Who are the Jews and what do they believe? Part 2 - Indumeans & Pharisees & the Man from Galilee
THE LAW AND THE IDUMEANS
While the Judaic scriptures, thus compiled, were on their way, thus translated, from the Alexandrine Jews to the Greeks and thereafter to the other heathen, Persian, Greek and Roman overlords followed each other in little Judea.
These chaotic centuries brought in their course the second significant event of the period: the enforced conversion of the Idumeans to Jehovaism ("Judaism" is a word apparently first used by the Judean historian Josephus to denote the culture and way of life of Judea, as "Hellenism" described those of Greece, and originally had no religious connotation. For want of a better word it will now be used in this book to identify the racial religion set up by the Levites on their perversion of the "Mosaic Law".)
Only one other mass-conversion to Judaism is known to recorded history, and that one, which came about eight or nine centuries later, was of immediate importance to our present generation, as will be shown. Individual conversion, on the other hand, was at this period frequent, and apparently was encouraged even by the rabbis, for Jesus himself, according to Saint Matthew, told the scribes and pharisees, rebukingly, that they "compass sea and land to make one proselyte" .
Thus, for some reason, the racial ban introduced by the Second Law and the New Covenant was not, at this time, being enforced. Presumably the explanation is the numerical one; if the racial law had been strictly enforced the small tribe of Judah would have died out and the priesthood, with its creed, would have been left like generals with a plan of battle, but no army.
Evidently there was much intermingling, for whatever reason. The Jewish Encyclopaedia says that "early and late Judah derived strength from the absorption of outsiders" and other authorities agree, so that anything like a purebred tribe of Judah must have disappeared some centuries before Christ, at the latest.
Nevertheless, the racial Law remained in full vigour, not weakened by these exceptions, so that in the Christian era proselytizing virtually ceased and the Judaists of the world, although obviously they were not descended from Judah, became again a community separated from mankind by a rigid racial ban. Racial exclusion remained, or again became, the supreme tenet of formal Zionism, and the Talmudic ruling was that "proselytes are as injurious to Judaism as ulcers to a sound body".
Fervent Zionists still beat their heads on a wall of lamentation when they consider the case of the Idumeans, which, they hold, proves the dictum just quoted. The problem of what to do with them apparently arose out of the priests' own sleight-of-hand feats with history and The Law. In the first historical book, Genesis, the Idumeans are shown as the tribe descended from Esau ("Esau the father of the Edomites"), who was own brother to Jacob-called-Israel. This
kinsmanship between Judah and Edom was apparently the original tradition, so that the Idumeans' special status was still recognized when Deuteronomy was produced in 621 BC, the Lord then "saying unto Moses":
"And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Edom. . . Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth. . . And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau . . ."
When Numbers came to be written, say two hundred years later, this situation had changed. By then Ezra and Nehemiah, escorted by Persian soldiery, had enforced their racial law on the Judahites, and the Idumeans, like other neighbouring peoples, became hostile (for exactly the same reasons that cause Arab hostility today).
They learned, from Numbers, that, far from being "not meddled" with, they were now marked down for "utter destruction". Thus in Numbers Moses and his followers no longer "pass by our brethren the children of Esau"; they demand to pass through the Idumean land. The King of Idumea refuses permission, whereon Moses takes another route and the Lord promises him that "Edom shall be a possession" .
From other passages in The Law the Idumeans were able to learn the fate of cities so taken in possession; in them, nothing was to be left alive that breathed. (The scribes dealt similarly with the Moabites; in Deuteronomy Moses is commanded "Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle; for I will not give thee of their land for a possession"; in Numbers, the divine command is that the Moabites be destroyed).
From about 400 BC on, therefore, the Judeans were distrusted and feared by neighbouring tribes, including the Idumeans. They were proved right in this, for during the brief revival of Judah under the Hasmoneans, John Hyreanus, who was king and high priest in Judea, fell on them and at the swordpoint forced them to submit to circumcision and the Mosaic Law. Of the two versions of The Law ("not to meddle" and "take possession") he obeyed the second, which might have been a satisfactory solution if the matter had ended there, for any good rabbi could have told him that either, neither or both of these decrees was right ("If the Rabbis call 1eft right and right left, you must believe it": Dr. William Rubens).
But the matter did not end there. A law set up in this way throws up a new problem for each one that is solved. Having "taken possession", was John Hyreanus to "utterly destroy" and "save nothing alive that breatheth" of "our brethren, the children of Esau"? He disobeyed that law, and contented himself with the forcible conversion. But by so doing he made himself a capital transgressor, like Saul, the first king of the united kingdom of Israel and Judah, long before. For this very thing, stopping short of utter destruction (by sparing King Agag and some beasts), Saul had been repudiated, dethroned and destroyed (according to the Levitical version of history).
John Hyrcanus had to deal with two political parties. Of these, the more moderate Sadducees, who supported the monarchy, presumably tendered the counsel to spare the Idumeans, and merely by force to make them Jews. The other party was that of the Pharisees, who represented the old despotic priesthood of the Levites and wished to restore it in full sovereignty.
Presumably these fanatical Pharisees, as heirs of the Levites, would have had him exact the full rigour of the Law and "utterly destroy" the Idumeans. They continued fiercely to oppose him (as Samuel opposed Saul) and to work for the overthrow of the monarchy. What is of particular interest today, they later claimed that from his clemency towards the Idumeans the entire ensuing catastrophe of Judea came! They saw in the second destruction of the temple and the extinction of Judea in AD 70 the prescribed penalty for John Hyrcanus's failure in observance; like Saul, he had "transgressed".
The Pharisees had to wait about 150 years for the proof of this argument, if proof it was to any but themselves. Out of the converted Idumeans came one Antipater who rose to high favour in the little court at Jerusalem (as the legendary Daniel had risen at the much greater courts of Babylon and Persia). The Pharisees themselves appealed to the Roman truimvir, Pompey, to intervene in Judea and restore the old priesthood, while abolishing the little monarchy. Their plan went agley; though the Hasmonean dynasty was in fact exterminated in the chaotic decades of little wars and insurrections that followed, Antipater the Idumean rose until Caesar made him procurator of Judea, and his son, Herod, was by Antony made king of Judea!
In the sequel, utter confusion reigned in the little province so that even the shadow of independence vanished and Rome, left no other choice, began directly to rule the land.
For this denouement the Pharisees, as the authors of Roman intervention, were apparently to blame. They laid the fault on "the half caste" and "Idumean slave", Herod. Had John Hyrcanus but "observed the Law" and "utterly destroyed" the Idumeans, 150 years before, all this would not have come about, they said. It is illuminating to see with what bitter anger Dr. Josef Kastein, two thousand years later, took up this reproach, as if it were an event of the day before. A Twentieth Century Zionist, who wrote in the time of Hitler's advent to power in Germany, he was convinced that this offence against the racial law had brought the second calamity on Judea.
However, the calamity of Judea was also the victory of the Pharisees, as will be seen, and this is typical of the paradoxes in which the story of Zion abounds from its start.
THE RISE OF THE PHARISEES
These Pharisees, who formed the most numerous political party in the little Roman province of Judea, contained the dominant inner sect, earlier represented by the Levite priesthood. They made themselves the carriers of the Levitical idea in its most fanatical form, as it had found expression in Ezekiel, Ezra and Nehemiah; they were sworn to "the strict observance of Levitical purity", says the Jewish Encyclopaedia.
As the Levites had triumphed over the Israelite remonstrants, and had succeeded in severing Judah from its neighbours, so did the Pharisees, their successors, stand ready to crush any attempt to reintegrate the Judeans in mankind. They were the guardians of the destructive idea, and the next chapter in the story of Zion was to be that of their victory; as in the case of the Levites, the background to it was to be that of Jerusalem destroyed.
Among the priests themselves, the passing generations had produced something of a revolt against the process of constant amendment of The Law, begun by the scribes of the school of Ezekiel and Ezra. These priests held that The Law was now immutable and must not be further "reinterpreted".
To this challenge (which strikes at the very root of Judaist nationalism) the Pharisees in deadly enmity opposed their reply: that they were the keepers of "the traditions" and o that oral Law, directly imparted by God to Moses, which must never be put in writing but which governed all the rest of The Law. This claim to possess the secrets of God (or, in truth, to be God) is at the heart of the mystic awe in which so many generations of Jews hold "the elders"; it has a power to affright which even enlightened beings on the far fringes of Jewry cannot quite escape.
Nevertheless, the instinctive impulse to break free from this thrall has at all times thrown up a moderate party in Judaism, and at this period it was that of the Sadducees, which represented the bulk of the priesthood and stood for "keeping the peace of the city" and avoiding violent conflict with the Roman overlords. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were bitter foes. This internal dissension among Jews has continued for twenty-five hundred years into our time.
It is chiefly of academic interest to the rest of mankind (though it has to be recorded) because history shows that whenever the dispute for and against "seeking the peace of the city" has reached a climax, the party of segregation and destruction has always prevailed, and the Judaist ranks have closed behind it. The present century has given the latest example to this. At its start the established Jewish communities of Germany, England and America (who may be compared with the Sadducees) were implacably hostile to the Zionists from Russia (the Pharisees), but within fifty years the extreme party had made itself the exclusive spokesman of "the Jews" with the Western governments, and had succeeded in beating down nearly all opposition among the Jewish communities of the world.
The Pharisees occupy the second place in the pedigree of the sect which has brought about such large events in our time. The line of descent is from the Levites in Babylon, through the Pharisees in Jerusalem, through the Talmudists of Spain and the rabbis of Russia, to the Zionists of today.
The name "Pharisee", according to the Judaist authorities, means "one who separates himself", or keeps away from persons or things impure in order to attain the degree of holiness and righteousness required in those who would commune with God. The Pharisees formed a league or brotherhood of their own, admitting to their inmost councils only those who, in the presence of three members, pledged themselves to the strict observance of Levitical purity. They were the earliest specialists in secret conspiracy, as a political science.
The experience and knowledge gained by the Pharisees may be plainly traced in the methods used by the conspiratorial parties which have emerged in Europe during the last two centuries, and particularly in those of the destructive revolution in Europe, which has been Jewish-organized and Jewish-led.
For instance, the Pharisees originally devised the basic method, resting on mutual fear and suspicion, by which in our day conspirators are held together and conspiratorial bodies made strong. This is the system of spies-on-spies and informers-among-informers on which the Communist Party is built (and its Red Army; the official regulations of which show the "political commissar" and "informer" to be a recognized part of the military structure, from the high-command level to the platoon one).
The Pharisees first employed this device, basing it on a passage in Leviticus: "Ye shall place a guard around my guard" (quoted by the Jewish Encyclopaedia from the Hebrew original, in use among Jews). The nature of the revolutionary machine which was set up in Europe in the Nineteenth Century cannot be understood at all unless the Talmudic knowledge and training be taken into account, which most of its organizers and leaders inherited; and the Pharisees were the first Talmudists. They claimed divine authority for any decision of their Scribes, even in case of error, and this is a ruling concept of the Talmud.
Under the domination of the Pharisees the Messianic idea first emerged, which was to have great consequences through the centuries. It was unknown to the earlier Israelite prophets; they never admitted the notion of an exclusive, master-race, and therefore they could not be aware of the later, consequential concept of a visitant who would come in person to set up the supreme kingdom of this exclusive master-race on earth.
The nature of this Messianic event is clear, in the Judaist authorities. The Jewish Encyclopaedia says the Pharisees' conception of it was that "God's kingship shall be universally recognized in the future. . . God's kingship excluded any other". As Jehovah, according to the earlier Torah, "knew" only the Jews, this meant that the world would belong to the Jews. The later Talmud confirmed this, if any doubt remained, by ruling that "the non-Jews are as such precluded from admission to a future world" (the former Rabbi Laible).
The mass of the Judeans undoubtedly expected that "the Anointed one", when he came, would restore their national glory; in the perfect theocratic state he would be their spiritual leader, but also their temporal one who would reunite the scattered people in a supreme kingdom of this world. The Messianic idea, as it took shape under the Pharisees, was not an expectation of any kingdom of heaven unrelated to material triumph on earth, or at any rate it was not this among the mass of the people.
The Messianic expectation, indeed, must in a sense have been the logical and natural result of the sect's own teaching. The Pharisees, like the Levites whose message they carried on, claimed to know all things, from the date of the world's creation, and its purpose, to the manner of the special people's triumph.
Only one thing they never stated: the moment of that glorious consummation. The burden of observance which they laid on the people was harsh, however, and it was but natural that, like prison inmates serving a term, the people should clamour to know when they would be free.
That seems to be the origin of Messianism. The people who once had "wept" to hear the words of the New Law, now had borne its rigour for four hundred years. Spontaneously the question burst from them: When? When would the glorious consummation come, the miraculous end? They were "doing all the statutes and judgments", and the performance of them meant a heavy daily task and burden. They were doing all this under "a covenant", which promised a specific reward. When would this reward be theirs? Their rulers were in direct communion with God, and knew God's mysteries; they must be able to answer this question, When?
This was the one question which the Pharisees could not answer. They seem to have given the most ingenious answer they could devise: though they would not say when, they would say that one day "the Messiah the Prince" would appear (Daniel), and then there would be given to him "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him".
Thus the compressed, ghettoized Judean spirit was anaesthetized with the promise of a visitant; Messianism appeared and produced the recurrent outbreaks of frenzied anticipation, the latest of which our Twentieth Century is experiencing.
Such was the setting of the scene when, nearly two thousand years ago, the man from Galilee appeared. At that time those Judeans who remained in Judea had spent the six hundred years since their casting-off by Israel in what Dr. John Goldstein, in our day, calls "Jewish darkness", and at the end of this period had come to wait and hope for the liberating Messiah.
The visitant who then appeared claimed to point them the way to "the kingdom of heaven". He was the very opposite road from that, leading over ruined nations to a temple filled with gold, towards which the Pharisees beckoned them, crying "Observe!"
The Pharisees were strong and the foreign "governor" quailed before their menaces (the picture was very much like that of our day) and those of the people who saw in the newcomer the Messiah they awaited, despite his contempt for worldly rewards, put themselves in danger of death by saying so. They were "transgressing", and the Roman ruler, like the Persian king five hundred years earlier, was ready to enforce "the Law".
Evidently many of these people were only too ready to listen, if they were allowed, to any who could show them the way out of their darkness into the light and the community of mankind. However, victory lay with the Pharisees (as with the Levites of yore), so that, once more, many of these people had cause to weep, and the catalytic force was preserved intact.
THE MAN FROM GALILEE
When Jesus was born the vibrant expectation that a marvellous being was about to appear was general among the Judeans. They longed for such proof that Jehovah intended to keep the Covenant with his chosen people, and the scribes, reacting to the pressure of this popular longing, gradually had introduced into the scriptures the idea of the anointed one, the Messiah, who would come to fulfil his bargain.
The Targams, the rabbinical commentaries on the Law, said: "How beautiful he is, the Messiah king who shall arise from the house of Judah. He will gird up his loins and advance to do battle with his enemies and many kings shall be slain".
This passage shows what the Judeans had been led to expect. They awaited a militant, avenging Messiah (in the tradition of "all the firstborn of Egypt" and the destruction of Babylon) who would break Judah's enemies "with a rod of iron" and "dash them in pieces like a potter's vase"; who would bring them empire of this world and the literal fulfilment of the tribal Law; for this was what generations of Pharisees and Levites had foretold.
The idea of a lowly Messiah who would say "love your enemies" and be "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows" was not present in the public mind at all and would have been "despised and rejected", had any called attention to these words of Isaiah (which only gained significance after Jesus had lived and died).
Yet the being who appeared, though he was lowly and taught love, apparently claimed to be this Messiah and was by many so acclaimed!
In few words he swept aside the entire mass of racial politics, which the ruling sect had heaped on the earlier, moral law, and like an excavator revealed again what had been buried. The Pharisees at once recognized a most dangerous "prophet and dreamer of dreams".
The fact that he found so large a following among the Judeans shows that, even if the mass of the people wanted a militant, nationalist Messiah who would liberate them from the Romans, many among them must subconsciously have realised that their true captivity was of the spirit and of the Pharisees, more than of the Romans. Nevertheless, the mass responded mechanically to the Pharisaic politicians' charge that the man was a blasphemer and bogus Messiah.
By this response they bequeathed to all future generations of Jews a tormenting doubt, no less insistent because it must not be uttered (for the name Jesus may not even be mentioned in a pious Jewish home): Did the Messiah appear, only to be rejected by the Jews, and if so, what is their future, under The Law?
What manner of man was this? Another paradox in the story of Zion is that in our generation Christian divines and theologians often insist that "Jesus was a Jew", whereas the Judaist elders refuse to allow this (those Zionist rabbis who occasionally tell political or "interfaith" audiences that Jesus was a Jew are not
true exceptions to this rule; they would not make the statement among Jews and seek to produce an effect among their non-Jewish listeners, for political reasons). *
This public assertion, "Jesus was a Jew", is always used in our century for political purposes. It is often employed to quell objections to the Zionist influence in international politics or to the Zionist invasion of Palestine, the suggestion being that, as Jesus was a Jew, none ought to object to anything purporting to be done in the name of Jews. The irrelevance is obvious, but mobs are moved by such phrases, and the paradoxical result, once again, is that a statement, most offensive to literal Jews, is most frequently made by non-Jewish politicians and ecclesiastics who seek Jewish favour.
The English abbreviation, "Jew", is recent and does not correspond to anything denoted by the Aramaic, Greek or Roman terms for "Judahite" or "Judean", which were in use during the lifetime of Jesus. In fact, the English noun "Jew" cannot be defined (so that dictionaries, which are scrupulously careful about all other words, are reduced to such obvious absurdities as "A person of Hebrew race"); and the Zionist state has no legal definition of the term (which is natural, because the Torah, which is the Law, exacts pure Judahite descent, and a person of this lineage is hardly to be found in the entire world).
If the statement, "Jesus was a Jew", has meaning therefore, it must apply to the conditions prevailing in his time. In that case it would mean one of three things, or all of them: that Jesus was of the tribe of Judah (therefore Judahite); that he was of Judean domicile (and therefore Judean); that he was religiously "a Jew", if any religion denoted by that term existed in his time.
Race, residence, religion, then.
This book is not the place to argue the question of Jesus's racial descent, and the surprising thing is that Christian divines allow themselves some of the statements which they make. The reader should form his own opinion, if he desires to have one in this question.
The genealogy of Mary is not given in the New Testament, but three passages might imply that she was of Davidic descent; St. Matthew and St. Luke trace the descent of Joseph from David and Judah, but Joseph was not the blood father of Jesus. The Judaist authorities discredit all these references to descent, holding that they were inserted to bring the narrative into line with prophecy.
As to residence, St. John states that Jesus was born at Bethlehem in Judea through the chance that his mother had to go there from Galilee to register; the
* Rabbi Stephen Wise, the leading Zionist organizer in the United States during the 1910-1950 period, used this phrase for the obvious political motive, of confusing non-Jewish hearers. Speaking to such an "inter-faith" meeting at the Carnegie Hall at Christmastide 1925, he stated "Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian" (Christianity was born with the death of Jesus).
For this he was excommunicated by the Orthodox Rabbis Society of the United States, but a Christian Ministers Association "hailed me as a brother". Rabbi Wise adds the characteristic comment: "I know not which was more hurtful, the acceptance of me as a brother and welcoming me into the Christian fold, or the violent diatribe of the rabbis".
Judaist authorities, again, hold that this was inserted to make the account agree with Micah's prophecy that "a ruler" would "come out of Bethlehem".
The Jewish Encyclopaedia insists that Nazareth was Jesus's native town, and indeed, general agreement exists that he was a Galilean, whatever the chance of his actual birthplace. Galilee, where nearly all his life was spent, was politically entirely separate from Judea, under its own Roman tetrarch, and stood to Judea in the relationship of "a foreign country" (Graetz). Marriage between a Judean and a Galilean was fobidden and even before Jesus's birth all Judeans living in Galilee had been forced by Simon Tharsi, one of the Maccabean princes, to migrate to Judah.
Thus, the Gali1eans were racially and politically distinct from the Judeans.
Was this Galilean, religiously, what might today be called "a Jew"? The Judaist authorities, of course, deny that most strenuously of all; the statement, often heard from the platform and pulpit, might cause a riot in the synagogue.
It is difficult to see what responsible public men can mean when they use the phrase. There was in the time of Jesus no "Jewish" (or even Judahite or Judaist or Judean) religion. There was Jehovahism, and there were the various sects, Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes, which disputed violently between themselves and contended, around the temple, for power over the people. They were not only sects, but also political parties, and the most powerful of them were the Pharisees with their "oral traditions" of what God had said to Moses.
If today the Zionists are "the Jews" (and this is the claim accepted by all great Western nations), then the party which in Judea in the time of Jesus corresponded to the Zionists was that of the Pharisees. Jesus brought the whole weight of his attack to bear on these Pharisees. He also rebuked the Sadducees and the scribes, but the Gospels show that he held the Pharisees to be the foe of God and man and that he used an especial scarifying scorn towards them. The things which he singled out for attack, in them and in their creed, are the very things which today's Zionists claim to be the identifying features of Jews, Jewishness and Judaism.
Religiously, Jesus seems beyond doubt to have been the opposite and adversary of all that which would make a literal Jew today or would have made a literal Pharisee then.
None can say with certainty who or what he was, and these suggestive statements by non-Jewish politicians ring as false as the derisive and mocking lampoons about "the bastard" which circulated in the Jewish ghettoes.
What he did and said is of such transcendental importance that nothing else counts. On a much lesser scale Shakespeare's case is somewhat comparable. The quality of inspiration in his works is clear, so that it is of little account whether he wrote them, or who wrote them if he did not, yet the vain argument goes on.
The carpenter's son from Galilee evidently had no formal schooling: "The Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?"
What is much more significant, he had known no rabbinical schools or priestly training. His enemies, the Pharisees, testify to that; had he been of their clan or kind they would not have asked, "Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works".
What gives the teaching of this unlettered young man its effect of blinding revelation, the quality of light first discovered, is the black background, of the Levitical Law and the Pharisaic tradition, against which he moved when he went to Judea. Even today the sudden fullness of enlightenment, in the Sermon on the Mount, dazzles the student who has emerged from a critical perusal of the Old Testament; it is as if high noon came at midnight.
The Law, when Jesus came to "fulfil" it, had grown into a huge mass of legislation, stifling and lethal in its immense complexity. The Torah was but the start; heaped on it were all the interpretations and commentaries and rabbinical rulings; the elders, like pious silkworms, span the thread ever further in the effort to catch up in it every conceivable act of man; generations of lawyers had laboured to reach the conclusion that an egg must not be eaten on the Sabbath day if the greater part of it had been laid before a second star was visible in the sky.
Already the Law and all the commentaries needed a library to themselves, and a committee of international jurists, called to give an opinion on it, would have required years to sift the accumulated layers.
The unschooled youth from Galilee reached out a finger and thrust aside the entire mass, revealing at once the truth and the heresy. He reduced "all the Law and the Prophets" to the two commandments, Love God with all thy heart and thy neighbour as thyself.
This was the exposure and condemnation of the basic heresy which the Levites and Pharisees, in the course of centuries, had woven into the Law.
Leviticus contained the injunction, "Love thy neighbour as thyself", but it was governed by the limitation of "neighbour" to fellow-Judeans. Jesus now reinstated the forgotten, earlier tradition, of neighbourly love irrespective of race or creed; this was clearly what he meant by the words, "I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil". He made his meaning plain when he added, "Ye have heard that it hath been said . . . hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemy". (The artful objection is sometimes made that the specific commandment, "Hate thine enemy", nowhere appears in the Old Testament. Jesus's meaning was clear; the innumerable injunctions to the murder and massacre of neighbours who were not "neighbours", in which the Old Testament abounds, certainly required hatred and enmity).
This was a direct challenge to The Law as the Pharisees represented it, and Jesus carried the challenge further by deliberately refusing to play the part of the nationalist liberator and conqueror of territory for which the prophecies had cast the Messiah. Probably he could have had a much larger following, and possibly
the support of the Pharisees, if he had accepted that role.
His rebuke, again, was terse and clear: "My kingdom is not of this world . . . The kingdom of Heaven is within you . . . Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth. . . but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal".
Everything he said, in such simple words as these, was a quiet, but direct challenge to the most powerful men of his time and place, and a blow at the foundations of the creed which the sect had built up in the course of centuries.
What the entire Old Testament taught in hundreds of pages, the Sermon on the Mount confuted in a few words. It opposed love to hatred, mercy to vengeance, charity to malice, neighbourliness to segregation, justice to discrimination, affirmation (or reaffirmation) to denial, and life to death. It began (like the "blessings-or-cursings" chapters of Deuteronomy) with blessings, but there the resemblance ended.
Deuteronomy offered material blessings, in the form of territory, loot and slaughter, in return for strict performance of thousands of "statutes and judgments", some of them enjoining murder. The Sermon on the Mount offered no material rewards, but simply taught that moral behaviour, humility, the effort to do right, mercy, purity, peaceableness and fortitude would be blessed for their own sake and receive spiritual reward.
Deuteronomy followed its "blessings" with "cursings". The Sermon on the Mount made no threats; it did not require that the transgressor be "stoned to death" or "hanged on a tree", or offer absolution for non-observance at the price of washing the hands in the blood of a heifer. The worst that was to befall the sinner was that he was to be "the least in the kingdom of heaven"; and most that the obedient might expect was to be "called great in the kingdom of heaven".
The young Galilean never taught subservience, only an inner humility, and in one direction he was consistently and constantly scornful: in his attack on the Pharisees.
The name, Pharisees, denoted that they "kept away from persons or things impure". The Jewish Encyclopaedia says, "Only in regard to intercourse with the unclean and the unwashed multitude did Jesus differ widely from the Pharisees". Echo may answer, "Only!" This was of course the great cleavage, between the idea of the tribal deity and the idea of the universal god; between the creed of hatred and the teaching of love. The challenge was clear and the Pharisees accepted it at once. They began to bait their traps, in the very manner described by Jeremiah long before: "All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him".
The Pharisees watched him and asked, "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners" (a penal offence under their Law). He was equally their master in debate and in eluding their baited traps, and answered, swiftly but
quietly, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick . . , I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance".
They followed him further and saw his disciples plucking ears of corn to eat on the Sabbath (another offence under the Law), "Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day". They pursued him with such interrogations, always related to the rite, and never to faith or behaviour; "why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders, for they wash not their hands when they eat bread?". "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophecy of you, saying, this people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" ,
This was the lie direct: The Law, he charged, was not God's law, but the law of the Levites and Pharisees: "the commandments of men"!
From this moment there could be no compromise, for Jesus turned away from the Pharisees and "called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man".
With these words Jesus cast public scorn on one of the most jealously-guarded of the priestly prerogatives, involving the great mass of dietary laws with the whole ritual of slaughter, draining of blood, rejection of "that which dieth of itself", and so on. All this was undoubtedly a "commandment of man", although attributed to Moses, and strict observance of this dietary ritual was held to be of the highest importance by the Pharisees, Ezekiel (the reader will recall) on being commanded by the Lord to eat excrement "to atone for the iniquities of the people", had pleaded his unfailing observance of the dietary laws and had had his ordeal somewhat mitigated on that account. Even the disciples were apparently so much under the influence of this dietary tradition that they could not understand how "that which cometh out of the mouth" could defile a man, rather than that which went in, and asked for an explanation, remarking that the Pharisees "were offended, after they heard this saying".
The simple truth which Jesus then gave them was abominable heresy to the Pharisees: "Do not ye understand, that what whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man; but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man".
This last remark was another penal offence under the Law and the Pharisees began to gather for the kill. They prepared the famous trick questions: "Then went the Pharisees and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk". The two chief questions were, "To whom shall we render tribute?" and "Who then is my neighbour?" A wrong answer to the first would deliver him to
punishment by the foreign ruler, Rome. A wrong answer to the second would enable the Pharisees to denounce him to the foreign ruler as an offender against their own Law, and to demand his punishment.
This is the method earlier pictured by Jeremiah and still in use today, in the Twentieth Century. All who have had to do with public debate in our time, know the trick question, carefully prepared beforehand, and the difficulty of answering it on the spur of the moment. Various methods of eluding the trap are known to professional debaters (for instance, to say "No comment", or to reply with another question). To give a complete answer, instead of resorting to such evasions, and in so doing to avoid the trap of incrimination and yet maintain the principle at stake is one of the most difficult things known to man. It demands the highest qualities of quickwittedness, presence of mind and clarity of thought. The answers given by Jesus to these two questions remain for all time the models, which mortal man can only hope to emulate.
"Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?" (the affable tone of honest enquiry can be heard). "But Jesus perceived their wickedness and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? . . . Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. When they heard these words, they marvelled, and left him and went their way".
On the second occasion, "a certain lawyer stood up and tempted him, saying, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" In his answer Jesus again swept aside the great mass of Levitical Law and restated the two essentials: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart . . . and thy neighbour as thyself". Then came the baited trap: "And who is my neighbour?"
What mortal man would have given the answer that Jesus gave? No doubt some mortal men, knowing like Jesus that their lives were at stake, would have said what they believed, for martyrs are by no means rare. But Jesus did much more than that; he disarmed his questioner like an expert swordsman who effortlessly sends his opponent's rapier spinning into the air. He was being enticed to declare himself openly; to say that "the heathen" were also "neighbours", and thus to convict himself of transgressing The Law. In fact he replied in this sense, but in such a way that the interrogator was undone; seldom was a lawyer so confounded.
The Levitical-Pharisaic teaching was that only Judeans were "neighbours", and of all the outcast heathen they especially abominated the Samaritans (for reasons earlier indicated). The mere touch of a Samaritan was defilement and a major "transgression" (this continues true to the present day). The purpose of the question put to him was to lure Jesus into some statement that would qualify him for the major ban; by choosing the Samaritans, of all peoples, for the purpose of his reply, he displayed an audacity, or genius, that was more than human:
He said that a certain man fell among thieves and was left for dead. Then came
"a priest" and "likewise a Levite" (the usual stinging rebuke to those who sought the chance to put him to death), who "passed by on the other side". Last came "a certain Samaritan", who bound the man's injuries, took him to an inn, and paid for his care: "which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?"
The lawyer, cornered, could not bring himself to pronounce the defiling name "Samaritan"; he said, "He that showed mercy on him" and thereby joined himself (as he probably realized too late) with the condemnation of those for whom he spoke, such as "the priest" and "the Levite". "Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise". In these few words, and without any direct allusion, he made his interrogator destroy, out of his own mouth, the entire racial heresy on which the Law had been raised.
One moderate Judaist critic, Mr. Montefiore, has made the complaint that Jesus made one exception to his rule of "love thine enemies"; he never said a good word for the Pharisees.
Scholars may debate the point. Jesus knew that they would kill him or any man who exposed them. It is true that he especially arraigned the Pharisees, together with the scribes, and plainly saw in them the sect responsible for the perversion of the Law, so that the entire literature of denunciation contains nothing to equal this:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in . . . ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves ….. ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith. . . ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess . . . ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. . . ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepu1chres of the righteous, and say, if we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have partaken with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers. . ."
Some critics profess to find the last six words surprisingly harsh. However, if they are read in the context of the three sentences which precede them they are seen to be an explicit allusion to his approaching end, made by a man about to die to those who were about to put him to death, and at such a moment hardly any words could be hard enough. (However, even the deadly reproach, "Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers", had a later sequel: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do".)
The end approached. The "chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders" (the
Sanhedrin) met under the high priest Caiaphas to concert measures against the man who disputed their authority and their Law. The only Judean among the Galilean disciples, Judas Iscariot, led the "great multitude with swords and staves", sent by the "chief priests and elders of the people", to the garden of Gethsemane and identified the man they sought by the kiss of death.
This Judas deserves a passing glance. He was twice canonized in the Twentieth Century, once in Russia after the Bolshevist Revolution, and again in Germany after the defeat of Hitler, and these two episodes indicated that the sect which was more powerful than Rome, in Jerusalem at the start of our era, was once more supremely powerful in the West in the Twentieth Century.
According to St. Matthew, Judas later hanged himself and if he thus chose the form of death "accursed of God", his deed presumably brought him no happiness. To Zionist historians of Dr. Kastein's school Judas is a sympathetic figure; Dr. Kastein explains that he was a good man who became disappointed with Jesus and therefore "secretly broke" with him (the words "secretly broke" could only occur in Zionist literature).
The Pharisees, who controlled the Sanhedrin, tried Jesus first, before what would today be called "a Jewish court". Possibly "a people's court" would be a more accurate description in today's idiom, for he was "fingered" by an informer, seized by a mob, hailed before a tribunal without legitimate authority, and condemned to death after false witnesses had spoken to trumped-up charges.
However, the "elders", who from this point on took charge of events in exactly the same way as the "advisers" of our century control events, devised the charge which deserved death equally under their "Law" and under the law of the Roman ruler. Under "the Mosaic Law", Jesus had committed blasphemy by claiming to be the Messiah; under the Roman law, he had committed treason by claiming to be the king of the Jews.
The Roman governor, Pilate, tried one device after another, to avoid complying with the demand of these imperious "elders", that the man be put to death.
This Pilate was the prototype of the Twentieth Century British and American politician. He feared the power of the sect in the last resort, more than anything else. His wife urged him to have no truck with the business. He tried, in the politician's way, to pass the responsibility to another, Herod Antipas, whose tetrarchy included Galilee; Herod sent it back to him. Pilate next tried to let Jesus off with a scourging, but the Pharisees insisted on death and threatened to denounce Pilate in Rome: "Thou art not Caesar's friend".
This was the threat to which Pilate yielded, just as one British Governor after another, one United Nations representative after another, yielded in the Twentieth Century to the threat that they would be defamed in London or New York. Evidently Pilate, like these men nineteen centuries later, knew that his home government would disavow or displace him if he refused to do as he was
The resemblance between Pilate and some British governors of the period between the First and Second World Wars is strong, (and at least one of these men knew it, for when he telephoned to a powerful Zionist rabbi in New York he jocularly asked, as he relates, that the High Priest Caiaphas be informed that Pontius Pilate was on the line).
Pilate made one other attempt to have the actual deed done by other hands: "Take ye him, and judge him according to your law". With the ease of long experience it was foiled: "it is not lawful for us to put any man to death".
After that he even tried to save Jesus by giving "the people" the choice between pardoning Jesus or Barabbas, the robber and murderer. Presumably Pilate had small hope from this quarter, for "the people" and "the mob" are synonyms and justice and mercy never yet came from a mob, as Pilate would have known; the function of the mob is always to do the will of powerful sects. Thus, "the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus".
In this persuasion of the multitude the sect is equally powerful today.
The longer the time that passes, the more brightly glow the colours of that unique final scene. The scarlet robe, mock sceptre, crown of thorns and derisive pantomime of homage; only Pharisaic minds could have devised that ritual of mockery which today so greatly strengthens the effect of the victim's victory. The road to Calvary, the crucifixion between two thieves: Rome, on that day, did the bidding of the Pharisees, as Persia, five hundred years before, had done that of the Levites.
These Pharisees had taught the people of Judea to expect a Messiah, and now had crucified the first c1aimant. That meant that the Messiah was still to come. According to the Pharisees the Davidic king had yet to appear and claim his empire of the world, and that is still the situation today.
Dr. Kastein, in his survey of Judaism from its start, devotes a chapter to the life of Jesus. After explaining that Jesus was a failure, he dismissed the episode with the characteristic words, "His life and death are our affair".
Who are the Jews and what do they believe? Part I – Israelites and Judahites. See: http://abundanthope.net/pages/Ron_71/Who-are-the-Jews-and-what-do-they-believe-Part-I-Israelites-and-Judahites.shtml
ESU IMMANUEL, THE CHRIST, WAS NOT A JEW. See: http://abundanthope.net/pages/Phoenix_Journals_61/ESU_IMMANUEL_THE_CHRIST_WAS_NOT_A_JEW_4237.shtml
'CHRIST WAS NOT A JEW', the author Jacob Elon Connor.
Phoenix Journal #50, 'GOD, TOO, HAS A PLAN 2000! DIVINE PLAN, VOL. I', chapter 6, pages 82 - 83. http://fourwinds10.com/journals/pdf/J050.pdf
Phoenix Journal #57, 'GOD, TOO, HAS A PLAN 2000! DIVINE PLAN, VOL. II', chapter 4, pages 54 - 58 and chapter 5, page 63 - 66. http://fourwinds10.com/journals/pdf/J057.pdf
Phoenix Journal #2, 'AND THEY CALLED HIS NAME, IMMANUEL --- I AM SANANDA' http://fourwinds10.com/journals/pdf/J002.pdf
Benjamin H. Freedman Warns america. See: http://abundanthope.net/pages/Political_Information_43/Benjamin-H-Freedman-Warns-America.shtml
Benjamin Freedman: The former Jew who single-handedly took on the Jewish supremacist criminal mafia. See: http://abundanthope.net/pages/True_US_History_108/Benjamin-Freedman-The-former-Jew-who-single-handedly-took-on-the-Jewish-supremacist-criminal-mafia.shtml
Benjamin Freedman Speech & Transcript 1961. See:http://abundanthope.net/pages/Political_Information_43/Benjamin-Freedman-Speech-Transcript-1961.shtml
The Pharisees of the Vatican - http://abundanthope.net/pages/Political_Information_43/The-Pharisees-of-the-Vatican.shtml And: The “Jews” Behind the Second Vatican Council. See: http://abundanthope.net/pages/Political_Information_43/The-Jews-Behind-the-Second-Vatican-Council.shtml And: Dr. Peter David Beter - Audio Letters No. 39, 41 & 42: http://www.peterdavidbeter.com/docs/all/dbal39.html And:http://www.peterdavidbeter.com/docs/all/dbal41.html And:http://www.peterdavidbeter.com/docs/all/dbal42.htmlAnd: The Vatican Scandals: A Never-ending Story. see: http://abundanthope.net/pages/Political_Information_43/The-Vatican-Scandals-A-Never-ending-Story.shtml