The Jews among the Greeks and Romans
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THE JEWS AMONG THE
GREEKS AND ROMANS
ARCH OF TITUS, ROME
It is a counsel of perfection that any historical studyshould be approached with complete detachment. Tosuch detachment I can make all the less claim as I freelyadmit an abiding reverence for the history of my ownpeople, and, for the life of ancient Greece and Rome, apassionate affection that is frankly unreasoning. Atno place in the course of the following pages have Ibeen consciously apologetic. It is true that where severalexplanations of an incident are possible, I have notalways selected the one most discreditable to the Jews.Doubtless that will not be forgiven me by those whohave accepted the anti-Semitic pamphlets of Willrichas serious contributions to historical research.
The literature on the subject is enormous. Very fewreferences to what are known as “secondary” sourceswill, however, be found in this book. A short bibliographyis appended, in which various books of referenceare cited. From these all who are interested inthe innumerable controversies that the subject haselicited may obtain full information.
There remains the grateful task of acknowledgingmy personal indebtedness to my friend, Dr. ErnstRiess, for many valuable suggestions. Above all Idesire to express my indebtedness to President SolomonSchechter, of the Jewish Theological Seminary of8America, at whose instance the preparation of thisbook was undertaken. Those who share with me theprivilege of his friendship will note in more than oneturn of expression and thought the impress of that richpersonality.
|I.||Greek Religious Concepts||21|
|II.||Roman Religious Concepts||40|
|III.||Greek and Roman Concepts of Race||48|
|IV.||Sketch of Jewish History between Nebuchadnezzar and Constantine||56|
|V.||Internal Development of the Jews during the Persian Period||66|
|VI.||The First Contact between Greek and Jew||76|
|VIII.||Jews in Ptolemaic Egypt||104|
|IX.||The Struggle against Greek Culture in Palestine||118|
|X.||Antiochus the Manifest God||135|
|XI.||The Jewish Propaganda||148|
|XIII.||The Opposition in Its Social Aspect||176|
|XIV.||The Philosophic Opposition||191|
|XVI.||Jews in Rome during the Early Empire||236|
|XVII.||The Jews of the Empire till the Revolt||257|
|XVIII.||The Revolt of 68 C.E.||287|
|XIX.||The Development of the Roman Jewish Community||304|
|XX.||The Final Revolts of the Jews||328|
|XXI.||The Legal Position of the Jews in the Later Empire||350|
|Arch of Titus, Rome||Frontispiece|
|Ruins of the Amphitheater at Gerasa (Jerash), Gilead, Palestine||62|
|Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes, after a Coin (from a Drawing by Ralph Iligan)||136|
|Greek Inscription, Found on Site of Temple Area, Forbidding Gentiles to Pass beyond the Inner Temple Walls at Jerusalem||186|
|Ruins of an Ancient Synagogue at Merom, Galilee, Palestine (Roman Period)||216|
|Tombs of the Kings, Valley of Kedron, Jerusalem (from Wilson’s “Jerusalem”)||268|
|Symbols and Inscriptions from Jewish Catacombs and Cemeteries in Rome (from Garrucci)||310|
The civilization of Europe and America is composedof elements of many different kinds and of variousorigin. Most of the beginnings cannot be recoveredwithin the limits of recorded history. We do not knowwhere and when a great many of our fundamental institutionsarose, and about them we are reduced to conjecturesthat are sometimes frankly improbable. Butabout a great many elements of our civilization, andprecisely those upon which we base our claim to becalled civilized—indeed, which give us the word andthe concept of civic life—we know relatively a greatdeal, and we know that they originated on the easternshores of the large landlocked sea known as theMediterranean.
We are beginning to be aware that the process ofdeveloping these elements was much longer than wehad been accustomed to believe. Many races and severalmillennia seem to have elaborated slowly the institutionsthat older historians were prepared to regard asthe conscious contrivance of a single epoch. But evenif increasing archeological research shall render usmore familiar than we are with Pelasgians, Myceneans,Minoans, Aegeans, it is not likely that the claims of twohistoric peoples to have founded European civilizationwill be seriously impugned. These are the Romans and14the Greeks. To these must be added another people,the Jews, whose contribution to civilization was no lessreal and lasting.
The Greeks and Romans have left descendants onlyin a qualified sense. There are no doubt thousands ofindividuals now living who are the actual descendantsof the kinsmen and contemporaries of the great namesin Greek and Roman history; but these individuals arewidely scattered, and are united by national and racialbonds with thousands of individuals not so descended,from whom they have become wholly indistinguishable.We have documentary evidence of great masses ofother races, Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Semitic, enteringinto the territory occupied by Greeks and Romans andmingling with them, and to this evidence is added theconfirmation of anthropological researches. This facthas made it possible to consider Greek and Roman historyobjectively. Only rarely can investigators befound who feel more than a very diluted pride in theachievements of peoples so dubiously connected withthemselves. It is therefore with increasing clarity ofvision that we are ordering the large body of facts wealready know about Greeks and Romans, and aregathering them in constantly broadening categories.
That unfortunately is not the case with the Jews.Here, too, racial admixture was present, but it nevertook place on a large scale at any one time, and mayalways have remained exceptional. However that maybe, common belief both among Jews and non-Jewsholds very strongly the view that the Jews of to-day are15the lineal descendants of the community reorganizedby Ezra, nor is it likely that this belief would be seriouslymodified by much stronger evidence to the contrarythan has yet been adduced. The result has beenthat the place of the Jews in history has been determinedupon the basis of institutions avowedly hostileto them. It may be said that historians have introducedthe Jews as a point of departure for Christianity, andhave not otherwise concerned themselves with them.
There was a time when Greek and Roman and Jewwere in contact. What was the nature of that contact?What were its results? What were the mutual impressionsmade by all three of them on one another? Theusual answer has been largely a transference of modernattitudes to ancient times. Is another answer possible?Do the materials at our disposal permit us to arrive ata firmer and better conclusion?
It is necessary first to know the conditions of ourinquiry. The period that we must partially analyzeextends from the end of the Babylonian Captivity tothe establishment of Christianity—roughly from about450 B.C.E. to 350 C.E., some seven or eight hundredyears.
The time limits are of course arbitrary. The contactwith Greeks may have begun before the earlier of thetwo limits, and the relations of the Jews with bothGreeks and Romans certainly did not cease with eitherConstantine or Theodosius. However, it was duringthe years that followed the return from the Exile thatmuch