DO JEWS EMIT A PECULIAR ODOR?
I have treated the Jews in every important phase of the life of the world about them. I have traced them back to their origins as described (but how mistakenly understood!) by the author of Genesis. I have described them as workers, or rather as a race of fortune-hunters, people instinctively reluctant to submit themselves to the less glamorous labors of mankind. I have surveyed them, through dark unfriendly lenses, pursuing vain, greedy careers as lawyers, physicians, moneylenders, merchants, gangsters; as citizens of a country and of the world; as actors and theatrical managers; as conductors of brothels, licensed and unlicensed; as social climbers confusing and belittling all fine social standards; also as Zionists following a hastily dyed banner.
There is still another matter which I cannot allow to become a part of the regular body of my book. It is a matter on which I do not think I care to venture either an opinion or a guess. I refer to the peculiar bad odor which attaches to the name Jew. The word odor is here to be understood as physical, not moral. From time immemorial people have believed that, aside from religious considerations, there is in the flesh and the make up of the Jew a mysterious odorous canker that renders association with him uncomfortable in the extreme. Genesis records that the Egyptians shrank from physical contact with the Jews. The chronicles of other nations and other times, though not as eloquent, yield similar testimony.
is the truth in all this? Unable to undertake the role of an impartial witness,
I am here summoning the testimony of three men, each the greatest intellect and
the most representative personality of his
century: Sir Thomas Browne for the seventeenth century, Voltaire for
the eighteenth, and Heinrich Heine for the nineteenth:
Jews stink naturally, that is, that in their race and nation
first, upon consult of Reason, there will be found no easy assurance to
fasten a material or temperamental propriety upon any nation; there being scarce
any condition (but what depends upon clime) which is not exhausted or obscured
from the commixture of intervenient nations either by commerce or conquest; much
more will it be difficult to make out this affection in the Jews;
whose race however pretended to be pure, must needs have suffered
inseparable commixtures with nations of all sorts; not only in regard of their
proselytes, but their universal dispersion; some being posted from several parts
of the earth, others quite lost, and swallowed up in those nations where they
planted. For the tribes of Reuben, Gad, part
and Naphthali, which were taken by Assur,
and the rest at the sacking of Samaria,
which were led away by Salmanasser into
Assyria, and after a year and a half
arrived at Arsereth, as is delivered
in Esdras; these I say never returned,
and are by the Jews as vainly expected
as their Messiahs.
Of those of the
tribe of Judah and Benjamin,
which were led captive into Babylon by
Nebuchadnezzar, many returned under Zorobabel; the rest remained, and from thence long after upon
invasion of the Saracens, fled as far
as India; where yet they are said to
remain, but with little difference from the Gentiles.
Tribes that returned to Judea, were
afterward widely dispersed; for beside sixteen thousand which Titus
sent to Rome unto the triumph of
his father Vespasian, he sold no less
than an hundred thousand for slaves. Not many years after, Adrian the Emperor, who ruined the whole Country, transplanted
many thousands into Spain, from whence
they dispersed into divers Countries, as into France and England, but
were banished after from both. From Spain they
dispersed into Africa, Italy,
Constantinople, and the Dominions of the Turk, where they remain as yet in very great numbers. And if
(according to good relations) where they may freely speak it, they forbear not
to boast that there are at present many thousand Jews in Spain, France, and
England, and some dispensed withal even to the degree of Priesthood; it is a matter very considerable, and could
they be smelled out, would much advantage, not only the Church of Christ, but
also the coffers of Princes.
having thus lived in several Countries, and always, in subjection, they must
needs have suffered many commixtures; and we are sure they are not exempted from
the common contagion of Venery contracted first from Christians. Nor as
fornications infrequent between them both; there commonly passing opinions of incitement, that their Women desire copulation with them rather then their own
Nation, and affect Christian carnality above circumcised venery. It being
therefore acknowledged, that some are lost, evident that others
if we concede a National unsavouriness in any people, yet shall we find the Jews
less subject hereto than any, and that in those regards which most
powerfully concur to such effects, that is, their diet and generation. As for
their diet whether in obedience unto the precepts of reason, or the injunctions
of parsimony, therein they are very temperate; seldom offending in ebriosity or
excess of drink, nor erring in gulosity or superfluity of meats; whereby they
prevent indigestion and crudities, and consequently putrescence of humors. They
have in abomination all flesh maimed, or the inwards any way vitiated; and
therefore eat no meat but of their own killing. They observe not only fasts at
certain times, but are restrained unto very few dishes at all times; so few that
whereas St. Peters sheet will hardly
cover our Tables, their Law doth scarce permit them to set forth a Lordly feast;
nor any way to answer the luxury of our times, or those of our forefathers. For
of flesh their Law restrains them many sorts, and such that complete our feasts:
That Animal, Propter conviva natum, they
touch not, nor any of its preparations, or parts so much in respect at Roman
Tables, nor admit they unto their board, Hares,
Conies, Herons, Plovers or Swans. Of
Fishes they only taste of such as have both fins and scales; which
are comparatively few in numbers, such only, saith Aristotle, whose Egg or spawn is arenaceous; whereby are excluded
all cetaceous and cartilaginous Fishes; many
pectinal, whose ribs are rectilineal; many costal, which have their ribs embowed;
all spinal, or such as have no ribs, but only a backbone, or somewhat analagous
thereto, as Eels, Congers, Lampries; all
that are testaceous, as Oysters, Cocles,
Wilks, Scollops, Muscles; and likewise all crustaceous, as Crabs,
Shrimps and Lobsters. So that
observing a spare and simple diet, whereby they prevent the generation of
crudities; and fasting often whereby they might also digest them; they must be
less inclinable unto this infirmity then any other Nation, whose proceedings are
not so reasonable to avoid it.
for their generations and conceptions (which are the purer from good diet), they
become more pure and perfect by the strict observation of their Law; upon their
injunctions whereof, they severely observe the times of Purification, and avoid
all copulation, either in the uncleanness of themselves or impurity of their
Women. A Rule, I fear, not so well observed by Christians; whereby not only
conceptions are prevented, but if they proceed, so vitiated and defiled, that
durable inquinations remain upon the birth. Which, when the conception meets
with these impurities, must needs be very potent; since in the purest and most
fair conceptions, learned men derive the cause of Pox and Meazels,
from principals of that nature; that is, the menstruous impurities in the
mother's blood, and virulent tinctures contracted by the Infant, in the
nutriment of the womb.
Experience will convict it; for this offensive odor is no way discoverable in
their Synagogues where many are, and by reason of their number could not be
concealed: nor is the same discernable in commerce or conversation with such as
are cleanly in Apparel, and decent in their Houses. Surely the Vilziars and Turkish
Basha's are not of this opinion; who as Sir Henry
Blunt informeth, do generally keep a Jew
of their private Counsel. And were this true, the Jews
themselves do not strictly make out the intention of their Law, for in vain
do they scruple to approach the dead, who livingly are cadaverous, or fear any
outward pollution, whose temper pollutes themselves. And lastly, were this true,
yet our opinion is not impartial; for unto converted Jews
who are of the same seed, no Man imputeth this unsavoury odor; as though
Aromatized by their conversion, they lost their scent with their religion, and
smelt no longer then they savoured of the Jew.
the ground that begat or propagated this assertion, might be the distasteful aversness
of the Christian from the Jew, upon
the villainy of that fact, which made them abominable and stink in the nostrils
of all Men. Which real practise and metaphorical expression, did after proceed
into a literal construction; but was a fraudulent illation; for such an evil
savour their father Jacob acknowledged
in himself, when he said, his sons had made him stink in the land, that
nastiness of that Nation, and sluttish course of life hath much promoted the
opinion, occasioned by their servile condition at first, and inferiour ways of
parsimony ever since; as is delivered by Mr. Sandys.
They are generally fat, saith he, and rank of the savours which attend upon
sluttish corpulency. The Epithetes assigned
them by ancient times, have also advanced the same; for Ammianus Marcellinus describeth them in such language; and Martial
more ancient, in such a relative expression sets fourth unsavoury Bassa.
Mallem, quam quod oles, olere Bassa.
whence notwithstanding we cannot infer an inward imperfection in the temper of
that Nation; it being but an effect in the breath from the outward observation,
in their strict and tedious fasting; and was a common effect in the breaths of
other Nations, became a Proverb among the Greeks,
and the reason thereof begot a Problem in Aristotle.
if all were true, and were this savour conceded, yet are the reasons alleadged
for it no way satisfactory. Hucherius, and
after him Alsarius Crucius, imputes
this effect unto their abstinence from salt or salt meats; which how to make
good in the present diet of the Jews, we
know not; nor shall we conceive it was observed of old, if we consider they
seasoned every Sacrifice, and all oblations whatsoever; whereof we cannot deny a
great part was eaten by the Priests. And if the offering were of flesh, it was
salted no less than thrice, that is, once in the common chamber of salt, at the
foot-step of the Altar, and upon the top thereof, as is at large delivered
by Maimonides. Nor if they refrained all salt, is the illation very urgent; for
many there are, not noted for ill odours, which eat no salt at all; as all
carnivorous Animals, most Children, many whole
cause is urged by Compegius, and much
received by Christians; that this ill savour is a curse derived upon them by
Christ, and stands as a badge or a brand of a generation that crucified their Salvator.
But this is a conceit without all warrant; and an easie way to take off
dispute in what point of obscurity soever. A method of many Writers, which much
depreciates the esteem and value of miracles; that is, therewith to salve not
only real verities, but also non-existencies. Thus have elder times not
only ascribed the immunity of Ireland from any venomous beast, unto the staff or rod of Patrick;
but the long tails of Kent, unto the malediction of Austin.
therefore, although we concede that many opinions are true which hold some
conformity to this, yet in assenting hereto, many difficulties must arise: it
being a dangerous point to annex a constant property unto any Nation, and much
more this unto the Jew; since this
quality is not verifiable by observation, since the grounds are feeble that
should establish it; and lastly, since if all were true, yet are the reasons alleged
for it, of no sufficiency to maintain it."
Francois Auret de Voltaire:
order me to draw you a faithful picture of the spirit of the Jews, and of their
history, and - without entering into the ineffable ways of Providence, which are
not our ways - you seek in the manners of this people the source of the events
which that Providence prepared.
is certain that the Jewish nation is the most singular that the world has ever
seen; and although, in a political view, the most contemptible of all, yet in
the eyes of a philosopher, it is, on various accounts, worthy of
Guebers, the Banins, and the Jews, are the only nations which exist dispersed,
having no alliance with any people, are perpetuated among foreign nations, and
continue apart from the rest of the world.
"The Guebers were once infinitely more
considerable than the
Banians, who are descended from the ancient people among whom Pythagoras acquired his philosophy, exists only in India and Persia; but the Jews are
dispersed over the whole face of the earth, and if they are assembled, would
compose a nation much more numerous than it ever was in the short time that
they were masters of Palestine. Almost every people who have written the history
of their origin, have chosen to set it off by prodigies; with them all has been
miracle; their oracles have predicted nothing but conquest; and such of them as
have really become conquerors have had no difficulty in believing these ancient
oracles which were verified by the event. The Jews are distinguished among the
nations by this - that their oracles are the only true ones, of which we are not
permitted to doubt. These oracles, which they understand only in the literal
sense, have a hundred times foretold to them that they should be masters of the
world; yet they have never possessed anything more than a small corner of land,
and that only for a small number of years, and they have not now so much as a
village of their own. They must, then, believe, and they do believe, that their
predictions will one day be fulfilled, and that they shall have the empire of
the Mussulmans and the Christians they are the lowest of all nations, but they
think themselves the highest. This pride in their abasement is justified by an
unanswerable reason - viz., that they are in reality the fathers of both
Christians and Mussulmans. The Christian and the Mussulman religions
acknowledged the Jewish as their parent; and, hold this parent in reverance and
were foreign to our present purpose to repeat that continued succession of
prodigies, which astonishes the imagination and exercises the faith. We have
here to do only with events purely historical, wholly apart from the divine
concurrence and the miracles which God, for so long a time, vouchsafed to work
in this people's favor.
we find in Egypt, a family of seventy persons producing, at the end of two
hundred and fifteen years, a nation counting six hundred thousand fighting men;
which makes, with the women, the
remained of this nation advanced a little northward in those deserts. It appears
that they had the same principles which the tribes of Stony and Desert Arabia
have since had, of butchering without mercy the inhabitants of little towns over
whom they had the advantage, and reserving only the young women. The interests
of population have ever been the principal object of both. We find that when the
Arabs had conquered Spain, they imposed tributes of marriageable girls; and at
this day the Arabs of the desert make no treaty without stipulating for some
girls and a few presents.
learned have agitated the question whether the Jews, like so many other nations,
really sacrificed men to the Divinity. This is a dispute on words; those whom
the people consecrated to the anathema were not put to death on an altar, with
religious rites; but they were not the less immolated, without its being
permitted to pardon any one of them.
(xxxvii., 29) expressly forbids the redeeming of those who shall have been
devoted. Its words are, "They shall surely be put to death." By virtue
of this law it was that Jephthah devoted and killed his daughter, that Saul
would have killed his son, and that the prophet Samuel cut in pieces Ding Agag,
Saul's prisoner. It is quite certain that God is the master of the lives of men,
and that it is not for us to examine His laws. We ought to limit ourselves to
believing these things and reverencing in silence the designs of God, who
is also asked what right had strangers like the Jews to the land of Canaan? The
answer is, that they had what God gave them.
sooner had they taken Jericho and Lais than they had a civil war among
themselves, in which the tribes of Benjamin was almost wholly exterminated -
men, women, and children; leaving only six hundred males. The people, unwilling
that one of the tribes should be annihilated, bethought themselves of
sacking the whole city of
the Phoenicians, a powerful people, settled in the coasts from time immemorial,
being alarmed at the depredations and cruelties of these newcomers, frequently chastised
them; the neighboring princes united against them; and they
were seven times reduced to slavery, for more than two hundred years.
last they made themselves a king, whom they elected by lot. This king could not
be very mighty, for in the first battle which the Jews fought under him, against
their masters, the Philistines, they had, in the whole army, but one sword and
one lance, and not one weapon of steel. But David, their second king, made war
with advantage. He took the city of Salem, afterwards so celebrated under the
name of Jerusalem, and then the Jews began to make some figure on the borders of
Syria. Their government and their religion took a more august form. Hitherto
they had not means of rising a temple, though every neighboring nation had one
or more. Solomon built a superb one, and reigned over this people about
only were the days of Solomon the most flourishing days of the Jews, but all the
kings upon earth could not exhibit a treasure of approaching Solomon's. His
father, David, whose predecessor had not even iron, left to Solomon
twenty five thousand six hundred and forty eight millions of French livres
in ready money. His fleets, which went to Ophir, brought him sixty eight
millions per annum in pure gold, without reckoning the silver and jewels. He had
forty thousand stables, and the same number of coach-houses, twenty thousand
stables for his cavalry, seven hundred wives, and three hundred concubines. Yet
he had neither wood nor workmen for building his palace and the temple; he
borrowed them of Hiram, King of Tyre, who also furnished gold; and Solomon gave
Hiram twenty towns in payment. The commentators have acknowledged that these
things need explanation, and have suspected some literal error in the copyist,
who alone can have been mistaken.
the death of Solomon, a division took place among the twelve tribes composing
the nation. The kingdom was torn asunder, and separated into two small
provinces, one of which was called Judah, the other Israel - nine tribes and a
half composing the Israelitish province, and only two and a half that of Judah.
Then there was between these two small peoples a hatred, the more implacable as
they were kinsman and neighbors, and as they had different religions; for at
Sichem and at Samaria they worshipped "Baal" - giving to
God a Sidonian name; while at Jerusalem, they worshipped "Adonai." At
Sichem were consecrated two calves; at Jerusalem, two cherubim - which
were two winged animals with double heads, placed in the sanctuary. So, each
faction having its kings, its gods, its worship, and its prophets, they made a
bloody war upon each other.
this war was carried on, the kings of Assyria, who conquered the greater part
of Asia, fell upon the Jews; as an eagle pounces upon two lizards while they are
fighting. The nine and a half tribes of Samaria and Siches were carried off and
dispersed forever; nor has it been precisely known to what places they were
led into slavery.
is but twenty leagues from the town of Samaria to Jerusalem, and their
territories joined each other; so that when one of these towns was enslaved by
powerful conquerors, the other could not long hold out. Jerusalem was sacked
several times; it was tributary to kings Hazael and Razin, enslaved under Tiglah-Pilser,
three times taken by Nebuchodonosor, or Nebuchadnezzar, and at last destroyed.
Zedekiah, who had been set up as king or governor by this conqueror, was led,
with his whole people, into captivity in Babylonia; so that the only Jews left
in Palistine were a few enslaved peasants, to sow the ground.
for the little country of Samaria and Sichem, more fertile than that of
Jerusalem, it was re-peopled by foreign colonies, sent there by Assyrian kings,
who took the name of Samaritans.
two and a half tribes that were slaves in Babylonia and the neighboring towns
for seventy years, had time to adopt the usages of their masters, and enriched
their own tongue by mixing with it the Chaldaean; this is incontestable.
The historian Josephus tells
gains enabled them to obtain, under Cyrus, the liberty of rebuilding Jerusalem;
but when they were to return into their own country, and those who had grown
rich at Babylon, would not quit so fine a country for the mountains of
Corlesyria, nor the fruitful banks of Euphrates and the Tigris, for the torrent
of Kedron. Only the meanest part of the nation returned with Zerobabel. The Jews
of Babylon contributed only their alms to the rebuilding of the city and the
temple; nor was the collection a large one; for Esdras relates that no more
than seventy thousand crowns could be raised for the erection of this temple,
which was to be that of all the earth.
Jews still remained subject to Alexander; and when that great man, the excusable
of all conquerors, had, in the early years of his victorious career, began to
raise Alexandria, and make it the center of the commerce of the world, the Jews
flocked there to exercise their trade of brokers; and there it was that their
rabbis at length learned something of the sciences of the Greeks. The Greek
tongue became absolutely necessary to all trading Jews.
Alexander's death, this people continued subject in Jerusalem to the kings of
Syria, and in Alexandria to kings of Egypt; and when these kings were at war,
this people always shared the fate of their subjects, and belonged to the
"From the time of their captivity at Babylon the Jew never had particular
governors taking the title of king. The pontiffs had the internal
administration, and these pontiffs were appointed by their masters; they
sometimes paid very high for this dignity, as the Greek patriarch at
Constantinople pays for his at present.
Antiochus Epiphanes they revolted; the city was once more pillaged, and the
walls demolished. After a succession of similar disasters, they at length
obtained for the first time, about a hundred and fifty years before the
Christian era, permission to coin money, which permission was granted them by
Antiochus Sidetes. They then
that time the Romans were beginning to become formidable to the kings of Syria,
masters of the Jews; and the latter gained over the Roman senate by presents and
acts of submission. It seemed that the wars in Asia Minor would, for a time at
least, give some relief to this unfortunate people; but Jerusalem no sooner
enjoyed some shadow of liberty than it was torn by civil wars, which rendered
its condition under its phantoms of kings much more pitiable than it had ever
been in so long and various a succession of bondages.
their internecine troubles, they made the Romans their judges. Already most
of the kingdoms of Asia Minor, Southern Africa, and three-fourths of
Europe, acknowledged the Romans as their arbiters and masters. "Pompey came
into Syria to judge the nation and to depose several petty tyrants. Being
deceived by Aristobulus, who disputed the royalty of Jerusalem, he avenged
himself upon him and his party. He took the city; had some of the seditious,
either priests or Pharisees, crucified; and not long after, condemned Aristobulus, King of the Jews, to execution.
Jews, ever unfortunate, ever enslaved, and ever revolting, again brought upon
them the Roman arms. Crassus and Cassius punished them; and Metellus Scipio
had a son of King Aristobulus, named Alexander, the author of all the troubles,
the great Caesar, they were entirely subject and peaceable. Herod, famed among
them and among us, for a long time was merely tetrarch, but obtained from Antony
the crown of Judaea, for which he paid dearly; but Jerusalem would not recognize
this new king, because he was descended from Esau, and not from Jacob, and was
merely an Idumaean. The very circumstance of his being a foreigner caused him to
be chosen by the Romans, the better to keep this people in check. The Romans
protected the king of their nomination with an army; and Jerusalem was again
taken by assault, sacked, and pillaged.
afterwards protected by Augustus, became one of the most powerful sovereigns
among the petty kings of Arabia. He restored
name of king was nothing more than a favor granted by the Romans; it was not a
title of succession. Soon after Herod's death, Judaea was governed as a
subordinate Roman, by the proconsul of Syria, although from time to time the
title of king was granted, sometime to one Jew sometimes to another, for
a considerable sum of money, as under the emperor Claudius, when it was granted
to the Jew Agrippa.
daughter of Agrippa was that Berenice, celebrated for having been beloved by one
of the best emperors Rome can boast. She it was who, by the injustice she
experienced from her countrymen, drew down the vengeance of the Romans upon
Jerusalem. She asked for justice, and the factions of the town refused it. The
seditious spirit of the people impelled them to fresh excesses. Their character
at all times was to be cruel; and their fate, to be punished.
memorable siege, which ended in the destruction of the city, was carried on by
Vespasian and Titus. The exaggerating Josephus pretends that in this short war,
more than a million of Jews were slaughtered. It is not to be wondered at that
an author who puts fifteen thousand men in each village should slay a million.
What remained were exposed in the public markets; and each Jew was sold at
about the same price as the unclean animal of which they dare not eat.
this last dispersion they again hoped for a deliverer; and under Adrian, whom
they curse in their prayers, there arose one Baroxhebas, who called himself a
second Moses - a Shiloh - a Christ. Having assembled many of these wretched
people under his banners, which they believed to be sacred, he perished with all
his followers. It was the last struggle of this nation, which has never lifted
its head again. Its constant opinion, that barrenness is a reproach, has
preserved it; the Jews have ever considered as their two first duties, to get
money and children.
this short summary it results that the Hebrews have ever been vagrants, or
robbers, or slaves, or seditious. They are still vagabonds upon the earth, and
abhorred by men, yet affirming that heaven and earth and all mankind were
created for them alone.
is evident, from the situation of Judaea, and the genius of this people, that
they could not but be continually subjugated. It was surrounded by powerful and
warlike nations, for which it had an aversion; so that it could neither be in
alliance with them, nor protected by them. It is impossible for it to maintain
itself by its marine; for it soon lost the port which in Solomon's time it had
on the Red Sea; and Solomon himself always employed Tyrians to build and to
steer his vessels, as well as to erect his palace and his temple. It is then
manifest that the Hebrews had neither trade nor manufactures, and that they
could not compose a flourishing people. They never had an army always ready for
the field, like the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, the Syrians, and the
Romans. The laborers and artisans took up arms only as occasion required, and
consequently could not form well disciplined troops. Their mountains, or rather
their rocks, are neither high enough, not sufficiently contiguous, to have
afforded an effectual barrier against invasion. The most numerous part of the
nation, transported to Babylon, Persia, and to India, or settled in Alexandria,
were too much occupied with their traffic and their brokerage to think of war.
Their civil government, sometimes republican, sometimes pontifical, sometimes
monarchial, and very often reduced to anarchy, seems to have been no better than
their military discipline.
ask, what was the philosophy of the Hebrews? The answer will be a very short one
- they had none. Their legislator himself does not anywhere speak expressly of
the immortality of the soul, nor of the rewards of another life. Josephus and
Philo believe the soul to be material; their doctors admitted corporeal angels;
and when they sojourned at Babylon, they gave to these angels the names given
them by the Chaldeans - Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel. The name of
Satan is Babylonian, and is in some wise the Arimanes of Zoroaster. The dogma of
the immortality of the soul was developed only in the course of ages, and among
the Pharisees. The Sadducees always denied this spirituality, this immortality,
and the existence of the angels. Nevertheless, the Sadducees communicated uninterruptedly
with the Pharisees, and had even sovereign pontiffs of their own
sect. The prodigious difference in opinion between these two great bodies did
not cause any disturbance. The Jews, in the latter times of their sojourn at
Jerusalem, were scrupulously attached to nothing but the ceremonials of their
law. The man who had eaten pudding or rabbit would have been stoned; while he
who denied the immortality of the soul might be high-priest.
is commonly said that the abhorrence in which the Jews held other nations
proceeded from their horror of idolatry; but it is much more likely that the
manner in which they at the first exterminated some of the tribes of Canaan, and
the hatred which the neighboring nations conceived for them, were the cause of
this invincible aversion. As they knew no nations but their neighbors, they
thought that in abhorring them they detested the whole earth, and thus
themselves to be the enemies of all men.
proof that this hatred was not caused by the idolatry of the nations is that we
find in the history of the Jews that they were very often idolaters. Solomon
himself sacrificed to strange gods. After him, we find scarcely any king in the
little province of Judah that does not permit the worship of these gods and
offer them incense.
province of Israel kept its two calves and its sacred groves, or adored other
idolatry, with which so many nations are reproached, is a subject on which but
little light has been thrown. Perhaps it would not be difficult to efface this
stain upon the theology of the ancients. All polished nations had the knowledge
of a supreme God, the master of the inferior gods and of men. The Egyptians
themselves recognized a first principle, which they called Knef, and to which
all beside was subordinate. The ancient Persians adored the good principle, Orosmanes;
and were very far from sacrificing to the bad principle, Arimanes, whom they
regarded nearly as we regard the devil. Even to this day, the Guebers have
retained the sacred dogma of the unity of God. The ancient Brahmins
acknowledged only one Supreme Being; the Chinese associated no inferior being
with the Divinity, nor had
idea of a sovereign being, of his providence, of his eternal decrees, is to be
found among all philosophers and all poets. In short, it is perhaps as unjust to
think that the ancients equaled the heroes, the genii, the inferior gods, to
him whom they called the father and master of the gods, as it would be
ridiculous to imagine that we associate with God the blesses and the angels.
then ask whether the ancient philosophers and law-givers borrowed from the
Jews, or the Jews from them? We must refer the question to Philo; he owns that
before the translation of the Septuagint the books of his nation were unknown
to strangers. So great people cannot have received their laws and their
knowledge from a little people, obscure and enslaved. In the time of Osis,
indeed, the Jews had no books; in his reign was accidentally found the only copy
of law then in existence. This people, after their captivity at Babylon, had no
other alphabet than the Chaldaean; they were not famed for any art, any
manufacture whatsoever; and even in the time of Solomon they were obliged to pay
dear for foreign artisans. To say that the Egyptians, the Persians, the Greeks,
were instructed by the Jews, were to say that the Romans learned the arts from
the people of Brittany. The Jews never were natural philosophers, nor
geometricians, nor astronomers. So far were they from having public schools for
the instruction of youth, that they had not even a term in their language to
express such an institution.
people of Peru and Mexico measured their year much better than the Jews. Their
stay in Babylon and in Alexandria, during which individuals might instruct
themselves formed the people to no art save that of usury. They never knew how
to stamp money; and when Antiochus Sidetes permitted them to have a coinage of
their own, they were almost incapable of profiting by this permission for four
or five years. Indeed, this coin is said to have been struck at Samaria. Hence,
it is, that Jewish medals are so rare, and nearly all false. In short, we find
in them only an ignorant and barbarous people, who have long united the most
sordid avarice with the most detestable superstition and the most invincible
hatred for every people by whom they are tolerated and enriched. Still, we ought
not to burn them."
Voltaire to Heinrich Heine is a long step only in time. The natures of the
men were very similar, in spite of the difference between the two worlds into
which they were both injected. Heine began as a Jew, the career which was to
make him the pre-eminent man of letters of his century. He began on the
lowest rung of the ladder: I feel safe in letting the case rest where he leaves
it in his famous ballad entitled Disputation.
To make it readable in
English, I have had to take some important liberties, both of rhyme and rhythm:
In the aula at Toledo
the trumpeters are blowing.
the city to the tourney
merrily the mass is flowing.
This is not to be a combat
steel on steel advances.
edged and deft scholastic
will be the only lances.
Paladins whose thoughts are
for the sex that fires
surrendered the arena
the rabbis and the friars.
the iron helmets wherein
high matters are disputed
day will be substituted.
God is the true and only
The one whose brawny story
Judah of Navarre says
the fabric of man's glory?
the Christian God the Friar
the Franciscan swears is
Holy Ghost and Saviour
the crucifix he wears is?
of a profound conviction
by logic learned at college
and quotations from authorities
one cannot but acknowledge,
will argue out the matter;
will set a little faster
procession of the facts that
decide which God is master.
have both agreed beforehand
no matter how contrary,
who loses shall embrace the
of his adversary.
the Jew, should he be vanquished,
is the grim provision.
the Christian, if he lose, must
one had eleven followers,
as only champions could be,
to share his fate no matter
the outcome of it would be.
that while the Friar's backers
unflinching faith and steady
the sacred water vessels
a lively Christening ready,
sprinkling brooms and censers
incense smoke is rising,
do the rabbi's followers
their knives for circumcising.
the hall, prepared for battle,
relentless, both the forces,
the crowd awaits the signal,
for the brave discourses.
the golden canopy,
their courtiers gathered round them,
the king and queen. The queen is
a child, it does confound them.
French nose, small chin, and tiny
teeth roguishly, beguiling:
bewitching are the rubies
her mouth when she is smiling.
a change is this from Paris!
a horror to befall her!
at home as Blanche de Bourbon,
Blanca here they call her!
the king's name is Don Pedro,
the nickname of The Cruel.
this day he looks a little
the brute and more the fool.
the smile he gives the friars
the Jews is no less sunny,
because they lead his troops and,
important, lend him money.
the sound of drum and trumpet
the signal. Soon the battle
religions is to break out,
the wordy sabers rattle.
Franciscan friar opened
a burst of sacred passion,
his voice now harsh, now growling,
up in a curious fashion:
the name of God the Father
the Son and Ghost," he cried out,
me first make sure that every
sprite in you has died out."
had learnt that in such combats
devils oft have hidden
the insides of the Jews, and
them when they were chidden.)
thus yanked out the devil
his loudest exorcism,
Franciscan flared with dogmas
from the catechism.
he explained, the godhead,
three are comprehended,
be one God, when convenient,
the three in one God blended.
he told how in a stable,
its beasts of burden laden,
was born, and how his mother
Him yet remained a maiden.
they recognized His presence
the Bethlehem stable manger,
a calf and heifer lowing
round the lighted stranger.
the Saviour, now grown older,
king Herod's minions flying,
to Egypt and, still later,
to Pilate, still defying,
was crucified. How Pilate
wanted to release him,
the cursed Jew cried only
would appease him.
the Lord, albeit buried
a dark and bowldered prison,
the third day into heaven
in princely triumph risen.
when as the proper time comes
return to earth in splendor
Jerosophat to judge them,
jewborn proud offendor.
Jews!" the friar thundered.
is he whom you tormented
with thorns and scourges,
your lying unrepented!
is plain that the vindictive,
and conscienceless behaviour
resulted in the murder
our precious one the Saviour,
is strong in you, O demons,
out by the lower regions;
your bodies are the barracks
the Devil's scary legions.
not this the grave opinion
Aquinas famed in story
the Mighty Ox of Learning
the monks of pious glory?
you Jews! you are hyenas,
and jackals foul and hateful,
prowlers who think only
who lick the great are grateful.
content with being monkeys,
and bate perfidious,
must emulate the mud-born
and vampire hideous.
are owls and you are ravens,
screech-owls, Christ will
out like empty bladders.
and blindworms vipers! must you
burn? Or would you rather
your souls? Then flee the rabbi
the bosom of the Father.
the church of love, the bright one,
the well of mercy bubbles.
your head into the hallowed
and wash off your troubles.
away the ancient Adam
the vices that efface it.
your heart the stain of rancor
that God's love might replace it.
can surely hear the Saviour.
how well your new names suit you!
his bosom shed the Cohens
the Levys that pollute you.
our God is love incarnate,
a little lamb that's cherished.
atone your sins he let you
him on the cross, and perished.
we are mild and human,
to get into a passion,
of peace and charitable,
the Saviour's gentle fashion.
hereafter up in heaven,
shall wander, blest forever,
in our hands inserted.
shall walk in spotless raiment
the stupid gray we're wearing!)
of silk, brocade and muslin,
brightening to daring.
our tonsures golden tresses
the bald spots now distress them!
virgins deft of finger
pretty knots will dress them.
those higher spheres the goblets
circumference so spacious
for holding golden wine, be
the other hand, much smaller
the mouths of earthly ladies
the mouths be of the darlings
whose joy our rapture made is.
in drinking, laughing, kissing
shall pass the ages proudly,
sacredly and loudly."
the friar ceased. His followers,
forward with their vessels,
the water-hating Hebrews
obsessed with sickly grinning;
the rabbi of Navarre rose,
cleared his throat, and made beginning:
the sake of my salvation,
suppose, you have be-howled me,
with dung-carts of abuse and
full of insults fouled me.
man follows but the method
to his wants best calculated.
instead of being angry,
you, I'm propitiated.
your Trinitarian doctrine
will never learn to swallow.
might teach them how to see it,
you cannot make them follow.
three persons in your godhead
no more are comprehended
most moderate. The ancients
six thousand gods depended.
am ignorant entirely
of this God of yours, my brother.
have I the precious honor
have met his virgin mother.
regret that some twelve hundred
back (your church professes)
should have encountered with us
the Jews in truth destroyed him
upon your say-so solely,
delicta corpus having
the third day vanished wholly.
is equally uncertain
he is a connection
our God who never married
the best of our recollection.
God like a bleeding lambkin
his people perish? Never.
is not so philanthropic,
besides, too precious clever.
is far from love incarnate.
to affection yields he.
of thunder, God of vengeance,
not caresses wields he.
our God is great and living.
his heavenly hall is glory,
compared with him eternal
are but transitory.
is living. He is lusty.
a priestly myth to fright us,
your consecrated wafer,
the shadow of Cocytus.
is strong and He is daring.
and moon and constellation
his hands, like people, vanish
he frowns his indignation.
that terrifying greatness,
King David, none can measure!
his throne and earth his footstool
but playthings of his pleasure!
is fond of pleasing music.
hymns to Him are grateful.
like grunts of suckling pigs He
the chimes of churches hateful.
Leviathan the mighty
the awful floorless ocean,
and then the Lord will tease him
the waves into commotion,
of course, upon the ninth day
the month of Ab, the morrow
they burnt his holy temple –
is still his day of sorrow!),
than a hundred miles Leviathan
and the sea's his feeder,
than Og King of Bashan,
a tail thick as a cedar.
his flesh is very dainty,
its flavor is perfection,
God's favorites will find out
the day of resurrection.
will choose among the pious
those whose faith was stable,
for them, and for them only,
he set his golden table.
a little garlic whitely
and browned in wine, and toasted,
of Leviathan will
like Matelotes roasted.
you see white garlic gravy
horseradish bits embellish?
a dainty even our friar
and his friends would relish.
the raisin sauce about it
a most delicious jelly.
have but to taste it and it's
in your belly.
the Lord has cooked is for you,
and meat. If you are able
withstand a circumcision,
assured a place at table."
smiling, spoke the rabbi,
enticing and insulting;
the sound the other Jews made
their carvers was exulting,
though it were but a matter
arranging for the friar
give up the precious foreskin,
to the rabbi's ire.
the monks remained unshaken
the rabbi's sour derision,
were far from being ready
submit to circumcision.
the Friar Jose hotly
"The Jew has disregarded
and the laws of logic
ignobly has discarded.
has fish to do with wafer?
sauce with Christ's salvation?
a touch of garlic banish
bad odor of a nation?
the rabbi's shameless bragging
cannot determine whether
Jew-God of his is fiddler,
cook or toreador.
my garb that of a jester?
I look as if I'd fool them?
advise baptismal water
it might no more than cool him".
this speech the cautious rabbi
a fawning answer followed.
was boiling over. But a
gall is better swallowed.
recited from the Mishna
from the Tausvus-Yontoff
it delicately varies.
the angry friar mourning
he was in want of,
"I hope the devil takes you
your graceless Tausvus-Yontoff."
profanity go further!"
the rabbi leaps and screeches,
the patient years forgotten,
a maniac's now his speech is.
the Tausvus-Yontoff's nothing,
remains O vile detractor!
you cannot overlook this!
God, this malefactor!
not Tausvus-Yontoff really
own very self? And can he
on living who has used your
more wretchedly than any?
the earth consume him like the
followers of Korah
misdeeds were not against you
against your holy Torah?
Lord, this wicked baseness
your loudest thunder's thunder;
the pith and brimstone with which
laid Sodom's sinners under.
this old capuchin what you
to Pharaoh to assure him
you really meant to free us.
him, but you need not cure him.
a hundred thousand warriors
Mizzrayim's lord and master,
in armor shining, but you
before us, stronger, faster.
but raised your arm to drown them.
and his host were smitten
less effort than this friar
to drown a common kitten.
Jehovah, at this baldhead
the wicked may see clearly
the lightnings of your anger
not smoke and bluster merely.
I'll sing your praise and glory,
and O so proudly.
will dance and sing like Miriam.
will even sing more loudly."
this point the outraged friar
in a fury:
Almighty, if you heard him,
him and his lousy Jewry.
Ashtoreth and Belial,
whose vain ambition
led him with the rebel
down into perdition,
defy and mock you, rabbi,
your devilfish unsavory.
have eaten Jesus Christ and
am proof against your knavery.
instead of talking to you
would sooner roast and bake you,
and all your race, upon a
pyre, devil take you!"
the rabbi and the friar
the fight in chaos utter.
it is pointless for them
go on to rail and stutter.
long hours this thing has lasted,
showing signs of tiring,
the ladies stifle half yawns
their gallants are perspiring.
the court has grown impatient.
the king, to end their snarling,
his hands up, and to Donna
turns, and asks that darling:
me, frankly, your opinion.
is right here, who is liar?
whom would you give the verdict,
the rabbi or the friar?"
Blanca's eyes are thoughtful
before had shone so gladly.
Blanca's childlike mouth is
as she answers sadly:
can I say who is right here?
the precious truth is solely?
I fear me both the rabbi
the friar smell most foully!"