CHAPTER VIITHE TIME OF THE END.-JEWISH ASPECT, OR THE MODERN RENAISSANCE OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE.
WE have now seen that two of the features which, according to prophecy, ought to characterize the era of the "time of the end," the fall of the Papacy and Mohammedanism, have been singularly evident during the last two centuries, and especially during the last. It remains to inquire whether the other movement predicted to take place at the same time, the elevation and emancipation of. the long oppressed Jewish people, has made equal progress. Has the last century and a half been in any peculiar sense a time of Jewish renaissance? Has it presented a marked contrast to the whole course of Jewish history, during the previous twenty-three centuries of "the times of the Gentiles" ?
What has the history of the Jews been from the time of their restoration after the captivity era to the present day? It should be noted, in the first place, that the restoration of a small remnant to Palestine under the Persian monarch, left, of course, the large majority of the nation-not of the ten tribes only, but of all the tribes-scattered among the Gentiles. We can trace to some extent their migrations and movements. In very ancient times, before the Christian era, they had spread themselves in central Asia, in India, and in China; they had found their way into Africa and into Arabia, and were settled in considerable numbers in Spain, where they were enjoying social consideration, wealth, and influence. Paul desired to visit their numerous synagogues in that country. Jews and proselytes were found scattered throughout the Roman empire in the time of our Lord. This earlier dispersion differed from the restored remnant of their race, in that they were innocent of the supreme crime of rejecting the Messiah and crucifying the Lord of Glory. Their sufferings consequently have been neither as great nor as long continued as those of their more guilty brethren, whose history especially we are now considering, a history which may be divided into three sections.
1. From the restoration era to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, and the close of the Jewish war under Hadrian.
2. From the final dispersion of the nation to the middle of last century.
3. From the French Revolution to the present day.
We need not dwell on the first section, save to recall that its six centuries, though a period of revived national existence, did not restore Jewish independence. The Jews were, for the most part, under rulers of their own race, in fulfilment of the prophecy that the sceptre should not depart from Judah until Shiloh came. But the Persians, the Greeks, the Idumæans, the Egyptians, and the Romans, in turn all controlled their destinies, and their sufferings were often great, especially in the time of Antiochus. The severe calamities of this section of their history commenced however with the Roman war of A.D. 66, and continued till A.D.
Even before the Christian era they suffered at intervals severely from the Romans, and in A.D. 21 they were banished from Rome, then the worlds metropolis. In AD. 42 they were massacred at Alexandria; in A.D. 50, 30,000 of them were killed in Jerusalem in a tumult with the Romans; and five years rater they were again banished from Rome, having been previously restored by Claudius. But it was in AD. 66 that the worst sufferings of the Jews under the Romans commenced. Gessius Florus was at that time Roman governor of India, and was a grasping, covetous, cruel ruler. His oppressions led to a widespread revolt, and such was the exasperation of the Jewish people, that they made a successful stand in an insurrection against their Roman masters. When the tidings of the defeat of his representative in Judea reached Nero, in the midst of his fearful debaucheries in Rome, he was alarmed, and sent Vespasian, a general of tried valour and skill, accompanied by his son Titus and by Trajan, the father of the emperor of that name, to reconquer the province of Syria. The command of Upper and Lower Galilee was entrusted by the Jews to Josephus, a famous general of the Asmonean race, more celebrated as the great historian of this war, and of the Jewish people. He sustained with marvellous skill and bravery a siege of forty-seven days at Jotapata, where the Jews made a most desperate resistance. They were at last overpowered by Vespasian, after 40,000 men had been killed and some 1,200 taken captive. In another action on the Lake of Gennesaret 30,000 prisoners were made and sold for slaves, while 12,000, unable to bear arms, were put to death. The towns of Galilee one after another yielded to the forces of Vespasian, and awful examples were made of those which resisted, as did Gamala and Gischala. These were however only the beginning of troubles; the courage of the Jews was desperate, amounting almost to infatuation, and sustained by the false hope of supernatural help from the coming of Messiah. During their long four years struggle with the Romans, comparatively few were taken prisoners, though millions fell in fight; but Jewish fanaticism and personal bravery could not cope with the overwhelming resources of Rome and with the high discipline of her armies. The only marvel was that Judaea could hold out as long as it did in the struggle. 20,000 were massacred at Caesarea, while those who escaped the slaughter were seized and sent to the galleys by Florus.
In the spring of AD. 70 Titus gave orders for the march on Jerusalem. According to Josephus, the city at the passover contained two and a half millions of people, of whom 1,100,000 perished during the conflicts, sieges, and assaults of the city, or by the hand of the executioner. An immense multitude of prisoners, men, women, and children, were either sold into slavery, crucified, or thrown to wild beasts. Zion was surrounded by a triple wall, defended by ninety towers, and seldom has more difficulty been experienced in taking a city. The siege lasted five months; the Roman cohorts got possession of the city only by sections, and the taking of each wall demanded a fresh siege. During the last two months, when the defence had already become hopeless, Titus tried to persuade the Jews to capitulate; and on their refusal a fearful series of crucifixions of the Jewish prisoners took place by his command around the city. But nothing could shake off the confident fanaticism of the Jews, nor damp their expectation of supernatural help at this awful crisis. At last, in desperation, Titus compassed the whole city with a wall and a ditch, at a little distance from the third and last remaining Jewish wall. This work, which might well have occupied three months, was actually completed in three days, owing to the overwhelming numbers and desperate activity of the Romans. Then began the terrible woes of the doomed Jerusalem. The horrors of a famine, in which mothers devoured their own children, were heightened by frightful internal discord and dissension. At length however the sanctuary itself was captured; and though Titus had given the strictest orders that the temple should be spared, it was accidentally set on fire and consumed. August 5th, A.D. 70, arose on an awful scene of smoking ruins deluged with blood. [The daily sacrifice had ceased in Israel on July 13th, A.D. 70, for lack of persons to offer it.]
The end was come. Many days were devoted by the Roman soldiers to completing the sack of the city and crucifying the remaining inhabitants. Thus were fulfilled the words of Daniel, "The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.."
About sixty years later, the Jews had sufficiently recovered from this crushing blow to rise afresh in revolt against the Roman power, and then Hadrian completed the work of their dispersion among all nations of the earth. He made the whole country of Palestine a desolation, expelled all its remaining Jewish inhabitants, forbade the Jews on pain of death even to approach Ælia Capitolina, the Roman city erected on the site of Jerusalem. He slaughtered 580,000 Jews in a murderous war which lasted three years and a half, and sold thousands of prisoners at the lowest prices into slavery.. The rest took refuge in foreign lands, and Palestine has never since been inhabited by the children of Israel.
The first portion of the history of the Jews during "the times of the Gentiles" was therefore for the most part a time of dreadful trouble, and at its close the wrath of God came upon them to the uttermost; their name was struck off the roll of nations, politically and territorially they ceased to be a people. But though without country, metropolis or temple, they have continued to this day to be as distinct a nation as any on the face of the earth. They had rejected their Messiah, but not their law or their prophets; nor, alas! even those "traditions of the elders," which our Lord so strongly condemned. These they collected with the greatest care, immediately after the triumph of Hadrian, and with much pains and patience embodied as the "oral law" in their Mishna. Behind this wall which they built up they have ever since continued to hide from the light of fulfilled prophecy, making void, not only the law of God, but the predictions of the prophets, that they may keep their own traditions. Their faithful observance of circumcision, of the Sabbath, and of the other ordinances of Moses, and of the Talmudic precepts and ceremonies, preserved them in all the lands of their exile as one people, a peculiar people, though dwelling among all nations.
What has been their history since their final dispersion? It is needful to have a clear conception of this in order to be in a position to judge fairly as to current fulfilments of prophecy.
As in the captivity era, so in this, the predicted judgments did not descend on the Jewish people in full severity at first.. History shows that Divine judgments, as a rule, advance slowly but steadily on guilty cities and communities, so that those who are blind to the moral government of God may, if they will, attribute all that happens to second causes. The judgments on Israel waxed gradually stronger and stronger, only as the long dark night of the Gentile "seven times" wore on. The interval from Hadrian to Constantine saw the Jewish people in measure prospering and flourishing in the lands of their exile throughout the Roman earth. They were not at first despised and oppressed by their conquerors, but rather the reverse. They obtained influence over the people, and honour at court in Rome. And, alas! they too often used both for the persecution of Christians. They looked with a malignant triumph on the disciples of Christ, compelled to assemble in the catacombs to worship the crucified One, while their own synagogues were recognised as under Roman favour, and their schools and colleges increasing in general esteem. They gladly took part in the pagan persecutions of the early Church, as in the case of the venerable Polycarp in the time of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, showing that the overthrow of their nation and their own exile had in no wise diminished their hatred to Christ and His disciples. As paganism and superstition lost their hold in the third century, the writings of Moses and the prophets rose in the appreciation of the intelligent, and from a combination of causes the state of the Jews in the three first centuries gave little indication of the advent of the terrible experiences which were to succeed, and to be prolonged more or less over a thousand years. Their rabbis applied to their condition in these early days the words of Daniel, "Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help."
But the conversion of Constantine changed all this. When the ruler of the Roman world bowed the knee in adoration before the crucified Galilæan, a complete reverse took place in the condition of the Christ-rejecting nation. The Jews then became a condemned and persecuted sect, and sank ever deeper into oppression and misery. They lost the imperial favour, and the privileges they had enjoyed, and were excluded from one sphere after another. Military and civic careers were gradually closed to them, though they were still free to observe their own religion, and retain their rights as men and citizens; and their persons and property were as yet secure.
With the fifth century the gloom deepened; and both in the eastern and in the western empire of Rome the treatment of the Jews became worse and worse. The legislation of Justinian put the axe to the root of the tree, by declaring that "civil rights could only belong to those who professed the orthodox faith." The Jews were entirely excluded from his code and his edicts. Restrictions were imposed on them in favour of Christians, and proselytism was punished with death. From this time forward they had no political position of importance in the eastern empire, though in the farther East, beyond its bounds, they continued to flourish till the Saracenic wars. After that time popular hatred and contempt, with bitter persecution, were their portion under the crescent in the East, as well as under the cross in the West. Charlemagne and the entire Carlovingian dynasty sought as far as possible to protect the Jews, but with the downfall of that line of monarchs began the worst troubles of the exiles of Palestine. With the rise of the Norman power, and the feudal system in Europe, commenced a period of seven centuries of the most cruel oppression and profound degradation to the Jews in all the nations of Christendom.
The era of the crusades was the darkest part of this dark night of Israels tribulation. It brought to them a long continuance of two centuries of the most atrocious massacres and tortures, which aimed at their utter extermination, and were not far from securing it. In vain even the popes exerted their influence to mitigate Jewish miseries and woes; men calling themselves Christians, and setting forth to rescue the holy places from the Turk, commenced their task by the massacre, on their way to Syria, of all the Jews in Europe! That age of chivalry esteemed only two classes of men-military heroes and agricultural serfs. The Jews were neither-they were traders, pariahs of society. Too often their financial transactions were usurious, and excited popular fury, as they still do occasionally on the continent. The men of those days understood little of finance, and considered all interest usury. The Jews, "doubly detested as the murderers of Christ and as the bloodsuckers of Christian wealth, were in the middle ages a special object of severity to the laws, both ecclesiastical and civil, of hatred to the burghers, and of violence to the populace. Even the sovereigns who gave them protection made use of them merely as a sponge, which they allowed to fill with the money of their subjects, that they might squeeze its contents into the royal treasury." [Dr. ISAAC DA COSTA: "Israel and the Gentiles." London: J. Kisbet & Co., 21, Berners Street, W.]
A Jewish calendar, with a chronological table, forming "a summary of Jewish history from the flood to the year 1860," lies before us. We run the eye questioningly over its pages, and what do we find as we review the incidents of this second section of Jewish history there recorded? An unconscious acknowledgment from Jewish pens that every threat of judgment denounced against Israel in case of continued rebellion and idolatry, by Moses and the prophets, has been fulfilled. An acknowledgment that ever since their fall before the power of Babylon, in the sixth century B.C., they have been in subjection to Gentile rulers; and that since AD. 135 they have been dispersed among all nations; that their history has consisted of one long chain of great and sore calamities, interrupted only with brief gleams of passing prosperity. That they have been exposed to innumerable evils of every kind: to famines and plagues, captivities and banishments without number, to social distress and degradation, to outlawry and the hatred of their Gentile neighbours, to false accusations and frequent massacres, to exactions and imposts almost exceeding belief, to pillage and torture, to the most painful forms of social ostracism and injustice; in a word, that they have been so relentlessly crushed down by their Gentile masters, that existence itself would have been crushed out of them long since but for the strange indestructibility with which, in the providence of God, their race is endowed, that wonderful, vigorous vitality, which caused them, even in their profound misery in Egypt, to multiply till their numbers alarmed their oppressors; and which, after the return of only 50,000 of them from Babylon, caused them again to increase to many millions during the five centuries prior to the first advent, has never forsaken them. From first to last their only appropriate emblem is the bush that "burned with fire, yet was not consumed." But general statements fail to impress the mind; let us take some special incidents, and try to realize the misery the facts imply.
In A.D. 1020 Canute banished all the Jews from England. What is it to be uprooted and banished from your native land? It is to he deprived at a stroke of home and friends, of business and prospects in life, and cast with a helpless family a stranger among strangers.
In A.D. 1068 the only burial place in all England allowed to the Jews was in Cripplegate (where Jewin Street now stands), and Jews from all other parts of the country were forced, at enormous expense and inconvenience, to bring thither their dead. How should we feel if we lived under such a law as that?
In 1096 the crusaders began what they called the "Holy War," by attempting to murder all the Jews in Europe who would not submit to baptism! The most horrible carnage took place all over Germany, where numbers of Jews destroyed each other, mothers even slaying their own children to avoid the barbarities of the infuriated Christian fanatics. Two hundred Jews who had thrown themselves into the Rhine at Cologne were dragged from the water and inhumanly butchered.
Similar atrocities marked the commencement of the second crusade in A.D. 1146, though St. Bernard exerted himself to the utmost to prevent them. About this time commenced the gross financial injustice which continued for many centuries to be one principal instrument of persecution. Louis VII., of France, released the crusaders from all their debts to Jews. Henry II. ordered the Jews to quit England, by way of extorting a large sum of money for permission to remain. In A.D. 1181 Philip Augustus seized the Jews in their synagogues, imprisoned them, cancelled all debts due to them, confiscated their property, and ordered them to quit France immediately. When starting on the crusades, Henry II. ordered £60,000 (an enormous sum in those days) to be levied on the Jews to defray his expenses. Murderous riots were raised against these unfortunate people at the coronation of Richard I., when the populace slaughtered every Jew they could find, and after plundering them set fire to their houses. The following year occurred a terrible and similar tragedy in the provinces. The governor of York Castle offered the Jews protection, which they accepted; but they were besieged in the castle, and their resources being cut off, they, at the instigation of their venerable rabbi, in one night slew their wives and children, burnt the property they had with them, drew lots for killing each other, and then set fire to the castle to avoid the more barbarous tortures their persecutors intended..
In England the condition of the Jews was for centuries peculiarly miserable; few things in our history reflect such disgrace on both kings and people. Up to the reign of Edward I., when they were banished the country, they were incessantly victimized in the most cruel and unjust manner. The Jews and their families were in the eyes of the law mere slaves and bondsmen to the king, having no rights whatever.
The laws of Edward the Confessor had established this. "The Jews, and all they possess, belong to the king." The Crown had therefore absolute power to appropriate at any time their persons, their wives and children, and the wealth which with peculiar facility and skill they accumulated. The laws provided that the Jews were not to be taxed like the rest of the nation, "as they are talliable to the king alone as his own bondsmen, and not besides." Apart from any purely arbitrary and capricious exertion of power by the Crown over the persons and property of the Jews, there were certain points in which cruel tyranny was systematically enforced. Thus upon the death of a Jew the king asserted his right to the whole of the property and effects of which the deceased had been possessed. If he left a wife or children they were permitted to succeed to the estate only on the payment of heavy and arbitrary fines, amounting to at least one-half of the whole. Upon the conversion of a Jew to Christianity the king, up to the reign of Edward I., seized all his estate and applied it to his own use. Edward I. granted that from henceforth only one-half of the estate should in such cases be taken. This custom seems to have prevailed in various countries of Europe, as well as in England, and the reason given for it is, that the sincerity of the conversion might thereby be shown. A curious mode for Christians to adopt in order to manifest their desire for the conversion of the Jews! They oppressed and ill-treated them for being Jews, and took away from them all their property on their becoming Christians!
Certain towns were appointed for the residence of the Jews, and certain parts of these towns; and they were not permitted to dwell in any other places. A special Court of Exchequer was appointed to manage all their financial affairs, so that the king could at any moment become acquainted with any transaction whatever, undertaken by a Jew, as these courts kept copies of all documents.
King John ordered all the Jews of England to be imprisoned until they made a full discovery of all they possessed, after which, by the most cruel tortures, he extorted from them an enormous sum of money. One man at Bristol was ordered to have a tooth extracted daily until he paid 10,000 marks. Henry III. demanded 20,000 marks from the Jews in A.D. 1241, and a second time, in 1245, he extorted 4,000 more. Louis IX. confiscated one-third of the debts due to them throughout his country. Henry III. obliged them to give him 18,000 marks. Philip V. imprisoned the Jews at Paris to compel them to prove all their debts; these he seized, and after obtaining 150,000 francs condemned many to the flames. But it would be impossible to enumerate all the instances of this kind of financial oppression which befell the Jews in Europe in the middle ages.
A very common pretext for robbing and murdering the Jews has been to accuse them of some unnatural crime, such as poisoning the rivers to produce cholera or plague, and then to rouse the populace against them. In AD. 1220, for instance, the body of a girl was found in the Rhine; the Jews of Cologne were accused of having drowned her, and the bishop fined them 4,200 pieces of silver. His Jewish physician was accused of poisoning John I., of Portugal, and the Jews were obliged to pay 50,000 crowns. They were often accused of crucifying children for their passover lambs, and of similar enormities; and when the passions of the people were sufficiently roused, massacre and plunder invariably resulted. The Lateran Council in 1215 ordered the Jews to wear a distinguishing mark, and the death penalty was affixed to a Jew marrying a Christian, or having a Christian servant.
Perhaps the worst calamity which befell these people in the middle ages was their banishment from Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella, in A.D. 1492. The edict ran thus: "Seeing that the Jews of our cities induce many Christians to embrace their religion, particularly the nobles of Andalusia, for this they are banished under the severest penalties." The penalty was death if found in the kingdom after four months, unless they embraced Christianity. The inquisitor, Torquemada, prohibited Christians supplying them on their journey to the coast with bread, water, meat, or wine. A Jew offered 600,000 crowns in the name of his nation to procure the revocation of this cruel edict; the king and queen were inclined to consent, but the inquisitor Torquemada prevented their doing so. 800,000 souls on this account had to expatriate themselves from a country where they and their ancestors had resided in safety for centuries; a country whose darkness had been enlightened by their learning, and whose wealth had been increased by their industry. They had to quit the soil they had cultivated, the scenes of their youth, and the graves of their fathers, on a few months notice, and at the sacrifice of most of their property; and to go forth, not knowing whither they went; and to their honour be it said they did so rather than adjure their religion, or forsake the law given on Sinai. Many of them suffered indescribable hardships, and a large number perished.
Thomas de Torquemada advanced into the royal presence bearing a crucifix. "Behold," he said, "Him whom Judas sold for thirty pieces of silver. Sell ye Him now for a higher price, and render an account of your bargain before God." The sovereigns trembled before the stern Dominican, and the Jews had no alternative but baptism or exile. For many centuries their fathers had dwelt in this delightful country, which they had fertilized with their industry, enriched with their commerce, adorned with their learning; yet there were few examples of weakness or apostasy. The whole race, in a lofty spirit of self-devotion-we envy not that mind which cannot appreciate its real greatness-determined to abandon all, rather than desert the religion of their fathers. They left the homes of their youth, the scenes of their early associations, the sacred graves of their ancestors, the more recent tombs of their own friends and relatives. They left the synagogues in which they had so long worshipped their God; the schools where those wise men had taught who had thrown a lustre which shone, even through the darkness of he age, upon the Hebrew name. They were allowed four months to prepare for this everlasting exile. The unbaptized Jew found in the kingdom after that period was condemned to death. The persecutor could not even trust the hostile feelings of his bigoted subjects to execute his purpose; a statute was thought necessary prohibiting any Christian from harbouring a Jew after that period. Many were sold for slaves; Christendom swarmed with them. The wealthier were permitted to carry away their movables, excepting gold and silver, for which they were to accept letters of change, or any merchandise not prohibited. Their property they might sell; but the market was soon glutted, and the cold-hearted purchasers waited till the last instant to wring from their distress the hardest terms. A contemporary author states that he saw Jews give a house for an ass, and a vineyard for a small quantity of cloth or linen. Yet many of them concealed their gold and jewels in their clothes and saddles; some swallowed them, in hopes thus at least to elude the scrutiny of the officers. The Jews consider this calamity almost as dreadful as the taking and ruin of Jerusalem; for whither to fly, and where to find a more hospitable shore?. Incidents which make the blood run cold are related of the miseries which they suffered. Some of those from Arragon found their way into Navarre; others to the seashore, where they set sail for Italy, or the coast of Morocco; others crossed the frontier into Portugal. "Many of the former were cast away, or sunk," says a Jewish writer, "like lead into the ocean." On board the ship which was conveying a great number to Africa the plague broke out. The captain ascribed the infection to his circumcised passengers, and set them all on shore on a desert coast, without provisions. They dispersed; one, a father, saw his beautiful wife perish before his eyes, fainted himself with exhaustion, and waking, beheld his two children dead by his side. A few made their way to a settlement of Jews. Some reached the coast of Genoa, but they bore famine with them; they lay perishing on the shore. The clergy approached with the crucifix in one hand and provisions in the other. Nature was too strong for faith; they yielded, and were baptized. A Genoese, an eyewitness, described their landing and their sufferings. He commences with these expressive words: "At first sight their treatment might seem praiseworthy, as doing honour to our God; perhaps there was some little cruelty in it, since we considered them not as beasts, but as men created by God. It was wretched to witness their sufferings; they were wasted away with hunger, especially sucklings and infants; mothers half alive carried their children famishing with hunger in their arms, and died holding them. Many expired from cold, others with squalor and thirst. The tossing about on the sea, and the unaccustomed miseries of the voyage, had destroyed an incredible multitude. I speak not of the cruelty and rapacity with which they were treated by the captains of the ships. Some were thrown into the sea by the cupidity of the sailors; some lived to sell their children to pay for their passage. Many came into the city, but were not permitted to stay long-by the ancient laws of Genoa not above three days. They were allowed however to refit their vessels, and to recruit themselves some days from their fatigues; except that they could move, and that with difficulty, you would have thought them dead, they were crowded on the mole, with the sea on all sides. So many died that the air was infected; ulcers broke out, and the plague which visited Genoa next year was ascribed to that infection. The acts of the clergy, and the compulsory baptism, rest on Jewish tradition. Into Rome the fugitives were admitted, but they were received with the utmost inhospitality by their own brethren, fearful that the increased numbers would bring evil upon the community. Even the profligate heart of Alexander VI. was moved with indignation. "This is something new," he exclaimed; "I had always heard that a Jew had ever compassion on a Jew." The pope commanded the resident Jews to evacuate the country; they bought the revocation of the edict at a considerable price. Those who reached Fez were not permitted to enter the town: the king, though by no means unfriendly, dreaded the famine they might cause among his own subjects. They were encamped on the sand, suffering all the miseries of hunger, living on the roots they dug up, or the grass of the field, "happy," says one Jewish authority, "if the grass had been plentiful." Yet even in this state they religiously avoided the violation of the Sabbath by plucking the grass with their hands; they grovelled on their knees, and cropped it with their teeth. Worse than all, they were exposed to the most wanton barbarities of the savage people, A woman, unable to bear the sight of her pining child in his. agony, struck him dead to the earth with a large stone. Many sold their children for bread. The king of the country afterwards declared all such children free. A pirate of Sallee allured a number of youths -one hundred and fifty-on board his ship, with the promise of provisions; and amid the shrieks of the parents on the shore set sail, and sold his booty in some distant port. The captain had intended to murder them all; a merchant on board the ship remonstrated. "How can I otherwise avenge the blood of Christ, whom the Jews slew?" argued the pirate. " Christ Himself," was the reply, "allowed His blood to be shed to redeem mankind." It was not thought wrong to cast them out on a wild shore. Another party were landed by a barbarous captain of a ship, entirely naked and utterly desolate, on the African coast. The first who ascended a hill to survey the country were devoured by wild beasts, which came howling down upon the rest of the miserable crew. They plunged into the sea, and stood shivering in the water till the wild beasts retreated; they then crept back to the beach. For five days they remained in this miserable plight, and were rescued by the humane activity of the captain of another vessel, who sent his boat to their relief.
Many of the Spanish Jews naturally sought refuge in the neighbouring kingdom of Portugal, and the king consented to allow them to enter the country on payment of a poll tax; but they were only to pass through to the coast. His successor Emanuel, who was at first inclined to protect the Jews, married the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, and was soon influenced to follow her parents example. He even surpassed them in barbarity. He named a day for all Jews to quit the kingdom, and appointed certain ports for their embarkation. Before that time he issued another secret order to seize all children under fourteen years of age, to tear them from the arms and bosoms of their parents, and disperse them through the kingdom, to be baptized and brought up as Christians. The secret transpired, and lest they should conceal their children, it was instantly put in execution. Great God of mercy, this was in the name of Christianity! Frantic mothers threw their children into the wells and rivers-they destroyed them with their own hands. One mother threw herself at the feet of the king as he was riding to church. She had already lost six children; she implored that her youngest might be spared to her. The courtiers repelled her with scorn and ill-usage. The king told them to let her go, "the poor bitch deprived of her whelps." But though stifled in the heart of a monarch, the voice of nature still spoke in that of the people, however bigoted. They assisted the Jews to conceal their children. By a new act of perfidy, Emanuel suddenly revoked the order for their embarkation at two of the ports which he had named, and the delay made them liable to the law. The more steadfast in their faith were shipped off as slaves; but the spirits of many were broken, and on condition that they might receive back their children, and that Government would not scrutinize their conduct too closely for twenty years, they submitted to baptism. Yet Pope Alexander VI. conferred the title "Catholic" on the Crown of Spain for this cruel act! Some of the exiles took refuge in Turkey and Africa, some in Portugal, Arragon, Navarre, and Italy.
So the story goes on; banishment after banishment, extortion after extortion, massacre after massacre! In A.D. 1545, 5,000 Jews were burned, with their houses, synagogues, and valuable libraries at Salonica. Fifteen years later, numbers were burned in Germany and banished from Prague, on a false accusation that they had caused the fires which took place in various parts of the empire; the true incendiaries were however afterwards discovered, and they were permitted to return. Pope Pius V. ordered the Jews, under penalty of confiscation of property and becoming slaves, to quit the Papal dominions. The Janissaries at Constantinople set fire to the Jews quarter, burnt down 3,000 houses, and obtained property to the value 50,000,000 of crowns. In 1613 the Jews quarter in Frankfort was burned, and they were obliged to quit the city, though afterwards permitted to return.
After this date, however, we observe a diminution of oppressions and cruelties; such incidents as those we have enumerated did not cease, but they steadily
decreased in number and in atrocity. In 1655 a petition was presented by the Jewish people to Cromwell, that they should be allowed to return with certain, privileges and rights, to reside in England. After long consideration in Council, Government were inclined to consent. The judges declared that there was no law which forbade their return, and the divines were much divided in opinion, some asserting that the Scriptures promised their conversion. Cromwell declared that since there was a promise for their conversion, means ought to be used to that end; and that the only means was the preaching of the gospel. How could this means be employed unless they were admitted where the gospel is preached? In conclusion, however, any general admission was laid aside "as a thing decried by the clergy;" but after hearing the debates, Cromwell and his councillors gave permission, "toleration and dispensation," to a considerable number of Jews individually to come and live in London, and he granted them permission to build a synagogue. [Bishop Burnet: "History of his own Time," vol. i., p. 17]
In the following year, 1656, the burial ground at Mile End, which is still used as a cemetery by the Jews of London, was leased to these people for 999 years, and the same year the first English and Hebrew grammar was published in London. In 1670, toleration and liberty of conscience were granted to the Jews in Persia, where they had suffered much in former times, and where, even as late as the end of the sixteenth century, the Jews had been persecuted with much severity. They were banished from Vienna, and also from Oran in Algeria, in 1669, indicted for meeting for public worship in London in 1673, and ordered to quit all French colonies in 1683, those who did not do so were to be seized and their property confiscated. They were excluded from Russia by Peter the Great in 1687; and even so late as 1685 Jewish merchants were arrested on the Royal Exchange, and "for non-attendance at church!"
Not until the second quarter of the eighteenth century did the tide begin slightly to turn. In 1723 Louis XV. gave the Jews permission to hold real estate in France; and in the same year our own Parliament for the first time acknowledged them as British subjects. In 1740 this privilege of being regarded as British subjects was extended to Jewish sailors who had served two years in our ships of war. Christian VI. of Denmark, in 1738 opened all trades to the Jews; and in 1750 Frederick II. of Prussia granted toleration, though on the most intolerant conditions, to those in his dominions.
One of the earliest steps towards real Jewish emancipation was the passing of the "Naturalization Bill" in England in the middle of last century (AD. 1753). This act simply provided that Jews might be naturalized "without receiving the sacrament." It met with the most violent resistance in the House of Commons, but finally passed.
But such was still the inveterate and unreasonable prejudice against the outcast nation, that a loud and fierce opposition against the act immediately arose throughout the country. Furious pamphlets and sermons assailed it, the streets resounded with popular songs attacking it, and such was the agitation, that it had actually to be repealed next year!
In order to give an idea of the extent to which inveterate prejudice, even at this late date, filled the minds of even the educated classes, we give an extract from two sermons of the day. One preacher, who took for his motto, Acts xvi. 20, said: "The Jews have exceedingly troubled our city of late, and they are like to trouble it much longer. The city of London, in Common Council, with great unanimity addressed the House of Commons against the bill, which passed by a great majority. The bill is entirely of a religious nature, it must have a malignant influence on our religion. It strikes at the root of our present establishment, and affects the very being of Christianity. The Jews ought to he more concerned to become Christians than Englishmen. God cast them out; we take them in. God expelled them; they come to us expelled, and we naturalize them. What He made their punishment we turn into a reward. . . . The Lord sent them punishments, and therefore it would he prudent to put off naturalizing the Jews until He take them away. They who now pretend to be Jews are blasphemers, and shall we naturalize blasphemy? They are the synagogue of Satan, and shall we license Satans meeting-house? God forbid! The thought fills us with horror. God Almighty keep us from the infatuation, and give us not over to this dreadful guilt!"
There was a curious blending of the temporal and spiritual in some of the alarms.
"With God there is mercy, with the Jews there is no mercy. If this bill becomes law, we are Jewish slaves, and, what is more dreadful, without any hopes of relief from God. For this bill is in its whole nature a voluntary renunciation of the Providence and protection of God, leaving no room for the continuation of His mercy. . . . Awake, therefore, my fellow Britons, Christians and Protestants! It is not Hannibal at your gates, but the Jews that are coming for the keys of your church doors. Let us, if we have love and zeal for our religion, our king, and our country, pray that we may not be delivered up to the merciless will of the Jews, who know no goodness but that which blasphemed and murdered the Lord from heaven; nor desire any glory but that of putting an end to all Christian Churches, kings, and kingdoms."
But "the time of the end" had at last arrived; the long persecutions and miseries of nearly twenty-three centuries were to draw to a close. Neither people nor kings could arrest the change that was coming.
The Emperor Joseph II. of Austria was the first really to emancipate his Jewish subjects. In 1780 he opened the schools and universities of the empire to them; granted them the privilege of taking degrees in philosophy, medicine, and civil law; allowed them to follow any trade or establish manufactories, subjecting them to the same laws as Christians, and permitted them to attend fairs in towns where they did not reside, which they had previously been forbidden to do. He delivered them from an odious tax called the body tax, which had imposed upon them the most painful restrictions, forbidding a Jew to wear a beard or to frequent places of amusement, or even to go out of his house on the festival days of the Church; and from other laws which reduced them as far as possible to the level of beasts. In the year 1788, Louis XVI. of France passed a similar edict, appointed a royal commission to remodel on principles of justice all laws concerning the Jews."
Indeed, we may say that the period since the middle of the last century has been one of uninterrupted and rapid emancipation, uplifting, and renaissance to the Jewish people. The following statements of an American professor, Dr. Kellogg, present some of the evidence bearing on this subject. [See his admirable little volume, which all ministers and teachers especially should read, "The Jews; or, Prediction and Fulfilment." J. Nisbet & Co., 21, Berners Street, London, W.] "It is an indisputable fact that, for now more than a hundred years, the Jews have been steadily rising out of that depth of subjection and debasement in which they had lain for centuries, and that concomitant with this there have appeared among both Jews and Gentiles many other exceptional phenomena predicted by the prophets as to accompany or usher in Israels final restoration.
Of these facts the first to be mentioned is the civil emancipation of the Jews, which has been one of the most remarkable events of the history of our age. The prophetic word, oppressed and spoiled evermore, graphically represents their general history until quite recent times; but a wonderful change has passed, and is still passing, on the condition of the scattered nation. The Lord had said concerning Israel that in the latter days He would break the yoke of the Gentiles from off his neck and burst his bonds (Jer. xxx. 8): and it is a fact which cannot be denied, that for the past hundred and thirty years the world has been witnessing a most literal fulfilment of these words.
"The first act in the modern emancipation of the Jews was their enfranchisement in England in 1753. Simultaneously two men appeared on the continent of Europe, the one a Jew of Germany and the other a Gentile, a Frenchman, who were destined, in the providence of God, to do more than any other two individuals in preparing the way both of Jewish deliverance, and of judgment on the oppressing Gentiles. These men were Moses Mendelssohn and Voltaire. It was in 1755 that Mendelssohn published the first of those writings which soon made him the foremost of the literary men of his time. About the same time Voltaire, followed by Rousseau and the encyclopaedists, began to publish those writings which had so much to do in the bringing about a generation later, the great French Revolution, in which awful convulsion the chains fell from the limbs of Israel, wherever the victorious armies of France appeared, and the Jews began once more to be accounted men.
"Voltaire fiercely hated the Jews, and yet no one did more to prepare the way for their emancipation. The doctrine of the absolute equality of men, without regard to race or creed, and the consequent doctrine of the equal rights of all men, so sedulously propagated by Voltaire, Rousseau, and others, involved as its inevitable practical issue the emancipation of the Jews from all exclusive burdens and odious discriminations.
"Professor Grätz, the eminent Jewish historian, in his great work on the history of his people, dates the beginning of the fourth and last of the periods into which he divides Jewish history from A.D. 1750.
"The United States of America were the first nation to embody in their laws the principle that Gentile and Jew were equal in right and privileges before the law, A.D. 1776.
"In 1788 Louis XVI. appointed a royal commission, with Malesherbes at the head, to remodel on principles of justice all laws concerning the Jews.
"So things were going on, when the French Revolution, with all its unprecedented terrors, burst upon bewildered Europe. The Lord had said by the prophets that when the hour of Israels deliverance should come, He would make them that had oppressed her drunk with their own blood (Isa. xlix. 24, 26), and that He would then take the cup of trembling out of the hand of Israel and put it into the hand of them that had afflicted her (Isa. ii. 22); and so, as every one knows, it came to pass at that time. The great timepiece of the dispensation struck the predestined hour, the great Revolution began, and Europe was straightway filled with fire and blood. Throne after throne went down in flame and judgment, and as the thrones of the Gentiles fell everywhere, there fell with them the chains of ages from the limbs of Israel. In the almost universal massacres in France the Jews alone, it is said, commonly escaped harm, and even in the Reign of Terror passed unhurt, like Israel of old in the days of Egypts plagues."
The emancipation of the Jews in France was completed in the Revolution, and as the movement spread over Europe, one country after another followed the French example. In 1805 Alexander I. of Russia revoked the edict of banishment, and the Jews flocked back into his empire in such numbers, that it is supposed that a third of all the Jews in the world are now found in Russia. In 1806 the Jews were made citizens in Italy and Westphalia, as they had previously been in Holland and Belgium. In 1809 Baden, and in 1813 Prussia and also Denmark, followed the example of the other countries of Europe, and completely emancipated the Jews; and at the Congress of Vienna all the contracting powers formally pledged themselves to turn their attention to the improvement of the condition of the Jews throughout Europe. Several Acts of Parliament ameliorating their condition, stage by stage, were passed in England in the years 1830, 1833, 1836; but not until the tenth attempt, in 1858, was full equality conceded, and the Jews made eligible for election to Parliament. In 1844 was secured from the Turkish Government the firman which pledges to the Jews protection from persecution throughout the Ottoman dominions, including, of course, the Holy Land. In 1848, when revolution again shook nearly every throne of Europe to its foundation, the emancipated Jews appeared in the forefront of the movement, leading and ruling where for ages they had been ruled over and oppressed. "In France appeared in the Government the Jews Fould, Crémieux, and Goudchaux; in the provisional government of Venice the Jew Pincherle was a leading member; in Berlin Jacobi was leading the opposition; in the parliament of Frankfort the Jew Riesser was the vice-president; in Austria Fischhof appeared at the head of the Government after the flight of the court; while Adjutant Freund, afterwards more widely known as Mahmoud Pasha, was leading the troops in the Hungarian insurrection."
In 1867 Turkey gave the Jews for the first time in centuries the right to own real estate in the land of their fathers. In 1870, in the treaty between Bavaria and the Confederation of North Germany, which fully consummated the unification of North Germany, Bismark secured for the Jews of Bavaria the same privileges as they enjoyed in other German States, the full rights of citizenship; and in this same year, with the overthrow of the temporal power of the pope, Jewish humiliation in Italy was also at an end. In 1878 the Congress of Berlin made the full emancipation of the Jews in Romania one condition of the promised autonomy. It cannot be denied that for the past hundred years or more the world has been witnessing a literal fulfilment of the prediction that "the yoke of the Gentiles shall be taken from off the neck of Israel, and their bonds burst." The change in the civil position of the Jews throughout the largest part of Christendom has indeed been one of the most characteristic features of this century.
In 1860 was formed the Universal Israelite Alliance, "an organization which has for its object the promotion and completion of the emancipation of the Jews in all lands, and their intellectual and moral elevation, as also the development of Jewish colonization in the Holy Land. . . . In the prophecy of Ezekiel we have, in the vision of the valley of dry bones, and its interpretation, a very full account of the final restoration and conversion of Israel (Ezek. xxxvii. 7-14). According to the representation of that vision the restoration is to take place in successive and perfectly distinct stages. Thus the prophet saw that, before the giving of life to the dry bones, which symbolized the house of Israel, before the clothing of them with flesh, sinews, and skin, there was first of all a noise and a shaking, and bone came to bone, each bone to his fellow; that is, he saw in the first place a preliminary organization, the necessary antecedent of all that followed. If this feature of the vision mean anything, it would seem that it can mean nothing else than this, that a tendency to external organization in the scattered nation was to be looked for, antecedent and preparatory to their actual reinstatement in their land, and conversion to God, by the power of the Spirit of life." This prediction as to the beginning of the final restoration is being very literally fulfilled.
Another point very fully mentioned in prophecy, as characterizing the restoration era of Israel is that of WEALTH (Isa. lx. 9). The restored Jews are to bring their silver and their gold with them, and this wealth is to be derived from the Gentiles that oppressed them; for it is written, " They shall eat the riches of the Gentiles," and again, that when their spoilers shall cease to spoil them, then they in turn shall spoil their spoilers (Isa. lxi. 6). Now it is notorious that everywhere in Europe an extraordinary tendency of capital to concentrate in Jewish hands is observable of late. During the ten years 1854-1864 the Rothschilds alone furnished about 112 millions in loans to England, Austria, Prussia, France, Russia, and Brazil, besides many millions to smaller States. All over Germany the relation of the Jews to the finances of the country is causing great anxiety. The anti-Semite petition circulated in 1880 says, "The fruits of Christian labour are harvested by the Jews; capital is concentrated in Jewish hands." The Jews are becoming also the actual or virtual owners of the soil through a large part of central and eastern Europe. A Berlin paper says: "More than a sixth part of the Jews in Russia live by means of the liquor trade, and the same is true of Roumania and of the Slavic lands. With the liquor trade usury goes hand in hand, and as a result, it is a fact which can no longer be denied, that the population of the remote districts of Russia, Austria, Hungary, and Roumania are only the nominal possessors of the soil, and cultivate the land for the Jews, to whom they have mortgaged their estates for their liquor debts. About a quarter of the railway system of Russia is owned by a Jew called the Russian railway king, Mr. Samuel Solomonowitz de Poliakoff. In all the continental countries the proportion of Jews found in the wage-earning class is exceedingly small, compared to the number of Gentiles; while in the capitalist class it is, on the other hand, very large, quite out of all proportion. A large number of parallel facts might be cited, and they become more conspicuous continually. In Berlin, where the Jews are only five per cent of the population, out of every hundred Protestants thirty-nine were returned as employers, and out of every hundred Jews, seventy-one; and it is the same in Austria. The bourse of Vienna lies mainly in Jewish hands. In Hungary the Jews have obtained possession of so many of the old estates as to make a change in the constitution a necessity. In Roumania and Servia it has been pleaded that if the Jews are given an equal chance they will gradually oust the peasantry till they possess the whole land." "Constantina, Algiers, and Oran," says the Télégraphe, "belong almost entirely to Jews. The whole trade of Algiers is in their hands, and a large proportion of the people are fallen into the power of the Jews. Here," adds the writer, "appears a dark point full of danger for the future."
THE POWER AND INFLUENCE of the Jewish people have risen, of course, with their political standing and their increase in wealth. They form a very large proportion of the educated classes in Germany, Hungary, Austria, and other countries. They have furnished of late very eminent men, who have taken the foremost rank as scholars and as teachers. Such names, for instance, may be cited as those of Professor Neander and Professor Delitzsch, of the University of Leipzig, and large numbers of others not so well known to Christian readers, because their works consist of anti-Christian Biblical criticism. As linguists, as critics, as philologists, archeologists, political economists, mathematicians, and historians, Jewish names are highly distinguished; while among musicians we have Mendelssohn, Halévy, Meyerbeer, Rossini, Julius Benedict, Grisi, and all the Strauss family. No less than seventy professors chairs in German universities are held by Jews, and the tide of Jewish influence in education and literature ss still rising everywhere. The control of the press also on the continent has largely fallen into their hands. They occupy seats in the continental chambers of deputies as well as in our own Parliament. Our own prime minister, Disraeli, was a Jew by race, if not by faith; and one who stood in the first rank of English judges as Master of the Rolls, Sir George Jessel, was also a Jew. On a recent occasion no less than twenty-one Jews were decorated with the order of the Legion of Honour in France, though the Jews in that country number only 60,000 in a population of 37,000,000.
Another remarkable fact in connexion with the signs of renaissance of the Jewish nation is their rapid increase in number. This also had been predicted (Isa. lx. 22; Ezek xxxvi. 37). Basnage, in his "History of the Jews," 175 years ago, estimated their number to be at that time only about three millions. It already amounts to between six and seven millions, and some place it as high as eight, and the Jews are everywhere increasing in a more rapid ratio than the Gentile populations in the midst of which they live. They have a very high birth-rate, and an exceptionally low average mortality. "Twenty per cent, of the Jews reach the age of seventy years, as against only twelve per cent, of the Christians."
The climax of the Jewish renaissance is, as we know, to consist in their restoration as a nation to the land of Palestine,-a climax which has not yet come, but which is perceptibly nearer than it was even a quarter of a century ago. No sooner was the law passed which enabled them to hold landed property in Palestine, than many Jews began to avail themselves of the right. Up to the year 1841 only 300 Jews were permitted to live in Jerusalem. The number has now [1887-8] risen to over 10,000, and some say to over 15,000; that is, about half of the population; M. do Haas, lately United States consul at Jerusalem, numbers them as high as 20,000 -an estimate which, without including the Jews in other parts of Palestine, is yet nearly half the number restored from Babylon.
The Palestine Exploration Society have done a most important work in preparing the way for Jewish restoration, and many thoughtful and judicious writers have already suggested that the only way to settle the eastern question, so far as Palestine is concerned, is for the Jews themselves to have it back. "Thus, as the Ottoman power moves on to its predestined dissolution, these two questions, What shall be done with the Jews as they are found in various Christian lands? and What shall be done with the land which once belonged to them? force themselves simultaneously, and more and more imperatively on the attention of the statesmen of Europe." The Russian persecutions have given a new impulse to the movement of the Russian Jews towards the Holy Land, and the Jewish Chronicle wrote in 1880, "We are inundated with books on Palestine, and the air is thick with schemes for colonizing the Holy Land once more."
At the last general election there were no less than eighteen Jewish candidates before the English constituencies.
The significance of these facts, when considered as a group, and as a contrast to the condition of the Jews in Christendom in all preceding centuries, can hardly be missed by any observer, though it will be most striking to those who know most of the past history and present state of the Jewish people.
Another stage in the renaissance of the Jewish nation, and one which seems likely to be the commencement of a very important movement, has taken place within the last few years in South Russia. In August, 1884, there appeared in the Times the following letter, written by Bishop Titcomb from Hamburg:
"The publication of the following facts will, I think, be of general interest, if you can find space for them, since they reveal a state of things which is perhaps without a parallel in the history of the Jewish people. They were communicated to me two days ago by the Rev. Mr. Hefter, of Frankfort, and are taken from certain Writings of the Institutum Judaicum in Leipzig(No. 4), being documents of what is called the NATIONAL JEWISH CHRIST-BELIEVING MOVEMENT IN SOUTH RUSSIA, edited in the original Hebrew language and German translation by Professor Franz Delitzsch. "The author of this South Russian Bessarabian movement is a lawyer, named Joseph Rabinowitch, a man who is respected far and near by his compatriots, and who has for a long time been endeavouring to ameliorate the condition and to raise the culture of his people. During the time of that persecution in South Russia in 1882, which the Times newspaper so forcibly brought before the British public, he was zealously advocating the repopulation of the Holy Land, In order to discover ways and means for this he set out himself for Palestine, and from the time of his return there commenced a complete revolution of his religious convictions.
These convictions are based on a belief that the historical Jesus of Bethlehem was, after all, the true Messiah spoken of by Abraham, Moses, and David, for the crucifixion of whom the Jews have ever since been wanderers, and their land made desolate. This deep impression on the mind of Rabinowitch was not produced by any influence of Christian missionaries, but entirely by the force of circumstances and it carried along with it a very strong feeling, that the only hope for his peoples return to their land would be by their acknowledgment of such facts. In this way, without for a moment thinking of joining the Christian Church by baptism, a plan of forming congregations of Jewish nationality, founded upon the historical and doctrinal works of the New Testament, slowly and gradually ripened in his soul. He returned from Palestine with this watchword, "The key to the Holy Land lies in the hands of our brother Jesus," It may he said, indeed, that the centre of gravity in his creed lies hidden in the cry, Jesus our brother. These thrilling words have proved, as a matter of fact, to possess such powers of attraction among his persecuted brethren, that they have not only awakened the hearts of all in Kischeneff-his own place of residence-but of many also in other parts of Bessarabia. More than 200 families have now joined in one communion, under the title of The National Jewish New Testament Congregation; and by some of them the last Passover was celebrated according to a liturgy expressly drawn up by Rabinowitch."
This reformer clearly perceives the great mistake of the Jews. To find the Messiah, he shows them they must go backward into the past, and not forward into the future, illustrating the statement by a parable. "A number of Jews travelling by a four-wheeled conveyance in a little town in Poland lost one wheel, and still pursued their journey; they overtook another carriage driving in front, and one ran and asked if this one had seen a lost wheel on the road. The driver replied, You foolish man! you must go back, and not forward, to find your lost wheel. The four wheels were Abraham, Moses, David, and the Messiah. The fourth wheel, the Messiah, had been lost; the Jews must go back to find it. Finding this, Israels four-wheeled chariot would run with safety."
When Rabinowitch began to think that he ought to avow his faith in Christ, he was sorely puzzled about the number of sects among Christians, and hesitated to join any one of them. Not feeling led to identify himself with any of those Christian denominations, he banded his followers together under the title of "Israelites of the New Covenant," for whom he has prepared a liturgy, articles of faith, and a creed. These are thoroughly evangelical, and profoundly interesting, differing somewhat from ordinary Christian worship and from existing creeds, as under the circumstances was natural, yet containing all the vital elements of Christianity, and recalling forcibly to the mind the condition of the early Christian Church in Judaea.
Mr. Wilkinson, of the Mildmay Mission to the Jews, who has made personal acquaintance with Rabinowitch, and takes the deepest interest in the movement, says that this Jewish reformer is sound on the doctrines of the inspiration of the entire Scriptures, the hopeless ruin of man, redemption by the blood of Christ, salvation by faith, necessity of a new birth and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, good works as the fruit of faith and evidence of its genuineness, and eternal life as Gods free gift. His adherents still cling to such Jewish observances as the Passover, the sabbath, and circumcision; but when we look at these practices from a Jewish standpoint, and remember the teachings of the New Testament with regard to them, it is evident that there is in them nothing fundamentally at variance with the truth or contrary to the will of God. Myriads of Jews in apostolic days were true believers, and yet zealous of the law, and the apostles dealt tenderly with them, as long as they attributed no saving virtue to these observances, and acknowledged that salvation is in Christ alone.
Mr. Wilkinson adds: "Of one thing I feel sure; such has been the influence of the Mildmay Mission to the Jews, especially in its medical department, during the last eight years, that if God should raise up in London some Jew to work on similar lines to those of Rabinowitch, hundreds of Jews would answer to the call of the trumpet, and rally round the standard of the Lord Jesus Christ."
A conference on the subject was held at Leipzig, under the presidency of the venerable professor F. Delitzsch, at which the first resolution was expressed as follows : "As this movement may develop into the promised restoration of Israel, it is necessary that it remain independent, and be not absorbed into any of the existing sects of the Christian Church."
Mr. Rabinowitch has his mind much set on the formation of an agricultural colony in Palestine, and takes also the deepest interest in the school which he has established for young Israelites, in which they will be instructed in the faith of Christ as the Messiah. The Russian Government seems to look favourably on the movement, and has granted the permission to open a place of worship and a school. A spirit of inquiry is stirred up among the Jews in Russia and Roumania, and there is every reason to hope that the movement will yet develop into a glorious and important one.
Hence, while on no one point are the restoration promises to the Jews fulfilled in any plenary or complete sense, yet it is perfectly evident that a marked and marvellous change in the experiences of the scattered nation has already taken place, and that its commencement dates from the last century; signs of the movement having appeared as early as 1723, and early initial stages of it having taken place in 1753, while it assumed its full proportions at the time of the French Revolution, and has continued with ever-increasing energy to the present day. The events which were predicted by Moses and the prophets, and especially by Daniel, at intervals of from twenty-five to thirty-five centuries ago, as ushering in and accompanying the final restoration of Israel prior to the second coming of Christ, have been now for the last hundred and fifty years taking place.
The restoration itself has not yet come. This is evident; but is it not equally evident that its occurrence is only a question of time, and probably of a short time? Every stage in the dismemberment of the Ottoman empire is a stage in the direction of the liberation of Palestine, and the restoration of the Jews. How many such stages have already taken place? Already the question of what power shall succeed the Porte in Constantinople has long been before Europe; already Egypt-always in the past so closely allied with Palestine in her history-has passed under British protection; already, with the extension of European influence in Syria, Jewish and other colonization schemes are in vigorous operation; already the Jewish population in Jerusalem has risen from 300, fifty years ago, to over 10,000 souls, or, as M. de Haas, United States consul at Jerusalem, numbers them, 20,000, besides the Jews in the provinces, who are many thousands in number; already the long forsaken and desolated land is looking up; already it is becoming
a subject of deep and practical consideration to both Christian and Jewish philanthropists; already every square mile of Palestine has been surveyed and mapped out; flourishing schools and colleges, and medical and other missions are established in its towns and villages; already a bishop presides and a Christian Church exists on Mount Zion, while a Jewish mission labours in Jerusalem for the conversion of the seed of Abraham; already a number of Christ-believing Jews are longing to leave the homes of their exile among the Gentiles, and to return to the land of their fathers, there to await the coming of "Jesus our brother." May we not add, that already the nations of Europe are agreed that their only wise policy in connexion with the eastern question is to foster the growth of restored nationalities, to permit the Ottoman empire gradually to dissolve into its constituent elements? Palestine is one of these elements; but, unlike Greece and Bulgaria, Servia and Montenegro, Moldavia and Wallachia, it is not occupied by its own sons. They are scattered over the earth, and it is inhabited by sparse, incoherent, and mutually antagonistic populations.
Confronting the incredulity of our day there are these two great long foretold facts: the people of Judah without a land, and the land of Judah without a people! Yet that land once flowed with milk and honey, and is capable of speedily doing so again; and that people, numbering about eight millions, and having command of enormous capital, are already reorganized, enlightened, free, and influential, sitting in the senates of the first kingdoms of Europe, wielding the power of the press in many lands,-a people capable of accomplishing any task they undertake, and a people willing enough to colonize their own country, as soon as they can obtain in their fatherland security for life and property.
There is in Palestine no strong man armed, keeping his house to oppose any plan for Jewish restoration; the land is feebly held in the fast relaxing grasp of a sick and dying power. What should hinder that at any day the daughter of Judah should arise, shake herself from the dust of her feet, loose herself from the bands of her neck, forget the shame of her youth and the reproach of her widowhood, and return with singing to Zion?
Apart altogether from the fact that prophecy says this shall be, and be soon, does not the state of eastern Europe indicate it, as a probable and not distant consummation of movements already far advanced?
The mutual jealousy which exists between Russia, England, and France as to the possession of power in the Holy Land, and which would prevent any one of them aspiring to the succession of the Porte there, tends to make the plan of a restored Jewish nation politically feasible. It has been discussed by the press of Europe for some time past, and is likely to be increasingly so. Professor Goldwin Smith, in the Nineteenth Century of November, 1882, says: "I speak without prejudice to a remedy of another kind, which may help to lighten the pressure of the existing crisis-the restoration of Palestine to Israel. I ventured to advocate this before, and I see that it is advocated by a far more powerful voice than mine, that of Canon Farrar." The London Spectator says: "While the question has not yet come within the range of practical politics, yet it has ceased to be what it would have been thought fifty years ago, by all but a few students of prophecy, ridiculous." But further. Russia and Germany are finding their Jewish population "a burdensome stone," as predicted, and they would be glad to get rid of the Jews on almost any terms. Why not meet the difficulty by their restoration to Palestine? It is sometimes asserted that the Jews themselves do not wish to return to the land of their fathers. This may be perfectly true as regards the wealthy Israelites of London and New York; but it is totally untrue as regards the multitudes of still oppressed and persecuted Jews in southern Russia and in oriental lands. It must be remembered that the great bulk of the Jewish people have always clung to the vicinity of their own land; more than a third of the nation is supposed to be at present in Russia, and nowhere is their condition less satisfactory.
There is a widespread, intense, and unanimous desire amongst these Russian Jews to return to Palestine. A writer in the Jewish Chronicle says: "Israel must once again take up the staff of the wanderer, and abandon the graves of his ancestors. Where are the poor people to go? This question the Jews of Russia have themselves answered. The greater portion have determined to proceed to Palestine, the scene of our former glory and independence."[Jewish Chronicle, Feb. 17th, 1882.]
It is the same with the half-million of Jews who live in Roumania. Their poverty is one obstacle, and there are many others; but in spite of them all they say, "We cannot be worse off than in Russia;" and the movement for emigration to Palestine is irresistible.
Some of their writers look forward to this step as to a second exodus.
"Once more are we on the eve of exodus! . . . It wants no prophetic eye to see that the Russian empire is on the eve of one of the greatest revolutions that the world has ever seen. The time has arrived for Israel to depart thence, and for an exodus greater even than the original one to commence. . . . But whitherward shall the steps of the millions of Israel be bound? Shall he again, as in the exodus from Spain, betake himself to other and more friendly lands, to be again perchance in the course of time driven from them? No! a thousand times no! For the sake of our unborn posterity, let this be, by Gods help, the final exodus of our race. The land of promise is now subject to a power who can barely struggle against financial difficulties. That power is not unfriendly to Israel; its sovereign rights should be purchased with no niggard hand, and the independence of Israel established under international guarantee.
"What Israelite worthy of the name would hesitate in giving his quota towards the redemption of the land? Once under a stable and just government, our land would again flow with milk and honey, and Jewish enterprise, capital, and industry, combined with the geographical position and situation of the country, would cause prosperity once more to shine upon it. Italy, Greece, and Egypt are once more numbered among the nations, and the shophar which announces the resurrection of Israel, the eldest born of the nations, should soon wake the echoes in the mountains of Judah. To Israel, this restoration should prove an unmixed blessing; for, possessing a political centre, the dread of persecution would no longer haunt her sons. Composed, as the nation would be, of men of one race and one faith, yet of various nationalities, it would be the most cosmopolitan state that the world had ever witnessed. And when the day arrives that the nations will be contented to submit their disputes to arbitration instead of to the issue of the sword, from whence will the law be so fitted to go forth as from Jerusalem ?"
No less than forty-nine different societies existed in Roumania, four years ago, for the purpose of promoting emigration to Palestine. Notice has been taken of the movement in the Roumanian parliament, and the anti-Jewish party urge the Government to promote it as far as possible. Some two millions of money had been raised to help forward this emigration from eastern Europe to Palestine. Never has so much sympathy and interest been felt by the Gentile nations in the present and future fortunes of the Jews. Moreover, some few wealthy Jews- though, alas! not many as yet-are taking a practical interest in the fortunes of their poorer and less prosperous brethren. The wealthy English banker, Mr. Cazalet, obtained in connexion with the concession of the Euphrates railway, tracts of land, especially in Mesopotamia, "extensive enough to admit of Jewish immigration on almost any scale." The land is granted for twelve years, free of taxes, to Jewish immigrants, on condition of their becoming Turkish subjects. [Jewish Chronicle, Sept. 1st, 1882.]
"As by common instinct, the thoughts of all nations turn to Palestine as the ultimate refuge of the persecuted Jews. In a Russian town last year they were driven from their homes to the refrain, Go to Palestine! Go to Palestine! The heart of the faithful Jew responds to this, even when the red cock crows, and he sees the terrified faces of his beloved ones by the lurid glare of his burning possessions. The dominant idea of the eastern Jew, whatever may be that of his co-religionist in western countries, is to return to Palestine. Not only the poor, . . . but also the wealthy Jews think of inhabiting once more the land of their forefathers. This is no longer a dream of visionary Bible students, but an actual reality . . . The question of the return of the Jews to Palestine now seems to be one that interests all nations." [New York Evening Post, April 7th, 1882.]
It is true that the sultan has put a veto for the present on Jewish colonization in the Holy Land; but in spite of this decree, which he is not likely to be able long to enforce, large numbers of Jews have settled there without any obstacle being placed in their way by the Turkish Government. If once the veto was removed, either voluntarily or under compulsion, not the poor Jews only, but the rich ones, are likely to return in large numbers, and with a view to permanent settlement. The one present obstacle, which might disappear any day, is the insecurity of life and property under Turkish rule.
Thus two great questions have arisen, unexpectedly to many, though not so to prophetic students, in our days, present and practical: First, what shall be done with the Jews of central Europe and Russia? and secondly, what shall be done with Palestine? Do not both point to one and the same conclusion? and has not God announced that that conclusion shall be reached in this "time of the end"? To conclude. The rapid glance which we have taken of the twenty-five centuries of Jewish history which have elapsed since the days of Nebuchadnezzar and the beginning of "the times of the Gentiles" shows that-
1.Never since the days when that monarch subdued the Jews have they been independent of Gentile authority, though for five centuries a remnant of them were restored to a tributary condition in their land.
2. That since their rejection of "Messiah the Prince" total dispersion among the Gentiles has been the lot of their whole nation, and desolation the portion of their land.
3.That the 1,000 years of the middle ages, and especially the seven centuries from the tenth to the seventeenth centuries, were to them a time of unspeakable degradation and suffering in all lands of their exile.
4. That since the middle of the last century a complete change has passed over their condition, and they have been everywhere uplifted, emancipated, recognised as equals by all nations, given rights and privileges as citizens, a share in popular representation, seats in councils and senates, a position among the aristocracy, and in the national administration of the countries where they reside; that they have risen to eminence in finance, in literature, in music, in war, in government, in politics, and in education; that their wealth has become enormous, their position secure, their influence great, and their scattered families reunited in one great national organization.
5. That since the year 1808 efforts have been made to evangelise them, and that in recent years very considerable numbers of them have been converted; also, that within the last decade a movement for accepting Christ as the Messiah of Israel has begun among themselves, and though still only incipient, is promising to spread.
6. That during the present nineteenth century the Moslem power, which for 1,200 years has occupied and oppressed the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem, has been decaying with ever-increasing rapidity, the process having now gone so far that it cannot last much longer. On its fall the perplexing question, Who is to replace the Turks in Palestine? will have to be settled, and the restoration of the Jews is consequently becoming an alternative in practical politics, attracting the attention of some of the great powers of Europe.
The chronology of this present movement of incipient recovery and restoration we will consider in its place in the next chapter; but we cannot close this section without directing attention to the bearing of these facts on our faith and hope and duty as Christians.
Before such a fulfilment of prophecy as Jewish history exhibits what can all the fiery darts of infidelity do? Their story, extending back as it does through 4,000 years of history, forms an impregnable fortress for believers in the inspiration of Scripture. What else but Divine foreknowledge and Divine inspiration can account for the facts of this strange case?
There exists this day in all nations a scattered people, a people without land or government, without metropolis or temple, speaking all the principal languages of the world, yet regarding the ancient Hebrew as their sacred tongue; one in race, one in faith, one in religious observances; a people who for antiquity of descent are the very aristocracy of the earth, able to trace back their genealogy through 4,000 years to one great and good father, as no other people on earth can do; a people who have exerted more influence over subsequent ages than even Greece and Rome, who have been the source of all the monotheism of the world, and but for whom we might this day be polytheistic idolaters like the ancients; a people who have handed down through the ages the sacred books which denounce their own sins, and foretell their own punishment, as well as predicting their ultimate national restoration and salvation. Let unbelievers account for these facts as they may, candour must surely confess that they evidence the hand of God in history, and the mind of God in Scripture.
Every principal phase of Jewish history was foretold before it came to pass, and has come to pass exactly as it was foretold,-every one except the last; and in this wide analogy of the past we find ground for confident expectation as to the future of Israel.
Every event, whether great or small, from the birth of an infant to the fall of a nation, from the events of a day to those of ages,-everything in Jewish history was predicted in advance, and our chronological position enables us to compare the predictions with the events.
The three greatest of the original predictions about Israel were given in the form of promises to their first father, Abraham. The first was that his posterity should be marvellously multiplied; the second, that they should inherit Canaan; and the third, that the world should be blessed through his seed. The first has been conspicuously fulfilled all through Israels history. Their rapid multiplication in Egypt was only a first instance of what has continued ever since, and continues to this day. Their exceptionally strong vitality enables them everywhere to outlive and outnumber their Gentile neighbours, and to survive persecutions and massacres that might well have annihilated them long since. The second prediction was fulfilled in their possession of Canaan for eight or nine centuries; and the entire sweep of the civilized world bears witness this day to the accomplishment of the third; all the nations which have not as yet received the Divine revelation contained in Judaism and its outcome, Christianity, being still idolaters or savages, or both, while the nations that have been and are most influenced by that revelation stand in the forefront of civilization and progress. As regards more specific predictions. The birth of Isaac and of Ishmael, with their respective characters and future histories; the descent into Egypt, the servitude there, the exodus and the wanderings in the wilderness, the casting out of the nations of Canaan, the characters and destinies of the different tribes, their growth into a kingdom, the division of the nation into two, the fall of the kingdom of Israel and its date, and that of Judah and its date, the Babylonian captivity and its duration, the restoration, and the events to Messiah the Prince, the Roman war and the subsequent dispersion, and the present incipient restoration of the people and uplifting of the land,-all these main features of their history, and a thousand minor particulars, were distinctly announced before they happened. Can we trace in the history of any other nation on earth a similar peculiarity, or even a pretension to it? Let critics carp as they will about specific dates and verbal difficulties, can such objections ever touch this grand, massive, unparalleled demonstration that "holy men of old "-in announcing these things-" spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit?" And if Jewish history has thus been ordered by the will and power and according to the purpose of God, may we not argue the same as to all human history ? And secondly, since we can not only trace the fulfilment of all the earlier predictions about Israel, but the incipient stages of the later ones, how confidently and joyfully may we anticipate the near fulfilment of the latest and the last! And if Daniel, when he knew the first restoration was near at hand, set himself to plead that it might come and not tarry, how should we likewise set ourselves to plead that this greater and better restoration may be hastened in its time! Let us ponder his earnest, touching, and importunate petitions, and ask ourselves whether our hearts are similarly exercised in intercession for the ancient people of God. [#Dan 9:4-19.]
We know what their restoration will be to us and to the world; we know that "if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?" We know that. if the casting away of Israel has been the reconciling of the world, the receiving of them again shall be life from the dead.
Prayer for Israel and work on Israels behalf seem emphatically the present duty of those who remember that they are beloved for the fathers sake, and believe that ere long there shall come unto Zion the Deliverer, who shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
The dates of the events connected with the renaissance of the Jewish people which we have mentioned in this sketch of their history will claim our attention farther on.