Prolegomena to the History of Israel
Julius Wellhausen

Part 12 out of 13

have been possible to conjecture the state of the country in
these circumstances, even if we had not been informed of it by
means of the prophetical book of Hosea, which dates from the time
when the Assyrians had begun indeed to tamper with the country,
but had not yet shown their full design. After the death of
Jeroboam II. there had been wild outbursts of partisan war; none
of the kings who in quick succession appeared and disappeared had
real power, none established order. It was as if the danger from
without, which was only too obviously threatening the existence
of the kingdom, had already dissolved all internal bonds; every
one was at war with his neighbour. Assyrians and Egyptians were
called in to support this or that government; by such expedients
the external confusion was, naturally, only increased. Was there
any other quarter in which help could yet be sought? The
people, led by the priests, turned to the altars of Jehovah, and
outdid itself in pious works, as if by any such illusory means,
out of all relation to the practical problem in hand, the gangrene
of anarchy could possibly be healed. Still more zealous than
Amos against the cultus was Hosea, not merely on the ground that
it had the absurd motive of forcing Jehovah's favour, but also
because it was of heathenish character, nature-worship and
idolatry. That Jehovah is the true and only helper is certainly
not denied by Hosea. But His help is coupled with the condition
that Israel shall undergo a complete change, and of such a change
he sees no prospect. On this account the downfall of the state is
in Hosea's view inevitable, but not final ruin, only such an
overthrow as is necessary for the transition to a new and fair
recommencement. In Hosea's prophecies the relation between Jehovah
and Israel is conceived of as dissoluble, and as actually on the point
of being dissolved, but it has struck its roots so deep that it
must inevitably at last establish itself again.

The first actual collision between Israel and Assyria occurred in
734. Resin, king of Damascus, and Pekah, king of Samaria, had
united in an expedition against Judah, where at that time Ahaz ben
Jotham occupied the throne. But Ahaz parried the blow by placing
himself under the protection of the Assyrians, who perhaps would
in any case have struck in against the alliance between Aram and
Israel. Tiglath-pileser made his first appearance in 734, first on
the sea-coast of Palestine, and subsequently either in this or in
the following year took up his quarters in the kingdom of the ten
tribes. After he had ravaged Galilee and Gilead, he finally
concluded a peace with Samaria conditionally on his receiving the
head of King Pekah and a considerable yearly tribute. Hosea ben
Elah was raised to the throne in Pekah's place and acknowledged by
the Assyrian as a vassal For some ten years he held his position
quietly, regularly paying his dues. But when at the death of
Tiglath-pileser the Syro-Palestinian kingdoms rebelled _en masse_,
Samaria also was seized with the delirium of patriotic fanaticism
(Isaiah xxviii.). Relying upon the help of Seve, king of Ethiopia
and Egypt, Hosea ventured on a revolt from Assyria. But the
Egyptians left him in the lurch as soon as Shalmaneser IV.,
Tiglath-pileser's successor, invaded his territory. Before his
capital had fallen, Hosea himself fell into the hands of the
Assyrians. Samaria offered a desperate resistance, and succumbed
only to Sargon, Shalmaneser's successor (72I). Energetic
measures were adopted by the victor for the pacification of the
country; he carried all the inhabitants of mark into captivity
to Calachene, Gozanitis, and Armenia. Much light is thrown upon
the conditions of the national religion then and upon its
subsequent development by the single fact that the exiled
Israelites were absorbed by the surrounding heathenism without
leaving a trace behind them, while the population of Judah, who
had the benefit of a hundred years respite, held their faith fast
throughout the period of the Babylonian exile, and by means of it
were able to maintain their own individuality afterwards in all
the circumstances that arose. The fact that the fall of Samaria
did not hinder but helped the religion of Jehovah is entirely due
to the prophets. That they had foreseen the downfall of the
state, and declared in the name of religion that it was
inevitable, was a matter of much greater historical importance
than the actual downfall itself.


Hitherto the small kingdom of Judah had stood in the background.
Its political history had been determined almost exclusively by
its relation to Israel. Under the dynasty of Omri the original
enmity had been changed into a close but perhaps not quite
voluntary friendship. Judah found itself drawn completely into
the train of the more powerful neighbouring state, and seems even
to have rendered it military service. The fall of the house of
Omri was an ominous event for Judah as well as Israel; Jehu, as
he passed to the throne, put to death not only Ahaziah the king
but also two and forty other members of the royal house of David
who had fallen into his hands; and those who still survived,
children for the most part, were murdered wholesale by the regent
Athaliah for reasons that are unknown. Only one little boy,
Joash, was concealed from her fury, and by a successful
conspiracy six years afterwards was placed upon the throne of his
ancestors. At that time the Syrians were extending their
incursions to Judah and Philistia, and Joash bought them off from
Jerusalem with the temple treasures. Perhaps it was this disgrace
that he expiated with his death; in like manner perhaps the
assassination of his successor Amaziah is to be accounted for by
the discredit he had incurred by a reckless and unsuccessful war
against Israel. Just as Israel was beginning to recover itself
after the happy termination of the Syrian wars, Judah also
experienced its period of highest prosperity. What Jeroboam II.
was to the northern kingdom, Uzziah was to that of the south. He
appears to have obtained possession of Edom, and for a
considerable time to have held that one province of David's
conquests which fell to Judah; and at the trading port of Elath
he revived the commerce which Solomon had created. The prosperity
of his long reign was uninterrupted till in his later years he was
smitten with leprosy, and found it necessary to hand over the
affairs of the kingdom to his son Jotham. But Jotham appears to
have died about the same time as his father,--his successor, still
in very early youth (Isaiah iii. 12), being Ahaz ben Jotham
ben Uzziah.

If Judah could not compare with Israel in political and general
historical importance, it nevertheless enjoyed more than one
considerable advantage over the larger kingdom. It was much safer
from foreign foes; for the Egyptians, as a rule, were not
dangerous neighbours. But its chief advantage consisted in the
stability of its dynasty. It was David who had elevated Judah
and Jerusalem to a position of historical significance, and the
prosperity of his house was most intimately connected with that
of the town and territory, and even with that of religion. On two
separate occasions it occurred that a king of Judah was murdered
by subjects, but in both cases the "people of the land" rose up
against the assassins and once more placed a member of the Davidic
family upon the throne. The one actual recorded revolution was
that against Athaliah, which had for its object the restoration of
the throne to the legitimate heir. Under shelter of the monarchy
the other institutions of the state also acquired a measure of
permanency such as was not found at all in Israel, where
everything depended on the character of individuals, and the
existing order of things was ever liable to be subjected to fresh
dispute. Life in Judah was a much more stable affair, though not
so exciting or dramatic. Possibly the greater isolation of the
little kingdom, its more intimate relations with the neighbouring
wilderness, and the more primitive modes of life which resulted,
were also factors which contributed to this general result.

In the capital of course the life was not primitive, and its
influence was undoubtedly greater than that of the country.
Successive kings exerted themselves for its external improvement,
and in this respect Hezekiah ben Ahaz was specially
distinguished. Above all they manifested sincere interest in the
temple, which from an early period exerted a powerful force of
attraction over the entire mass of the population. They
regulated the cultus according to their individual tastes, added
to it or curtailed it at their pleasure, and dealt with the sacred
treasures as they chose. Although the priests had in a certain
sense great power--the conspiracy against Athaliah was led not by
a prophet but by a priest,--they were nevertheless subjects of
the king, and had to act according to his orders. That the cultus
of Jehovah at Jerusalem was purer than that at Bethel or at
Samaria is an assertion which is contradicted by more than one
well-attested fact. In this respect there was no essential
difference between Israel and Judah. It was in Israel that the
reaction against Baal-worship originated which afterwards passed
over into Judah; the initiative in all such matters was Israel's.
There the experiments were made from which Jerusalem learned the
lesson. How deep was the interest felt in the affairs of the larger
kingdom by the inhabitants even of one of the smaller provincial
towns of Judah is shown in the instance of Amos of Tekoah.

Step by step with the decline of Israel after the death of
Jeroboam II. did Judah rise in importance; it was already
preparing to take the inheritance. The man through whom the
transition of the history from Israel to Judah was effected, and
who was the means of securing for the latter kingdom a period of
respite which was fruitful of the best results for the
consolidation of true religion, was the Prophet Isaiah. The
history of his activity is at the same time the history of
Judah during that period.

Isaiah became conscious of his vocation in the year of King
Uzziah's death; his earliest discourses date from the beginning
of the reign of Ahaz. In them he contemplates the imminent
downfall of Samaria, and threatens Judah also with the
chastisement its political and social sins deserve. In chapter ix.,
and also in chapters ii.-v., he still confines himself on the whole
to generalities quite after the manner of Amos. But on the
occasion of the expedition of the allied Syrians and Ephraimites
against Jerusalem he interposed with bold decision in the sphere of
practical politics. To the very last he endeavoured to restrain
Ahaz from his purpose of summoning the Assyrians to his help; he
assured him of Jehovah's countenance, and offered him a token in
pledge. When the king refused this, the prophet recognised that
matters had gone too far, and that the coming of the Assyrians
could not be averted. He then declared that the dreaded danger
would indeed be obviated by that course, but that another far
more serious would be incurred. For the Egyptians would resist
the westward movement of Assyria, and Judah as the field of war
would be utterly laid waste; only a remnant would remain as the
basis of a better future.

The actual issue, however, was not yet quite so disastrous. The
Egyptians did not interfere with the Assyrians, and left Samaria
and Damascus to their fate. Judah became indeed tributary to
Assyria, but at the same time enjoyed considerable prosperity.
Henceforward the prophet's most zealous efforts were directed to
the object of securing the maintenance, at any price, of this
condition of affairs. He sought by every means at his command to
keep Judah from any sort of intervention in the politics of the
great powers, in order that it might devote itself with undivided
energies to the necessities of internal affairs. He actually
succeeded in maintaining the peace for many years, even at times
when in the petty kingdoms around the spirit of revolt was abroad.
The ill success of all attempts elsewhere to shake off the yoke
confirmed him in the conviction that Assyria was the rod of
chastisement wielded by Jehovah over the nations, who had no
alternative but to yield to its iron sway.

While thirty years passed thus peacefully away so far as foreign
relations were concerned, internal changes of all the greater
importance were taking place. Hezekiah ben Ahaz undertook for
the first time a thoroughgoing reformation in the cultus of
Jehovah. "He removed the high places, and brake the pillars,
and cut down the Ashera, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent
that Moses had made;" so we are told in 2Kings xviii. 4, with
a mixture of the general and the special that does not inspire
much confidence. For, e.g., the "high places" which Solomon
had raised on the Mount of Olives were not removed by Hezekiah,
although they stood quite close to Jerusalem, and moreover were
consecrated to foreign deities. But in every respect there must
have been a wide difference between the objects and results of
the reformations of Hezekiah and Josiah. Undoubtedly Hezekiah
undertook his reforms in worship under the influence of Isaiah.
Following in the footsteps of Hosea, who had been the first to
take and to express offence at the use of images in the worship
of Jehovah, this prophet, utilising the impression which the
destruction of Samaria had produced in Jerusalem (Isaiah
xvii., cf. Jeremiah iii.), strove to the utmost against the
adoration of the work of men's hands in the holy places, against
the Asheras and pillars (sun-pillars), and above all against the
ephods, i.e., the idols of silver and gold, of which the land was
full. But against the high places in and by themselves, against
the multiplicity of the altars of Jehovah, he made no protest.
"( In the Messianic time) ye shall loathe and cast away as an
unclean thing your graven images with silver coverings and your
molten images overlaid with gold," he says (xxx. 22); and the
inference is that he contemplated the purification of the high
places from superstitious excesses, but by no means their abolition.
To this one object /1/

1. That is, to the abolition of the images. Jeremiah's polemic
is directed no longer against the images, but against wood
and stone, i.e, Asheras and pillars. The date of the reformation
under Hezekiah is uncertain; perhaps it ought to be placed after
Sennacherib's withdrawal from Jerusalem.

Hezekiah's reformation seems to have confined itself,--an object
of much greater primary importance than the destruction of the
altars themselves. Their destruction was a measure which arose
simply out of despair of the possibility of cleansing them.

Sargon, king of Assyria, was succeeded in 705 by Sennacherib.
The opportunity was seized by Merodach Baladan of Babylon to secure
his independence; and by means of an embassy he urged Hezekiah
also to throw off the yoke. The proposal was adopted, and the
king of Judah was joined by other petty kingdoms, especially
some of the Philistine towns. Relations with Egypt were
established to secure its support in case of need. Sennacherib's
more immediate and pressing business in Babylon enabled Palestine
to gain some time; but the issue of that revolt made
self-deception impossible as to the probable result of the other

This was the period at which Isaiah, already far advanced in life,
wielded his greatest influence. The preparations for revolt, the
negotiations with Egypt, were concealed from him,-a proof how
greatly he was feared at court. When he came to know of them, it
was already too late to undo what had been done. But he could at
least give vent to his anger. With Jerusalem, it seemed to him,
the story of Samaria was repeating itself; uninstructed by that
sad lesson, the capital was giving itself up to the mad
intoxication of leaders who would inevitably bring her to ruin.
"Quietness and rest" had been the motto given by Jehovah to
Judah, powerless as it was and much in need of a period of peace;
instead of this, defiance based on ignorance and falsehood
expressed the prevailing temper. But those who refused to listen
to the intelligible language of Jehovah would be compelled to hear
Him speak in Assyrian speech in a way that would deafen and blind
them. Isaiah shows himself no less indignant against the crowd
that stupidly stared at his excitement than against the
God-forsaken folly of the king, with his counsellors, his priests,
and his prophets. They do not suffer themselves to be shaken out
of their ordinary routine by the gravity of such a crisis as
this; the living work of Jehovah is to them a sealed book; their
piety does not extend beyond the respect they show for certain
human precepts learnt by rote.

Meanwhile Sennacherib, at the head of a great army, was advancing
against Philistia and Judah along the Phoenician coast (701).
Having captured Ascalon, he next laid siege to Ekron, which,
after the combined Egyptian and Ethiopian army sent to its relief
had been defeated at Eltheke, fell into the enemy's hand, and was
severely dealt with. Simultaneously various fortresses of Judah
were occupied, and the level country was devastated (Isaiah i.).
The consequence was that Hezekiah, in a state of panic, offered
to the Assyrians his sub-mission, which was accepted on payment of
a heavy penalty, he being permitted, however, to retain possession
of Jerusalem. He seemed to have got cheaply off from the unequal

The way being thus cleared, Sennacherib pressed on southwards, for
the Egyptians were collecting their forces against him. The nearer
he came to the enemy the more undesirable did he find it that he
should leave in his rear so important a fortress as Jerusalem in
the hands of a doubtful vassal. Notwithstanding the recently
ratified treaty, therefore, he demanded the surrender of the
city, believing that a policy of intimidation would be enough to
secure it from Hezekiah. But there was another personality in
Jerusalem of whom his plans had taken no account. Isaiah had
indeed regarded the revolt from Assyria as a rebellion against
Jehovah Himself, and therefore as a perfectly hopeless undertaking
which could only result in the utmost humiliation and sternest
chastisement for Judah. But still more distinctly than those who
had gone before him did he hold firm as an article of faith the
conviction that the kingdom would not be utterly annihilated; all
his speeches of solemn warning closed with the announcement that
a remnant should return and form the kernel of a new commonwealth
to be fashioned after Jehovah's own heart. For him, in contrast to
Amos, the great crisis had a positive character; in contrast to
Hosea, he did not expect a temporary suspension of the theocracy,
to be followed by its complete reconstruction, but in the pious
and God-fearing individuals who were still to be met with in this
Sodom of iniquity, he saw the threads, thin indeed yet sufficient,
which formed the links between the Israel of the present and its
better future. Over against the vain confidence of the multitude
Isaiah had hitherto brought into prominence the darker obverse of
his religious belief, but now he confronted their present
depression with its bright reverse; faint-heartedness was still
more alien to his nature than temerity. In the name of Jehovah he
bade King Hezekiah be of good courage, and urged that he should by
no means surrender. The Assyrians would not be able to take the
city, not even to shoot an arrow into it nor to bring up their
siege train against it. "I know thy sitting, thy going, and thy
standing," is Jehovah's language to the Assyrian, "and also thy
rage against me. And I will put my ring in thy nose, and my
bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by
which thou camest." And thus it proved in the issue. By a still
unexplained catastrophe, the main army of Sennacherib was
annihilated on the frontier between Egypt and Palestine, and
Jerusalem thereby freed from all danger. The Assyrian king had to
save himself by a hurried retreat to Nineveh; Isaiah was
triumphant. A more magnificent close of a period of influential
public life can hardly be imagined.

What Sennacherib himself relates of his expedition against his
rebellious vassals in Palestine (George Smith, Assyrian Eponym
Canon, p. 67, 68, 131-136) runs parallel with 2 Kings xviii. 14-16,
but not with the rest of the Bible narrative. These three verses
are peculiar, and their source is different from that of the context.
After having captured various Phoenician cities, and received tribute
from a number of kings, his first measure is forcibly to restore the
Assyrian governor who had been expelled from Ascalon, and next he
turns his arms against Ekron. This city had put in irons its own
king, Padi (who remained loyal to the suzerain), and handed him over
to Hezekiah, who appears as the soul of the rebellion in these
quarters. The Egyptians, who as usual have a hand in the matter,
advance with an army for the relief of the beleaguered city, but
are defeated near Eltheke in the immediate neighbourhood; Ekron is
taken, remorselessly chastised, and forced to take Padi back again
as its king. For Hezekiah in the meantime has delivered up his
prisoner, and, terrified by the fall of his fortresses and the
devastation of his territory, has accepted the position of a vassal
once more, paying at the same time a heavy fine, inclusive of
30 talents of gold and 800 of silver. Such is the Assyrian account.
If we treat the 300 talents mentioned in 2Kings xviii. 14 as
Syrian (=800 Babylonian), it completely fills in the vague outlines
given in 2Kings xviii. 14-16, and, while confirming in their place
immediately after ver. 13 these verses, unrelated as they are to
the main connection of the Biblical narrative, corrects them only
in one point, by making it probable that the subjection of
Hezekiah (which is not equivalent to the surrender of his city)
took place while Sennacherib was still before Ekron, and not at
later date when he had gone further south towards Libnah. As
regards his further advance towards Egypt, and the reasons of his
sudden withdrawal (related by Herodotus also from Egyptian tradition),
the great king is silent, having nothing to boast of in it.
The battle of Eltheke, which is to be regarded only as an episode
in the siege of Ekron, being merely the repulse of the Egyptian
relieving army, was not an event of great historical importance,
and ought not to be brought into any connection either with 2Kings
xix. 7 or with xix. 35; Sennacherib's inscription speaks only of
the first and prosperous stage of the expedition, not of the decisive
one which resulted so disastrously for him, as must be clear from
the words themselves to every unprejudiced reader.


Isaiah was so completely a prophet that even his wife was called
the prophetess after him. No such title could have been bestowed
on the wife of either Amos or Hosea. But what distinguished him
more than anything else from those predecessors was that his
position was not, like theirs, apart from the government; he sat
close to the helm, and took a very real part in directing the
course of the vessel. He was more positive and practical than
they; he wished to make his influence felt, and when for the
moment he was unsuccessful in this so far as the great whole of the
state was concerned, he busied himself in gathering round him a
small circle of like-minded persons on whom his hope for the future
rested. Now that Israel had been destroyed, he wished at all
events to save Judah. The lofty ideality of his faith (ii. 1 seq.)
did not hinder him from calling in the aid of practical means
for this end. But the current of his activities was by the
circumstances of the case directed into a channel in which after
his death they continued to flow towards a goal which had hardly
been contemplated by himself.

The political importance of the people of Jehovah was reduced to a
minimum when Judah only was left. Already at an earlier period
in that kingdom the sacred had come to be of more importance than
the secular; much more was this the case under the suzerainty of
Assyria. The circumstances of the time themselves urged that the
religion of Israel should divest itself of all politico-national
character; but Isaiah also did his best to further this end. It
was his most zealous endeavour to hold king and people aloof from
every patriotic movement; to him the true religious attitude was
one of quietness and sitting still, non-intervention in political
affairs, concentration on the problems of internal government. But
he was compelled to leave over for the coming Messiah (xi. 1 seq.)
that reformation in legal and social matters which seemed to him so
necessary; all that he could bring the secular rulers of his
country to undertake was a reform in worship. This was the most
easily solved of the problems alluded to above, and it was also
that which most closely corresponded to the character of the
kingdom of Judah. Thus it came about that the reform of the
theocracy which had been contemplated by Isaiah led to its
transformation into an ecclesiastical state. No less influential
in effecting a radical change in the old popular religion was
Isaiah's doctrine which identified the true Israel with the
holy remnant which alone should emerge from the crisis unconsumed.
For that remnant was more than a mere object of hope; it actually
stood before him in the persons of that little group of pious
individuals gathered around him. Isaiah founded no "ecclesiola
in ecclesia" indeed, but certainly an "ecclesia in civitate Dei."
Now began that distinction between the true Israel and the Israel
according to the flesh, that bipartite division of the nation
which became so important in later times. As head and founder
of the prophetic party in Judah, Isaiah was, involuntarily,
the man who took the first steps towards the institution of
the church.

The catastrophe which befell the army of Sennacherib had no very
great effect upon the external affairs of Judah. Sennacherib
indeed, being busy in the east, was unable to retrieve the loss he
had sustained, but his son Esarhaddon, who succeeded him in 681,
resumed the Egyptian war with better success. He made himself
master of the Nile valley, and brought the Ethiopians into
submission. That the petty kingdoms of Palestine returned to the
old relations of dependence is to be taken as a matter of course.
Judah appears to have resumed the yoke voluntarily, but the
Samaritans only after force had been applied; they were
afterwards deported, whereupon the deserted country was occupied
by foreign colonists, who, however, accepted the cultus of the god
of the land.

That Manasseh ben Hezekiah should have again come under Assyrian
suzerainty appears at that time to have made but little impression;
since the time of Ahaz Judah had been accustomed to this
relation. The Book of Kings speaks only of internal affairs under the
reign of Manasseh. According to it, he was a bad ruler, who
permitted, and even caused, innocent blood to flow like water.
But what was of greater consequence for the future, he took up an
attitude of hostility towards the prophetic party of reform, and
put himself on the side of the reaction which would fain bring back
to the place of honour the old popular half-pagan conception of
Jehovah, as against the pure and holy God whom the prophets
worshipped. The revulsion manifested itself as the reform had
done, chiefly in matters of worship. The old idolatrous
furniture of the sanctuaries was reinstated in its place, and new
frippery was imported from all quarters, especially from Assyria
and Babylon, to renovate the old religion; with Jehovah was now
associated a "queen of heaven." Yet, as usual, the restoration did
more than merely bring back the old order of things. What at an
earlier period had been mere naivete now became superstition, and
could hold its ground only by having imparted to it artificially
a deeper meaning which was itself borrowed from the prophetical
circle of ideas. Again, earnestness superseded the old joyousness
of the cultus; this now had reference principally to sin and its
atonement. Value was attached to services rendered to the Deity,
just in proportion to their hardness and unnaturalness; at this
period it was that the old precept to sacrifice to Jehovah the male
that opens the matrix was extended to children. The counter-
reformation was far from being unaffected by the preceding
reformation, although it understood religious earnestness in
quite another sense, and sought, not to eliminate heathenism from
the cultus, but to animate it with new life. On the other hand,
the reaction was, in the end, found to have left distinct traces of
its influence in the ultimate issue of the reformation.

We possess one document dating from Manasseh's time in Micah vi. 1-
vii. 6. Here, where the lawlessness and utter disregard of
every moral restraint in Judah are set in a hideous light, the
prophetic point of view, as contrasted with the new refinements in
worship, attains also its simplest and purest expression. Perhaps
to this period the Decalogue also, which is so eloquently
silent in regard to cultus, is to be assigned. Jehovah demands
nothing for Himself, all that He asks is only for men; this is
here the fundamental law of the theocracy.

Manasseh's life was a long one, and his son Amon walked in his
ways. The latter died after a brief reign, and with his death a
new era for Judah began. It was introduced by the great
catastrophe in which the Assyrian empire came to an end. The
sovereignty of the world was beginning to pass out of the hands of
the Semites into those of the Aryans. Phraortes of Media indeed
was unsuccessful in his attempt against the Assyrians, but Cyaxares
beat them and proceeded to besiege their capital. The Scythian
invasion of Media and Western Asia (c. 630) at this juncture gave
them another respite of more than twenty years; but even it
tended to break in pieces the great, loosely-compacted monarchy.
The provinces became gradually disintegrated, and the kingdom
shrivelled up till it covered no more than the land of Asshur. /1/

1. Our knowledge of the events of the second half of the 7th century
has remained singularly imperfect hitherto, notwithstanding the
importance of the changes they wrought on the face of the ancient
world. The account given above is that of Herodotus (i. 103-106),
and there the matter must rest until really authentic sources shall
have been brought to light. With regard to the final
siege of Nineveh, our chief informant is Ctesias as quoted by
Diodorus (ii. 26, 27). Whether the prophecy of Nabum relates to
the LAST siege is doubtful (in spite of ii. 7, and the oracle
(i. 9) expressly speaks of the siege alluded to by him as the
first, saying, "the trouble shall not rise up the second time."

The inroad of the Scythians aroused to energy again the voice of
prophecy which had been dumb during the very sinful but not very
animated period of Manasseh's reign. Zephaniah and Jeremiah
threatened with the mysterious northern foe, just as Amos and Hosea
had formerly done with the Assyrians. The Scythians actually did
invade Palestine in 626 (the 13th year of Josiah), and penetrated
as far as to Egypt; but their course lay along the shore line,
and they left Judah untouched. This danger that had come so near
and yet passed them by, this instance of a prophetic threatening
that had come to pass and yet been mercifully averted, made a
powerful impression upon the people of Judah; public opinion went
through a revolution in favour of the reforming party which was
able to gain for itself the support also of the young king Josiah
ben Amon. The circumstances were favourable for coming forward
with a comprehensive programme for a reconstruction of the
theocracy. In the year 621 (the eighteenth of Josiah) Deuteronomy
was discovered, accepted, and carried into effect.

The Deuteronomic legislation is designed for the reformation, by
no means of the cultus alone, but at least quite as much of the
civil relations of life. The social interest is placed above the
cultus, inasmuch as everywhere humane ends are assigned for the
rites and offerings. In this it is plainly seen that
Deuteronomy is the progeny of the prophetic spirit. Still more
plainly does this appear in the _motifs_ of the legislation;
according to these, Jehovah is the only God, whose service demands
the whole heart and every energy; He has entered into a covenant
with Israel, but upon fundamental conditions that, as contained
in the Decalogue, are purely moral and of absolute universality.
Nowhere does the fundamental religious thought of prophecy find
clearer expression than in Deuteronomy,--the thought that Jehovah
asks nothing for Himself, but asks it as a religious duty that man
should render to man what is right, that His will lies not in any
unknown height, but in the moral sphere which is known and
understood by all. /1/

1. The commandments which I command thee are not unattainable for
thee, neither are they far off; not in heaven so that one might
say, Who can climb up into heaven and bring them down, and tell us
them that we might do them! not beyond the sea so that one might
say, Who shall go over the sea, and fetch them, and tell us them
that we might do them!--but the matter lies very near thee, in thy
mouth and in thy heart, so that thou canst do it (Deut. xxx. 11-14).

But the result of the innovation did not correspond exactly to its
prophetic origin. Prophecy died when its precepts attained to the
force of laws; the prophetic ideas lost their purity when they
became practical. Whatever may have been contemplated, only
provisional regulations actually admitted of being carried, and
even these only in co-operation with the king and the priests, and
with due regard to the capacity of the masses. The final outcome
of the Deuteronomic reformation was principally that the cultus
of Jehovah was limited to Jerusalem and abolished everywhere
else,--such was the popular and practical form of prophetic
monotheism. The importance of the Salomonic temple was thereby
increased in the highest degree, and so also the influence of the
priests of Jerusalem, the sons of Zadok, who now in point of fact
got rid entirely of their rivals, the priests of the country


Josiah lived for thirteen years after the accomplishment of his
great work. It was a happy period of external and internal
prosperity. The nation possessed the covenant, and kept it. It
seemed as if the conditions had been attained on which, according
to the prophets, the continuance of the theocracy depended; if
their threatenings against Israel had been fulfilled, so now was
Judah proving itself the heir of their promises. Already in
Deuteronomy is the "extension of the frontier" taken into
consideration, and Josiah actually put his hand to the task of
seeking the attainment of this end.

Jehovah and Israel, religion and patriotism, once more went hand in
hand. Jeremiah alone did not suffer himself to be misled by the
general feeling. He was a second Amos, upon a higher platform--
but, unlike his predecessor, a prophet by profession; his
history, like Isaiah's, is practically the history of his time.
In the work of introducing Deuteronomy he had taken an active part,
and throughout his life he showed his zeal against unlawful altars
and against the adoration of wood and stone (Asheras and pillars).
But he was by no means satisfied with the efforts of the reformation
that had been effected; nothing appeared to him more sinful or
more silly than the false confidence produced by it in Jehovah
and in the inviolability of His one true temple. This confidence
he maintained to be delusive; Judah was not a whit better than
Israel had been, Jerusalem would be destroyed one day like the
temple of Shiloh. The external improvements on which the people
of Judah prided themselves he held to leave this severe judgment
unaffected; what was needed was a quite different sort of change,
a change of heart, not very easy positively to define.

An opportunity for showing his opposition presented itself to the
prophet at the juncture when King Josiah had fallen at Megiddo in
the battle with Pharaoh Necho (608), and when the people were
seeking safety and protection by cleaving to Jehovah and His holy
temple. At the instance of the priests and the prophets he had
almost expiated with his blood the blasphemies he had uttered
against the popular belief; but he did not suffer himself to be
driven from his course. Even when the times had grown quiet again,
he persisted, at the risk of his life and under universal reproach
and ridicule, in his work as a prophet of evil. Moments of despair
sometimes came to him; but that he had correctly estimated the
true value of the great conversion of the nation was speedily
proved by the facts. Although Deuteronomy was not formally
abolished under Jehoiakim, who as the vassal of Egypt ascended the
throne of his father Josiah, nevertheless it ceased to have
practical weight, the battle of Megiddo having shown that in spite
of the covenant with Jehovah the possibilities of non-success in
war remained the same as before. Jehoiakim tended to return to the
ways of Manasseh, not only as regarded idolatry, but also in his
contempt for law and the private rights of his subjects;--the two
things seem to stand in connection.

The course of events at last brought upon the theocracy the
visible ruin which Jeremiah had been so long expecting. After the
Egyptians had, with comparative ease, subjugated Syria at the time
when the Medes and Chaldaeans were busied with the siege of
Nineveh, Nebuchadnezzar, that task accomplished, came upon them
from Babylon and routed them on the Euphrates near Carchemish (605-4).
The people of Judah rejoiced at the fall of Nineveh, and also at
the result of Carchemish; but they were soon undeceived when the
prospect began to open on them of simply exchanging the Egyptian
for the Chaldaean yoke. The power of the Chaldaeans had been quite
unsuspected, and now it was found that in them the Assyrians had
suddenly returned to life. Jeremiah was the only man who gained
any credit by these events. His much ridiculed "enemy out of
the north," of whom he had of old been wont to speak so much, now
began to be talked of with respect, although his name was no longer
"the Scythian" but "the Babylonian." It was an epoch,--the close
of an account which balanced in his favour. Therefore it was that
precisely at this moment he received the Divine command to commit
to writing that which for twenty-three years he had been preaching,
and which, ever pronounced impossible, had now showed itself so
close at hand.

After the victory of Carchemish the Chaldaeans drove Pharaoh out
of Syria, and also compelled the submission of Jehoiakim (c. 602).
For three years he continued to pay his tribute, and then he
withheld it; a mad passion for liberty, kindled by religious
fanaticism, had begun to rage with portentous power amongst the
influential classes, the grandees, the priests, and the prophets.
Nebuchadnezzar satisfied himself in the first instance with raising
against Judah several of the smaller nationalities around,
especially the Edomites; not till 597 did he appear in person
before Jerusalem. The town was compelled to yield; the more
important citizens were carried into exile, amongst them the young
king Jechoniah, son of Jehoiakim, who had died in the interval;
Zedekiah ben Josiah was made king in his stead over the remnant
left behind. The patriotic fanaticism that had led to the revolt
was not broken even by this blow. Within four years afterwards
new plans of liberation began to be again set on foot; but on this
occasion the influence of Jeremiah proved strong enough to avert
the danger. But when a definite prospect of help from Pharaoh
Hophra (Apries) presented itself in 589, the craving for
independence proved quite irrepressible. Revolt was declared; and
in a very short time the Chaldaean army, with Nebuchadnezzar at
its head, lay before Jerusalem. For a while everything seemed to
move prosperously; the Egyptians came to the rescue, and the
Chaleaeans were compelled to raise the siege in order to cope
with them. At this there was great joy in Jerusalem; but Jeremiah
continued to express his gloomy views. The event proved that he
was right; the Egyptians were repulsed and the siege resumed.
The city was bent on obstinate resistance; in vain did Jeremiah,
at continual risk of his life, endeavour to bring it to reason.
The king, who agreed with the prophet, did not venture to assert
his opinion against the dominant terrorism. The town in these
circumstances was at last taken by storm, and along with the temple,
reduced to ruins. Cruel vengeance was taken on the king and grandees,
and the pacification of the country was ensured by another and
larger deportation of the inhabitants to Babylon. Thus terminated
in 586 the kingdom of Judah.

The prophets had been the spiritual destroyers of the old Israel.
In old times the nation had been the ideal of religion in actual
realisation; the prophets confronted the nation with an ideal to
which it did not correspond. Then to bridge over this interval the
abstract ideal was framed into a law, and to this law the nation
was to be conformed. The attempt had very important consequences,
inasmuch as Jehovah continued to be a living power in the law,
when He was no longer realised as present in the nation; but that
was not what the prophets had meant to effect. What they were
unconsciously labouring towards was that religious individualism
which had its historical source in the national downfall, and
manifested itself not exclusively within the prophetical sphere.
With such men as Amos and Hosea the moral personality based upon
an inner conviction burst through the limits of mere nationality;
their mistake was in supposing that they could make their way of
thinking the basis of a national life. Jeremiah saw through the
mistake; the true Israel was narrowed to himself. Of the truth of
his conviction he never had a moment's doubt; he knew that Jehovah
was on his side, that on Him depended the eternal future. But,
instead of the nation, the heart and the individual conviction were
to him the subject of religion. On the ruins of Jerusalem he gazed
into the future filled with joyful hope, sure of this that Jehovah
would one day pardon past sin and renew the relation which had
been broken off-though on the basis of another covenant than that
laid down in Deuteronomy. "I will put my law upon their heart,
and write it on their mind; none shall say to his neighbour, Know
the Lord, for all shall have that knowledge within them."


The exiled Jews were not scattered all over Chaldaea, but were
allowed to remain together in families and clans. Many of them,
notwithstanding this circumstance, must have lapsed and become
merged in the surrounding heathenism; but many also continued
faithful to Jehovah and to Israel. They laboured under much
depression and sadness, groaning under the wrath of Jehovah, who
had rejected His people and cancelled His covenant. They were
lying under a sort of vast interdict; they could not celebrate
any sacrifice or keep any feast; they could only observe days of
fasting and humiliation, and such rites as had no inseparable
connection with the holy land. The observance of the Sabbath,
and the practice of the rite of circumcision, acquired much
greater importance than they formerly possessed as signs of a
common religion. The meetings on the Sabbath day out of which
the synagogues were afterwards developed appear to have first
come into use during this period; perhaps also even then it had
become customary to read aloud from the prophetic writings which
set forth that all had happened in the providence of God, and
moreover that the days of adversity were not to last for ever.

Matters improved somewhat as Cyrus entered upon his victorious
career. Was he the man in whom the Messianic prophecies had found
their fulfilment? The majority were unwilling to think so. For it
was out of Israel (they argued) that the Messiah was to proceed who
should establish the kingdom of God upon the ruins of the kingdoms
of the world; the restitution effected by means of a Persian could
only be regarded as a passing incident in the course of an historical
process that had its goal entirely elsewhere. This doubt was met by
more than one prophetical writer, and especially by the great
anonymous author to whom we are indebted for Isaiah xl.-lxvi.
"Away with sorrow; deliverance is at the door! Is it a humiliating
thing that Israel should owe its freedom to a Persian? Nay, is it
not rather a proof of the world-wide sway of the God of Jacob that He
should thus summon His instruments from the ends of the earth? Who
else than Jehovah could have thus sent Cyrus? Surely not the false
gods which he has destroyed? Jehovah alone it was who foretold and
foreknew the things which are now coming to pass,--because long ago
He had prearranged and predetermined them, and they are now being
executed in accordance with his plan. Rejoice therefore in the
prospect of your near deliverance; prepare yourselves for the new era;
gird yourselves for the return to your homes."
It is to be observed, as characteristic in this prophecy, how the
idea of Jehovah as God alone and God over all--in constantly recurring
lyrical parenthesis he is praised as the author of the world and of
all nature--is yet placed in positive relation to Israel alone, and
that upon the principle that Israel is in exclusive possession of the
universal truth, which cannot perish with Israel, but must through
the instrumentality of Israel, become the common possession of the
whole world. "There is no God but Jehovah, and Israel is his prophet."

For many years the Persian monarch put the patience of the Jews to
the proof; Jehovah's judgment upon the Chaldaeans, instead of
advancing, seemed to recede. At length, however, their hopes were
realised; in the year 538 Cyrus brought the empire of Babylon to
an end, and gave the exiles leave to seek their fatherland once more.
This permission was not made use of by all, or even by a majority.
The number of those who returned is stated at 42,360; whether women
and children are included in this figure is uncertain. On arriving
at their destination, after the difficult march through the desert,
they did not spread themselves over the whole of Judah, but settled
chiefly in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. The Calebites, for example,
who previously had had their settlements in and around Hebron, now
settled in Bethlehem and in the district of Ephrath. They found
it necessary to concentrate themselves in face of a threatened
admixture of doubtful elements. From all sides people belonging
to the surrounding nations had pressed into the depopulated territory
of Judah. Not only had they annexed the border territories--where,
for example, the Edomites or Idumaeans held the whole of the Negeb
as far as to Hebron; they had effected lodgments everywhere, and--
as the Ammonites, Ashdodites, and especially the Samaritans--had
amalgamated with the older Jewish population, a residue of which
had remained in the country in spite of all that had happened.
These half-breed "pagani" (Amme haarec 'oxloi) gave a friendly
reception to the returning exiles (Bne haggola); particularly
did the Samaritans show themselves anxious to make common cause
with them. But they were met with no reciprocal cordiality.
The lesson of religious isolation which the children of the
captivity had learned in Babylon, they did not forget on their
return to their home. Here also they lived as in a strange land.
Not the native of Judaea, but the man who could trace his descent
from the exiles in Babylon, was reckoned as belonging to their

The first decennia after the return of the exiles, during which
they were occupied in adjusting themselves to their new homes,
were passed under a variety of adverse circumstances and by no
means either in joyousness or security. Were these then the
Messianic times which, it had been foretold, were to dawn at the
close of their captivity? They did not at all events answer the
expectations which had been formed. A settlement had been again
obtained, it was true, in the fatherland; but the Persian yoke
pressed now more heavily than ever the Babylonian had done. The
sins of God's people seemed still unforgiven, their period of
bond-service not yet at an end. A slight improvement, as is shown
by the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah, followed when in the
year 520 the obstacles disappeared which until then had stood in
the way of the rebuilding of the temple; the work then begun was
completed in 516. Inasmuch as the Jews were now nothing more
than a religious community, based upon the traditions of a national
existence that had ceased, the rebuilding of the temple, naturally,
was for them an event of supreme importance.

The law of the new theocracy was the Book of Deuteronomy; this
was the foundation on which the structure was to be built. But the
force of circumstances, and the spirit of the age, had even before
and during the exile exerted a modifying influence upon that
legislative code; and it continued to do so still. At first a
"son of David" had continued to stand at the head of the Bne
haggola, but this last relic of the old monarchy soon had to give
way to a Persian governor who was under the control of the satrap
of trans-Euphratic Syria, and whose principal business was the
collection of revenue. Thenceforward the sole national chief was
Joshua the high priest, on whom, accordingly, the political
representation also of the community naturally devolved. In the
circumstances as they then were no other arrangement was possible.
The way had been paved for it long before in so far as the
Assyrians had destroyed the kingdom of Israel, while in the kingdom
of Judah which survived it the religious cultus had greater importance
attached to it than political affairs, and also inasmuch as in
point of fact the practical issue of the prophetic reformation
sketched in Deuteronomy had been to make the temple the national
centre still more than formerly. The hierocracy towards which
Ezekiel had already opened the way was simply inevitable. It took
the form of a monarchy of the high priest, he having stepped into
the place formerly occupied by the theocratic king. As his peers
and at his side stood the members of his clan, the Levites of the
old Jerusalem, who traced their descent from Zadok (Sadduk);
the common Levites held a much lower rank, so far as they had
maintained their priestly rank at all and had not been degraded,
in accordance with Ezekiel's law (chapter xliv.), to the position
of mere temple servitors. "Levite," once the title of honour
bestowed on all priests, became more and more confined to members
of the second order of the clergy.

Meanwhile no improvement was taking place in the condition of the
Jewish colonists. They were poor; they had incurred the
hostility of their neighbours by their exclusiveness; the
Persian Government was suspicious; the incipient decline of the
great kingdom was accompanied with specially unpleasant
consequences so far as Palestine was concerned (Megabyzus). All
this naturally tended to produce in the community a certain
laxity and depression. To what purpose (it was asked) all this
religious strictness, which led to so much that was unpleasant?
Why all this zeal for Jehovah, who refused to be mollified by it?
It is a significant fact that the upper ranks of the priesthood
were least of all concerned to counteract this tendency. Their
priesthood was less to them than the predominance which was based
upon it; they looked upon the neighbouring ethnarchs as their
equals, and maintained relations of friendship with them. The
general community was only following their example when it also
began to mingle with the Amme haarec.

The danger of Judaism merging into heathenism was imminent. But it
was averted by a new accession from without. In the year 458 Ezra
the scribe, with a great number of his compatriots, set out from
Babylon, for the purpose of reinforcing the Jewish element in
Palestine. The Jews of Babylon were more happily situated than
their Palestinian brethren, and it was comparatively easy for
them to take up a separatist attitude, because they were
surrounded by heathenism not partial but entire. They were no
great losers from the circumstance that they were precluded from
participating directly in the life of the ecclesiastical
community; the Torah had long ago become separated from the
people, and was now an independent abstraction following a career
of its own. Babylonia was the place where a further codification
of the law had been placed alongside of Deuteronomy. Ezekiel had
led the way in reducing to theory and to writing the sacred praxis
of his time; in this he was followed by an entire school; in their
exile the Levites turned scribes. Since then Babylon continued to
be the home of the Torah; and, while in Palestine itself the
practice was becoming laxer, their literary study had gradually
intensified the strictness and distinctive peculiarities of
Judaism. And now there came to Palestine a Babylonian scribe
having the law of his God in his hand, and armed with authority
from the Persian king to proceed upon the basis of this law with a
reformation of the community.

Ezra did not set about introducing the new law immediately on his
arrival in Judaea In the first instance he concentrated his
attention on the task of effecting a strict separation between the
Bne haggola and the heathen or half-heathen inhabitants. So much
he could accomplish upon the basis of Deuteronomy, but it was long
before he gave publicity to the law which he himself had brought.
Why he hesitated so long it is impossible to say; between the
seventh and the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus (458-445
B.C.) there is a great hiatus in the narrative of the books of Ezra
and Nehemiah. The main reason appears to have been that, in spite
of the good will of the Persian king, Ezra had not the vigorous
support of the local authorities. But this was indispensably
necessary in order to secure recognition for a new law.

At last, in 445, it fell to the lot of a Jew, who also shared the
views of Ezra, Nehemiah ben Hakkelejah, /1/

1. According to the present punctuation this name is Hakalja
(Hachaljah), but such a pronunciation is inadmissible; it has no
possible etymology, the language having no such word as _hakal_.
The name in its correct form means "wait upon Jehovah."

the cupbearer and the favourite of Artaxerxes, to be sent as Persian
governor to Judaea. After he had freed the community from external
pressure with vigour and success, and brought it into more tolerable
outward circumstances, the business of introducing the new law-book
was next proceeded with; in this Ezra and Nehemiah plainly acted in

On the first of Tisri--the year is unfortunately not given, but it
cannot have been earlier than 444 B.C.--the promulgation of the
law began at a great gathering in Jerusalem; Ezra, supported by
the Levites, was present. Towards the end of the month, the
concluding act took place, in which the community became solemnly
bound by the contents of the law. Special prominence was given to
those provisions with which the people were directly concerned,
particularly those which related to the dues payable by the laity
to the priests.

The covenant which hitherto had rested on Deuteronomy was thus
expanded into a covenant based upon the entire Pentateuch.
Substantially at least Ezra's law-book, in the form in which it
became the Magna Charta of Judaism in or about the year 444, must
be regarded as practically identical with our Pentateuch, although
many minor amendments and very considerable additions may have
been made at a later date.

The character of the post-Deuteronomic legislation (Priestly Code)
is chiefly marked, in its external aspects, by the immense
extension of the dues payable to the priests, and by the sharp
distinction made between the descendants of Aaron and the common
Levites; this last feature is to be traced historically to the
circumstance that after the Deuteronomic reformation the legal
equality between the Levites who until then had ministered at the
"high places" and the priests of the temple at Jerusalem was not
_de facto_ recognised. Internally, it is mainly characterised by
its ideal of Levitical holiness, the way in which it everywhere
surrounds life with purificatory and propitiatory ceremonies, and
its prevailing reference of sacrifice to sin. Noteworthy also is
the manner in which everything is regarded from the point of view
of Jerusalem, a feature which comes much more boldly into
prominence here than in Deuteronomy; the nation and the temple are
strictly speaking identified. That externalisation towards which
the prophetical movement, in order to become practical, had
already been tending in Deuteronomy finally achieved its acme
in the legislation of Ezra; a new artificial Israel was the
result; but, after all, the old would have pleased an Amos better.
At the same time it must be remembered that the kernel needed a
shell. It was a necessity that Judaism should incrust itself in
this manner; without those hard and ossified forms the preservation
of its essential elements would have proved impossible. At
a time when all nationalities, and at the same time all bonds of
religion and national customs, were beginning to be broken up in
the seeming cosmos and real chaos of the Graeco-Roman empire, the
Jews stood out like a rock in the midst of the ocean. When the
natural conditions of independent nationality all failed them,
they nevertheless artificially maintained it with an energy
truly marvellous, and thereby preserved for themselves, and at the
same time for the whole world, an eternal good.

As regards the subsequent history of the Jewish community under
the Persian domination, we have almost no information. The high
priest in Nehemiah's time was Eliashib, son of Joiakim and grandson
of Joshua, the patriarchal head of the sons of Zadok, who had
returned from Babylon; he was succeeded in the direct line by
Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua (Nehemiah xii. 10, 11, 22); the
last-named was in office at the time of Alexander the Great
(Josephus, Antiquities, xi. 8). Palestine was the province which
suffered most severely of all from the storms which marked the last
days of the sinking Persian empire, and it is hardly likely that
the Jews escaped their force; we know definitely, however, of only
one episode, in which the Persian general Bagoses interfered in a
disagreeable controversy about the high-priesthood (cir. 375).

To this period also (and not, as Josephus states, to the time of
Alexander) belongs the constitution of the Samaritan community on
an independent footing by Manasseh, a Jewish priest of rank. He
was expelled from Jerusalem by Nehemiah in 432, for refusing to
separate from his alien wife. He took shelter with his father-in-law
Sanballat, the Samaritan prince, who built him a temple on Mount
Gerizim near Shechem, where he organised a Samaritan church and a
Samaritan worship, on the Jerusalem model, and on the basis of a
but slightly modified Jerusalem Pentateuch. If the Samaritans
had hitherto exerted, themselves to the utmost to obtain admission
into the fellowship of the Jews, they henceforward were as averse
to have anything to do with these as these were to have any
dealings with them; the temple on Mount Gerizim was now the symbol
of their independence as a distinct religious sect. For the Jews
this was a great advantage, as they had no longer to dread the
danger of syncretism. They could now quite confidently admit
the Amme haarec into their communion, in the assurance of
assimilating them without any risk of the opposite process taking
place. The Judaizing process began first with the country
districts immediately surrounding Jerusalem, and then extended to
Galilee and many portions of Peraea. In connection with it, the
Hebrew language, which hitherto had been firmly retained by the
Bne haggola, now began to yield to the Aramaic, and to hold its own
only as a sacred speech.



The post-Deuteronomic legislation is not addressed to the people,
but to the congregation; its chief concern is the regulation of
worship. Political matters are not touched upon, as they are in
the hands of a foreigner lord. The hierocracy is taken for granted
as the constitution of the congregation. The head of the cultus is
the head of the whole; the high priest takes the place of the
king. The other priests, though his brothers or his sons, are
officially subordinate to him, as bishops to the supreme pontiff.
They, again, are distinguished from the Levites not only by their
office but also by their noble blood, though the Levites belong by
descent to the clergy, of which they form the lowest grade. The
material basis of the hierarchical pyramid is furnished by the
contributions of the laity, which are required on a scale which
cannot be called modest. Such is the outward aspect of the rule
of the holy in Israel. Inwardly, the ideal of holiness governs
the whole of life by means of a net of ceremonies and observances
which separate the Jew from the natural man. "Holy" means almost
the same as "exclusive." Originally the term was equivalent to
divine, but now it is used chiefly in the sense of religious,
priestly, as if the divine were to be known from the worldly, the
natural, by outward marks.

It had so fallen out, even before the exile, that the reform of
the theocracy which the prophets demanded began in the cultus;
and after the exile this tendency could not fail to be persisted in.
The restoration of Judaism took place in the form of a
restoration of the cultus. Yet this restoration was not a relapse
into the heathen ways which the prophets had attacked. The old
meaning of the festivals and of the sacrifices had long faded away,
and after the interruption of the exile they would scarcely have
blossomed again of themselves; they had become simply statutes,
unexplained commands of an absolute will. The cultus had no longer
any real value for the Deity; it was valuable only as an
exercise of obedience to the law. If it had been at first the
bond connecting Israel with heathenism, now, on the contrary, it
was the shield behind which Judaism retreated to be safe from
heathenism. There was no other means to make Judaism secure;
and the cultus was nothing more than a means to that end. It was
the shell around the faith and practice of the fathers, around the
religion of moral monotheism, which it alone preserved until it
could become the common property of the world. The great public
worship gave the new theocracy a firm centre, thus keeping it one
and undivided, and helped it to an organisation. But of more
importance was the minor private cultus of pious exercises, which
served to Judaize the whole life of every individual. For the centre
of gravity of Judaism was in the individual. Judaism was gathered
from scattered elements, and it depended on the labour of the
individual to make himself a Jew. This is the secret of the
persistence of Judaism, even in the diaspora. The initiatory act
of circumcision, which conferred an indelible character, was not
the only safeguard; the whole of the education which followed that
act went to guard against the disintegrating effects of individualism.
This is the real significance of the incessant discipline, which
consisted mainly in the observance of laws of purity and generally
of regulations devised to guard against sin. For what holiness
required was not to do good, but to avoid sin. By the sin and
trespass offerings, and by the great day of atonement, this
private cultus was connected with that of the temple; hence it was
that all these institutions fitted so admirably into the system.
The whole of life was directed in a definite sacred path; every
moment there was a divine command to fulfil, and this kept a man
from following too much the thoughts and desires of his own heart.
The Jews trained themselves with an earnestness and zeal which have
no parallel to create, in the absence of all natural conditions,
a holy nation which should answer to the law, the concrete embodiment
of the ideals of the prophets.

In the individualism thus moulded into uniformity lay the chief
difference which separated the new period from the old. The aim
was universal culture by the law, that the prophecy should be
fulfilled which says: "They shall all be taught of God." This
universal culture was certainly of a peculiar kind, and imposed
more troublesome observances than the culture of our day. Yet the
strange duties which the law imposed were not universally felt
to be a heavy burden. Precepts which were plain and had to do
with something outward were very capable of being kept; the
harder they seemed at first, the easier were they when the habit
had been formed. A man saw that he was doing what was prescribed,
and did not ask what was the use of it. The ever-growing body of
regulations even came to be felt as a sort of emancipation from
self. Never had the individual felt himself so responsible for all
he did and left undone, but the responsibility was oppressive, and
it was well that there should be a definite precept for every hour
of his life, thus diminishing the risk of his going astray. Nor
must we forget that the Torah contained other precepts than those
which were merely ceremonial. The kernel did not quite harden into
wood inside the shell; we must even acknowledge that moral sentiment
gained very perceptibly in this period both in delicacy and in
power. This also is connected with the fact that religion was not,
as before, the custom of the people, but the work of the
individual. A further consequence of this was, that men began to
reflect upon religion. The age in question saw the rise of the
so-called "Wisdom," of which we possess examples in the Book of
Job, in the Proverbs of Solomon and of the Son of Sirach, and in
Ecclesiastes. This wisdom flourished not only in Judah, but also
at the same time in Edom; it had the universalistic tendency
which is natural to reflection. The Proverbs of Solomon would
scarcely claim attention had they arisen on Greek or Arabian
soil; they are remarkable in their pale generality only because
they are of Jewish origin. In the Book of Job, a problem of faith
is treated by Syrians and Arabians just as if they were Jews. In
Ecclesiastes religion abandons the theocratic ground altogether,
and becomes a kind of philosophy in which there is room even for
doubt and unbelief. Speculation did not on the whole take away
from depth of feeling; on the contrary, individualism helped to
make religion more intense. This is seen strikingly in the Psalms,
which are altogether the fruit of this period. Even the sacrificial
practice of the priests was made subjective, being incorporated in
the Torah, i.e., made a matter for every one to learn. Though the
laity could not take part in the ceremony, they were at least to
be thoroughly informed in all the minutiae of the system; the law
was a means of interesting every one in the great public
sacrificial procedure. Another circumstance also tended to remove
the centre of gravity of the temple service from the priests to
the congregation. The service of song, though executed by choirs
of singers, was yet in idea the song of the congregation, and came
to be of more importance than the acts of worship which it
accompanied and inspired. The Holy One of Israel sat enthroned,
not on the smoke-pillars of the altar, but in the praises of the
congregation pouring out its heart in prayer; the sacrifices were
merely the external occasion for visiting the temple, the real
reason for doing so lay in the need for the strength and
refreshment to be found in religious fellowship.

By the Torah religion came to be a thing to be learned. Hence the
need of teachers in the church of the second temple. As the
scribes had codified the Torah, it was also their task to imprint
it on the minds of the people and to fill their life with it; in
this way they at the same time founded a supplementary and
changing tradition, which kept pace with the needs of the time.
The place of teaching was the synagogue; there the law and the
prophets were read and explained on the Sabbath. The synagogue and
the Sabbath were of more importance than the temple and the
festivals; and the moral influence of the scribes transcended that
of the priests, who had to be content with outward power and
dignity. The rule of religion was essentially the rule of the
law, and consequently the Rabbis at last served themselves heirs
to the hierarchs. At the same time, while the government of the
law was acknowledged in principle, it could at no time be said to
be even approximately realised in fact. The high-born priests who
stood at the head of the theocracy, cared chiefly, as was quite
natural, for the maintenance of their own supremacy. And there
were sheep in the flock not to be kept from breaking out, both in
the upper and in the lower classes of society; the school could not
suppress nature altogether. It was no trifle even to know the six
hundred and thirteen commandments of the written law, and the
incalculable number of the unwritten. Religion had to be made a
profession of, if it was to be practiced aright. It became an art,
and thereby at the same time a matter of party:, the leaders of the
religious were of course the scribes. The division became very apparent
in the time of the Hellenization which preceded the Maccabaean revolt;
at that period the name of Pharisees, i.e., the Separated, came
into vogue for the party of the religious. But the separation and
antipathy between the godly and the ungodly had existed before
this, and had marked the life of the congregation after the exile
from the very first.

It was the law that gave the Jewish religion its peculiar
character. But, on the other hand, a hope was not wanting to that
religion; the Jews cherished the prospect of a reward for the
fulfilling of the law. This hope attached itself to the old
prophecies, certainly in a very fantastic way. The Jews had no
historical life, and therefore painted the old time according to
their ideas, and framed the time to come according to their wishes.
They stood in no living relation with either the past or the
future; the present was not with them a bridge from the
one to the other; they did not think of bestirring themselves
with a view to the kingdom of God. They had no national and
historical existence, and made no preparations to procure such a
thing for themselves; they only hoped for it as a reward of
faithful keeping of the law. Yet they dreamed not only of a
restoration of the old kingdom, but of the erection of a universal
world-monarchy, which should raise its head at Jerusalem over the
ruins of the heathen empires. They regarded the history of the
world as a great suit between themselves and the heathen. In this
suit they were in the right; and they waited for right to be
done them. If the decision was delayed, their sins were the
reason; Satan was accusing them before the throne of God, and
causing the judgment to be postponed. They were subjected to hard
trials, and if tribulation revived their hopes, with much greater
certainty did it bring their sins into sorrowful remembrance.
Outward circumstances still influenced in the strongest way
their religious mood.

But the old belief in retribution which sought to justify itself
in connection with the fortunes of the congregation proved here
also unequal to the strain laid upon it. Even in Deuteronomy it
is maintained that the race is not to suffer for the act of an
individual. Jeremiah's contemporaries thought it monstrous that
because the fathers had eaten sour grapes the teeth of the children
should be set on edge. Ezekiel championed in a notable way the
cause of individualism on this ground. He denounced the Jews who
had remained in Palestine, and who regarded themselves as the
successors of the people of Jehovah because they dwelt in the Holy
Land and had maintained some sort of existence as a people. In his
view only those souls which were saved from the dispersion of the
exile were to count as heirs of the promise; the theocracy was
not to be perpetuated by the nation, but by the individual
righteous men. He maintained that each man lived because of his
own righteousness, and died because of his own wickedness; nay
more, the fate of the individual corresponded even in its
fluctuations to his moral worth at successive times. The aim he
pursued in this was a good one; in view of a despair which thought
there was nothing for it but to pine and rot away because of
former sins, he was anxious to maintain the freedom of the will,
ie., the possibility of repentance and forgiveness. But the way
he chose for this end was not a good one; on his showing it was
chance which ultimately decided who was good and who was wicked.
The old view of retribution which allowed time for judgment to
operate far beyond the limit of the individual life had truth in it,
but this view had none. Yet it possessed one merit, that it brought
up a problem which had to be faced, and which was a subject of
reflection for a long time afterwards.

The problem assumed the form of a controversy as to the principle
on which piety was rewarded--this controversy taking the place of
the great contest between Israel and the heathen. Were the wicked
right in saying that there was no God, i.e., that He did not rule
and judge on earth? Did He in truth dwell behind the clouds, and
did He not care about the doings of men? In that case piety
would be an illusion. Piety cannot maintain itself if God makes
no difference between the godly and the wicked, and has nothing
more to say to the one than to the other; for piety is not
content to stretch out its hands to the empty air, it must meet an
arm descending from heaven. It must have a reward, not for the
sake of the reward, but in order to be sure of its own reality, in
order to know that there is a communion of God with men and a road
which leads to it. The usual form of this reward is the
forgiveness of sins; that is the true motive of the fear of God.
That is to say, as long as it is well with him, the godly man does
not doubt, and so does not require any unmistakable evidence by
which he may be justified and assured of the favour of God. But
misfortune and pain destroy this certainty. They are accusers
of sin, God's warnings and corrections. Now is the time to hold
fast the faith that God leads the godly to repentance, and
destroys the wicked, that He forgives the sin of the former, but
punishes and avenges that of the latter. But this faith involves a
hope of living to see better things; the justification of which
the good man is sure must at last be attested by an objective
judgment of God before the whole world, and the godly delivered
from his sufferings. Hence the constant anxiety and restlessness
of his conscience; the judgment passed upon him is ultimately
to be gathered from the external world, and he can never be sure
how it is to turn out. And a principle is also at stake the whole
time, namely, the question whether godliness or ungodliness is
right in its fundamental conviction. Each individual case at once
affects the generality, the sufferings of one godly person touch
all the godly. When he recovers and is saved, they triumph; when
he succumbs, or seems to succumb, to death, they are cast down,
unless in this case they should change their minds about him and hold
him to be a hypocrite whom God has judged and unmasked. In the same
way, they are all hurt at the prosperity of an ungodly man, and
rejoice together at his fall, not from jealousy or pleasure in
misfortune for its own sake, but because in the one case their
faith is overturned, while in the other it is confirmed.

The tortures incident to this curious oscillation between believing
and seeing are set forth in the most trenchant way in the Book of
Job. Job, placed in an agonizing situation, condemned without hope
to the death of sinners, and yet conscious of his godliness,
demands vengeance for his blood unjustly shed. But the
vengeance is to be executed on God, and in such a case who can be
the avenger? There is no one but God Himself, and thus the
striking thought arises, that God will be the champion against God
of his innocence, after having first murdered it. From the God of
the present he appeals to the God of the future; but the identity
between these two is yet maintained, and even now the God who slays
him is the sole witness of his innocence, in which the world and
his friends have ceased to believe. God must be this now if He is to
avenge him in the future. An inner antinomy is in this way
impersonated; the view of the friends is one of which the sufferer
himself cannot divest himself; hence the conflict in his soul.
But, supported by the unconquerable power of his good conscience,
he struggles till he frees himself from the delusion; he believes
more firmly in the direct testimony of his conscience than in the
evidence of facts and the world's judgment about him, and against
the dreadful God of reality, the righteous God of faith
victoriously asserts Himself.

Job in the end reaches the conclusion that he cannot understand
God's ways. This is a negative expression of the position that he
holds fast, in spite of all, to himself and to God; that is to
say, that not outward experience, but inner feeling, is to
decide. This inner feeling of the union of God with the godly
meets us also in some of the Psalms, where, in spite of depression
arising from untoward circumstances, it maintains itself as a
reality which cannot be shaken, which temptations and doubts even
tend to strengthen. It was a momentous step when the soul in its
relations to God ventured to take its stand upon itself, to trust
itself. This was an indirect product of prophecy, but one of not
less importance than its direct product, the law. The prophets
declared the revelation of God, which had authority for all, but
along with this they had their own personal experience, and the
subjective truth of which they thus became aware proved a more
powerful solvent and emancipator than the objective one which formed
the subject of their revelation. They preached the law to deaf ears,
and laboured in vain to convert the people. But if their labour had
produced no outward result, it had an inner result for them.
Rejected by the people, they clung the more closely to Jehovah,
in the conviction that the defeated cause was favoured by Him,
that He was with them and not with the people. Especially with
Jeremiah did prophecy, which is designed primarily to act on
others, transform itself into an inner converse with the Deity,
which lifted him above all the annoyances of his life. In this
relation, however, there was nothing distinctively prophetical,
just because it was a matter of the inner life alone, and was
sufficient for itself; it was just the essence of the life of
religion that the prophets thus brought to view and helped to
declare itself. The experience of Jeremiah propagated itself and
became the experience of religious Israel. This was the power by
which Israel was enabled to rise again after every fall; the good
conscience towards God, the profound sentiment of union with Him,
proved able to defy all the blows of outward fortune. In this
strength the servant, despised and slain, triumphed over the world;
the broken and contrite heart was clothed and set on high with the
life and power of the Almighty God. This divine spirit of
assurance rises to its boldest expression in the 73rd Psalm:
"Nevertheless I am continually with Thee;
Thou holdest me by my right hand;
Thou guidest me with Thy counsel,
and drawest me after Thee by the hand.
If I have Thee, I desire not heaven nor earth;
if my flesh and my heart fail,
Thou, God, art for ever the strength of my heart, and my portion."

The life surrendered is here found again in a higher life, without
any expression of hope of a hereafter. In the Book of Job we do
indeed find a trace of this hope, in the form that even after the
death of the martyr, God may still find opportunity to justify
him and pronounce him innocent; yet this idea is only touched on
as a distant possibility, and is at once dropped. Certainly the
position of that man is a grand one who can cast into the scale
against death and devil his inner certainty of union with God--
so grand indeed that we must in honesty be ashamed to repeat those
words of the 73d Psalm. But the point of view is too high.
The danger was imminent of falling from it down into the dust
and seeking comfort and support in the first earthly experience
that might offer, or, on the other hand, sinking into despair.
Subjective feeling was not enough of itself to outbid the
contradictions of nature; the feeling must take an objective form,
a world other than this one, answering the demands of morality,
must build itself up to form a contrast to the world actually
existing. The merit of laying the foundations for this
religious metaphysic which the time called for belongs, if not to
the Pharisees themselves, at least to the circles from which they
immediately proceeded. The main features of that metaphysic first
appear in the Book of Daniel, where we find a doctrine of the last
things. We have already spoken of the transition from the old
prophecy to apocalypse. With the destruction of the nation and
the cessation of historical life, hope was released from all
obligation to conform to historical conditions; it no longer set
up an aim to which even the present might aspire, but ran riot
after an ideal, at the advent of which the historical development
would be suddenly broken off. To be pious was all the Jews could
do at the time; but it caused them bitter regret that they had no
part in the government of the world, and in thought they anticipated
the fulfilment of their wishes. These they raised to an ever-higher
pitch in proportion as their antagonism to the heathen became more
pronounced, and as the world became more hostile to them and they
to the world. As the heathen empires stood in the way of the
universal dominion of Israel, the whole of them together were
regarded as one power, and this world-empire was then set over
against the kingdom of God, i.e., of Israel. The kingdom of God
was entirely future; the fulfilling of the law did not prepare the
way for it, but was only a statutory condition for its coming,
not related to it inwardly as cause to effect. History was suddenly
to come to a stop and cease. The Jews counted the days to the
judgment; the judgment was the act by which God would at once realise
all their wishes. The view thus taken of the world's history was a
very comprehensive one and well worked out from its principle, yet
of an entirely negative character; the further the world's history
went wilfully away from its goal, the nearer did it unintentionally
approach its goal. In this view, moreover, the earth always continued
to be the place of hope; the kingdom of God was brought by the judgment
into earthly history; it was on earth that the ideal was to be
realised. A step further, and the struggle of the dualism of the
earth was preluded in the skies by the angels, as the representatives
of the different powers and nations. In this struggle a place was
assigned to Satan; at first he was merely the accuser whom God Himself
had appointed, and in this character he drew attention to the sins
of the Jews before God's judgment-seat, and thereby delayed the judicial
sentence in their favour; but ultimately (though this took place late,
and is not met with in the Book of Daniel) he came to be the independent
leader of the power opposed to God, God's cause being identified
with that of the Jews. But as this prelude of the struggle took
place in heaven, its result was also anticipated. The kingdom of
God is on earth a thing of the future, but even now it is preserved
in heaven with all its treasures, one day to descend from there to
the earth. Heaven is the place where the good things of the future
are kept, which are not and yet must be; that is its original and
true signification. But the most important question came at last
to be, how individuals were to have part in the glory of the
future? How was it with the martyrs who had died in the
expectation of the kingdom of God, before it came? The doctrine of
the _zakuth_ was formed: if their merit was not of service to
themselves, it was yet of service to others. But this was a
solution with which individualism could not rest content. And what
of the ungodly? Were they to escape from wrath because they
died before the day of judgment? It was necessary that the
departed also should be allowed to take some part in the coming
retribution. Thus there arose--it is remarkable how late and how
slowly--the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, that the
kingdom of God might not be of service only to those who happened
to be alive at the judgment. Yet at first this doctrine was only
used to explain particularly striking cases. The Book of Daniel
says nothing of a general resurrection, but speaks in fact only of
a resurrection of the martyrs and a punishment of the wicked after
death. With all this the resurrection is not the entrance to a
life above the earth but to a second earthly life, to a world in
which it is no longer the heathen but the Jews who bear rule and
take the lead. Of a general judgment at the last day, or of heaven
and hell in the Christian sense, the Jews know nothing, though
these ideas might so easily have suggested themselves to them.

It is not easy to find points of view from which to pronounce on
the character of Judaism. It is a system, but a practical system,
which can scarcely be set forth in relation to one leading
thought, as it is an irregular product of history. It lives on the
stores of the past, but is not simply the total of what had been
previously acquired; it is full of new impulses, and has an
entirely different physiognomy from that of Hebrew antiquity,
so much so that it is hard even to catch a likeness. Judaism is
everywhere historically comprehensible, and yet it is a mass of
antinomies. We are struck with the free flight of thought and the
deep inwardness of feeling which are found in some passages in the
Wisdom and in the Psalms; but, on the other hand, we meet with a
pedantic asceticism which is far from lovely, and with pious
wishes the greediness of which is ill-concealed; and these
unedifying features are the dominant ones of the system.
Monotheism is worked out to its furthest consequences, and at the
same time is enlisted in the service of the narrowest selfishness;
Israel participates in the sovereignty of the One God. The
Creator of heaven and earth becomes the manager of a petty scheme
of salvation; the living God descends from His throne to make way
for the law. The law thrusts itself in everywhere; it commands
and blocks up the access to heaven; it regulates and sets limits
to the understanding of the divine working on earth. As far as it
can, it takes the soul out of religion and spoils morality. It
demands a service of God, which, though revealed, may yet with truth
be called a self-chosen and unnatural one, the sense and use of which
are apparent neither to the understanding nor the heart. The labour
is done for the sake of the exercise; it does no one any good, and
rejoices neither God nor man. It has no inner aim after which it
spontaneously strives and which it hopes to attain by itself, but
only an outward one, namely, the reward attached to it, which
might as well be attached to other and possibly even more curious
conditions. The ideal is a negative one, to keep one's self from
sin, not a positive one, to do good upon the earth; the morality
is one which scarcely requires for its exercise the existence of
fellow-creatures. Now pious exercises can dam up life and hold it
in bounds, they may conquer from it more and more ground, and at
last turn it into one great Sabbath, but they cannot penetrate it
at the root. The occupation of the hands and the desire of the
heart fall asunder. What the hands are doing has nothing in common
with the earth, and bears no reference to earthly objects; but
with the Jews the result of this is that their hope assumes a more
worldly complexion. There is no connection between the Good One
and goodness. There are exceptions, but they disappear in the

The Gospel develops hidden impulses of the Old Testament, but it is
a protest against the ruling tendency of Judaism. Jesus understands
monotheism in a different way from his contemporaries. They think
in connection with it of the folly of the heathen and their great
happiness in calling the true God their own; He thinks of the claims,
not to be disputed or avoided, which the Creator makes on the creature.
He feels the reality of God dominating the whole of life, He breathes
in the fear of the Judge who requires an account for every idle word,
and has power to destroy body and soul in hell. "No man can serve two
masters; ye cannot serve God and Mammon; where your treasure is, there
will your heart be also." This monotheism is not to be satisfied with
stipulated services, how many and great soever; it demands the whole
man, it renders doubleness of heart and hypocrisy impossible. Jesus
casts ridicule on the works of the law, the washing of hands and
vessels, the tithing of mint and cummin, the abstinence even from
doing good on the Sabbath. Against unfruitful self-sanctification
He sets up another principle of morality, that of the service of one's
neighbour. He rejects that lofty kind of goodness, which says to father
and mother, If I dedicate what I might give to you, that will be best
even for you yourselves; He contends for the weightier matters in the
law, for the common morality which sees its aim in the furtherance of
the well-being of others, and which commends itself at once to the
heart of every one. Just this natural morality of self-surrender
does He call the law of God; that supernatural morality which thinks
to outbid this, He calls the commandment of men. Thus religion
ceases to be an art which the Rabbis and Pharisees understand better
than the unlearned people which know nothing of the law. The
arrogance of the school fares ill at the hands of Jesus; He will
know nothing of the partisanship of piety or of the separateness
of the godly; He condemns the practice of judging a man's value
before God. Holiness shrinks from contact with sinners, but He
helps the world of misery and sin; and there is no commandment
on which He insists more than that of forgiving others their debts
as one hopes for forgiveness himself from heaven. He is most
distinctly opposed to Judaism in His view of the kingdom of heaven,
not as merely the future reward of the worker, but as the present
goal of effort, it being the supreme duty of man to help it to
realise itself on earth, from the individual outwards. Love is
the means, and the community of love the end.

Self-denial is the chief demand of the Gospel; it means the same
thing as that repentance which must precede entrance into the
kingdom of God. The will thereby breaks away from the chain of
its own acts, and makes an absolutely new beginning not conditioned
by the past. The causal nexus which admits of being traced comes
here to an end, and the mutual action, which cannot be analysed,
between God and the soul begins. Miracle does not require to be
understood, only to be believed, in order to take place. With men
it is impossible, but with God it is possible. Jesus not only
affirmed this, but proved it in His own person. The impression of
His personality convinced the disciples of the fact of the
forgiveness of their sins and of their second birth, and gave them
courage to believe in a new divine life and to live it. He had in
fact lost His life and saved it; He could do as he would. He had
escaped the limits of the race and the pains of self-seeking
nature; He had found freedom and personality in God, who alone is
master of Himself, and lifts those up to Himself who seek after

Jesus works in the world and for the world, but with His faith He
stands above the world and outside it. He can sacrifice Himself
for the world because He asks nothing from the world, but has
attained in retirement with God to equanimity and peace of soul.
And further, the entirely supra-mundane position, at which Jesus
finds courage and love to take an interest in the world, does not
lead Him to anything strained or unnatural. He trusts God's
Providence, and resigns Himself to His will, He takes up the
attitude of a child towards Him, and loves best to call Him the
Heavenly Father. The expression is simple, but the thing
signified is new. He first knows Himself, not in emotion but in
sober quietness, to be God's child; before Him no one ever felt
himself to be so, or called himself so. He is the first-born of
the Father, yet, according to His own view, a first-born among
many brethren. For He stands in this relation to God not because
His nature is unique, but because He is man; He uses always and
emphatically this general name of the race to designate His own
person. In finding the way to God for Himself He has opened it to
all; along with the nature of God He has at the same time
discovered in Himself the nature of man.

Eternity extends into the present with Him, even on earth He lives
in the midst of the kingdom of God; even the judgment He sees
inwardly accomplished here below in the soul of man. Yet He is
far from holding the opinion that he who loves God aright does not
desire that God should love him in return. He teaches men to bear
the cross, but he does not teach that the cross is sweet and that
sickness is sound. A coming reconciliation between believing and
seeing, between morality and nature, everywhere forms the
background of His view of the world; even if He could have done
without it for His own person, yet it is a thing He takes for
granted, as it is an objective demand of righteousness. So much is
certain; for the rest the eschatology of the New Testament is so
thoroughly saturated with the Jewish ideas of the disciples, that
it is difficult to know what of it is genuine.

Jesus was so full of new and positive ideas that He did not feel
any need for breaking old idols, so free that no constraint could
depress Him, so unconquerable that even under the load of the
greatest accumulations of rubbish He could still breathe. This
ought ye to do, He said, and not to leave the other undone; He did
not seek to take away one iota, but only to fulfil. He never
thought of leaving the Jewish community. The Church is not His
work, but an inheritance from Judaism to Christianity. Under the
Persian domination the Jews built up an unpolitical community on
the basis of religion. The Christians found themselves in a
position with regard to the Roman Empire precisely similar to that
which the Jews had occupied with regard to the Persian; and so
they also founded, after the Jewish pattern, in the midst of the
state which was foreign and hostile to them, and in which they
could not feel themselves at home, a religious community as
their true fatherland. The state is always the presupposition of
the Church; but it was at first, in the case both of the Jewish
and of the Christian Church, a foreign state. The original meaning
of the Church thus disappeared when it no longer stood over against
the heathen world-power, it having become possible for the
Christians also to possess a natural fatherland in the nation.
In this way it became much more difficult to define accurately the
spheres of the state and the Church respectively, regarding the
Church as an organisation, not as an invisible community of the
faithful. The distinction of religious and secular is a variable
one; every formation of a religious community is a step towards
the secularisation of religion; the religion of the heart alone
remains an inward thing. The tasks of the two competing
organisations are not radically different in their nature; on the
one side it may be said that had not the Christian religion found
civil order already in existence, had it come, like Islam, in
contact with the anarchy of Arabia instead of the Empire of Rome
it must have founded not the Church, but the state; on the other
side it is well known that the state has everywhere entered into
possession of fields first reclaimed to cultivation by the Church.
Now we must acknowledge that the nation is more certainly created
by God than the Church, and that God works more powerfully in the
history of the nations than in Church history. The Church, at
first a substitute for the nation which was wanting, is affected by
the same evils incident to an artificial cultivation as meet us in
Judaism. We cannot create for ourselves our sphere of life and
action; better that it should be a natural one, given by God.
And yet it would be unjust to deny the permanent advantages of
the differentiation of the two. The Church will always be able
to work in advance for the state of the future. The present state
unfortunately is in many respects only nothing more than a barrier
to chaos; if the Church has still a task, it is that of preparing
an inner unity of practical conviction, and awakening a sentiment,
first in small circles, that we belong to each other.

Whether she is to succeed in this task is certainly the question.
The religious individualism of the Gospel is, and must remain for
all time, the true salt of the earth. The certainty that neither
death nor life can separate us from the love of God drives out that
fear which is opposed to love; an entirely supra-mundane faith
lends courage for resultless self-sacrifice and resigned obedience
on earth. We must succeed: _sursum corda_!


Palestine fell into Alexander's possession in 332; after his death
it had an ample share of the troubles arising out of the partition
of his inheritance. In 320 it was seized by Ptolemy I., who on a
Sabbath-day took Jerusalem; but in 3I5 he had to give way before
Antigonus. Even before the battle of Ipsus, however, he recovered
possession once more, and for a century thereafter Southern Syria
continued to belong to the Egyptian crown, although the Seleucidae
more than once sought to wrench it away.

In the priestly dynasty during the period of the Ptolemies, Onias
I. ben Jaddua was succeeded by his son Simon I., after whom
again came first his brothers Eleazar and Manasseh, and next his
son Onias II.; the last-named was in his turn followed by his son
Simon II., whose praises are sung by the son of Sirach (xlix. 14-16).
At the side of the high priest stood the gerusia of the town of
Jerusalem, as a council of state, including the higher ranks of the
priesthood. The new sovereign power was at once stronger and
juster than the Persian,--at least under the earlier Ptolemies;
the power of the national government increased; to it was
intrusted the business of raising the tribute.

As a consequence of the revolutionary changes which had taken
place in the conditions of the whole East, the Jewish dispersion
(diaspora) began vigorously to spread. It dated its beginning
indeed from an earlier period,--from the time when the Jews had lost
their land and kingdom, but yet, thanks to their religion, could
not part with their nationality. They did not by any means all
return from Babylon; perhaps the majority permanently settled
abroad. The successors of Alexander (diadochi) fully appreciated
this international element, and used it as a link between their
barbarian and Hellenic populations. Everywhere they encouraged
the settlement of Jews,--in Asia Minor, in Syria, and especially
in Egypt. Alongside of the Palestinian there arose a Hellenistic
Judaism which had its metropolis in Alexandria. Here, under
Ptolemy I. and II., the Torah had already been translated into
Greek, and around this sprung up a Jewish-Greek literature which
soon became very extensive. At the court and in the army of the
Ptolemies many Jews rose to prominent positions; everywhere they
received the preference over, and everywhere they in consequence
earned the hatred of, the indigenous population.

After the death of Ptolemy IV. (205) Antiochus III. attained the
object towards which he and his predecessors had long been vainly
striving; after a war protracted with varying success through
several years, he succeeded at last in incorporating Palestine with
the kingdom of the Seleucidae. The Jews took his side, less perhaps
because they had become disgusted with the really sadly
degenerate Egyptian rule, than because they had foreseen the issue
of the contest, and preferred to attach themselves voluntarily to
the winning side. In grateful acknowledgment, Antiochus
confirmed and enlarged certain privileges of the "holy camp,"
i.e., of Jerusalem (Josephus, Antiquities, xii. 3, 3). It soon,
however, became manifest that the Jews had made but a poor bargain
in this exchange. Three years after his defeat at Magnesia,
Antiochus III. died (187), leaving to his son Seleucus IV. an immense
burden of debt, which he had incurred by his unprosperous Roman
war. Seleucus, in his straits, could not afford to be over-scrupulous
in appropriating money where it was to be found: he did not need to
be twice told that the wealth of the temple at Jerusalem was out of
all proportion to the expenses of the sacrificial service. The
sacred treasure accordingly made the narrowest possible escape
from being plundered; Heliodorus, who had been charged by the
king to seize it, was deterred at the last moment by a heavenly
vision. But the Jews derived no permanent advantage from this.

It was a priest of rank, Simon by name, who had called the
attention of the king to the temple treasure; his motive had been
spite against the high priest Onias III., the son and successor of
Simon II. The circumstance is one indication of a melancholy
process of disintegration that was at that time going on within the
hierocracy. The high-priesthood, although there were exceptional
cases, such as that of Simon II., was regarded less as a sacred
office than as a profitable princedom; within the ranks of the
priestly nobility arose envious and jealous factions; personal
advancement was sought by means of the favour of the overlord, who
had something to say in the making of appointments. A collateral
branch of the ruling family, that of the children of Tobias, had by
means of the ill-gotten wealth of Joseph ben Tobias attained to a
position of ascendancy, and competed in point of power with the
high priest himself. It appears that the above-mentioned Simon,
and his still more scandalous brother AIenelaus, also belonged to
the Tobiadae, and, relying upon the support of their powerful party
(Josephus, Antiquities, xii. 5, 1), cherished the purpose of securing
the high-priesthood by the aid of the Syrian king.

The failure of the mission of Heliodorus was attributed by Simon
to a piece of trickery on the part of Onias the high priest, who
accordingly found himself called upon to make his own
justification at court and to expose the intrigues of his
adversary. Meanwhile Seleucus IV. died of poison (175), and
Antiochus IV. Epiphanes did not confirm Onias in his dignity,
but detained him in Antioch, while he made over the office to his
brother Jason, who had offered a higher rent. Possibly the
Tobiadae also had something to do with this arrangement; at all
events, Menelaus was at the outset the right hand of the new high
priest. To secure still further the favour of the king, Jason held
himself out to be an enlightened friend of the Greeks, and begged
for leave to found in Jerusalem a gymnasium and an ephebeum, and to
be allowed to sell to the inhabitants there the rights of citizenship
in Antioch,--a request which was readily granted.

The malady which had long been incubating now reached its acute
phase. Just in proportion as Hellenism showed itself friendly did
it present elements of danger to Judaism. From the periphery it
slowly advanced towards the centre, from the diaspora to
Jerusalem, from mere matters of external fashion to matters of the
most profound conviction. /1/ Especially did the upper and cultivated

1. The Hellenising fashion is amusingly exemplified in the Grecising
of the Jewish names; e.g., Alcimus = Eljakim, Jason = Jesus, Joshua;
Menelaus = Menahem.

classes of society begin to feel ashamed, in presence of the
refined Greeks, of their Jewish singularity, and to do all in
their power to tone it down and conceal it. In this the priestly
nobility made itself conspicuous as the most secular section of
the community, and it was the high priest who took the initiative
in measures which aimed at a complete Hellenising of the Jews. He
outdid every one else in paganism. Once he sent a considerable
present for offerings to the Syrian Hercules on the occasion of his
festival; but his messenger, ashamed to apply the money to such
a purpose, set it apart for the construction of royal ships of war.

The friendship shown by Jason for the Greek king and for all that
was Hellenic did not prevent Antiochus IV. from setting pecuniary
considerations before all others. Menelaus, intrusted with the
mission of conveying to Antioch the annual Jewish tribute, availed
himself of the opportunity to promote his own personal interests
by offering a higher sum for the high-priesthood, and having
otherwise ingratiated himself with the king, gained his object
(171). But though nominated, he did not find it quite easy to
obtain possession of the post. The Tobiadae took his side, but the
body of the people stuck to Jason, who was compelled to give way
only when Syrian troops had been brought upon the scene. Menelaus
had immediately, however, to encounter another difficulty, for he
could not at once pay the amount of tribute which he had promised.
He helped himself so far indeed by robbing the temple, but this
landed him in new embarrassments. Onias III., who was living out
of employment at Antioch, threatened to make compromising revelations
to the king; he was, however, opportunely assassinated.
The rage of the people against the priestly temple-plunderer now
broke out in a rising against a certain Lysimachus, who at the
instance of the absent Menelaus had made further inroads upon the
sacred treasury. The Jews' defence before the king (at Tyre) on
account of this uproar resolved itself into a grievous complaint
against the conduct of Menelaus. His case was a bad one, but money
again helped him out of his straits, and the extreme penalty of the
law fell upon his accusers.

The feelings of the Jews with reference to this wolfish shepherd
may easily be imagined. Nothing but fear of Antiochus held them
in check. Then a report gained currency that the king had
perished in an expedition against Egypt (170); and Jason, who
meanwhile had found refuge in Ammanitis, availed himself of the
prevailing current of feeling to resume his authority with the
help of one thousand men. He was not able, however, to hold the
position long, partly because he showed an unwise vindictiveness
against his enemies, partly (and chiefly) because the rumour of
the death of Antiochus turned out to be false. The king was
already, in fact, close at hand on his return from Egypt, full of
anger at an insurrection which he regarded as having been directed
against himself. He inflicted severe and bloody chastisement
upon Jerusalem, carried off the treasures of the temple, and
restored Menelaus, placing Syrian officials at his side. Jason
fled from place to place, and ultimately died in misery at

The deepest despondency prevailed in Judaea; but its cup of
sorrow was not yet full. Antiochus, probably soon after his last
Egyptian expedition (168), sent Apollonius with an army against
Jerusalem. He fell upon the unsuspecting city, disarmed the
inhabitants and demolished the walls, but on the other hand
fortified Acra, and garrisoned it strongly, so as to make it a
standing menace to the whole country. Having thus made his
preparations, he proceeded to carry out his main instructions.
All that was religiously distinctive of Judaism was to be removed;
such was the will of the king. The Mosaic cultus was abolished,
Sabbath observance and the rite of circumcision prohibited, all
copies of the Torah confiscated and burnt. In the desecrated and
partially-destroyed temple pagan ceremonies were performed, and
upon the great altar of burnt-offering a small altar to Jupiter
Capitolinus was erected, on which the first offering was made on
25th Kislev 168. In the country towns also heathen altars were
erected, and the Jews compelled, on pain of death, publicly to
adore the false gods and to eat swine's flesh that had been
sacrificed to idols.

The princes and grandees of the Jews had represented to Antiochus
that the people were ripe for Hellenisation; and inasmuch as,
apart from this, to reduce to uniformity the extremely motley
constituents of his kingdom was a scheme that lay near his heart,
he was very willing to believe them. That the very opposite was
the case must of course have become quite evident very soon; but
the resistance of the Jews taking the form of rebellious risings
against his creatures, he fell upon the hopeless plan of
coercion,--hopeless, for he could attain his end only by making
all Judaea one vast graveyard. There existed indeed a pagan party;
the Syrian garrison of Acra was partly composed of Jews who sold
themselves to be the executioners of their countrymen. Fear also
influenced many to deny their convictions; but the majority
adhered firmly to the religion of their fathers. Jerusalem,
the centre of the process of Hellenisation, was abandoned by its
inhabitants, who made their escape to Egypt, or hid themselves in
the country, in deserts and caves. The scribes in especial held
fast by the law; and they were joined by the party of the
Asidaeans (i.e., pious ones).


At first there was no thought of meeting violence with violence;
as the Book of Daniel shows, people consoled themselves with
thoughts of the immediate intervention of God which would occur in
due time. Quite casually, without either plan or concert, a
warlike opposition arose. There was a certain priest Mattathias,
of the family of the Hasmonaeans, a man far advanced in life,
whose home was in Modein, a little country town to the west of
Jerusalem. Hither also the Syrian soldiers came to put the
population to a positive proof of their change of faith; they
insisted upon Mattathias leading the way. But he was steadfast in
his refusal; and, when another Jew addressed himself before his
eyes to the work of making the heathen offering, he killed him and
the Syrian officer as well, and destroyed the altar. Thereupon he
fled to the hill country, accompanied by his sons (Johannes Gaddi,
Simon Thassi, Judas Maccabaeus, Eleazar Auaran, Jonathan Apphus)
and other followers. But he resolved to defend himself to the
last, and not to act as some other fugitives had done, who about
the same time had allowed themselves to be surrounded and butchered
on a Sabbath-day without lifting a finger. Thus he became the head
of a band which defended the ancestral religion with the sword.
They traversed the country, demolished the altars of the false gods,
circumcised the children, and persecuted the heathen and heathenishly
disposed. The sect of the Asidaeans also intrusted itself to their
warlike protection (1Maccabees ii. 42).

Mattathias soon died and left his leadership to Judas Maccabaeus,
by whom the struggle was carried on in the first instance after
the old fashion; soon, however, it assumed larger dimensions, when
regular armies were sent out against the insurgents. First
Apollonius, the governor of Judaea, took the field; but he was
defeated and fell in battle. Next came Seron, governor of
Ccelesyria, who also was routed near Bethhoron (I66). Upon this
Lysias, the regent to whom Antiochus IV., who was busied in the far
east, had intrusted the government of Syria and the charge of his
son, Antiochus Philopator, a minor, sent a strong force under the
command of three generals. Approaching from the west, it was their
design to advance separately upon Jerusalem, but Judas anticipated
their plan and compelled them to quit the field (166). The regent
now felt himself called on to interpose in person. Invading Judaea
from the south, he encountered the Jews at Bethsur, who, however,
offered an opposition that was not easily overcome; he was
prevented from resorting to the last measures by the intelligence
which reached him of the death of the king in Elymais (165).

The withdrawal of Lysias secured the fulfilment of the desires of
the defenders of the faith in so far as it now enabled them to
restore the Jerusalem worship to its previous condition. They
lost no time in setting about the accomplishment of this. They
were not successful indeed in wresting Acra from the possession of
the Syrians, but they so occupied the garrison as to prevent it
from interfering with the work of restoration. On 25th Kislev 165,
the very day on which, three years before, "the abomination of
desolation" had been inaugurated, the first sacrifice was offered
on the new altar, and in commemoration of this the feast of the
dedication was thenceforth celebrated.

As it was easy to see that danger still impended, the temple was
put into a state of defence, as also was the town of Bethsur, where
Lysias had been checked. But the favourable moment presented by
the change of sovereign was made use of for still bolder attempts.
Scattered over the whole of Southern Syria there were a number of
Jewish localities on which the heathens now proceeded to wreak
their vengeance.

For the purpose of rescuing these oppressed co-religionists, and of
bringing them in safety to Judaea, the Maccabees made a series of
excursions, extending in some cases as far as to Lebanon and
Damascus. Lysias had his hands otherwise fully occupied, and
perhaps did not feel much disposed to continue the fight on behalf
of the cultus of Jupiter Capitolinus. Daily gaining in boldness,
the Jews now took in hand also to lay regular siege to Acra. Then
at last Lysias yielded to the pressure of Syrian and Jewish
deputations and determined to take serious steps (162). With a
large force he entered Judaea, again from the south, and laid siege
to Bethsur. Judas vainly attempted the relief of the fortress;
he sustained near Bethzachariah a defeat in which his brother Eleazar
perished. Bethsur was unable to hold out, being short of provisions
on account of the sabbatic year. The Syrians advanced next to Jerusalem
and besieged the temple; it also was insufficiently provisioned, and
would soon have been compelled to surrender, had not Lysias been again
called away at the critical moment by other exigencies. A certain
Philip was endeavouring to oust him from the regency; as it was
necessary for him to have his hands free in dealing with this new
enemy, he closed a treaty with the temple garrison and the people at
large, in accordance with which at once the political subjection
and the religious freedom of the Jews were to be maintained; Thus
the situation as it had existed before Antiochus IV. was restored.
Only no attempt was made to replace Menelaus as high priest and
ethnarch; this post was to be filled by Alcimus.

The concessions thus made by Lysias were inevitable; and even
King Demetrius I., son of Seleucus IV., who towards the end of 162
ascended the throne and caused both Lysias and his ward to be put
to death, had no thought of interfering with their religious
freedom. But the Maccabees desired something more than the _status
quo ante_; after having done their duty they were disinclined to
retire in favour of Alcimus, whose sole claim lay in his descent
from the old heathenishly-disposed high-priestly family. Alcimus
was compelled to invoke the assistance of the king, who caused him
to be installed by Bacchides. He was at once recognised by the
scribes and Asidaeans, for whom, with religious liberty, everything
they wished had been secured; the claims to supremacy made by
the Hasmonaeans were of no consequence to them. Doubtless the
masses also would ultimately have quietly accepted Alcimus, who of
course refrained from interference with either law or worship, had
he not abused the momentary power he derived from the presence of
Bacchides to take a foolish revenge. But the consequence of his
action was that, as soon as Bacchides had turned his back, Alcimus
was compelled to follow him. For the purpose of restoring him a
Syrian army once more invaded Judaea under Nicanor (I60), but
first at Kapharsalama and afterwards at Bethhoron was defeated by
Judas, and almost annihilated in the subsequent flight, Nicanor
himself being among the slain (13th Adar = Nicanor's day). Judas
was now at the acme of his prosperity; about this time he concluded
his (profitless) treaty with the Romans. But disaster was impending.


Back to Full Books