The Jews,
and the Jews in England

by  Cobbett (Anthony Ludovici)

Boswell Publishing Company, 1938


II.
The General History of the Jews
(Up to the time of the Roman Dispersion)[1]




AS EARLY as 3500 BC the Semites were already migrating into Mesopotamia, and conquering and probably mingling with the earlier inhabitants (the Sumerians) to form the Babylonian and Assyrian peoples. From about the beginning of the third millennium BC onwards, a second wave swept over the area, covering "Babylonia, laying the foundation of the Assyrian Empire, invading Syria and Palestine and possibly, later, Egypt (Hyksos)", [2] and in the second millennium, or more probably towards the end of the third, a third wave, consisting of the Arameans, passed over the area, "preceded by the swarming into Syria from the desert of Khabiri (Habiru) or Hebrews (Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites and Israelites among others)". [3]

The Aramean ancestors of Israel were in the district of Ur, in northern Mesopotamia, in the second half of the third millennium BC, and thence they moved, perhaps about 2350 BC, northwards to Harran, [4] some of them continuing round the fertile crescent down to Egypt.

The historicity of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob need not be doubted, but the names usually believed to belong to the sons of Jacob probably reflect tribal relationships. About the end of the third millennium or the beginning of the second, "some of the tribes belonging to the Joseph group settled on the borders of Egypt". [5] They were still a nomadic and pastoral people, and the story about their ultimately entering the pasture lands of Goshen, to the east of the Nile delta, driven thither by famine, is not improbable, and his peopleís enjoyment of Egyptian hospitality is a perfectly possible feature of their history, if we assume that it occurred during the Hyksos dominion. After the expulsion of the Hyksos rulers and the rise of the XVIIIth Dynasty in Egypt (1600 BC onwards), the condition of the Israelites, or a certain portion of them, changed. The new rulers of the XVIIIth Dynasty, no longer friendly, forced the Semite shepherds into slavery, and for a generation or two the Israelites, accustomed as nomads to freedom and independence, were probably subjected as Egyptian slaves to the most severe oppression. "There is no reason to suppose that the bondage of Israel in Egypt involved the whole people", [6] nor is it certain, as many have supposed, that the pharaoh of the Exodus was Rameses II. The rousing of the nationalist feeling in Moses, his leadership of his people, and their ultimate escape from Egypt somewhere about 1500 BC [7] are all probably historical facts. The plagues which prepared the way for the escape and the miracles which attended the first marches of the Israelites across the wilderness, all consisted more or less of natural events which can be given a rational interpretation. [8]

There is no fundamental reason to suppose that the four hundred and thirty years stated to have been the length of the sojourn in Egypt [9] is not correct, for there is little doubt that the band Moses led out to freedom were a browbeaten set of men, perhaps softened by generations of ease in Goshen and then depressed by years of slavery. Not only were many of them ready to barter every bit of their new freedom for the greasy "fleshpots of Egypt", but before they could pluck up enough courage to invade the crescent, it was evidently "necessary for the slave generation to die off, and for a tougher and more desperate generation to arise". [10]

Thus they wandered forty years in the wilderness, [11] during which they suffered every kind of privation, and their leader taught them once more about the God of their fathers, and knit them afresh into a race-conscious group bound by one religion, and sworn to believe in Yahweh as their special protector.

They appear to have taken a south-eastern route on leaving Egypt, and only subsequently to have wandered northwards to conquer the land which "flowed with milk and honey". Moses lived to see the second generation grow up, but it was another who was to lead these desperate men, hardened by years of life in the wilderness, rudely armed, and with little beyond their courage to help them against the Canaanites.

The conquests, involving much bloodshed, were made piecemeal, but after them "it was only the repeated assaults of enemies within and without which threw the tribes back on their common inheritance of blood, religion and tradition, and welded them into a single whole". [12]

The patriarchal period had long expired; it had ended with the entry into Egypt. But now, during a period of listless anarchy and alternate apostasy, chastisement and deliverance, Judges, or leaders, arose. For the people became contaminated with the beliefs and practices of their enemies, adopted their gods, though neither entirely nor permanently. Gradually the office of the Judges became hereditary, the impressive era of the great Israelitish prophets began, and the indefatigable onslaughts of their ancient enemies -- the Canaanites, the Moabites and the Ammonites -- anxious to recover their former properties, alone kept the flame of patriotism and race-consciousness burning in the hearts of the new settlers, by giving to the prophets their various items for the reasons for fear.

The dominance of the Aramean invaders over their predecessors -- for the Israelites of the Egyptian captivity were doubtless joined by thousands of their kith and kin from other parts -- having been secured during what is known as the period of the Judges, "the climax was reached with the coming of the Philistines". [13]

Who were the Judges and were the Philistines?

The Judges were inspired military leaders, not, perhaps, unlike the fakirs who occasionally lead the native raids on our North-West Frontier in India. There were many of them, but the greatest of all was undoubtedly that farmer who belonged to the northern tribes and whose name was Saul.

The Philistines were a non-Semitic people who represented the survivors of the great Aegean civilization. Driven out of their homes in the islands of the Mediterranean by invading hordes from the north, they had early sought refuge in Egypt and Palestine. Beaten off by Rameses III from Egyptian territory, they had established themselves further north, particularly in five centres: Gath, Ekron, Ashkalon, Ashdod and Gaza. [14]

Had it not been for the rise of the Israelites they might have established a new empire in Palestine, and even before Saul -- i.e., in the days of Samson -- there had, as we know, been skirmishes between them in Palestine.

But the Israelites had been content to leave the charge of resisting their determined foe to the tribes bordering their territory. A crushing defeat at the hands of the Philistines, however, brought the Israelites to their senses, and forced them willy-nilly to act in unison, and to fight as one nation.

It was during the period of continued pressure exerted by the Philistines after their signal victory that the great military hero Saul arose. After leading his people successfully against the Ammonites, who were attacking them on the east, Saul, now the first King of Israel, gathered his forces together and marched against the Philistines and defeated them. But he did not dispose of them, and ultimately committed suicide, having been routed by them after years of desultory fighting with his various foes.

The date usually given for Saulís kingship is 1072 to 1032 BC, but Robinson suggests 1036 BC, presumably as the beginning of the reign, and 1016 BC for the beginning of Davidís rule. [15]

At all events, something in the region of half a millennium had now elapsed since the Exodus, and it had been half a millennium of almost continuous struggle on the part of the determined Israelites against what again and again must have been overwhelming odds.

It is now, at this distance of time, almost impossible to understand how they succeeded in ultimately establishing themselves in Palestine at the expense of the settled inhabitants, who were better armed and better organized than themselves and who, after all, were fighting for their very existence. Their ultimate success lends colour to the belief that (a) they must have been very hard, ferocious and resolute to a degree never again to be recovered by their nation (except perhaps once, as we shall see), but which must probably have stamped their character for all time; (b) their continuous wars, privations and hardships, apart from the original conquests, must again and again have winnowed the weaker and less determined from their stock; and (c) in their advance across Palestine from the wilderness they probably found they were joined by numbers of their kith and kin, who being already settled in the land and never having seen Egypt, swelled their ranks and helped them because they were probably carried away by the intensity of their long-lost brethrenís fervour, the earnestness of their religious faith, and the inflexible determination with which they pursued their purpose.

When, however, we remember what was at stake -- that it was a matter for these resolute and desperate people of establishing themselves on a geographical site which, apart from its fertility and pleasant climate, was probably the most important in the whole of the ancient world as the only strategic and trade link between three continents, and therefore an area which was naturally coveted by every power in its neighbourhood; when we remember the advantage the conquerors of such a territory would have, not merely as the much solicited allies of powerful adjacent states, but also as the custodians and sentinels, as it were, along the principal trade routes of the ancient world, joining up three vast areas like Asia, Europe and north Africa -- we cannot wonder at the vehemence and resolution of the invaders, or the perseverance of their efforts.

They had long been in touch with the high civilization in Egypt. Their ancestors had traversed the whole of the Fertile Crescent. They must have known better than we know now the immense commercial importance of the land for which they were fighting, and the advantage of occupying it. And whilst they may have been well aware of their distant relationship to most of the powerful peoples lying to the north and east of them and even to the people they were turning out -- the Canaanites -- the lessons they had learnt from their great teacher Moses, and the certainty he had given them of the peculiar favour they enjoyed at the hands of their deity Yahweh, probably fortified them in the belief that they were specially privileged and possessed a superior right to the valuable area they were invading.

True, it was the traditional battlefield of all the great adjacent powers; but life there was infinitely preferable to the precarious existence to which they had been reduced theretofore, as nomads cast out of Egypt with a reduced stamina (and probably a reduced spirit as well) and constantly exposed to the rigours of the elements and the violence of raiders and hostile tribes.

All this has been duly weighed in forming an estimate of the Jewish character, though too much importance can be attached to it, when it is remembered how remote the events of the conquest of Palestine really are.

The death of Saul was the signal for the division of the kingdom, the northern tribes appointing his son as his successor. But David ultimately won them over, became the king of the whole twelve, and with his united people behind him gained a crushing victory over the Philistines. He then made it his business to conquer all the people on his border who were a menace to him -- the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Arameans, the Edomites and the Amalekites -- and to consolidate and civilize his nation. He built a palace and aimed, in vain as it happened, at building a Temple; established a harem suitable for a great Oriental potentate, and paved the way in luxury for the man who was to be the Louis XV of the Jewish state -- Solomon, the so-called Wise. Jerusalem became Davidís capital, and in it he "served as High Priest, Chief Justice and King". [16] But there is no doubt that his head was turned by the eminence and glory he had won, and many of his actions, while proving his absolute power, are difficult to defend even from the standpoint of the rude morality of his day. [17]

He was followed (976 BC) by a son, probably a hybrid, who had experienced none of the hardships and rigours of his fatherís early days and, born in the purple, merely developed the least admirable aspects of Davidís exercise of the royal power, although he realized his fatherís desire to build a Temple. But, on the whole, he undermined the prestige of the throne and prepared the way for the disruption of the kingdom that followed.

For some time after Solomonís death (938 BC) a state of civil war prevailed; the northern tribes rebelled under Jeroboam, formed a second kingdom, and the nation was divided into two -- Israel in the north and Judah in the south. "A united realm such as David achieved might in the long run have become a first-class power. As it was, the strength of Palestine was wasted in petty local conflicts, and in the end she failed not only to achieve wide dominion, but even to maintain her own independence." [18]

The southerners, the Judeans -- from whom ultimately the designation "Jew" derives (Yehudi: man of Judah) -- remained, however, very much more like their ancestors of the desert than the northerners, for the latter restored the old calf-worship of Egypt and displayed the utmost hostility to their kith and kin in the south.

The Kings of Judah persisted in their hope of recovering their authority over the northern tribes, and war lasted between the two kingdoms for nearly sixty years. True, a common menace from the quarter of Syria ultimately united them closely again for a while, only to leave them disrupted once more, when Jehu ascended the throne of Israel.

The northern kingdom sank more and more hopelessly into idolatry, despite the exhortations of the prophets, who maintained that the incursions of the Syrians and ultimately the invasions of the Assyrians were sent by way of punishment for this backsliding. The collapse began with the death of Jeroboam II (747 BC). The inhabitants were carried into captivity and their country was colonized by the idolatrous Assyrians.

It is said that "27,000 of the best spirits in the northern tribes were carried into captivity", [19] distributed over Assyria, and definitely lost by becoming irretrievably mixed with the people about them, for they were never to be heard of more.

Such was the end of the Ten Tribes, and of the northern kingdom they inhabited.

Judah, the southern kingdom, however, was spared only for a short while. After struggling for its existence against Assyria and Egypt in turn, and subsequently against Chaldea, it ultimately succumbed to Nebuchadrezzar, King of Babylon, in about 586 BC. Jerusalem was sacked, its treasury emptied, its Temple despoiled, and all the better-class citizens, the soldiers and the craftsmen were taken into captivity in Babylon (597-586 BC). Only a disreputable remnant of the population was left, while thousands fled to Egypt. Thus Judah now consisted of three dispersed groups -- the wretched, dispirited remnant left behind in Palestine, the fugitives in Egypt, and the community of exiles in Babylon.

But this was not to be the end of Judah. Dispersed though its people were, it was nevertheless destined to survive, and the fact that it did so is due chiefly to two factors -- the power of the Jewish religion as an integrating force, and the tenacity, faith and stamina of the exiles in Babylon. Unlike the northern ten tribes, there was a nucleus among these exiles of Judah which refused to merge into the life and population of their captors. They retained their identity, their religion and their patriotism. Indeed, the captivity strengthened all these features of their race. They remained a separate people, and after the lapse of about seventy years, in fulfilment of Isaiahís prophecies, Persia conquered Babylon, and Cyrus, King of Persia, set the tribes free to return to Judah (539 BC). Not all, however, availed themselves of the permission. The better adapted remained behind, so that once again there was a searching selection by circumstances of the men of highest stamina and most patriotic sentiments.

Thoroughly purified of all the old tendencies to idolatry, these returned exiles rebuilt the Temple, and a period of comparative peace followed, during which the Jews, loyal to the power that had liberated them, increased rapidly in wealth and numbers, and, under the governorship of a satrap, formed part of a province of Persia (539-330 BC).

By the victories of Alexander the Great, the Persian Empire was brought to an end. Alexander did not, however, oppress the Jews who thus became his subjects. On the contrary, he granted them many privileges, which they continued to enjoy under his followers, and he invited numbers of them to settle in the new Egyptian capital, Alexandria. After Alexanderís death (323 BC), Palestine, as the bridge between the three kingdoms into which his empire was divided, became for over a century the scene of repeated wars; but in 198 BC Antiochus the Great captured Jerusalem, Palestine was definitely made a part of Syria, and the country, although well treated by its new master, was soon to suffer from the tyrannies of his successors. Antiochus Epiphanes suddenly took it into his head to exterminate Judaism as a religion (he profaned the Temple), but, as usual, the very steps he took to do this, ruthless though they were, merely consolidated and provoked the kernel consisting of the most devout and patriotic families in Judea, and rebellion was the result -- the Maccabean revolt.

Long before this happened, however, a process had been going on which had been causing the greatest alarm to earnest and devout Jews throughout the Jewish state -- the rapid Hellenization of their country. Everywhere Jewish practices and beliefs and even the native speech were being superseded by the Hellenistic view of things and the Greek language; and, among the more pious Jews, there was violent opposition to the party in their nation who were responsible for this change, and their supporters among the people. It was the Hellenistic party among the Jews who encouraged Antiochus Epiphanes to stamp out Judaism, "so that the Maccabaean revolt was largely due to what was in effect an alliance between Antiochus and the Hellenistic Jews against the orthodox party". [20]

The party which opposed Antiochius and the Hellenizing Jews was known as the Chassidim, or "The Righteous", and was led by a priest named Mattathias and his five brave sons. Indeed, but for this father and his stalwart progeny, it is not improbable that the whole people, together with their religion, would have been wiped out, or inextricably merged with the pagan populations that surrounded them.

The rebellion led by the Chassidim, and above all by Mattathias and his sons, was marked by the most heroic fighting, often against overwhelming odds, on the part of the orthodox; and eventually, in 165 BC, the Syrians were repulsed and the Temple dedicated. First Judas and then Jonathan and Simon Maccabaeus distinguished themselves in this terrific struggle, and the latter, in 141 BC, finally secured the independence of his country by capturing the last fortress (Zion) which had remained in the hands of the Syrians. Thus was Judaism again saved from complete annihilation by a handful of stern, orthodox Jews. Rome now first enters the scene, but as a friend rather than a foe.

John Hyrcanus (134-104 BC), the son of Simon Maccabaeus, consolidated the work of his forebears, reduced Edom, conquered Samaria, and compelled the Idumeans to unite with the Jewish people. But with the succession of Aristobulus, his son (103 BC), who was the first of the Hasmonean rulers to assume the kingly power, the Hasmonean dynasty suffered a total moral collapse and lost both the religious faith and purity of life of its ancestors. Indeed, it was through the dissensions between the grandsons of Aristobulus that Rome was ultimately called in to arbitrate, and as a result seized the opportunity to assume power.

Pompey, who had lately captured Damascus for the Romans, sided with Hyrcanus against the latterís brother, Aristobulus; took Jerusalem (63 BC) and, demolishing the walls, entered the Temple, but left its treasures untouched. "Twelve thousand Jews are said to have been put to the sword." [21]

This was the end of the Jewish state. Judea, greatly reduced in extent, was added to the Roman province of Syria, and Hyrcanus, nominated to the High Priesthood by Pompey, was granted independence in his own land, but became a vassal of Rome.

The weakness of Hyrcanus II, however, gave the wily Idumean Antipater, the father of Herod the Great, the chance to assume the supreme power, and thus led to the rise of the Herods. Antipater, most successful in his relationship with Rome, became Procurator of Judea, and was followed by his son Herod (44 BC) who, with the help of Mark Anthony and Octavianus, became nominal King of Judea in 40 BC and actual king of both Judea and Samaria in 37 BC.

Born an Idumean, professing himself a Jew, by necessity a Roman, and by culture and taste really a Greek, he did his utmost to reconcile the various parties among the Jews and in the state, and endeavoured above all to make his Greek and Jewish subjects live in harmony. But in this latter task he failed. The orthodox Jews, more than ever alarmed by the behaviour and origin of their sovereign, and by the Hellenization of their land which was still proceeding apace, were alienated from him, as were all decent men; and when he died (AD 4) the deplorable effects of his reign were everywhere visible. He had exploited his office to betray his country to Rome, he had cultivated alien customs, encouraged immorality and undermined religious faith. Meanwhile, his Jewish subjects, exasperated beyond endurance by the loss of their liberties and the oppression exercised by their pagan rulers, were increasingly driven to exclusiveness and religious fanaticism; but although they made an attempt to prevent the succession of any descendant of Herod, and sent to Rome a special mission to urge Caesar to abolish the Jewish kingship and place the Jewish people under the immediate rule of Rome, they were not successful. Caesar appointed Archelaus, a son of Herod the Great, Tetrarch of Judea, Samaria and Idumea. But his unsatisfactory behaviour and unpopularity with the Jews ultimately led to his banishment to Gaul, and Judea was governed by procurators.

Adumbrations of the ultimate disaster that was to befall the Jews could now be discerned. Pontius Pilate, for instance, attempted to introduce Roman ensigns bearing the emperorís effigy into the city and to place brazen shields as military trophies in the Temple; he also endeavoured to utilize money belonging to the Temple in order to provide Jerusalem with a better water supply. And when eventually the Jews revolted, he quelled the insurrection by disguising his soldiers as citizens and making them mix with the crowd, so that at a given signal they might fall on the Jews and beat them with clubs -- a drastic measure, but, considering the times, probably no less necessary than Dwyerís in India and Mussoliniís in Addis Ababa.

Other procurators followed, but between AD 41 and 44 Palestine came once more under the Herodian dynasty in the person of Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great, only to be restored to the procurators of Rome, who then remained the actual rulers of the land up to the time of the Roman Dispersion and subsequently.

Meanwhile, however, a partial dispersion of the Jews had, of course, long been a fact, and in Alexandria, Rome, Babylonia, the East and certain parts of Asia Minor there were already flourishing communities of them.

Disliked in Alexandria chiefly because of their treachery on the arrival of the Romans, and the constant source of disturbances there, they were the victims of several acts of violence and bloodshed at the hands of the Gentiles of the city, though more than once they retaliated in kind and managed for a while to secure the respect if not the friendship of their Gentile neighbours. [22] The worst massacre of the Jews, which occurred in AD 60 under Nero, seems to have been unusually terrible, for no further clash between the two races occurred for a generation.

The community of Jews in Rome cannot be traced with certainty to any period earlier than that of Pompey, though probably thousands of them, consisting chiefly of freed slaves, had been settled there long before. Tiberius appears to have been the first emperor to banish them, although they were soon allowed to return. In Rome they were disliked by the Gentile population almost as heartily as in Alexandria, but for rather different reasons, into which we shall enter later. (See section on "The Character of the Jews".)

In Babylonia and the East, the very large Jewish community consisted chiefly of the descendants of the Israelites deported after the fall of Samaria (722 BC), partly of the Jews belonging to the southern kingdom deported by Nebuchadrezzar (597 and 586 BC) and who had preferred to remain in exile, and partly of Jews taken captive by Artaxerxes III on his return from his Egyptian campaign (346 BC). They constituted a very strictly religious population; but there were not wanting elements among them who helped to add to the general unrest of the lands forming the Parthian Empire, and for this, and their marked difference from the surrounding population, they were here also cordially hated by the Gentiles. Persecutions and massacres of Jews occurred, and in Seleucia a particularly terrible slaughter took place in which 50,000 are said to have lost their lives. [23]

In the various centres of Asia Minor where there happened to be Jewish communities long before the final upheaval in Jerusalem, the hostility of their Gentile neighbours appears to have been less pronounced, partly because, in these areas, the Jews were much more ready to adopt the Graeco-Oriental cults and to abandon their ancestral religion. But this was not universally so, although the influence of Hellenism was doubtless strong.

Generally speaking, the tendencies which led to the outbreak of the Jewish War, with its culmination in the Roman Dispersion, consisted of a certain hardening of the attitude of the Palestinian Jews towards the outside Graeco-Roman world as fast as the Near East came under the increasing influence of Rome, a fanatical concentration on Jewish law and rites which emphasized this hardening process, and an increasing feeling of impatience with any interference in their worship or their faith even by powerful rulers of Jewish faith, and much more, therefore, by the procurators and soldiers of Rome.

When Cuspius Fadus was sent to rule Judea in AD 44 he found much unrest in the land, caused to a great extent by the mutual dislike between Jew and Gentile, and the religious fanaticism and unbalanced sensitiveness of the Jews on religious matters. Trouble began to grow acute under the procurator Cumanus (AD 48?). Owing to the indecent behaviour of a Roman soldier during the Passover festival, and on the demand of the Jews that the man should be punished, a riot occurred in which thousands of Jews are said to have perished. [24] Other incidents of a similar and even more serious nature took place, and the fact that the office of Roman procurator in Judea was no bed of roses is shown by the ultimate fate of Cumanus himself, who was punished and sent into exile (AD 52) as the result of his handling of a clash between the Jews and the Samaritans.

The repeated severe castigations of the representatives of Rome for their mishandling of the complex conditions in Judea, however, by leading the Jews to despise these officers of the Roman state, contributed not a little to the final catastrophe.

Under the procurator Felix the lawlessness increased to an alarming extent; nor, according to the more sober judgment of recent historians, was it altogether his fault; local disturbances consisting chiefly of violent clashes between Jew and Gentile were constantly calling for his intervention, and ultimately Felix too was recalled, although he was far from being entirely to blame.

By the time the last of the procurators, Gessius Florus, arrived, affairs were quite hopeless, and the only two possible alternatives seemed to be the disappearance either of the Jews or of the Romans from Palestine.

The spark that kindled the final conflict was twofold -- a settlement by Florus of the long-standing dispute between the Jews and the Gentiles in Caesarea, which seemed to favour the Gentiles, and the fact that when feeling was running high among the Jews of Jerusalem as the result of the alleged ill-treatment of their fellow religionists in Caesarea, Florus demanded seventeen talents from the Temple treasury. Apparently he had a perfect right to do so, but owing to the feverish state of the Jews at the time, it was interpreted as piece of sacrilegious robbery, and to the astonishment of the whole Mediterranean world, this little people, whose only solid strength lay in their religion, rose up and declared war on the mighty power of Rome.

The amazing features of this amazing war were the initial success of the Jews, the comparatively long duration of the war (considering the relative strength of the combatants), the ferocity and courage with which most of the Jews fought, and the impressive resistance offered by them during the siege of Jerusalem, which ended only within the Temple itself, and the account of which in the pages of Kasteinís history constitutes one of the most stirring narratives that can be read in the annals of war. [25]

From AD 66 to 70 the conflict raged, and "it took nearly three years after the Fall of Jerusalem to clear the country of the last remnants of Jewish troops and insurgents and to capture the three fortresses of Herodeion, Machaerus and Masada. In Masada the fanatics swore they would never surrender, and when, after prolonged fighting, the Romans at last took the place, they found only two women and five children alive inside. All the rest had committed suicide." [26]

More than 1,000,000 Jews are said to have perished in this war, and over 90,000 were captured and sold as slaves, or reserved for gladiatorial exhibitions.

As for the Jews who remained in Judea, with their Temple and the Jewish state destroyed, and their relationship to Rome, which had hitherto been friendly on the whole, now irrevocably ruined, their position appeared to be desperate enough. But although their number had been constantly reduced by the ravages of war and by the thousands of their brethren who had gone into exile abroad, they were nevertheless strong enough, more than half a century later, to make one final gesture of resistance on a grand scale to the power of imperial Rome, and only when this failed (AD 134-135) did they relinquish all hope of re-establishing the Jewish state and restoring Jerusalem to their possession.

The rising, provoked by certain massacres of Hadrian, took the Romans completely by surprise. The Jews, adopting the methods of warfare practised by the Maccabeans in the early days of the struggle, harassed the Romans with their guerrilla tactics, and it was only when Hadrian finally sent out his most experienced and famous general, Julius Severus, that the conflict was brought to an end. Even after the arrival of Severus on the scene, however, it dragged on for another three and a half years, and the losses on either side are said to have been appallingly high, the Jews having lost half a million and the Roman casualties having been correspondingly serious.

But this was indeed the end. Jerusalem was now rebuilt as a pagan city. No Jews were allowed to live there, or even to visit the city on pain of death, and the Chosen People became aliens on their ancestral soil.

Thus did the Great Jewish Dispersion become a practical necessity. Henceforward these people could claim but their ancestral religion as their spiritual fatherland and rallying point, and the last of the dispersions sent them wandering to every corner of the known world, but especially into those areas where their brethren were already settled, or where Rome had established a certain modicum of civilization.

It will thus be impossible to follow the destiny of all the various groups thus formed, and we can concentrate only on the Jews who settled in England. Suffice it to say that, at least throughout the Middle Ages, the fate of the Jews in Europe was very much the same, no matter where they happened to be. Hard and mild treatment followed each other in quick succession, according to the temper of the local rulers or the circumstances of the time. Expulsions from Spain, France and other countries, sometimes enforced with the utmost severity, alternated with massacres or with spells of extraordinarily merciful and even preferential treatment. But everywhere the position of the Jews was more or less insecure, and yet everywhere they survived owing chiefly to the tremendous power of their law and religious tradition, their exceptional stamina, their inflexible will to maintain their unity in dispersion, and their surprising capacity for adaptation.

Indeed, a good, if unduly flattering, description of their destiny is that Lord Beaconsfield gives in his Biography of Lord George Bentinck, and with this significant quotation this section may well close.

"The world had by this time", writes Disraeli, "discovered that it is impossible to destroy the Jews. The attempt to extirpate them has been made under the most favourable auspices and on the largest scale; the most considerable means that man could command have been pertinaciously applied to this object for the longest period of recorded time. Egyptian pharaohs, Assyrian kings, Roman emperors, Scandinavian crusaders, Gothic princes and holy inquisitors, have alike devoted their energies to the fulfilment of this common purpose. Expatriation, exile, captivity, confiscation, torture on the most ingenious and massacre on the most extensive scale, a curious system of degrading customs and debasing laws which would have broken the heart of any other people, have been tried, and in vain. The Jews, after all this havoc, are probably more numerous at this date than they were during the reign of Solomon the Wise, are found in all lands, and unfortunately prospering in most. All which proves, that it is in vain for man to attempt to baffle the inexorable law of nature which has decreed that a superior race shall never be destroyed or absorbed by an inferior." [27]

Notes

1. In this brief narrative, the early chronology, at all events, is based on Theodore H. Robinson, MA DD, op. cit., Vol. I.

2. Keane, op. cit., p. 489.

3. Ibid., p. 489.

4. Robinson, op. cit., p. 45.

5. Ibid., p. 45.

6. Ibid., p. 64.

7. This is the date given by Robinson (op. cit., p. 80) , but Jewish Encyclopaedia (Vol. IV, p. 68) comes very near it with 1492 BC.

8. See on this point Robinson, op. cit., Chapter V.

9. Exodus xii, 40.

10. History of the Jews, by Lewis Browne (London, 1926), pp. 26 and 29.

11. Robinson says this "must be regarded as a minimum" (op. cit., p. 98).

12. Ibid., p. 99.

13. Ibid., p. 113.

14. Ibid., p. 33.

15. Ibid., p. 463.

16. Browne, op. cit., p. 44.

17. Ibid., p. 44.

18. Robinson, op. cit., p. 270.

19. Browne, op. cit., p. 54.

20. Oesterley, op. cit., p. 217.

21. Ibid., p. 302.

22. On this point, see Gibbon, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 222.

23. Oesterley, op. cit., p. 422.

24. Ibid., p. 431.

25. Kastein, op. cit., pp. 128, 129.

26. Ibid., pp. 129, 130.

27. Disraeli, op. cit., pp. 494, 495.

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