Jerusalem: A Treatise On Ecclesiastical Authority And Judaism
Category: Judaism
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Jerusalem, or on Religious Power and Judaism is a book written by Moses Mendelssohn, which was first published in 1783. Moses Mendelssohn was one of the key figures of Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) and his philosophical treatise, dealing with social contract and political theory (especially concerning the question of the separation between religion and state), can be regarded as his most important contribution to Haskalah.

A Treatise On
Ecclesiastical Authority And Judaism

Moses Mendelssohn

Translated by M. Samuels

Preface by the Transalator

Every nation has its own disposition and exigences, its own notions and aptitudes; they have their root in its first origin, their substantiality and continuance in its mode of organization; and as essential properties, they are, therefore, inseparable from its existence. An unbiassed observer of mankind will not look for those properties in things secondary and incidental, nor is it in the general human character that he will frivolously strive to discover the cause of their being; for there he will find only Man, — and not the Accidental, the National, which distinguishes one set of men from another.

There is not, therefore, any nation which can be pronounced utterly incapable of cultivation, or of improvement and refinement in manners. If it can be proved that the elements of its character were originally good, and that its matter and form suited with its intrinsic worth; no one will dispute, but that it could only be the particular circumstances in the long vicissitudinous course of its history, which, having by little and little put the Jewish nation out of its right point of view, have remodelled the whole, and made it appear in an altered, and, not unfrequently, a disadvantageous shape. Remove those disadvantages, and the Jewish polity will at once assume an attitude of dignity and respect. Only the training must go forth from the nation itself; and the germ of self-cultivation must expand itself anew, else all our endeavours will be fruitless. Salutary effects may only then be reasonably expected, when innate though dormant powers are stimulated afresh; then shall we have the pleasure of beholding in the great garden of God, the flower, once ready to sink down, bloom again, raise her drooping head, and go on flourishing by the side of — and in the best harmony with — her sparkling sisters: whereas foreign cultivation, or that introduced from without, whether forced on or borrowed, would either annihilate her altogether, or at least suppress and deform her. Neither individual man nor entire nations will admit of being re-fashioned after foreign patterns. Organizing Nature has assigned to every kind of matter, as well as to every climate, its particular capabilities and productions; and Art can effect nothing except it fall back upon the indigenous soil.

Hence the great men of all nations, once seized with the ardour of perfectioning their contemporaries, have founded their intended improvements on maxims already extant. Acquainted with the human heart, they considered it a paramount duty to be as tender as possible, with that which was held most sacred by the people they had to deal with. The old was merely made to assume a more modern form, and, by a new and better appearance, which they well knew how to give it, adapted to their noble design, in conformity to times and local situations. They did not despotically deviate from whatsoever was generally recognized, and generally venerated; it was not everything that they condemned and arbitrarily declared unfit; that only which was really harmful, which outraged God and man, they vigorously sought to put down. Detrimental abuses hallowed by superstition, erroneous opinions leading astray, immoral proceedings varnished over by zealots with the colour of religion, were marked as infirmities in social man, and removed on account of their noxiousness. It was thus that those Philosophers succeeded in becoming useful to the age they lived in, knowing, like a certain Rabbi, wisely to separate the bitter husk from the savoury kernel. And if the excellent axioms which they strove to diffuse were not received with equal alacrity everywhere, yet time has vindicated the tendency of their undertaking, upon the whole; while posterity is ejaculating thanks and blessings on the memory of those guardian angels of humanity.

There was a time when the Hebrew people, faithful to the bliss-fraught religion of their forefathers, could count themselves among the happiest nations on earth. Manners and customs then qualified them as a people consecrated to God, who by their moral and political constitution most gloriously distinguished themselves from any other nation then existing. At that happy period it was, that, favoured by temporary circumstances, the Israelitish people attained a certain high degree of perfection, nationality exalting itself to general philanthropy, while, under the auspices of a pacific Monarch, the salutary effect of peace to the nation failed not to manifest itself. With that wisdom which the pious idea of an eternal and universal Father alone could support, they widened the horizon, and enlarged their sympathies for those of a different opinion; and toleration, content, peace and happiness, pervaded the mind of the nation. And whence did they derive that pious spirit? From Religion; from her who, throughout, lays the greatest stress on brotherly love and the moral worth of man; from her, with whom reason and eternal truth, virtue and justice, are the main rule and constant aim.

But not only to the flourishing house of Jacob, did Religion offer tenets and laws conducive to salvation; in her there are, besides, peculiar comforting and encouraging promises to the dispersed flock of Israel. When the national independence ceased, and the emigrant members of the nation wandered about all partis of the world, they took away with them, of all their treasures, nothing but their religion. She wandered with them in all directions; with her, those poor victims of tyranny sought and found aid and consolation. Despite of all scoffing and contumely, despite of the many persecutions they had to endure for her sake, they continued true to her, the more true, the greater the cruelties exercised toward them.

After overcoming many sufferings, after various revolting and barbarous treatment, which rendered mankind more and more hateful to those tormented men, they returned into the bosom of the Divine One, there to gather fresh strength, fresh resolution, firmly to encounter still more cruel destinies lowering with crushing weight over their heads. — But wherefore these gloomy pictures of former ages? The noble-minded turn away disgustingly from these appalling scenes, to where more agreeable objects tempt their view. Then let me throw a veil over this horrid part, and skip that page in the records of our hapless ancestors, lest I should again depress our spirits now raised by modern and better scenes to the most pleasing expectation. A new chapter commences in the history of the Jews, opening with gladder events and becoming more and more cheerful and pleasant as it proceeds. The minds of most nations are now regulated by the rules of Equity; the iron barrier which separated the hearts of men for thousands of years past, the spirit of toleration has pulled down. Humanity is the watchword sounding from every tongue, and approximating to each other the hearts of all men. On the Jewish nation, too, this change is exerting a very salutary influence. Men begin to think of, and feel sympathy for, the Jew, being well aware of the wrong done him in former ages, by debarring him from his just share of the common stock of humanity; well aware of the aggravated wrong done him, in ousting him, at the same time, from the means whereby he might participate of that common stock. Thank God! the times are over, when the ideas of Jew and Man were considered heterogeneous. The Jew, too, now feels his worth as a man; and he feels it with thanks to his fellowmen. His inner consciousness tells him that he too is destined by nature to apply his faculties for the welfare of the whole.

But all the obstacles are not removed yet. The wild bee of raw uncultivated ages has left a dangerous sting behind in innermost mankind, which cannot be extracted but with the wisest caution. On the one part, they think they have discovered in the Jews’ system of conduct, nothing but immoral motives, and absolutely set them down as an isolated set of men. On the other hand, much remains yet to be done; many a notion wants refining: much of what is defective requires to be supplied; and a world of misapprehension to be explained and set to rights.

To elucidate the foregoing assertions by historical and literary data, is in a great measure the object of the present undertaking, which, as far as the “Jerusalem” is concerned, I had been advised twelve years ago to consign to the press, by several individuals who honored my “Memoirs of Moses Mendelssohn” with their approbation. Now the want of leisure, which then prevented me from following their suggestion has, alas! changed into too great an abundance, and I have deemed it expedient, in presenting a translation of “Jerusalem” to the British Public, to accompany the same with those publications which were the cause of that extraordinary production, some of which have become very scarce; and to add thereto, in the form of notes, a selection of the most approved articles by several Jewish authors, all more or less connected with, or bearing on the main subject. Perhaps it may be as well here to observe to the generality of my readers of either religious persuasion, that, in the character of a Disciple, as I fairly may be supposed to be, of the leading system of this work, I do not (with the exception of a very few interspersed remarks of my own), by any means hold myself accountable for every thesis, doctrine, or opinion, broached or laid down in the same. Too obscure for a censor, too timid for a reformer, and too conscious of my own defects for a satirist, my ambition, in this instance, soars no higher than the hope of having furnished a tolerable translation; and even in this I may be disappointed, unless, on being arraigned for innacuracy of style, an indulgent Public would, in extennuation, admit my plea: that I am not — what, without any disparagement of my own country, I should esteem an honour — a native of this.


Most Noble and Learned Sir,
I have received a letter from your worship, which was welcome to me; and I read it, because yours, with great delight, if you will please to allow for the unpleasantness of the subject. For I do assure your worship, I never met with anything in my life which I did more deeply resent, for that it reflects upon the credit of a Nation, which amongst so many calumnies, so manifest (and therefore shameful) I dare to pronounce innocent. Yet I am afraid, that whilst I answer to them, I shall offend some, whose zeal will not permit them to consider that self-vindication, as defensive arms, is natural to all; but to be wholly silent, were to acknowledge what is so falsely objected. Wherefore, that I may justify myself to my own conscience, I have obeyed your worship’s commands; for your request must not be accounted less, at least by me. I presume your worship cannot expect either prolix or polite discourses upon so sad a subject; for who can be ambitious in his own calamity? I have therefore despatched only some concise and brief relations, barely exceeding the bounds of a letter: yet such as may suffice you, to inform the rulers of the English nation of a truth most real and sincere, which I hope they will accept in good part, according to their noble and singular prudence and piety. For innocence being always most free from suspecting evil, I cannot be persuaded, that any one hath either spoken or written against us, out of any particular hatred that they bare us, but that they rather supposed our coming might prove prejudicial to their estates and interests, charity always beginning at home. Yet, notwithstanding, I propounded this matter under an argument of profit (for this hath made us welcome in other countries), and therefore I hope I may prove what I undertake. However, I have but small encouragement to expect the happy attainment of any other design, but only that truth may be justified of her children. I shall answer in order to what your worship hath proposed.

The First Section.

And in the first place, I cannot but weep bitterly, and with much anguish of soul lament, that strange and horrid accusation of some Christians against the dispersed and afflicted Jews that dwell among them, when, they say (what I tremble to write) that the Jews are wont to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, fermenting it with the blood of some Christians whom they have for that purpose killed: when the calumniators themselves have most barbarously and cruelly butchered some of them, or, to speak more mildly, have found one dead, and cast the corpse, as if it had been murdered by the Jews, into their houses or yards, as lamentable experience hath proved in sundry places: and then with unbridled rage and tumult they accuse the innocent Jews, as the committers of this most execrable fact: which detested wickedness hath been sometimes perpetrated, that they might thereby take advantage to exercise their cruelty upon them; and sometimes to justify and patronize their massacres already executed. But how far this accusation is from any semblable appearance of truth, your worship may judge by these following arguments.

1. It is utterly forbid the Jews to eat any manner of blood whatsoever, Levit. vii, 26, and Deut. xii, where it is expressly said, “And ye shall eat no manner of blood;” and in obedience to this command, the Jews eat not the blood of any animal. And more than this, if they find one drop of blood in an egg, they cast it away as prohibited. And if in eating a piece of bread, it happens to touch any blood drawn from the teeth or gums, it must be pared and cleansed from the said blood, as it evidently appears in Sulhan Haruch, and our ritual book. Since, then, it is thus, how can it enter into any man’s heart to believe that they should eat human blood, which is yet more detestable; there being scarce any nation now remaining upon the earth so barbarous as to commit such wickedness?

2. The precept in the Decalogue, “Thou shalt not kill,” is of general extent; it is a moral command. So that the Jews are bound not only not to kill one of those nations where they live, but they are also obliged, by the law of gratitude, to love them. They are the very words of Rabbi Moses of Egypt in Yad Hachazaka, in his Treatise of Kings, the tenth chapter, in the end: “Concerning the nations, the ancients have commanded us to visit their sick, and to bury their dead, as the dead of Israel, and to relieve and maintain their poor, as we do the poor of Israel, because of the ways of peace; as it is written, ‘God is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works,’ Psal. cxlv, 9.” And in conformity hereto, I witness before God (blessed for ever,) that I have continually seen in Amsterdam, where I reside, abundance of good correspondence, many interchanges of brotherly affection, and sundry things of reciprocal love. I have thrice seen, when some Flemish Christians have fallen into the river in our ward called Flemburgh, our nation cast themselves into the river to them, to help them out and to deliver their lives from death. And certainly he that will thus hazard himself to save another, cannot harbour so much cruel malice as to kill the innocent, whom he ought out of the duty of humanity to defend and protect.

3. It is forbid, Exod. xxi, 20. to kill a stranger: “If a man smite his servant, or his maid with a rod, and he die under his hand, he shall surely be punished; notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished, for he is his money.” The text speaks of a servant that is one of the Gentile nations, because that he only is said to be the money of the Jew, who is his master, as Aben Ezra well notes upon the place. And the Lord commands, that if he die under the hands of his master, his master shall be put to death; for that as it seems he struck him with a murderous intent. But it is otherwise if the servant dies afterwards; for then it appears, that he did not strike him with a purpose to kill him; for if so, he would have killed him out of hand: wherefore he shall be free, and it may suffice for punishment that he hath lost his money. If therefore a Jew cannot kill his servant or slave that is one of the nations, according to the law, how much less shall he be empowered to murder him that is not his enemy, and with whom he leads a quiet and peaceable life? And therefore how can any good man believe that, against his holy law, a Jew (in a strange country especially) should make himself guilty of so execrable a fact?

4. Admit that it were lawful (which God forbid!), why should they eat the blood? And supposing they should eat the blood, why should they eat it on the Passover? Here, at this feast, every confection ought to be so pure, as not to admit of any leaven, or anything that may fermentate, which certainly blood doth.

5. If the Jews did repute and hold this action (which is never to be named without an epithet of horror) necessary, they would not expose themselves to so imminent a danger, to so cruel and more deserved punishment, unless they were moved to it by some divine precept, or at least some constitution of their wise men. Now we challenge all those men who entertain this dreadful opinion of us, as obliged, in point of justice, to cite the place of scripture, or of the Rabbins, where any such precept or doctrine is delivered. And until they do so, we will assume so much liberty, as to conclude it to be no better than a malicious slander.

6. If a man, to save his life, may break the Sabbath, and transgress many of the other commands of the law, as hath been determined in the Talmud, as also confirmed by Rabbi Moses of Egypt, in the fifth chapter of his Treatise of the Fundamentals of the Law; yet three are excepted, which are Idolatry, Murder and Adultery, life not being to be purchased at so dear a rate, as the committing of these heinous sins; an innocent death being infinitely to be preferred before it. Wherefore, if the killing of a Christian, as they object, were a divine precept and institution (which far be it from me to conceive), it were certainly to be annulled and rendered void; since a man cannot perform it, without endangering his town life, — and not only so, but the life of the whole congregation of an entire people: and yet more, since it is directly a violation of one of those three precepts, “Thou shalt do no murder,” which is intended universally of all men, as we have said before.

7. The Lord (blessed for ever) by his prophet Jeremiah, xxix, 7. gives it in command to the captive Israelites that were dispersed among the Heathens, that they should continually pray for, and endeavour the peace, welfare and prosperity of the city wherein they dwelt, and the inhabitants thereof. This the Jews have always done, and continue to this day in all their synagogues, with a particular blessing of the prince or magistrate under whose protection they live. And this the Right Honourable my Lord St. John can testify, who, when he was ambassador to the Lords the States of the United Provinces, was pleased to honour our synagogue at Amsterdam with his presence, where our nation entertained him with music, and all expressions of joy and gladness, and also pronounced a blessing, not only upon his Honour then present, but upon the whole commonwealth of England, for that they were a people in league and amity, and because we conceived some hopes that they would manifest towards us, what we ever bear towards them, viz. all love and affection. But to return again to our argument, if we are bound to study, endeavour and solicit, the good and flourishing estate of the city where we live and the inhabitants thereof, how shall we then murder their children, who are the greatest good, and the most flourishing blessing that this life doth indulge to them?

8. The children of Israel are naturally merciful, and full of compassion. This was acknowledged by their enemies, 1 Kings xx, 31, when Benhadad, king of Assyria was discomfited in the battle, and fled away, he became a petitioner for his life to King Ahab, who had conquered him; for he understood that the kings of the House of Israel were merciful kings: and his own experience confirmed it, when for a little affection that he pretended in a compliment, he obtained again his life and fortunes, from which the event of the war had disentitled him. And when the Gibeonites made that cruel request to David, that seven of Saul’s sons, who were innocent, should be delivered unto them, the prophet says, “Now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel.” 2 Sam. xxi. 2. As if he had said, in this cruelty, the piety of the Israelites is not so much set forth as the tyranny and implacable rage of the Gentiles, the Gibeonites; which being so, and experience withal declares it, viz. the fidelity which our nation hath inviolably preserved towards their superiors; then most certainly it is wholly incompatible and inconsistent with the murdering of their children.

9. There are some Christians, that use to insult the Jews as Christian homicides, that will venture to give a reason of these pretended murderous practices: as if the accusation were then most infallibly true, if they can find any semblance of a reason why it might be so. As they say, that this is practised by them in hatred and detestation of Jesus of Nazareth; and that therefore they steal Christian children, buffetting them in the same manner that he was buffetted, thereby to rub up and revive the memory of the aforesaid death. And likewise they imagine that the Jews secretly steal away crosses, crucifixes, and such like graven images, which Papists privately and carefully retain in their houses; and every day the Jews mainly strike, and buffet, shamefully spitting on them, with suchlike ceremonies of despite, and all this in hatred of Jesus. But I admire what they really think, when they object such things as these, laying them to our charge: for surely we cannot believe that a people, otherwise of sufficient prudence and judgment, can persuade themselves into an opinion that the Jews should commit such practices, unless they could conceive they did them in honour and obedience to the God whom they worship. And what kind of obedience is this they perform to God (blessed for ever), when they directly sin against that special command, “Thou shalt not kill”? Besides, this cannot be committed without the imminent and manifest peril of their lives and fortunes, and the necessary exposing themselves to a just revenge. Moreover, it is an anathema to a Jew to have any graven images in his house, or anything of an idol, which any of the nations figuratively worship, Deut. vii. 26.

10. Matthew Paris, p. 532, writes, that in the year 1243, the Jews circumcised a Christian child at Norwich, and gave him the name Jurnin and reserved him to be crucified, for which cause many of them were most cruelly put to death. The untruth of this story will evidently appear, upon the consideration of its circumstances. He was first circumcised; and this perfectly constitutes him a Jew. Now for a Jew to embrace a Christian in his arms, and foster him in his bosom, is a testimony of great love and affection. But if it was intended that shortly after, this child should be crucified, to what end was he first circumcised? If it shall be said, it was out of hatred to the Christians, it appears rather, to the contrary, that it proceeded from detestation of the Jews, or of them who had newly become proselytes to embrace the Jewish religion. Surely this supposed prank (storied to be done in Popish times) looks more like a piece of the real scene of the Popish Spaniards’ piety, who first baptized the poor Indians, and afterwards, out of cruel pity to their souls, inhumanly butchered them, than of strict law- observing Jews, who dare not make a sport of one of the seals of their covenant.

11. Our captivity under the Mahometans is far more burdensome and grievous than under the Christians; and so our ancients have said, “It is better to inhabit under Edom than Ismael,” for they are a people more civil and rational, and of a better policy, as our nation have found experimentally. For, excepting the nobler and better sort of Jews, such as live in the court of Constantinople, the vulgar people of the Jews, that are dispersed in other countries of the Mahometan empire, in Asia and Africa, are treated with abundance of contempt and scorn. It would therefore follow, if this sacrificing of children be the product and result of hatred, that they should execute and disgorge it much more upon the Mahometans, who have reduced them to so great calamity and misery. So that if it be necessary to the celebration of the passover, why do they not as well kill a Mahometan? But although the Jews are scattered and dispersed throughout all those vast territories, notwithstanding all their despite against us, they never yet, to this day, forged such a calumnious accusation. Wherefore it appears plainly, that it is nothing else but a slander, and such a one, that, considering how the scene is laid, I cannot easily determine whether it speak more of malice, or of folly: certainly Sultan Selim made himself very merry with it, when the story was related him by Moses Amon, his chief physician.

12. If all that which hath been said is not of sufficient force to wipe off this accusation, because the matter on our part is purely negative, and so cannot be cleared by evidence of witnesses, I am constrained to use another way of argument, which the Lord (blessed for ever) prescribed, Exod. xxii, which is an oath: wherefore I swear, without any deceit or fraud, by the most high God, the creator of heaven and earth, who promulged his law to the people of Israel upon mount Sinai, that I never yet to this day saw any such custom among the people of Israel, and that they do not hold any such thing by divine precept of the law, or any ordinance or institution of their wise men, and that they never committed or endeavoured such wickedness (that I know, or have credibly heard, or read in any Jewish authors), and if I lie in this matter, then let all the curses mentioned in Leviticus and Deuteronomy come upon me; let me never see the blessings and consolations of Zion, nor attain to the resurrection of the dead. By this I hope I may have proved what I did intend; and certainly this may suffice all the friends of truth, and all faithful Christians, to give credit to what I have here averred. And, indeed, our adversaries, who have been a little more learned, and consequently a little more civil than the vulgar, have made a halt at this imputation. John Hoornbeek in that book which he lately writ against our nation, wherein he hath objected against us, right or wrong, all that he could anyways scrape together, was, notwithstanding, ashamed to lay this at our door, in his Prolegomena, p. 26 where he says, “An autem verum sit quod vulgo in historiis legatur, &c” i. e. “Whether that be true, which is commonly read in histories, to aggravate the Jews’ hatred against the Christians, or rather the Christians against the Jews, that they should annually, upon the preparation of the passover, after a cruel manner, sacrifice a Christian child, privily stolen, in disgrace and contempt of Christ, whose passion and crucifixion the Christians celebrate, I will not assert for truth: as well knowing, how easy it was for those times, wherein these things are mentioned to have happened (especially after the Inquisition was set up in the popedom,) to forge and feign; and how the histories of those ages, according to the affection of the writers, were too much addicted and given unto fables and figments. Indeed I have never yet seen any of all those relations that hath by any certain experiment proved this fact; for they are all founded either upon the uncertain report of the vulgar, or else upon the secret accusation of the monks belonging to the inquisition, not to mention the avarice of the informers, wickedly hankering after the Jews’ wealth, and so with ease forging any wickedness. For in the first book of the Sicilian Constitutions, tit. 7 we see the Emperor Frederick saying, ‘Si vero Judæus vel Saracenus sit, in quibus, prout certo perpendimus, Christianorum persecutio multum abundat ad præsens;’ ‘But if he be a Jew or a Saracen, against whom, as we have weighed, the persecution of the Christians doth much abound, &c’ thus taxing the violence of certain Christians against the Jews. Or if perhaps it hath sometimes happened, that a Christian was killed by a Jew, we must not therefore say that in all places where they inhabit, they annually kill a Christian child. And for that which Thomas Cantiprætensis, lib. ii, cap. 23, affirms, viz. that it is certainly known, that the Jews every year, in every province, cast lots what city or town shall afford Christian blood to the other cities; I can give it no more credit than his other fictions and lies wherewith he hath stuffed his book.” Thus far John Hoornbeek.

13. Notwithstanding all this, there are not wanting some histories that relate these and the like calumnies against an afflicted people: for which cause the Lord saith, “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of my eye.” Zech. ii. 6. I shall cursorily mention some passages that have occurred in my time, whereof I say not that I was an eye-witness, but only that they were of general report and credence, without the least contradiction. I have faithfully noted both the names of the persons, the places where, and the time when they happened, in my continuation of Flavius Josephus; I shall be the less curious therefore in reciting them here. In Vienna, the metropolis of Austria, Frederick being emperor, there was a pond frozen, according to the cold of those parts, wherein three boys (as it too frequently happens) were drowned. When they were missed, the imputation was cast upon the Jews; and they were incontinently indicted for murdering them to celebrate their passover. And being imprisoned, after infinite prayers and supplications made to no effect, three hundred of them were burnt. When the pond thawed, these three boys were found, and then their innocency was clearly evinced, although too late, after the execution of this cruelty.

In Saragoza, about thirty years ago, there was a Christian woman, into whose house there came a little girl (of eleven years of age, daughter to a neighbouring gentleman), richly adorned with jewels: this wretched woman, not thinking of a safer way to rob her than by killing her, cut her throat, and hid her under her bed. The girl was presently missed; and by information they understood that she was seen to go into that house. They call a magistrate to search the house; and find the girl dead. She confessed the fact; and as if she should have expiated her own guilt by destroying a Jew, though ever so innocent, she said she did it at the instigation and persuasion of one Isaac Jeshurun, for that the Jews wanted blood to celebrate their feast. She was hanged, and the Jew was apprehended, who being six times cruelly tortured, (they employing their wits in inventing unheard-of and insufferable torments, such as might gain Perillus the estimation of merciful and compassionate,) still cries out of the falsehood of the accusation, saying, that that wickedness which he never committed, no not so much as in his dreams, was maliciously imputed to him; yet, notwithstanding, he was condemned to remain close prisoner for twenty years (though he continued there only three), and to be fed there through a trough, upon the bread and water of affliction, being close manacled, and naked, within a four-square wall built for that purpose, that he might there perish in his own dung. This man’s brother, Joseph Jeshurun, is now living at this time in Hamburgh. This miserable man calling upon God, beseeching him to show some signal testimony of his innocence, and citing before his divine tribunal the senators, who had, with no more mercy than justice, thus grievously and inhumanly afflicted him, the blessed God was a just judge; for the prince died suddenly at a banquet, the Sunday next ensuing the giving of the sentence: and during the time of his imprisonment, the aforesaid senators by little and little dropt away, and died, which was prudently observed by those few that yet remained; wherefore they resolved to deliver themselves by restoring him to his liberty, accounting it as a particular divine providence. This man came out well, passed throughout all Italy, where he was seen, to the admiration of all that had cognizance of his sufferings, and died a few years since at Jerusalem.

14. The Act of the Faith, (which is ordinarily done at Toledo) was done at Madrid, Anno 1632, in the presence of the King of Spain, where the inquisitors did then take an oath of the King and Queen, that they should maintain and conserve the Catholick faith in their dominions. In this act it is found printed, how that a family of our nation was burnt, for confessing upon the rack, the truth of a certain accusation of a maid-servant, who (provoked out of some disgust) said, that they had scourged and whipped an image, which by the frequent lashes issued forth a great deal of blood, and crying with an out-stretched voice, said unto them, “Why do you thus cruelly scourge me?” The whole nobility well understood that it was all false; but things of the Inquisition all must hush.

15. A very true story happened at Lisbon, Anno 1631. A certain church missed one night, a siver pix or box, wherein was the Popish Host. And, forasmuch as they had seen a young youth of our nation, whose name was Simao Pires Solis, sufficiently noble, to pass by the same night not far from thence, who went to visit a lady, he was apprehended, imprisoned, and terribly tortured. They cut off his hands, and after they had dragged him along the streets, burnt him. One year passed over, and a thief at the foot of the gallows, confessed how he himself had rifled and plundered the shrine of the host, and not that poor innocent whom they had burnt. This young man’s brother was a friar, a great theologist and a preacher; he lives now a Jew in Amsterdam, and calls himself Eliazar de Solis.

16. Some perhaps will say, that men are not blame-worthy for imputing to the Jews that which they themselves with their own mouths have confessed. But surely he hath little understanding of racks and tortures that speaks thus. An Earl of Portugal, when his physician was imprisoned for being a Jew, requested one of the Inquisitors by letter, that he would cause him to be set at liberty, for that he knew for certain that he was a very good Christian; but he, not being able to undergo the tortures inflicted on him, confessed himself a Jew and became a Penitentiary. At which the Earl, being much incensed, feigns himself sick, and desires the Inquisitor, by one of his servants, that he would be pleased to come and visit him. When he came, he commanded him that he should confess that himself was a Jew, and further, that he should put it down in writing with his own hand; which when he refused to do, he charges some of his servants to put a helmet that was red-hot in the fire (provided for this purpose) upon his head; at which he, not being able to endure this threatened torment, takes him aside to confess; and also he writ with his own hand that he was a Jew. Whereupon the Earl takes occasion to reprove his injustice cruelty and inhumanity, saying, “In like manner as you have confessed, did my physician confess; besides that, you have presently only out of fear, not sense of torment, confessed more.” For this cause, in the Israelitish senate no torture was ever inflicted, but only every person was convicted at the testimony of two witnesses. That such-like instruments of cruelty may enforce children that have been tenderly educated, and fathers that have lived deliciously, to confess that they have whipped an image, and been guilty of such-like criminal offences, daily experience may demonstrate.

17. Others will perchance allege, these are histories indeed; but they are not sacred or canonical. I answer, “Love and hatred,” says Plutarch, “corrupt the truth of every thing, as experience sufficiently declares it; when we see that which comes to pass, that one and the same thing, in one and the same city, at one and the same time, is related in different manners. I myself, in my own negociation here, have found it so. For it hath been rumoured abroad, that our nation had purchased St. Paul’s church, for to make it their synagogue, notwithstanding it was a temple formerly consecrated to Diana. And many other things have been reported of us, that never entered into the thoughts of our nation; as I have seen a fabulous narrative of the proceedings of a great council of the Jews, assembled in the plain of Ageda in Hungary, to determine whether the Messiah were come or no.

18. And now, since it is evident that it is forbidden the Jews to eat any manner of blood, and and that to kill a man is directly prohibited by our law, and the reasons before given are consentaneous and agreeable to every one’s understanding; I know it will be inquired by many, but especially by those who are more pious and the friends of truth, how this calumny did arise, and from whence it derived its first original. I may answer, that this wickedness is laid to their charge for divers reasons.

First. Rufinus the familiar friend of St. Jerome, in his version of Josephus’s second book that he wrote against Apion the grammarian (for the Greek text is there wanting), tells us how Apion invented this slander to gratify Antiochus, to excuse his sacrilege, and justify his perfidious dealing with the Jews, making their estates supply his wants. “Propheta vero aliorum est Apion, &c.” “Apion is become a prophet, and says that Antiochus found in the temple a bed, with a man lying upon it, and a table set before him, furnished with all dainties both of sea and land, and fowls; and that this man was astonished at them, and presently adores the entrance of the king, as coming to succour and relieve him; and prostrating himself at his knees, and stretching out his right hand, he implores liberty: whereat the king commanding him to set down and declare who he was, why he dwelt there, and what was the cause of this his plentiful provision, the man with sighs and tears lamentably weeps out his necessity, and tells him he is a Grecian, and whilst he travelled about the province to get food, he was suddenly apprehended, and caught up by some strange men, and brought to the temple, and there shut up, that he might be seen by no man, but there be fatted with all manner of dainties; and that these unexpected benefits wrought in him at first joy, then suspicion, after that astonishment; and last of all, advising with the minister that came unto him, he understood that the Jews every year, at a certain time appointed, according to their secret and ineffable law, take up some Greek stranger, and after he hath been fed delicately for the space of a whole year, they bring him into a certain wood, and kill him. Then, according to their solemn rites and ceremonies, they sacrifice his body, and every one tasting of his entrails, in the offering up of this Greek, they enter into a solemn oath, that they will bear an immortal feud and hatred to the Greeks. And then they cast the relics of this perishing man into a certain pit. After this, Apion makes him to say, that only some few days remained to him before his execution, and to desire the king that he, fearing and worshipping the Grecian Gods, would revenge the blood of his subjects upon the Jews, and deliver him from his approaching death. “This fable (saith Josephus), as it is most full of all tragedy, so it abounds with cruel impudence.” I had rather you should read the confutation of this slander there, than I to write it in this place. You will find it in the Geneva edition of Josephus, p. 1066.

Secondly. The very same accusation and horrid wickedness of killing children and eating their blood, was of old by the ancient Heathens charged upon the Christians, that thereby they might make them odious, and incense the common people against them, Tertullian, in his Apologia contra Gentes, Justin Martyr in Apologia 2 ad Anton. Eusebius Cæsariensis, 1. v, cap. 1 and 4, Pineda, in his Monarchia Ecclesiastica, 1. xi. cap. 52. and many others, as is known sufficiently. So that the imputation of this cruelty, which as to them continues only in memory, is to the very same purpose at this day charged upon the Jews. And as they deny this fact, as being falsely charged upon them so in like manner do we deny it; and I may say perhaps with a little more reason, forasmuch as we eat not any manner of bloody wherein they do not think themselves obliged.

Now the reason of this slander was always the covetous ambition of some, who, desiring to gain their wealth and possess themselves of their estates, have forged and introduced this enormous accusation, to colour their wickedness under the specious pretence of revenging their own blood. And to this purpose, I remember that when I reproved a Rabbi (who came out of Poland to Amsterdam) for the excess of usury in Germany and Poland, which they exacted of the Christians, and told him how moderate they in Holland and in Italy were; he replied, “we are of necessity constrained to do so, because they so often raise up false witnesses against us, and levy more from us at once, than we are able to get again by them in many years.” And so, as experience shews, it usually succeeds with our poor people under this pretext and colour.

19. And so it hath been divers times; men mischieving the Jews to excuse their own wickedness; as to instance one precedent in the time of a certain king of Portugal. The Lord (blessed for ever), took away his sleep one night (as he did King Ahashuerus) and he went up into a balcony in the palace, from whence he could discover the whole city, and from thence (the moon shining clear) he espied two men carrying a dead corpse, which he cast into a Jew’s yard. He presently dispatches a couple of servants, and commands them, yet with a seeming carelessness, they should trace and follow those men, and take notice of their house; which they accordingly did. The next day there is a hurly-burly and a tumult in the city, accusing the Jews of murder. Thereupon the king apprehends these rogues, and they confess the truth; and considering that this business was guided by a particular divine providence, he calls some of the wise men of the Jews, and asks them how they translate the fourth verse of the 121st Psalm; and they answered, “Behold he that keepeth Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” The king replied, “If he will not slumber, then much less will he sleep; you do not say well, for the true translation is, ‘Behold the Lord doth not slumber, neither will he suffer him that keepeth Israel to sleep.’ God who hath yet a care over you, hath taken away my sleep, that I might be an eye-witness of that wickedness which is this day laid to your charge.” This, with many such like relations, we may read in the book called Shebet Jehuda, how sundry times, when our nation was at the very brink of destruction for such forged slanders, the truth hath discovered itself for their deliverance.

20. This matter of blood hath been heretofore discussed and disputed before one of the Popes at a full council, where it was determined to be nothing else but a mere calumny: and hereupon he gave liberty to the Jews to dwell in his countries, and gave the princes of Italy to understand the same, as also Alfonso the wise, king of Spain. And suppose any one man had done such a thing, as I believe never any Jew did so, yet this were great cruelty to punish a whole nation for one man’s wickedness.

21. But why should I use more words about this matter, seeing all that is come upon us was foretold by all the prophets? Moses, Deut. xxviii, 61. “Moreover, every sickness and every plague which is not written in the book of this law, them will the Lord bring upon thee, &c. because thou hast not hearkened to the voice of the Lord thy God.” David, in the xliv Psalm, makes a doleful complaint of those evils and ignominious reproaches wherewith we are environed round about in this captivity, as if we were the proper centre of misery; saying, “For thy sake are we killed all the day long, we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” The same he speaks in Psalm lxxiv, and in other Psalms.

Ezekiel more particularly mentions this calumny; God (blessed for ever) promising, Chap, xxxvi, 13. that in time to come, the devouring of men, or the eating of man’s blood shall no more be imputed to them, according to the true and proper exposition of the learned Don Isaac Abarbanel. The blessed God, according to the multitude of his mercies, will have compassion upon his people, and will take away the reproach of Israel from off the earth, that it may be no more heard, as is prophesied by Isaiah. And let this suffice to have spoken as to this point.

The Second Section.

Your worship desired jointly to know what ceremony or humiliation the Jews use in their synagogues, toward the Book of the Law; for which they are by some ignorantly reputed to be idolaters I shall answer it in order.

First. The Jews hold themselves bound to stand up when the Book of the Law written upon parchment is taken out of the desk, until it is opened on the pulpit, to show it to the people, and afterwards to be read. We see that observed in Nehemiah viii. 6, where it is said, “And when he had opened it, all the people stood up.” And this they do in reverence to the word of God, and that sacred book.

For the same cause, when it passes from the desk toward the pulpit, all that it passes by, bow down their heads a little with reverence; which can be no idolatry, for these following reasons.

First. It is one thing, adorare, to adore; and another, venerari, to worship. For adoration is forbidden to any creature, whether angelical or earthly; but worship may be given to either of them, as to men of a higher rank, commonly styled worshipful. And so Abraham, who in his time rooted out vain idolatry, humbled himself, and also prostrated himself before those three guests, which then he entertained for men. As also Joshua, the holy captain of the people, did prostrate himself to another angel, which with a sword in his hand made him afraid at the gates of Jericho. Wherefore if those were just men, and if we are obliged to follow their example, and they were not reprehended for it; it is clear, that to worship the Law in this manner as we do, can be no idolatry.

Secondly. The Jews are very scrupulous in such things, and fear in the least to appear to give honour or reverence to images. And so it is to be seen in the Talmud, and in Rabbi Moses of Egypt in his Treatise on Idolatry: “That if by chance any Israelite should pass by a church that had images on the outside, and at that time a thorn should run into his foot, he may not stoop to pull it out, because he that should see him, might suspect he bowed to such an image.” Therefore according to this strictness, if that were any appearance of idolatry to bow to the Law, the Jews would utterly abhor it; and since they do it, it is an evident sign that it is none.

Thirdly. To kiss images is the principal worship of idolatry, as God saith, in 1 Kings xix. 18. “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth that hath not kissed him.” But if that were so, it would follow that all men, who kiss the testament after they are sworn, should be idolaters. But because that is not so, since that act is but a simple worship, by the same reason it will follow, that to bow the head cannot be reputed for idolatry.

Fourthly. Experience shews, that in all nations, the ceremonies that men use mutually one towards another, is to bow the head; and also there are degrees thereof, according to the quality of the person with whom they speak: which shews, that in the opinion of all nations it is no idolatry; and therefore much less to reverence the Law with bowing of the body.

Fifthly. In Asia (and it is the same almost in all the world) the people receiving a decree, or order of the king, they take it, and kiss it, and set it upon the head. We owe much more to God’s word, and to his divine commandments.

Sixthly. Ptolomæus Philadelphus, receiving the seventy-two interpreters with the Book of the Law into his presence, rose from his seat and, prostrating himself seven times, worshipped it (as Aristæus assures us). If a Gentile did this to a Law which he thought did not oblige him, much more do we owe reverence to that law which was particularly given unto us.

Seventhly. The Israelites hold, for the articles of their faith, that there is a God who is one in most simple Unity, Eternal, Incorporeal; who gave the written Law unto his people Israel by the hand of Moses, the prince and chief of all the prophets; whose providence takes care for the world which he created; who takes notice of all men’s works, and rewards or punishes them. Lastly, that one day Messias shall come to gather together the scattered Israelites, and shortly after shall be the resurrection of the dead.

These are their doctrines, which I believe contain not any idolatry; nor yet in the opinion of those that are of other judgments. For as a most learned Christian of our time hath written in a French hooky which he calls the Rappel of the Jews (in which he makes the king of France to be their leader when they shall return to their own country), “The Jews” saith he, “shall be saved: for yet we expect a second coming of the same Messias; and the Jews believe that that coming is the first, and not the second; and by that faith they shall be saved: for the difference consists only in the circumstance of the time.

The Third Section.

Sir, I hope I have given satisfaction to your worship touching those points. I shall yet further inform you with the same sincerity concerning the rest. Sixtus Senensis, in his Bibliotheca, lib. 2. Titulo contra Talmud, and others, as Biatensis, Ordine 1. Tract 1. Titulo Berachot, aver, out of the Talmud, cap. 4. “That every Jew thrice a day curses all Christians, and prays to God to confound and root them out, with their kings and princes. And this is especially done in the synagogue, by the Jews’ priests, thrice a day.” I pray let such as love the truth, see the Talmud in the quoted place, and they shall find nothing of that which is objected; only there is recited in the said fourth chapter, the daily prayer, which speaks of Minim, that is heretics, ordained in Tabne, (that is a town not far from Jerusalem, between Gath and Gazim, &c.) the Talmud hath no more. Hence Sixtus Senensis, by distillation, draws forth the foresaid calumny, whenas what the Talmud rehearses briefly to be made only by the wise men in the said, town, he saith was a constitution in the Talmud long after.

Now let us see what was done by those wise men in the said town; and let us examine, whether that may justly offend the Christians.

1. There is, in the daily prayers, a certain chapter where it is thus written, “la-Mumarim, &c.’” that is, “For apostates let there be no hope; let all heretics be destroyed, and all thine enemies; and all that hate thee let them perish. And thou shalt root out the kingdom of Pride forthwith, weaken and put it out, and in our days.” This whole chapter speaks nothing of the Christians originally, but of the Jews, who fell in those times to the Sadducees and Epicureans, and to the Gentiles, as Moses of Egypt saith. Tract. Tephila cap. 2, For by apostates and heretics are not to be understood all men that are of a diverse religion, or heathens, or Gentiles, but those renegado Jews who did abrogate the whole law of Moses, or any articles received thence; and such are properly by us called heretics. For according to the law of Christians, he is not properly an apostate or heretic, who is originally bred a scholar, and a candid follower from his youth, of a diverse law, and so continues: otherwise native Jews and Hagarenes, and other nations that are no Christians, nor ever were, should be properly called apostates and heretics in respect of Christians, which is absurd; as it is absurd for the Jews to call the Christians apostates or heretics. Wherefore it speaks nothing of Christians, but of the fugitive Jews, that is, such as have deserted the standard, or the sacred law.

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