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Great Synagogue, according to the later Jewish tradition ? Is this histori-
cal 'i What are reported of several teachers V How did they generally teach '?
Which is the most important of these pairs? Wliat was the difference be-
tween the two men ? What can you say of Hillel ? Who was his grand-
son ?

4. What was the Sanhedrin V How did it grow up ? Can you give
probable dates? Of whom did it consist? What was its jurisdiction at
first? Afterwards? What of its sentence on Jesus? Of what had it the
ordering ?

5. What happened to the Jews in their eagerness to obey their Law?
What did their legal tradition become ? What was the result of the study
of the Law by the scribes ? On the other hand, what great work did they
perform ? What was a more important result of their labors ?



1. The Herod Family. — We have now to relate the de-
struction of the Jewish nationality, whose history we have
followed through more than a thousand years. The llasmouean
kingdom, after a vigorous career of a century, had dwindled
down to almost nothing (Lesson XX.). Hyrcanus IL and Aris-
tobulus, the sons of King Alexander Jannseus, had engaged in
civil war, and the Romans had been called in ; Ponipey had
taken possession of Jerusalem (b.c. 64), and Crassus had plun-
dered the temple (b.c. 53). Finally Julius Caesar made the
Idumean Antipater governor of Judea, and his son Herod was
aftei-wards established on the throne ; he reigned from b.c. 37
to A.D. 4 ; in the latter part of his reign Jesus of Nazareth was


born. He was a vigorous but despotic and cruel ruler. He
was a foreigner, belonging to a people who were hereditary-
enemies of the Jews ; he was attached to the Romans by educa-
tion and interest, and became their tool. He had no love for
the people over whom he reigned. He pitilessly extirpated the
royal Hasmouean family, one of whom (Mariamne) he had mar-
ried. He trampled savagely on cherished Jewish ideas. He
did his best to Hellenize and Romanize the nation by introduc-
ing Greek and Roman customs, such as public baths and theat-
rical shows ; and a considerable party (the Herodians, Matt,
xxii. 16) adhered to him. He was fond of splendid buildings,
and, among other things, pulled down the temple and rebuilt it
in magnificent style, so that it was one of the wonders of the
world (John ii. 20, Matt. xxiv. 1). After a long reign he died
of a painful disease, universally execrated. The story told of
him in Matt. ii. is quite in accordance with his known character.
His reign is a step towards the dissolution of the Jewish nation.
A good many of his descendants are mentioned in
the New Testament. On his death his territory was divided by
the Roman Emperor (Augustus) among his sons : Archelaus
(Matt. ii. 22) had Judea, Samaria, and Idumea (Edom) ; Herod
Antipas or Antipater (Matt. xiv. 1-4) received Galilee and
Perea ; Philip (Luke iii. 1) was made tetrarch of Iturea and
Trachonitis, east of the sea of Galilee. After some years (a.d.
41-44) one of his grandsons, Herod Agrippa I. (Acts xii. 1,
20-23) became king over the whole land. He was friendly to
the Jewish religion, as was also his son, Herod Agrijipa II. (Acts
XX. 13), who had a sort of ecclesiastical control over Judea.
There were also noteworthy women in the Herod family, —
Herodias (Matt. xiv. 3), Salome (xiv. 6), Drusilla (Acts xxiv.
24), and Berenice (xxv. 13).

2. The Roman Procurators. — Herod's son, Archelaus,
was so bad a ruler that he was banished by the Romans (a.d. 6),
and Judea was placed under Roman governors or pi-ocurators.
The fifth of these was the Pontius Pilate (a.d. 26-37), under
whom Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. After him came two
more, and then Herod Agrippa I., mentioned above, was made


king. After his death there were seven more Roman governors,
of whom two appear in the book of Acts (xxiv. 27).

3. The Uprising and FalL — The Jews had never submit-
ted willingly to the Roman government. A party among them,
indeed, were favorable to foreign ideas, but the mass of the
people sided with the Pharisees, who were strict upholders of the
national life, and hated the Romans. Some were constantly on
the lookout for opportunity to revolt. There were several local
uprisings, which were easily crushed by the Romans. Finally
the feeling grew too strong to be held in check. There was not
the slightest chance of success against the power of Rome ; but
the Jews were desperate. The Zealots, that is, the men who
were in favor of immediate revolt, grew daily more numerous.
The administration of the fourteenth procurator, Gessius Floras,
was particularly oppressive. On the other hand, there was no
principle of order in the Jewish people itself. The high-priest-
hood, which was the natural head of the nation, had become
contemptible ; high-priests were set up and removed at the will of
the civil ruler. There was no conservative force ; the Zealots
infected the land with their fanaticism, and the people plunged
into war. The history of this war has been written by a man
who took part in it. Flavins Josephus ; it would be hard to find
a more thrilling narrative than his account of the struggle in
Galilee, and the siege and capture of Jerusalem. But there
could be only one termination to the unequal combat. The Jews
fought like heroes or tigers, and fought in vain. Jerusalem was
captured by Titus (a.d. 70), the temple was destroyed, the peo-
ple were slain or banished, the land was left desolate.

The Jews have never recoA'ered from this blow. They have never,
since that time, been possessors of Palestine ; the temple has
never been rebuilt ; there has never since been a Jewish nation.
But though the nation was destroyed, the people remained.
Scattered over the face of the earth, they have formed a new
Israel more remarkable in some respects than the old.

4. Change of Language. — Ever since the Exile the out-
ward circumstances of the Palestinian Jews liad been determined


by their surroundings. Among other things they had changed
their language and their writing. They spoke their own He-
brew tongue, and used the old Phoenician letters up to about b c.
150. But the Aramaic or Syriac language and writing were
spreading over all this part of Asia, and the Jews adopted them.
In this respect the Aramaic was like the French language to-day,
which for some time has been the medium of intercourse be-
tween the various nations of Europe ; only the former expelled
its neighbors and took their place. For a centuiy or two before
the birth of Christ the Palestinian Jews wrote most of their
books in Aramaic ; it was their vernacular in the New Testament
times, — it was spoken by Jesus and his disciples ; it was also
the vernacular of the Babylonian Jews, and in it the greater
part of the Talmud is written (Lesson XXVI.) . In the New
Testament it is called Hebrew (John xix. 20, Acts xxii. 2) ;
the two languages are about as much alike as English and Ger-
man. In Alexandria and the rest of Egypt the Jews spoke and
wrote in Greek ; and generally they adopted the language of
the people among whom they lived. Yet, though they thus
conformed their speech to that of their neighbors, they continued
to be Jews in face and thought.

5. Christianity. — During this period the greatest religious
movement of the world sprang from the bosom of the Jewish
nation. Jesus of Nazareth apjieared and taught pure, spiritual
religion in Galilee and Jerusalem. His first disciples were
Jews, but he exercised little influence on his own people.
Christianity was preached among the other nations, and accepted
by them ; the Jews retained their own form of religion. All
through the New Testament times the Jewish doctors of law
were pursuing their own work. They believed that the Law
was God's final revelation of truth to men, and it seemed to
them that Jesus and his followers were trying to destroy the
Law ; they therefore held him to be an enemy of God. Unfor-
tunately for them they could not distinguish between letter and
spirit; they could not see that Jesus was only selecting and
fixing the permanent elements of the Old Testament teaching,
in order to give them to all the world. They were tied down


by their national narrowness. Their religion was the religion
of their fathers, of their people ; they felt all parts of it to be
important, and they would not surrender even its simplest cere-
mony. So Christianity passed on, and left no trace on Judaism.
For a century or two a good many Jews embraced the new
doctrine, which meant for them that Jesus of Nazareth was the
INIessiah promised in the Old Testament; but the nation as a
whole, the national development, remained unaffected. Chris-
tianity is an unimportant incident in the history of this period
of the religiou of Israel.


1. On the political history : the works of Josephus, Ewald,
Milman, Palmer.

2. On the history of culture : Etheridge, " Introduction to
Hebrew Literature;" Jost, " Geschichte des Judeuthums;"
Schlirer, " Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte."


1. What is now to be related ? What had become of the Hasmonean
kingdom ? What did the Romans do '? Who was Antipater V Wlio was his
son V What was Herod's character V Did he love the Jews V How did he
treat the Hasmoneans V — and .Jewish idea-; V Of what was lie fond V Was lie
universally execrated V Wiiat story is told of him in Matt ii. V Are many
of his descendants mentioned in the New Testament V Can j-ou refer to the
passages V

2. When was Judea placed under Roman governors ? Wlio was the fifth
of these '? What others are mentioned in the New Testament ?

3. Had the Jews ever submitted willingly to the RmaosV Was there a
Jewish party favorable to foreign ideas ? What of the mass of the people ?
Was there a growing disposition to revolt? Was there any chance of suc-
cess against the Romans V Who were the Zealots ? Did they grow more
numerous '? How did the procurator Gessius Florus increase the disaffection '?
What was the condition of the Jewish nation V What of the higli-priesthood V
Who has written the history of the war that followed? When was Jerusa-
lem taken ? Have the Jews ever recovered from the blow ? Though the
nation was destroyed, have the peopk remained ? What of the new Israel ?

4. How long did the Jews continue to use their own language and writ-
ing? What did they then adopt ? Of what Jews did the Aramaic become


the vernacular? Was this language like the Hebrew? What language did
the Egyptian Jews speak?— other Jews? Did the Jews still retain their
national appearance and thought ?

5. What great religious movement occurred during this period ? Did it
greatly influence the Jews? What did they believe? How did they look
on Jesus ? What did they fail to see ? By what were they tied down ?
Did some Jews become Christians ? What did Christianity principally
mean for them? Is Christianity closely connected with the history of the
religion of Israel ?



1. The Later Judaism. — After the time of Ezra the Jews,
as has been above described, became people of a book, and
that book was the Old Testament, or, more especially, the Tora,
or Law, or Pentateuch. But this book needed explanations,
and after a while the explanations grew into a book, which
gradually practically usurped the place of the Old Testament,
and became the chief study of the learned men; this second
book was the Talmud. It is the representative work of the
later Judaism, as the Old lestament is of the earlier. The
prophets had called the people to righteousness and the fear of
God in ringing tones; the priests had made a ritual law ; the
sages had discussed human life ; the psalmists had poured out
before God their repentance, their fears and trust and hopes,
their peace and joy ; the scribes and rabbis undertook to turn
religion into arithmetic. The Talmud is the code of the later
Judaism, comprising both the civil and the religious law. It
reflects the spirit, as it formed the study, of the nation at the
moment when it rejected Christianity. It is the product of
its decaying genius. It is the nation's effort, after its creative
power had vanished, to reduce the spirituality of its fathers to
rule. Let us look at the two parts of the Talmud: theMishna,
or text, and the Gemara, or commentary.

2. The Mishna. — In Hillel's time the oral explanations of
the Law had grown into a great mass. He was gifted with a


retentive memory and considerable logical power, and he per-
formed the service of arranging them according to subject-
matter in six divisions, called orders. After liis death the
schools continued to study them in these divisions. Many note-
worthy men devoted their lives to the explanation of Scripture,
following the rules of interpretation that Hillel had drawn up.
The schools, both in Palestine and in Babylonia, were well
organized, having presidents and other instructors, two regular
sessions or semesters j'early, and public disputations. Up to
the destruction of Jerusalem, the chief Palestine school was in
that city ; it was then removed to Jamnia, on the shore of the
Mediterranean, not far from Mount Carmel, where it remained
about seventy years, surviving the unhappy insurrection of Bar-
cochba. When it was broken up, a new school was established
at Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee. This place is renowned iu
connection with the labors of Jewish leai-ned men. Here, for
many centuries, they gave their lives to the study of their sacred
books, and the community of scholars established there re-
mained up to a few years ago. Here, towards the latter
part of the second century, flourished the famous Rabbi Jehuda
the Holy, commonly called, by eminence, simply Rabbi. The
date of his death is disputed; some give it as a.d. 190, others
as A.D. 220. It is he who was the compiler of the Mishna.
There was, at this time, a growing feeling that the oral explana-
tions of the Law ought to be committed to wn-iting, lest they
should vanish from men's memories ; for, up to this time, they
had been taught only orally, and not a word of them written
down. Several attempts were accordingly made to reduce them
to writing ; but Jehuda's is the one that obtained general
currency, and has been handed down to us. He did for the
Jewish law nearly what Blackstone did for the English: he
digested and arranged it. His six divisions or orders were
those of Hillel. They are: 1. Zeraim (Seeds), on prayers,
sowing, tithes, and first-fruits; 2. Mocd (Meeting or Festival),
on the Sabbath, Passover, Day of Atonement, Feast of Taber-
nacles, New Year, Purim; 3. Nashim (Women), on laws of
marriage and divorce; 4. Nezikin (Injuries), on injuries, loans,
buying and selling, the Sanhedrin, punishments, oaths, idolatry,



and heresy, together with the interesting tract called Pirke
Ahoth, or the Sayings of the Fathers, a collection of sketches
of the men who transmitted the oral law ; 5. Kadashim (Conse-
crations), on various things connected with sacrifices; 6. Taha-
roth (Purifications), on the rules of purification fi'om ceremonial
uncleanness. Each of the six orders is made up of several trea-
tises; there are sixty-three of these in all. The IMishna is the
Digest of Jewish law, civil and religious. It is written in
Aramaized Hebrew.

3. The Gemara. — After the Mishna was compiled, it became
the text for lectures in the schools. Being bi'ief and terse, it
also, like the Law, needed explanation, and, in the course of a
century or two, it had called forth a large mass of oral commen-
tary, which was handed down from teacher to teacher. This
likewise was committed to writing, and in double form, in
Palestine and in Babylonia; we have thus the Jerusalem Ge-
mara (that is, tradition) and the Babylonian Gemara. Mishna
and Gemara together (text and commentary) form the Talmud ;
we commonly speak of the Talmuds of Jerusalem and Baby-
lon. Of these the latter is the fuller and more impor-
tant. The Babylonian Jews, descendants of those who had
been carried into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, had formed
renowned schools at Sora, Nehardea, and Pumbaditha, which
rivalled, and sometimes outshone, the sister-academy at Tiberias.
In the fifth century of our era Rabbi Ashe (called Rabbana)
did for the commentary what Jehuda had done for the text : he
digested and arranged it; the result was the Babylonian Gemai'a.
The date of the Jerusalem Gemaia is uncertain; but it is usu-
ally thought to be older than the Babylonian. The language of
the Gemara is Aramaic, mixed with foreign words.

4. Contents of the Talmud. — The word "talmud" means
doctrine, or teaching, and the book so called is the digest of
the Jewish thought of the first centuries of our era, on civil
polity, religion, science, and philosophy ; it is the Jewish
Cyclopedia of Sciences. The disputations of the rabbis, of
which the Gemara is a record, traverse a wide and varied field,
and are characterized by an amazing mixture of acuteness,
narrowness, geniality, profoundness, and nonsense (the same


thing may be said of the writings of the Church Fatheis).
The legal discussions and judicial decisions (called Halacha)
are often instructive by their sharp common sense and sound
judgment ; the etliical and devotional disquisitions and stories
(Ilaggada) are commonly archajologically and philosophically
interesting. The religious character of the Talmud

corresponds to what has just been said. The book is a faith-
ful reflection of the religion of Israel of that day. It contains
much true and lofty religious thought. In it may be found
parallels to many of the sayings of Jesus in the Sermon on the
Mount and elsewhere. Ou the other hand, it shows bigotry,
narrowness, and pettiness. Especially it is lacking in inspir-
ing power. It conceives of religion too much as a system of
rules. In reading it one does not feel the breath of the spirit
of God. Its teaching may be very much like that of the New
Testament (which was written about the same time and by
Jews), but it lacks the life of the New Testament.

5. Other Literature. — Besides the Talmud, various other
works, containing conniientaries on the Law, were composed or
begun about this time ; that is, in the five first centuries of our
era. They, like the Talmud, contain the two elements, halacha
and haggada. To the latter of these the name " Midrash "
(investigation or commentary) is sometimes given.


1. On the Talmud : histories of Ewald, Jost, Graetz, Herz-
feld; Fuerst, " Culturgeschichte der Juden;" Etheridge,
"Introduction to Hebrew Literature;" works on the history
of New Testament times, by Hausrath and Schurer; article
"Talmud" in the works of Emanuel Deutsch ; articles in

2. Translations: Latin translation of the Mishna, by Suren-
Imsius, Amsterdam, 1698-1703; English translation of Eigh-
teen Treatises of the Mishna, by De Sola and Raphall, London,
1815; Barclay, " The Talmud " (17 Treatises), 1878; Schwab,
"Jerusalem Talmud" (13 Treatises), Paris, 1871-82; A.
Wiinsche, "Jerusalem Talmud" (Haggada), Ziirich, 1880.



1. How did the Talmud usurp the place of the Old Testament among the
Jews? How did the work of the scribes differ from that of the old prophets,
priests, sages, and psalmists ? To what did the Jews endeavor to reduce
religion in the Talmud ? What are its two parts ?

2. What service did Hillel perform ? After his death what did the schools
do? How were these schools organized? Where was the chief Palestine
school up to the destruction of Jerusalem ? Where after that ? What can
you say of Tiberias? What is the date of Rabbi Jehuda? Why did he
undertake to aiTange the oral tradition ? What is the name of the book he
composed ? Can you mention its six divisions ? What is the Mishna ?
What is a digest ?

3. What use was made of the Mishna? Why did it need commentary'?
In what two countries was this commentary committed to writing ? What
is it called? What is the Talmud? Who compiled the Babylonian Tal-
mud ? When ? What of the date of the Jerusalem Talmud ?

4. What does Talmud mean ? What may the Talmud be called? What
is the character of the disputations of the rabbis ? What is Halacha ? —
Haggada ? Of what is the Talmud a faithful reflection ? Has it lofty
thought? Does it contain parallels to the sayings of Jesus? In what is it
lacking? How does it conceive of religion? What quality of the New
Testament is not found in it ?

5. What other works were composed or begun about this time ? What
two elements do they contain ? What is Haggada sometimes called ?



Philo and Josephus. — The Talmud may be called the
second Pentateuch. As the Old Testament Pentateuch, or Tora
(Law), embodies the old Israelitish religious ideas extending
over seven or eight centuries (say from Samuel to Nehemiah),
so the Talmud is a collection of the later ideas extending over
about six centuries (say from the second century B.C. to the fifth
century a.d.), and is a continuation of and commentary on the
earlier books. These two books may be said to give the whole
history of the religion of Israel ; for before the time represented


by the Pentateuch Israel was only a half-civilized nation, and
after the Talmud nothing new was added by Jewish thought.
To illustrate this we may take a general view of the literature
of the Israelites after Christ. But first we must mention two
famous writers who represent not the spirit of Israelitish thought,
but that thought modified or transformed by foreign influence:
they are Philo and Josephus. Philo of Alexandria (first half
of the first century) adopted the Greek (Platonic) philosophy,
which he tried to find in the Law. To do this he was obliged
to allegorize the Pentateuch. He influenced Christian rather
than Jewish thought. Flavins Josephus (latter half of the
first century), born of a priestly family, fought against the
Romans, but submitted and went over to them just before the
capture of Jerusalem. He became to a great degree Romanized.
He wrote the history of Israel in two works, the Antiquities
and the AVars of the Jews. These are of prime importance,
though he is not always trustworthy. Both these authors wrote
in Greek. Let us now look at the Jewish literature proper.

1. Bible Translations. — We have seen how the Jews, soon
after the Greek conquest, everywhei-e gave up tlieir own lan-
guage (Hebrew), and adopted that of the people among whom
or near whom they dwelt. In Egypt and elsewhere they learned
to speak Greek; in Palestine they spoke Aramaic or Syriac.
Thus the people were unable to understand their Scriptures in
Hebrew, and desired to have them translated into the tongue
they spoke. From this there resulted m Egypt the Septuagiut
version (Lesson XVII.); and in Palestine and Babylonia trans-
lations were made into Aramaic. These were called t(irf/um.

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Online LibraryCrawford Howell ToyThe history of the religion of Israel : an Old Testament primer .. → online text (page 13 of 15)