink,” ‘‘ Fool- 
ish is the prophet, the man of the spirit raveth,” they 
did not yield, they did not desecrate their lips, they did 
not keep silent: ‘‘The Lord God hath spoken, who can 
but prophesy?” A higher force impelled them, would not suffer 
them to keep silent, to grow weary of preaching; it was a 
moral and spiritual enthusiasm that placed them on an 
eminence to which we, in later days, must ever look up. 

Thus Judaism is a grand phenomenon in history; and thus 
its representatives and organs are men of such dignity and 
spiritual greatness that we must pay them the tribute of our 
admiration. They entered the lists without being encouraged, 
without having patterns before them; on the contrary, in a 
discouraging environment, encircled by nations addicted 
to idolatry, amidst priests and proclaimers of other nations 
who did homage to sensuality which degraded human nature. 
Whence, then, came that force which all at once enters the 
scene as something original? We arrive here at the consider- 
ation of the very depth and bottom of the human soul, 
beyond, which it can not go, of an energy creating of its 
own apprehension, without being impelled thereto by any 
external impulse. 


We discriminate, in general, a two-fold intellectual 
operating ability in man, a two-fold distinguishing endowment 
—we discriminate talent and genius. They touch upon 
each other in many points, so that a distinct line of demark- 
ation can not be drawn between them; yet they preserve 
each its own particular peculiarity; they are not only sepa- 
rate, but they differ in their whole nature, in their foundation. 
Talent is an endowment with the ability of easily and quickly 
receiving, digesting, and reproducing with taste and skill; 
but talent leans upon something that has been achieved, 
upon results that are present before it, upon treasures already 
acquired—it creates nothing new. Genius works quite dif- 
ferently. It is independent, it creates, it discovers truths 
heretofore hidden, it discloses laws heretofore unknown; it 
is as though the forces that work in the depth of nature 
bared themselves to it in greater clearness according to their 
connection and legitimate co-operation; as though they pre- 
sented themselves to it to be grasped, as though the mental 
and spiritual movements in the individual as well as in man- 
kind as a whole, unveiled themselves before it, that it may 
behold the deepest foundation of the soul and may be able to 
dissect the motives and impulses hidden away there. Talent 
may be practiced, it may even be acquired by laborious 
application; genius is a free gift, a gift of grace, a mark of 
consecration stamped upon man, that can never be acquired, 
if it be notin the man. Talent, therefore, can not overcome 
impediments and obstacles if they present themselves with 
overwhelming force, it can not thrive under unfavorable cir- 
cumstances. Genius, on the other hand, advances its 
conquering force against the most untoward conditions, it 
opens a way, it must expand its force, for it is a living impulse, 
a power that is stronger than its possessor, a touch of the 
energy dispersed into nature but condensed in him, linking 
him with the Spirit of all spirits who manifests Himself to 
him by higher illumination. Talent propagates the knowledge 
which has been stored up, perfects it also now and then, and 
makes it the common property of all. Genius enriches 
humanity with new truths and perceptions, it gives the 


impulse to all great things that have come and are still to 
come to pass in this world. 

When Columbus discovered the New World, he had not 
been specially prepared for it, nor fitted thereto by superior 
geographical knowledge, by greater experience gained on 
his voyages; nor could those justify any conclusion that India 
was to the west of Spain. It was the light of genius that 
caused him to see the surface of the earth, he was favored 
with a look into the nature of the globe and to feel that the 
land must be across the ocean which had been thought to be 
boundless; and thus what had been as knowledge, but im- 
perfect, in him, turned into living conviction whose truth he 
made every effort to prove. Copernicus was probably not 
the greatest astronomer of his time; others may have made 
more correct calculations and may have been far superior to 
him in the science, but it was as if the whole working of the 
natural forces of attraction and repulsion and the entire 
movement of the world had been revealed to his vision; as 
though the veil which dark tradition had thickened, had been 
drawn aside from before him; as though he had looked with 
bold eye into the mechanism of the universe and held fast to 
what he had seen as a rapidly grasped truth which he after- 
wards with deep insight tried to substantiate, in which he 
did not fully succeed, because it had to be more clearly 
explained and more firmly established than he was able to do 
then. Newton is said to have been induced to establish the 
law of gravitation by the falling of an apple observed by him 
while sitting near an apple tree. Many people before him 
had seen apples falling, but not with the eye of genius; for 
that beholds in the single phenomenon the great, comprehen- 
sive law which causes that phenomenon; it looks through that 
external manifestation into the invisible working from which 
everything proceeds. 

Such instances could be added to by others from every 
field. The historian who deserves the name as such, is not 
made by the profundity and care in research, the full knowl- 
edge of all incidents; he is perhaps often compelled to refuse 
a mass of burdensome material in order not to be perplexed 


and crushed by crowd of details. But this affords him his 
favored position, that his vision is sharper and sees into the 
character of the time, that the entire working of the wheels 
of the ideas moving in the depths of the period, is laid bare 
before him. It is as if the period as a whole with its deepest 
foundations uncovered, stood before his mental vision, as if 
he had actually listened to the most secret intentions of its 
chief actors. In that way, all that was before known is put 
into its proper place, because the connection between the 
events and the actors has only become perfectly clear. You 
may perhaps call that good sense, acumen, a happy faculty 
of combination. When the acute thinker does not run into 
error, when his combination knows how to connect the 
proper parts, then it is the work of genius. And what is it 
that enables the poet to look so deep into the soul that he 
recognizes the temperament, the desires, the passions so 
clearly, as though the chambers of the heart were opened for 
him? What enables him to grasp and present all complica- 
tions and combinations in the most various relations and 
conditions, however much they may be entangled and hidden 
to ordinary vision, and to fathom and picture a character in 
its unity? Is it the great experience he has had? Is it 
that, perchance, he himself has passed through all that? 
Certainly not! It is the vision that more surely and sharply 
receives the picture of the whole life of the human soul from 
the individual phenomenon and knows how to represent it. 
In fact, it is only genius that enables an individual to inter- 
fere with might in the movements of the mind and spirit and 
to give them a forward impulse for centuries to come—and , 
as it is in individuals, so it is in whole nations as well. 

The Greeks boasted of being autochthons, of having risen_ 
and sprung from their own soil. We shall not examine 
whether that claim is justified; but another claim, which is 
the real meaning of it, will surely be admitted; namely, the 
autochthonic character of their mind, the aboriginal nature 
of their national talent. The Greeks had neither pattern nor 
teacher in art or science, they were teacher and master to 
themselves, they speedily attained such perfection in art as 


makes them instructors of mankind almost for all time. It 
is as though a higher living sense for the Beautiful, the 
Harmonious, the Symmetrical, and the Pleasing had been 
innate in that nation—we observe a National Genius through 
the possession of which masters in every art and science made 
their appearance. Therefore, even later centuries willingly 
listened to the words of that nation, hastened thither, where 
they could see the works of the plastic art, where they could 
enjoy, as it were, a rejuvenating bath in the spiritual fountain 
that parts thence and runs through the centuries. Is not the 
Jewish people, likewise, endowed with such a genius, a 
Religious Genius? Is it not, likewise, an aboriginal power 
that illuminated its eyes so that they could see deeper into 
the higher life of the spirit, could feel more deeply and recog- 
nize more vividly the close relation between the spirit of man 
and the Supreme Spirit, that they could more distinctly and 
clearly behold the real nature of the Moral in man, and then 
present to the world the result of that inborn knowledge. If 
this be so, we may speak of a close touch of the individual 
spirit with the Supreme Spirit, of the light thrown into 
individual spirits by the Power that fills everything, so that 
they could break through their finite barrier; it is—let us not 
hesitate to speak the word—it is Revelation, and that too, as 
manifested in the whole nation. 

The Greeks were not all artists; each one of them was not 
a Phidias or a Praxiteles, but yet the Greek nation alone was 
capable of producing such great masters. The same was the 
case within Israel. Surely not all its men were prophets, and 
the exclamation, ‘‘Would that all the people were prophets” 
was but a pious wish; the other: “I shall pour out My 
spirit upon all flesh,” is a promise, it had not become the reality. 
Nevertheless, Israel is the people of revelation within which 
the favored representatives appeared; it is as if the sparks of 
light had been scattered and had been gathered into a blaze 
in the more favored ones. A thorn-bush produces no grape- 
vine; a neglected people produces no prophets such as the 
Jews gave to the world. The historical books of the bible are 
full of reproach about the morals and the depravity of the 


people of Israel at the time of their kings; the authors want 
to prepare us for the devastation that came on later as a 
punishment for their sins. Yet, noble forces in great number 
must have existed within that nation; there must have been 
a native endowment and disposition, when men of such 
significance could rise and develop out of the people. 
Judaism was not a mere voice crying in the wilderness, 
and though it did not prevail in all, it was still an 
energy which existed, though weaker in many, yet to such an 
extent that, concentrating in individuals, it could produce 
such heroes of the spirit. Nor does Judaism claim to be the 
work of individuals, but that of the whole people. It does 
not speak of the God of Moses or of the God of the prophets, 
but of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of the God of 
the whole race, of all the patriarchs who were equally endowed 
with the gift of prophetic vision, the genius of revelation 
which was latent in the whole people and found concentration 
and expression in individuals. The fact that the greatest 
prophet left his work unfinished contains a great truth: he 
must not be regarded as the Atlas who bears the world on 
his shoulders, who completes the work without the co-opera- 
tion of others from beginning to end. ‘No man knoweth of 
his sepulchre unto this day” and our ancient teachers remark, 
“His grave should not serve for a place of pilgrimage whither 
people go to do honor to ome and thus raise him above the 
level of man.’ Moses did his part of the work according to 
his great capacity as one of the whole people. Judaism arose 
within the people of revelation. And why then should we 
not use the word where we touch bottom rock, an illumination 
proceeding from a higher mind and spirit, which can not be 
explained; which is not a compound produced by a process 
of development even if it is further developed afterwards; 
which all at once appears in existence as a whole, like every 
new creation proceeding from the Original Spirit? We do not 
want to limit and define the word in any dogmatic manner; 
it may be understood in different ways, but as to its essence 
it remains the same: the point of contact of human reason 
with the Fundamental Source of all things. High as the 


ancient teachers estimated revelation, they never denied that 
it is connected with human ability. The Talmud teaches: 
“The spirit of God rests only on a wise man, on a man pos- 
sessing moral power, who is independent because he is frugal 
and contented by having conquered all ambition, greed, and 
desire;’? a man who bears his importance within him, who 
feels the divine within him. Only such a one is capable of 
receiving the Divine, not a mere speaking trumpet through 
which the spoken word passes without his being conscious of 
it; no, a man in the true sense of the word, who touches close 
upon the divine and is therefore susceptible of it. A deep 
thinker and great poet of the Middle Ages, Juda Ha-Levi, 
emphatically designated revelation as a disposition that was 
present in the whole people. Israel, he says, is the religious 
heart of mankind which in its totality always preserved its 
greater susceptibility, and its individual distinguished men 
were the heart of that heart. Maimonides speaks of a flash- 
like illumination as which revelation must be regarded; to one 
the light lasted but for a short time, to another it occurred 
repeatedly, and with Moses, it was a lasting one, an illumination 
which lights up the darkness, affords man a look into the 
hidden recesses, which reveals to him what remains con- 
cealed for others. 

Judaism is such a religion, has grown out of such divine 
visions and has connected into a whole all that it did behold; 
Judaism is a religion of truth, because the view into the 
essence of things is infallible, beholding the Unchangeable and 
the Everlasting: That is its everlasting message. 


Nationality, Slavery, Woman’s Position. 

Every new birth is attended with painful labor; every new 
idea which, creative and transformatory, enters into the 
mental world, must expect a hard and obstinate fight with all 
those mental powers which insist on their right of custom and 
well feel that they are threatened with destruction by a 
mightier force; they contend against it with all the bluntness 
and rudeness of inert possession, with all the violent arro- 
gance of mental shallowness which easily works itself into 
bitter harshness. An idea which endeavors to create a new 
mental and spiritual life, must of course fight with mental 
weapons, it bears within itself the guaranty of certain 
victory, it sees in it something imperishable which is equal to 
all emergencies and can defy all obstacles. But though it 
enters the mental world light-winged, it will, by the pro- 
tracted contest, be compelled to put on coarser material arms 
and harness, in order not to be crushed at the very outset. 
Young David enters a glorious fight and comes out of it 
victorious. Saul, on hearing of his bold resolution, armed 
him with his armor, and put a helmet of brass upon his head; 
also he armed him with a coat of mail. David tried to go, 
but he takes them off again, saying, “I can not go with 
these, for I am not accustomed to them.” He enters the 
contest with Goliath, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and 
smooth stones—and conquers. It is the confidence of bold 
youth that objects to constraint and will not be fettered; it 
is the assurance of victory, manifested in the shepherd boy 
whose mind has grown up and gained vigor in contact with 
nature. But can you suppose that David, after having 
passed on into the serious struggles of his life, would then also 
refuse helmet and armor? As he became more deeply engaged 
in life’s battling, he was forced to also adopt life’s usages, 

50 JupDAIsM AND Its HisToRy 

though full of the bold spirit of youth. And the same is the 
case with an idea, if it is to assume real life, that, though it 
be conscious of its mental and spiritual existence, it must also 
bear arms and enter the bloody contest of opposition, offered 
to it from all sides. 

Judaism’s doctrine of revelation has not been spared its 
battles. By struggle, individual man gains strength, he needs 
it; but here and there it will cover him with dust. Judaism 
also needed such a struggle against the world, and in conse- 
quence, many a dust from the earth has settled upon it. In 
opposition to the whole world, possessed by other conceptions, 
there arose a small nomadic tribe that had just emerged from 
a great empire addicted to idolatry. It must needs keep 
closely together, lest it be crushed beneath the weight of the 
outside powers. With the divine spirit that had been fanned 
into life within it, it intended to proclaim a new faith, pre- 
serve it, and make it victorious throughout the world. A 
beautiful, grand, sublime, but difficult task! Every contact 
with the outside world was a snare; every word exchanged 
with a person outside of its own pale contained a temptation; 
every friendly meeting, every meal taken with the outsider 
was profanation, because it was dedicated to his idols. Thus 
every closer association was a sin, a temptation offered by the 
outside world. And could it be avoided that many in Israel 
east eager looks at the brilliant pomp surrounding them 
everywhere? Of course, a living spirit was present in the 
whole people, not only in the individual, distinguished rep- 
resentatives who were the implements of shaping and firmly 
setting the new thoughts in corresponding expressions, it was 
present in the whole people, even if in lower and weaker 
degree. But would there not also be many who suffered 
themselves to be seduced by the material pomp, by the allur- 
ing prevalence of superior numbers? The entire history of 
Israel during the period of the first Temple, covering the very 
establishment of the faith, offers innumerable instances of 
apostacy, of energetic battling, which the truly enthusiastic, 
the great men, had to carry on against their wayward ones. 

The closer the seductive influence approached to Israel, 


the more.the danger increased that the worm of corruption 
might gnaw into the body of the sound trunk, so much the 
more had the glowing zeal of the better-minded to increase 
for keeping that danger at a distance; they were compelled 
to contend against the inroads of the corruption with all 
possible determination, with a fire of energy that would not 
only produce heat, but consume the evil itself. Considering 
that condition, should we then be surprised, if we find here 
and there a harsh, severe expression against other nations, 
that implacable opposition to them is preached and practiced? 
Should we marvel that in a contest wherein not a bit of 
territory or some other earthly territory is at stake, but 
wherein defense is made for an idea which the combatants 
reverence as their highest treasure; which raises them above 
the nations, which is destined to be spread over the whole 
earth by the people chosen for that purpose—should we marvel 
if the fire of devotion and enthusiasm burns in them in mighty 
flames and puts them into glowing heat, so that now and then 
they uttered sentiments which did not always express the 
purest benevolence, the most friendly consideration for those 
that wanted to rob them of their most valued treasure by 
their allurements? We fail altogether to transpose ourselves 
into that time and its conditions if we gauge, with the large- 
hearted idea of tolerance appropriate to an age of considerate 
mutual recognition and appreciation, a time in which two 
antagonistic convictions were engaged in a struggle of life 
and death; if we want to judge every harsh word with superior 
tenderness, if we talk of hostile nationality and national pride 
(which, by the way, make their appearance even nowadays 
for vastly less valuable possessions), while the stake was by 
no means something merely national, but was the protection 
of freedom of the mind and spirit and the safety of the very 
foundation of truth, as well as the neutralization of all de- 
structive influences. No, it must not appear strange if we 
meet many a severe expression, with many a harsh precept; 
on the contrary, it must ever be a proof of the mental and 
spiritual vigor with which the people were endowed, that in 
those struggles the conscious impulse for holding all mankind 

52 Jupatsm AND Its HIsToRY 

in its embrace and laboring for it has not disappeared out of 
Israel; that, notwithstanding that hostile attitude which 
could be but mutual, there always prevailed the word: that 
this religion came into existence for the benefit of the whole 
world, that the whole earth should be comprised within its 
fold. It affords a testimony of the profound spiritual life of 
Judaism, that the purity and clearness of that idea were never 
dimmed. We are uplifted indeed when, despite all outbursts 
of passion engendered by the heat of the conflict, we can again 
breathe the refreshing spiritual air as it flows from the words 
of the prophets: ‘‘Let not the son of the stranger that has 
joined himself to God speak, saying, ‘God has utterly sep- 
arated me from His people,’ neither let the eunuch (the 
eunuchs of the Persian court are here referred to) say, 
‘Behold, I am a dry tree.’ For this saith the Lord unto the 
eunuchs that keep my festivals, and choose the things that 
please me, and take hold of my covenant; even unto them I 
will give in my house and within my walls a place and a name 
better than of sons and of daughters, an everlasting name that 
shall not perish. And the sons of the stranger that join them- 
selves unto God to serve Him and to love His name, that 
keep the Sabbath from polluting it, and take hold of my 
covenant: even them I will bring to my holy mountain and 
make them joyful in my house of prayer, their burnt offerings 
and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for 
mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.” 
“Tt is not sufficient,” thus we read elsewhere, “‘that thou 
alone shouldst be my servant: I will also give thee for a 
light to the gentiles.””. And again we read: ‘And I will also 
take of them for priests and Levites.’”” All mankind is to be 
united in the one true service of God. 

It is mere nonsense to assert that Judaism teaches the 
doctrine of a national god, a god belonging exclusively to the 
one people. Such an assertion is even childish, made in the 
very face of the passages quoted and in plain contradiction 
of the oft-repeated vision of the future when God will be One 
and His name one. It is true that here and there an expres- 
sion can be found, apparently attributing some importance to 


idols, such as, ‘‘Greater is our Lord than all gods” and others 
like it. But how does the prophet so often characterize 
them? “One breath and there is nothing good in them.” 
And with what fine irony does he show how the gods are 
made, how the workmen work with their hammers and assist 
each other, how one portion of the material is used to prepare 
food with, while the other is employed to fashion a god from it! 
How can that refer to a national god? Yes, a God is spoken 
of who was first recognized among that people; nay, was first 
acknowledged by that nation alone, but who is the God of 
the whole world, the God whose throne is the heavens and 
His footstool is the earth? That surely is the God of the 
world, the God who fills all time and space, the God who | 
shall be acknowledged by all nations. We perceive here 
the traces of a struggle in which, of course, many expressions 
must occur that do not wholly and perfectly correspond to 
the spiritual idea, but lucid clearness is gradually developed. 
We behold ancient Jacob as he must wrestle in the darkness 
with a man, they are covered with dust, and he limps because 
the hollow of his thigh gets out of joint, but yet he prevails, 
prevails according to both the human and the divine idea, 
and becomes a blessing to all mankind. 

But Judaism was not intended simply to introduce a new 
idea concerning God into the world, but also to dignify and 
ennoble all human relations. The men who taught in ancient 
time, “The true foundation and the nerve of the Law, What- 
ever displeases thee, do not unto others, that is the essence 
and the root of the Law, all the rest is commentary which 
thou mayest learn at thy leisure,” or, “Thou shalt love thy 
neighbor as thyself, that is the great comprehensive principle 
of the Law,” or, ‘‘ This is the book of the generations of man, 
is still a greater principle, conveying the lesson to be a man 
and to recognize under all conditions, all men as equals and 
peers’—the men like Hillel, Akiba, and Ben Soma, who 
taught such lessons, are the props and pillars of Judaism, and 
we must well take to heart their words. Judaism, I repeat, 
did nor enter into this world to simply present to it a new idea 
of God, but to illumine and ennoble all human relations and 


to teach the proper recognition and estimate of man. But 
just with regard to the relation between man and man it is 
so much the more incidental that the idea must at first appear 
with limitations, must accommodate itself to existing con- 
ditions, if it is to have any success. An individual, if he 
stands separated from his fellow-men by his eminence, does 
not share their lives, takes no part in their endeavors, will be 
without influence and will labor without effect, however 
superior he may be; men may look up to him with reverence, 
but they will not be influenced by him. If a man wants his 
work to be effective, he must enter into the existing con- 
ditions; there must be mutual accommodation. Of course, 
on the point of the idea of God, there is no compromise, no 
accommodation possible; there can be no agreement between 
the Pure Spirit and Corporeality; where the fundamental 
principle is at stake, Judaism could not choose half-way 
measures, the opposition had to be contended against with 
unswerving determination. Not so, concerning the relations 
between men; there the idea may, even must, perform its 
work of education and transformation by the process of 
gradual solution until the hard shell crumbles and falls off. 

The nations of Antiquity believed that the state could 
hardly exist without slavery being firmly established within 
it as irrefutable right. A free citizen should do no labor, 
that was left to the slave; the slave was the property of his 
master, a chattel, a mere thing completely subject to the 
pleasure of his owner. Judaism enters with the idea that 
every man is called to labor: God places the first man into 
paradise, the Garden of Eden, but even there, to work it and 
keep it. Yet, man soon enters into more prosaic conditions 
and is told: ‘“‘in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” 
But all men are created in divine image, not the forefather of 
one nation or another one only, but the progenitor of all, and 
from him the whole human race has descended, endowed with 
equal rights. Of course, the complete abolition, the annihila- 
tion of slavery by Judaism, at its first entrance into the world, 
would have been in direct conflict with nature and the his- 
torical development of human relations; it would have proved 


an undertaking without the intended salutary results either 
for the people or for mankind who can be gradually educated 
but not transformed at one stroke. Hence, slavery was not 
entirely abolished, but it really existed only in name without 
its essential substance; the new wine which, poured into the 
old vessel, must burst itin time. Among the race, within the 
people itself, real slavery was out of the question; for the slave 
served only six years, or regained his freedom even sooner, 
when the year of jubilee arrived; he then returned to his 
former civil conditions, of fully equal standing and rights 
with his brethren. But the slavery of aliens, for that was 
tolerated—how were alien slaves treated? The smallest 
injury to the body of a slave, smiting out his tooth, was not 
regarded as a mere blemish caused by the owner in his prop- 
erty; no, the slave was free. And the killing of a slave was 
punished, even if done by the master. And what beautiful 
precept is this, removing the very sting of stings of slavery: 
“Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the slave that is 
escaped from him unto thee: he shall dwell with thee in thy 
cities which he may choose. Do not deceive him.” 

With those words a problem was solved thousands of 
years ago, which in our day left its bloody traces on a whole 
continent, and came near rending it in twain. And yet, the 
inhabitants of that country are professors of the dominant 
religion, some of whom cleave to that branch which claims to 
be the sole and only saving Church, and others cling to the 
form of tenacious puritanism, and both with the missionary 
fever of making converts. The fight had in its beginning 
nothing to do with the nature of slavery, whether or not it 
should be permitted to exist; one section had repudiated it 
for itself, but had hitherto found it altogether right to pre- 
serve it as a constitutional institution in the other. The 
whole question was mainly narrowed down to this: whether 
a sjave who had fled into the Free States must be delivered 
to his master, whether it was not theft to allow him to remain 
away from his master; whether, in that case, rights were not 
violated and the very idea of justice shaken. That question 
of a punctilious conscientiousness was settled by Judaism 

56 JUDAISM AND Its History 

three thousand years ago; and when Judaism shall have pre- 
vailed, when its spirit shall animate all men, when the spirit 
proceeding from it, undiluted and in full, shall have spread 
everywhere, then that question will be finally decided. 
Truth and real right, humanity and recognition of the human 
dignity of every individual will then, and only then, prevail 
over that sham-justice which boasts the more insolently, the 
shallower it is itself, 

The regard in which domestic life is held by a nation is of 
still higher moment. A dark shadow rests on the Greek 
nation, otherwise so finely gifted and beautifully developed, 
that the sanctity of matrimonial life comes so little to the 
front, that the unity of the family finds so little expression; 
the worth of woman according to her true character has not 
been properly appreciated in Hellenism. How different that 
is in Judaism! At the very beginning we find the idea 
expressed: A man leaveth his father and his mother, and 
cleaveth unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh—an essen- 
tial unity. The reverence due to parents, however diligently 
taught, however fervently cultivated, is secondary to that 
ardent attachment that should bind husband and wife 
together in domestic life. The wife shall follow her husband: 
“To thy husband is thy desire, though he rule over thee,” 
yet in full equality; he joins himself to his wife, they become 
one being, one house. 

And what noble pictures of woman we find throughout the 
Jewish literature! What noble relation within the families 
—simple, unpretending, yet great and _heart-refreshing! 
The wives of the patriarchs occupy almost the same position 
with their husbands. Later generations regard them both 
alike. And what a picture of life is presented to us when, for 
instance, we contemplate Rebekah as at first she appears in 
the unrestraint of maiden innocence, friendly and kind- 
hearted toward the stranger, readily complying with his 
request to give him water to drink, and caring even for his 
camels. She steps with him into the house of her folks, and 
behold! he has been sent hither by a highly respected kinsman 
from a distant land to ask for the daughter. Rebekah is 



asked; free choice is left to her—‘‘Wilt thou go with this 
man?” Her heart tells her that yonder is the place where 
she will attain full development and she replies, ‘‘I will go.”’ 
She starts upon her journey; without restraint she looks all 
around; all at once she observes the man to whom she is 
destined to be a companion for life and she asks, ‘What man 
is this that walketh in the field to meet us?’ The servant 
replies, ‘“‘It is the son of my master.” Maidenly blushes 
mantle her face, and she covers herself with a veil. ‘He 
brought her into his mother’s tent, and he loved her.”” Jacob 
takes his wife, Rachel, home; he had served for her seven 
years, ‘‘and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the 
love he had to her.’’? Farther on, we read the history of the 
great Liberator; his infancy is beset by great dangers. Moses 
was born when dark clouds hovered above Israel. They put 
him in an ark of bulrushes and lay it among the flags by the 
river’s brink; his sister Miriam cannot endure remaining at 
home; she hurries near to the place, to know what would be 
done to him. The king’s daughter comes down to wash her- 
self, she notices the ark, opens it and sees the child. The girl, 
generally timid and embarrassed, but courageous now when 
her brother’s life is in the balance, steps out and asks, ‘Shall 
I go and call thee a nurse of the Hebrew women?” We do 
not find it strange that Miriam who, while young, exhibited 
such devoted courage, appeared later as prophetess. And 
our ancient teachers say of her indeed: ‘‘Miriam was for 
Israel like a fresh fountain whence refreshing waters pour 
forth’’—she had glowing enthusiasm for truth, joined with 
the devotion of a woman’s heart. And again our ancient 
teachers say with profound insight: ‘Through the merits of 
their women, the Israelites were delivered from Egypt.” 
The men were given over to oppression, they were forced to 
hard labor. Who guarded their homes, who attended to the 
morals of their children, who watched over the domestic 
hearth, who held up the standard of purity and chastity? It 
was the mothers in Israel who attended to those matters, it 
was their work that Israel was made worthy of deliverance 
from the dangers that surrounded them. We proceed still 

58 JUDAISM AND Its History 

farther, we enter upon the period which appears to be a dim, 
confused age of heroes, the time of the Judges when the loose 
tie of the tribes was dissolving and their union was to all 
appearances breaking up. Now in one place, then in another, 
a Judge appeared, a light was started; and again a beautiful 
figure rises before us, Deborah the prophetess and Judge, a 
brave and courageous woman, an enthusiastic leader, and yet 
fully conscious of her womanhood. She does not want to go 
into battle, amazon-like, and says to Barak, ‘‘It will not be 
unto thy honor that thou shalt gain the victory through the 
hand of a woman.’’ But since he will not undertake to fight 
without her, she consents to go with him, and gains the 
victory; and afterwards she announcés it in a song, chastising 
and praising like a true prophetess of God. And later, after 
that period, when matters appear as settling down into more 
tranquil conditions, at the very threshold of this new epoch, 
we meet again with a woman who demands our reverence; it 
is Hannah, the mother of Samuel. With the yearning of a 
genuine woman who laments that children are denied her and 
fervently, from the very bottom of her heart, she prays to 
her God, “for I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit.’”” And 
Elkanah, her husband, comfortsher: ‘‘ Hannah, why weepest 
thou? Am I not better to thee than ten sons?” What pro- 
found affection those few words express! And Ruth—what 
a lovely picture! A Judean has emigrated into a foreign land 
where his two sons get them wives. The man dies, and both 
sons also pass away without leaving children. The mother, 
Naomi, is returning to her native country and the second 
daughter-in-law—the other one is too much a Moabite to go 
with her and turns back at the last moment—Ruth, goes with 
Naomi, saying, “‘Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return 
from following after thee: for whither thou goest I will go, 
and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my 
people, and thy God my God;” and she follows her as an 
obedient child, remains her daughter, lovingly cares for her 
and is her devoted companion—is she not worthy to be the 
ancestress of David? 

All that is told with childlike simplicity, without embellish- 


ing pomp, because it is part of the very nature of Israel, and 
it must come to the surface, although we often see it come in 
only as insignificant shading in the picture. Can you then 
wonder that among that people—a rare example in Antiquity 
—woman was not treated with disregard, can we wonder that 
the scanty remains of the literature of that people, the whole 
compendium of which is almost exclusively devoted to 
religious life and historical narrative, nevertheless contains a 
booklet which is designated as the Song of Love? Ata time 
when the pressure from without weighed them down, when 
not the consecration of the senses, but their suppression, when 
not the glorification of natural life, but its deadening, were 
regarded as piety, it was impossible to conceive that the little 
book, taken in its plain, natural meaning, was intended to 
extol a fine, pure love. Granted even that it contained also 
a so-called deeper meaning, this much is at all events certain: 
a picture must be true if it is to mirror a higher relation. 
However—as a recent ingenious scholar observes—when the 
poet was singing, the language had not yet died the agonizing 
death of its holiness; fresh, natural vitality coursed through 
it then, and the song that glorifies love flowed quick and alive 
from the poet’s heart. And as a consequence, we find in the 
booklet many a sensual embellishment. But with what 
depth is the higher, nobler nature of love depicted, what 
fervor do even these few lines express: “I sleep, but my 
heart is awake.’’ A world of feeling is shown, and we may 
well say without further commenting on its contents, that 
whoever reads the little book with a pure mind will find that 
profound emotions are described in it in noble expression. 
It is but natural that a later poet also indulges in the con- 
sideration of the virtuous woman, and the conclusion of his 
proverbs and lessons of wisdom is devoted to her glorification. 
“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above 
pearls.” ‘‘Who can find her?’ does not mean that she is 
rare; no, he describes her in full, and he that has found her 
has obtained a precious treasure. And he concludes with, 
“Her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also, 
and he praiseth her. Favor is deceitful and beauty evanes- 

60 JUDAISM AND Its History 

cent, but a God-fearing woman, she shall be praised.” Only 
the subtle, melancholy Ecclesiastes who can find hardly one 
tolerable man among thousands, can not find in a thousand 
women one that is not treacherous and cunning. But that 
is not the general view running through the literature of 
Judaism, and if isolated Oriental opinion mingles in, the pure 
estimation of woman, the moral eminence of matrimonial life, 
remain the fundamental principle. 

Judaism teaches the marriage of one wife to one man, 
monogamy. Although exceptions are now and then met 
with, they are simply exceptions which are explained by the 
fact that the tendency could not at once take full effect by 
formulating a law at a time when the opposite practice ruled 
among the nations all around; but monogamy alone is in 
agreement with the fundamental principle of Judaism, and 
with thorough union of husband and wife. It is therefore 
but natural that in later times, when external influences 
became different, a teacher appeared in Europe who put the 
ban on every one that should violate the natural law of 
Judaism. And even in such countries where polygamy is the 
rule, Judaism had repudiated it, and though not prohibited 
there by a distinct law, practice, which is always the living 
spirit in Judaism, had ruled it out long ago, even if legally 
permissible. By such fruits Judaism is known, and a noble 
family life has at all times been cultivated in Israel. Of 
course, courts of love, love’s tournaments, and playing at love, 
were unknown to Judaism, just as it was unable to fathom 
the mystery of unconscious virginity coupled with the feelings 
ofa mother. Healthful and energetic, pure and fresh was the 
clear fountain flowing forth from their homes over all their 
relations in life; pure domestic life has at all times kept Israel 
fresh and vigorous. Having supported them during the days 
of oppression, it will not disappear from among them in better 
times, and the exclamation of Balaam at the sight of Israel] 
encamped according to its tribes will ever remain true- 

“How beautiful are thy tents, O Jacob, thy habitations, O 


Sacrificial Service and Priesthood. 
Divided Nationality. 

The conception of Deity by a nation is also the gauge for 
its views of morality, and vice versa. The higher or lower 
moral culture of a people is an infallible index of its more or 
less enlightened religious convictions. As the savage indi- 
vidual, so also does an uncivilized people, living in a state of 
nature, respect and honor superior force only. The power 
which it exercises over others or which others can enforce 
against it, affords the measure of the estimation with which 
it claims, or in which it holds others. Neither justice nor 
moral worth nor purity of moral sentiment is of any value in 
its eye, but pre-eminently and essentially, brute force, worldly 
power. A man without education and culture, just as an 
uncivilized people, bows before his superior who can make 
him or it feel his power; and on the other hand, they are rude 
and tyrannical towards their inferiors. A people which as 
yet has but a religious instinct and has not yet worked its 
way towards a clear conception of religion, which is not yet 
permeated by a higher idea, recognizes in God at first a 
mighty being and fears the power that shows the ability to 
crush it. It bows before that power just as it bows before a 
man of superior force, but on the other hand, its treatment 
of others whom it regards as its subordinates shows what low 
position it occupies with regard to morality. Therefore, the 
very views concerning slavery and the treatment of the 
weaker sex, is a true gauge for the high or low plane of their 
religious ideas. Judaism—as we have shown by the pre- 
ceding considerations—establishes itself as a religion that 
adores God as the Holy One, as the ideal of moral purity, by 
the fact that it invariably emphasizes moral worth also in its 

62 JUDAISM AND Its History 

human relations, that it does not recognize the mightier ones 
as possessing exclusive rights, but grants them power only so 
far as they are justly entitled thereto. Justice, the pure, 
moral relation between man and man, is its highest con- 
sideration, the gauge wherewith to measure the conditions. 
That difference in the plane of culture occupied by various 
nations must eminently manifest itself in their divine worship, 
in the manner in which God is approached it is bound to 
show, whether men have a presentiment of God only as a 
higher power, whether they tremble before Him and seek to 
conciliate Him, or whether they worship Him as the Holy 
One, look up to Him as the pattern of highest morality, the 
purest expression of mercy and benevolence. Wherever, 
above all, only the power of God is recognized, the tendency 
predominates of courting His favor, men will bow before Him 
that He may not pour His wrath upon them; they will try by 
some act or other to win His good graces, to procure His kind 
consideration, to ward off His displeasure by offering to Him 
gifts and undergoing privations. That is the origin of 
sacrificial worship. Sacrifice expresses the endeavor to win 
favor or soften the possible wrath of God, or at least to show 
Him in what deep subjection one is to Him, by offering to 
Him and depriving oneself of something, be it even the 
dearest object, if it may be pleasing in His sight. The 
crudest manifestation of such a feeling exhibited at the lowest 
stage of religious life is human sacrifice, especially the sacrifice 
of those nearest and dearest to us. Rude heathenism sacri- 
ficed its children to the gods. The dearest and most priceless 
treasure—that is the meaning of such sacrifice—I offer unto 
my God, and He will be pleased therewith because I do not 
hesitate to deaden every feeling and emotion within me and 
to give up to His pleasure the dearest treasure I possess. 
That lowest religious sentiment is a complete misconception 
of the Divine Being, that He is to be conciliated by slavish 
self-degradation and self-imposed cruelty; it is fear of the 
cruel and arbitrary element as Deity, and cruelty and arbi_ 
trariness in man is nurtured by it. That was the religion alj 
around Israel, the worship of God or gods among those nations 


that now and then ruled over Israel and were at all times in 
such close contact with Israel, that the sentiment necessarily 
became known to the people and here and there had its 
influence. The worship of Moloch is well known to have been 
one that demanded human sacrifices; to burn one’s own 
children was the terrible sacrificial service designated as the 
worship of God. 

Judaism carried on an energetic war against that degrada- 
tion of the Divine Being; for that kind of sacrificial service, 
it knows no mercy. It is true, traces of it are imprinted also 
in its history; it influenced weak minds that believed to 
perceive in the self-suppression of the tenderest emotions an 
act of devotion to God; but with what indignation do the 
prophets inveigh against that eruption of the most brutal 
heathenism! At its very threshold, Judaism makes the 
individual patriarch go through that struggle in his mind and 
gaina glorious victory. “Elohim tempted Abraham.” Various 
names of God are used in Holy Writ, and our ancient teachers 
give us an ingenious explanation: “Elohim” represents 
God as the Mighty One, the Rigorous One, which attribute is 
also reverenced in God, as the other nations likewise recognize 
him in some manner, but the other name, “He is’—the 
Ineffable, as we have become acquainted with it—the Eter- 
nally Existent, underlying all earthly and spiritual existence, 
“the God of the spirits for all flesh,” is the God of mercy, of 
benevolence, of ardent love and kindness toward man. 
Elohim tempted Abraham. The old conception of God, as it 
then predominated, was uppermost also in the mind of 
Abraham, the recognition of that Divine Power has posses- 
sion of him to such a degree that he wants to show himself as 
its obedient servant. ‘‘Offer thine only son, whom thou 
lovest!’? What greater treasure hast thou acquired, where- 
with canst thou better manifest thy submissiveness? He is 
ready for the sacrifice, everything is prepared for its consum- 
mation; then a messenger of the God “He is” calls from 
heaven: ‘Lay not thy hand upon the lad!’ The higher 
knowledge of God awakens in him: God is mighty, but is 
He not also all-kind? God is all-powerful, but is that power 

64 JUDAISM AND Its History 

a tyrannical one? Does it demand of man that he should 
not ennoble his feelings, but that, on the contrary, he should 
deaden them? Is it worship of God to mutilate myself, or to 
mutilate or immolate the only child I call my own? No, 
“Lay not thy hand upon the lad’’—that is the true worship 
of the All-merciful one, and Abraham did not sacrifice his 
child. Not his readiness to offer that sacrifice constitutes the 
true piety of Abraham, but his omission of it; not the will of 
offering his son, but the deed of preserving him; not that he 
shows blind submission to the Divine Power by tearing his 
child from his heart, but that he recognizes God in His sublime 
and true nature, constitutes his true, enlightened piety. 
Therefore it is not proper to always point to Abraham’s 
willingness to offer his son as an act of extreme piety—he was 
and is an example of piety because he omitted that sacrifice. 

Thus we find at the very outset the picture of that struggle, 
together with the victory of pure moral conviction, and that 
victory runs through the whole of Judaism. The service of 
Moloch is detested as an abomination which God abhors, 
which deeply degrades men; and whenever a horrible place is 
to be mentioned, the Valley of Hinnom is named, the location 
where sacrifices were offered to Moloch. ‘‘Ge Hinnom,” the 
Valley of Hinnom, Gehinnom, Gehenna, later became the 
designation of the place where all evil is concentrated, where 
the severest punishment is dealt out, where damnation dwells; 
in one word, it became the name for hell. Human sacrifice 
was thus most energetically contended against in Judaism ; 
no compromise was possible on that point. 

But animal sacrifice is no less the expression of a low 
religious sentiment. Animal sacrifice, too, has for its object 
the winning of favor by giving up some property withous: 
tending to moral reform and furthering moral ennoblement_ 
Nor did animal sacrifice spring from the soil of Judaism, jz 
was tolerated, and only tolerated; it was continually inveigheq 
against by Israel’s best and noblest men, the prophets, who 
point out its low degree in the most emphatic terms. The 
prophet Micah says: ‘‘Wherewith shall I come before Gog, 
bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Hin, 


with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord 
be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of 
rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, 
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed 
thee, O man, what is good, and what doth God require of 
thee but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly 
with thy God?” That is the manifesto of prophetism against 
sacrifice, and that manifesto is often repeated, is authenticated 
everywhere in the same manner, though differently worded. 
“*To what purpose,’ saith the Lord, ‘is the multitude of your 
sacrifices unto me, I am full of the burnt offerings of rams and 
the fat of fed beasts, I delight not in the blood of bullocks 
or of lambs or of he-goats’.’’ ‘‘Wilt thou offer sacrifices unto 
me,’’ says the psalmist, ‘‘am I hungry? If I were hungry, need 
I tell thee? Is not the cattle upon a thousand hills mine?’’ 
Away with sacrifice!—And Jeremiah pronounces with dry 
soberness and really with almost surprising directness: ‘I 
spake not unto your fathers, saith the Lord, nor commanded 
them when I brought them out of the land of Egypt concern- 
ing burnt offerings or sacrifices.’”’ More clearly and emphatic- 
ally, it cannot be expressed. Yet, the institution of sacrifi- 
cial service was so deeply rooted in the universal conviction, 
was to such an extent the expression corresponding to the 
natural religious promptings, that it made its way also into 
Israel. And as everything corporeal occupies space, whereas 
the spiritual, being in mind and heart, is not visible in space, 
the regulations and laws concerning sacrifices may, of course, 
occupy a very great space; but nevertheless it is but the 
expression of something tolerated. And if you desire another 
strong proof of that, examine the Repetition of the Law, in 
Deuteronomy, and notice how the provisions concerning sac- 
rifices have dwindled down, are merely indicated as something 
customary, but are not elaborated with the extensiveness 
which such an important branch of divine worship, if it were 
a direct command, could properly claim. Sacrifice was a 
tolerated institution in Judaism, and speedily it vanished 
away. During the period of the Second Temple, numerous 
Houses of Prayer arose as a victorious power, rivals of the 


Temple at Jerusalem, where sacrifice was still retained and 
which as a symbol of unity of the Commonwealth, preserved 
its significance while those Houses of Worship actually rose 
above that Temple in spiritual importance. And when the 
latter was destroyed, sacrificial service also was buried 
beneath its ruins. We have before emphasized the idea that 
whatever is truly fundamental in a religion can not be sepa- 
rated from it, however unpropitious the circumstances sur- 
rounding it may be: the very spirit contends against the 
separation, and seeks the preservation of the matter; if it can 
not be preserved in the old form, transformation is resorted 
to. It is as though the whole foundation were injured; 
hence this dilemma presents itself: either complete dissolution 
or preservation with proper natural expression. When pagan- 
ism perished in its forms, its very spiritual foundation fell 
with it. If the sacrificial idea had been a necessary element in 
Judaism, sacrificial service would certainly have outlived the 
destruction of the Temple, and attempts were made to con- 
tinueit. But the very idea had become completely exhausted. 
Sacrifice had lost its hold upon the hearts and minds of the 
people; it was an inherited custom, an institution upon which 
some political offices were based, upon which the authority 
of so many leaders and their employees rested, and which, 
therefore, could not have been overthrown all at once. Butas 
soon as the storm burst upon the Commonwealth, the disrooted 
tree became a sport for the winds, and sacrifice is vanished 
from Israel, and will forever remain vanished. Every estab- 
lishment of religion on the basis of sacrificial worship, of a sac- 
rifice that was offered once upon a time, be it animal, human, 
or even divine, every longing, retrospective glance at the 
ancient sacrifices as being manifestation of a fuller and loftier 
life, every assertion that sacrificial service had vanished for the 
present and must therefore be represented by a certain prayer 
—every such acknowledgment attributing spirituality to sac- 
rifice is a relapse into heathenism. Together with the animal 
which is offered up as a sacrifice unto God, the loftier relig- 
ious knowledge is immolated; from the ashes, with the smoke 
of the sacrificial animal curling towards heaven, rises an idol. 


Sacrificial worship, wherever it is practiced, requires also 
an especial method of operation. It demands special em- 
ployees for its management; there must be specially designated 
persons who understand how to offer the sacrifices, who are 
consecrated in order to be better prepared to appear before 
their gods, or God. The worship of God through sacrifice is 
the mother of Priesthood; priests are necessary as officers to 
conciliate the gods, to approach them in an appropriate 
manner. Priesthood in its connection with sacrifice, is not a 
straight growth out of the native soil of Judaism. Even at the 
outset, before the Ten Commandments had been proclaimed, 
God commanded Moses to tell the people, ‘‘ Ye shall be unto 
me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the 
words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.’ 
All shall be priests! In the religion of Judaism there is no 
need for mediation by particular persons, every one shall be 
his own priest, his own mediator between himself and God. 
Priesthood was merely tolerated in Judaism, and again a con- 
tinued war against it runs through the whole history. Tales 
of the discontent against their priesthood, both in the first 
time of its establishment, and at later periods, are not isolated 
instances, they are a characteristic element of the national 
life of the Jews. On the one hand, the want of it exists; the 
people have not yet passed beyond the stage of sacrificial 
worship, hence there must be priests; but since they have to 
be on hand, they must exhibit special purity, must not be 
priests of idols, but priests of the True God, so that they might 
be leaders to the people in purity of morals and in honest 
endeavor of self-improvement. But, after all, every insti- 
tution which arises from a mere yielding to human weakness, car- 
ries along with it the defects of its low origin. The priests did not 
come up to that standard during the first period of Judaism. 
The prophets continually contended against the priests. 
“The priests that despise my name.” “Both priests and 
people, all are alike full of sin.” They are inveighed against 
for the selfish motives that they joined and carried out along 
with their prominent office. Thus, then, priesthood is a 
tolerated institution, not an integral part of Judaism. When 


idolatry was subdued by means of the one Temple, and those 
of the priestly estate who belonged to that Temple gained 
greater respect thereby, priesthood was highly honored for a 
time, so that after the return from the Babylonish captivity 
the descendants of those priests became also rulers. But 
they preserved their authority only for a brief period; even 
then, during the time of the second Temple, they did not 
come up to the expectations entertained of them. Therefore 
again a struggle was carried on against them with all energy, 
and again we read in one of the later books: ‘‘God hath 
given unto all the inheritance, the priesthood, and sanctifica- 
tion.’’ Equality for all! And again, all the earlier writings 
of that second period state that the priests had not proven 
true, that they were selfish, poor in religious knowledge. As 
during the existence of the first Temple alongside of the 
priests of lower degree, there had arisen the great men of 
God, the prophets, men who performed no priestly function, 
who were no descendants of the priestly caste, so we find 
during the period of the second Temple, alongside of the 
priests, the teachers, the men of the law and of knowledge, 
men who rose from the humblest classes of the people, but 
were permeated by the spirit of God. 

Priesthood, too, fell with the Temple, and though isolated 
fragments of the disintegrated structure remain, although cer- 
tain arrangements connected therewith still continue a feeble 
existence, they are nothing but fragments which may retain 
a significance as reminiscences of Antiquity, but they are not 
in line or touch with the essence of Judaism, or true Jewish 

Thus the world-reforming Idea of Judaism manifests 
itself. I have essayed in a few outlines, to present to you its 
innate power, its substance as well as several of its important 
practical manifestations. The world-reforming and world- 
moving Idea of Judaism naturally required for its practical 
introduction a ready host bearing its arms; it required a 
numerous, united multitude raising high the banner of their 
idea, ready for victory or death. A compact nationality, a 
thoroughly united community was necessary, if the Idea 


would claim recognition as a legitimate power. Right here 
enters the conflict manifested in all phenomena of history. 
The idea is comprehensive, but it requires its standard- 
bearers, and those must be compactly organized, lest they be 
scattered. The Idea of Judaism is a world-comprising one, but 
it required an individual nation for its first introduction into 
the world. That thereby contradictions arose, that universal 
humanity and nationality came into conflict with each other, 
we have already endeavored to show in several instances. 
But another thought suggests itself in that connection. 
It is the lot of all culture-historic nations which have exercised 
a profound influence upon the whole world, that with all their 
spiritually powerful unity, they are not able to attain to a 
perfect political unity. A nation that has not such a brilliant 
mission to fulfill, unites more closely and easily for the per- 
formance of the task allotted to it. Every nation consists of 
various tribes, but the more cultured, powerful one rises above 
the rest and gathers them under its sway, and unity results. 
But nations permeated by a more profound spirit, borne by a 
mightier idea can not so easily arrive at unity. Look at the 
Greek people! The Doric, the Ionian, the Attic, the Lacede- 
monian tribes—all of the Greek type and character, in all of 
them the power of the Greek spirit crops out—but that spirit 
was too vast not to be formed in different expressions; each 
tribe had its own clear-cut peculiarity, and none of those 
peculiarities would suffer itself to be effaced by the other ones. 
The Greek people did not attain a political unity; each tribe 
would preserve its own distinctiveness. Of course, a unity of 
spirit did exist among them; and that spiritual unity was 
indeed powerful enough to resist hostile assaults. History 
does not record how Persian diplomats might have regarded 
the small nation with silent contempt, and many a statesman 
may have expressed the opinion that Hellas was but a geo- 
graphical term comprising but individual tribes which could 
be easily subdued. But the powerful Persian Empire stumbled 
against that geographical term and had a great fall that 
came near breaking it, and we would hardly know anything 
of the Persians and their mighty empire if the same Hellas 

70 JupaIsM AND Its History 

and despised and enslaved Judea had not furnished us with 
information about them. The unity of the Greek people was 
strong, the national consciousness was its living tie and 
bond, yet they never attained to a really compacted political 
united state. Only when its vital energy flagged and its 
peculiarity began to vanish, a ruder tribe, the Macedonian, 
came to the surface, forced them together into a unit, and 
spread the shallow remnants of Grecian culture all over the 
world—but it was no longer true Greek genius, genuine 
Hellenism. Yet, for all that, Hellenism has not perished, it 
revived repeatedly to refresh the world; its spirit did not die, 
although the nation itself perished and had never presented a 
real political unity. In the same manner, although not to 
the same extent, the Italian states of the Middle Ages appear 
in history. They were states small in territory, but great in 
their characteristic peculiarities which are so sharply marked 
and so deeply graven into the culture and historic develop- 
ment of their people that each was determined to preserve its 
own type, and thus a union into one state was not possible. 
Whether Piedmont is destined to become the Italian Mace- 
donian, the future will show. Does Germany present the 
same picture? Does she, too, occupy a culture-historic posi- 
tion in history? And is each one of her races for that reason 
intent upon preserving its independence so that they may 
never attain to that unity which they crave with their whole 
heart? Is the German nation destined not to become a greater 
state but a great mental factor in mankind? Well, it is not 
the worst destiny that may be allotted to a people, though it 
is painful and sadly grievous to the patriot who desires not its 
mental and spiritual importance only, but also its full direc- 
tive power. 

Be that as it may, Israel was such a people. Israel too, 
had an Idea which went beyond its national existence, and for 
that very reason, that idea assumed different forms of expres- 
sion in the several tribes, so that a thorough unity of their 
political life could not be arrived at. The ancient history of 
the Jewish people has reached us in very fragmentary form, 
conceived and rendered by its writers from their several and 


individual points of view only; a great part presented by its 
conception by that tribe which, in the end, remained the 
victor; namely, the tribe of Judah. Furthermore, that 
history is always written from the point of view as to whether 
the people were sinful or not, as to whether the kings were 
devout or remiss. Besides, there are, in the history of a 
state or nation many other factors; and although the working 
out of the true conception of God was its proper task, there 
was also a more general history of the Jewish state which has 
come down to us in fragments only, and we have to guess at 
it together again by ourselves. The people lived in tribes, that 
the whole history shows; each individual tribe remained rather 
independent for a long time; the tribes joined themselves 
together into several unions. Of that grouping, we have 
various information: a grouping into four divisions repre- 
sented by descent from four mothers, which indicated a 
certain dividing line between the tribes, and marked each 
division as belonging together by itself. Besides that divi- 
sion, we find another grouping of the tribes as they were 
camped in the desert, three invariably march under the 
banner of one chief tribe, but upon that arrangement into 
four parts we are also informed very little. On the other 
hand, another division is exhibited as decisive from the 
earliest time. I say, from the earliest time, for it is a very 
significant remark made by our ancient teachers: “The his- 
tory of our patriarchs, the first founders of Israel, is of great 
significance for the history of later times.” The traits which 
determine the history of the later time, are pointed out. 
Now, from the very beginning, Reuben, Ephraim, and Judah, 
are presented as the chief tribes. 

Reuben, the first-born, who has the legal claim of pri- 
mogeniture which is not acknowledged, is the first tribe to 
settle down, to acquire territory, and thus to gain importance 
beyond the other tribes, yet fails to get their confidence. 
Reuben claims leadership, he seeks—so it is told of the 
patriarch Reuben, and it forms the characteristics of the tribe 
—to take possession of his father’s concubine and thereby to 
acquire dominion. With rare exceptions in the most ancient 


times, we find among the Jews concubines only with kings; 
whoever took possession of them indicated thereby that he 
claimed the dominion. Therefore the prophet Nathan in his 
sermon to David on account of his misdoings with Bathsheba 
said that he should have been satisfied that God had given 
him the wives of his former master, Saul. When Absalom 
sought to usurp the dominion of his father David, his cunning 
counsellor Ahitophel saith to him: ‘‘Go in unto thy father’s 
concubines which he hath left to keep the house, and all 
Israel shall hear that thou hast broken with thy father; then 
shall the hands of all that are with thee, be strong.’’ Another 
rebellion threatened David by the Benjaminite Sheba, the 
son of Bichri whom all Israel joined, with the exception of 
Judah. Then David “took the ten women, his concubines, 
whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, 
and fed them, but went not in to them, and they were shut up 
unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.” The 
reason for that proceeding is not that he abhorred intercourse 
with the women that had been violated by Absalom, but 
rather because he wanted to protect them against another 
attack, and himself against the usurpation of another pre- 
tender, and thus, while his throne was tottering, he volun- 
tarily resigned his royal prerogative. When Adonijah, who 
had also unsuccessfully sought to usurp the reign during the 
life-time of David, received after the king’s death, permission 
to remain in the country, he goes to Bathsheba, the mother 
of Solomon, and tells her: ‘‘Speak, I pray thee, to Solomon, 
the king, that he give me Abishag, the Shunamite’—who 
attended David in his last years—“‘to wife.’’ Which appears 
to her a harmless request, and Bathsheba innocently conveys 
that request of Adonijah to Solomon, but Solomon takes 
offense and says: ‘‘Ask for him the kingdom also.” To the 
writer of the Books of Kings, the connection between the 
request for Abishag as the concubine of David, and an attempt 
at usurpation of the crown, is something very serious, and to 
justify Solomon’s suspicion, he has the tale of Abishag’s 
reception by David, and Adonijah’s rebellion during David’s 
lifetime quite close together, as if to illustrate that second 


attempt. You see that the intercourse with the concubines 
of the father and ruler involved also a claim to the acquisition 
of dominion; and thus the pretension of the tribe is mirrored 
in the proceeding of its progenitor Reuben. Reubenites, 
Dathan and Abiram, revolted against Moses; the whole of 
them appear almost as seceders, and the other tribes of Israel 
do not trust them. When a national war was being fought, 
the prophetess Deborah exclaims: “Reuben, why bodest 
thou among the sheep-folds? to hear the bleatings of the 
flocks? for as to the divisions of Reuben there were serious 
doubts.”” Thus Reuben is pushed into the background, is 
blamed, though he has his claims which, however, find no 
favor. He wants to save Joseph, but he is not listened to; he 
is ready to offer himself as hostage for Benjamin, but receives 
ne answer; he afterwards complains that he had not been 
obeyed, but no attention is paid to his complaint. When 
Jacob blesses his sons before his death, he says: ‘Reuben, 
thou art my first-born, my might, and the beginning of my 
strength, destined for the excellency of dignity and the excel- 
lency of power; but unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.” 
Moses says in his blessing: ‘‘Let Reuben live, and not die, 
although his men be few”—and nothing more. The tribe of 
Reuben was the first to disappear. Even before the other 
tribes were carried into exile, his land was conquered and the 
inhabitants carried into captivity. That is one tribe that 
aspired to prominence, but could not obtain it for any length 
of time. 

Another tribe, more powerful, is that of Ephraim. The 
history of Ephraim from his earliest time, or rather, that of 
Joseph, his father, is overcast with real charms; it is a pro- 
totype of the later time, of the history of the tribe itself. 
Joseph is also a first-born son—he is the first-born son of the 
beloved wife, of that wife who was the wife of Jacob, whom 
he had beheld first, for whom he had served, whom he loved, 
and whom he bore in his heart as long as he lived. Joseph 
himself, a lovely, beautiful youth, how noble is his conduct 
everywhere! Dreaming, he peers into the future, but just 
therein appears the aspiring disposition, a profound pre- 


sentiment of his future importance and greatness, and not 
only that he is great and becomes great in authority, but he 
is also great morally. His purity is proven by his resisting 
all temptations, he remains guileless and cheerful by the 
innocence of his heart amidst the heaviest trials. But he 
removes to a strange land; his greatness is exhibited in exten- 
‘sion of power outside, rather than within. Such are the 
indications about the tribe of Ephraim. We do not know 
enough about him to demonstrate his importance fully; the 
accounts have all a Judean coloring, have reached us through 
Judean channels, and yet his prominent position shines 
through them everywhere. Out of Ephraim is he that first 
enters Canaan: Joshua is an Ephraimite, and he is the 
successor of Moses. Ephraim is the first to establish the 
power of Israel. The first prophets arose in Ephraim and 
proclaimed the noble, high-minded spirit reigning there. Of 
course, it has the temptation and impulse to become a great 
power; it is not satisfied with occupying an important posi- 
tion within Israel, and often attempts conquests. The chief 
power in Israel wants to be a Great Power in Asia, and yet 
fails to attain its purpose of ruling all Israel. 

By the side of Ephraim we meet Judah. Judah, gloomier, 
less attractive, is in his whole appearance more self-contained 
and secluded, more austere, and through that austerity, more 
tenacious and impelled to develop the idea farther. Judah 
saves Joseph from death; Judah offers himself as surety for 
Benjamin, when Joseph wants to detain him. Out of Judah 
is one of the messengers, Caleb, the son of Jephuneh, who is 
also full of enthusiasm for the conquest of Canaan, and 
rejects the hesitancy of the other tribes as unworthy. Judah 
preserves his tribal independence and, for a short time, 
attains dominion over all Israel. That dominion was cer- 
tainly not an absolute one, the independence of the tribes 
was surely distinct enough, so that also David’s and Solomon’s 
time does not show a really consolidated monarchy, although 
Judah’s hegemony was fully, even if unwillingly, acknowl- 
edged. A story which is really more of a parable, signifi- 
cantly discloses the very ideal of the popular movement: 


David was dead, and Solomon succeeded him; he was a wise 
king, and of his wisdom one instance is related, which at the 
same time reveals the principal issue of that time. Two 
women appeared before him, one with a living child, the other 
with a dead one, but each one asserted that the living child 
belonged to her and must be adjudged to her. Then Solomon 
said: ‘‘Bring me a sword and divide the living child in two, 
and give half of the child to each.”” One of the women was 
satisfied with the division, but the other exclaimed: ‘‘Let 
the child live, give her the living child, and in no wise slay 
it.’ Then Solomon decided: ‘‘She is the true mother of the 
child’””—she would rather give him up than see his life put in 
jeopardy. A beautiful thought, of genuine sagacity. But it 
is more than that, it is a complete designation of the tribal 
condition at that time. Division of the realm was the issue, 
and the animosity which one tribe nursed against the other 
appeared when the strong arm of Solomon was palsied in 
death. The kingdom was divided; the desire of each indi- 
vidual tribe to assume the supremacy could no longer be 
repressed. ‘‘Mine is the living child; mine is the whole 
people!’ was the cry of either tribe, and division followed. 
The division surely displeased the true patriots, yet neither 
one of the rivals could bring himself to the point of saying: 
“ Give him the whole kingdom, but do not divide it!’ Solo- 
mon’s word may have flashed as an admonition, but it failed 
to kindle in their hearts the proper enthusiasm; the division 
of the kingdom was consummated, and mutual animosity 
between Judah and Ephraim ensued; Ephraim was the Great 
Power, Judah a small state of second or third rank. 

Do you want to listen to a significant expression of that 
condition? There was a king in Judah, Amaziah, a valiant, 
gallant man, who had humbled and chastised many a neigh- 
boring ruler. Encouraged by these victories, he sent word to 
Jehoash, the king of Israel at that time, saying: ‘‘Come, 
let us look one another in the face!’’ And Jehoash, the king 
of Israel, sent to Amaziah, the king of Judah, saying: “The 
thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in 
Lebanon, saying, ‘Give thy daughter to my son to wife,’ and 

76 JUDAISM AND Its History 

there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trod 
down the thistle.” You can easily hear in that speech the 
’ overbearing manner of a Great Power towards a smaller 
state. Ephraim treated Judah as such, and it came so far 
that Ephraim allied himself with foreign nations to humble 
Judah. Pekah entered into an alliance with Syria against 
Judah, and through such measures Ephraim, the kingdom of 
Israel, sealed its own destruction; thinking it had grown 
beyond the Israelite Idea, it aspired to be an Asiatic Great 
Power, and to achieve that project, it believed itself at 
liberty to betray the true interests of Israel, its spiritual life 
and ideal, under the pretense of serving larger and more 
general interests. Buta greater power, Assyria, came in and 
crushed Israel. Judah maintained its ground on the battle- 
field, the Assyrian Power was compelled to retreat, preserved 
its political existence for some time thereafter, and during the 
short time allotted to it, the great men arose who gave vigor 
to the ideal of the people. Judah knew how to preserve its 
more austere unity within, and that manifested itself in the 
unity of divine service at Jerusalem as well as in all its relig- 
ious institutions. Judah developed that spirit to an imperish- 
able, intrinsic strength. It had also to submit to the force of 
arms and was swallowed by the Babylonian Empire, but not 
consumed. Its political existence perished, but the mental 
and spiritual life was preserved, despite the exile; Judah was 
compelled to emigrate, but it was only an emigration of 
citizens, the fellow-members of the faith continued their 
connection and union. The ten tribes had disappeared; a 
part of them mingled and blended with the population of 
other nations, the other part went over and joined the people 
of the Kingdom of Judah which continued longer and remained 
the standard-bearer of the spiritual life, and from that is 
derived the name that is now borne by the religion that for 
thousands of years has victoriously maintained itself in the 
world’s arena. 


Exile and Return, Tradition. 

Let us for a few moments more dwell upon the considera- 
tion of the various political groups which in their time cor- 
responded to the religious tendencies in the process of develop- 
ment in Israel. We observed that the tribe of Reuben was 
the first that changed its nomadic life into a permanent 
settlement. It was the first that had become the element in 
Israel which led to the organization of a state, to the estab- 
lishment of a nation, but in later times it was pushed to the 
rear and did not receive the consideration which its pioneer 
establishment of nationality perhaps deserved. Nor is there 
any doubt as to its having been laggard in religious develop- 
ment. It is true that the foundation of the doctrine of 
revelation was laid on the other side of the Jordan in the 
territory which belonged to the tribe of Reuben and those 
that were allied with it. Moses never passed beyond that 
territory, he remained within it and he died there; there 
revelation had its first habitation and was first entrenched 
and elaborated according to the varying conditions of life but 
yet it evidently remained in a stage of arrested development, 
immature, and passed by higher evolution, it finally sank into 
oblivion. At a very early date, we learn that Reuben and 
those tribes that followed its leadership built an altar unto 
the One Living God, and that such proceedings had excited 
suspicion, as they had manifested idolatrous intentions, so 
that the other tribes came near making war upon them. 
Reuben went down, unsung and unremembered, and its land 
came into possession of Ammon, Moab, and Edom, nations 
which are described as especially hostile to Judaism. There 
is no trace of a continued existence within that territory of a 
spiritual life such as had come down through the remaining 
tribes. Ata very late period, the land was again annexed by 


conquest as belonging geographically to Judea, and then no 
difference appeared, because Judaism, spreading far and wide, 
penetrated there, too. The ancient religious condition of the 
territory had completely passed out of existence. 

Next, it was the tribe of Ephraim that came to the front, 
both by political power and by spiritual eminence and ennoble- 
ment. In Ephraim, distinguished alike by intellectual 
qualities and noble, refined manners, the prophets arose, the 
men who bore within themselves the full, pure knowledge of 
God, who proclaimed the Doctrine according to its profound 
conception and full development. ’Tis true, it did not grow 
within the entire people to its full, vigorous vitality, and 
Ephraim is also laid low; its political life, and with that, the 
soil for further religious development disappears, but yet it 
does not waste away altogether. The kingdom of Israel 
was destroyed by Assyria, and its inhabitants were car- 
ried into captivity; however—as in Antiquity generally, 
only partial expatriation but not total extermination of 
nations took place—a portion of its people remained in their 
native country. That part was increased by settlers sent into 
the country by the conqueror, with the view of saving the 
territory from desolation. And here the power of intellectual 
culture proved its superiority; the conquerors had to yield 
spiritually to the conquered. As in later times, savage hordes 
destroyed the Roman Empire and, as victors, crushed the 
ancient nationality, but had to yield to its higher culture, 
were civilized by it and thus transformed into a humanizing 
element of the world, so it happened also in the conquered 
land of the ancient Kingdom of Israel. The settlers who 
were sent to share the land with the remainder of its native 
inhabitants, themselves gradually changed into Israelites, or 
rather, Ephraimites. They called themselves Shomronim, 
Samaritans, after the ancient capital of the Kingdom of 
Israel, Shomron (Samaria). They were people who accepted 
Israelite belief at first with an admixture of their own Assyrian 
customs, and gradually grew more and more into the Eph- 
raimite ideas, hence into the fundamental principles of 
Judaism, taking hold of the pure idea of God and together 


with it of the practices of life as they had come forth out of 
that idea, both in moral action and in ceremonial form. 
That is the origin of the Samaritans; and they occupied a 
stage of development beyond which the Idea had then pro- 
gressed. The Kingdom of Israel had lagged in the rear in 
religious knowledge and although it possessed the foundation, 
it had neglected the living spirit which ceaselessly continued 
to work ahead and was cultivated in the Kingdom of Judah. 
The Samaritans had only the law of Moses; but the great 
prophets that had arisen in Judah, who regarded Jerusalem 
as their center, who looked upon the house of David as the 
representative of the political, social, and religious con- 
viction of its people—those great prophets, they repudiated 
from motives of jealousy. Thus they had the letter of the 
law, but the full spirit was not alive in them to mature nobler 
fruit, and therefore they clung with tenacity to their ancient 
holy places. Shechem, which already in ancient times had 
been a place for the cultivation of religious life, continued to 
be their holy city; Mt. Garizim, at the foot of which Shechem 
was situated, was venerated as the place of Revelation, and 
both as localities of peculiar sanctifying influence; to offer their 
sacrifices there was considered an act of loftiest piety. The 
Samaritans of later times adopted much of Jewish doctrine; 
poor in knowledge, living only on isolated ancient recollections 
and traditions, they had to draw out of the living, spiritual 
stream running through Judaism; they adopted from Judaism 
parts only, and only such parts and only so much of those as 
did not endanger their own separate existence. Thus they 
remained a sickly religious community, and yet maintained 
themselves a long time. Such is the power of even a crippled 

idea, that, after all, it proves to be a life-imparting agency. . 

They maintained themselves a long time; they exist even to 
this day, but their existence was a sickly one, their religious 
life morbid. Their spiritual development could not rise 
farther, because they clung to weather-beaten ruins on which 
moss may start, but no healthy, vigorous plant can grow 
and develop there. Even at those times when fresh starts 
were made in the march of events and they touched also those 


regions, some slight quiverings became perceptible in those 
benumbed members and a few individuals gave signs of 
awakening, but they did not get fully out of their sleep, and 
their community sank deeper and deeper into spiritual 
atrophy and political decay. Their members diminished 
more and more; they could not tear themselves away from 
the little spot which alone continued to afford them new 
nourishment. The idea within them was not an idea com- 
prising all mankind, one that might be carried unto all the 
world; they must cling to their home city. There they 
would live, there they live even unto this day, dwindled down 
to about a hundred families; and there they are waiting for 
extinction, living on the memory of a great time of youth 
which, because it was not able to rise into vigorous manhood, 
was arrested while in the midst of its course. 

It was the tribe of Judah that took upon itself and com- 
pletely carried out the development of the Divine Idea. In 
Judah, in its austere union, permeated by the belief in the 
One in Unity who as the Pure and Incorporeal One was rep- 
resented as “‘He is,’’ that belief had fully taken hold of the 
people. And as the belief bears unity within itself, it pro- 
duces also unity in all the institutions of the tribe, in the 
uninterrupted succession within the same royal family, in its 
Temple and all the institutions connected therewith, and in 
the harmony of a living, civilizing spirit in all the forms and 
expressions resulting from that belief: it was Judah that 
ripened into true manhood and developed the Revealed 
Doctrine into a full life-power. There those great men arose 
whose comprehensive works—but why call them works?— 
whose comprehensive words of life and deeds of life have been 
handed down even to this day as a life-giving fountain. In 
Judea, the Idea had been developed to such power that it 
had no further need for being confined within a certain 
country. The establishment of a nationality was not Israel’s 
mission; Israel’s mission was not accomplished by the estab- 
lishment of its nationality. 

Nations which the World’s History commissions only to 
establish and preserve commonwealths for a time, in order 


that they may do their allotted share in the world’s work, are 
cut asunder, their lives and works cease, they move toward 
their destruction, as soon as they are disengaged from their 
commonwealth. But a nationality which is only a means for 
a higher object, an external form for a great Idea intended to 
comprise all mankind must, for a time, gather its forces, 
until a serried host is prepared, among whom the Idea may 
obtain its full manifestation, so that it may, fully strengthened, 
spread all over the world. Such a nationality may cease as 
a commonwealth, and yet is not broken up as far as its essence 
is concerned. The Kingdom of Judah fell, but Judaism did 
not fall with it. Judaism is the name which thenceforward 
the Revealed Doctrine bore and still does bear; Judaism alone 
is the full and mature expression of it. Let us bear and keep 
that name as a name of honor. Much ignominy has been 
heaped upon that name and the name of those that hold that 
faith; ignominy has settled upon it, and therefore it has often 
been regarded by those that bear it, with a certain nervous- 
ness; they would willingly exchange it for another: Israelites, 
Professors of the Mosaic religion, etc. But taking the term 
in its more limited sense, we are by no means Israelites. We 
are Israelites as descendants from Jacob-Israel, but not 
Israelites as citizens of the Kingdom of Israel. We are not 
professors of the Mosaic religion exclusively, because we do 
not cling to the letter of the law only, even if it is our symbol, 
that comprehensive book which contains from its beginning 
to its end the Doctrine of God. Let us not repudiate the 
great men who appeared in Judah, the Isaiahs and Jeremiahs, 
the poets of the Psalms and Job; they are part of the quicken- 
ing spirit, part of the spiritual stream that flows through the 
whole; and if we, as the Ephraimites did, would hold only to 
the dead letter of the law without accepting the spiritual 
stream, then indeed, we are no Jews, nor do we deserve to 
bear the name. 

Judah fell, but Judaism continued to exist even after 
Judah had been carried into captivity. For Judah was not 
spared that fate either, it succumbed to the power of Babylon. 
But it had become firmly established in mind and it now 


proved to be permeated by a higher spiritual energy. True, 
in their exile, the Judeans hanged their harps upon the 
willows, they would not sing the songs of Zion, lamentations 
flowed from their hearts, yet together with those, there also 
arose the conviction that their greatest possession had come 
along with them and had not been left behind to decay. 
They had gone to Babylon, and as everything in the history 
of that people is providential, as everywhere the direction of 
a higher power is manifested, so it appears also in the destiny 
that awaited them there. They did not remain long under 
Babylonian rule; Babylon was forced to surrender to another 
empire; the recollections of Babylon are buried; another 
nation took her place—Persia—which was animated by milder 
manners and higher knowledge. It was also an Asiatic nation, 
moved in the mental environment of that time, and yet had 
a peculiar higher culture of its own. Judah, or rather the 
believers in Judaism living in Persia, had to adopt nothing of 
Persian teachings, they carried their specialty within them- 
selves and developed it independently; but the fact that they 
had no longer to contend against crude idolatry, was of 
powerful effect upon them. Life in Persia was of a purer 
kind; the Religion of Light, the worship of Light (Fire) as 
the purest emanation of the Deity, afforded peculiar religious 
satisfaction to the Persians. The Jews adopted nothing of 
the Persian views, at all events, nothing important. The 
assumption that a transformation was effected by the influence 
of the Parsees, is not justified by any facts, nor is there any- 
thing in sight that would show a need or cause for such action; 
isolated, subordinate conceptions may, as even our ancient 
teachers tell us, have crept into Judaism, but they remained 
secondary. Our ancient teachers report: “The names of 
the angels migrated with the Jews at their return into their 
home country,’ and that means nothing else than that the 
whole belief in angels had crept into Judaism from Babylon, 
from Persia. That belief in angels, that grand court, or state 
council gathered around God, as the rulers of Persia had it 
around them, the assumption of seven Archangels who, as the 
highest princes near the king, are assembled around Ormuzd 


as his most immediate serving ministers, may have passed 
into Judaism. Judaism also had adopted in many places the 
theory of angels and their ministrations; but that conception 
never rose to the dignity of an influential belief, to a dogma, 
that would have had any decisive effect upon the develop- 
ment of Judaism. On the contrary, we find a determined 
struggle against Parseeism, insofar as it was antagonistic to 
the fundamental principles of Judaism. 

Parseeism recognized a Dualism: Ormuzd as the creator 
and god of light and every good thing, Ahriman as the creator 
of darkness and every evil. Now, the prophet writing from 
the standpoint of that time, especially that great seer who by 
no means shows hatred of Parseeism nor raises his voice against 
its rule; who, on the contrary, glorifies Cyrus and his deeds 
in exulting strains, that same prophet proclaims: “I am the 
Lord, and there is none else, there is no God besides me; I 
girded thee (Cyrus) though thou hast not known me; that 
they may know from the rising of the sun and from the west, 
that there is none besides me: I am the Lord, and there is 
none else. I form the light and create darkness; 1 make peace 
and create evil. I the Lord do all these things.” There are 
not, as the Persians assume, two creating spirits; no, the same 
God is the creator of dark and evil. The assertion that God 
is the very creator of evil, is here announced with such 
trenchant directness as we do not find it elsewhere, and it 
does not even correspond fully to the spirit of Judaism, but 
the antagonism had then to be emphasized with all directness. 
In the course of time, when the influence of Parseeism offered 
no longer any danger, and when the authorities introduced 
that verse into the prayer-book, they changed it into: ‘“‘who 
formeth and createth darkness, who maketh peace and safety 
and createth the whole’’—not, ‘‘the evil.” 

Thus the Jews lived under Persian sovereignty in general 
without oppression, as it seems, zealously attending to their 
own peculiar spiritual life. Then there appeared in that 
nation a man entrusted with a civilizing mission, with a 
grand, world-historic task. Every hero, every great con- 
queror is an instrument in the hand of Providence, and what- 

84 JUDAISM AND Its History 

ever his ambition undertakes, becomes a seed of blessing for 
many centuries. Cyrus undertook to destroy many kingdoms 
and to make great conquests, and he succeeded in founding a 
great Persian empire. He certainly also was a noble man, 
permeated by a lofty spirit. Everything which ancient his- 
torians report of him, bears the character, not of a cruel con- 
queror, but of a noble, high-minded man, and as such he 
showed himself also to the Jews who lived in his domains. 
He seems to have understood the character of that closely 
connected band, the Jews, who preserved their union even in 
a strange land, and he proclaimed to them: ‘‘Who is there 
among you of all his people, whom God urges to go up again 
to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the 
Lord God of Israel? And whosoever remaineth in any place 
where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with 
money and with goods and with beasts.’’ And many went 
thither, not all—a great part of the Jewish population re- 
mained in Persia; nor were those that remained the worst of 
them. Even then, fervent attachment to their faith was 
united with love for their new home, although but a short 
time, hardly two generations, had elapsed since they had 
settled in their new country. Many remained, a considerable 
number returned to Palestine, and they were followed by 
several separate emigrations, and thus they established, for 
the second time, their national existence, the Jewish common- 
wealth. Another phenomenon is thus presented, the like of 
which is hardly found in history. Whenever a people has 
left its country, when its commonwealth is destroyed, its 
citizens are dispersed, State and Nation can not be restored; 
when the nerves of a nation are severed, its bond of union 
rent asunder, its inner life deadened, it is a difficult task to 
breathe new life into the same material. To the attempt of 
renewing the circulation in the dead members, hardly any 
people has shown itself equal; the example of the Jews is 
almost the only one in the world’s history. 

The Jews returned and established a nationality a second 
time, and how could they succeed in that? Because they were 
more than a nation, they were a Community united by the 


bond of an idea. Greek mythology relates of the giant 
Anteeus, that he had been invincible as long as he stood upon 
the ground, but that it was an easy task to conquer him when 
he was raised up from it; and when Hercules was set to kill 
him, he was unable to overcome him while on the ground, but 
as soon as he had lifted him up, it was an easy matter. The 
same is the case with almost every nation. Upon its parent 
soil, it continually receives fresh energy; as long as it abides 
there without interruption, its life is assured for a long time, 
but when it is removed from that soil, its vigor has vanished. 
But Judah was not merely a people, it was the depositary of 
an Idea, permeated by a living thought of which its nationality 
was one mode of expression only, and which could therefore 
be repeated a second time. 

True, the real, direct, creative agency of revelation was at 
anend. Nevertheless, at that restoration, men arose in Judea 
who, in a measure, are the seal or the conclusion of prophecy: 
above all, that seer who with exulting strain greets the 
beautiful time of restoration and rejuvenation, that great seer 
who, as one of the noblest and far-seeing, penetrates all 
conditions with comprehensive glance and loftiest view, and 
forcibly describes the mission of Judah to all mankind. He 
hails that time, and Cyrus, the hero of that time, with enthu- 
siastic word, saying: ‘“*. . . That saith to Cyrus, my 
Shepherd! Let him perform all my pleasure, that he may 
proclaim, Let Jerusalem be built; let the foundations of the 
Temple be laid. Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to 
Cyrus, I have seized his right hand, to subdue nations before 
him, I will go up before thee, and make the crooked places 
straight, break the gates of brass, give thee the treasures of 
darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest 
know that I am the Lord who call thee, the God of Israel.’ 
And then the prophet continues: ‘‘That they may know 
from the rising of the sun and from the west . . . I form 
the light and create darkness,” etc. (as quoted above). In 
those words we hear the enthusiasm of a richly endowed bard 
who, permeated by the living idea of Judaism, greets with 
fervor and highest delight the time in which it could again 

86 JupAIsM AND Its History 

display a living activity through a living nation. Several 
other prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, appeared at the 
beginning of the enterprise and greeted the time in the spirit 
of revelation. But yet the time was to arrive when the 
stream of Divine Revelation was to cease running, the 
Revealed Doctrine was finished, Israel and Judah had become 
thoroughly imbued with it. 

Revelation was at an end, but as a sequence, a living spirit 
was yet to continue and animate the whole if it was not to 
become stagnant; the spirit that formerly prepared men by 
direct effect and created the Doctrine must needs continue 
its work in order to preserve and quicken it. As in nature, 
the creative energy called forth the entire existence in a 
marvelous manner and then, when things settled down, rested 
in a certain measure, ceased to produce new formations, but 
still manifests itself as a force of preservation and advance- 
ment; as the same force that created, still lives in the laws 
which regulate nature in her freshness and continuance, 
forming a living stream that ever fertilizes her anew—so it 
is also in the spiritual life which was created by Revelation, 
and was to be preserved and quickened by Tradition. The 
creative spirit had not altogether vanished from Judaism, 
there was no complete conclusion, so. that nothing could be 
renewed, nothing improved—the living spirit continued to 
flow through the times. Though the complaint is heard, 
“There is no more prophet among us’’—yet the same holy, 
ennobling spirit continued to work. Tradition is the develop- 
ing power which continues in Judaism as an invisible, creative 
agent, as a certain ennobling something that never obtains 
its full expression but ever continues to work, transform, and 
create. Tradition is the animating soul in Judaism, it is the 
daughter of Revelation and of equal rank with her. Tradition 
never did, and never will, vanish from Judaism; it is the 
fountain that ever fertilizes the times and must make trans- 
formations according to the changing wants and necessities 
of life arising from the contact with the outside world. It 
was the spirit that laid the foundation of the renewed national 
existence, the new religious life. If ever a time should come 


—but it will never come—when the stream of Tradition will 
be dried up, when Judaism may be regarded as something 
completely finished and closed, when men turned backwards, 
look at the creations of former times and, without inquiry, 
want to preserve them, while others will not readily conform 
with the past and yet look with romantic reverence, with a 
sort of antiquarian affection upon Judaism as upon ruins 
which must be preserved in their fragmentary shape, or 
when others pass by those ruins with aristocratic indifference, 
when no living energy, no transforming force, shows its 
appearance anywhere—whenever such a time should come, 
then indeed, you may prepare a grave for Judaism, then it 
will be dead, then its spirit will have vanished altogether, it 
has then become a walking skeleton that may continue a little 
while but must surely move towards dissolution. But 
Judaism is not constituted that way; Judaism has a con- 
tinuously advancing Tradition. Let us give due honor to 
that word! Tradition is, like Revelation, a spiritual energy 
that ever continues to work, a higher power that does not 
proceed from man, but is an emanation from the Divine Spirit, 
a power that works in the community, chooses its own 
ministers, manifests itself by its ever purer and riper fruits, 
and thus preserves vitality and existence itself. 

With Tradition, the second popular and political life, 
the second epoch of the existence of Judah was developed. 
But that political life had to be established by a hard struggle, 
and notwithstanding the intense delight felt at first by all, 
sadness soon crept into their hearts on account of the scanty 
means at their command and the small results gained. For 
it was a second birth that had to be effected, and it soon 
became evident that the work went on with a certain nervous- 
ness, that it was not guided by the living, creative spirit, but 
that with painful consideration, ancient custom was preferred, 
though it no longer suited the time. Again, priesthood and 
sacrifice appeared in the foreground; the more so because in 
Judah the Davidian dynasty and the priests who had remained 
faithful, the sons of Zadok, had attained to high authority 
and were regarded as the natural leaders around whom all 

88 JUDAIsM AND Its History 

gathered, and in fact, the first leaders of the returned pilgrims 
were descendants of those two families; one a descendant of 
the House of David, and the other, one of the sons of Zadok. 
Now, as the new state was merely a province under the 
sovereignty of Persia, it was but natural that the reigning 
descendant of David was of less importance and that the 
High Priest obtained a greater honor and thus formed around 
himself a priest-court, a nobility, which soon boasted of their 
sanctity, a family which identified their personal claims with 
those of the sanctuary and clothed their human passions with 
the garb of holiness. The same great seer, therefore, uttered 
his severe strictures against those who boasted of their 
inherited holiness, who prided themselves of their aristo- 
cratic descent, and who derided the servant of God, although 
he was the only faithful one, the man of the middle class who 
clung to what he had inherited as sacred but who did not 
belong to the set in authority, yet constituted the core 
and body of the political and religious life in Judah. We hear 
complaints about oppression, about internal decadence; and 
another circumstance added its burden; namely, that the 
political life could not gain vigor; it had not been produced 
by growth, it was a gift by the grace of the king of Persia. A 
given liberty is a broken reed which is not in connection with 
the soil, and withers and dies. Thus, sadness had seized upon 
the people, it was a kind of despair of themselves. Many 
gloomy, despair-breathing words uttered by the Preacher- 
Prophet are the production of that very time. They are 
expressive of the sense of insecurity which takes hold of the 
popular mind when its inner and outer life is attacked, when 
culture has reached an advanced stage and yet can not 
proceed to its full development. It was a state of things 
which the prophet expresses thus: ‘Children have come to 
birth, but there is no strength to bring forth.” There is no 
advance or development, nothing but dissension and dis- 
ruption, the feeling of impotence gnaws upon all. That is 
the worst disease of a people, its heart breaks thereby and its 
spiritual power dies of it. And yet, that was not to happen 
in Judah; even if heavy burdens settled upon it, it was to be 


roused up and rise again. There is a point which no people 
suffers to be injured, for which it struggles with all the energy 
of its soul, for the defense of which it awakens all its powers 
—that point is its vital center. Judah was assailed at its 
vital center: it was its faith that was to be broken up by the 
inroads of Hellenism. Then a struggle ensued for its very 
life, and Judaism came out of it with new-born strength. 


Hellenism, Sadducees and Pharisees. 

The history of the world lazily and quietly passed over 
the new Jewish commonwealth and Society for several 
centuries without recording any particular results. ‘Shall a 
country bring forth anew in one day, shall a nation be born 
at once?’ Thus exclaims the great prophet of that time, and 
we repeat his words. Many centuries pass away in history 
with apparent stillness while yet, in the deepest parts of the 
popular life, lasting work is accomplished to become manifest 
in due time; even great mundane events pass by certain 
sections quite unnoticeable, and it seems as if hardly any 
traces had been left upon them, and yet impressions were 
made, and they become visible through their fruits and results 
as soon as air and light are favorable, as soon as impulses from 
within are pressing forward. Alexander the Macedonian 
established his vast empire in which portions of three con- 
tinents were united. In consequence of that enterprise, 
Hellenism was spread far and wide, seeds of the Grecian spirit 
all over his great empire. It is true, Hellenism as it was 
carried over the world by the armies of Alexander, was already 
exhausted and faded; Alexander himself, though a disciple of 
Aristotle, was to a certain extent a wild graft upon the olive 
tree of Hellenism; and whatever he intended to achieve by 
the force of his arms, was undoubtedly less the dissemination 
of the Grecian spirit than the subjection of nations under his 
rule. At any rate, a Grecian culture went along with him, 
which, even if approaching senility, was new to those countries. 
His empire did not outlast his life; it broke to pieces after his 
death, but Grecian states maintained their existence in those 
regions of which Palestine formed a part. The visit of 
Alexander among the Jewish people is pretty well wrapped in 
legend. His presence shook the whole Orient; his name shone 


everywhere and for a long time; nor did the Jews forget him. 
They remembered him as a ruler who was not unfriendly to 
them, who even met the reigning High Priest with humble 
reverence. How much of truth there may be in all that, or 
how much embellishing legend may have added to it, we are 
now unable to determine clearly. This much is certain, that 
Alexander’s campaigns and his reign did not influence the 
development of Judaism or the Jewish people, but the states 
that were formed out of his great empire and were also founded 
on Grecian culture, did exert their influence in various ways. 

Whenever two spiritual powers meet, such as Hellenism 
and Hebraism, Greek culture and Jewish religion, when two 
such spiritual world-transforming powers come into contact 
with each other, that contact must necessarily cause new 
formations; something new will grow out of it, be it the result 
of antagonistic struggle or of their spiritual interpenetration. 
New creations will be evolved, bearing either the character of 
both, or pre-eminently that of one of them, yet in a certain 
measure impregnated by that of the other. The clashing of 
Hellenism and Judaism produced effects in two ways. In 
Egypt, and especially in Alexandria, which had been founded 
by Alexander as a city of refuge and which soon became a 
free center of Grecian culture in Egypt, a country that 
offered a field deeply furrowed by elements of culture, ancient 
Grecian culture sprang forth, even if not in rejuvenated form, 
as a kind of aftermath, and spread mainly among the higher 
class, among those endowed with higher intellect. Grecian 
culture became there a new element of life, yet without being 
able to show creative effects or result in new, sound pro- 
ductions. In that new Grecian home, dependence upon the 
ancient mental achievements predominated, learned critical 
research and investigation, an endeavor to adopt and repro- 
duce the external form of ancient science and learning, a 
pedantic, would-be scholasticism which was not impregnated 
with inborn, scientific impulse. The remnants of the science 
of that time which have been preserved, and whatever other 
information on that subject is available to us elsewhere, 
exhibit no fresh living spirit, but merely an endeavor to 

92 JUDAISM AND Its History 

punctiliously investigate the ancient literature, to squeeze its 
letter and to gnaw at its bone. And yet, Alexandrianism 
spread manifold culture. 

Here again, we behold a remarkable trait in Judaism, 
guaranteeing its importance. Wherever a new culture springs 
up, where the mind develops itself untrammeled, where a fresh 
nationality or a fresh spiritual development is manifested, 
there Judaism quickly joins the movement and its professors 
soon adopt the new culture, digest it, and regard the country 
which offers them the highest boon of life, mental and spiritual 
liberty, as their home. As a healthy plant longs for air and 
light and winds, and climbs up to them through all kinds of 
obstacles, so also does Judaism. It requires air and light, 
and wherever those are granted to it, there is its home, there 
it feels as in its own native land, as though it had been natural- 
ized there for centuries past. Such is man’s superiority over 
the brute creation that he is not limited to certain spots of 
the world for the selection of his abode, that he may establish 
himself wherever life may be developed, wherever organic 
beings may exist; he is the lord of the earth, unlike the brute 
that is confined to a certain region. Judaism, in that respect, 
shows its comprehensively human character; it can acclimatize 
itself everywhere, carry its seeds and participate in the 
popular life everywhere, and especially where higher culture 
can spiritually transform also the substratum. 

In a word, the Jews had soon established a new home in 
Egypt. Whether they emigrated thither with Alexander, or 
whether some refugees had already gone there with Jeremiah 
after the dissolution of the Jewish commonwealth and came 
then more into prominence by reason of freer opportunity for 
development, we will not investigate; they were there, fully 
nationalized and naturalized. Soon the Grecian language 
was their speech which they used, not only in their daily life, 
but also the language of their religion, the Jewish religion. 
They went so far that they erected at Leontopolis, a city in 
the district of Heliopolis, a temple which was a copy of the 
Temple at Jerusalem, not with the intention of seceding from 
Jerusalem and breaking off connection with their mother 


country, but moved by the full consciousness that they 
belonged entirely to the country in which they lived and 
desired to fully gratify their religious wants there. That 
temple was called after its founder, the temple of Onias, and 
it was considered perfectly proper, and even in Palestine it 
was not pronounced idolatrous. The temple was the visible 
housing, but far above that was the spirit, the doctrine; and 
that too must needs be made accessible to them in Hellenism, 
in the Grecian language. That a translation of the bible and 
the pentateuch was made for a Greco-Egyptian prince, one 
of the Ptolemies, is but legendary glorification. The people 
felt the urgent necessity of becoming fully possessed of the 
bible, their written sanctuary, in the Grecian language. 
Although they had not yet altogether been estranged from 
the Hebrew, when the translation was made, they were no 
longer so much at home and versed in it that they could have 
readily read and understood the book which was to furnish 
them the bread and water of life; the Grecian language was to 
bring it home to them. 

We have here the first instance in history of the translation 
of a book. The Hebrew bible was translated into the 
Grecian language, and that translation is still extant under 
the name of The Septuagint Version (70). Embellishing 
legend tells us that seventy elders had translated the book, 
each one of them separated from the others, yet all agreed 
completely, and it was thereby shown that the translators 
had worked under inspiration. In such manner, legend 
glorified that version, not only among the Greco-Egyptians, 
but the same story is given to us in the writings of Palestine 
and in the Talmudic accounts; proof sufficient, to show what 
authority and reverence that work enjoyed, even outside of 
Egypt. Yet, that version could not escape the influence of 
the local spirit; it clings closely to the letter of Holy Writ, 
fully rendered its meaning as the translators understood it, 
but it has also alterations such as were demanded by the 
conditions of that country. Aside from such variations as 
were due to local conditions, due consideration was given to 
religious and philosophical views. In order to afford a glance 

94 JupAIsM AND Its HisToRY 

into the manner of variation of the first class—influence of the 
local spirit—we may adduce as an example, how the trans- 
lators took care not to give offence to the reigning dynasty 
or to popular prejudice. Among the animals prohibited as 
food, the hare is named. The Hebrew term would have 
required the equivalent word Jagos in the Grecian version; 
but as the royal family was called ‘‘the Family of the Lagi,” 
the mention of that name as that of an unclean animal in the 
law-book of the Jews would have given offence. They 
changed it and used a word which signifies “ hairy-footed”’ or 
“thick-footed,” a word which they coined to avoid giving 
offence. Asses for riding were used by the lowest classes only; 
in the bible they are often mentioned as the customary riding 
animal. The translators did not use the word, fearing to 
excite scorn and derision. But also with regard to law and 
religion, they carefully avoided all expressions that might 
give offence to the critical mind of those Grecians, especially 
all figurative expressions for God, which are permissible in 
Holy Writ as innocent, poetical terms, but would have 
appeared strange in the eyes of those sober-minded critics. 

Such infiltration of Grecian language and culture pro- 
ceeded more and more, without shaking the Jewish-religious 
views of the community. Knowledge of the Hebrew language 
gradually decreased; that language which is the depository of 
the Jewish religious conviction, which breathes forth the 
religious idea in its freshness, was gradually neglected and 
forgotten by the Greco-Egyptian Jews, so that even their 
most distinguished scholars, such as Philo, had but a school- 
boy knowledge of it. Even at a later time, during the second 
and third centuries after the Christian era, when a large 
portion of the Grecian Jews had changed into another religion, 
while the faithful remnants of them more firmly embraced 
the Hebrew, Palestinian Judaism, the want of a Grecian 
version of the bible was felt. Then it was noticed that the 
ancient version corresponded too little to the original text, 
a more faithful, closer adherence to it was demanded—but 
yet, a translation could not be dispensed with. Hence, new 
Grecian versions had to be essayed, although the Hebrew was 


then again more generally known among them. Such trans- 
lations were not undertaken in ancient times with the view 
to furnishing a work of art to be handed down to posterity, 
but because the demand for them proceeded from the very 
soul and heart of the time. Three bible translators of that 
time are mentioned: Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus; 
fragments of their versions are still extant. Even the teachers 
of the Talmud praised them for their work, and the bible 
verse, “‘God shall enlarge Japhet and he shall dwell in the 
tents of Shem,’ was expounded according to the manner of 
paraphrasing then usual, to mean, ‘‘The beauty of Japhet 
shall dwell in the tents of Shem, the grace of Hellenism shall 
acquire a home also in the tents of Semitism,” a verse which 
has been perverted and misused also by others in various 
ways. For when Christianity became predominant at a later 
day, the verse was interpreted to mean, ‘‘God shall enlarge 
Japhet so that he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, Japhet is 
the heir of Shem and will become the new Israel’; and in our 
day it has been asserted with more checkered ornament than 
plain truth that the ancient Shem must be polished by 
the culture of the race of Japhet. But enough of that! 
Grecian life and spirit entered deep into Jewry, and out of 
later periods yet, it is reported that a teacher of the Talmud 
heard congregations using the Grecian language when re- 
citing the Shemang portion of the prayers [the confession 
of the Divine Unity. Deut. vi, 4-9.]. You perceive from such 
examples of Antiquity that an enlightened nationality which 
exerts its mighty influence upon the minds of men, leaves its 
traces also upon the religious life of Judaism, and that the 
professors of Judaism, though remaining faithfully attached 
to their religion, nevertheless identified themselves with the 
manners and the language of the country in which they lived. 

While Alexandrianism, as a scholastic science of Antiquity, 
exhibits neither freshness nor vigor, it is the more significant 
that it acted within Judaism as a motive power, as a germ for 
new creations. The desire arose to blend the Jewish inheri- 
tance with the newly acquired knowledge to heighten the 
truths of Judaism by the addition of Grecian culture, to 

96 JuDAIsM AND Its History 

harmonize both possessions so that each should make the 
lustre of the other shine the more clearly and brightly. The 
most various literary productions were the result of that 
desire, although there is not one of them of special value. 
A fruit of an earnest, spiritual struggle, was the “ Alexandrian 
Jewish Philosophy.” In the domain of philosophy, a severe 
spiritual struggle and peculiar results were bound to be pro- 
duced by the clashing of Judaism and Hellenism. Directly 
antagonistic as they were to each other, a compromise must 
needs be effected between them. Judaism starts with self- 
evidence, with inward experience and living conviction for 
which no proof is required, which can not be fully proven. 
On the contrary, Hellenism starts with investigation, with 
human research, rising from the physical to reach by analysis 
and combination, the Higher Idea. Those are two different 
processes diverging not only in their progress, but in their 
whole conception! And those two directly antagonistic views 
clashed against each other. But there was also in Hellenism 
a philosophical school which, though born of the Greek spirit, 
nevertheless endeavored to apprehend by a certain prophetic- 
poetic effort the Higher, thence to descend to the Lower, and 
assumed that in similar manner, the former descended into 
lower planes. It also attempts to directly conceive the 
Divine, the Ideal, by intuition, by higher perception. By 
such bold flight, Plato conceived the everlasting Good, the 
everlasting Beautiful, whence individual ideals evolve them- 
selves, which as archetypes—we are not told whether they 
have an actual existence or must be regarded as mere pictures 
of the spirit—are expressed in real objects, perfect in them- 
selves, while the several visible objects represent them only 
in their limitations. That was a system which especially 
suited the philosophizing Jews. It afforded them a bridge 
between the purely Spiritual and the physical objects. How 
does the Highest Spirit, the eternally Perfect One, enter into 
the finite world? He creates ideals from Himself, says Plato 
—He introspects Himself, and thus Perfection is produced; 
and that Perfection impresses itself in more subordinate 
existences and thus it descends from intermediate causes to 


intermediate causes, until the real objects spring into existence 
and Creation becomes manifest to us. God, the Eternal 
Existence, the eternally Perfect, is the highest cause; but the 
eternally Pure One does not immediately come into contact 
with the impure—only by means of manifold emanations and 
concatenations, the earthly grows into existence. 

Such views were agreeable to the Grecian Jews who had 
enjoyed a philosophic education. They afforded them a 
happy means of preserving the incomprehensibility and 
unrepresentability of God, and yet of accepting the different 
figurative expressions concerning God in the bible, because 
they could refer those to the subordinate existences. Hellen- 
ism of that time, stiff and sober as it was, was unable to 
descend into naive poetical imageries and to admit them as 
poetical expression, without marring the sublimity of the 
thought. The letter was tenaciously clung to, and whenever 
it was too sensible and corporeal, it had to yield to forced 
interpretation. And by such the narratives and commands 
of the bible, too, were forced from their natural simplicity into 
artificial philosophical propositions, in the belief that their 
value would thus be enhanced; the symbolic method of inter- 
pretation is the product of the Jewish-Alexandrian spirit. The 
figurative expressions and events in connection with God were 
referred to such subordinate spirits as had evolved themselves 
from God. In the writings of Philo, the most distinguished 
philosopher of the Jewish-Alexandrian period, and perhaps 
also in those of all earlier authors whose works have been lost, 
that doctrine is comprised in the “Logos.’”’ Philo is a believ- 
ing, zealous Jew; he is fully convinced of the truth of Judaism 
which, for him, requires no proof; with the most intense love, 
he devotes himself to an examination of the doctrines of 
Judaism, he conceives its moral spirit in the noblest purity, 
but he is just as completely possessed by symbolical interpre- 
tation, and the fudamental character of the Jewish-Alexandrian 
philosophy converges, in his system, in the “Logos.” That 
term means, in Greek, both “‘thought’’—as Philo understands 
it—and ‘‘word.’? The Logos is the demiurgos, the creator of 
the world; it was the first creation of God, emanating from 

98 JUDAISM AND Its History 

Him as thought, as a pure idea; as a force emanating from 
God, it then produces the world and sustains it as animating 
and transforming energy. Such was the compromise which 
Judaism made‘ with Hellenism. The Jewish-Alexandrian 
philosophy is the mother of numerous systems of philosophy 
that prevailed throughout the Middle Ages; it is one of the 
factors in the creation of a new Religion, at the very beginning 
of which it exerted a highly important influence upon its 
formation, and surrounded it with a certain halo, illuminated 
it with a certain mystic-philosophic lustre. 

That was one way in which the contact of Judaism and 
Hellenism produced new effects. 

But in another country also, Hellenism clashed with 
Judaism, and that was in Palestine itself. While the Egyptian 
Commonwealth was filled with true civilization, the Syrio- 
Grecian Commonwealth seems to have been at a much 
lower stage of culture. Only a purely outward civilization 
existed there, a mere varnish without affecting the inside; 
not a trace remains to show that a purely Grecian mode of 
thinking, or any product thereof existed there. But the 
more half-refinement, the more fanaticism, the less inner 
worth there is, the more will outward forms be valued. 
Whenever religion is not a true inward power, wherever na- 
tional life is not actually borne by an idea, the people will be 
seized with the zealous desire to establish an apparent outward 
unity, and one of the ways to effect that is the attempt to 
bring about apparent religious unity within the commonwealth. 
As we find in later times, that desire expressed as endeavor 
for a German-Christian State, so we meet in Asia with 
the design to establish a Pagan-Hellenic Realm. Palestine 
was under Syrian sovereignty, it should now become part 
of that Pagan-Hellenic State. Judaism had thus far, in the 
course of its second political existence, suffered many trials 
and tribulations—it endured them quietly, now and then 
with a shriek of complaint, yet there was never a forceful 
popular endeavor to throw off the oppression. But now, its 
very innermost heart had been touched, the time had arrived 
that called for answer to the question: To be or not to be? 


Not all showed a readiness to enter upon the contest. 
Those who stood at the head of the people, the priests, the 
Sons of Zadok, are said not to have been filled with glowing 
zeal to undertake the contest; they thought to be able to cast 
a spell upon the approaching storm by subterfuges. The 
statue of Jupiter should be placed in the Temple; it was put 
up there. Contributions should be paid to the Temple of 
Hercules; they were paid! Gymnasiums, that is to say, not 
schools for instruction, but places for the peculiar Greek 
athletic games, should be established in Judea in order to 
introduce and exhibit Grecian manners and amusements; that 
was done. In every way, obedience was yielded to the ruler, 
perhaps to ward off the storm from cowardice and lack of 
spirit, with the sole aim of self-preservation. But the heart 
of the people could not endure it; and being deserted by its 
leaders, it was compelled to undertake from its own ranks 
its defense against foreign oppression which designed not only 
to destroy its earthly home, but to rob it also of its spiritual 
realm. A small band collected under the leadership of the 
Hasmoneans, a high-minded, priestly family, made resistance, 
found adherents; the enthusiasm spread, the oppressor had 
to retreat, and in consequence of the insurrection, there arose 
from the distracted little commonwealth a valorous, inde- 
pendent State which lasted much longer than could have been 
expected under the circumstances. Hellenism and Judaism 
had measured their strength against each other—it is true, it 
was faded and enervated Hellenism against Judaism not yet 
grown to its full strength—and yet the latter gained the 
victory and survived, whereas the Syrian Empire perished 
after a short and morbid existence. 

In such times, when the innermost parts of the popular 
heart are stirred up, the popular energies also are roused from 
their deepest hiding places, spiritual life is mightily and 
speedily developed. Quiet reigned for centuries; all at once 
a noisy bustle appears, the stirring motive power is perceived 
producing new creations, or rather driving freshly invigorated 
tendencies. Even at the establishment of the Second Com- 
monwealth, various parties had sprung into existence. At 

100 JUDAISM AND Its History 

the head of the people, as leader of the first band of returning 
emigrants from the captivity, there was a descendant of the 
family of Zadok, a branch of the priestly race. The ancestor 
of that family had enjoyed high honor as High Priest of the 
Temple of Solomon; his descendants had uninterruptedly 
exercised the priestly function in that Temple at Jerusalem. 
By the side of that descendant of the family of Zadok, Joshua, 
the son of Jozadok—there was also a descendant of the House 
of David, Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel. These two 
together were at the head of affairs, and they and their 
immediate descendants remained at the head of the nation. 
But the nation was neither then nor afterwards independent; 
at first it was under the sovereignty of Persia, then of Egypt, 
and later of Syria, till the contest began. By those sovereigns, 
satraps were sent, and they were the actual rulers of the land. 
A native king or prince directing the administration of the 
civic and political affairs of the people, was scarcely tolerated, 
and if tolerated at all, his power was so insignificant that his 
authority soon vanished. It was otherwise with the High 
Priest who represented their religious life; his office being the 
only homesprung one with the holiness of his functions super- 
added, his authority increased more and more, and he soon 
united with power, all that remained of native, secular 
authority. That time was the only period in the history of 
Judaism when, to a certain extent, there existed a hierarchy, 
when a real priestly rule prevailed, and it proved itself pitiful 
enough. ‘The family of the priests was that of the Zadokites. 
The people that had returned were full of enthusiasm to 
restore their nationality, clung with all their might to those 
whom they regarded as their chiefs, especially the religious 
representatives of the nation: they reverently attached them- 
selves to the priests. The determination to preserve their 
ancient customs was uppermost in their minds at that time. 
The Temple and Temple service, the priesthood connected 
therewith, the contributions to the Temple and priests con- 
stituted the center of their religious life and occupied the 
mind of the zealous part of the people. But they found in 
the territory of Palestine, various elements that had in the 


meantime settled there and who were either not at all in 
sympathy with the Jewish faith, or were only lukewarm in 
their support. The more zealous portion of those that had 
returned and their adherents separated themselves from those 
of mixed descent, and were on that account called ‘‘Separat- 
ists,” or ‘‘men separating from the nations of the country 
and their uncleanness,” and they stuck closely to their chiefs 
and leaders. The other portion of the people were called 
“‘the People of the Country’; they were the inhabitants who 
had either not accepted the Jewish faith, or had only ancient, 
dim recollections of it, or were converts, proselytes, strangers. 
For such were readily accepted, even if they would not rigor- 
ously adhere to all the precepts which the Separatists regarded 
as binding upon themselves. 

It is a current phrase that Judaism is opposed to prose- 
lytism. That is partially true but only so far as the phrase 
is understood in its true meaning. Every religion which is 
convinced of its truth not only for a limited circle, but for all 
mankind, must exert itself to spread over the whole human 
race. If it would confine itself within the narrow limits of 
the ground it occupies for the time being, address itself only 
to those that are born to it, who belong to a certain country, 
who have a distinct history of their own, then it ceases to bear 
the characteristic attribute of true Religion; then it has 
become a mere sect, it is no longer that breath of life, which, 
intended for all men, should spread over all humanity. 
Judaism, on the contrary, was the very first to speak of 
proselytism; it was the first that recognized the strangers 
that join themselves to the Lord and who were received into 
all its rights and privileges, whereas Antiquity elsewhere 
recognized only that citizen who was in the country and had 
grown up on its soil. The stranger remained always a 
stranger until perhaps he became identified with the nation in 
succeeding generations or citizenship was especially con- 
ferred upon him. Judaism broke down the barriers of narrow 
nationality; it is not birth that makes the Jew, but conviction, 
the profession of faith, and he also who is not born of Jewish 
parents but accepts the true faith, becomes a Jew, fully 

102 JUDAISM AND Its History 

entitled to all rights and privileges. Proselytism in the more 
exalted meaning of the term, conveying the idea that the 
conviction of those hitherto strangers is accepted, because 
they have declared to be in agreement with the principles— 
that kind of proselytism is an offspring of Judaism. Of course, 
“‘making proselytes,” mere change of form, use of violence to 
force affectation of belief without conviction by means of the 
innate power of truth—such a kind of proselytism is an 
abomination in the sight of Judaism—it is opposed to it. 

Accordingly, strangers or proselytes constituted a large 
portion of the people at that period. 

Even at the beginning, long before the outbreak of the 
Syrian war, some disagreements arose between the several 
portions of the people. The Zadokites, the princes, and 
priests became—as it naturally is in the character of such 
hereditary dignity and especially when joined with the attri- 
bute of holiness—more and more narrow-minded, sought to 
identify the whole range of religion with themselves, they 
gradually ceased to be the ministers and servants of religion, 
religion was to serve them. On the other hand, the Sepa- 
ratists, the sound and vigorous body of the citizens, regarded 
the priests and ruler their representatives only insofar as they 
truly watched over their religious and political life; but as 
soon as they made their own personal interests paramount to 
the claims of Religion and the Commonwealth, the Sepa- 
ratists, the best body of the citizens, were in opposition to the 
Zadokites. Then, when the great struggle began, and the 
reigning families showed themselves lukewarm, while the 
middle class resisted with all strength and enthusiasm, such 
disagreements grouped the people in distinctly separate 
parties. The Zadokites, the Sadducees, the descendants of 
the priest estate in connection with the families of rank, con- 
stituted one party; the Separatists, the Pharisees, as they were 
designated in the Aramaic vernacular, were the other party. 
The Hasmonean or Maccabee family, supported by the citi- 
zens, crowded the Zadokite dynasty from the throne and took 
possession of both the throne and the altar. The Hasmonean 
family attained to the office of princes and high priests, partly 


through their own merits as leaders, but chiefly by their close 
alliance and action with the solid mass of the middle class of 
the people. But here too, we see a general historic phenom- 
enon repeated. A new dynasty makes every effort to rally 
the ancient nobility around it. The Sadducees were the old 
nobility; the differences between the new kings and priests 
and the descendants of those who had formerly held those 
offices, were soon reconciled; the Sadducees became the 
courtiers, the nobility of the new royal court, and that clung 
to the noblemen as the party powerful through its hereditary- 
dignity. And that produced a still more serious struggle 
between the Sadducees and the Pharisees; the reigning dynasty 
tried to please first one party and then the other, but on the 
whole yielded to the designs of the nobility. 

It was a religio-political fight that had started between the 
Sadducees and the Pharisees, so that the chasm widened more 
and more;a religio-political fight in which, so far as that period 
is concerned, it is hard to discern which element predominated, 
the political or the religious. On the religious side, the chief 
point of difference of the Pharisees is this, that they objected 
to having the sanctity of the priesthood placed so much in 
the foreground. A sentence in the Second Book of the Macca- 
bees, which belongs to that period, most distinctly expresses 
that sentiment, saying: ‘‘Unto all are given the heritage, the 
kingdom, the priesthood, and the sanctuary.” All the people 
should be regarded as priestly and holy, was the contention of 
the Pharisees; of course, there were especial priestly func- 
tions and rules that could not be disputed, but the whole 
people was to be raised to sanctification, should be formed into 
a holy, priestly establishment. In that way, burdens were 
made for the whole people, ordinances which were to make 
them priests as much as it could be done. If certain precepts 
concerning cleanness and uncleanness were observed by the 
priests, all the people should observe them with equal care; 
if certain ablutions at the holy sacrificial ministrations were 
prescribed for the priests, all the people were to eat their 
ordinary meals after the same preparation: ‘‘every-day fruit 
with the holiness of the sanctuary.’’ If the Temple was the 

104 JupaisM AND Its History 

place for the priests where they performed the sacrificial 
service and if the sacrificial repasts constituted a religious act 
affording to the body of the priests an opportunity of assem- 
bling together, in like manner the people got their side- 
temples, their synagogues, which, though not intended to 
supplant the Temple, should serve as people’s temples at 
which they also had their communion repasts that were to be 
considered a sacred function. The repast was prepared for 
by ablution which consecrated the meat, wine was a substitute 
for the drink offering, and frankincense was not wanting, 
either. The holiness of those repasts was yet heightened by 
prayers, and thus every man became a priest to a certain 
extent. Thus the design of the Pharisees to acquire the 
character of priests called the great institution of Houses of 
God into existence. The institution of Prayer is a fruit of 
that design which now and then was rather one-sided and 
unbalanced, but yet contained many sound and vigorous 
creations. But there were also many arrangements fixed that 
were burdensome, and of which some are still observed and 
others are flitting about as the shadows of the past. For 
instance, the ceremony of bidding farewell to the departing 
Sabbath with wine and spices, is a survival out of that period 
of popular desire to observe priestly practices. 

In all matters where religious or secular matters called for 
a decision, the Sadducees and the Pharisees came into col- 
lision. The Pharisees succeeded in getting into their hands 
the management of all the institutions that were of great 
importance in the popular life. The arrangement of the 
calendar and the judiciary were taken out of the hands of the 
priests, and the People, the Learned, attended to all that. 
The ‘‘People,’’ the ‘‘ Learned,” we say; for the names “Phari- 
sees’”’ and ‘‘Sadducees’’? were used more by the respective 
opponents than by the parties themselves. The Sadducees 
called themselves ‘‘the Sons of the Noble Families,” or “the 
Sons of the Priests,’ while their opponents called them 
“Zadokites,’”? ‘‘Sadducees,’’ which conveys no idea of con- 
tempt, but was intended to designate them by a mere family 
name as denial of any special nobility. In like manner, the 


Separatists called themselves ‘the Learned”’ or “the Fellows 
of the Society,” who advocated self-sanctification; their 
opponents called them by their ancient name “Pharisees,” 
which was no disgracing expression, but simply ignored their 
claims to especial learning and holiness. Only later times 
sought to asperse ignominy upon that appellation. 

Thus a great division had arisen within Judah; and that 
division increased and produced mighty internal transforma- 



Sadducees and Pharisees, The World 
to Come, Hillel. 

The difficulty of presenting and looking at a past age 
according to its inner motives and impulses is great enough 
in itself, but it is very much increased when we are without 
contemporary records which might by their mere existence 
reveal to us what the people of that time thought and what 
they strove for, and how certain events came to happen. 
Even the most faithful accounts given by a later time view 
the conditions and events from their own standpoint, involun- 
tarily or intentionally color them with their partisanship, or 
misrepresent things from want of a true conception of the 
past. If unimportant periods of time are hidden behind a 
misty veil, we might pass by them with indifference and leave 
them to the industry of the antiquarian curiosity seeker or to 
bold, combinative criticism. But just such periods are 
sometimes the very ones that have shaped a long line of 
succeeding centuries. Although we may know little of them, 
they have left deep traces behind; their creations and events 
have exerted an influence lasting for all times; and if we wish 
to gain a clear understanding of ourselves, of what we are, 
and how we became such, it can not bea matter of indifference 
to us, thoroughly to understand the source from which we 
have sprung, to know the very foundation whence the Present 
has grown. The ideas entertained, the events that happened © 
in Judea two thousand years ago, the conflict of the Sadducees 
and Pharisees, and the results produced by that conflict, 
exerted their effect upon later centuries, are of great 
importance in the world’s history, and exert their influence 
unto this day. That very influence is it to which we some- 
times yield, against which we struggle at other times, which 


is now the foundation on which we stand, and then again is 
the barrier the limit of which we feel and strive to break 

If we desire to gain a conclusive judgment concerning the 
most important questions of the Past as well as of the Present, 
we must cease to grope in uncertain darkness while explaining 
the events within Judaism during the period of the Second 
Temple. It is high time that all fable and fiction about 
Sadducees and Pharisees should cease. On one hand the 
Sadducees have been represented as Philhellenists who had 
placed themselves beyond the pale of Judaism, who had 
embraced new Grecian refinement and had thus become 
entirely denationalized; they were made to appear as Epicu- 
reans, Sensualists, Worldlings, who neglected all religious 
interests. Others on the contrary, misled by the similarity of 
the sound in the name, went so far astray as to take them for 
Stoics. But for a time, they were the very representative 
men of the Jewish national life, and their exertions likewise 
were directed towards fathoming the foundation of Judaism; 
they were the first priest-nobility vested with power, and 
formed, at the time, the center around which the people 
gathered, but which later degenerated and went down, as is 
often the end of those who, elevated above the masses, strive 
to rise still higher, make their own persons and personal 
interests paramount to all others, and therefore, making but 
very little effort to promote the advancement of the welfare 
of the people, are at last pushed aside by the people. 

The name of the Pharisees, too, has assumed a false 
meaning in the memory of later generations. It was especially 
by the influence of another religion that the Pharisees were 
regarded as petty, narrowminded men, who strain at a gnat, 
indulge in outward worship, without being animated by true 
inward piety, as men devoid of more exalted religious ideas. 
The Jews did not judge them thus severely, yet that worth 
which was actually innate in them was not attributed to them. 
For, in reality, they were the very core, the brain and the 
brawn of the nation; their exertions were directed toward the 
establishment of equal rights for all—their fight was the fight 


that was repeated in all times when great interests are at 
stake, the fight against priestcraft and hierarchy, against 
privilege of individual classes, the fight for the very truth that 
not outward qualities alone, but inward religious conviction 
and consequent moral conduct constitute the proper worth of 
the man. ‘The means which they were in many respects forced 
to employ, seem at first sight not to bear out such a view, but 
when examined more closely, they fully correspond to it. 
To oppose the priests they were compelled to claim for every 
man everything that distinguished the priesthood; they would 
not assign higher duties to others lest they were obliged to 
yield them also special rights. We are—thus they said—just 
as holy, and occupy the same exalted position as you. Let 
us suppose a case, that some later period received the super- 
ficial account, that once upon a time a dispute had arisen as 
to whether it should be the duty of all classes of the people 
to defend their country, and that even those who in former 
times had been exempt from military service now were 
foremost in their determination to leave that duty no longer 
to the nobility, the knights, who alone had hitherto staked 
their lives and fortunes for the security of their common 
country; might not some persons think that those who were 
so anxious to do the fighting were ruffians, dissatisfied because 
others fought the fight to a finish? Would such an opinion 
be just? Certainly not! The classes who enjoyed that 
negative privilege, the privilege of having no share in the 
activities of the country, now come forward with the claim: 
“We are equally children of our country, we shall perform 
the same duties and demand the same rights; you shall per- 
form no higher duties, to claim in consequence superior 
privileges and represent yourselves as the pillars of the 
Commonwealth; we are equally ready to bring the same 
sacrifices.” The same sentiment brought forth the struggle 
of the Pharisees against the Sadducees, and was the motive 
of their readiness to submit to the same priestly burdens. 
That serious, bitter fight was sometimes carried on with 
insufficient means—a phenomenon which is often repeated in 
history. The aspiring party bear within themselves the full 


power of the idea but can not put it into practice. The 
stubborn fact was that the Sadducees were the nobility; they 
held all offices; they were either priests and therefore com- 
manded respect, or noble families connected with the priests; 
they basked in the favor of the Court, which occasionally, 
when it could not help itself, grasped the hand of the Pharisees, 
but felt comfortable only in the atmosphere of the Sadducees. 
As it was, the Sadducees were in actual possession of the 
administrative affairs and were sure to retain a part of them. 
The Pharisees might be ever so determined in their fight 
against the special privileges of the priestly families, as far 
as they touched civil and political life and legal rights, yet 
they could not abolish priesthood altogether because history 
had established its right of existence, and as long as the 
Temple with its sacrificial service remained, their ministers 
could not be dispensed with. In such times when the result 
of a struggle appears dubious and undetermined, when the 
combatants struggle with full determination, behold their 
victory close by and yet begin to despair of its results, men 
will then turn their eyes to the future. 

Healthful times, healthy nations are thoroughly conscious 
of their spiritual power, they feel their infinity and eternity of 
the spirit even in the present; vigorous spiritual energy is so 
strong, superior as it is to all that is finite, it requires no 
additional guaranty for itself. Healthful times, healthy 
nations will never arrive at the conclusion that the spirit is 
but a weak decoction, a mixture of changing matter, of nervous 

fluid and blood-globules; they are conscious of their spiritual A 

independence, of the convincing power wherewith it is endowed 
—of the distinct and separate existence of the spirit. And 

for that reason they do not continually think of the future,. 

do not indulge in dreams as to what may be in times to come; 
in the very present they bear within themselves the strength 
of the spirit with its convincing power; to them every minute 
is an infinity containing the germs of development for all later 
times. Such times and such nations look upon the future as 
upon the natural result of the present, well knowing that 
whatever moves and animates it, will and must be realized at 

110 JUDAISM AND Its History 

some time to come, being to them as something already 
present in the spirit. Morbid men, morbid times or religions, 
incessantly think of the future, place it upon the foreground. 
From the present, in which they lack the energy to effect their 
ardent wishes, they take refuge into a future to which they are 
unable to find a natural transition, and for which they long 
the more fervently, and which they picture to themselves 
with embellishments so much the more brilliant. “It will be 
otherwise” is their continual consolation; the weaker their 
present confidence, the bolder the poetic imageries of a 
brilliant future. 

Judaism knows no such weakness, it is deeply and fully 
convinced of an independent spiritual life; it regards man’s 
likeness to God impressed upon him by Divinity Himself, as 
none other than a spiritual attribute. The directness with 
which it speaks of a spiritual power, both of the spiritually 
living God and of man as living through the spirit, that pro- 
found conviction permeating all its writings, is a guaranty for 
the belief within Judaism, that the spirit is everlasting and 
can never be cut off. But it does not place that belief in the 
foreground, it has not designated this earth as a vale of tears, 
nor pictured the reward to come beyond the grave in brilliant 
colors; it has never commanded us to destroy this earth as 
something vain and sinful; it has never demanded that joy in 
life on earth should be crushed, because this life is but a time 
of probation. Judaism does not know such morbid sen- 

That it contains the belief in the immortality of the soul 
and further develops it is proved even by the subtle author of 
Ecclesiastes; he expresses his doubts about that subject the 
same as with regard to other matters, but the very fact that 
he utters such doubts, proves that the belief had been generally 
adopted: ‘‘The spirit of man goeth upward.” “The dust 
returneth to the earth as it was; and the spirit returneth unto 
God who gave it.” In that manner, the belief affords strength, 
elevation and inspiration without deadening and crushing the 
present. But times had arrived when the present was very 
gloomy, when men could not feel satisfied with what it 

THE WoRLD To Come, HILLEL 111 

afforded. They beheld their own efforts and the contrast 
exhibited in the actual conditions; they considered their means 
to carry their endeavor into effect, and saw their insufficiency. 
It is but natural in such times men will take comfort by 
saying to themselves: ‘Never mind! Whatever can not be 
accomplished in the present, will assume form in a better 
time. Another time is bound to come in this world, and then 
conditions will be changed at once.” In such mental con- 
dition, the Pharisees said: “The priesthood will go down, a 
descendant of the House of David will reign, the people will 
be invigorated, the national life will mature the fruit which 
we so much long for; another world will come, and we, too, 
shall participate in it.” -They were not satisfied with the 
hope that the future would develop what the hot air of the 
present had germinated ; they themselves desired to participate 
in the enjoyment of that future, because they had enjoyed 
nothing in the present. That is the origin of a belief in a 
future Resurrection of the body. That belief was part of 
Parseeism, and the Jews may have become acquainted with 
it during their sojourn in Persia. Traces of its existence 
among them at an earlier period can not be discovered; the 
book of Daniel is the first that makes mention of it, and that 
book dates from that very time in which the internal severe 
battle was raging. Granted even that such belief, prevailing 
among the Parsees, affected the Jews there, Judaism would 
never have adopted it if it had not been impelled thereto by 
circumstances in its internal development. Just as the Phari- 
sees, the men who struggled for a change of conditions and 
could not bring that about, could not help creating for them- 
selves a future as the realization of their present desires: so 
the Sadducees who were satisfied with their power, who did 
not wish for a change and even opposed it, for that very reason 
repudiated the belief in the resurrection of the body. Whether 
they can be condemned on that account as infidels, is a 
question which I may confidently leave to your own decision 
rather than to that of many another tribunal. 

The fight between the Sadducees and the Pharisees gtew 
hotter and hotter, both in the domain of civil life and in that 

112 JuDAIsM AND Its History 

of religious affairs, and dominated all thought and sentiment. 
The more serious and gloomier the aspect of affairs became, 
the more intense became the differences; the threatening crisis 
into which the nation was thrust, challenged all healthy 
popular energy. Just as the people arose at the time of the 
Maccabean War, when foreign oppression wanted to crush 
them, so it also happened in the subsequent history of Judaism. 
Conflicts of the most various kinds raged within, even in the 
royal family; the several sons of a deceased king, the succes- 
sion not being fully regulated, made rival claims to the throne 
and contended against each other; foreign nations were 
appealed to for their decision, for their assistance to one or 
the other. That increased the discontent with the present 
and its representatives. That, for all that, true religious 
sentiment was not extinct in the heart of the noble-minded 
during those strifes, may be shown by the following incident. 
During the contest of two rival claimants, Hyrcanus and 
Aristobulus, the adherents of one, and the officiating priests 
with them, had fortified themselves in the Temple, and their 
opponents laid siege to the building. Both crowds were full 
of the most rabid party spirit. A man of great reputation, 
Onias, known in the Talmud as Honi Ha-Meaggel, to whose 
prayer especial efficacy was ascribed, was called for by the 
besiegers and requested to pray for their victory and the defeat 
of the besieged. But he made this prayer: ‘Lord of the 
universe, our Father in Heaven! within Thy Temple are Thy 
priests, sons of Thy people; out here are likewise sons of Thy 
people; they are enraged against each other, do not hearken 
unto the prayers of those against these, nor unto the impre- 
cation of these against those.”” The crowd stoned him to 
death. That man was the child of true Jewish spirit, who can 
be numbered among the noblest martyrs. Inspired by true 
love of man and country, he remains faithful even in the very 
face of death. He would not desecrate his speech in spite of 
the wrath and rage boiling around him. Whether that noble 
martyr, when he breathed his last, did or did not utter the 
prayer, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,”’ 
legend does not inform us; for it is only legend that can tell 


such things—the words of a dying man are heard by no one 
—his sentiments are surely of that character. 

But the fierceness of those conflicts was soon to mount 
and be merged into a question of existence. A nation entered 
upon the world’s stage which soon gained the greatest power 
and exerted the most decisive and authoritative influence 
everywhere. Rome came in like a lion among the weaker 
animals, and in cat-fashion, like the lion, it at first approached 
cunningly and pleasantly, acted the part of a mediating ally, 
then to pounce upon those friends, usurping supremacy over 
them, and then reducing them into complete subjection. 
When Rome began its cat-lion game with Judea, the people 
felt that a mighty foe was approaching; alarming restlessness 
seized upon their minds; the party conflicts grew more violent 
and more general. Herod was hated, feared as a foreigner 
and a tyrant, yet his good qualities might, in the eyes of the 
people, perhaps, have covered those two objections, and his 
native energy might have acted as a bond of union. But 
what constantly brought him to mind as a foreigner and put 
fuel to the flame of hatred against him, was the fact that he 
appeared as a satellite of Rome, that his face was incessantly 
turned toward Rome and that he always earned favors from 

In times like those, men appear who reflect the very soul 
of the nation and who mean to give it shape and form. I 
shall mention to you a name which is not circled in history 
with the halo that is attached to many other names, although 
it well deserves it and that his great importance should be 
recognized and appreciated. As the Revealed Doctrine is 
connected with the name of Moses, Tradition with that of 
Ezra, so Regenerated Judaism is identified with the name of 
Hillel. The Talmudists have well understood-and, in the 
naive expression of their time, have characterized the import- 
ance of Hillel in the saying: ‘‘The Torah had been forgotten, 
then Ezra came from Babylon and established it anew; and 
again the Torah fell into oblivion and Hillel arrived from 
Babylon and established it anew.’’ It was not forgotten, but 
it was paralyzed, it was about to lose its vital energy and 

114 JUDAIsM AND Its History 

influence upon later development, if Hillel, the man of pro- 
found understanding and true religious life, had not effected 
its regeneration. It may be that the Babylonian Gemara 
emphasizes with especial pleasure the fact that Ezra and 
Hillel had come from Babylon—for the men of the Babylonian 
Talmud were proud of Babylon, despite the oppression they 
had to suffer there—and that very fact may contain a truth; 
viz., that just such men who had not been mixed in and were 
not wholly saturated with the momentary conditions of 
Palestine, who had breathed a different atmosphere and per- 
haps viewed wider fields, were especially fit to ‘awaken a new 
popular spirit. At any rate, Hillel was a man who exerted a 
decisive influence upon Judaism. 

Hillel is a fully historical person. The records concerning 
him may surround him with some embellishing legend but 
those legends only draw some lines more distinctly, they do 
not cover or blur his portrait. Legends accompany every 
distinguished man, even in the most historical ages; anecdotes, 
piquant tales and incidents are related of him, which can not 
stand the test of historical investigation, but they emanate 
from his character, so that we must acknowledge that, even 
if they did not actually come to pass, they are yet in full 
harmony with his character. Legends of that kind are no 
fiction, they are the product of true poesy: the inmost depth 
of such a man’s heart is fathomed, pearls are brought up 
thence which are to be found there and only accident had not 
started them out into the light of day before; the sharp contour 
of his picture becomes more perceptible by them. As a poet, 
although he does not render history with complete fidelity, 
nevertheless must portray his hero faithfully, even if adding 
a line here and changing another there, in order to throw a 
clearer light upon his entire character, so also does healthy 
and sound popular tradition treat persons who have taken a 
well-defined part in history, so that legend must fit closely to 
them, unable to obliterate their physiognomy. It is true that 
with others, legend changes their whole character, ornaments 
them with miracles and covers them with a full stock of tinsel, 
but the more miraculous legend appears, the less credible it 


is and the more does it veil the real character of the person. 
The glorification leaves so much less of the actual historical 
man. If such a man would have presented a sharp, well- 
marked outline, legend could not have surrounded it with 
direct contradictions and could not have obliterated the distinct 
traits. It did not do so in Hillel’s case. Some legends may 
have become affixed to his life, but they are so completely in 
accordance with his character, no miracles are attributed to 
him, that he continues a man, a sound, whole human being; 
he is not claimed to be more, and for that very reason he is 
the greater. 

He is designated as a disciple of Shemaya and Abtalyon. 
While a poor youth, so it is related, he was once unable to 
pay to the janitor the small fee which was demanded of those 
desiring admission. It wasa cold winter evening; he climbed 
up to the window of the lecture room, in order to hear the 
discourses of the teachers, and there he lay, regardless of what 
happened around him; the snowflakes fell upon him thick and 
fast and covered him entirely. Stiffened with the cold, he 
passed the whole night there and when, in the morning the 
lecture room was opened and daylight would not enter by 
that window, on examination being made, Hillel was dis- 
covered, unconscious and half frozen; he was carried into the 
house and resuscitated. We will pass no judgment on the 
truth of the tale; if it be but a legend it keeps within the 
bounds of probability and nature, intended to depict both his 
extraordinary zeal for study and his-great-poverty. Of his 
poverty we are informed also in other ways; but although he 
had no abundance of the good things of this life, he preserved 
his independence, and because he was of the common people, 
he had the more heart for the people and their wants. 

Of all his virtues, his meekness is especially praised. That 
trait of his was‘so well known that it has passed into a prover- 
bial saying. Two men entered into a wager, one of them 
taking the side that he could arouse Hillel to anger. One 
Friday evening when people were preparing for the Sabbath 
he went three times to him and asked him the most trivial 
questions. Hillel admitted him and answered the questions 

116 JUDAISM AND Its History 

in the most quiet manner. When the man, upon his third 
attempt, perceived that he had failed, he exclaimed violently: 
“May there not be many in Israel like thee!” which caused 
Hillel to ask the reason. ‘Why?’ replied the questioner, 
“through thee, I have lost a large bet.’’ ‘‘ Well,” said Hillel, 
“it is better that thou shouldst lose thy bet than I my calm- 
ness and humility.” Persons desiring information upon 
Judaism with a view to joining, applied to him as well as to 
Shammai. Shammai was older and his superior; clinging 
more to inherited custom and following old, beaten tracks, 
he was the leader and was first addressed. Such an inquirer 
came to Shammai, saying: ‘‘I desire to join Judaism, but I 
make the condition that I shall be made high-priest.’”” Sham- 
mai sent him rudely away. He then applied to Hillel, who 
said tohim: ‘‘Myson, let ustry.” He gave him instruction; 
soon they came to a passage treating of the priests where it 
was said of those not descended from priests that they could 
not enter certain parts of the Temple under penalty of 
death. And the man said to himself, “If not all native 
Israelites are permitted to assume priestly functions, how 
could I do it?” And he withdrew that condition. Another 
came scoffing and wanted to be taught the tenets of Judaism 
during the brief space of time that he could stand on one 
leg. Shammai drove him away; he went with the same 
request to Hillel, who said to him, “‘ Whatever is displeasing 
unto thee, do not unto another; that is the foundation and 
root of Judaism; the rest is commentary which you may learn 
at your leisure.”” The scoffer was changed into a convert. 
A third one came, saying, “I should like to join with you; 
I have read the Written Law, the Bible, and accept it; but I 
do not want to observe another law which has been but orally 
transmitted.” Shammai repulsed him, but when he applied 
to Hillel, the latter received him kindly, at once commenced 
his instruction, and taught him on the first day the letters in 
their usual order, but on the second, he read them to him in 
reversed order. ‘‘ How is this?’’ asked the pupil, ‘‘ Yesterday 
I heard the letters in a different order.” “Behold!” replied 
Hillel, “Yesterday you believed in the order of the letters 


adopted by me; follow me further in that which is not written 
down, but which is only a natural development of the other.” 
Those men became ardent disciples of Judaism and once upon 
a time, meeting each other, observed, “‘The harshness of 
Shammai well-nigh drove us away from the sanctuary, but 
the suavity of Hillel has kindly initiated us into it.” 

Such tales afford us a full insight into the character of the 
man. If it should be supposed from the fact that he pointed 
to passages of Holy Writ for certain privileges of the priests, 
that he was favorable to the priests, it would be a great 
mistake. He accepted what could not be changed by him, 
but he was the very man who carried on the contest against 
the priests with all possible determination and narrowed down 
the limits of their prerogatives most closely. His presenta- 
tion of the foundation and essence of Judaism fully discloses 
the sentiment of the man; the essence of Judaism consists in“/ 
love of man and mutual regard, in the respect of the dignity ; 
of man and the equality of all men; the rest is commentary. 
Do you perchance suppose that Legend has attributed to M 
Hillel in that story a trait out of the life of the founder of 
another religion? It would be in itself unnatural to adopt 
from another religion, and especially from a hostile daughter 
religion, a maxim of which it boasts as its exclusive property; 
it would rather be contended against and its value denied. 
Besides, that maxim was not so much in keeping with the 
rigid legalism of a later time that it should have invented the 
story which was really an obstacle in their way. But aside 
from that, as you gain a better knowledge of our Hillel, you 
will see that the maxim is in full accordance with his char- 
acter. At an earlier date, the canon had been established: 
“‘Whoever believes God to be all-merciful and all-gracious, 
regards also benevolence and love towards his fellow-men as 
a fundamental duty.’’ Listen now how our Hillel thinks of 
God. There are three different classes of men; namely, the 
fully pious, the intermediary, and the fully wicked. On some 
future day, there will be a day of judgment for men; the fully 
pious will at once enjoy their reward, the fully wicked will 
receive their punishment, but what will become of the inter- 

118 JUDAISM AND Its History 

‘mediary? Of them the School of Shammai says, ‘They will 
first be sent into hell, given up to punishment, but will 
longingly look up and wail and gradually ascend.”—‘ Not 
so,” says Hillel, ‘tas regards the intermediary, He who is 
abundant in mercy will incline the scale unto mercy.” Who- 
ever entertains such an idea of God, holds also higher opinion 
of man and teaches love for all mankind. Accordingly, that 
maxim is quite in agreement with his character. As regards 
a third point, that he defends Tradition, his very character 
affords the clue: he is a man of living, continuous development, 
he demands that actual practical life in its freshness should 
decide upon measure and form. 

Hillel knows man according to his inner being but no less, 
according to the demands of life. He is wont to consult with 
his soul. He hastens, a tale beautifully relates, from the 
house of learning, in order to attend to a dear guest. His 
disciples ask him, ‘‘ Master, who is the dear guest whom thou 
keepest in thy house from day to day?” “That guest,’’ he 
replied, “‘is my own soul—during my intercourse with the 
world, it must always be pushed back, but it claims its right 
nevertheless.”’ That is true, profound introspection. But 
he was, withal, far from sentimentality and transcendentalism; 
he apprehends life rather in its freshness, beauty and im- 
portance. A long-drawn-out dispute existed between the 
Schools of Shammai and Hillel. The adherents of the former 
maintained in perfect accordance with their gloomy ways, 
that it would be better for man never to have been born than 
to be born; the followers of the latter asserted that it is better 
for man that he has been created; he is born for action and 
the earth is the place of his activity. They had to yield in 
a manner, because the others had the greater authority, but 
their whole yielding amounted to this: “Well, we are 
created; let us be active, and examine well our action.” 
“Make the most of life and its day,” was the motto of Hillel. 
Whenever Shammai came across anything good and nice 
during the week, he said, ‘‘Let this be kept for the Sabbath.” 
Hillel said, ‘‘ Praise to God day by day; this is a day on which 
I may rejoice through the goodness of God; another day will 


bring its own.” He recognized the claims and the mission 
of every period, and the difference of the times gave him the 
rule for his labors. He used to say, “At a time of gathering 
in when they love to see everything clothed in religious garb, 
you may spread and scatter, let ceremonies and formalities 
grow in luxurious abundance; but at a time of casting off, 
when ceremonies and formalities are dropping out, then puil 
up, be ready to yield, desist from forcible preservation and 

That was the fundamental idea along the lines of which 
Hillel proceeded, as attested by all his works and words. 
He presents the picture of a genuine reformer; that word will 
not do him any harm; it ought to raise him in our estimation. 
He was confronted by the difficulties that present themselves 
to rejuvenation and revival at all times; some may have told 
him, ‘‘Why wilt thou make changes? Stand by that which is 
authoritative now. Howcanst thou usurp the right of making 
innovations?”’ The saying of his: ‘If I work not for myself, 
who will work for me?” is probably the answer to such 
objectors. If only that which former times have produced, 
beyond which we have already passed, shall be binding, and 
I do not make timely regulations for myself, who is to make 
them for me?—Others may have said, ‘ Well, keep it to thyself; 
think and act accordingly; but why wilt thou interfere by © 
introducing changes and reforms for the community?’ As 
if an idea were for one individual only, as if it could be locked 
up in a box, to be looked at, at an opportune time, while it 
is in fact a vital energy ruling and impelling man, as the 
prophet expresses it: “It was in mine heart as a burning 
fire, shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing 
and I could not stay.’? And Hillel’s saying replies to those: 
“Tf I am for myself alone, what am I then?’’—Do I ask 
anything for myself? The community wants its burden made 
lighter. ‘‘ Desist, dear friend,” others may have cautioned 
him, ‘thou art too hasty.’”’ His maxim, ‘‘If not now, when 
then?” is probably the reply to those conservatives. Every 
age labors and must labor, and if we mean to creep along in 
indolence, the future is killed in its very germ. Such was 

120 JUDAISM AND Its History 

Hillel, and that he labored in that manner, that he was the 
man who dared to make determined resistance to all aggra- 
vations, that he never feared the name of mitigator, all will 
clearly perceive who have once cast a glance into the history 
of Judaism. I shall not trouble you with details; but I shall 
adduce a few examples to show how he understood his time. 

There is a biblical precept that, when a house situated in 
a city surrounded by a wall has been sold, it can be redeemed by 
its former owner within a year; if he has neglected the redemp- 
tion, the house remains the property of the purchaser (mort- 
gagee). Usually the grantor (mortgagor) waited till the last 
day of the term, when he would use every effort to raise the 
money for the redemption. But often the purchaser (mort- 
gagee) went away on the last day for redemption and locked 
the house, in order to make it impossible for the former 
owner (mortgagor) to repay him the purchase money and 
regain his property. The law existed, its letter was binding. 
“No,” said Hillel, “the letter is not binding—in case the man 
in possession is not at home, let the door be forced open, or 
the money be deposited in the Temple treasury; the lawful 
owner shall not lose his property in consequence of the 
cunning used by the other party.’’ Another much more 
far-reaching example is the following: Every seventh year 
there was a release of debts, a precept born of the tender 
spirit of Judaism, but naturally intended only for the simple 
times when the people’s life moved within the plainest 
conditions. In such a period, only those borrow money who 
are in actual want and the sums are small—to assist such 
persons is an act of pure charity—and under such circum- 
stances the law of the year of release is a very beautiful one; 
the time has expired, the debt is canceled. But in later times, 
borrowing and lending were no longer merely the result of 
want on the one side and of pure generosity on the other; 
men borrowed for business purposes, to have ready means for 
carrying on trade; nor did people do the lending from a 
sentiment of charity, perhaps as a favor, but mainly to share 
in the profits. Now, if the debtor had an opportunity in the 
seventh year to get rid of his debts, what would follow as 


the consequence? That which Holy Writ apprehended; there 
was no longer any one willing to lend money, because it was 
known that at a definite time the right of collecting the loan 
would lapse, because the year of release canceled all debts. 
How could that be remedied? ‘‘What do I care?” said 
conservatism, ‘zt is written; the law must stand.” “No,” 
said Hillel, ‘‘shall business be stopped because the defrauder 
covers himself with the mantle of the law? Shall the poor 
starve, because fear of loss ties up the hand of the wealthy 
—and all in the cause of religion? No, this thing must be 
remedied. Henceforth the contracts may be executed at 
court, with the stipulation that the year of release shall not 
cancel the debt; and that stipulation shall be valid.” —‘“‘ But 
that is clearly against the law as it is written.’’—‘‘ Maybe; 
but when we stick to its letter, all morality will be lost; 
written or not, practical life decides.’’ And Hillel’s announce- 
ment was accepted and prevailed. 

Such was the man and thus he became a restorer or 
reformer of Judaism, and his influence continues to this day. 
He did not believe in seclusive piety, as his saying, “Separate 
not thyself from the community or thy fellow-men,” plainly 
expresses. To assume to be pre-eminently devout, to forsake 
others as backsliders and bask in a lustre of seclusive piety, 
is immoral. He had no respect for hermitical piety—he was 
a man of social practical life and he invigorated and elevated 
the life of Judaism in all possible manner. How that period 
might have further shaped itself, if the quiet development of 
Judaism had thus continued its course, is superfluous to 
conjecture. Quiet development was not granted to it. Great 
events came to pass; two events which, taken together, do 
not constitute the heart and central point of the world’s 
history, but which produced great revolutions; I mean the 
origin of Christianity and the dissolution of the Jewish 


Parties and Sects, Origin of Christianity. 

If it is a difficult task to show how the spirit of Religion 
has entered the human mind and become rooted therein, to 
disclose the mysterious ways through which its development 
has passed, to point out the various formations by which it 
manifested itself amid the chances and changes of external 
historic life, and yet, at the same time not to lose sight of 
the Unity of the religious idea: the difficulty of such a task 
is greatly increased when, in reviewing history, we have 
arrived at a turning point which is followed by most searching 
consequences and with which a world-historic transformation 
begins. Even the various impelling and moving forces which 
co-operate, as it were, to introduce a new creation into the 
world, are at work at such a depth that they are concealed 
from our view and manifest themselves only through their 
external effects. From insignificant beginnings, limited at 
first within a narrow circle, a new spiritual power has all at 
once developed itself; and we must track it into its various 
starting points, examine how its paths are entwined with and 
met by circumstances and conditions which favored that 
development. And here, still another difficulty presents itself. 
Historical events which have turned into deepest convictions, 
which are regarded by some as the very life’s nerve of their 
own minds and also of the spiritual movement of the world’s 
history, in fact, as the very aim and center of man’s existence, 
which are reverenced as the Holiest of Holies, challenge our 
attention; whereas, by the other side, the protest now raised 
aloud and then again by intentional silence, is no less deter- 
mined, and also has its root in the idea and conception of 
human life and destiny. Every one who perceives the moving 
of the Divine Spirit in the grand course of the world’s history, 
will reverence also God’s work in a world-historic event that 


produced such important transformations in all relations; 
will see His disposing hand in a faith that has kept for nearly 
fifteen centuries the civilized world under its sway; he will 
with reverence examine a religion by which millions have been, 
and still are, quickened and comforted. And, though he does 
not share the belief that this historical event should be ven- 
erated as the spiritual center of the entire historic existence 
of the world, that an entirely new spiritual creation had 
occurred which had illuminated the world with ideas that 
had never before been felt or conceived; that henceforth it 
had become the prop and pillar of a new world-structure as 
well as the only source of a new spiritual life: he will feel 
himself pressingly called upon to justify his opposition and 
to explain his interpretation of the peculiarities of those events. 
But he must also be permitted to utter, though modestly, 
yet without repression, his own opinion, without fearing that 
a word might escape his lips which would sound unpleasantly 
to one side or the other. Whoever respects in himself free, 
honestly acquired convictions, and claims the right to freely 
express his own opinion, honoring true manly courage therein, 
will not, it is hoped, deny the same right to others, but will 
quietly receive the utterance of an independent conviction, 
however much it may militate against his own. 

A great world-historic movement approaches; and before 
we proceed, we must once more vividly place before our eyes 
the state of the world at that time, especially the conditions 
in Judea. There was a strong, in part very healthy move- 
ment of the spirits in that country. The reformatory labors 
of Hillel had partly turned the minds from the tactical error 
of assuming priestly garb in the fight against the priest- 
caste. Phariseeism had entered upon a phase of development 
wherein it gave the true spirit of Judaism free rein, although, 
as is the case with all such movements towards reform, only 
a sort of halfway station had been reached. Priesthood and 
Temple-service still retained their importance, although that 
was on the decline; but the elevation of man to free and 
independent religiousness had not yet reached that high point, 
from which the sight can behold, free and untrammeled, the 

124 JUDAISM AND Its History 

Divine in man ruling the conviction and transforming and 
creating the outward form. Transformation was ardently 
striven for, but effected only by closely leaning upon existing 
forms, and in that manner it succeeded. Continual working 
along those lines would surely have carried Judaism to higher 
development. Phariseeism was a sound limb on the body of 
Judaism, and proved itself as such also at that time. Its 
adherents were zealous patriots, and at the same time seri- 
ously devoted to the study and practice of their religion. 
Yet, with all their efforts to preserve the national and political 
life, to fortify the customs and independence of their country, 
they were men who were opposed to every revolutionary 
enterprise and exerted themselves to moderate all inconsider- 
ate zeal. They had entered into the heart of political life, 
their leaders had gradually acquired enough importance to 
have a weighty voice in the council of the nation by the side 
of the high-priests, the chiefs of the Sadducees, to pronounce 
their decisive judgment concerning both political and civil 
affairs. And it could now be seen that they themselves, 
formerly the men of violent opposition, weighed with prudent 
circumspection the means at their command, and well esti- 
mated the forces in their hands. Even Josephus, the fawning 
and partial historian of that time, is forced to acknowledge, 
when speaking of the man who stood at the head of the 
Pharisees during the period of the Jewish war—Simon Ben 
Gamaliel, grandson or great-grandson of Hillel, who was no 
friend of Josephus but rather opposed him in his measures 
because he probably had suspicions about him—even Josephus 
is forced to concede that Simon Ben Gamaliel was a man of 
determined energy joined with the most circumspect prudence, 
a man who studiously sought to keep the people from com- 
mitting excesses, who by no means approved the foolhardy 
enterprises which shall yet present themselves to our atten- 
tion. Thus the Pharisees, though powerfully impelled by 
religious hopes for the future, lived nevertheless chiefly in 
their present, and their energies and activities were directed 
towards improving conditions in their own time. 

But in such times as we have under consideration, men of 


that stamp might in a measure preserve their authority, but 
they could never satisfy the people. Rome was knocking at 
the gates of Jerusalem with an iron hand, to lay it heavily 
on the neck of the nation; the distant roll of the thunder was 
heard long before the storm burst forth in its full fury. There 
is a saying of our ancient teachers still extant: ‘‘Forty years 
before the Temple was destroyed, its gates opened and could 
no more be closed.” Be that as it.may, at all events the 
words convey the idea that even a generation before the 
catastrophe actually occurred, all eyes were turned towards 
it with alarm, and people settled down to the conviction that 
a desperate struggle was coming, that the battle would have 
to be fought even if it shouid turn out barren of results. In 
such times, the mass of the people will not regard prudent 
moderation as a virtue. It chooses quite different men for 
its favorites, men who come forward with burning zeal, with 
a fervor of faith and patriotism bordering on raving madness, 
to whom every means appears fair as long as it seems to lead 
towards the accomplishment of their object; men who, with- 
out reflecting whether or not their means are sufficient and 
without regarding what the result may be, will attempt 
anything to give vent to the vehemence of their emotions, 
even if it should accelerate the catastrophe. Such men did 
appear, and even their contemporaries designated them by 
the fully characteristic name of Zealots (Kannaim). With 
their zeal for their faith, they nurtured an implacable hatred 
against the tyrannical rule and influence of the foreigners. 
On account of the insufficiency of the means at their command, . 
many of them had no scruples against employing such means- 
as would have been indignantly rejected in more quiet times. 
They were also called Sikarioi, because they carried a dagger. 
concealed beneath their cloaks and secretly stabbed everyone 
who advocated moderation and, by that, appeared to them 
suspicious, as a traitor hired by the enemy. They were so 
numerous and well-connected together, they were in such 
favor with the population, that the legal authorities dared 
not lay hands upon them. With such ideas, revolts occurred. 
Judah of Gaulonitis, a Galilean, proclaimed it as a crime, as 

126 JUDAISM AND Its History 

a denial of religion, to obey the empire or to yield in any 
manner to the secular rule imposed by a foreign country. 
“There is but one kingdom,” so ran his dictum, ‘‘and that is 
the kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God. When the 
country’s God-believing power is broken and is to bow down 
before the heathen unbelief, then is the world moved from 
its foundation. Our duty, first and last, is not to yield to 
that worldly power.” In his eyes it was a sin to touch a 
piece of money which had the picture of the Roman Emperor 
on it; to pay taxes to a foreign power was a crime; to date 
contracts according to the Roman custom, under this or that 
Consul, or under this or that Procurator, was blasphemy as 
well as treason against the country. The words of another 
one of those Galilean zealots are related as follows: ‘How 
can you Pharisees make any claim to piety? You write in 
contracts the name of the foreign ruler by the side of that of 
Moses, beginning them with ‘In the . . . year of the 
Emperor . . . .’ and conclude with ‘according to the 
law of Moses and Israel.’ If the name of the unbeliever is 
in such manner incorporated in contracts of marriage and the 
like, that have any religious significance, can you call that 
piety?’ The Pharisees of course rejected and rebuked such 
exaggerations, but among the population at large, they rever- 
berated to such an extent that they led to isolated revolts and 
the formation of new sects. To such an importance had the 
party of the Zealots risen that Josephus actually represents 
the adherents of Judah of Gaulonitis as a fourth sect, by the 
side of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and a third one, the 
Essenes, which last one we shall also consider. Theudas, 
another Zealot leader, acted on the same ideas somewhat 
later; he too came from Galilee, stirred up revolts, and found 
many enthusiastic adherents. That the leaders were crucified 
by the Romans, did not injure the respect paid to them; their 
sentiment spread only the more rapidly. 

The feeling which prevailed in Judea, bursting forth in 
deeds of wild fanaticism, rested on an old spiritual foundation 
which increased more and more in strength and intensity. 
Already during the time when the Maccabean war had 


started, an idea had general circulation which was firmly 
rooted in the assurance of the faith in themselves, though 
joined with the certainty of despair that it could not come 
to pass just then. The idea took form in the exclamation: 
“The world is breaking up; the future world must soon come.” 
In the book of Daniel which describes those matters in the 
form of a vision, the mighty powers who rise against the saints 
of the Most High are described in their full terror; but at the 
same time he encourages the timid, saying, “A son of man 
shall then arise, hidden in the clouds of heaven; all empires 
shall bow to him, all peoples shall yield in obedience to him, 
and many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall 
awake and rise up, some to everlasting life and some to 
everlasting shame.” This world is in itself completely ruined 
and destroyed; a future one, not beyond, but here on this 
earth, shall appear, in which also the ancient saints, rising 
up, shall participate. The Kingdom of God, or the Heavenly 
Kingdom, as it is also called in Daniel, shall come. Of course, 
the Maccabees did not appear as such sons of men, hidden 
in clouds of heaven; they were warriors and ended as victors; 
nor was the position pointed out in the visions reached; the 
nations did not obey them, the empires did not yield to them, 
but Judea had become independent. A position had been 
reached sufficient for the considerate and energetic; and those 
hopes for the future fell to the rear into the background. 
But again a time had come which witnessed spoliations and 
devastations, and betokened yet greater evils; again, a still 
more powerful enemy pressed upon Israel with far more 
effective opposition; again it was intended to break not only 
the power of the nation as an independent state—for that was 
already broken—but also their spiritual life was to be crushed 
out. . The worship of images and idols was again to be intro- 
duced in Judaism, the Emperors were to be adored as gods, 
as Div, their statues were to be set up in the Temple. Even 
the Roman standards, adorned with the eagles as the emblem 
of the Roman Empire, the flight of the bird being observed 
and interpreted, appeared to the Jews as of idolatrous sig- 
nificance. And those eagles were ordered to be affixed to the 

128 Jupatsm AND Its HisToRY 

Temple, and their removal to be punished with death! Then 
despair again seized the minds of the people; their religious 
sentiment was so powerful, ruled all conditions of life, had 
grown in intensity, and yet was to be crowded down. Then 
it was that the ancient idea, which had fallen to the rear for 
awhile, came again with full force to the front: The Kingdom 
of Heaven will and must come, this world is given up to evil, 
it is a world of heathenism and doomed to destruction; let it 
perish, the future world will soon succeed it; the Kingdom of 
Heaven appears, the pious will rise up again, and theirs will 
the kingdom be then. Will you hear the words of a zealot, 
or rather the disciple of a zealot of a later day, asit has been 
preserved for us by our ancient teachers? He announces: 
“Whoever takes upon himself the yoke of the Law, shakes 
off the yoke of the empire and the yoke of civil authority; but 
whoever shakes off the yoke of the Law, upon him shall be 
the yoke of the kingdom of this world and the yoke of all 
civil ordinances.’’ Only the Law, the faithful observance of 
the religious statutes shall and must rule, and when the Law 
rules, the whole artificial political structure will fall; all those 
organizations that keep political life together, unless Religion 
prescribes them, are superfluous and will vanish; but as soon 
as you shake off the yoke of the Law, that easy, sweet yoke, 
then you must bear the whole pressure of the heavy yoke of 
the world. Therefore away with it, and seriously cling to 
the Law! Such thoughts filled the hearts, such hopes were 
entertained with the most decided confidence. 

There were also timid and tender-chorded hearts that did 
not join in the energetic fury or in the elated hopes, and who 
found satisfaction for their religious sentiment in seclusion 
through hermitical asceticism; they were the Essenes, the third 
sect mentioned by Josephus. They did not influence the 
changing conditions of the commonwealth, yet found favor 
and won disciples; they were regarded as having power to 
work miracles and were revered on account of their quiet, 
pious practices. The Essenes, generally speaking, did not 
greatly differ from the Pharisees; they were of the Middle 
Class, were not at all on a friendly footing with the aristocracy 


and the priests; they are even reported as having altogether 
repudiated animal sacrifices, but (far more than the most 
extreme Pharisees and almost in opposition to the main body 
of them) they shunned as much as possible all contact with 
the world at large, secluding themselves, as it were, in the 
secret sanctuary of their hearts, satisfying their spiritual 
wants by mystical contemplation. They regarded the world 
and its affairs with indifference; they are even said (but the 
only authority for particulars about them is the very unre- 
liable Josephus) to have espoused celibacy, community of 
property, etc. All that increased their reputation and they 
gained reverence as healers, workers of miracles, prophets, 
but they exerted no influence upon the development of events. 

Such was the state of feeling in Judea. 

Whatever found expression and shape in and around 
Jerusalem, the center of the kingdom, found also not alone 
its echo, but even its peculiar intensified expression in the 
outermost limits of the country; and these outermost limits 
were Galilee. Galilee was separated from Judea only by 
Samaria, inhabited from very early times by a mixed people, 
whence its name, ‘‘the Land of the Nations,’’ surrounded by 
Syrians and Phoenicians, and containing quite a number of 
settlements of those populations. You have probably read 
in a recent work a very glowing description of Galilee of that 
time. It runs about like this: ‘‘Galilee is a highly fertile, 
picturesque country in which pleasant plains are varied by 
green, wooded hills whose soil furnishes everything that man 
can wish for; its inhabitants are unsophisticated children of 
nature, harmless, ignorant men, and lovely ignorant women 
who follow an enthusiastic youth with innocent love.” It is 
not exactly stated whether that love is directed more to the 
person or to the cause he represents. I am sorry that I have 
to demolish this charming idyl. It is true, Galilee was a 
fruitful country; it was intersected by rivers and hills, and 
yielded an abundance for the gratification of all physical 
wants; its inhabitants were ignorant indeed; their language 
was mixed and corrupt, having lost its purity and character 
and accepted many foreign elements. Hence the people 


stood not so high as the inhabitants of Judea. But their 
ignorance was by no means an idyllic life of quietude. On 
the contrary, it was blended with a certain amount of savage- 
ness. The revolutionists before mentioned, those who sought 
to do away with their opponents by fire and sword, by dagger 
and other secret means, hailed mostly from Galilee. Young 
Herod, even at a period just preceding the one under con- 
sideration, gave the first proofs of his character in Galilee. 
He had executed the robbers around about there without 
ceremony and mercy, driven to it by the exigencies of the 
case. He was indicted for it; but his power—although at the 
time he was but governor of the province of Galilee under his 
father Antipater, the representative of Hyrcanus—had even 
then become so great that the Sanhedrim did not dare to 
pass judgment against him, and it is certain that he had good 
cause for his extraordinary proceeding. For a spirit had 
spread in Galilee, such as generally lays hold of that portion 
of a people which only receives the general impetus of a 
movement without being able to account clearly for the 
reasons and causes. The Galileans were, if I may be per- 
mitted to coin the term, the Marseillesians of the Jewish 
struggle, of that commotion which surged so violently. It 
was in Galilee where the most violent and extreme movements 
found the fullest applause. In a similar way, as the Galileans 
were inclined to rebellion, so they were ruled and inflamed by 
the belief that this world was breaking down and a new 
world, the future world, would soon appear—an idea which 
visionaries who use little reflection but have strong feeling, 
will always readily accept. It was there probably, where 
John went about exclaiming, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of 
Heaven is near at hand.” That kingdom is the future world 
—the rule of justice on this earth, the destruction of all 
secular fetters and the illegitimate reign of heathenism to 
which the present world is given over as prey. 

Thus the hearts were in full agitation, prepared for the 
most wonderful phenomena. 

It was then that a man appeared in Galilee who still more 
confidently gave shape to the commotion of the times. While 


others before him had merely ‘advised preparation for the 
Kingdom of Heaven, promising that it would come—that a 
son of man wrapt in the clouds of heaven would appear— 
that a complete transformation would take place, while others 
acted only as prophets and proclaimers of that belief, bearing 
in their imagination that hope without giving it shape, he 
had the courage and confidence to state, ‘‘The time is ful- 
filled, the Kingdom of Heaven is come, and the son of man 
wrapt in the clouds of heaven’’—at first he did not distinctly 
pronounce it, but he had the belief within him and let it shine 
through everywhere—“‘that son of man, J am.’ It was not 
his idea to carry on a fight against the kingdom of this world; 
the words attributed to him by a later narrator, ‘My kingdom 
is not of this world’? may have fully corresponded to that 
belief. It means, “‘My kingdom does not begin in the present 
heathen world; this heathen world will soon have been broken 
up and passed away; the future world will then come in, 
actually and tangibly, and then my kingdom will begin.” 
He was fully convinced of that, and in all later times of deep 
oppression we meet with men who presented themselves with 
the same self-assurance as Messiahs. Should we wonder that 
at such a time of general tension and suspense, a bold and 
glowing enthusiasm for Judaism and its reign at large should 
completely possess and carry an over-anxious man to the 
point of faith in himself, of filling him with the courage to 
announce those hopes with the fullest assurance? It was 
such a belief that animated the first author of Christianity. 
He was a Jew, a Pharisean Jew with Galilean coloring—a man 
who joined in the hopes of his time and who believed that 
those hopes were fulfilled in him. He did not utter a new 
thought, nor did he break down the barriers of nationality. 
When a foreign woman came to him with request to heal her, 
he said, ‘‘It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast 
it to the dogs.” He did not abolish any part of Judaism; he 
was a Pharisee who walked in the way of Hillel, did not set 
the most decided value upon every single external form, yet 
proclaimed “that not the least tittle should be taken from 
the Law;’’ “‘The Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat, and whatsoever 

132 JupAIsM AND Its History 

they bid you observe, that observe and do.” It is true that, 
if the accounts are faithful, he allowed himself to be carried 
away to trifling depreciatory expressions concerning one 
subject or another, when he was opposed; but he never faltered 
in his original convictions. The replies which we learn from 
the most faithful reporter—a completely accurate report can 
hardly be expected, but the one styled ‘‘according to Mark’’ 
is the most reliable—the objections and tests presented to 
him rest all on the basis which he occupied. The Sadducees 
took him to task concerning the resurrection which he dis- 
tinctly emphasized with his assertion of the entrance of the 
future world, of the kingdom of Heaven. With the scoffing 
question, “‘Moses wrote unto us, if a man’s brother die and 
leave his wife behind him and leave no children, that his 
brother take his wife and raise up seed unto his brother;— 
now there were seven brothers, and the first took a wife, and 
dying, left no seed; and the second took her and died, neither 
left he any seed; and the third likewise, and the seven had 
her and left no seed; last of all, the woman died also;—in the 
resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall 
she be?’’—with that scoffing question, cunningly calculated 
to meet his assertion of the speedy appearance of the future 
world and the resurrection, the Sadducees met him. He 
replied, ‘‘The future world will appear, but there will be no 
more marrying nor giving in marriage.’’? When a Pharisee 
heard that and found that the answer was a good one, he 
asked, ‘‘Which is the first commandment of all?” and Jesus 
replied, “The first of all commandments is, Hear O Israel, 
God is our Lord, God is One (this beginning of his answer is 
found only in Mark, the other Evangelists—a very significant 
pointer—have omitted it) and thou shalt love God thy Lord 
with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind 
and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment. 
And the second is like, namely this: Thou shalt love thy 
neighbor as thyself.’’” There was nothing new in that. And 
the Pharisee replied, ‘‘Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: 
for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And 
to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding 


and with all the soul and with all the strength, and to love 
his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt-offerings 
and sacrifices.” The Pharisee raised no objection, for what 
he had heard corresponded fully to his own conviction. That 
reply of the Pharisee is also to be found only in Mark; the 
other later Gospels shape it to suit their purposes. 

If the author of Christianity is represented as having 
taught the specific doctrine: ‘‘God is a God of love and not 
of anger and vengeance,” it is likewise a later addition which 
is not found in the book of the more faithful narrator. What 
could be added to the saying of Hillel: ‘‘The Merciful 
inclineth the scale toward mercy?” If Jesus’ utterances con- 
cerning the purely moral relations of men to each other are 
indeed faithfully reported, they either present nothing new, or 
whatever is new, bears such a diseased character as belongs 
toa diseased age. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” 
was a saying to which the Pharisee gave his approval, “Well, 
Master, thou hast said the truth!’ But in the varying 
reports, Jesus is said also to have praised poverty and con- 
tempt of the world and everything that proceeds from this 
world; to have repudiated cheerful participation in the affairs 
of this world. Such doctrines are not taught by Phariseeism; 
on the contrary, it announces this principle: “The world is 
an ante-chamber for the future one; prepare thyself well in 
the ante-chamber, that thou mayest appear properly in the 
reception room. One hour in the future world is sweeter than 
all enjoyments in this one, but also, one hour in this world 
spent in the study of the Law and the performance of good 
deeds, is better than all the pleasures in the future world.” 
If such cheerful and energetic participation in the affairs of 
this world, undertaken in honor and honesty, is to be shunned 
and everything earthly to be despised, it must be a morbid 
tendency, unless it can be explained by the belief that the 
future world, organized quite differently, was near at hand. 
If an alleged morality is to suppress every sense of justice, 
if the doctrine is to prevail: ‘‘Whosoever shall smite thee 
on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also’”’ (in other 
words, Do not only suffer, but lose all sense of honor) and 

134 JuDAIsM AND Its History 

also: “If anyone take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak 
also,” if that be the new doctrine proclaimed by Jesus (Jesus 
is the Greek pronunciation of the name Joshua; Joshua, the 
son of Nun, is called Jesus by the Greek translators, and so 
is Jesus Sirach), then it is either the product of a diseased 
period which perverts all order and destroys all notions of 
right, or it proceeds from the transfer of an entirely different 
future world into the present. 

Thus the movement started at first, and no new departure 
in religion is exhibited, although the impulse to one was con- 
tained in it. It was the belief in the fulfilment of the Mes- 
sianic hopes entertained by Pharisean Judaism of that period. 
Whatever else is related concerning the author of Christianity 
belongs to that class of myths or legends which we have 
alluded to in a former place. Whenever legend fails to make 
the outlines of a person sharper and more distinct, whenever 
it fails to draw its matter from the distinctive character and 
essence of the man and thereby throws more light upon him; 
but when, on the contrary, it adorns him so much that he 
becomes unrecognizable, far exalted beyond all individual dis- 
tinctness and volatilizes him into a mere abstraction, then the 
legend is a formation of the imagination which in exuberant 
growth shapes things out of the dim fancies of the period and 
wraps them in an ever deepening darkness. 

That the first author of Christianity found believing 
adherents was the natural effect of the conditions of his time. 
At first, the educated and intelligent were not attracted by 
him. In Galilee, a small band who stood low and were 
despised by the bulk of the population—many of them 
mercenaries of the government, publicans that gathered the 
taxes for the hated empire, upon whom the whole weight of 
contempt rested, who were shunned on all sides; they, the 
low and vulgar, willingly listened to his announcement. 
“They that are whole have no need of the physician, but 
they that are sick,” he said. And those sick ones were 
gathered around him. Soon he did not confine his addresses 
to those exiles from the population; his fame spread, and he 
ventured to move to the metropolis of Judea. But soon, 


charges were made against him. Here and there he also met 
approval, he was hailed with, ‘‘Hosanna, son of David.” 
For such he must needs be, if he meant to be a Messiah. 
He was brought before a court, and we are not told that a 
large number of followers were with him, so that they would 
have been afraid to pronounce judgment against him. The 
judgment had to be executed by the procurator. Pilate asked 
him, ‘‘Art thou the King of the Jews?’ and he replied, 
“Thou sayest it.” Hedid not deny it. According to a later 
account, he added, “‘My kingdom is not of this world’ — of 
course not, but of the future which will soon come and appear. 
“Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which 
shall not taste of death till they see the Kingdom of God’’— 
“there be many here who shall see it how the end of 
things shall be fulfilled.” To Pilate, the whole matter 
seemed strange, unintelligible doings, not important enough 
to demand his rigorous interference, but the people to whom 
he left it to pray for his release, according to an ancient 
custom, giving them the right to obtain pardon for a criminal 
before a festival, repudiated all fellowship with him and 
refused their intercession. Thus a judgment was pronounced 
which could not have been different in a time of such commo- 
tion, which threatened to be made still more miserable by the 
announcement of lying hopes—for such they were to those who 
did not believe in him—and by the implied attempt at revolu- 
tion. Imbued with the religious convictions of his time, he 
raised himself into a position which was not accorded to him, 
represented the hope of the future as fulfilled and embodied 
in himself, raised expectations of a complete change in all 
political conditions, and ignored the whole civil arrangement 
of the time, even if he did not start a revolt. Under such 
circumstances, the verdict could not have been otherwise; he 
was crucified, as was Judah of Gaulonitis and his followers 
at a previous time. The adherents of Jesus at first were 
stunned by that issue, but not shaken in their belief. Of 
course this world moves on in its course, he also dies; this 
world must hate him, it had power yet for a short time, but 
the Heavenly Kingdom comes, then he rises again, the 


resurrection will start with him and then become general. 
That faith prevailed even during his lifetime, it could not be 
shaken by his death; on the contrary, it was but natural that 
it would appear more vividly in the foreground. He must 
rise again—he will surely rise again—and soon the opinion 
was arrived at: He is risen—he is gone to heaven and will 
appear again, wrapt in the clouds of heaven at the general 
resurrection with the entrance of the Heavenly Kingdom. 
That course of development is perfectly natural, there is 
nothing strange about it; and his disciples see him, waiting 
day by day for his glorious return. . That is the first dispo- 
sition to the origin of Christianity, the germ out of which the 
mighty tree comes forth, to which the other factors become 
joined, to gradually transform the sect, feeble in its incip- 
iency, into a ruling power. 


The Evolution of Christianity. 

By the side of the various tendencies then existing within 
Judaism, by the side of Sadduceeism, of Phariseeism with 
the profound commotion within it, of Essenism, of Zealotism, 
of the following of Juda of Gaulonitis, and some other minor 
groups, all within the small territory of Judea—a proof of 
the deepest excitement of all forces, of a severe struggle, both 
spiritual and political—by the side of those various tendencies, 
another new one sprouted from the soil of Pharisean Judaism, 
that of the fulfilled Messianism. The Greek translation of 
that term is Christianity; Messiah, the anointed (Christos) 
was the designation of the king who was expected to 
inaugurate the future world, to bring about, while destroying 
the entire present ancient world, the conditions in which 
God alone shall be King, and the Heavenly Kingdom, or 
the Kingdom of God, proclaimed and introduced by that 
Messiah, shall prevail. Thus the belief in the fulfilled 
Messiahship, or Christianity, presented the claim that the 
new world was now beginning, or had already begun, that 
the Messiah had appeared, that he had died within the old 
world, in fact, had to die in it, but would rise, had even risen, 
and would soon reappear in the clouds of heaven, in order to 
completely arrange the new world, to force all mankind to 
submit to the Kingdom of God, and to call a new race into 
existence, even outside of the present disrupted and corrupted 
civil laws. Such was the new tendency which now came 
to the surface within Judaism, and starting from the very 
soil of Phariseeism. 

The new feature was this, that the event which all, or at 
least the greater part of the Jewish people regarded as some- 
thing to come in a far-distant time, and therefore sketched 
in indistinct outline, was now believed to have been fully 

138 JUDAISM AND Its History 

accomplished and would soon show up in its full glory. 
That was the first phase of Christianity. That tendency 
could not make much growth within Judaism in Palestine. 
The old time was indeed a gloomy and hard one for the Jews 
there; that the old world was doomed to perish, was a belief 
which afforded them comfort and fortitude; but that it had 
already perished, that a new world had already appeared, 
was a great step from reality into imagination, which the 
facts and actual conditions most emphatically refuted. ‘No, 
the new world has not yet appeared, though we most fervently 
hope for it,’’ was the general verdict. Besides, the minds 
were burdened with too many heavy cares to indulge in the 
play of the imagination that the future had actually come. 
Every day brought new troubles; as often as the sun arose, 
it shone upon new struggles and new hardships—all energies 
were called for, not to indulge in speculation and to strengthen 
a belief which stamped ideals of the future as present real- 
ities, but to give undivided attention to the actual present 
with its burdens and oppression. Accordingly, the belief 
in the actual fulfilment of the Messianic hope spread very 
little within the boundaries of Palestine. The historian 
of that time, Josephus Flavius, makes no mention of the 
author of the tendency and of the tendency itself, while he 
treats extensively of all the others, especially of those which 
were of a very recent date: that of Juda of Gaulonitis, that 
of Theudas, of the Zealots, and gives a full account of the 
persons and their purposes. The few lines found in the pre- 
sent shape of his book concerning the author of Christianity, 
bear the most distinct mark of a later interpolation; the brief 
words are in the fullest conflict with the character of the whole 
book, are without connection, a fragmentary patch, not the 
work of an author who elaborates the task proposed to 
himself, according to a certain plan. 

Within Palestine, the tendency could not gain an extensive 
spread. The lower class of the people, by nature prone to 
believe in wonders, and greedy of miracles, who, because 
pushed to the rear by the better class, gladly take up some- 
thing new—the lower class were the first to take and follow 


the new lead. That miracle-mad class creates its fulfilled 
prophecies and miracles with the greatest ease, in luxurious 
abundance. Accordingly the new doctrine was almost entirely 
covered with the most luxuriant creepers of the superstition of 
the lower class of the time. The belief in Demons who can be 
found everywhere in innumerable multitudes, as evil spirits 
infest the atmosphere, take possession of men and infatuate 
them, but can be driven out by incantation—that crude 
belief in demons may now and then be found in Jewish writ- 
ings, but it forms by no means their center and substance. 
But such matters occupy a very great portion of the records 
of incipient Christianity; the stories of the work of the Devil, 
that he possesses humanity, that his hosts enter men as 
demons, and that the possessed are cured again, almost crowd 
out everything else. 

Such was its course in Palestine. 

It fared differently among the Jews residing elsewhere. 
From ancient time, Jews had been living among the Grecians, 
had formed congregations, and their numbers were swelled 
by emigration from Judea so much the more, the gloomier 
the conditions became there. Although those Grecian Jews 
felt deep sympathy with the sufferings of their brethren in their 
old home country; although every woe that befell Palestine, 
found a responsive chord in their hearts; although they 
looked with reverence toward the holy land which ever 
remained to them their parent soil, yet they did not have 
to go through the struggles or fight the battles themselves. 
While arms clashed in Judea, while all energies were called 
upon, day after day, to attend to the demands of the day, to 
endure its laborsand hardships, to make front against vexations 
and irritations; while thus in Judea, mind and strength 
were directed entirely towards the present, the Grecian 
Jews were but passive spectators who from afar beheld with 
profound grief, perhaps derided as aliens with different 
customs and ceremonies by the nations among whom they 
lived, yet from a safe distance the ruin of their parent country 
and the probable loss of their spiritual center. Now, as they 
were also looking with hope and trust for the new time in 

140 Jupaism AND Its HisToRY 

which they were to be rid of those ills that were with them 
of rather a mental nature, they were much nearer to the belief 
that such hopes would soon be fulfilled, or even that they 
were fulfilled. They were not pressed down by the burdens of 
the day, they breathed more freely; hence hope had freer play. 
Besides, the announcements of the enthusiastic votaries 
were more readily believed in the distance than among those 
who had seen everything pass before their own eyes. Thus 
it happened that Messianic Judaism proclaimed as already 
fulfilled, found a far greater number of adherents within 
Grecian-Jewish colonies even in the very beginning. And 
among them the new belief met again a new spiritual element. 
The Grecian Jews possessed a Greco-philosophical trait 
which they had interwoven with their religious belief. The 
religious speculations tended towards the recognition of a 
divine reflex, a Logos, the Divine Thought which, as emana- 
tion from God, had called the world into existence and keeps 
up the connection with it; filled with the spiritual idea of Juda- 
ism, philosophy attempted to place God beyond all contact 
with the material world, to put him so far beyond all that is 
finite and temporal that a certain connecting link was found 
necessary for making it possible to deduce the creation and 
preservation of the world from God. The Logos, the Thought, 
the Reflex, the Idea emanating from God, was the Demiourgos, 
the creator of the world. Whether he was to be regarded as 
an individual being, or as a mere idea, remained undecided; 
it was a habit begun by Plato, to keep the idea suspended 
between something actually existing and something merely 
imaginary. Now, the Thought, the Idea, or the ‘‘ Word,” 
all of which meanings are in the Greek term Logos, was in a 
way, the connecting link, the medium or mediator between 
God and the world, and was, as Philo and others expressed 
it in bold poetic figure, the only begotten (Monogenes) of 
God —a bold, poetic expression, but justified by their 
philosophic system. The Thought born of God, but always 
remaining with God, could justly be called the one and only 
begotten son of God. That conception and its figure of 
speech had spread afar and become common property, and 


leaning upon expressions in Holy Writ, such as the word of 
God, the glory of God, and other similar terms, it did not 
remain confined to the Grecian Jews, but passed also into 
the vernacular of Palestine. Here, Logos was Memra, the 
“Word,’’ the emanation from God to guide mankind, the 
medium or means for all that produces effects upon the 
senses, and the Chaldean version uses the word ‘‘Memra’’ 
when it seeks to avoid sensible, corporeal attributes to God. 
Now, a new world has come, the future world is becoming a 
reality. The world had first been created through the Logos, 
through its mediation. If then the ancient world, created by 
the Logos, passes away and a new world takes its place, if 
the future world becomes the present reality, can that have 
been created by anything else than the Logos? To be sure, 
the Messiah is the Logos, the Word, the only begotten son 
of God! The Messianic idea is thus transplanted upon 
another soil, the views are transformed, and the Son of Man 
is changed into the Son of God, at first only as an idea, as 
a philosophical thought; but in the belief of the multitude, he 
soon becomes the real Son of God. The Son of God creates 
a new world; the old one is destroyed; by his appearance, a 
new one is being inaugurated. By his appearance—should 
he indeed have been born like an ordinary man? The 
Palestinian Messiah is a descendant of David, is born like 
any other son of man, enters the world with a sublime mission 
from God, yet without being more than a man. But should 
the Logos, the Son of God, enter into the world as a child of 
human parents—the Logos a child? the Logos born in human 
manner? Are those not contradictory terms? If generation 
and birth can be spoken of in connection with him, they can 
not be understood as ordinary, natural events. He is the 
Son of God; of course he enters the flesh, but in a miraculous 
manner: a mother gives him birth, but the Spirit of God is 
his father. That was a transformation which necessarily 
grew from the contact with Grecian Judaism. And if such 
was his entrance, how about his exit from the world? The 
Messiah is a man, even if vested with divine power, yet he 
ever remains an instrument in the hand of God. He can die, 

142 JUDAISM AND Its History 

can be killed, he appears again, he will inaugurate the new 
world, he rises again, he is risen again. But how can the 
only begotten son of God, who bears within himself the full 
power of God, be killed? Why of course he can not be killed 
by human power, but he may die, if he wills it himself—he 
can voluntarily give himself up an apparent sacrifice. The 
old world must perish, it was also begotten by the Logos— 
Adam represented the archetype of the human race, Adam 
bore within him the whole of mankind. According to that 
philosophic system which holds that everything is produced 
by a process of emanation and effluence, and that the higher 
contains the lower, in the first man, in Adam, lay also the 
whole human race. Now, if the human race has become so 
corrupt, if the old world has turned so evil that it must perish, 
such a condition must be referred back to Adam. He sinned, 
and through his sin the entire succeeding race became diseased, 
and in order to be made whole, the old world must die and a 
new one arise. But, if the old world must die, must not all 
men perish with it? No, the Logos himself, the creator of 
the human race, dies for it. By means of his incarnation he 
takes upon himself the whole punishment of humanity, sac- 
rifices himself for the human race; but his divinity remains, 
and henceforward fills the new mankind. 

Such were the new conceptions which developed themselves 
out of the Jewish-Grecian philosophy, making thorough- 
going changes in the idea concerning God’ and coming 
very near to going beyond the bounds of Judaism. And 
concerning man also, those new conceptions produced a mighty 
change. Judaism teaches that man dies for his sin, that 
everyone receives his punishment for his own transgressions; 
that God is a forgiving and merciful God who, though He 
allows no sin to go unpunished, yet works no universal 
destruction on account of sin, and least of all, visits the sin 
of a man upon others, even if his near relatives. Necessarily, 
a totally different view arose upon that point. In one man 
—of course in the first of all men—all men had sinned; guilt 
had been bequeathed, all bore the disease wrought by that 
guilt, it clung to them as fetters from which they could not 


relieve themselves. That was the second phase of Christianity. 
Such ideas are foreign to Judaism, they are merely grafted 
upon it. Some mystical speculative minds might have 
favored them, but a general acceptance could not be effected, 
even among the Grecian Jews. 

While in the first phase of Christianity, the Kingdom of 
God as brought about the human Messiah is emphasized, in 
the second phase, the Son of God is brought to the front. Of 
the miraculous conception and birth connected with that 
transformation of ideas, the most faithful report “according 
to Mark” knows nothing; even if in its present form—rarely 
enough—here and there the expression ‘‘Son of God” occurs, 
it occupied pretty much the first stage of development in 
which there was no necessity for such an idea. Only in the 
second phase the miraculous generation makes its appearance, 
and still later, in another account, which stands wholly on 
Grecian footing, in the one bearing the name of John, we find 
the full, plain statement that the Logos became flesh and 
appeared on earth; that as the vicar of the whole human race 
he had taken their sins upon himself and expiated them by 
his death. Such was the second phase of Christianity, and 
it had thereby almost ceased to represent a tendency within 
Judaism, however much it kept still within its pale. For as 
yet we find no efforts made to break out through the barriers 
of Judaism, to effect changes and transformations, such as 
to declare that the law was abolished and that its provisions 
had lost their validity. Of course, an impulse thereto lay in 
the very root of the matter. The Messianic time—such is 
the expression all through ancient Judaism—is to be quite 
different from the present, all special statutes and ordinances 
will cease, all separation is to vanish. Thus there was in the 
very belief that the Messiah had come, that a new world had 
appeared, the impulse to transform all practices in life. And 
yet, thus far the demand is not uttered. 

But the more the new tendency, the belief in the new 
Messiahship placed itself beyond the pale of Judaism, the 
more it came into conflict with its essence and fundamental 
principles, so much the more it must have felt the pressure 

144 Jupaism AND Its HisTorY 

to go outside of it. The belief had adopted ideas which, the 
farther they were developed, came in the most glaring conflict 
with the basic principles of Judaism; to remain standing still 
at that point was impossible; there was but this alternative, 
either to pass beyond the pale of Judaism, or to cease to exist. 
Compromise was out of the question. The impulse for spread- 
ing outside of Judaism was natural. If the Logos had indeed 
appeared, if a new world had really come, that new world 
must form itself out of itself through the belief in the Messiah 
who had come, who had risen to reform the world; through 
him alone, even if starting from Judaism, the new world must 
be built up. A man of force and decision first uttered that 
word, he had the courage to break down the bridge. It was 
Paul, a Grecian Jew, not a disciple of the author of Christian- 
ity, who had never been in personal touch with Jesus who had 
always with determination proclaimed and emphasized the 
continuance of Judaism in all its parts. Paul at first per- 
secuted the adherents of the new tendency; he was a man of 
thoroughgoing work who could brook no half-way doing. 
Either to oppose the new departure with all determination, or 
to carry it through to its extremest consequences, such was 
his character. On the way to Damascus, that is, to the Gre- 
cian cities, a new idea struck him: ‘‘How, if in the tendency 
as it has been developed by Hellenism there be a truth, and 
by that truth a new order of things, a new world could be 
inaugurated? Judaism teaches that the Messiah is destined 
for all mankind; the Logos is the creator of the world, the 
creator of all mankind—well then, forth to all mankind! 
Down with all barriers! Let the new Messianic Judaism take 
them all!’ Such was Paul’s conclusion, and with that began 
the third phase of Christianity. 

A new formation now arose. Paul constituted himself the 
Apostle to the Gentiles; he first ventured to address the people 
outside of Judaism, to preach the new doctrine to those who 
were outside of the movement and unaffected by the course 
of its development and must have been startled by his an- 
nouncement. He carried the pure doctrine concerning God 
into the pagan world and made the Jewish moral and religious 


ideas the common property of mankind, but without the aids 
to their observance as formulated in clear and certain laws. 
That was sufficient for those people, and the general spread 
of those truths of Judaism was a mighty step in the advance 
of mankind. The various historically evolved laws were not 
known to them, and would have been an intolerable burden. 
For a declaration of their abolition or invalidity no justifica- 
tion was called for, for them; but for Paul’s own conscience 
and for the believers won over from the Jews, it was neces- 
sary. Granted even that the God-given law has lost its 
binding force in this Messianic time, does it not remain a 
sanctifying power, does it not exalt those who still cling to 
it and observe it? Granted even that it should not be 
imposed upon Gentiles as a binding rule, could it be taken 
away from the Jews who were born into such obligations? 
Should it not remain at least for them as a means of higher 
sanctification? Should the express declaration of its in- 
validity not be postponed at least until the return of the 
Messiah and the complete establishment of the new world? 
Paul was undecided. Although the bold idea of uniting the 
whole human race under the banner of one belief had silenced 
all doubts within his own heart, it was not so easy to move 
his Jewish brethren in the faith, from their view. They had 
already merged the ancient practices with the new faith. 
Why then, should they discontinue them? Paul hesitated, 
and drew a distinction: ‘‘Let the Jews cling to their ancient 
accustomed law; for the Gentiles, the new belief is sufficient.”’ 
But that brought a dangerous cleft into the new faith and 
Paul’s entire plan would have been wrecked thereby. Such 
a double-headed arrangement of votaries of the same belief, 
producing in itself confusion, bore the germ of dissolution in 
its own bosom. By it, the Gentiles did not appear as citizens 
of equal rights in the new Empire of Religion; the Jews 
remained the privileged class of saints by birth and the 
continued observance of the law, the Gentile believers were 
but an unholy appendage. And just they were the main 
support of Paul. 

Thus Paul was forced to take a further step. It was not 


sufficient to designate the ‘‘Law”’ as superfluous, as dis- 
pensable, it must be entirely abolished, it must be declared 
an obstacle to holiness. The present observance of the law, 
such was his next proceeding, is not merely unmeritorious, 
it is the result of a defective faith, the true believer is not 
even permitied to practice the ordinances of the Law. How 
should the observance of the Law be a sin? Was it not given 
by God? Was it not binding in former days, and should now 
its observance be even sinful? Yes indeed, Paul made 
’ response, the Law was given by God, but in behalf of sinful 
mankind to the Jews; it is in a measure, the result of sin; 
it is a ‘‘yoke,’”’ but not a sweet one, it is a hard and heavy 
yoke. The new faith is a sweet yoke, a blessing for all 
mankind; the old law was a curse, a scourge for the Jewish 
people; the ban is removed in consequence of the vicarious 
death of Jesus; the whole human race, the Jews as well as 
the Gentiles, are now sanctified through the Holy Spirit 
which has been poured out over all mankind. And will ye 
be willing to remain further under the curse, under the 
scourge, now when a blessing, a kinder treatment awaits 
you? Break the Law! If you desire to be the saints, you 
must fully acknowledge the fulfilled salvation. Away with 
circumcision, away with the dietary laws! The former is a 
token of the old covenant, a new one has been established; 
the latter consider the Gentile meats as idolatrous sacrificial 
repasts, but they have now become feasts of love and sweet 

That line of thought was, on the one hand, the most 
logical consistency, but contained also, on the other hand, the 
most trenchant severity against Judaism, because not alone 
its forms, while appropriating its fundamental principles, 
were represented as worthless, but because it was violently 
divested of its entire profound intrinsic substance. A recon- 
ciliation of such views with Judaism, even if representing it 
as a divine institution but merely for the past, could be 
established only by the most artful dialectics, which Paul 
practised by both oral instruction and epistles. He created 
an imposing effect, but did not carry matters so easily. A 


violent struggle arose between the so-called Judaizing Chris- 
tians and the Gentile Christians. The doctrine of Judaizing 
Christianity—i. e., Messianism joined to continued observ- 
ance of the whole Jewish Law—was predominating; the new 
(Paulinian) tendency seeking to obtrude itself upon it, was 
contended against, not alone by the Jews, but also by the 
Judaizing Christians. The new Christians were called 
Balaamites, men who attempted to introduce idolatrous 
sacrifices among the Jews, as Balaam had sought to lead the 
Israelites astray by idolatrous practices. Violent struggles 
and frequent splits occurred within the various congregations; 
mutual concessions were made and peace was restored; only 
after a long time, after many ups and downs in the fight, 
Gentile Christianity prevailed, as it was in the nature of the 
case. Within Judaism, the contradiction of the ideas was 
too glaring—there could be no harmony of mind in an indi- 
vidual who attempted to be a Jew on the one side, and tried 
to accept for the present, Messiah and Logos ideas—to be a 
worshiper of the One God and to make an addition by a new 
element of God. The conflict did not last long; Judaizing 
Christianity succumbed to pagan-Gentile Christianity which 
was the third phase of Christianity. Heathendom had formerly 
been held to be unclean, impure, unholy; now the Holy Spirit 
—a genuine Jewish idea in itselfi—entered the new world, 
purifying and sanctifying it. The third phase was now com- 
plete, and with that belief in the Holy Ghost which pours out 
over all mankind and acts as a creative personality, comes 
into prominence. Thus there was in three phases of develop- 
ment which could not be parted from one another and which 
were bound to run together into one complete course, the 
belief in the Trinity. God and His Kingdom was the first 
phase; the Son of God to establish the Kingdom, was the 
second; the Holy Spirit to purify all mankind, constituted the 
third; their connection into a unit thenceforward formed the 
essence of the belief. Christianity, thus fully developed, was 
destined to enter heathendom. 

But could it indeed enter heathendom—were the pagans 
prepared and inclined to adopt it? Let us now cast a glance 


at the pagan world. We no longer stand on the ground of 
ancient Hellenism. The educated classes of the time are no 
longer illumined by philosophy, no longer develop their ideas 
with an original creative energy, as at the time of the ancient 
Greeks—we behold a very different age. Roman spirit rules 
that world, everything proceeds from Rome, her hand rests 
heavily on all nations. Rome has a great mission to fulfill 
in the world’s history, and is fulfilling it, somewhat in the 
same manner as absolutism works in the evolution of the state. 
Absolutism, that rule of might by one man without regard to 
the rights of all the rest, which is so clearly designated by 
the words of Louis XIV.: ‘“‘L’etat, c'est moi’’—‘‘'I am the 
state’’—as a form of government, represents, properly speak- 
ing, no idea at all; it has no innate justification for investing 
one man with all possible power, and divesting all the others 
of their natural rights, yet absolutism has its place in the 
historic evolution—it was its mission to level mankind, to 
produce an equality of the various prerogatives that had 
grown up as estates with all their perverted phenomena; to 
destroy at one blow, all those prerogatives that had become 
an obstacle in the world’s progress; to convert all into slaves 
first, in order that afterwards all might become free citizens, 
and that every one of them might have free chance according 
to his ability and merit. A similar mission was that of Rome 
in the history of the world. Rome united the world under 
one and the same oppression, brought all nations into servi- 
tude, forced their approach to one another, and brought them 
close together. Rome did not develop from within herself 
any peculiar native spiritual power or ideas; whatever she 
accomplished in the realm of the mind was imitation, was 
adopted, and merely adopted superficially and poorly. 
Philosophy dragged on a sickly life among the Romans, and 
was popularized in the most sober conceptions; all other 
mental and spiritual products that gained authority, had 
been received from without, borrowed, transplanted upon 
Roman soil, but were not sustained by creative vigor, did not 
originate from native excellence. 

If mental and spiritual life in general did not occupy a 


high plane, it was but natural that the idea of God, the 
doctrine concerning gods, was in a still worse condition. 
The mythology of the Greeks was not the strongest point of 
their culture, of their spiritual life, but yet there is a certain 
ideality in it; it bears the impress of the law of beauty; it 
contains ideas which, though they are wrapped in corporeal 
forms and as such sensible phenomena were not deeply rooted 
in the mind of the people, could nevertheless give the impulse 
to a higher conception, and philosophy deepened that con- 
ception. In Rome, mythology was something bare, a kind 
of home-made product. The gods of the house, the Lares and 
Penates, were to a certain degree the center of religious life; 
the boundaries of the fields received consecration; the affairs 
of every-day life, of the rude popular power, were personified 
and worshiped as gods. And when with advancing culture, 
with the contact with Hellenism, not alone general science, 
though in rather faded state, but also an acquaintance with 
Greek mythology entered Rome, a curious mixture took place: 
the Greek divinities were identified with those of ancient 
Rome, the former were forced down from their ideal heights, 
and the latter were divested of their originality. Thence- 
forward there were but shadows that the peopie adored. 
Then even in Hellenism, a tendency arose to divest Greek 
mythology of all poetic character, and very soon Rome was 
ready to adopt the same. Euhemeros was the name of a 
Grecian author who reduced mythology to the level of most 
vulgar rationalism. The gods—thus he taught—were great 
kings who were glorified and raised into high position by later 
admirers. All that is related of them is but embellishment 
of common events which we must trace back to their plain, 
natural realities. If, for example, Kronos is said to have 
swallowed his own children and to have been dethroned by 
Jupiter, he makes it out to be the history of a king in ancient 
times, when human sacrifices were in vogue, who was de- 
throned by another king that abolished such immolation of 
human beings. In such way everything in Greek mythology 
was flattened out, divested of its deeper meaning; for after 
all, poetic thought, even if clothed in fanciful garb of the 

150 Jupaism AND Its History 

imagination, is more profound than such platitude. That 
conception soon invaded Rome; the book of Euhemeros was 
translated into Latin, and his views became predominant. 
The old customs still prevailed, the old priestly institution, 
the ancient sacrificial service, the examination of the entrails 
of the sacrificed animals, the observation of the flight of birds 
—all were still in practice, but the belief in them no longer 
existed. It became almost a proverbial saying that two 
augurs meeting had to do all in their power not to burst into 
laughter. If the gods were but human beings, it was naturally 
an easy step to make gods out of men, and it came about 
that the emperors with their passions and follies were adored 
as gods, and they demanded and received such divine worship. 
To such a low point all religious life had sunk in Rome and 
in the world in which she ruled. 

But human nature is not satisfied with such a state of 
things. As there arose bold disbelief on the one side, so 
started on the other side a longing for another faith, a desire 
for a higher idea, for something wonderful that does not meet 
the eye, day after day in the natural course of events. Along- 
side of disbelief, superstition arose; for such is human nature 
that, by the side of luxuriant materialism, rapping spirits are 
honored. Thus Rome became full of a number of the most 
varying and heterogeneous ways of divine worship. The 
Oriental divinities which, by their novelty and their mys- 
terious character, offered stimulation to the imagination, 
were in great preference. Judaism also spread in Rome to a 
considerable extent, but it was too serious and too earnest a 
religion to be accepted by the degenerate Roman world at 
large. Now, a new belief presented itself, which was in close 
touch with heathendom, and yet was altogether different. A 
man who was at the same time a god, was the center; but 
the manner and form of his appearance, the doctrine con- 
nected with the belief in him, had impressed upon that new 
religion a character such as had, until then, not been pre- 
sented to them. It must have made a deep impression, 
acted as a caustic, and gave new elasticity to the enervated 
minds. And thus the doctrine of Christianity, in its third 


phase, when it had become accessible to the whole human 
race, made its entrance into heathendom. It went in, not 
as a triumphator, not as a power that strikes like a bolt of 
lightning illuminating the minds and overpowering, but very 
gradually, after being fought against for a long time, and only 
after centuries, raised to the throne and made dominating the 
religion by an event that has not yet been fully cleared up. 
After a long protracted struggle, it penetrated into the 
heathen world—it was then Christianity completely severed 
from Judaism. It went its own way, and we are not called 
upon to farther follow its history. Yet it is for us to give 
an answer to the question, Is there any task left to Judaism 
by the side of Christianity which has now become a religion 
of the world? Or is Judaism in a state of decay, an ancient 
ruin that should be abandoned? The reply to that question 
which forces itself upon us requires, before we follow the 
history of Judaism any farther, that we take yet another look 
at Christianity. 


Christianity as an Ecclesiastical World-Power. 
The Destruction of Jewish Nationality. 

The inspiring proclamation which the prophets of Judaism 
had sent into the world with the most determined confidence 
—namely, that a time shall come when God alone shall be 
acknowledged, when peace based upon justice shall unite and 
gladden all mankind—that glance at an ennobled future of 
truth and human brotherhood contained a decided energy 
which afforded Judaism durability and courage and conferred 
upon it a never-failing self-confidence going hand in hand with 
the very development of mankind. In direct contrast to 
Greek mythology, which places the golden age in the very 
cradle of the human race, and lets it be followed by times 
more and more worthless, Judaism preserves the sublime 
belief that mankind is the fertile soil out of which the seed of 
the spirit shall ripen into an abundant harvest. Hence also 
the mighty perseverance displayed by Judaism; and this very 
hope has proved its preserving energy throughout the cen- 
turies. But now, if such hope is not merely hailed as one the 
fruition of which yet was to be in a distant future, if it is 
announced as one soon to be fulfilled, if times appear when 
men boldly proclaim, ‘‘The present world is broken down to 
its very foundation—the new world, the Messianic time must 
and will soon take its place,” then that confidence, that glance 
at the speedily approaching future in which a complete 
betterment and transformation was to take place, created a 
courage and a strength which could make front and battle 
against the greatest obstacles. We beheld that phenomenon 
in the time of the Maccabean wars which, although a sore 
trial, yet could not break the popular strength, because the 
sure conviction of a change of the conditions living in the 


minds of the people, produced an unconquerable, unshaken 
confidence. But now, if even the proclamation is made, 
“The old world has perished, is broken up, the new one has 
already appeared; a new human race, as it was promised, 
now lives and shall live henceforth’’—that belief in oneself, 
that confidence entertained by mankind or a portion of man- 
kind, such increased self-consciousness contains a power 
which naturally invested that portion of mankind, not only 
with an intensive elasticity to persevere even under the most 
trying conditions, but even to present an imposing front to 
the world at large. 

A sublime self-confidence, the bold assertion of one’s own 
power, bears within itself such an energy that the rest of the 
world is astonished and shaken thereby. We see such an 
effect in the history of even individuals. Ifa man confronts 
the world with the full conviction of his own worth, if he has 
the belief in himself, he will obtain much, his bold demand will 
actually compel many to yield to him; his belief in himself will 
beget also the belief of othersin him. Review the great char- 
acters in the world’s history and you will find this generally 
proven: they became great because they presented themselves 
with the claim of being great. When Caesar said, ‘‘This ship 
carries Caesar and his destiny,’”’ such an expression of his full 
conviction, that the destiny of the whole world was interlaced 
with his own, contained an imposing power. When the 
French Revolution entered into the world’s history with the 
determined conviction, ‘‘The old times have perished, a 
completely new time must come,” when it announced itself 
as a New Era with which a new computation of time must 
begin, its successes did not come so much from the new ideas 
which it created, nor from the positive truths which it pro- 
claimed, but from its very determination, from its belief in 
itself. That constituted its triumphant power that gave it 
the impulse to spread all over the world. If it was indeed a 
new world, the whole earth must be subjected to it, no barrier 
of any nationality must impede its onward march. That 
constituted also the power of Christianity when it presented 
itself to the world. 

154 JUDAISM AND Its History 

Christianity proclaimed, ‘‘I am the new mankind, the new 
world is come, the old world is dead and broken up.’’ That 
was a word making an epoch; and if the author of Christianity 
is represented as having said, ‘‘I am the truth, the way, and 
the life,’ the words are probably apocryphal, the idea and 
the claims with which Christianity represented itself to the 
world found their full expression in them. I ama new power, 
a new world, all must yield to me; before me there was 
nothing, before me—such was the assertion—there were but 
sin, decay, and spiritual perversity; all the wisdom of former 
times is but tinkling folly, all their virtue but shining vice. 
Even while it puts its structure on the foundation of Judaism, 
acknowledged the ancient sacred scriptures of the Jews, 
adopted their contents, it yet announced—and if it is not 
found in the earlier writings, it is the full consequence of its 
doctrine and is contained in the teaching of Paul—that the 
author of Christianity had to-descend into hell in order to 
save all the damned souls of former times. All those pa- 
triarchs, devout men, prophets, preachers of truth and 
religion, were acknowledged of course, yet they were doomed 
to spiritual death. ‘For with me,” such was the assertion, 
“the new race begins, and all that existed before is vain, and 
not only vain, but entirely corrupt.”” Such boldness 
contains a force which not only exerts an inspiring influence 
upon its adherents, but also has a startling effect upon 
outsiders. And if such claims happen to strike an age and 
a community that are really decayed and in a decline, they 
take them as productive of full health. Mankind at the 
time, had become severed from its former phases of develop- 
ment; it had arrived at a point where decay commences; its 
vigor formerly existing in Hellenism and indirectly transmitted 
to Rome, was exhausted, had lost its impulse. From the 
decay in all conditions they found but one way of salvation, 
and that way was disavowal of this world, in casting off 
everything that appeared unsound. With all that, Chris- 
tianity had to struggle for several centuries before it prevailed, 
as it was bound to prevail in that degenerate Grecian-Roman 
world. Whether it would have been able to effect a reforma- 


tion and new creation within the empire, is a question un- 
answered by history. It swept away, like a wind-storm, all 
the withered leaves of the ancient culture, and covered up 
all fragments of the ancient magnificent mental structure; but 
whether it would then have been able to construct new 
edifices on the same ground, we may just as well answer 
negatively, as it is claimed affirmatively by others; history 
leaves us without the slightest intimation on that point. We 
may perhaps find in Byzantinism, which represents a con- 
tinued development of the Grecian world within Christianity, 
such an intimation of an answer to the query where the world 
would have been driven if the ancient elements had been 
permitted to develop under the rule of Christianity—that 
answer would not be favorable, of course. 

But the new world was destined to take a different course. 
Antiquity was annihilated, not only in its remnants, by 
Christianity, it was also in part destroyed in its very elements, 
thoroughly riddled and mixed up with new material. The 
migration of nations brought a host of uncivilized new people, 
still possessing pristine vigor, into that ancient world. And 
there Christianity unfolded its special important power; there 
it fulfilled its great mission within mankind. There no ancient 
recollections were to be wiped out—those nations had no 
history in the true sense of the word—they possessed no 
peculiar culture of their own, but they were characters of 
primitive vigor. To meet that, and to thunder into their 
ears, their minds, their conscience, “‘ Your force is nothing, your 
intrepidity is wickedness, your natural propensities are sin, 
all your creature endowments are degeneracy’”’—to tame those 
iron bodies, and make gentle those obstinate spirits, to startle 
those rude consciences, that was the task of a world-power, 
of a power that asserted of itself, ‘“‘I am all in all; all your 
actions, all your efforts, all your boasts of your bodily strength 
with which you might confront an enervated world, all those 
are vain. You must bend your necks under my. yoke.” 
Such an autocratic edict prepared the nature of those people 
for a truly spiritual and moral culture, the religious and moral 
elements that were thrown out of Christianity into that virgin 

156 JupaisM AND Its HIsTORY 

soil found a fertile ground there, receptive to produce mature 
fruit. This is the grand work of Christianity, that it met 
as a spiritual power a raw product of nature, a power that 
boasted merely of stalwart arms and iron strength of bodies. 
And Christianity executed at the same time, its grand mission 
by this, that it united the nations hitherto living in isolation 
and stupid seclusion, that it entwined the bond of humanity 
around those separate and selfishly closed-up elements, infused 
into them ideas of a common interest, and wove them together 
into a great human aspiration. That is the power of Chris- 

But that which was, and still is, its power, is at the same 
time its weakness. It made the assertion, “‘I am the new 
world, all that existed before is nothing,’ and accordingly 
smashed and destroyed everything humane, beautiful, and 
noble, that earlier times had produced. It is not due to 
Christianity, if anything has been saved out of the wrecking. 
For it opposed with a perfect mania for destruction, not only 
what was idolatrous and pagan as such, but all the mental 
treasures of Antiquity too—all was adjudged to be the work 
of the devil, all must be destroyed. The genius of mankind 
has ordered with more charity, has saved it from losing it 
all, it has saved productions of the art and the science of 
earlier times, some in fragments, others in full, fine form, in 
order that later times may be elevated and fertilized through 
them; the genius of mankind has protected it against such 
complete self-destruction, and that too, in the most deter- 
mined opposition to the demands of Christianity, and has 
shown that it is mightier than the latter. Christianity dis- 
avowed the old world, denied both its proper existence and 
its right of existence—all right was to begin with itself and 
from thenceforth it never tolerated anything to exist by its 
side as long as it had the power of suppression. ‘‘There is 
nothing outside of me, I am mankind, I rule mankind, all 
the actions of the world must be under my superintendence, 
must be according to my rule,” such is its ever-recurring 
demand. Every development in the human world which 
would take its course by the side of Christianity, was desig- 


nated by it as a sin, as heresy, and fought against with all 
determination. When we contemplate the world’s history 
with an unprejudiced eye, we find the assertion that Chris- 
tianity is the mother of modern culture a decided error. 
The Christian Religion, the Church representing its body, has 
always fought against science, she has invariably declared 
every light that would shine beside her own, to be a will-o’- 
the-wisp, false light that must be put out. 

For that reason, its power could not gain full entrance 
into those portions of mankind whose native character was 
still healthy, and which still produced from within themselves 
a healthy development. Even paganism made a long fight 
with Christianity, not because it so highly honored its idols 
and considered them as nearer to truth than the doctrine of 
Christianity. That belief had long been shaken, that struggle 
proceeded from the higher culture among the pagans. Their 
philosophic schools disputed the teachings of the new religion 
with an enthusiasm born of their love of science. The neo- 
platonic, neo-pythagorean, and other schools protested with 
all their might against the glorification of ignorance, against 
the praise given to the poor in spirit, against the lustre that 
was claimed to attach to the lack of wisdom. Christianity 
had great difficulty to force that power of a higher culture to 
yield. Only fire and sword, the greatest physical horrors, not 
the power of the spirit, finally annihilated its fragments. Yet 
in the ninth century such scattered remnants as had been 
preserved in the East, the Harranensians, asserted with full 
consciousness that they stood far higher than the Christians. 
Thabet Ben Korra, a Harranensian Syrian pagan—for even 
into the tenth century philosophic Hellenism had preserved 
its existence in those regions, until the combined fury of 
Christianity and Mohammedanism succeeded in destroying 
even those small remnants—Thabet Ben Korra says in one 
of his books, ‘‘When many were subjected by violence to 
error, our fathers persevered with the help of God, and escaped 
through their heroism, and this blessed city (Harran) has 
never been defiled by the errors from Nazareth. We are now 
the heirs and transmitters of heathenism which shone so 


brilliantly in this world. Happy is he that, with unshaken 
confidence, endures sufferings for the sake of heathenism. 
Who rendered the earth habitable, who built the cities for 
places of abode for families, who else than the nobles and 
kings of heathenism? Who constructed the havens, made 
the rivers navigable, who discovered hidden sciences? . . 
Only the renowned among the heathens have fathomed 
that, have caused soothing of souls to come about, shown the 
means for their liberation; they have also discovered and 
taught the healing of the flesh; they alone have filled the 
world with well-ordered morals, with wisdom which is the 
chief of excellency. Without those fruits of heathenism, the 
world would be void, poor, wrapped in deficiency and scanti- 
ness.”” That is a proud assertion, but an assertion emanating 
from the consciousness of the object in view, to which the 
latest remnants of philosophic paganism clung with perfect 
clearness in their struggle against Christianity. And again, 
when the nations attained to independence, when a new 
human culture grew up within them, when they awoke to a 
free use of their mental and spiritual powers, then also the 
struggle at once began against Christianity, as well as the 
fight of Christianity against all those new formations which 
it condemned as heresy and even condemns today in its 
consistency. For the power of Catholicism consists in this, 
that it most decidedly asserts the claims of Christianity in all 
their consequences, that it represents itself as the only power 
on earth vested with the prerogative of regarding the whole 
world as subject to its authority, that it appoints bishops iz 
partibus infidelium, that it maintains, ‘‘I alone am the human 
race, and to those who represent me, the whole world must 
do homage, all consciences must disclose themselves to them, 
all spirits must bow to them, and all impulses and endow- 
ments of men must yield their service to me.” 

That assertion which constitutes the power of Chris- 
tianity, contains also its weakness which is that it is not 
willing to work as a spiritual power within mankind, but 
claims to stand above mankind, and denies humanity itself 
in all its other relations. It would be folly joined to blas- 


phemy, were we to deny that a religion which has exhibited 
such a power through eighteen centuries, has not a mission 
imposed upon it by God; but on the other hand, it would be 
no less a defiance of history if we were to deny a historic 
mission to that religion which is the mother and root of the 
new religion and which, throughout all the period that the 
other developed its power to its full extent, still preserved 
its existence despite all oppression and derision, poverty and 
broken conditions, aye, even when its spiritual eye was by 
violence covered with darkness—to that religion which has, 
despite all that, preserved its existence, exhibited its vitality 
with renewed freshness whenever it was permitted to move, 
and at all times retained a fund of spiritual ability, moral 
stimulation, and moral power. It could not have existed 
throughout that long period alongside of Christianity, it must 
have decayed, it must have died long ago or have been 
brought near death, if it did not have within itself a healthy 

Yes, Judaism has been preserved alongside of Chris- 
tianity, and despite Christianity. It has been assailed not 
alone with carnal weapons, with fire and sword, with expulsion 
and oppression, but also with spiritual weapons; all the good 
and noble elements accorded to Judaism before it had given 
birth to Christianity, were adjudged as simply a preparation 
for Christianity, as Christian property even before its exist- 
ence. Judaism has kept alive nevertheless, has saved its 
eternal treasures, and has not allowed itself to be dimmed. 
It has not permitted its belief in God to be disfigured and 
combined with foreign elements. It has not allowed the 
doctrine of original sin to be grafted into it, though great 
pains were taken in the attempt to deduce that idea from the 
Scriptures; it has not permitted the annihilation of the title 
of the nobility of mankind and has clung to the conviction 
that man has been invested by God with the power of free 
self-determination and self-improvement; that despite the 
sensual propensity innate in man’s nature, he is vested with 
the power of conquering it and of reaching by his own exertions 
the goal of a and ennoblement. And precisely because 


160 JupAIsM AND Its HisToRY 

it remained free from the doctrine of original sin and the cor- 
ruption of human nature, it never had any need or desire for 
again attaining purification by means of an extraneous 
redemption. It has never exchanged its Merciful God for the 
God of that Love which, to satisfy its anger, requires a grand, 
sufficiently vicarious sacrifice. Judaism has not regarded the 
development of mankind towards a higher goal as a negation 
of itself, and therefore has never undertaken a fight against 
the process; it has never announced the verdict: ‘“‘The time 
is already fulfilled; eighteen centuries ago the keystone was 
put in, being the keystone of one world and at the same time, 
the foundation stone of another—there is the whole truth; 
nothing can be added.” 

Christianity must needs look upon that time as the most 
important in the world’s history, it is its heart and center— 
the person that brought it about must always remain its 
highest ideal. Even the most liberal-minded, who divest the 
author of Christianity of everything miraculous about him, 
can not escape the urgent necessity of creating for themselves, 
in order to retain some connection with their religion, a 
fanciful, artificially constructed ideal to which they attribute 
the greatest earthly perfection—a form which falls to pieces 
before criticism far more quickly than the old massive pre- 
sentation. Judaism, on the contrary, can dispense with 
individualities, it can allow free play to criticism on all its 
great men, even if it were to go so far—which it might do 
only in overbold presumption—as to erase Moses out of 
history. We might perhaps regret such work; but is it 
Moses, is it any one of the succeeding elaborators, upon whom 
the foundation of Judaism rests? The doctrine exists; therein 
is its belief and it will continue its existence; the doctrine 
stands of itself as it entered Judaism, no matter who taught 
it, no matter who was the historic individual that was the 
means of its announcement; no matter whether he was free 
from sin or a man not free from human foibles. Therefore, 
Judaism has preserved its mission, its history is not broken 
by the rise of Christianity. It acknowledges in that, a great 
world-historic event which deserves to be appreciated in its 


full significance and hence the following question must suggest 
itself toa Jew: ‘‘Why do you not appreciate it in the same 
manner as a large portion of the human race do? Why do 
you recognize in it only a world-transforming event, and not 
as the sole truth, the full, whole, unclouded truth entered 
into the world?”’” Having reached in our view of the course 
of the development of Judaism the time of the rise of Chris- 
tianity, we could not avoid the task of examining what that 
tendency which was started within Judaism and afterwards 
shaped itself into a world-power, was to us, and how we explain 
it and its triumphant march. It is not my intention to 
furnish a criticism of Christianity, and still much less to 
attack a faith that did and still does inspire millions, or to 
give offense to devout hearts, But after all, it is our duty 
to state clearly how those who do not profess that belief, 
regard it in its origin and as a world-historic event—and what 
justifies us in preserving, alongside of it, our own spiritual 
structure and even to add thereto. Whoever is not willing 
to listen to our defense may close his ears and shut his eyes; 
but he must not bear us any ill-will for it, nor deny us the 
free expression of our opinion. 

Judaism had arrived at a period which was in the highest 
degree fraught with danger. Our review left it at a time when 
all destructive powers gnawed at its vitals, when from with- 
out, all-powerful Rome charged down upon it, and within, 
the parties were riotously burrowing and thereby threatening 
to undermine its best elements. And it was under such con- 
ditions that it commenced and continued the fight which was 
decided against it, or rather against its national existence. - 
Such issue was in the very nature of things. The small nation 
had to succumb to Rome; it could not, for any great length. 
of time, withstand her superior power. Besides, it was not its 
mission to establish a nation, its nationality was but a temporal 
hull, a necessary means for fortifying the belief and so deeply 
rooting it in the constitution of the individual members that 
it could continue to live with full vitality even in their dis- 
persion. That point having been reached, the national form 
might be broken. Of course, the men living in that period 

162 Jupaism AND Its HIsTORY 

_ did not see it in that light. They fought with courage and 
enthusiasm in defense of their national existence. I shall 
not place before you the sufferings endured by that little 
band; I shall not depict to you how slain were heaped upon 
slain, how destruction progressed step by step, how the men 
closed up breaches in the walls by their bodies, how enthusiasm 
sustained the waning strength of the weakened arms; I shall 
not detain you with the woes and lamentations that filled 
those times. Suffice it to say, the Temple fell, the nationality 
was demolished, Judah ceased from being a nation, her 
citizens were driven from their ancient soil, again led into 
exile and dispersed all over the globe. The hatred of the 
victor, who was deeply mortified at having been forced to a 
test of his fighting qualities for a long time by such a small 
nation, persecuted them; scorn and oppression weighed them 
down, especially when the daughter-religion ascended the 
throne of Rome. From that time on, a tearful drama unfolds 
itself before our eyes, the most painful sufferings without and 
within were not wanting; for even the minds and spirits were 
oppressed, and gloomy despair often took possession of the 
hearts; and it almost seems as if they must have been forced 
to lose confidence in the truths which had become part and 
parcel of their being. And yet, it is not a tearful tragedy; 
the tragic unfolded in the destiny of the Jews since that time, 
contains a grand idea, discloses a profound conviction which 
remains alive, and preserves a spiritual freshness which never 
suffers itself to be bent down, an original vigor which again 
and again expands wherever room is granted to it. The 
history since that time is not a mere fatal tragedy, it is more 
than may be guessed or felt by romance which sees in Jewish 
history but a continuous woe over which to shed tears in a 
sentimental mood, but over which the staff must be broken 
without mercy. No! the power of resistance in Judaism 
knows not alone how to suffer, but knows also how to preserve 
and create in the domain of the spirit. The drama is not yet 
concluded, and he only, who shall have seen the last scene of 
it, may pronounce a full verdict. 


In the Dispersion. 

The Jewish commonwealth was destroyed, dissolved, the 
Jewish nationality disrupted, the Temple was burnt down. 
Whether the tears which Titus is said to have shed at the 
sight of the devastation, flowed from the depth of his heart, 
or whether they were hypocritical—what does history care 
about it? What did it matter to the scattered remnants of 
the Jewish people? They had been struck a severe blow, and 
however long it may have been foreseen, however well they 
may have been prepared for it, they stood deeply shaken, 
wounded and broken in their innermost hearts. 

Sadduceeism was annihilated. What was now left for the 
priests and the men of rank? The priests with their minis- 
trations in the Temple, with the sacrificial service, were 
banished from the sacred places; they were defiled, their traces 
could hardly be seen any longer; what was left for the priests? 
Legend tells us that they threw the keys of the Temple and 
sacred cells toward heaven, exclaiming, ‘‘Do Thou preserve 
them, Heavenly Father; we have no more use for them.” 
And the officials and men of rank, what were they to do? 
Not a shadow of political rule was left; there was no more 
struggling for office and distinction, no separation from, nor 
elevation above the masses; one oppression weighed upon all, 
all glory was buried in one grave. The Sadducees vanished 
from history. 

The Zealots—the Kannaim—stood in sullen anger, in 
brooding depression; but what avails anger in opposition to 
superior power? For some time they nursed plans of revenge; 
guerilla warfare continued to devastate Judea; isolated forts, 
unimportant outposts, were for a time defended with fool- 
hardy bravery—they too, fell. The fire which they kindled 
served only to consume them. Still two generations later, 

164 Jupaism AND Its History’ 

an insurrection arose, a new Messiah appeared; Bar Kosiba 
placed himself at the head of bold, daring men, and found 
adherents and confidence among even the considerate and 
sober-minded. He was a hero in the full meaning of that 
word, and succeeded with a small band in resisting mighty 
Rome for years. The war of Adrian assumed large dimen- 
sions, but resulted, of course, in a further destruction of the 
weak remnant and an increase in repressive measures. The 
Roman, ordinarily caring little or nothing about the religion 
of his enemy, felt too well that he was confronted by a mental 
and spiritual force which offered him greater resistance than 
the feeble bodies of its defenders, and his fury was kindled 
against Judaism and its customs and ceremonies. The 
observance of ceremonies and ordinances of Judaism, of 
everything that externally designated the Jew, was punished 
with death—the blood of martyrs flowed in streams. It was 
but natural that renewed vigor of the faith should be produced 
by that blood, but the demolition of independence as a nation 
was sealed thereby for all time. The Zealots (Kannaim) 
gradually disappeared, leaving but their name behind them; 
blind fanatics who, misjudging the holy spirit of history, fight 
against the power of the times, and seek violently to preserve 
the ancient conditions, are called ‘‘zealots.’’ 

Pharisees of the ancient strict observance still existed in 
large numbers—the Shammaites who had made resistance to 
the power of the priests by covering themselves with the garb 
of priestly law, who believed to effect the sanctification of 
the people and their equality with the priesthood by adding 
burdensome usages; but they would have gradually died out, 
for they did not possess the living energy able to preserve 
Israel’s holy treasure for centuries. When the Temple had 
fallen, their gloomy sentiment, continually looking back to 
ancient customs and institutions, tried to assert itself; they 
announced: It is no longer permitted to eat meat or drink 
wine, now that the Temple is fallen, because animals can no 
longer be sacrificed in the sacred house, nor wine offered there 
as a drink-offering. By such asceticism, those Pharisees of 
the strict school would have caused the destruction of Judaism. 


But the Hillelites were still alive—the men who had 
inherited the spirit of Hillel, who rated conviction higher than 
burdensome ceremonies, and consulted the times more than 
the old ordinances. It was they who kept the remnants 
together in close connection, did not permit the spirit to 
vanish, although the material outward bond was broken. 
That branch of Phariseeism as it had shaped itself out of the 
very core of Judaism, breathed into it the living spirit that it 
was able to enter upon its pilgrimage through the world at 

Israel now started upon his new pilgrimage, full of hardships 
and sufferings. Thenceforth, heavy oppression was piled 
upon him, almost down to the present time. The Romans 
could not forgive him for having kept their military forces 
busy for such a long time, for being obliged to put forth their 
whole strength to break up that weak and small nation; and 
the triumphal march of the victors had to be raised and made 
more brilliant by the contumely and chains which were put 
upon the vanquished. Thenceforward the Romans nursed a 
deep hatred against the scattered remnants of the Jews, 
against the dispersed individuals who gradually settled down 
in all parts of the Roman Domain. And when the belief in 
the fulfilled Messianic idea ascended the throne of the Cesars, 
the heritance of that transmitted hatred was joined by another 
factor—the weapon of humiliation was added, plunging into 
the very vitals and making it a meritorious work to mortify 
the spirits, to lacerate the hearts. Thus the poor pilgrim 
made his progress through the wilderness of the Middle Ages. 

Is it surprising that he turned his face towards the past, 
which appeared to him so much the more brilliant the farther 
it receded, that he expected all happiness and glory from its 
re-establishment only, that he imagined the future as a copy 
of all that had been dead and buried long ago? Do you marvel 
that he journeyed along, panting and depressed, that he put 
on a rough coat of mail in order to be protected against the 
dagger and hostile touch from without; that he added hull 
upon hull to keep his limbs from shaking with the cold, icy 
breath that met him from every speech, from every word? 


Is it surprising that he wore many a worthless amulet and 
kept it in sight, to deck out his joyless life and, while in its 
contemplation, to indulge in pleasant and cheerful dreams? 
Only tottering huts were permitted him. He might expect 
to be compelled to-morrow to tear down the hovel which he 
put up to-day, or that it might be torn down by others. And 
yet, wherever he found greater security, wherever a breath of 
kindness met him, wherever the new phase of his sojourn gave 
him an opportunity to till the mental field and sow spiritual 
seed in quiet, that new abode soon became to him a new and 
true home. 

It is an affecting sight—but no! it is more than affecting; 
’ History is not merely a sentimental comedy, not merely 
material for tearful, romantic sentiment that it may thereby 
for awhile feed its agony at the world’s disappointment and 
then give itself the more undisturbedly and indolently to 
worldly pleasures. It is more than affecting, it is inspiring, 
to behold how the Jews, wherever they were permitted to 
settle down for a longer time, also became deeply rooted in 
the spirit and character of the country, despite their love for 
Palestine, despite their fervent attachment to their inherited 
customs, notwithstanding they were full of the spirit that 
went forth from Jerusalem, full of the law that proceeded from 
Zion. Soon after the destruction of the Temple, they had 
again settled in numerous congregations in Babylonia. There 
the new Persian Empire, the empire of the Parthians, existed 
—a mighty empire which alone knew how to meet the Empire 
of Rome with an unconquerable resistance. We are not suf- 
ficiently informed of the internal institutions of that empire, 
of the mental and spiritual life that reigned there; at all events, 
the very fact that it knew how to resist the all-coveting 
superior power of Rome testifies to the independent energy 
of the people. Numerous Jewish congregations existed there, 
soon a mental and spiritual life began to bloom, and soon also 
their love and attachment to their new country became firmly 
founded. It is a significant declaration, handed down from 
a teacher of that time—viz., the third century—a declaration 
which truly expresses the sentiments of the Jewish population 


of that time and country, to wit: ‘He that emigrates from 
Babylonia to Palestine violates God’s command and commits 
a sin.” To that extent they felt themselves affiliated with 
Babylonia, with New-Persia. Of course, that teacher founded 
his decision on a verse of the Bible which he interpreted and 
explained according to the manner of that time, but the verse 
had not produced that sentiment, it is merely quoted as a 
support for it; the sentiment arose out of their love for their 
newly acquired country. Fully consonant with that declara- 
tion is that of another teacher, who decides: ‘‘The law of 
the land is religiously binding;’”’ in former times, the law of 
the land (political and civil laws) had been declared the 
product of paganism, a work of ungodly, heathenish nature, 
and as such, not entitled to existence or recognition; and it 
was considered the worst stumbling-block. But now, in a 
new country which, though it did not afford full liberty, yet 
offered a firm and safe place of abode, its laws were regarded 
as perfectly correct and valid. Babylonia was a new home 
for the Jews; and its language, the Aramaic or Chaldean, 
became almost a sacred language to them. The Aramaeans 
had formerly been called idolators, and the name itself was 
used as equivalent to idolator; the faith of ancient Aram had 
been in hostile antagonism to Israel, but now the Jews lived 
among them, enjoyed a favorable and secure position, and 
thus became identified with the people in their civil policy 
and language. Even to this day our prayers contain Aramaic 
portions and they are regarded as sacred, though they are no 
sounds of Zion. The Aramaic version of the bible is recog- 
nized as the most authoritative, partly, perhaps, on account 
of its faithful and close adherence to traditional views, but 
chiefly because coming from a country which had become a 
second home to the Jews. The language of Babylonia, the 
Aramaic, held its own for a long time, even after Arabian 
literature had begun to exert an influence upon Judaism, and 
the Arabians had supplanted the remnants of an older culture 
by their own. 

When that young nation entered the world’s history with 
its young literature which for a time exerted its fertilizing 


influence both upon the progress of mankind in general and 
upon its higher development in particular; when Arabianism, 
growing up fast, ruled a large portion of the human race, the 
great number of Jews who lived in the Arabian-Islamitic 
territories soon identified themselves with those countries and 
considered themselves members of those nations. The 
numerous Jewish congregations in Spain which was also soon 
brought under the dominion and culture of the Moslems, 
especially show a fine example of complete affiliation with the 
inhabitants of the country; they revered the soil as their 
home, fertilized it with the sweat of their face, drew from it by 
their industry the most variegated fruits. Proudly they 
called themselves ‘‘Sephardim,” exiled Jews who live in 
Sepharad, maintaining that Sepharad in the bible meant 
Spain. With noble pride, they regarded their Spain, glorified 
it in poems, clung to it with all the fervor of their hearts. 
The weary wanderer had found a new, beautiful abiding place 
and looked no longer back toward the past, he loved the 
present. After they were expelled from thence, their memory 
yet turned, and in a measure is still turning towards Spain 
and Portugal.—In other countries, too, wherever they had 
found a place of abode for a longer time, the Jews affiliated 
with the people in heart and spirit, loved its language, adopted 
its manners and diffused them farther and maintained the 
speech even when they were again driven away by the blind 
fury of the inhabitants. The German language is heard from 
the lips of Jews of the most distant countries, they have kept 
it for centuries among themselves; they love the old sounds 
that remind them of a home which, though irrigated with 
their blood and never grown into a lasting, peaceable resting 
place, yet for awhile had given them chance to breathe and 
receive a certain amount of culture. The wanderer felt that 
it was his task not to proceed on his pilgrimage through man- 
kind merely with fleeting foot, but to establish lasting habita- 
tions, in order to live with and among men and work for their 
elevation. _ 

He had guarded himself against intrusion by the world 
without; he had to walk about panting, filled only, as it 


seemed, with the care of the day, his countenance furrowed 
by wrinkles, his looks sad and careworn. But enter his frail 
hut and you find there:—the rough coat of mail is laid aside, 
the hulls are taken off, and a life of cordiality flows from his 
heart. He is not chilling, though he be covered with bandages 
and wraps; he has no thorns, though it may seem so; he carries 
a warm heart in his breast though he be compelled to protect 
himself against the icy breezes of the outside. Wherever he 
finds genial warmth, he is also warm and genial, and in the 
family, in the mutual affection and fidelity encircling the 
individual members thereof, the comfort and fortitude of 
Israel rested and persevered. He was excluded from the 
outside world and he protected himself against its influences 
and assaults as long as he had reason to fear hostile approaches; 
but whenever fresh mental and spiritual life awoke, whenever 
a breath of spring, even if often but seemingly, passed through 
the world, when new culture started, when the streams of 
the spirit traversed the land with their fertilizing waters, there 
he also knew to eagerly draw new life, there he also was in 
close connection with the spirit of the age. 

In general, his spirit was never bowed down, however 
much depressed in his outward carriage. While in dark ages, 
bishops and knights were given to praised and sanctified 
ignorance and the art of reading and writing remained some- 
thing foreign to them, that remnant of dispersed Jews retained 
an aspiration to mental and spiritual development, often one- 
sided and not always keeping pace with life as it was progress- 
ing, but still it was a mental activity which preserved their 
vitality. Canonization of ignorance never held sway in Israel; 
science took a crooked route now and then; their acuteness 
went astray sometimes; their mind decked itself out with 
worthless tinsel on occasions, but it was always active. 
Gigantic works from darker and brighter times stand before 
us, productions of thought and mental labor, that excite our 
reverence. I do not endorse every word of the Talmud, nor 
every idea of our teachers of the Middle Ages, but I would 
not cast away a tittle of them. They contain an acumen 
and power of thought which command respect of the spirit 

170 JuDAIsM AND Its History 

that animated our ancestors, an abundance of sound sense 
and salutary maxims—an originality of opinion often bursts 
out which even to this day exerts a vivifying and inspiring 
effect upon us. 

A new people, hitherto untamed and wildly roaming about, 
entered upon the stage of history, impelled by a lightninglike 
idea to a new spiritual development; in Arabia, a new civiliza- 
tion is in process of formation. At the cradle of that new 
culture also, Judaism stood with its doctrines. Whatever 
good elements Islam contains, whatever enduring idea appears 
in it, it has taken over from Judaism. With the battle cry, 
“There is no God but the one God in Unity!” the Arabian 
galloped through the world on his fiery charger—but his 
battle cry was not heard: by him on Mount Sinai, he simply 
took it over from those who were carrying it as their inher- 
itance through the world. It is the only fruit-bearing and 
world-conquering thought contained in Islam. Islam adorned 
that thought and repeated it in many shallow and tautological 
formulas. It was garnished, and that too, with Jewish views 
and tales. And hardly a century after its birth, that new 
religion had, in a most remarkable way, conquered not only 
a large portion of the world but tamed the conquerors them- 
selves, and awakened them to a new spiritual life. Those 
nations which were then in their early youth, which had been 
initiated, raw and uncivilized, into that new religion, soon 
listened eagerly to the word that was delivered to them from 
Antiquity by the remnants of Hellenism through the channel 
of the Syrian pagans. The latter had translated the writings 
of the ancient Greeks, of both the philosophers and the men 
of other sciences, into their own idiom, and soon the Arabians 
took possession of the remnants of Antiquity, accessible to 
them in that way; they sat at the feet of the ancient Greek 
teachers as industrious disciples of their doctrines in the form 
transmitted to them, became civilized through the discipline 
in the sciences and a new culture flourished, such as can not 
be seen at any other period of the Middle Ages. The Jews 
soon take part in it; they too, live right in the midst of it; 
they are also philosophers and translators and feel the kinship 


of the aspirations awakened in the youthful nation. They 
too, are translators of that new mental and spiritual upward 
movement, and to a much wider extent. They were not 
confined to the Arabians; they did not labor like the Arabians, 
only within their own limits and their own soil; they carry 
those Greek works everywhere, and scatter the seeds of the 
new culture far and wide. From the Arabic they are trans- 
lated into Hebrew, and from the Hebrew into the Latin and 
the various languages of Europe; only through that channel, 
the works came to be known to Medieval Europe, and they 
were the only mental and spiritual seed sown during that 
time of drought. Jews are often mocked at as business 
brokers, as old-clothes men peddling cast-off clothes from 
house to house; as a matter of fact they have carried the 
cast-off garments of ancient culture into the habitations of . 
the nations of Europe; and if these had not clothed themselves 
with those remnants, they would have remained naked indeed. 

But the Jews were not only transmitters and middlemen, 
they exerted also great influence by original production. 
Whatever knowledge there was during the Middle Ages of 
botany, especially of the so-called officinal branch of botany, 
was gotten through a translation of the work of Dioskorides, 
made with the assistance and under the direction of a Jew, 
the physician and vizier, Chasdai Ben Isaac Shaprut. The 
more distinguished philosophers of the Arabian time, or at 
least a large portion of them, were Jews. The name Avicebron 
resounds through many writings of the. Middle Ages as that 
of one of the most original minds. He was a Jew, Solomon 
Ben Gabirol, or Gebirol. His name Aben-Gebirol was 
mutilated into Avengebrol, Avencebron. He was an original 
thinker, and also a distinguished poet—a mind upon whose 
creative power I should like to dwell longer. Moses Ben 
Maimon, Maimonides, a pillar of the faith, a mind productive 
in all departments of Jewish science, was also a thinker whose 
works exerted a lasting influence, not only upon Judaism; he 
became a teacher for all Europe. Albertus Magnus appro- 
priated to himself the best thoughts, and Thomas Aquinas 
has borrowed much from him. Who could count all the great 


minds who lived within the Arabian territory, where they 
developed their mental activity and issued the productions 
of their poetic talent? What a glorious age! What testi- 
mony it bears to the energy in Judaism, which can not be 
broken, which develops itself in rich luxuriance, if only time 
and space are granted to it. When in Italy there came a 
revival of poetry, a sense of the beautiful rather than the 
vigorous spirit of science, a Jewish poet appeared by the side 
of Dante, intimate friends, Immanuel, a man full of fresh 
humor; and we shall generally find that, despite all oppression, 
the Jewish mind never became weak and weary. Mathe- 
matics counts many votaries among the Jews; and in the 
medieval books of that science we meet another strange 
sounding name, ‘‘Savasorda,’’ who is none other than Abraham 
Ben Chiva, a Spanish Jew residing in the Provence. He had 
the Arabian title Sahib al Shorta—i. e., Chief of Police—given 
to large landed proprietors, like lord, or prince, ‘‘ Nasi’’ as the 
title is in Hebrew. 

Times became brighter and everywhere we behold Jews 
participating with lively interest in everything that quickens 
the spirit. In a measure, the bible had to be again discovered 
for Christendom. Who saved it, the Hebrew bible? Who 
kept it for fifteen centuries, that it could again reappear in 
its original form? Canonization of ignorance would have 
condemned it long ago—it would have been lost if it had been 
under that protection only; we might perhaps find a few pieces 
of it under an old Palimpsest, under a breviary of some monk, 
and we should guess at it as at the Assyrian cuneiform in- 
scriptions. It is owing to the care of the Jews that this part 
of the mental and spiritual achievement of Antiquity has not 
been lost—the product of Hebraism, of Revelation. The 
Jews have saved it, they have carried it as their treasure 
through the world, have explored its hidden spirit with nice 
understanding and transferred their own aids for instruction 
to the world. Proud Science, that imagines herself to-day 
independent and able to explain the bible in her own way, 
works with the very aids furnished her by the Jews—she 
walks about on crutches borrowed from the Rabbis. As they 


had punctuated and accentuated it, and in places transformed 
it, Science has taken it and works farther on. When the time 
of the awakening of culture arrived, the staff of Judaism was 
looked to as a supporting pillar. Reuchlin, the instructor of 
Germany, took hold of the two pillars of the mental and 
spiritual temple, Hellenism and Hebraism, and depended on 
them, drawing on both for support. Holy ignorance laid 
snares for him on that account, wanted to give his works over 
to the ban; her minions complained grievously because he was 
not delivered into their hands. He held the transmitted 
treasures of Judaism in great respect, perhaps some counter- 
feit more than it deserved. The critical works of Jews of 
that time, the works of Elias Levita, of Azariah de Rossi, are 
of great importance. As the time progressed, the Jews 
advanced with it. 

In that land where a beautiful life had flourished for the 
Jews for a long time, in the land which they loved with holy 
fervor, blind fanaticism was mightier than science. The latter 
had fertilized the land as long as the Arabians occupied it; 
when they were crowded back, science also fled from before 
the serpent tongue of religious fury. The flame of fanaticism 
was fed by ignorance more and more; it consumed the best 
energies of the land, and the Jews too, were compelled to give 
way. It was not enough to oppress them, their very presence 
was regarded as a profanation; they were forced to leave a 
country in which they had dwelt with honor for a thousand 
years, in the welfare and glory of which they had most 
brilliantly co-operated. They were forced to emigrate. What- 
ever they saved of mental and spiritual culture, they carried 
along into Turkey, where, however, they were not able to 
graft a higher culture on the barren tree of the Ottomans. 
But also to another country which had been tributary to, and 
had made itself independent of Spain, to Holland, they 
carried, together with their love for their former Spanish 
fatherland, the remnants of culture and refinement of the 
time. Holland set the first example in Christendom of 
announcing and proclaiming the principle of religious liberty 
in its essentials, at least, if not fully; and Holland flourished 

174 JupAIsmM AND Its HIsToRY 

for a long time, in both material prosperity and mental and 
spiritual superiority, and its Jewish inhabitants with it. 
Right there in Holland a Jewish child was born who, though 
he grew up a man of feeble body, became the pioneer of a 
new mental and spiritual era, and soon became celebrated, 
even to this day. Baruch Spinoza was a native of Amster- 
dam; he was the originator of a new line of thought which 
has since made its entrance into the thinking world and trans- 
formed many ideas. He did not remain a close adherent of 
the Jewish doctrine, yet he never severed his connection with 
it; he matured under the instruction of his old Jewish teachers; 
he had zealously studied Aben Esra and Maimonides, and 
rose on the support of Judah Alfakar and Chisdai Kreskas. 
He contended against the Jewish adherents of Aristotle, and 
yet he had got his education in philosophy through them. 
He also fought against the Cabbala, though he had received 
many an impulse from it; its doctrine of emanation became 
with him his doctrine of immanation. Baruch Spinoza laid 
the foundation of a new philosophy which has become the 
mother of many modern philosophies. He was a character 
of granite, and accordingly his system is of granite construc- 
tion. Others have chipped little stones from that structure 
and fitted them into various conglomerate and thus created 
new systems; yet they originate in his structure. Has he 
found the truth? I can hardly assume it; but that he has 
become an instructor of mankind, that he has freed it from 
many errors and prejudices, has mightily stirred up the minds, 
was the father of a new mental and spiritual life and the 
creator of free biblical criticism, is an uncontrovertible fact. 
The poor Jewish lens-grinder of Amsterdam has not passed 
through the world without leaving fertile productions behind 
him. Let us not proceed farther into later times—let us 
forego the mention of many more recent brilliant names; 
those times are yet too near to us and their contemplation 
might be regarded as vainglorious self-admiration. 

But now a new time is taking shape. We have not com- 
pletely passed out from the Middle Ages, but their pillars 
are crumbling; what was their staff of support formerly, proves 


to be but a splinter to-day. As yet, no new mental and 
spiritual idea with fertilizing influence appears on the horizon 
of the world; as yet, no fresh breeze passes through the 
withered leaves of mankind. But it is getting ready for the 
New Age—sound science, live reason, honest inquiry shall 
investigate everything and clear up everything. Before sound 
science, that science which, despairing of itself and aware of 
its weakmindedness, denies the existence of the spirit, shows 
up with triumphant mien the apparatus of a skeleton and 
thereby supposes to have given an explanation of man, will 
retire with shame. With a sound science which respects the 
spirit and has a presentiment of the Spirit of All, Judaism will 
go hand in hand, because it has always been permeated and 
quickened by such ideas. 

How then are we prepared for that New Age? There are 
many overeducated and sensual ones that would willingly 
throw away all ancient treasures, bend their knees before the 
powers that be, and divest themselves of their own character 
and their past as something valueless; they are frail clay 
vessels, unavailable as instruments for ushering in a spiritually 
healthy time. There are also zealots among us, who, merely 
looking back upon the ancient time, are in love with the shell 
worn during the Middle Ages and will not lay aside the rough 
coat of mail; who want to use the dagger of suspicion and the 
poison of calumny against every new aspiration; they likewise 
are unavailable as instruments for ushering in a new time. 
Neither are Pharisees of the strict observance lacking; they 
carefully wrap themselves up, cling devoutly to all that has 
been handed down from former times; they are animated by 
the ancient spirit, but without new, fresh, quickening energy. 
But where is the new Hillel, with his mild, clear eye, with his 
loving enthusiasm, with his sound mental and spiritual energy 
to co-operate in the ushering in of the new time? Whenever 
he shall appear—and surely he will not fail us—he will again 
pronounce, perhaps in another form, his old maxim: “Jf I 
do not for myself, who will do for me? Beloved pilgrim, do 
not continually look backwards,” he will say, ‘‘do not con- 
tinually keep your eyes on the past. Jerusalem is a tomb; 


you must draw from the living present and labor init. If we 
do not labor and produce from the innate spirit within us as 
it is linked with the spirit of Revelation, who shall do it? 
And if I do for myself alone, what am I then? If we do not 
identify ourselves with mankind, we do not do our duty. 
Beloved pilgrim, cast off your rough coat of mail, there is no 
longer hostility abroad; undo the wrappings that hide and 
disfigure you, frosty and icy winds no longer blow against 
you—love will blossom everywhere—you have a warm heart, 
and all mankind appreciates it; take them all in your embrace. 
Lo! the wrap is not the spirit, and the rough coat of mail is 
not the essence. And if not now, when then? If not now, 
while the spirit of Judaism yet animates its members, if 
nothing is done now, if no space is cleared whence the knowl- 
edge of ancient times may fertilize the world and new seeds 
be sown for the future; if indifference increases in Israel and 
throws away the old treasures as worthless; if the understand- 
ing of truly Jewish knowledge, the illumination of the idea of 
Revelation, the draft from that eternal fountain is not 
encouraged now—when then? Is it to be done only then 
when everything shall be encoffined, when on the one side 
there will be but dead bones, and on the other, only ashes?” 
With such words the new Hillel will, when he puts in his 
appearance, encourage the pilgrim to vigorous action, to 
cheerful co-operation in the spiritual sowing; he will speak it 
with tongue of fire, with that conquering enthusiasm which 
bears down all caviling hesitancy. The time will come, 
Judaism has not yet finished its mission. Judaism does not 
consider the world’s history closed up, neither eighteen cen- 
turies ago, nor to-day; it moves along with mankind on its 

conquering march of progress, and brightens it with mild 

Renan and Strauss. 
A Glance at the Latest Works on the Life of Jesus. 

About thirty years ago, Strauss accomplished the great 
feat of writing a critical work on the life of Jesus, and showed 
that the accounts of that time, as contradictory in themselves 
and impossible as the records are in conflict with one another, 
contained no actual history, but merely the legends which 
were formed within the circle of the first Christian Congrega- 
tion about the personality of Jesus, and that those same 
legends were the result of the Messianic belief, were the 
offspring of expectations connected with the coming Messiah 
or with the events that were related in the bible, of the lives 
of other men, either by direct statement or put into it by 
interpretation. Thus it was very doubtful how much there 
would be left of real history besides the fact of the existence 
of the person. But Strauss had then just emerged from the 
School of Hegel, which, in the habit of converting historical 
facts into a dialectic process from within, in the habit of 
regarding events of the past as preparatory steps to later 
finished ideas, had long before viewed the facts of incipient 
Christianity—without, however, denying their historical 
character—as the hulls of higher ideas, and had asserted that 
those formerly veiled ideas had been brought to light and made 
perfectly clear in philosophy—the Hegelian philosophy, of 
course. That School called its philosophy the Absolute. 
Philosophy; it represented Christianity, which it respected as 
a ruling religious power, as the chrysalis of its philosophy, as_ 
the popular, yet immature religious presentation, preceding 
the complete, clear conception, and called the Absolute Reli- 
gion. In that manner, the Hegelian School had persuaded 
itself and others that it was not only in perfect accord with 
the belief of the church, but raised it even to the dignity of 
inviolable, philosophic certainty, it imprinted the stamp of 
the highest mental and spiritual perfection. 


Strauss, with his love of truth, and his clear, critical 
acumen, destroyed that cobweb which the Hegelian had spun 
around itself as a saint’s garment; he shook the whole founda- 
tion of the belief in the definite historical person, and on that, 
the entire Christian faith is based. Yet he wanted to think 
that in those representations which, though without being 
actual facts, had been shaped into history, the philosophical 
ideas of his School had found expression, even if immature, 
and that therefore the essence of Christianity, now more 
purely expressed in their philosophical ideas, was preserved.* 
With that, he not only eased his mind, but he even believed 
that the Church could and should be satisfied with what had 
thus been saved. But it very soon became evident that the 
Church was not at all satisfied with seeing the One Person 
whom she adored as her highest ideal, nay, even as a super- 
human being, yield his place to the whole human race that 
continually develops, struggles, suffers, dies, rises again, 
ascends to heaven in a transfigured state, etc. Although he 
gallantly held his ground in the fight that was made against 
him from all sides, yet he thought there was a possibility of 
effecting a reconciliation between the traditional faith of the 
Church and the glorification of the individual. In his “Leaf 
of Peace,” published a little later, he announced: ‘'The Idea 
manifests itself in the fullness of its radiations only in the 
whole community, yet it appears in especially gifted individ- 
uals with such force that they seem unapproachable, that we 
look up to them as the highest possible embodiment of the 
Idea, and yield to them a Worship of Genius. If we behold 
the art of poetry, of painting, manifested in the highest 
possible perfection in certain persons who do not arise as the 
crown of a long line of development, but rather as the first 
ones with regard to time, and whom other, later ones try to 
approach, just so, an individual may have been a genius of 
religious sentiment as author of a religion worthy of adoration 
or at least, emulation.” 

* It followed out of that view that he preferred to designate the 
popular legends, as which he regarded the stories, rather as myths, because 
the latter are held to be ideas couched in poetic forms. 


With that, Strauss let the matter rest, and turned away 
from the subject for a long time. Of course, such action on 
his part did not set at rest the commotion that had been 
stirred up. Some, seeing that the very center had been 
unhesitatingly assailed, sought to defend the more obstinately 
the fartherest outposts which had before been almost sur- 
rendered; others thought they could, by way of compromise, 
the more securely save that part which to them seemed to be 
the more important one, if they would yield the apparently 
less important and tenable branch. But soon results of 
criticism were again brought forward, though from a different 
starting point. A system came into existence which, though 
also the offspring of the Hegelian School, investigated the 
growth and development of the ideas within Christianity 
rather with a view to the history of the dogmas of the church; 
it is the so-called ‘Tuebingen School.’’ In the course of the 
researches made for that purpose by Baur, its author and 
indefatigable leader, in conjunction with some gifted disciples, 
they were compelled to investigate the events during the first 
centuries of Christian history. Gradually they arrived at the 
result, that the manifold dogmatic differences which dis- 
turbed especially the first periods, could not be regarded as 
an apostacy from convictions previously settled, but pre- 
sented a process of fermentation out of which Christianity 
only very gradually was shaped into its subsequent fixed form. 
Christianity—such was the result of which they became more 
and more convinced—is not a new spiritual system produced 
by one man and arising suddenly, but it is the product of a 
mental and spiritual commotion running through two cen- 
turies, and it was made up by a number of various factors. 
The person who, until then, had been adored as the creator 
of full, complete, and finished Christianity, was divested of 
that glory by the result of such researches; yet the honor of 
having given the impulse to that commotion was left to him. 
The investigators were also inclined, following the example 
of Strauss, to admit that he should be regarded as an over- 
whelming individuality on account of the ability to give such 
a powerful impulse, even as a religious Genius who, in advance, 


with the intuitive grasp of genius, had. already completely 
apprehended all that the process of development later got into 
shape by laborious toil. Closely examined, the latter sup- 
position especially is superfluous, even contradictory. To 
what purpose should that have existed in advance in an 
individual which the commotion of the minds produced out 
of the bitter and severe fight with one another? But still 
more! If the Master had indeed arrived at that high plane 
which was attributed to complete and finished Christianity, 
how was it possible that his immediate disciples who, in their 
immediate intercourse with him, saw his actions, to whom he 
gave uninterruptedly his personal instruction, who must have 
known the convictions held by him down to his death, to 
whom, as his chosen apostles he disclosed his innermost 
thoughts and communicated his best aims—how was it 
possible that they rendered his doctrine, conceived in an 
entirely different shape from what it afterwards assumed and 
was attempted to be ascribed to its author? But soon they 
were led to this conclusion, that during the internal conflict 
in the first centuries, the Apostles proper had not been the 
standard-bearers of the doctrine which worked its way to 
victory, but that theirs was gradually compelled to give way 
to a later tendency, as the representative of which especially 
Paul, the Apostle to the heathens, came into view. And thus 
the person of Paul made its way as the carrier of the pro- 
gressive movement of the ideas more and more to the fore- 
ground, and the first author receded in proportion. That was 
not announced very emphatically by that School—they were 
satisfied with a so-called Ideal Christ; i. e., with the Idea of a 
finished Christianity. How much was left of a Historical 
Christ, they left undecided. 

The clearer knowledge of that conflict of the ideas in the 
first Christian time brightened the view for critical investiga- 
tion of the Gospels and the other earliest writings of Chris- 
tianity; it even forced a more searching criticism of them. 
Those oldest monuments of Christianity in its formation period 
must be likewise speaking witnesses of that conflict which 
excited the minds so mightily, they must show in sharp lines 


the questions of those times, even the number of the records 
—namely, that four gospels have been handed down—and 
the diversity existing between their composers can have 
proceeded only from more or less conscious intent of carrying 
the shades of their own religious opinions into the efforts of 
the author of the faith. That knowledge has greatly pro- 
moted criticism of the Gospels and insight into the inner 
process of the development of Christianity; but at the same 
time it has brought still greater uncertainty upon what the 
author did, intended, and taught. Ifthe records are legendary 
and mythical, as Strauss asserted, in that they had intended 
to see all former expectations fulfilled in the author and thus 
unhistorically ascribed to him their actual fulfilment, another 
difficulty was added, to wit, that their own later and more 
recently formed shape was also dressed up as act and doctrine 
of Jesus, and thus obscured his character still more. Accord- 
ingly, the Tuebingen School has thus far not attempted to 
draw a full picture of the Author of Christianity; it lacked all 
material for it, because the Past and the Future had worked 
on it to such an extent that the living character then present 
had become completely indiscernible. Besides, he had been 
reduced to a single factor in the great sum of Christianity; to 
know that in its entirety, in the demonstrable phases of its 
development, was of more importance than to trace the single, 
less seizable factor. 

When now all at once, and that from the point of view of 
that School, two new works appear, which treat exclusively 
of “The Life of Jesus,’’ it is really a retrogressive step. Of 
course, less so in the case of the French author. That 
process of thought had not yet been independently worked 
outin France. The first “Life of Jesus” by Strauss had been 
translated into French, the literary works of the Tuebingen 
School had been known, considered, and discussed within a 
certain circle of French theologians, but independent research 
and elaboration had not been attained. Mr. Renan, there- 
fore, was fully justified in commencing again, for France, with 
the life of Jesus. And yet, he has not stopped there. He 
does not desire that his book should be regarded as a whole 


work completed; he publishes it as a first volume of a larger 
work calculated to treat upon the development of Chris- 
tianity during the first three centuries, as the beginning of a 
full and elaborate disquisition. The German author stands 
worse in this respect. He regards his task fully accomplished 
by his book, he means to present ‘‘The Life of Jesus” exclu- 
sively, and that too, after having performed this task, thirty 
years ago, as far as it can be performed from his standpoint 
—namely, as a critical opinion upon the records on that 
subject—a task which may be executed now more correctly 
and in better shape in consequence of the new views gained, 
but can hardly turn out a new work intended for the general 
public. While now the second part of the new work is merely 
a recast of his former critical analysis with omission of a large 
portion of learned matter, Strauss means, after all, to give in 
the first part a positive presentation of the actual historical 
facts regarding Jesus—just like Renan, who, however, blends 
both points. And right there, the evil result of a mode of 
proceeding unjustifiable by science appears, and again much 
more so in the work of Strauss than in that of Renan. For 
while we must accord the palm of superiority to the German 
author as far as labor of criticism is concerned, it must be 
admitted that his historical presentation—even aside from the 
historical art which, with Renan, is working more in a more 
poetic, divinatory manner than in elaborating the material on 
hand—is far more untenable, much less permeated by a 
historic spirit than that of the French scholar. The latter 
has this advantage, that he intermingles criticism with his 
narrative, that he introduces many more portions of the 
records—often in a very uncritical and arbitrary manner—as 
genuine history and has thus far more material left him. 
Finally he sees in Jesus a man wrestling and struggling within 
himself, soaring and falling back until death relieves him at 
the right time, before he might turn faithless to his mission. 
In contrast to that, Strauss at first presents us a history, and 
only afterwards proves the unreliability of the records, so that 
when we have come to the close of his book, we.look about 
with uncertainty for the remainder, of which the actual 


history must once have consisted; of a growth, of a develop- 
ment within the person of Jesus, which is the real object of 
biography, we learn nothing at all, for he presents his man 
finished and complete from the start. 

But how does this man appear in both works? There is 
the rock against which the feeble bark of either was wrecked 
as soon as it ventured to pass from the waters of historical 
criticism into those of biography. Every attempt at biogra- 
phy is attended with danger. As soon as an individual is 
taken up asa fixed point in the moving fluid stream of history, 
he has been given a higher importance, and the temptation 
grows stronger and stronger to justify in the presentation, 
why such importance is given him; compelled to group around 
him the facts connected with him, the writer easily falls into 
the mistake of deducing them from him, and thus he becomes 
the center and representative of the history of which he was 
but a single part by the side of many others. The interest 
which an earnest author takes in the subject of his treatise, 
passes over to the appreciation of the person; he is led astray 
into overrating him, in emphasizing, more than unbiased 
judgment could permit, his bright sides, into paling the dark 
spots, in excusing the foibles; in short, the biographer easily 
turns into the advocate, into the eulogist. Such being the 
danger attending every biographical work, how much greater 
must it be when its subject is a person who is closely connected 
with one of the grandest events in the world’s history, who has 
hitherto been regarded not merely as one of its impelling 
or co-operating factors, but as its complete and sole creator. 
However critically unbiased the writer may be, as soon as he 
disengages such an agent from all other factors, he slips into 
ascribing to him more than he would in a work comprising a 
history of all co-operating causes—he would not like to go too 
far out of the beaten track, he would not want to make the 
transition from the customary conception to his own, too 
steeply precipitous. And when criticism proves that very 
little of all that the ancient records contain can be relied 
upon, then the writer is left to himself, to his own combina- 
tion, to the picture moving before his imagination, and in that 


light he will represent his hero. But critical truth suffers 
shipwreck thereby. 

And such has been the case with both authors, with each 
in his own way. In the work of Renan, Jesus appears as a 
visionary hypocrite, greatly vascillating: now as a pronounced 
national Jew, and then again as a cosmopolitan; now as 
initiated by John the Baptist into ascetics, then rising above 
all outward forms; now as overcoming all obstacles by the 
most amiable meekness and then again in great wrath at the 
lack of results of his labors and losing heart, and withal, devoid 
of all means and efforts towards higher culture of mind and 
spirit;—and towards the end, after we are shown some very 
suspicious preparations for deceptive miracles, some very low 
morality which our author defends with oratorical pathos and 
and even praises, because he thinks it to belong to a creative, 
idealistic time which should not be measured by our own short 
standard, we finally come to a glorification of Jesus who is to 
be the pattern of highest religious and moral perfection for all 
times, an ideal which has as yet not been sufficiently under- 
stood and much less reached. Though he should not be 
worshiped as a God, yet he must be looked up to as an Ideal 
of Mankind, as a “‘Demigod.” Thus the epos closes in a 
dignified manner with a surprising flash. But when we shut 
the book, calmly weigh its contents in our mind and render 
its poetry into sober prose, we find the hero has been dissolved 
into vapor during the course of that chemical process of 
thought. The demands made upon us by the historian prove 
to be wholly illegitimate. 

Nor do we fare better with Strauss. He saves us from all 
flight of the imagination, from all suspense and tension that 
might be caused by contemplation of a wrestling mind; in his 
presentation, Jesus appears from the very beginning in 
unchangeable, unapproachable tranquility, in lofty dignity. 
Even in the preface (p. xviii.) he is announced as “‘the indi- 
vidual in whom the deeper consciousness of man’s inner nature 
first appeared as an all-pervading force, determining his entire 
life and being,” and again at the conclusion of the book (p. 
625), we are assured that ‘“‘among the promoters of the ideal 


of humanity, Jesus stands at all events in the front rank. 
He introduced features into it which were wanting in it before, 
or had remained undeveloped; he reduced others which 
prevented its universal application; he imparted to it by the 
religious aspect he gave to it a more lofty consecration and 
bestowed upon it the most vital warmth by its embodiment 
in his own person, while the Religious Society which took its 
start from him, provided for this ideal the widest acceptance 
among mankind.” But when we ask for the facts underlying 
that picture, we are refused an answer by Strauss regarding 
actual facts, because he does not recognize the reported actions 
as historical and true; and if those reported acts were recog- 
nized as actual facts, they would in a great measure contradict 
his views and could find their explanation only in a relapse 
by the immediately succeeding age, which we shall consider 
farther on. Now then, actual facts do not furnish the basis 
for such a description of the character of Jesus; but instructions 
and maxims do. But many of those have to be deducted from 
the sum of that character, because they originated at a later 
time. Others are decided to be genuine and thus ought to 
afford the best testimony for that lofty individuality. Strauss 
selects (p. 253) some of “‘that rich collection of sentences or 
maxims as they are found in the gospels, of those pregnant 
sayings which, even independent of their religious value, are 
so inestimable for the clear penetration, the unerring sense 
of right expressed in them.” 

Let us consider these pregnant sayings which by themselves 
alone are to furnish the justification for the claim to that 
proud unapproachable character. ‘Give unto Caesar that 
which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s.” If 
that saying is taken in that sense which a later application 
attributed to it, namely, that the domains of the religious 
and civil bonds of Church and State, should be separated, 
and that each should be recognized on its own soil and accord- 
ing to its title, then we rejoice at the tangible expression in 
which the idea is given. But right there, another opinion of 
Strauss gives us pause and doubt. Considering his admission 
(p. 626) that “‘in the pattern exhibited by Jesus in his instruc- 


tion and life, some sides being shaped and worked out to 
perfection, while other sides were but faintly sketched or not 
indicated at all,’’ and that in elaborating that idea, he con- 
tinues, “‘his relation to the body politic appears simply 
passive,’’ we soon conclude that in the first part of the cited 
saying the sensible idea of the rights of the State can not be 
contained, that Jesus did not recognize the State, but merely 
tolerated it. But that the meaning of that saying is altogether 
different from that put into it, after it was elevated into a 
maxim under changed conditions and altered views, is proven 
by its shape and the occasion that called it forth. According 
to the meaning now generally adopted, it should demand that 
to Caesar should be given what is due him, but not ‘‘that 
which zs Caesar’s”’ already, that which already fully belongs 
to him—for that is self-understood as a matter of course. 
But Jesus employed the saying for a reply to the question of 
the Pharisees, whether they should pay tribute to the emperor, 
to Rome, and only after he had made them show him a coin 
which bore the emperor’s picture. The Pharisees, being the 
party of compromise, did not refuse to pay tribute; with all 
their attachment to their faith and country, hence with all 
their readiness to give unto God all that they could dispose 
of as a gift to God, it was their principle not to rebel reck- 
lessly against the authority of the Emperor, but rather to 
give to him that which under existing conditions he could 
justly claim. But the Kannaim, the Zealots, rejected such 
pliant weakness, condemned the payment of tribute or taxes 
to Rome as an apostacy from faith and country. The 
Pharisees and Herodians—as they are called in Matthew and 
Mark, i. e., the Boethusians, the priestly families and their 
adherents—who regarded the announcement by Jesus that he 
was the Messiah both as a religious presumption and as an 
implied dangerous political agitation, very naturally supposed 
that he would, like the Zealots, repudiate the payment of 
tribute to Rome; and that would have afforded them a cause 
for delivering him as a rebel over to the Roman authorities 
for punishment. Jesus cunningly foiled the attempt, without 
turning from his principles. The coin bearing the image and 


inscription of the Emperor showed that everything still moved 
within the condition of this world which, after all, ‘“‘was”’ 
Rome’s, “was’’ Caesar’s—not “ought to be his” —the reply 
meant, give unto him that which he has already, until the 
world-to-come appears, when all things will be God’s, and you 
will then pay all tribute to Him. Judging from his point of 
view, the reply may have been appropriate, even wise, but 
it can not claim authority for all times, it reveals no insight 
into the nature of the State, hence “peculiar, clear penetra- 
tion, the unerring sense of right’’ is not expressed in it. 
As a second example, the author quotes the saying, ‘‘No 
man putteth a new patch unto an old garment; neither do 
men put new wine into old bottles.” What the sentence is 
intended to express is well known; but I have great doubts 
about its fitness and the general application. About a new 
patch upon an old garment, the figure is extremely puzzling. 
An old patch is undoubtedly less suitable for an old, torn 
garment than a new patch; for if a garment be still usable and 
have but a rent, one will certainly take a new patch for 
mending the damage and preserving the whole garment for 
some time yet. If, therefore, Matthew (ix. 16) and Mark 
(ii. 21) add: ‘‘for that which is put in to fill up, taketh from 
the garment and the rent is made worse,” they commit, as 
far as I understand such matters, a direct error. Luke seems 
to have felt that, for he changes the metaphor somewhat by 
quoting the saying (v. 36) in this manner: ‘‘No man putteth 
a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both 
the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was then taken 
out of the new, agreeth not with the old.”” But by that turn, 
the truth to be embodied by the parable is entirely changed, 
and it evidently does not correspond to its original object. 
According to Matthew and Mark, Jesus, following up the 
observation that the disciples of the Baptist and the Pharisees, 
but not his, might fast, means to say, that it is of no avail to 
patch an old, torn system of religious views with a few new 
ideas; that it must be formed anew from its very foundation 
—that meaning fits the saying, but it can not be applied to a 
garment. Now, while Luke intends to improve the parable, 


he destroys the meaning intended to be conveyed by it. For 
according to him, the system of new views must have been 
completely established and carried into practice, to have a 
piece taken from it and tear it, while the new patch would 
not agree with the old. That does not correspond to the idea 
intended to be conveyed. At all events, the older form of 
the saying is such as is found in Matthew and Mark, and as 
Strauss has transcribed it from them; but in that form, the 
metaphor, being little to the point, seems to have roused 
already the suspicion of Luke. The same can be said of the 
second part. That new wine, being in process of fermenta- 
tion, may easily break the bottles, is correct; but that old 
bottles, if they are at all fit for preserving liquids, are more 
liable to burst than new ones, I am inclined to doubt. Even 
the new ones are more apt to burst, on account of their untried 
tension, as expressed also by the author of Job (xxxii. 19), to 
which verse only forced interpretation could attribute the 
meaning from the passage in the Gospels. Thus then, the 
form of the saying with its simile is badly selected. But is 
the idea to be conveyed by it, to be adopted without any 
limitation? The saying, if accepted as of general application, 
is in conflict with all historical development, the law of which 
consists even in gradual transformation, in the interpenetra- 
tion of the old elements by the new ones. It hasan intelligent 
meaning only—and that, too, in a Paulinian sense—for the 
commotion of that time which was opposed to Judaizing 
Christianity, as being a mingling of ancient custom with the 
new Messianism. Now if it alludes to that condition—and 
in this sense it is still farther elaborated by Luke, who had 
the new system completely finished before him—it can not 
be ascribed to Jesus at all but belongs to the later time when 
the internal struggle was well under way. And in fact, the 
saying is very loosely, even contradictorily attached to the 
preceding reply. If the disciples of Jesus, as is stated in the 
preceding passages under consideration, do not then fast, 
because the bridegroom is with them, but would make up 
for it after the latter shall have been taken from them, the 
saying does not at all contend against ancient custom, but 


designates it as untimely only for the moment, again to 
become appropriate at a future period. But the added 
phrases occupy a different standpoint, that of a later period, 
which insists on having abolished all ancient custom for all 
time to come. 

Both the expression and the idea of the saying, “If thy 
hand or thy foot offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee,” 
are of very doubtful value. The other, ‘‘Take first the beam 
out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast 
out the mote out of thy brother’s eye,” was, as is evident 
from the Talmud, an adage in general use at the time. The 
other two sentences, ‘‘They that be whole need not a physi- 
cian, but they that are sick,’’ and ‘Not seven times shalt 
thou forgive thy brother who offends thee, but seventy times 
seven,” are of very ordinary kind. If Strauss adds with 
emphasis, “These are imperishable words; for in them, truths 
that are every day getting fresh corroboration are enclosed 
in a form that exactly suits them and is at the same time 
universally intelligible,” the otherwise unbiased thinker can 
have been blinded only by the frequent application that has 
been made of them. during the course of centuries, and this 
too, with a partial sublimation of their original meaning. In 
comparison with the great treasure of pithy sentences and 
proverbs, the single pearls of which are scattered about in the 
Talmudic literature, one is tempted to say, with the lavish 
carelessness of a millionaire, the sentences quoted deserve 
very small consideration. 

But Strauss is determined, at all hazards, to see inthe 
subject of his book, the embodiment of the human ideal, even 
if he should be forced to assume that history had taken a 
retrogressive in place of an advance movement. When we 
read expressions such as (p. 140), “Luke and Mark un- 
doubtedly did right when they omitted from the instruc- 
tions to the twelve, the command not to turn to the Gentiles 
and Samaritans, as that prohibition in the account of the first 
gospel had probably got into it only from the ideas of rigid 
Judaizing Christians,” when we read soon thereafter, “If we 
accept . . . that the first disciples of Jesus did not fully 


comprehend him, that the standpoint of the first congrega- 
tion remained behind his own, and that our oldest Evangelists, 
especially Matthew, were also on the standpoint of the oldest 
congregation . . . and if we put up the saying in 
Matthew, about the indestructibility of even the smallest 
letter of the Law, and that in John about the worship of God 
in spirit and in truth, as the two most extreme points, it is 
very doubtful to which of those two points we are to think 
the historical Jesus to have been the nearest’; or when he 
says (p. 318) of ‘‘the phantastic mood of the most ancient 
congregations, that it had been in many respects a simultane- 
ous relapse into the views of Jewish times’’; or when (p. 616), 
the fact that Mark ‘“‘names as the signs which are to charac- 
terize believers, the power to cast out devils, to speak with 
new tongues, to lift up snakes, to drink deadly poison without 
harm, to heal the sick by laying on of hands’’ is to show “‘at 
how early a period in the Church, a superstitious feeling 
directed only to signs and wonders began to smother the 
genuine spirit of Jesus’—when we read those and similar 
expressions, we no longer recognize in them an unbiased 
historical mind and spirit, but the violent assertions of the 

Many of the passages quoted above, show that Strauss 
approaches those assertions with rather unsteady and hesi- 
tating step, yet he rushed unhesitatingly into them in other 
places. His critical conscience must necessarily have troubled 
him then. For such assumptions rob all settled historical 
results accomplished by modern research, of their true value. 
If it is true that Christianity was evolved only from the 
struggle between an older tendency and the later Paulinian 
view, it is impossible that the later, more finished form had 
been already known, and had been taught in its complete 
state, and even in a higher form, by the original starter. It 
is impossible that all his immediate disciples and all the 
churches established by them, should not only completely 
have misunderstood the intentions of their Master, should 
have totally renounced his doctrines, but that they even con- 
tended against his views and purposes with the most deter- 


mined and violent opposition, as soon as they were presented 
to them in mere tentative form by Paul, who had not known 
Jesus, nor even heard anything from him directly, and that 
those views gained the ascendency only by the pressure of 
events. And even Paul is made out to have only approached 
them; for the author is represented as having possessed a far 
loftier conception than that which Paul deduced by scholastic 
dialectics, and thus his real spirit has remained unknown to 
this day. Whenever a writer enunciates new views, they may 
be ignored for a time or be bent to the prevailing opinions 
and perceived more clearly by a later generation only. But 
when a teacher—who in personal intercourse and by oral 
instruction unhesitatingly and with the greatest emphasis, 
pronounces his convictions which are diametrically opposed 
to the prevailing views and “in a form that exactly fits them 
and is at the same time universally intelligible’’—gives his 
ideas the most definite expression in all his actions, accepts 
the contest with the ruling powers for them, and dies for 
them, can he have been so totally misunderstood by the men 
who were unceasingly with him, who were prepared by him 
as his missionaries and devoted themselves to that mission 
with the greatest self-sacrifice, and also by the crowds and 
congregations that gathered around those men—can he by 
all of them, and however weak their mental powers may have 
been, have been so totally misunderstood that they repudiated 
all his doctrines without exception while other points which 
he peremptorily rejected or, at least, did not emphasize and, 
at best, only tolerated, were made by them the core and 
center of the new system? It is claimed that Jesus breaks 
down the national barriers between Jews and non-Jews; his 
disciples adhere to them with determination, call ‘‘Heathens 
and Samaritans’’ outcasts, contend against the adherents of 
Paul who accepts such, as apostates, as ‘“‘Balaamites.’’ It 
is claimed that Jesus abolishes the validity of the Jewish law 
and ceremonies; his disciples emphatically enforce them, 
assert their everlasting validity, say that “‘it is easier for 
heaven and earth to pass away than one tittle of the law to 
fail,” are indignant at the later attempted assault upon those 



institutions. It is claimed that Jesus repudiates signs and 
wonders; his adherents cite them again and again, and on 
that point the greatest unanimity has existed to this day. 
On the other hand, there is the conviction, which comprises 
everything immediately succeeding Jesus and held by all as 
an unshaken faith, namely: that Jesus was the Messiah, 
commissioned as such to bring about a new epoch for the 
world, and that he, though he died, had soon risen again and 
would return with the greatest power in a short time, in order 
to establish the new epoch with a general, rigorous judgment 
of the whole world. What is the relation of the new apolo- 
getic, or the relation of Jesus as represented by it, to that 
faith? Strauss devotes a separate chapter (C. 39) to that 
subject, and we must here transcribe his own words, omitting 
only unessential parts. He says (p. 236, etc.): 

“Jesus speaks in the Gospels . . . of the coming of 
the Son of Man; i. e., of his own Messianic second coming 
at a later, though not distant period when he will appear in 
the clouds of heaven, in divine glory and accompanied by 
angels, to wake the dead, to judge the quick and the dead, 
and to begin his kingdom, the kingdom of God, or of Heaven. 

To this part of the doctrine of Jesus in the most 
literal conception, the older Church held fast; it is even built 
on that foundation because without the expectation of the 
early return of Christ, no Christian Church could have been 
established at all. . . . Toa human being, no such thing 
as he here prophesied of himself could happen. If he did 
prophesy it of himself, and expected it himself, he is for us 
nothing but an enthusiast; as he would be a braggart and an 
impostor if he had said it of himself without any faith in it 
on his own part. . . We find the speeches of Jesus about his 
second coming in all four gospels; we certainly find them in 
the first three, which we acknowledge as the repository of 
much genuine historical tradition, at greater length and more 
definite than in the fourth. What then, is here to be done? 

Shall we make him bear the burden of all those 
speeches in the full literal meaning of the words and therefore 
be compelled to confess that he was an enthusiast, and not 

a ——————— 


of a small degree at that? . . . With our Christian habits 
of thought, it might be a very bitter pill for us; but if it 
turned out to be a historical result, our habits of thought 
would have to give way. Nor can it be said that an enthusiast 
could not have had the sound, lofty views, the historic effects 
that proceeded from him. . . . Itisno unusual phenom- 
enon to see high mental and spiritual gifts and excellency of 
sentiment tempered with a dose of exaggerated enthusiasm. 
. . That Jesus, according to the Evangelical accounts, 
should have considered his second advent so near that he 
said to his disciples that there were some among those stand- 
ing around him who should not taste of death until they had 
seen the Son of Man coming in his kingdom . . . that 
therefore he should have made a great mistake with reference 
to the time . . . all that, on our standpoint, does not 
make the case even worse. . . . So much the less can 
we feel'ourselves tempted to one of the violent interpretations 
of the words which the theologians, in genuine rivalry, have 
here undertaken. . Also by the coming of Jesus himself 
. . wecan not, if his words are faithfully reported to 
us, understand an invisible and gradual development, i. e., 
the natural development of the effects of his action upon 
earth, but only a visible and sudden, a miraculous catastrophe. 
. . . . What Jesus says in the principal passage of 
Matthew (xxiv. 30, etc., xxv. 31, etc.). . . . such a de- 
scription resists every attempt to give it a merely symbolical 
meaning . . . . of course, it is but too plain that the 
speeches referring to this point have undergone all sorts of 
later modifications. . . . All that, however, 
does not touch the point itself with which we are here con- 
cerned. . . . Jesus promised to return into his kingdom; 
and now the question is, how he spoke on other occasions of 
his kingdom, especially whether he represented it as one 
which he had founded already during his human existence, 
or one which he would initiate only at a future return. . 
. That Jesus distinguished the present as preparation, 
from a future as perfection, this life as a period of earning 
[?] from a life to come as recompense, and connected with 


the beginning of that perfection a miraculous change of the 
world to be brought about by God, appears not only in the 
gospels in the most decided manner, if any historical validity 
is left to them, but must also be assumed from the bare 
historical analogies. . . . But if Jesus had once held to 
that conviction, as of course he must have done, if he dis- 
tinguished between this present earthly existence and a future 
one in the kingdom of God, whether in heaven or on the 
renovated earth, and if he conceived the beginning of the latter 
as a miraculous act of God, then it is indifferent in what 
nearer or more distant period he placed that act, and it would 
be nothing more than a human error if he expected it after 
the shortest possible delay and announced the expectation for 
the consolation of his followers; although we can not know 
whether his followers, jn the troubles and distress after his 
passing away, may not have comforted themselves by ascrib- 
ing to him such prophecies of a near approach of the better 
constitution of the world. In all those speeches, there is but 
one point that creates a difficulty for us, and that is, that Jesus 
is said to have connected with his own person that miraculous 
change, the beginning of that ideal state of recompense, that 
he is said to have designated himself as the one who will come 
with the clouds of heaven, accompanied by angels, to awaken 
the dead and hold judgment. The expectation of such a 
thing of himself is something quite different from a mere 
general expectation of it, and he that expects it of himself 
and for himself, will not appear to us as only a fanatical 
enthusiast, but we see also an impermissible self-exaltation in 
it, if a human being . . . comes to think of selecting 
himself to such an extent from all the rest as to put himself 
up as their future judge. . . . Of course, if Jesus was 
convinced that he was the Messiah, and referred the prophecy 
in Daniel to the Messiah, he must also have expected in 
accordance with it, sometime or other, to come with the 
clouds of heaven.” 

With that last “of course,’ closes that rather uncertain 
groping for a verdict for or against the matter. But with what 
impression does an unprejudiced reader take leave of that 


disquisition? If he is really unprejudiced, he will, I think, 
throw down that apologetic, even in its new dress, as worth- 
less, and will accept as firmly established historical fact only 
this: Jesus told about himself that he was the Messiah, and 
that, in accordance with that, the expected new period of the 
world would begin with his appearance. He found believers, 
and after he was executed, the belief in him still continued, 
the beginning of the new period of the world was expected 
from day to day with his early return—he was looked upon 
as having already arisen from the dead. He himself may 
have expected that the miraculous beginning of the new 
period of the world would happen, without his death occurring 
before; with his death, that expectation changed, as stated. 
And that, indeed, is all that we are able historically to 
establish concerning him; and it is sufficient, too, for an 
explanation, not only of his appearance, but also for all 
consequences that followed it. That historical fact must not 
be garbled, must not be weakened, nor must other things not 
belonging to it be added, lest new confusion be caused. Thus 
it puts the matter out of the proper perspective if it is at- 
tempted to attribute to him the belief in his being the Son of 
God in the eminent sense of the term, or in the Messiah 
being the Logos; and above all, it is pure delusion to attribute 
to him the character of a universal God-Man as taught by 
the Hegelian School. The idea that he stepped beyond 
national and legal Judaism must also be totally rejected, and 
solely ascribed to later development. Nor can the nobler 
religious and moral conceptions and doctrines which are 
put in his mouth and heart—though we should attribute them 
to him and acknowledge their excellence with necessary 
limitations—be regarded as his own in the sense that he was 
their author and was the first who entertained and proclaimed 
them, but at the utmost that he adopted them and appro- 
priated them as he found them already made by others. 
And here we have arrived at the point which to us is the 
starting point, but which has not yet risen into the horizon 
of Christian science, however necessary for a proper under- 
standing. It not only lacks the knowledge, but also— 


however heavy the charge may sound, all experience leads to 
prove its accuracy—the uncovetous acknowledgment of the 
property of others. And in this respect also, each one of our 
authors occupies his own peculiar position, although they 
meet in the same error ultimately. Mr. Renan makes a 
running start toward justice, does not avoid the means neces- 
sary to a clearer understanding in order—as he is pleased to 
assume the same of his ideal pattern—to have a serious 
relapse." Mr. Strauss has made up his mind at the very start; 
on this point he fully occupies the grounds of the ancient 
apologetics, repeats the old faded and exploded ideas con- 
cerning the Judaism of that time, knows nothing of recent 
investigations, and though he may not be charged with 
intentionally ignoring them, we can not but blame him for 
having neglected the requisite care and labor to inform him- 
self of them. 

Everyone who contemplates the origin of Christianity with 
a historical eye must come to the conclusion that he has to 
estimate and consider the three co-operating factors, viz.: 
Palestinian Judaism of that time, Hellenistic Judaism, and 
Roman-Grecian culture. It appears perfectly natural to us 
that former writers who, from the start ranged themselves 
with one side, looked at those factors through the spectacles 
of their party and presented them accordingly. With all of 
those, Palestinian Judaism fared badly. Some painted it in 
very black colors in order to let the picture of rising Chris- 
tianity stand out in more dazzling brilliancy. Others, who 
admitted that Christianity had some blemishes, ascribed them 
to Judaism of that time; whatever in Christianity did not 
please them was called Jewish prejudice which had not been 
quite overcome at the first start but had to yield gradually 
as Christianity gained strength—or must yet yield. Of men 
who mean to consider and present the life of Jesus from a 
purely historical point of view, we can demand and expect a 
closer examination of the three factors named. They could, 
indeed, pass by Hellenistic Judaism and Pagan culture, both 
of which were unknown to Jesus, and co-operate only in the 
subsequent development of Christianity, and they are perhaps 


eo ae 


even forced to leave them in the background in order to avoid 
the error of assuming that Jesus had been influenced by those 
elements. But they are bound to examine the more closely, 
the rock from which Christianity was originally hewn, the 
fountain from which Jesus himself, and exclusively at that, 
drew his knowledge. Renan in fact distinctly denies all 
influence of the other two factors and abstains from further 
examination of both, as he could and even was obliged to do 
for his present purpose. On the other hand, he earnestly 
seeks to throw light upon the Judaism of that time, carefully 
informs himself of all recent researches, speedily appropriates 
them, and makes ready with unprejudiced and just mind, to 
disclose the fountain and its contents from which Jesus had 
drawn. If some harsh and queer opinion creeps in, some 
incorrect statement occurs, it happens because his aids are 
still insufficient. But the more deeply he enters into the 
history, the more embarrassing the foibles of his hero become 
to him, so much the more his bias gains upon him and he 
works himself into wrath against Judaism that much more. 
If it bothers him that the teacher who was at first so meek 
and mild “employed very harsh expressions against his oppo- 
nents,’”’ he explains it by this, that ‘‘ Jesus who was almost 
exempt from all the defects of his race, was led against his 
will into making use of the style used by all the polemics.” 
““One of the most prominent faults of the Jewish race is its 
bitterness in controversy, and the abusive tone which it always 
throws into it” (p. 325). If our writer soon after (p. 334) does 
not deduce from Judaism the manner adopted by Jesus in con- 
troversy, it is done because he there means to make it a 
virtue: “His exquisite scorn, his sharply pointed challenges 
always struck to the heart. Eternal brands, they seared the 
marks into the wounds forever. The Nessus shirt of ridicule 
which the Jew, the son of the Pharisees, has dragged along 
in tatters for eighteen centuries, was woven by Jesus with 
divine art. Masterpieces of lofty raillery, the marks of his 
brush have burned into fiery lines into the flesh of the hypocrite 
and pretender of devotion. Incomparable pictures, worthy of 
a Son of God! Only a God can kill in that manner. Socrates 


and Moliere but graze the skin. He carries fire and rage into 
the very marrow of the bones.” I simply quote his words, 
and therefore will only add his opinion on the persons who 
took part in the condemnation of Jesus, and on their pro- 
ceeding. Of the generation of the high priests of that time, 
he says (p. 366): ‘The spirit of the family was haughty, 
bold and cruel; it had that peculiar and reserved malignity 
which characterizes Jewish politics.”” Mr. Renan caps the 
climax at the conclusion. That he calls (p. 396) the death of 
Jesus a judicial murder and yet designates it as legal (p. 411) 
and only says “The law was detestable”’ may be passed over. 
He is also kind enough to admit that the Jew of the present 
day should not be made to suffer on account of the application 
of ‘‘that detestable law’’ of long ago; he calls it (p. 412) ‘‘the 
law of ferocity” and remarks, ‘‘The hero who offered himself 
to abrogate it, had to suffer it before all.” And then he 
continues, ‘‘ Alas! it will require more than eighteen hundred 
years before the blood which he now loses will bear its fruit! 
In his name, for centuries, tortures and death will be inflicted 
upon thinkers as noble as he. Even to-day, in countries 
which call themselves Christian, penalties are imposed for 
religious delinquencies. Jesus is not responsible for such 
aberrations. He could not foresee that any people with dis- 
ordered imagination would ever conceive him as a frightful 
Moloch, greedy for burnt flesh. Christianity has been 
intolerant, but intolerance is not an essentially Christian act. 
It is a Jewish act,” etc. 

We are weary of citing such expressions of a thinker who 
otherwise aspires to impartiality; the relapse appears into the 
old apologetics which knew to defend only by abuse. How- 
ever, Mr. Havet has already exposed in the Revue des Deux 
Mondes the injustice of such a mode of proceeding, and the 
belletristic form in which it is presented removes the necessity 
of serious refutation. Against definite charges that are more 
than unsupported assertions, we are at all times ready to 
enter the arena. But it would be unjust to Mr. Renan to 
charge him with a considerable remnant of religious hatred. 
His is not the opinion of the Christian about Jews and Judaism, 


it is the race-jealousy between the Aryan—i. e., the Indo- 
European (or we call it the Indo-German)—and the Semite. 
Mr. Renan, as descendant of Japhet, even now, fights in the 
Jew, not his faith, but the son of Shem. Let us not follow 
him into that domain of the jealousy between races. Let us 
pass on to the German writer. 

In my opinion, the two chapters in the book of Strauss, 
entitled respectively ‘Development of Judaism” and “De- 
velopment of the Greco-Roman Culture” are the weakest 
part of the work. The latter part, and especially the manner 
in which it is treated, have really no connection with the 
subject of the book. As we have already stated, Grecian 
culture was unknown to Jesus himself, perhaps even its very 
name, and can not afford the smallest clue to an explanation 
of his character. But even into the succeeding formation of 
Christianity, Grecian culture entered as a fermentative agent, 
rather in its degenerate state than in its earlier, nobler form. 
But Mr. Strauss emphasizes just that earlier form and would 
like to ascribe to it the ennobling moral influence on incipient 
Christianity, while he denies such work to Judaism. An 
assertion of Welcker serves him as guide (p. 180) and he 
quotes: “Out of Hebrew supernaturalism, humanity could 
never have proceeded; for in proportion as its conception is 
earnest and exalted, must the authority and the law of the 
One God and Master press down human God-conscious liberty 
from which all energy and cheerful aspiration to the best 
and noblest aims emanates.’’ Mr. Strauss may have felt the 
weakness of such reasoning, for he adds with a view to 
strengthening it, ‘‘ Just because the Divinity did not confront 
the Greek in the force of a commanding law, he had to become 
a law unto himself; because he did not, like the Jew, see his 
life regulated for him, step by step, he was compelled to 
seek for a moral pattern within himself.’ It ought to be 
high tire for finally dispensing with the abuse of such abstract 
construction of history. Whoever does not make history 
along the lines of such self-made categories, but derives it 
from the facts, and takes pains to comprehend it, will soon 
come to the conclusion that the moral doctrines of a people 


are the reflection of its conception of the Deity; the more 
perfect the thought of God, the more exalted the ideal towards 
which man aspires. As an actual fact, just that moral 
rottenness of the paganism of that time made it easier for 
Christianity to gain converts among serious thinkers; Grecian 
culture in its then decomposed state was a troubled, fermen- 
tative element, but never, as Strauss would like to make it, 
a worthy instructress. 

What Strauss thus attributes and adds to Grecian culture, 
that he deducts in good measure from Judaism. With 
delight he grabs for its actual or alleged defects, and his 
knowledge of the Judaism of that time stands on the same 
plane which he occupied twenty-nine years ago. As then, 
so even now he ransacks Eisenmenger and Gfoerer that they 
may supply him through channels outside of legitimate 
criticism with passages from comparatively recent works, 
such as that of an addle-brained cabalist of two hundred 
years ago, Ruben Hoeschke, viz. his Yalkut Rubeni and the 
like. He shares that ignorance with the entire Christian 
science in Germany; yet he almost surpasses it in ignoring 
all recent researches in Jewish literature, and his delight in 
painting Judaism in the darkest shades is evident. His 
continual placing of priests and prophets in juxtaposition 
without divining the fundamental antagonism between the 
principles animating them; his presenting of priests and 
Pharisees as one, his outlines of the Sadducees and Pharisees, 
his dwelling with preference on the Essenes who were without 
sensible influence and of whom only the unreliable Josephus 
gives an extended account; his manipulation of the stenciled 
categories of obstinacy, narrowmindedness, one-sidedness, 
national rigidity, etc., exhibit the deplorable relapse of the 
historian into the prejudiced apologist whose phrase and 
verbiage but poorly veil the lack of knowledge and fathoming 
of the actual relation of the facts.* In that, he outdoes 
modern science, which still gropes in the dark with uncertain 
steps in this part of history, and continues to operate with 

* For some particulars, compare II. Vol., pp. 295, etc., in my ‘“‘Juedische 
Zeitschrift fuer Wissenschaft und Leben.” 


old, used-up material without examining it anew or increasing 
it, but which yet sometimes feels an impulse to gain better 
knowledge. Mr. Strauss seems to have stopped investiga- 
tion, and thereby gives up the office of historian. 

It is a very deplorable fact that men who are as highly 
esteemed by one side for their religious liberality as they are 
condemned by the other, are so little familiar with the very 
territory an exact knowledge of which is indispensable to a 
scientific examination of the subject, and that they cling 
with a certain tenacity to antiquated prejudices. To melt 
the ice of unjust prejudice may be left to the sun of pro- 
gressive civilization. But the continued efforts of true science 
alone can succeed in overcoming ignorance. We can not 
clear the Jewish students of science from the charge that 
they have not sufficiently turned their attention to the 
investigation of the most important periods and develop- 
ments and thereby afforded in their works, material and 
results to Christian investigators for correction of their 
opinion. But Christian science is not justified thereby. In 
any other department, scholars would long hesitate to pro- 
nounce a final judgment upon subjects for the examination 
of which the necessary premises and capacities are wanting; 
only as far as Judaism is concerned, they think to be at 
liberty to act with sovereign licentiousness. At all events, 
it is the right, as well as the duty, of the Jewish scholar 
emphatically to expose such proceedings. We hope that all 
sides will seriously undertake a thorough and unbiased 
investigation of Jewish ancient history and bring their results 
to the knowledge of the general public.