Prolegomena to the History of Israel
Julius Wellhausen

Part 13 out of 13

In the month of Nisan, barely a month after the defeat of Nicanor,
a new Syrian army under Bacchides entered Judaea from the north;
near Elasa, southward from Jerusalem, a decisive battle was fought
which was lost by Judas, and in which he himself fell.

The religious war properly so called had already been brought
once for all to an end by the convention of Lysias. If the
struggle continued to be carried on, it was not for the faith but
for the supremacy,--less in the interests of the community than in
those of the Hasmonaeans. After the death of Judas the secular
character which the conflict had assumed ever since 162 continually
became more conspicuous. Jonathan Apphus fought for his house, and
in doing so used thoroughly worldly means. The high-priesthood,
i.e., the ethnarchy, was the goal of his ambition. So long as
Alcimus lived, it was far from his reach. Confined to the rocky
fastnesses beside the Dead Sea, he had nothing for it but,
surrounded by his faithful followers, to wait for better times.
But on the death of Alcimus (159) the Syrians refrained from
appointing a successor, to obviate the necessity of always having
to protect him with military force. During the interregnum of
seven years which followed, Jonathan again came more and more to
the front, so that at last Bacchides concluded an armistice with
him on the basis of the _status quo_ (1Maccabees ix. 13). From his
residence at Michmash Jonathan now exercised a _de facto_ authority
over the entire nation.

When accordingly Alexander Balas, a reputed son of Antiochus IV.,
rose against Demetrius, both rivals exerted themselves to secure
the alliance of Jonathan, who did not fail to benefit by their
competition. First of all, Demetrius formally recognised him as
prince of Judah; in consequence of this he removed to Jerusalem,
and expelled the heathen and heathenishly disposed, who continued
to maintain a footing only in Acra and Bethsur. Next Alexander
Balas conferred on him the title of "high priest of the nation
and friend of the king;" in gratitude for which Jonathan went
over to his side (152). He remained loya], although Demetrius
now made larger offers; he was justified by the event, for
Demetrius I. had the worst of it and was slain (150). The
victorious Balas heaped honours upon Jonathan, who maintained
his fidelity, and fought successfully in his interests when
in I47 Demetrius II., the son of Demetrius I., challenged a
conflict. The high priest was unable indeed to prevent the
downfall of Alexander in 145; but Demetrius II., won by presents,
far from showing any hostility, confirmed him in his position
in consideration of a tribute of 300 talents.

Jonathan was grateful to the king, as he showed by going with 3000
men to his aid against the insurgent Antiochenes. But when the
latter drew back from his promise to withdraw the garrison from
Acra, he went over to the side of Trypho, who had set up a son of
Alexander Balas (Antiochus) as a rival. In the war which he now
waged as Seleucid-strategus against Demetrius he succeeded in
subduing almost the whole of Palestine. Meanwhile his brother
Simon remained behind in Judaea, mastered the fortress of Bethsur,
and resumed with great energy the siege of Acra. All this was
done in the names of Antiochus and Trypho, but really of course in
the interests of the Jews themselves. There were concluded also
treaties with the Romans and Lacedaemonians, certainly not to
the advantage of the Syrians.

Trypho sought now to get rid of the man whom he himself had made
so powerful. He treacherously seized and imprisoned Jonathan in
Ptolemais, and meditated an attack upon the leaderless country.
But on the frontier Simon, the last remaining son of Mattathias,
met him in force. All Trypho's efforts to break through proved
futile; after skirting all Judaea from west to south, without
being able to get clear of Simon, he at last withdrew to Peraea
without having accomplished anything. On the person of Jonathan,
whom he caused to be executed, he vented the spleen he felt on the
discovery that the cause for which that prince had fought was able
to gain the victory even when deprived of his help. Simon, in
point of fact, was Jonathan's equal as a soldier and his superior
as a ruler. He secured his frontier by means of fortresses, made
himself master of Acra (141), and understood how to enable the
people in time of peace to reap the advantages that result from
successful war; agriculture, industry, and commerce (from the
haven of Joppa) began to flourish vigorously. In grateful
recognition of his services the high-priesthood and the ethnarchy
were bestowed upon him as hereditary possessions by a solemn
assembly of the people, "until a trustworthy prophet should

Nominally the Seleucidae still continued to possess the
suzerainty. Simon naturally had detached himself from Trypho
and turned to Demetrius II., who confirmed him in his position,
remitted all arrears of tribute, and waived his rights for the
future (142). The friendship of Demetrius II. and of his
successor Antiochus Sidetes with Simon, however, lasted only as
long as Trypho still remained in the way. But, he once removed,
Sidetes altered his policy. He demanded of Simon the surrender of
Joppa, Gazara, and other towns, besides the citadel of Jerusalem,
as well as payment of all tribute resting due. The refusal of
these demands led to war, which in its earlier stages was carried
on with success, but the scales were turned after the murder of
Simon, when Sidetes in person took the field against John Hyrcanus,
Simon's son and successor. Jerusalem capitulated; in the
negotiations for peace the surrender of all the external
possessions of the Jews was insisted upon; the suzerainty of the
Syrians became once more a reality (I35). But in 130 the powerful
Antiochus Sidetes fell in an expedition against the Parthians, and
the complications anew arising in reference to the succession to
the Syrian throne placed Hyrcanus in a position to recover what he
had lost and to make new acquisitions. He subjugated Samaria
and Idumaea, compelling the inhabitants of the latter to accept
circumcision. Like his predecessors, he too sought to secure the
favour of the Romans, but derived no greater benefit from the
effort than they had done. After a prosperous reign of thirty
years he died in 105. By Josephus he is represented as a pattern
of all that a pious prince ought to be; by the rabbins as
representing a splendid high-priesthood. The darkness of the
succeeding age lent a brighter colour to his image.

The external splendour of the Hasmonaean kingdom did not at once
die away,--the downfall of the Seleucidae, which was its negative
condition, being also a slow affair. Judah Aristobulus, the son
of Hyrcanus, who reigned for only one year, was the first to
assume the Greek title of royalty; Ituraea was subdued by him,
and circumcision forced upon the inhabitants. His brother Jonathan
(Jannaeus) Alexander (104-79), in a series of continual wars,
which were never very prosperous, never-theless succeeded in adding
the whole coast of Philistia (Gaza) as well as a great portion of
Peraea to his hereditary dominions. /1/

1. A number of half-independent towns and communes lay as tempting
subjects of dispute between the Seleucidae, the Nabathaeans or
Arabs of Petra, and the Jews. The background was occupied by the
Parthians and the Romans.

But the external enlargement of the structure was secured at the cost
of its internal consistency.

From the time when Jonathan, the son of Mattathias, began to carry
on the struggle no longer for the cause of God but for his own
interests, the scribes and the Asidaeans, as we have seen, had
withdrawn themselves from the party of the Maccabees There can
be no doubt that from their legal standpoint they were perfectly
right in contenting themselves, as they did, with the attainment
of religious liberty, and in accepting Alcimus. The Hasmonaeans
had no hereditary right to the high-priesthood, and their
politics, which aimed at the establishment of a national monarchy,
were contrary to the whole spirit and essence of the second
theocracy. The presupposition of that theocracy was foreign
domination; in no other way could its sacred--i.e., clerical--
character be maintained. God and the law could not but be
forced into the background if a warlike kingdom, retaining indeed
the forms of a hierocracy, but really violating its spirit at
every point, should ever grow out of a mere pious community.
Above all, how could the scribes hope to retain their importance
if temple and synagogue were cast into the shade by politics and
clash of arms? But under the first great Hasmonaeans the
zealots for the law were unable to force their way to the front;
the enthusiasm of the people was too strong for them; they had
nothing for it but to keep themselves out of the current and refuse
to be swept along by it. Even under Hyrcanus, however, they
gained more prominence, and under Jannaeus their influence upon
popular opinion was paramount. For under the last-named the
secularisation of the hierocracy no longer presented any
attractive aspects; it was wholly repellent. It was looked upon
as a revolting anomaly that the king, who was usually in the
field with his army, should once and again assume the sacred mantle
in order to perform the sacrifice on some high festival, and that
his officers, profane persons as they were, should at the same
time be holders of the highest spiritual offices. The danger which
in all this threatened "the idea of Judaism" could not in these
circumstances escape the observation of even the common people; for
this idea was God and the law, not any earthly fatherland. The
masses accordingly ranged themselves with ever-growing unanimity
on the side of the Pharisees (i.e., the party of the scribes) as
against the Sadducees (i.e., the Hasmonaean party). /1/

1. PRW# means "separated," and refers perhaps to the attitude of
isolation taken by the zealots for the law during the interval
between 162 and 105. CDWQY (*SADDOUKAIOS) comes from CDWQ (*SADDOUK,
LXX.) the ancestor of the higher priesthood of Jerusalem (1Kings ii.
35; 1Samuel ii. 35; Ezekiel xliv. 15), and designates the
governing nobility. The original character of the opposition, as
it appeared under Jannaeus, changed entirely with the lapse of
time, on account of the Sadducees' gradual loss of political
power, till they fell at last to the condition of a sort of "fronde."

On one occasion, when Alexander Jannaeus had returned to Jerusalem
at the feast of tabernacles, and was standing in his priestly
vestments before the altar to sacrifice, he was pelted by the
assembled crowd of worshippers with citrons from the green branches
they carried. By the cruelty with which he punished this insult
he excited the populace to the highest pitch, and, when he lost
his army in the disaster of Gadara, rebellion broke out. The
Pharisees summoned the Syrian king Demetrius Eucaerus; Jannaeus
was worsted and fled into the desert. But as he wandered in
helplessness there, the patriotism of the people and sympathy for
the heir of the Maccabees suddenly awoke; nature proved itself
stronger than that consistency which in the cause of the Divine
honour had not shrunk from treason. The insurgents for the most
part went over to the side of the fugitive king; the others he
ultimately overpowered after a struggle which lasted through
several years, Demetrius having withdrawn his intervention. The
vengeance which he took on the Pharisees was a bloody one; their
only escape was by voluntary exile. Thenceforward he had peace
so far as they were concerned. His last years were occupied with
the reacquisition of the conquests which he had been compelled to
yield to the Arabs during the civil war. He died in the field
at the siege of Ragaba in Peraea (79).

Under Queen Salome, his widow, matters were as if they had been
specially arranged for the satisfaction of the Pharisees. The
high-priesthood passed to Salome's son, Hyrcanus II.; she herself
was only queen. In the management of external affairs her
authority was absolute (Antiquities, xiii. 16, 6); in home policy
she permitted the scribes to wield a paramount influence. The
common assertion, indeed, that the synedrium was at that time
practically composed of scribes, is inconsistent with the known
facts of the case; the synedrium at that time was a political
and not a scholastic authority. /1/

1. Kuenen, "Over de Samenstelling van het Sanhedrin," in
Proceedings of Royal Netherl. Acad., 1866.

In its origin it was the municipal council of Jerusalem (so also
the councils of provincial towns are called synedria, Mark xiii. 9),
but its authority extended over the entire Jewish community;
alongside of the elders of the city the ruling priests were those
who had the greatest number of seats and votes. John Hyrcanus
appears to have been the first to introduce some scribes into its
composition; it is possible that Salome may have increased their
number, but even so this high court was far from being changed into
a college of scribes like that at Jamnia. If the domination of the
Pharisees at this time is spoken of, the expression cannot be
understood as meaning that they already held all the public
offices, but only at most that the holders of those offices found
it necessary to administer and to judge in their spirit and
according to their fundamental principles.

The party of the Sadducees (consisting of the old Hasmonaean
officers and officials, who were of priestly family indeed, but
attached only slight importance to their priestly functions) at
length lost all patience. Led by Aristobulus, the second son of
Jannaeus, the leaders of the party came to the palace, and begged
the queen to dismiss them from the court and to send them into the
provinces. There they were successful in securing possession of
several fortresses /2/ in preparation for insurrection, a favourable

2. Alexandrium, Coreae, and similar citadels, which were at that
time of great importance for Palestine and Syria.

opportunity for which they were watching. Such an opportunity
occurred, it seemed to Aristobulus, as his mother lay on her
death-bed. The commandants of the fortresses were at his orders,
and by their assistance an army also, with which he accordingly
advanced upon Jerusalem, and, on the death of Salome, made himself
master of the situation (69). Hyrcanus was compelled to resign
office. With this event the good understanding between the civil
government and the Pharisees came to an end; the old antagonisms
became active once more, and now began to operate for the advantage
of a third party, the Idumaean Antipater, Hyrcanus's confidential
friend. After the latter, aided by Antipater, had at length with
great difficulty got himself into a position for asserting his
rights against Aristobulus, the Pharisees could not do otherwise
than rank themselves upon his side, and the masses joined them
against the usurper. With the help of the Nabataean monarch the
effort to restore the elder brother to the supreme authority would
doubtless have succeeded had not the Romans procured relief for
Aristobulus, besieged as he was in Jerusalem (65), though without
thereby recognising his claims. Pompey continued to delay a decision
on the controversy in 64 also when the rival claimants presented
themselves before him at Damascus; he wished first to have the
Nabataeans disposed of, and to have free access to them through
Judaea. This hesitation roused the suspicions of Aristobulus;
still he did not venture to take decisive action upon them. He
closed the passes (to Mount Ephraim) against the Romans, but
afterwards gave them up; he prepared Jerusalem for war, and then
went in person to the Roman camp at Jericho, where he promised
to open the gates of the city and also to pay a sum of money.
But the Roman ambassadors found the gates barred, and had to
return empty-handed. Aristobulus thereupon was arrested, and
siege was laid to Jerusalem. The party of Hyrcanus, as soon
as it had gained the upper hand, surrendered the town; but the
supporters of Aristobulus took their stand in the temple, and
defended it obstinately. In June 63 the place was carried by
storm; Pompey personally inspected the Holy of Holies, but
otherwise spared the religious feelings of the Jews. But he
caused the chief promoters of the war to be executed, and carried
Aristobulus and his family into captivity. He abolished the
kingship, but restored the high-priestly dignity to Hyrcanus.
The territory was materially reduced in area, and made tributary
to the Romans; the city was occupied by a Roman garrison.


Henceforward Roman intervention forms a constant disturbing factor
in Jewish history. The struggle between the Pharisees and the
Sadducees continued indeed to be carried on, but only because the
momentum of their old feud was not yet exhausted. The Pharisees in
a sense had been victorious. While the two brothers were pleading
their rival claims before Pompey, ambassadors from the Pharisees
had made their appearance in Damascus to petition for the abolition
of the kingship; this object had now to some extent been gained.
Less ambiguous than the victory of the Pharisees was the fall of
the Sadducees, who in losing the sovereignty of the Jewish state
lost all real importance. But the intervention of the foreign
element exercised its most powerful influence upon the temper of
the lower classes. Though in times of peace the masses still
continued to accept the guidance of the rabbins, their patriotism
instantly burst into flame as soon as a pretender to the throne,
belonging to the family of Aristobulus, appeared in Palestine.
During the decennia which immediately followed, Jewish history
was practically absorbed in vain attempts to restore the old
Hasmonaean kingdom. Insurrections of steadily increasing
dimensions were made in favour of Aristobulus, the representative
of the national cause. For Hyrcanus was not regarded as a
Hasmonaean at all, but merely as the creature of Antipater and the
Romans. First, in the year 57, Alexander the son of Aristobulus
broke into rebellion, then in 56 Aristobulus himself and his son
Antigonus, and in 55 Alexander again. Antipater was never able to
hold his own; Roman intervention was in every case necessary.
The division of the Hasmonaean state into five "aristocracies" by
Gabinius had no effect in diminishing the feeling of national unity
cherished by the Jews of Palestine. Once again, after the battle
of Carrhae, a rising took place, which Cassius speedily repressed.

In 49 the great Roman civil war broke out; Caesar instigated
Aristobulus against Antipater, who in common with the whole East
had espoused the cause of Pompey. But Aristobulus was poisoned by
the opposite party while yet in Italy, and about the same time his
son Alexander was also put to death at Antioch; thus the danger
to Antipater passed away. After the battle of Pharsalus he went
over to Caesar's side, and soon after rendered him an important
service by helping him out of his difficulties at Alexandria. By
this means he earned the good-will of Caesar towards the whole body
of the Jews and secured for himself (or Hyrcanus) a great extension
of power and of territory. The five "synedria" or "aristocracies"
of Gabinius were superseded, the most important conquest of the
Hasmonaeans restored, the walls of Jerusalem, which Pompey had razed,

However indisputable the advantages conferred by the rule of
Antipater, the Jews could not forget that the Idumaean, in name
of Hyrcanus, the rightful heir of the Hasmonaeans, was in truth
setting up an authority of his own. The Sadducaean aristocracy
in particular, which formerly in the synedrium had shared the
supreme power with the high priest, endeavoured to restore
reality once more to the nominal ascendancy which still continued
to be attributed to the ethnarch and the synedrium. "When the
authorities (hoi 'en telei) of the Jews saw how the power of
Antipater and his sons was growing, their disposition towards him
became hostile" (Josephus, Antiquities, xiv. 9, 3). They were
specially jealous of the youthful Herod, to whom Galilee had been
entrusted by his father. On account of the arbitrary execution
of a robber chief Ezechias, who perhaps had originally been a
Hasmonaean partisan, they summoned him before the synedrium,
under the impression that it was not yet too late to remind him
that he was after all but a servant. But the defiant demeanour
of the culprit, and a threatening missive which at the same time
arrived from Sextus Caesar demanding his acquittal, rendered his
judges speechless, nor did they regain their courage until they
had heard the stinging reproaches of Sameas the scribe. Yet the
aged Hyrcanus, who did not comprehend the danger that was
threatening himself, postponed judgment upon Herod, and gave him
opportunity to withdraw. Having been appointed strategus of
Coelesyria by Sextus Caesar in the meanwhile he soon afterwards
appeared before Jerusalem at the head of an army, and the
authorities were compelled to address themselves in a conciliatory
manner to his father and to Phasael his brother in order to secure
his withdrawal.

The attempt to crush the serpent which had thus effected a lodgment
in the Hasmonaean house came too late. The result of it simply
was that the Herodians had now the advantage of being able to
distinguish between Hyrcanus and his "evil counsellors." From that
moment the downfall of the Sadducaean notables was certain. It was
of no avail to them that after the battle of Philippi (42) they
accused Herod and Phasael (Antipater having been murdered in 43)
before Antony of having been helpful in every possible way to
Cassius; Antony declared himself in the most decisive manner for
the two brothers. In their despair--for properly speaking they
were not national fanatics but only egoistic politicians--they
ultimately made common cause with Antigonus the son of
Aristobulus, and threw themselves into the arms of the Parthians,
perceiving the interests of the Romans and of Herod to be
inseparable (40). Fortune at first seemed to have declared in
favour of the pretender. The masses unanimously took his side;
Phasael committed suicide in prison; with a single blow Herod was
stripped of all his following and made a helpless fugitive. He
took refuge in Rome, however, where he was named king of Judaea
by the senate, and after a somewhat protracted war he finally,
with the help of the legions of Sosius, made himself master of
Jerusalem (37). The captive Antigonus was beheaded at Antioch.

King Herod began his reign by reorganising the synedrium; he
ordered the execution of forty-five of its noblest members, his
most zealous opponents. These were the Sadducaean notables who
long had headed the struggle against the Idumaean interlopers.
Having thus made away with the leaders of the Jerusalem
aristocracy, he directed his efforts to the business of corrupting
the rest. He appointed to the most important posts obscure
individuals, of priestly descent, from Babylon and Alexandria,
and thus replaced with creatures of his own the old aristocracy.
Nor did he rest content with this; in order to preclude the
possibility of any independent authority ever arising alongside
of his own, he abolished the life-tenure of the high-priestly
office, and brought it completely under the control of the secular
power. By this means he succeeded in relegating the Sadducees to
utter insignificance. They were driven out of their native
sphere--the political--into the region of theoretical and
ecclesiastical discussion, where they continued, but on quite
unequal terms, their old dispute with the Pharisees.

It was during the period of Herod's activity that the Pharisees,
strictly speaking, enjoyed their greatest prosperity (Sameas and
Abtalion, Hillel and Shammai); in the synedrium they became so
numerous as almost to equal the priests and elders. Quite
consistently with their principles they had abstained from
taking any part in the life and death struggle for the existence
of the national state. Their leaders had even counselled the
fanatical defenders of Jerusalem to open the gates to the enemy;
for this service they were treated with the highest honour by Herod.
He made it part of his general policy to favour the Pharisees
(as also the sect of the Essenes, insignificant though it was),
it being his purpose to restrict the national life again within
those purely ecclesiastical channels of activity which it had
abandoned since the Maccabaean wars. However reckless his conduct
in other respects, he was always scrupulously careful to avoid
wounding religious susceptibilities (Antiquities, xiv. 16, 3).
But although the Pharisees might be quite pleased that the
high-priesthood and the kingship were no longer united in one
and the same person, and that interest in the law again overshadowed
interest in politics, the populace for their part could never
forgive Herod for overthrowing the old dynasty. That he himself,
at least in religious profession, was a Jew did not improve his
position, but rather made it worse. It was not easy for him to
stifle the national feeling after it had once been revived among
the Jews; they could not forget the recent past, and objected to
being thrust back into the time when foreign domination was endured
by them as a matter of course. The Romans were regarded in quite
a different light from that in which the Persians and the Greeks
had been viewed, and Herod was only the client of the Romans.

His greatest danger seemed to arise from the still surviving
members of the Hasmonaean family, to whom, as is easily
understood, the national hopes clung. In the course of the earlier
years of his reign he removed every one of them from his path,
beginning with his youthful brother-in-law Aristobulus (35), after
whom came his old patron Hyrcanus II. (30), then Mariamne his wife
(29), and finally his stepmother Alexandra (28), the daughter of
Hyrcanus and the widow of Alexander Aristobuli. Subsequently,
in 25, he caused Costobarus and the sons of Babas to be executed.
While thus occupied with domestic affairs, Herod had constant
trouble also in his external relations, and each new phase in his
political position immediately made itself felt at home. In the
first instance he had much to suffer from Cleopatra, who would
willingly have seen Palestine reduced under Egyptian domination
once more, and who actually succeeded in inducing Antony to take
from Herod several fair and valuable provinces of his realm. Next,
his whole position was imperilled by the result of the battle of
Actium; he had once more ranged himself upon the wrong side. But
his tact did not fail him in winning Octavianus, as before it had
made Antony his friend. In fact he reaped nothing but advantage
from the great overturn which took place in Roman affairs; it
rid him of Cleopatra, a dangerous enemy, and gave him in the new
imperator a much better master than before.

During the following years he had leisure to carry out those
splendid works of peace by which it was his aim to ingratiate
himself with the emperor. He founded cities and harbours
(Antipatris, Caesarea), constructed roads, theatres, and temples,
and subsidised far beyond his frontier all works of public utility.
He taxed the Jews heavily, but in compensation promoted their
material interests with energy and discretion, and built for them,
from 20 or 19 B.C. onwards, the temple at Jerusalem. To gain their
sympathies he well knew to be impossible. Apart from the Roman
legions at his back his authority had its main support in his
fortresses and in his system of espionage.

But just as the acme of his splendour had been reached, he himself
became the instrument of a terrible vengeance for the crimes by
which his previous years had been stained; as executioner of all
the Hasmonaeans, he was now constrained to be the executioner of
his own children also. His suspicious temper had been aroused
against his now grown-up sons by Mariamne, whose claims through
their mother to the throne were superior to his own; his brother
Pheroras and his sister Salome made it their special business to
fan his jealousy into flame. To show the two somewhat arrogant
youths that the succession was not so absolutely secure in their
favour as they were supposing, the father summoned to his court
Antipater, the exiled son of a former marriage. Antipater, under
the mask of friendship, immediately began to carry on infamous
intrigues against his half brothers, in which Pheroras and Salome
unconsciously played into his hands. For years he persevered
alike in favouring and unfavouring circumstances with his part,
until at last, by the machinations of a Lacedemonian, Eurycles,
who had been bribed, Herod was induced to condemn the sons of
Mariamne at Berytus, and cause them to be strangled (Samaria, 7-6
B.C.). Not long afterwards a difference between Antipater and
Salome led to the exposure of the former. Herod was compelled
to drain the cup to the dregs; he was not spared the knowledge
that he had murdered his children without a cause. His remorse
threw him into a serious illness, in which his strong constitution
wrestled long with death. While he lay at Jericho near his end
he gave orders for the execution of Antipater also; and to embitter
the joy of the Jews at his removal he caused their elders to be
shut up together in the hippodrome at Jericho with the injunction
to butcher them as soon as he breathed his last, that so there
might be sorrow throughout the land. The latter order, however,
was not carried out.

His death (4 B.C.) gave the signal for an insurrection of small
beginnings which gradually spread until it ultimately infected
all the people; it was repressed by Varus with great cruelty.
Meanwhile Herod's connexions were at Rome disputing about the
inheritance. The deceased king (who was survived by several
children of various marriages) had made a will, which was
substantially confirmed by Augustus. By it his son Philip
received the northern portion of the territory on the east
of the Jordan along with the district of Paneas (Caesarea
Philippi); his thirty-seven years' reign over this region was
happy. Another son, Herod Antipas, obtained Galilee and Peraea;
he beautified his domains with architectural works (Sepphoris,
Tiberias; Livias, Machaerus), and succeeded by his fox-like
policy in ingratiating himself with the emperors, particularly
with Tiberius, for that very cause, however, becoming odious to
the Roman provincial officials. The principal heir was Archelaus,
to whom Idumaea, Judaea, and Samaritis were allotted; Augustus at
first refused him the title of king. Archelaus had experienced
the greatest difficulty in carrying through his claims before
the emperor in face of the manifold oppositions of his enemies;
the vengeance which he wreaked upon his subjects was so severe
that in 6 A,D. a Jewish and Samaritan embassy besought the emperor
for his deposition. Augustus assented, banishing Archelaus to
Vienne, and putting in his place a Roman procurator. Thenceforward
Judaea continued under procurators, with the exception of a brief
interval (41-44 A.D.), during which Herod Agrippa I. united under
his sway all the dominions of his grandfather. /1/

1. Agrippa was the grandson of Mariamne through Aristobulus.
Caligula, whose friendship he had secured in Rome, bestowed upon
him in 37 the dominions of Philip with the title of king, and
afterwards the tetrarchy of Antipas, whom he deposed and banished
to Lugdunum (39). Claudius added the possessions of Archelaus.
But the kingdom was again taken away from his son Agrippa II.
(44), who, however, after the death of his uncle, Herod of Chalcis,
obtained that principality for which at a later period (52) the
tetrarchy of Philip was substituted. His sister Berenice is known
as the mistress of Titus; another sister, Drusilla, was the wife
of the procurator Felix. The descendants of Mariamne through
Alexander held for some time an Armenian principality.

The termination of the vassal kingship resulted in manifest
advantage to the Sadducees. The high priest and synedrium again
acquired political importance; they were the responsible
representatives of the nation in presence of the suzerain power,
and conceived themselves to be in some sort lords of land and
people (John xi. 48). For the Pharisees the new state of affairs
appears to have been less satisfactory. That the Romans were
much less oppressive to the Jews than the rulers of the house of
Herod was a consideration of less importance to them than the
fact that the heathen first unintentionally and then deliberately
were guilty of the rudest outrages upon the law, outrages against
which those sly half-Jews had well understood how to be on their
guard. It was among the lower ranks of the people, however, that
hatred to the Romans had its proper seat. On the basis of the views
and tendencies which had long prevailed there, a new party was now
formed, that of the Zealots, which did not, like the Pharisees, aim
merely at the fulfilment of all righteousness, i.e., of the law,
and leave everything else in the hands of God, but was determined
to take an active part in bringing about the realisation of the
kingdom of God (Josephus, Antiquities, xviii. 1, 1).

As the transition to the new order of things was going on, the
census of Quirinius took place (6-7 A.D.); it occasioned an
immense excitement, which, however, was successfully allayed.
On the withdrawal of Quirinius, Coponius remained behind as
procurator of Judaea; he was followed, under Augustus, by Marcus
Ambivius and Annius Rufus; under Tiberius, by Valerius Gratus
(15-26 A.D.) and Pontius Pilatus (26-36 A.D.); under Caligula,
by Marcellus (36-37) and Marullus (37-41 A.D.). The procurators
were subordinate to the imperial legati of Syria; they resided
in Caesarea, and visited Jerusalem on special occasions only.
They had command of the military, and their chief business was
the maintenance of the peace and the care of the revenue. They
interested themselves in affairs of religion only in so far as
these had a political side; the temple citadel Antonia was constantly
garrisoned with a cohort. The administration of justice appears
to have been left to a very considerable extent in the hands of
the synedrium, but it was not allowed to give effect to any capital
sentence. At the head of the native authorities stood at this time
not so much the actual high priest as the college of the chief priests.
The actual office of high priest had lost its political importance
in consequence of the frequency with which its holders were changed;
thus, for example, Annas had more influence than Caiaphas.

The principle of interfering as little as possible with the
religious liberty of the Jews was rudely assailed by the Emperor
Caius, who like a second Antiochus, after various minor vexations,
gave orders that his image should be set up in the temple of
Jerusalem as in others elsewhere. It was entirely through the
courage and tact of the Syrian governor P. Petronius that the
execution of these orders was temporarily postponed until the
emperor was induced by Agrippa I. to withdraw them. Caius soon
afterwards died, and under the rule of Agrippa I., to whom the
government of the entire kingdom of his grandfather was committed
by Claudius, the Jews enjoyed much prosperity; in every respect
the king was all they could wish. This very prosperity seems,
however, to have caused them fresh danger. For it made them feel
the government by procurators, which was resumed after the death
of Agrippa I., to be particularly hard to bear, whatever the
individual characters of these might be. They were Cuspius Fadus
(from 44, under whom Theudas), Tiberius Alexander (the Romanised
nephew of Philo, till 48), Cumanus (48-52, under whom the volcano
already began to give dangerous signs of activity), and Felix
(52-60). Felix, who has the honour to be pilloried in the pages of
Tacitus, contrived to make the dispeace permanent. The influence
of the two older parties, both of which were equally interested in
the maintenance of the existing order, and in that interest were
being drawn nearer to each other, diminished day by day. The
masses broke loose completely from the authority of the scribes;
the ruling nobility adapted itself better to the times; under the
circumstances which then prevailed, it is not surprising that
they became thoroughly secular and did not shrink from the
employment of directly immoral means for the attainment of their
ends. The Zealots became the dominant party. It was a combination
of noble and base elements; superstitious enthusiasts (Acts xxi.
38) and political assassins, the so-called sicarii, were conjoined
with honest but fanatical patriots. Felix favoured the sicarii in
order that he might utilise them; against the others his hostility
raged with indiscriminating cruelty, yet without being able to
check them. The anarchy which he left behind him as a legacy was
beyond the control of his able successor Porcius Festus (60-62),
and the last two procurators, Albinus (62-64) and Gessius Florus,
acted as if it had been their special business to encourage and
promote it. All the bonds of social order were dissolved; no
property was secure; the assassins alone prospered, and the
procurators went shares with them in the profits.

It was inevitable that deep resentment against the Romans should
be felt in every honest heart. At last it found expression.
During his visit to Jerusalem in May 66 Florus laid hands upon the
temple treasure; the Jews allowed themselves to go so far as to
make a joke about it, which he avenged by giving over a portion of
the city to be plundered, and crucifying a number of the
inhabitants. He next insisted upon their kissing the rod, ordering
that a body of troops which was approaching should be met and
welcomed. At the persuasion of their leaders the Jews forced
themselves even to this; but a constant succession of fresh
insults and cruelties followed, till patience was quite exhausted
at last, and in a violent street fight the Romans were so handled
that the procurator withdrew from the town, leaving only the
cohort in Antonia. Once again was an attempt at pacification made
by Agrippa II., who hastened from Alexandria with this purpose,
but the Jews could not bring themselves to make submission to
Gessius Florus. It so happened that at this juncture the fortress
of Masada on the Dead Sea fell into the hands of the Zealots; the
courage of the party of action rose, and at the instance of the
hot-headed Eleazar the son of Ananias, a man, still young, of
highest priestly family, the sacrifice on behalf of the emperor
was discontinued, ie., revolt was declared. But the native
authorities continued opposed to a war. At their request King
Agrippa sent soldiers to Jerusalem; at first they appeared to
have some effect, but ultimately they were glad to make their
escape in safety from the city. The cohort in Antonia was in like
manner unable to hold its own; freedom was given it to withdraw;
but, contrary to the terms of capitulation, it was put to the
sword. The war party now signalised its triumph over all elements
of opposition from within by the murder of the high priest

A triumph was gained also over the outer foe. The Syrian legate,
Cestius Gallus, appeared before Jerusalem in the autumn of 66, but
after a short period raised the siege; his deliberate withdrawal
was changed into a precipitate flight in an attack made by the
Jews at Bethhoron. The revolt now spread irresistibly through
all ranks and classes of the population, and the aristocracy found
it expedient itself to assume the leadership. An autonomous
government was organised, with the noblest members of the community
at its head; of these the most important was the high priest

Meanwhile Nero entrusted the conduct of the Jewish war to Vespasian,
his best general. In the spring of 67 he began his task in
Galilee, where the historian Josephus had command of the
insurgents. The Jews entirely distrusted him and he them; in a
short time the Romans were masters of Galilee, only a few strong
places holding out against them. Josephus was besieged in
Jotapata, and taken prisoner; the other places also were unable to
hold out long. Such of the champions of freedom in Galilee as
escaped betook themselves to Jerusalem; amongst these was the
Zealot leader John of Giscala. There they told the story of their
misfortunes, of which they laid the blame upon Josephus, and upon
the aristocratic government as having no heart for the common cause
and having treachery for their motto. The Zealots now openly aimed
at the overthrow of the existing government, but Ananus bravely
withstood them, and pressed so hard on them that they summoned
the Idumaeans into the city to their aid. These honourable fanatics
indeed withdrew again as soon as they had discovered that they were
being used for sinister designs; but in the meanwhile they had
accomplished the work of the Zealots. The old magistracy of
Jerusalem was destroyed, Ananus with the heads of the aristocracy
and very many other respectable citizens put to death. The radicals,
for the most part not natives of the city, came into power; John
of Giscala at their head tyrannized over the inhabitants.

While these events were taking place in Jerusalem, Vespasian had
subdued the whole country, with the exception of one or two
fortresses. But as he was setting about the siege of the capital,
tidings arrived of the death of Nero, and the offensive was
discontinued. For almost two years (June 68 to April 70), with
a short break, war was suspended. When Vespasian at the end of
this period became emperor, he entrusted to Titus the task of
reducing Jerusalem. There in the interval the internal struggle
had been going on, even after the radicals had gained the mastery.
As a counterpoise to John of Giscala the citizens had received
the guerilla captain Simon bar Giora into the city; the two were
now at feud with each other, but were alike in their rapacity
towards the citizens. John occupied the temple, Simon the upper
city Iying over against it on the west. For a short time a third
entered into competition with the two rivals, a certain Eleazar
who had separated from John and established himself in the inner
temple. But just as Titus was beginning the siege (Easter, 70)
John contrived to get rid of this interloper.

Titus attacked from the north. After the lower city had fallen
into his hands, he raised banks with a view to the storm of the
temple and the upper city. But the defenders, who were now united
in a common cause, taught him by their vigorous resistance that
his object was not to be so quickly gained. He therefore
determined to reduce them by famine, and for this end completely
surrounded the city with a strong wall. In the beginning of July
he renewed the attack, which he directed in the first instance
against the temple. The tower of Antonia fell on the 5th, but the
temple continued to beheld notwithstanding; until the I7th the
daily sacrifice continued to be offered. The Romans succeeded in
gaining the outer court in August only. To drive them out, the
Jews in the night of August 10-11 made a sortie, but were
compelled to retire, the enemy forcing their way behind them into
the inner court. A legionary flung a firebrand into an annexe of
the temple, and soon the whole structure was in flames. A terrible
slaughter of the defenders ensued, but John with a determined band
succeeded in cutting his way out, and by means of the bridge over
the Tyropceon valley made his escape into the upper city.

No attack had as yet been directed against this quarter; but
famine was working terrible ravages among the crowded population.
Those in command, however, refused to capitulate unless freedom to
withdraw along with their wives and children were granted. These
terms being withheld, a storm, after the usual preparations on the
part of the Romans, took place. The resistance was feeble; the
strong towers were hardly defended at all; Simon bar Giora and
John of Giscala now thought only of their personal safety. In the
unprotected city the Roman soldiers spread fire and slaughter
unchecked (September 7, 70).

Of those who survived also some were put to death; the rest were
sold or carried off to the mines and amphitheatres. The city was
levelled with the ground; the tenth legion was left behind in
charge. Titus took with him to Rome for his triumphal procession
Simon bar Giora and John of Giscala, along with seven hundred other
prisoners, also the sacred booty taken from the temple, the
candlestick, the golden table, and a copy of the Torah. He was
slightly premature with his triumph; for some time elapsed, and
more than one bloody battle was necessary before the rebellion
was completely stifled. It did not come wholly to an end until
the fall of Masada (April 73).


Even now Palestine continued for a while to be the centre of Jewish
life, but only in order to prepare the way for its transition
into thoroughly cosmopolitan forms. The development of thought
sustained no break on account of the sad events which had taken
place, but was only directed once more in a consistent manner
towards these objects which had been set before it from the time of
the Babylonian exile. On the ruins of the city and of the temple
the Pharisaic Judaism which rests upon the law and the school
celebrated its triumph. National fanaticism indeed was not yet
extinguished, but it burnt itself completely out in the vigorous
insurrection led by Simeon bar Koziba (Bar Cochebas, 132-135).
That a conspicuous rabbin, Akiba, should have taken part in it,
and have recognised in Simeon the Messiah, was an inconsistency
on his part which redounds to his honour.

Inasmuch as the power of the rabbins did not depend upon the
political or hierarchical forms of the old commonwealth, it
survived the fall of the latter. Out of what hitherto had been a
purely moral influence something of an official position now
grew. They formed themselves into a college which regarded
itself as a continuation of the old synedrium, and which carried
forward its name. At first its seat was at Jamnia, but it soon
removed to Galilee, and remained longest at Tiberias. The
presidency was hereditary in the family of Hillel, with the last
descendants of whom the court itself came to an end. /1/

1. The following is the genealogy of the first Nasi:--Gamaliel ben
Simeon (Josephus, Vita, 38) ben Gamaliel (Acts v. 34, xxii. 3) ben
simeon ben Hillel. The name Gamaliel was that which occurred most
frequently among the patriarchs; see Codex Theod. xvi. 8, 22.

The respect in which the synedrial president was held rapidly
increased; like Christian patriarchs under Mahometan rule, he was
also recognised by the imperial government as the municipal head
of the Jews of Palestine, and bore the secular title of the old
high priests (nasi, ethnarch, patriarch). Under him the Palestinian
Jews continued to form a kind of state within a state until the 5th
century. From the non-Palestinian Jews he received offerings of
money. (Compare Gothofredus on Codex Theod., xvi. 8, "De Judaeis;"
and Morinus, Exer. Bibl., ii. exerc. 3, 4).

The task of the rabbins was so to reorganise Judaism under the new
circumstances that it could continue to assert its distinctive
character. What of external consistency had been lost through the
extinction of the ancient commonwealth required to be compensated
for by an inner centralisation proportionately stronger. The
separation from everything heathenish became more pronounced than
before; the use of the Greek language was of necessity still
permitted, but at least the Septuagint was set aside by Aquila
(Cod. Justinian., Nov. 146) inasmuch as it had now become the
Christian Bible. For to this period also belongs the definitive
separation between the synagogue and the church; henceforward
Christianity could no longer figure as a Jewish sect.
Intensified exclusiveness was accompanied by increased internal
stringency. What at an earlier period had still remained to some
extent fluid now became rigidly fixed; for example, an authentic
text of the canon was now established, and at the same time the
distinction between canon and apocrypha sharply drawn. The old
tendency of the scribes to leave as little as possible free to the
individual conscience, but to bring everything within the scope of
positive ordinance, now celebrated its greatest triumphs. It was
only an apparent movement in the direction of liberty, if
regulations which had become quite impossible were now modified or
cancelled. The most influential of the rabbins were indeed the
least solicitous about the maintenance of what was old, and had no
hesitation in introducing numerous and thoroughgoing innovations;
but the conservatives R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and R. Ishmael ben
Elisha were in truth more liberal-minded than the leaders of the
party of progress, notably than R. Akiba. Even the Ultramontanes
have never hesitated at departures from the usage of the ancient
and mediaeval church; and the Pharisaic rabbins were guided in
their innovations by liberal principles no more than they.
The object of the new determinations was simply to widen the
domain of the law in a consistent manner, to bring the individual
entirely under the iron rule of system. But the Jewish
communities gave willing obedience to the hierarchy of the
rabbins; Judaism had to be maintained, cost what it might. That
the means employed were well adapted to the purpose of maintaining
the Jews as a firmly compacted religious community even after all
bonds of nationality had fallen away cannot be doubted. But
whether the attainment of this purpose by incredible exertion was
a real blessing to themselves and the world may very well be

One consequence of the process of intellectual isolation and of the
effort to shape everything in accordance with hard and fast rules
and doctrines was the systematisation and codification of juristic
and ritual tradition, a work with which a beginning was made in the
century following the destruction of Jerusalem. Towards the end
of the 2nd century the Pharisaic doctrine of Hillel as it had been
further matured by Akiba was codified and elevated to the position
of statute law by the patriarch Rabban Judah the Holy (Mishna). /1/

1. The Mishna succeeded almost, but not quite, in completely doing
away with all conflicting tendencies. At first the heterodox
tradition of that time was also committed to writing (R. Ishmael
ben Elisha) and so handed down,--in various forms (col]ection of
the Baraithas, that is, of old precepts which had not been received
into the Mishna, in the Tosephtha). Nor did the active opposition
altogether die out even at a later period; under favouring
circumstances it awoke to new life in Karaism, the founder of which,
Anan ben David, lived in Babylonia in the middle of the 8th century.

But this was only the first stage in the process of systematising
and fixing tradition. The Mishna became itself the object of
rabbinical comment and supplement; the Tannaim, whose work was
registered in the Mathnetha (Mishna, DEUTERWSIS = doctrine), were
followed by the Amoraim, whose work in turn took permanent shape
in the Gemara (= doctrine). The Palestinian Gemara was reduced
to writing in perhaps the 4th or 5th century; unfortunately it
has been preserved to us only in part, but appears to have reached
the Middle Ages in a perfect state (compare Schiller-Szinessy in
the Academy, 1878, p. 170 seq.). Even thus the process which
issued in the production of the Talmud was not yet completed;
the Babylonian Amoraim carried it forward for some time longer,
until at last at the rise of Islam the Babylonian Gemara was
also written down.

In the sth century Palestine ceased to be the centre of Judaism.
Several circumstances conspired to bring this about. The position
of the Jews in the Roman Empire had changed for the worse with the
elevation of Christianity to be the religion of the state; the
large autonomy which until then they had enjoyed in Palestine
was now restricted; above all, the family of the Patriarchs,
which had come to form a veritable dynasty, became extinct. /1/

1. Compare Gothofredus on Cod. Theod., xvi. 8, 29, ad voc. "post
excessum patriarcharum."

But this did not make an end of what may be called the Jewish
church-state; henceforward it had its home in Babylonia. From the
period of the exile, a numerous and coherent body of Jews had
continued to subsist there; the Parthians and Sassanidae granted
them self-government; at their head was a native prince (Resh
Galutha,--can be clearly traced from 2nd century A.D. onwards)
who, when the Palestinian patriarchate came to an end, was left
without a rival. This remarkable relic of a Jewish commonwealth
continued to exist until the time of the Abassides. /2/

2. See Noeldeke, Tabari; 68, 118, and Kremer, Culturgeschichte des
Orients unter den Chalifen, i. 188, ii. 176.

Even as early as the beginning of the 3rd century A.D. certain
rabbins, at their head Abba Areka (Rab), had migrated from Palestine
and founded a settlement for learning in the law in Babylonia.
The schools there (at Pumbeditha, Sora, Nahardea) prospered greatly,
vied with those of Palestine, and continued to exist after the
cessation of the latter, when the patriarchate became extinct; thus
they had the last word in the settlement of doctrine.

Alongside of the settlement of tradition went another task, that
of fixing the letters of the consonantal text of the Bible (by the
Massora), its vowel pronunciation (by the punctuation), and its
translation into the Aramaic vernacular (Targum). Here also the
Babylonians came after the Palestinians, yet of this sort of
erudition Palestine continued to be the headquarters even after the
5th century.

With this task--that of attaining to the greatest possible
conformity to the letter and of continuing therein--the inner
development of Jewish thought came to an end. /1/

1. Compare F. Weber, System der altsynagagalen palaestinischen
Theologie, Leipsic, 1880.

The later Hebrew literature, which does not fall to be considered
here, contributed very few new elements; in so far as an intellectual
life existed at all among the Jews of the Middle Ages, it was not
a growth of native soil but proceeded from the Mahometan or Latin
culture of individuals. The Kabbala at most, and even it hardly
with justice, can be regarded as having been a genuine product of
Judaism. It originated in Palestine, and subsequently flourished
chiefly in the later Middle Ages in Spain, and, like all other
methodised nonsense, had strong attractions for Christian scholars.


Something still remains to be said with reference to the diaspora.
We have seen how it began; in spite of Josephus (Antiquities,
xi. 5, 2), it is to be carried back not to the Assyrian but merely
to the Babylonian captivity; it was not composed of Israelites,
but solely of citizens of the southern kingdom. It received its
greatest impulse from Alexander, and then afterwards from Caesar.
In the Graeco-Roman period Jerusalem at the time of the great
festival presented the appearance of a veritable Babel (Acts ii.
9-11); with the Jews themselves were mingled the proselytes (Acts
ii. 11), for even already that religion was gaining considerable
conquests among the heathen; as King Agrippa I. writes to the
Emperor Caius (Philo, Legat. ad Gaium, sec. 36),
"Jerusalem is the metropolis not only of Judaea but of very many
lands, on account of the colonies which on various occasions
('epi xairwn) it has sent out into the adjoining countries of Egypt,
Phoenicia, Syria, and Coelesyria, and into the more remote Pamphylia,
Cilicia, the greater part of Asia Minor as far as to Bithynia and
the remotest parts of Pontus; likewise into Europe--Thessaly,
Boeotia, Macedonia, AEtolia, Attica, Argos, Corinth, most parts
(and these the fairest) of the Peloponnesus. Nor are the Jewish
settlements confined to the mainland only; they are found also in
the more important islands, Euboea, Cyprus, Crete. I do not insist
on the countries beyond the Euphrates, for with few exceptions all
of them, Babylon and the fertile regions around it, have Jewish
In the west of Europe also they were not wanting; many thousands
of them lived in Rome. In those cities where they were at all
numerous they, during the imperial period, formed separate
communities; Josephus has preserved a great variety of documents
in which the Roman authorities recognise their rights and liberties
(especially as regards the Sabbath rest and the observance of
festivals). Of greatest importance was the community in Alexandria;
according to Philo a million of Jews had their residence there under
an ethnarch for whom a gerusia was afterwards substituted by Augustus
(In Flac., secs. 6, 10). The extent to which this diaspora was
helpful in the diffusion of Christianity, the manner in which the
mission of the apostles everywhere attached itself to the synagogues
and proseuchai, is well known from the New Testament. That the
Christians of the 1st cenentury had much to suffer along with the Jews
is also a familiar fact. For at this period, in other respects
more favourable to them than any other had previously been, the
Jews had occasionally to endure persecution. The emperors, taking
umbrage at their intrusiveness, more than once banished them from
Rome (Acts xviii. 2). The good will of the native population they
never secured; they were most hated in Egypt and Syria, where they
were strongest. /1/

1. Compare Schuerer, Neutest. Zeitgeschichte (1874), sec. 31.
The place taken by the Jewish element in the world of that time
is brilliantly set forth by Mommsen in his History of Rome (book
v. chapter ii.; English translation iv. p. 538 seq., 1866):--
"How numerous even in Rome the Jewish population was already before
Caesar's time, and how closely at the same time the Jews even then
kept together as fellow-countrymen, is shown by the remark of an
author of this period, that it was dangerous for a governor to offend
the Jews in his province, because he might then certainly reckon on
being hissed after his return, by the populace of the capital.
Even at this time the predominant business of the Jews was trade....
At this period too we encounter the peculiar antipathy of the
Occidentals touards this so thoroughly Oriental race and their
foreign opinions and customs. This Judaism, although not the most
pleasing feature in the nowhere pleasing picture of the mixture of
nations which then prevailed, was, nevertheless, an historical
element developing itself in the natural course of things,...
which Caesar just like his predecessor Alexander fostered as far
as possible....They did not, of course, contemplate placing the
Jewish nationality on an equal footing with the Hellenic or
Italo-Hellenic. But the Jew who has not, like the Occidental,
received the Pandora's gift of political organisation, and stands
substantially in a relation of indifference to the state, who,
moreover, is as reluctant to give up the essence of his national
idiosyncrasy as he is ready to clothe it with any nationality at
pleasure and to adapt himself up to a certain degree to foreign
habits--the Jew was, for this very reason, as it were, made for
a state which was to be built on the ruins of a hundred living
polities, and to be endowed with a somewhat abstract and, from
the outset, weakened nationality. In the ancient world also Judaism
was an effective leaven of cosmopolitanism and of national

The position of the Jews in the Roman Empire was naturally not
improved by the great risings under Nero, Trajan (in Cyrene,
Cyprus, Mesopotamia), and Hadrian. The East strictly so called,
became more and more their proper home. The Christianization of
the empire helped still further in a very special way to detach
them from the Western world. /1/

1. For a brief time only were they again favoured by Julian the
Apostate; compare Gibbon, chapter xxiii.

They sided with the Persians against the Byzantines; in the year
614 they were even put in possession of Jerusalem by Chosroes,
but were not long able to hold their own against Heraclius. /2/

2. Gibbon, chapter xlvi.

With Islam also they found themselves in greater sympathy than with
Christianity, although they were cruelly treated by Mahomet in Arabia,
and driven by Omar out of the Hejaz, and notwithstanding the facts
that they were as matter of course excluded from citizenship, and
that they were held by Moslems as a whole in greater contempt than
the Christians. They throve especially well on what may be called
the bridge between East and West, in Mauretania and Spain, where they
were the intellectual intermediaries between the Arab and the Latin
culture. In the Sephardim and Ashkenazim the distinction between the
subtler Oriental and the more conservative Western Jews has maintained
itself in Europe also. From the 8th century onwards Judaism put
forth a remarkable side shoot in the Khazars on the Volga; if
legend Is to he believed, but little was required at one time to
have induced the Russians to accept the Jewish rather than the
Christian faith.

In the West the equal civil rights which Caracalla had conferred on
all free inhabitants of the empire came to an end, so far as the
Jews were concerned, in the time of Constantine. The state then
became the secular arm of the church, and took action, though with
less severity, against Jews just as against heretics and pagans.
As early as the year 315, Constantine made conversion from
Christianity to Judaism a penal offence, and prohibited Jews, on
pain of death, from circumcising their Christian slaves. These
laws were re-enacted and made more severe by Constantius, who
attached the penalty of death to marriages between Jews and
Christians. Theodosius I. and Honorius, indeed, by strictly
prohibiting the destruction of synagogues, and by maintaining the
old regulation that a Jew was not to be summoned before a court of
justice on a Sabbath-day, put a check upon the militant zeal of the
Church, by which even Chrysostom, for example, allowed himself to
be carried away at Antioch. But Honorius rendered them ineligible
for civil or military service, leaving open to them only the bar
and the decurionate, the latter being a _privilegiium odiosum_.
Their liberty to try cases by their own law was curtailed; the cases
between Jews and Christians were to be tried by Christian judges
only. Theodosius II. prohibited them from building new synagogues,
and anew enforced their disability for all state employments. Most
hostile of all was the orthodox Justinian, who, however, was still
more severe against Pagans and Samaritans. /1/

1. Cod. Theod., xvi. 8: "De Judaeis, Coelicolis, et Samaritanis;"
Cod. Just., i. 9: "De Judaeis et Coelicolis." With regard to
these coelicolae, see Gothofredus on Cod. Theod., xvi. 8, 9, and
also J. Bernays, "Ueber die Gottesfuerchtigen bei Juvenal," in
the Comm. Philol in hon. Th. Mommsen, 1877, p. 163.

He harassed the Jews with a law enjoining them to observe Easter on
the same day as the Christians, a law which it was of course found
impossible to carry out. /2/

2. Gibbon, chapter xlvii.

In the Germanic states which arose upon the ruins of the Roman
empire, the Jews did not fare badly on the whole. It was only
in cases where the state was dominated by the Catholic Church, as,
for example; among the Spanish Visigoths, that they were cruelly
oppressed; among the Arian Ostrogoths, on the other hand, they
had nothing to complain of. One thing in their favour was the
Germanic principle that the law to be applied depended not on the
land but on the nationality, as now in the East Europeans are
judged by the consuls according to the law of their respective
nations. The autonomy of the Jewish communities, which had been
curtailed by the later emperors, was now enlarged once more under
the laxer political and legal conditions. The Jews fared
remarkably well under the Frankish monarchy; the Carolingians helped
them in every possible way, making no account of the complaints of
the bishops. They were allowed to hold property in land, but
showed no eagerness for it; leaving agriculture to the Germans, they
devoted them selves to trade. The market was completely in their
hands; as a specially lucrative branch of commerce they still
carried on the traffic in slaves, which had engaged them even in
ancient times. /1/

1. Agobardus Lugdunensis, Die Insolentia Judaeorum, De Judaicis
superstitionibus. Agobard was no superstitious fanatic, but one
of the weightiest and most enlightened ecclesiastics of the Middle

Meanwhile the Church was not remiss in seeking constantly repeated
re-enactments of the old imperial laws, in the framing of which she
had had paramount influence, and which she now incorporated with
her own canon law. /2/

2. Compare Decret. i., dist. 45, c. 3; Decr. ii., caus. 23,
qaest. 8, c. 9, caus. 28, qu. 1, c. 10-12; Decr. iii., de
consecr., dist. 4, c. 93; Decretal. Greg. 5, 6 ("De Judaeis,
Sarracenis, et eorum servis"), 5, 19, 18; Extrav. commun 5, 2.

Gradually she succeeded in attaining her object. In the later Middle
Ages the position of the Jews in the Christian society deteriorated.
Intercourse with them was shunned; their isolation from being
voluntary became compulsory; from the I3th century onwards they were
obliged to wear, as a distinctive mark (more necessary in the East
than in the West), a round or square yellow badge on their breast. /3/

3. Compare Du Cange, s. v. "Judaei;" also Reuter, Gesch. d.
Aufklaerung im Mittelalter, i. 154 seq. In spite of all the legal
restrictions laid upon them, the Jews still continued to have great
influence with the princes, and more especially with the popes, of
the Middle Ages.

The difference of religion elicited a well-marked religious hate with
oft-repeated deadly outbreaks, especially during the period of the
crusades, and afterwards when the Black Death was raging (1348-50).
Practical consequences like these the Church of course did not
countenance; the popes set themselves against persecutions of
the Jews, /4/

4. Decr. ii. 23, 8, 9. Alexander II. omnibus episeopis Hispaniae:
Dispar...est Judaeorum et Sarracenorum eausa; in illos enim, qui
Christianos persequuntur et ex urbibus et propriis sedibus pellunt,
juste pugnatur, hi vero ubique servire parati sunt.

but with imperfect success. The popular aversion rested by no means
exclusively on religious considerations; worldly motives were also
present. The Jews of that period had in a still higher degree
than now the control of financial affairs in their hands; and they
used it without scruple. The Church herself had unintentionally
given them a monopoly of the money market, by forbidding
Christians to take interest. /5/

5. Decretal. Greg. v. 19, 18. Innocent III. in name of the
Lateran Council: Quanto amplius Christiana religio ab exactione
compescitur usurarum, tanto gravisu super his Judaeorum perfidia
insolescit, ita quod brevi tempore Christianorum exhauriunt
facultates. Volentes igitur in hac parse prospicere Christianis,
ne a Judaeis immaniter aggraventur, synodali decreto statuimus, ut,
si de caetero quocunque praetextu Judaaei a Christianis graves
immoderatasve usuras extorserint, Christianorum eis participium
subtrahatur, donec de immoderato gravamine satisfecerint competenter....
Principibus autem injungimus, ut propter hoc non sint Christianis
infesti, sed potius a tanto gravamine studeant cohibere Judaeos.

In this way the Jews became rich indeed, but at the same time made
themselves still more repugnant to the Christian population than
they previously were by reason of their religion.

Having, according to the later mediaeval system, no rights in the
Christian state, the Jews were tolerated only in those territories
where the sovereign in the exercise of free favour accorded them
protection. This protection was granted them in many quarters,
but never for nothing; numerous and various taxes, which could be
raised or changed in a perfectly arbitrary way, were exacted in
exchange. But in countries where the feeling of nationality
attained to a vigorous development, the spirit of toleration was
speedily exhausted; the Jews were expelled by the act of the
state. England was the first kingdom in which this occurred
(1290); France followed in 1395, Spain and Portugal in 1492 and
1495. In this way it came about that the Holy Roman Empire--
Germany, Italy, and adjoining districts--became the chief abode of
the Jews. /1/ In the anarchy which here prevailed they could best

1. The Polish Jews are German Jews who migrated in the Middle Ages
to Poland, but have maintained to the present day their German
speech, a mediaeval South-Frankish dialect, of course greatly
corrupted. In Russian "German" and "Jew" mean the same thing.

maintain their separate attitude, and if they were expelled from
one locality they readily found refuge in some other. The
emperor had indeed the right of extirpating them altogether (with
the exception of a small number to be left as a memorial); but,
in the first place, he had in various ways given up this right to
the states of the empire, and, moreover, his pecuniary resources
were so small that he could not afford to want the tax which the
Jews as his "servi camerae" paid him for protecting their persons
and property. In spite of many savage persecutions the Jews
maintained their ground, especially in those parts of Germany
where the political confusion was greatest. They even succeeded
in maintaining a kind of autonomy by means of an arrangement in
virtue of which civil processes which they had against each other
were decided by their own rabbins in accordance with the law of
the Talmud. /2/

2. Stobbe, Die Juden in Deutschl. waehr. d. Mittelalt.,
Brunsw., 1866.

The Jews, through their having on the one hand separated theselves,
and on the other hand been excluded on religious grounds
from the Gentiles, gained an internal solidarity and solidity
which has hitherto enabled them to survive all the attacks of time.
The hostility of the Middle Ages involved them in no danger; the
greatest peril has been brought upon them by modern times, along
with permission and increasing inducements to abandon their
separate position. It is worth while to recall on this point the
opinion of Spinoza, who was well able to form a competent judgment
(Tract. Theol. polit., c. 4, ad fin.):--
"That the Jews have maintained themselves so long in spite of their
dispersed and disorganised condition is not at all to be wondered at,
when it is considered how they separated themselves from all other
nationalities in such a way as to bring upon themselves the hatred
of all, and that not only by external rites contrary to those of
other nations, but also by the sign of circumcision, which they
maintain most religiously. Experience shows that their
conservation is due in a great degree to the very hatred which
they have incurred. When the king of Spain compelled the Jews
either to accept the national religion or to go into banishment,
very many of them accepted the Roman Catholic faith, and in
virtue of this received all the privileges of Spanish subjects, and
were declared eligible for every honour; the consequence was that
a process of absorption began immediately, and in a short time
neither trace nor memory of them survived. Quite different was
the history of those whom the king of Portugal compelled to accept
the creed of his nation; although converted, they continued to
live apart from the rest of their fellow-subjects, having been
declared unfit for any dignity. So great importance do I attach
to the sign of circumcision also in this connection, that I am
persuaded that it is sufficient by itself to maintain the separate
existence of the nation for ever."
The persistency of the race may of course prove a harder thing to
overcome than Spinoza has supposed; but nevertheless he will be
found to have spoken truly in declaring that the so-called
emancipation of the Jews must inevitably lead to the extinction
of Judaism wherever the process is extended beyond the political
to the social sphere. For the accomplishment of this centuries
may be required.


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