Franz Delitzsch.

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s of Culture


Translated from the (.jt

!>y the
e v. IV ILL I A M C. I) A L A A' D.

Alfred Centre, N. Y.:

The American Subbath Tract Society.



s of Culture



Translated from the German

by the

Alfred Centre, N. Y.:

The American Sabbath Tract Society.







No apology is necessary for presenting: to the pub-
lic an English translation of this most excellent of tracts-
Already but about two years before the world in the Ger-
man language, it has won the respectful attention of both
Jewish and Christian thinkers everywhere, and has proven
itself to be the best text-book for Jewish catechumens.
This translation appeared in volume II. of The Peculiar Peo-
ple, and it is now issued as a separate pamphlet in the hope
that thereby in this newer garb it may continue its gracious
work among the English speaking Jews.

That God, who has so lately removed from us the la-
mented author, may vouchsafe His blessing upon Israel
and raise up for His chosen people many friends, to whom
the life of Franz Delitzsch may be an inspiration to noble
endeavor in this cause, is the earnest prayer of




Beloved Hebreiv Readers, If, as I hope, you know me as
a Christian scholar who is a friend of Israel, you will
understand that in inviting you to a religious meditation,
I am anxious to put myself in your place and realize your
mode of thinking. I shall take nothing for granted except
that upon which we are both agreed, and offer you only
cogent reasons capable of producing irresistible conviction.

There is a God. Such is your belief as well as mine.
We are bound to believe it. In vain do atheists and
epicureans strive to escape from it. It is of the essential
nature of our spirit to trace every effect to some cause, and
as we climb this ladder of conclusions higher and higher,
we arrive at last at a being who is the cause of all causes,
the last cause of the universe, a being independent of
everything, and on whom everything is dependent, a being
to whom everything which exists owes its origin. The uni-
verse without God is but a blind monster. History with-
out God is nothing but confusion, without rhyme or rea-
son. And there is but one God. Two or three highest
beings side by side are impossible; one only can be the
highest. But this one God, on whom man depends in every
breath, and whose glory the heavens declare, wants to be
acknowledged and praised to the exclusion of all else.
Among all the truths to which our reason must yield,
there is none higher than this, that God is one; and among
all the duties incumbent upon creatures endowed with
reason, there is none higher than this, that they give glory
to the One God only.

I admit to you, my dear Jewish readers, frankly, that
the Christian religion would be a false religion if it gave
up or tampered with the belief that God is one. In that


case, the Jewish religion would have comparatively a
stronger claim than the Christian religion to ascribe to
tself the destiny of becoming the universal religion. For
our chief weapon against heathenism is the declaration
that the gods of the heathen are but deified creatures, and
that the true, living God is One, even the Creator of heaven
and earth. Neither am I inclined to withhold from you
the admission that Christian worship, sometimes, by its
ceremonies and prayers seems. to contradict the confession
of faith in one God.

The Reformation has done away with some of the
abuses and errors which bear the stamp of heathenism,
because they curtail the glory of the one God. The Refor-
mation has laid down the principle, that the doctrine and
practice of the church is ever liable to the test of the words
of Scripture. The creeds of the Reformers, designate the
holy books of the Old and New Testaments as " the pure
sources of Israel," to which the church must ever have re-
course to formulate by them its doctrine and to regulate by
them its life. The Israel of the Old Testament, too, has to
judge of the merits of the New Testament religion by the
documents of that religion, and the church has not the right to
force upon Israel the Christian religion in this or that historical

On the other hand, the Israelite who wishes to have a
true conception of the Christian faith, is bound not to be
guided by accidental impressions or second-hand hear-say,
but to search for what Jesus and his apostles affirm. He
will then find that the fundamental principle of the unity
of God, which proves the incomparable superiority of the
religion of Israel over all religions of antiquity, is, in the
New Testament, too, acknowledged as the supreme truth.
When one of the scribes, as related in Mark 12: 2, 29,
asked Jesus, " Which is the first commandment of all?"
He answered: " The first of all the commandments is: ' Hear,
O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." And in Luke 18:
18, 19 we read : "A certain ruler asked him, saying : Good
Master, What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" to which
the answer of Jesus was : * Why callest thou me good?


None is good save one, that is, God." And in the prayer he
offers to his Father before his crucifixion, he says, (John
17: 3), "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee
the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
And like an echo of this word of Jesus is what Paul writes
in i Cor. 8: 6, "To us there is but one God, the Father, of
whom are all things, and we in him, and one Lord Jesus
Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." Such
declarations concerning the only one God run through the
whole New Testament. " But," it will be objected, "you
believe in God as triune." Certainly, but if the "trinity"
excluded the "unity," we would give up the trinity and
stand by the unity.

We believe in God, and in God's Son, and in God's Holy
Spirit, just as you believe in God, and in his " Shechinah "
and in his Holy Spirit. The essence of God is one, but
threefold is the revelation of that essence. Even in the
sacred history of the Old Testament he gives a threefold
revelation of himself. But, for the present, we will not
further touch upon that.

For our further discussion I shall take nothing for
granted except that we are agreed on the existence of God.
and on the unity of God.

IF God is the creator of the world, He is also its pre-
server and governor. And if man is free to give to his
actions this or that direction, he is also morally responsi-
ble. Both those things are self-evident. And since there
are free beings in the world, the history of the world can-
not follow the same laws as govern the material universe.
There is a law in the natural world, and there is a moral
order in history in accordance with a higher law. The
attitude of men towards God is determining the attitude
of God towards men. And because men, in their estrange-
ment from God and in the misery of sin, cannot save them-
selves, God, who is not only just but, before all things, mer-
ciful and gracious, interposes and provides means of salva-
tion for man, and substitutes mercy for justice in the case
of all who do not reject His proffered help.


Such a means of salvation was the call of Abraham
away from his idolatrous surroundings to make him
prophet of the one living God for his house and all the
world. "Get thee out of thy country and from thy kin-
dred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will
show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I
will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt
baa blessing." Gen. 12: 1,2. In these divine words Abra-
ham is called to become a channel of blessing, a fountain
from which far-reaching streams of blessings are to flow.
Whether people participate in the blessing conveyed
through Abraham or not depends upon the attitude they
assume towards him, as stated in the third verse of the
chapter cited above, "And I will bless them that bless thee,
and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all fami-
lies of the earth be blessed." Such was God's will, design,
and promise which came through Abraham, upon Isaac,
Jacob and the people descended from them.

The patriarchs were not without sinful weaknesses, and
the people of Israel had a natural inclination towards hea-
thenism, as is evident by their repeated yielding to the fasi-
nation of the idolatrous worship of their neighbors. But
in so far as Israel and their ancestors proved themselves
true servants and preachers of the one living God, and of
His counsel and will, in so far has God, who shapes history
according to his plan of salvation, demanded that His
human instruments be obediently acknowledged by those
who came under their influence as having a divine mission.

The patriarchal form of revealed religion was followed
by the Law of Moses, and this latter by the Messianic reve-
lation. When Jesus was baptized by John in Jordan, and
again when He was transfigured upon the mountain,
"there came a voice out of the cloud saying: This is my
beloved Son, hear him." Luke 9: 35. This divine witness
declares him to be the Prophet like unto Moses, concerning
whom we read the solemn words of warning exhortation":
"And it shall come to pass that'whosoever will not hearken
unto my words which he shall speak in my name. I will re-
quire it of him." Deut. 18: 19. It declares Him to be the


Servant of Jehovah of whom God, in the word of prophecy,
says, " Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect in
whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him;
he shall bring- forth judgment to the Gentiles " (Isaiah 42 :
i); /. <?., it is He whom God has appointed that through Him
the religion of Israel shall become the religion of the world.
He is the " Son " of whom it is said in the second Psalm:
" Kiss the Son lest He -(the Lord God) be angry, and ye
perish from the way." For as we read in John 3: 35, 36^
" The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into
his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting
life; and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life,
but the wrath of God abideth on him." And He himself
in His sermon on the Mount demands faith, living faith,
confession of the heart and life, for on that day He will say
to all who only outwardly subject themselves to Him, " I
never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Matt. 7: 23.

These are mighty words, which even a Jewish hearer
ought not to leave unheeded. May not this Jesus be, after
all, the man whom God has appointed as the instrument
to complete the channel of salvation begun by Abraham and
continued by Moses? Of the success which Abraham's proc-
lamation of the one true God had beyond the limits of
his own household, we do not read anything; on the con-
trary, in Egypt and Philistia he himself made all success
impossible by his unfaithful conduct. Neither have Moses
and the people of Israel done anything to convert the
heathen world from its dead idols to the living God. Even
among the prophets there is .but one, namely, Jonah, who
was sent to the great Empire-city to preach repentance
there, and he did it only reluctantly, yielding to a divine
compulsion. But apostolic preaching emanating from
Jesus has destroyed the heathenism of the Roman Empire,
so that Julian the Apostate tried in vain to resuscitate it.
True, the mission of the Christian religion in Inter centu-
ries has not come up in its effect to the first centuries, in
which the first impulse given by Jesus himself was more
strongly felt. True, the Christian religion has, by admit-


ting all kinds of strange errors, weakened its own original
energy. Yet even the later centuries have had successes
in the heathen world to which nothing that Judaism has
done can be compared. And whenever the Christian re-
ligion has found entrance it has permeated the intellectual,
social and political life with power and progress, and has
created a new era in the world's history.

But in the Talmud this Jesus is reviled as a bastard, 1
the son of criminal intercourse between a certain Pandera
with the virgin Mary, and we are told that He was with
Joshua Ben Perachia (who, however, lived a century before
Jesus) in Egypt, and that He there so misconducted Him-
self that He was solemnly excommunicated. His miracles
are explained as a consequence ot his having hidden, in an
incision in his flesh, certain formulas of witchcraft obtained
in Egypt. Instead of the twelve apostles five disciples are
enumerated, and to each one a name is given indicating
his deserving to be cut off. Jesus Himself, we are told, was
hung at Lydda as a seducer of the people, and is deservedly
suffering greater punishment than Balaam, seeing that He
it is terrible to have to write it is being sodden in a lake

of . Do not reply that you have never read

anything like it in the Talmud. The censor of former days
has struck out such passages. But there are books in which
those condemned passages " like jewels and pearls " are
collected and reserved from oblivion.

Must there not be something rotten in the Talmudical
Judaism which harbors such a hatred against Jesus? May
it not be true concerning Jesus as concerning Abraham,
" I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that
curseth thee? " Those revilings read like the insane rav-
ings of those who had drunk of the cup of the divine

Neither, I pray you, reply that this contempt for the
person of Jesus is owing to His having called Himself the
Son of God and to His having assumed a relationship to-
wards God which is incompatible with the unity of God.

nnnn nsim pnj (2 -MSB (i


For at all events, there remains His moral purity, His
spiritual grandeur, His world-renewing power, before
which the greatest modern thinkers bow down, their free-
thinking propensities notwithstanding. " I consider the
Gospels" Goethe said on the nth of March, 1832 ''thor-
oughly genuine, for there is active in them a reflex of
nobility which emanated from the power of Jesus, and is of
as divine a nature as has ever been experienced on earth.
If I am asked whether my nature allows me to adore Him
with reverence, I answer: Most certainly! I bow before Him
as the highest revelation of the loftiest principle of
morality." And Carlyle certainly not a Christian in the
strict ecclesiastical sense says somewhere: "If you ask
me up to what height has humanity reached in religion?
I say, look upon our Divine symbol, Jesus of Nazareth'
and His life and His biography. Higher than that human
mind has never risen."

There are in Israel, too, noble individuals who speak
approximately in the same strain. In the writings of
Leopold Kompert and Karl Emil Franzos we come across
beautiful acknowledgements of the pure and holy humanity
of Jesus, though they do not draw the conclusion that the
Christian religion is a higher religious platform than Juda-
ism. We are glad even of this approach to right apprecia-
tion. He who does not curse him is close to blessing Him
and to being blessed by the God whose " Shechinah " He is.

THE time is past, or ought to be past, when hatred of
the Jews looked upon every one of the Jewish nation as
having had part in the putting to death of Jesus, and
thought to do service to God, if it inflicted upon them con-
dign punishment for that awful deed. It has been forgot-
ten that at the time of the crucifixion there were Jewish
communities in all three continents who knew nothing of
the activity of Jesus in Palestine, nor of his death. But,
on the other hand, it is as vain to try to deny or to mini-
mize the guilt of the Jews in reference to the crucifixion.
Thus, Philippson, in his pamphlet " Have the Jews crucified
Jesus ?" tries to whitewash the Jews in the same way in


which the tribunals of the inquisition ascribed the murder
of the heretics they had condemned to death to the action
of the civil power. And Graetz, after having described, as
he thinks with the impartiality of an -historian, the person
and work of Jesus, says when coming to the crucifixion:
" Such was the end of the man who had worked for the
moral improvement of his people and had perhaps become
the victim of a misunderstanding-." Perhaps! That is to
say, the saying of Jesus in which He called Himself the Son
of God was perhaps understood in a sense different from
what was involved. But we are of the opinion that the
proceedings at the condemnation of Jesus were indeed up-
roarious, that the laws were not minutely observed, and
that the appeal to Pilate: " If thou let this man go, thou art
not Caesar's friend; whosoever maketh himself a king
speaketh against Csesar" (John 19: 12) was a piece of deceit
practiced upon the.cowardice of the procurator. But apart
from this, we admit that this Jesus, who in His sermon
on the Mount went so far as to criticise even the Decalogue
and to oppose to it His own words, saying: " But I say unto
you," who called Himself not only the Son of God but Lord
of the Sabbath, and declared such rabbinical ordinances
as washing of hands before meals as worthless, we admit
I say, that this Jesus could not but appear, from this point
of view of Pharisaic legality, as guilty of death; for trans-
gression of legal ordinances designed to protect the Law
from being broken is, according to' traditional maxims a
capital offense (Erubin 21 b), and such a teacher was to be
executed at the time of the feast. (Sanhedrin n, 4). But
still the killing of Jesus was, when looked at from a higher
point of view, judicial murder. The justice which carried
out the letter of the law was a crying injustice. For the
absolutely perfect purity of the person of Jesus, the over
whelming spiritual power of His declarations, and the
miracles of mercy in which God owned and acknowledged
Him, ought to have lifted His opponents above the platform
of rigorous legality. This legality, in nailing the Holy One
of God to the cross, has pronounced judgment against it-
self. Just as Paul, who, before his conversion, consenting


to the stoning of Stephen, proceeded against the disciples
of our Lord with threatenings and slaughter, learned by
his own doings of what criminal cruelty Pharisaic fanati-
cism is capable; and just as he says in Gal. 2: 19, " I through
the law am dead to the law " just so the religion of the
law, in delivering up to death on the cross the Founder of
the New Covenant promised by the prophet, has borne tes-
timony to its own miserable erroneous narrowness and
sealed its own downfall.

We are far from considering every individual Israelite
of later times living out of Palestine as responsible for the
legal proceedings on that decisive occasion. But, consid-
ering that if any people, through common origin, common
religion, ceremonial law and history is a compact unity, it
is the Jewish people, according to the proverb: "All are re-
sponsible for one another," 1 we cannot escape from the
conclusion that the delivering up of Jesus to the Romans
as one guilty of a capital offense is a national guilt resting
upon the Jewish people; and when we read in the prophet
that Israel in the latter days will smite his breast in
repentance, and will lament as a fearful crime the killing
of a servant of the Lord who had been shamefully mis-
judged, we cannot escape the question of our conscience
whether, after all, Jesus was not the victim of this unfor-
tunate blindness.

" I will pour upon the house of David " we read in
the Book of Zechariah, 12: 10 13: i "and upon the inhab-
itants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications,
and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and
they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only
son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in
bitterness for his first-born. In that day shall there be a
great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Had-
adrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall
rnourn, every family apart; the family of the house of
David apart, and their 'wives apart; the family of the
house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart;



the family of the house of Levi apart, and their
wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives
apart. All the families that remain, ever)- family apart,
and their wives apart. In that day there shall be a fount-
ain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants
of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." It is anational
mourning as was once that for the beloved king Josiah
who had been mortally wounded on the battle field of Me-
giddon. The royal house in its principal branch, as well
as in its lateral branches (David, Nathan); the priestly
family, in its principal branches and its lateral
branches, (Levi, Shimei) all will mourn, and not
only they but all families existing at that future
time of Israel's great repentance. The special em-
phasis laid upon the mourning of the women shows
that the prophet does not speak of a mere national political
concern, but that he describes a matter affecting man's
relationship to God wherein duties and rights belong to
men and women alike. But who is this Pierced One whose
piercing the Lord God considers as a crime committed
against Himself ?

" Whom they have pierced " it might be thought that
not His own people, but the heathen are described as those
who pierced Him. But in the book of the Prophet Isaiah
we learn that the innocent Servant of the Lord was per-
secuted by His own people for whom He sacrificed Himself.
" I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them
that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame
and spitting." Isa. 50: 6.

He came unto His own, and His own received Him not-
And yet the time is to come in which they would rec-
ognize as their Saviour Him whom they had misjudged,
hated with a deadly hatred, and persecuted. " Surely, he
hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did
esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But
he was wounded for our- transgressions, he was bruised for
our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon
him; and with his stripes we are healed." Isa. 53 : 4, 5.

Who is this pierced one? Surely not Israel! For


Israel, as a nation, confesses here that he had deemed Him
smitten of God who for Israel's sake had taken upon Him-
self suffering unto death, just as Job had been deemed by
his three friends to be an exceptionally great sinner be-
cause of his abnormally great trials. If the Servant of the
Lord who has been misjiidged by His people is the per-
sonification of a multitude, He can personify only those
who have labored for the salvation of their people and
sacrificed their lives to that labor. Such a servant of the
Lord was Jeremiah, who, according to trustworthy reports,
suffered martyrdom in Egypt at the hands of its people.
But this Jeremiah, or any other like him, was only a type
of that incomparably great Sufferer, who was consumed by
His zeal for the house of God, and who interceded for His
benighted people when he gave up the ghost on the cross.
When Pilate wanted to release Him, but was hindered by
force, the fanatical multitude took all the responsibility
upon itself, crying : " His blood be on us and on our
children." Matt. 27 : 25. Is it, after all, this blood-guilti-
ness which will be felt by the Jewish people hereafter as
a burden upon heart and conscience too heavy to bear is
that, after all, the national sin for which, when it once
comes to the faith, it will ask and receive forgiveness?

One of the last words of Jesus addressed to His people
as He was concluding His public activity was: "O Jeru-
salem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and
stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I
have gathered thy children together, even as ahengather-
eth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!. Be-
hold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto
you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say.
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Matt.

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Online LibraryFranz DelitzschSolemn questions addressed to Hebrews of culture → online text (page 1 of 6)