AN ACCOUNT OF THE PERSECUTION OF THE WORLD BY ISRAEL ON ALL THE FRONTIERS OF CIVILIZATION
"TO THE FIRST GENERATION OF JEWS THAT WILL LEARN HOW TO PRONOUNCE MY NAME SOFTLY"
1 - PROLOG - THE GENESIS OF JEW-HATRED
2 - THE JEW-HATRED OF GENESIS
3 - IS MONOTHEISM A PURELY JEWISH CONCEPTION?
4 - JEW-HATRED AS A NATURAL INSTINCT
5 - LEOLOM TICKACH: ALWAYS TAKE
6 - THE BRINGING-UP OF THE LITTLE JEW
7 - WHAT HAVE THE JEWS CONTRIBUTED TO AMERICAN CULTURE?
8 - THE JEW IN BUSINESS
9 - JUDAISM IS NOT A MISFORTUNE TO THE JEWS ALONE
10 - THE JEW AS A LAWYER
11 - THE JEW AS A PHYSICIAN
12 - THE JEW AND THE LAND
13 - THE LIFE AND DEATH OF WILLIAM FARO
14 - THE JEWS, THE THEATRE, AND THE WOMAN MARKET
15 - THE RAPE OF LAKEWOOD, LONG BRANCH, AND ATLANTIC CITY
16 - FAREWELL TO JUDAS
17 - APPENDIX - DO JEWS EMIT A PECULIAR ODOR?
PROLOGUE - THE GENESIS OF JEW-HATRED
I want you to learn of these things out of the overflowing of my pen, and know my feelings as if you had heard my own voice uttering them. I would not want the tongues of others, strangers or pretenders to my friendship, to touch this story with the sour whimsy of gossip. In any other voice but my own it must sound incredible and ugly that I should have taken this attitude towards our people. But it is not incredible because, as you see by my vouching for it, it is true. And nothing can be entirely without beauty that has lived so close to the fire which consumes.
How shall I get you to understand what an agony of spirit is involved in the launching of this work? It was easy enough to write, I assure you. What I have set down here I had to or go out of my mind. It struck me like a tidal wave; and before I could make any effort to direct it, it had made an avenue of progress out of every vein and artery of my body, it was riding every one of my living senses: everything I had ever seen, felt, heard and learned was being welded into artillery and commandeered into action in this new battle of my blood. Writing the book was really something of an organic necessity. But to give it to the printer, read proofs, arrange pages, and ultimately sign to it my tortured name, that is a metamorphosis I am still agonizing through.
People will say to you: It is obvious that Roth is deplorably blinded by what happened to him. He apparently got mixed up with a set of ruthless Jews. They fleeced him. And he is ungallantly throwing the onus on the whole Jewish people. Which is unjust and unfair.
If it were not for what the Jews did to me, it is possible that I might never have come to this pass, for they lifted me bodily out of the set life of a Jew of forty and carried me here on their own shoulders. Does this impair my case against them? I do not think so. How, I ask you, have messages like this been brought to the world before? How have people been awakened before, to those strange and terrible visions which have catapulted mankind into what it describes itself today? Would my plea seem more authentic if I presented it in the guise of a series of statistical studies proving what a hideous swamp the Jews have made of Western Civilization? Would it better establish my sincerity if, like one of the minor prophets in Israel, I began my vision with the words And the Lord appeared to me and said?
Is there any need to tell you what a lovely, fearful and proud thing my Jewishness has been to me all my life? I remember that when you first wandered into my bookshop on Eight West Street you sported a silver cross ornament, so far had you strayed from the fenced consciousness of being a Jew. I made no effort, then, to learn how it had come about. I judge now that you must have been born into a particularly ugly corner of Jewish life, and that the cross you wore was merely a symbol of the flash of fancy with which you raised yourself, by your bootstraps one might say, out of a contemptible environment. My enthusiasm served as a hook-chain to drag you back. Yes, I could almost see you change, as day by day you listened to me speak Yiddish and heard me discuss Jewish things. One day the cross disappeared entirely, and you began to speak Yiddish yourself, not badly. You were present on numerous occasions when I made myself the defender of our national integrity, as when I ordered a celebrated English poet out of my shop because he admitted that he was a contributor to G. K. Chesterton's anti-Semitic weekly.
We lived those days in what the Jews call mockingly the Olem Hatoi, the world of illusion, as distinguished from the Olem Hazai, the real world, of which they speak with awe and reverence. We looked upon ourselves as free Jews, princes of the world's most precious blood, descendents of the warrior-man Bar Cochba, and of the warrior-princes the Maccabees. For enchantment we had only to sound the names Abraham, Issac and Moses. For assurance: were we not an active and mighty factor in the upbuilding of America? And for reassurance: were not the deserts of Arabia blossoming under our patient labors of rehabilitation of forty years? As Jews we were the living embodiment of the vision incarnate. Everything said against us was so much evil slander inspired by envy. disappointment, and an unreasoning hatred - Jew-hatred. Jew-hatred differed from every other hatred in the world because it was altogether inspired by lies. About that there could possibly be no question.
In that spirit I wrote and published two books: Europe (Liveright, 1919) and Now and Forever (McBride, 1925). Europe was a sort of uncouth epic in free verse in which I attacked Europe for the outrages she had wantonly practiced on the Jews during the great war. "The face of Israel will shine with power when Europe will be a name difficult to remember," was one of the taunts in it that particularly pleased Israel Zangwill, for he frequently quoted it. Now and Forever continued in prose my reprisals against the gentiles, by means of an imaginary conversation on an imaginable variety of Jewish problems between myself and Zangwill who contributed a characteristic preface. If I remember correctly you did not like either of these books because, you argued, it should be possible for a man to remain a Jew without developing a serious case of high blood pressure.
But even in the blindness of my racial self-love I was observing things. In Now and Forever I pried a surgical knife into the anatomy of the God of Israel. I noticed the earthiness and unloveliness of Jewish women. I pricked the bubble of the theory that Jesus was a man of peace. I regretted that the Zionists had not had the fundamental decency to remain faithful - in spite of alluring British promises - to their pre-war pledges to Turkey. And I suggested that I would probably live to see Jews roasted alive on Fifth Avenue. My book was none the less a passionate defense of the Jews against their enemies. Yet, under the heading "A Playboy Prophet in Israel," a man named Franklin Gordon, reviewing my book in The American Hebrew of July 10, 1925, wrote:
"What is the significance of this book, its salient characteristic? Perhaps its absolute freedom from cant, its plain speaking. So out-spoken is Mr Roth in voicing his sentiments that one may question the advisability of having a book like his too promiscuously circulated. So much of it is open to misconstruction; so many pages in it could be lifted to serve as material for anti-Jewish propaganda."
I remember that this paragraph perplexed me a little and amused me a great deal more. How could I take seriously the possibility that I might be instrumental in adding to the already overcrowded armory of the enemies of my people? Apparently I had pointed out serious blemishes in our poor defenses. But did even the most fanatic of Jews claim that we were a nation without faults? In their times, did not the Prophets report the blemishes of Israel from the housetops? So, secure in my illusions, I rested till the early months of 1933, the year of calamity. . . .
It is one of the felicities of my life that accident, or it may possibly be fate, always dramatizes my misfortunes by setting them up, as they occur, on a promontory. When news of the Nazi warfare against the Jews of Germany blazed out on the front pages of the American press, my own business affairs had just been swallowed in the waves of catastrophe. An employee of mine, a Jew, whom I had discharged for dishonesty, had devised a scheme for seating my publishing business from me. With the help of several of my creditors, all Jews, a happy conspiracy was hatched. The available stock of my publishing firm, over fifty thousand books, well worth thirty thousand dollars, were sold by means of a fraudulent marshal's levy to satisfy a dishonest judgment of some four hundred dollars. I shall go into the details of this sale later - as an illustration of the working of the Jewish lawyer in America - but for the present let it be sufficient for you to know that by that one stroke in the dark, for no inkling was given to me either of the judgment or the sale, my estate, worth easily a hundred thousand dollars, built up out of the hard work and consuming enthusiasm of fifteen years, became valueless.
Almost the same day, as it usually happens in my life, the dreadful news from Germany broke. Adolf Hitler, having become Chancellor of the Third Reich in spite of what had appeared to be insurmountable obstacles, was invoking all the powers of his new office against his political rivals, but especially against all the Jews of the realm. A general boycott had been proclaimed against Jewish business men and Jewish professionals. Jewish lawyers were being ousted from German courts, Jewish doctors from German hospitals, and Nazi troops were stationed in front of Jewish stores to warn Germans against patronizing Jew-owned shops.
Did you ever read Ovrohom Raisin's story of the little ghetto boy who set down in his notebook the Jewish Almanac's figure of the world population of the Jews, and, as they were reported in the press, subtracted from it the number of Jews killed in the Russian pogroms? As a Jew you know how true a picture of a Jewish child this is. Jewish children are brought up to take to heart all the difficulties of their people, as if what is happening to Kol Ysroel  is the business of Ben Ysroel . They get to feel that way whether they are brought up to it or not.
I was only ten years old when the Kishenev pogrom broke out in 1904. But on account of it I could not eat or sleep well for a month. I knew no one in Kishenev. Like millions of others I had never heard of the place before reports of the massacre emblazoned its name on my revolving mind. It was as if people very close and dear to me had been assaulted. Fifteen years later I was on a Eighth Street cross-town car when a newspaper, opened in a seat opposite me, headlined the news that General Denikin was marching, through South Russia at the head of a vast army bearing on a multitude of banners the slogan: "Kill the Jews and Save Russia." Tears gathered in my eyes. I got out at the next corner and wandered about the docks of Manhattan in a daze till past midnight.
And so, in the midst of the news of the misfortune that had befallen the Jews of Germany, I wandered down Broadway, my own plight almost completely forgotten, when I remembered that the Harlans, friends of ours, were coming to the house for dinner. I must get home a little earlier, I thought. But time had already passed me and left me far behind. When I reached home the Harlans were in my library. Cocktails were being served; mine was already set aside for me.
"Still worrying about your business?" asked Mrs. Harlan.
It was not my business but rather the loss of it that was worrying me, I was about to reply when, suddenly, the peculiarity of my position flashed on me unpleasingly. The Harlans were gentiles. Moreover they had never tried to hide their dislike of Jews as a people. In this tragic moment of my people's disillusionment was I not giving comfort to the enemy? I considered it cowardly and dishonest to entertain such thoughts in secret, so I proceeded to explain myself the the Harlans. A few days ago, I said to them, German Jews and German Gentiles were meeting in a cordial fellowship, such as we are meeting here tonight. Today, thousands of German Jews are knocking in vain on the doors of erstwhile friends, German Gentiles, for sympathy. Suppose, as appears to me entirely possible, what is happening in Germany today should break out in America tomorrow? I wonder if I might not find myself coming to you to ask you to harbor my children from the violence of the mob, even as Jews are doing in Germany today, only to hear you say, as many an honest German burgher is saying today to a suppliant Jewish neighbor: "I cannot do what you ask of me. It is against law and order."
Mrs. Harlan, whose first novel I had just published, undertook to answer my question. "We do not like Jews, as you know," she said. "But we do like you, and we are particularly fond of your children. If in the fury of mob psychology we should so far forget ourselves as to forget in our anger against your race our affection for you and your children, I suggest that our loss will be even greater than yours."
I felt both mollified and rebuked, and for a while the subject was dropped. After dinner, we played, as usual, two hours of Pope Joan. Game over, Mrs. Harlan leaned back and said: "I should think, after what you've gone through in the last few days, that you'd become something of an anti-Semite yourself."
I looked up with surprise. "Why?"
"If you could forget," she mused, "a lot of what you must have learned in Hebrew school just long enough to get a glimpse of what the Jews are doing to you you wouldn't have to ask why."
"I see your point, " I said. "But how can I let the thought of a few dishonest Jews blur for me the vision of a whole people?"
"But have you really in your mind a vision of the Whole people?" she pursued. "You have a vision, of course. But it is not a vision which came to you out of the experience of your life. It was imposed on you, like any other form of patriotism, when you were too young to examine anything critically. It was grafted into your blood by the rabbis, in the spirit of My country, right or wrong. You have probably, all your life, suffered experiences such as these at the hands of the Jews you dealt with. But have you allowed your vision of the whole people to be modified ever so slightly? It just simply hasn't occurred to you that the living people has to back up the living vision. Your vision, believe me, is one thing. What the Jews are in reality is something directly different."
Such an argument in my own house! I would never have thought it possible. For the moment I was even too stupefied to protest.
"I have heard you talk of your princely Jewish blood," continued Mrs. Harlan. "You may have something of a mystic strain in you yourself. But look at the Jews you associate with. We have been meeting them in your house during the past year. We ate and drank with them at your table. Didn't they continue to come here days after they had secretly sold you out? Are we to accept them as specimens of your princes of Jewish blood? In the course of our own lives, my husband and I have met many Jews, for how is one to avoid them in New York? But even knowing Jews as genuine as you and your wife has not helped to modify our feeling that Jews are a nation of leeches crowding the sensitive arteries of mankind. Take what is happening in Germany."
"Blind race hatred," I interrupted.
"Conducted by eighty-five million people? Do you believe a whole civilized nation would stand aside, witness what Hitler is doing to the Jews without a protest, unless there are real abuses on the part of the Jews which justified what is happening?"
I could not permit such an argument to remain unanswered. I told the Harlans vehemently and sincerely that it is wrong to blame a whole people for the malpractices of a few of its members. "You are wrong," I averred, "and so is Hitler's Germany. Germany's Jews have enriched Germany far beyond her capacity for gratitude. Are not Germany's foremost living scientists, doctors and lawyers Jews? We are not mad enough to expect gratitude. But we do ask for a little reasonableness. As for my own difficulties, I added, I don't think I can conscientiously blame the people who cheated me, as Jews. It is so easy to cheat me, the temptation would be too overwhelming even for a society of saints."
The Harlans smiled and tactfully changed the subject of the conversation. I don't think they had the faintest notion of what they had accomplished. For they had opened in me the locked gate of an emotion that must have been pounding away at my heart for a long time. It dawned on me suddenly, blindingly that all the evils of my life had been perpetrated by Jews. How powerfully woven about me had been my racial illusion that even a suspicion of this had never occurred to me before? The scroll of my life spread itself out before me, and reading it in the glare of a new, savage light, it became a terrible testimony against my people. The hostility of my parents towards me, reaching back deep into my childhood. My father's fraudulent piety and his impatience with my mother which virtually killed her. The ease with which Frank had sold me out to my detractors. The Jews whose machinations had three times sent me to prison. The conscienceless lying of that clique of Jewish journalists which built up about my name the libel that I was unfair to the authors of the books I published. And a thousand minor incidents too petty to mention. I had never stretched out a hand to help a Jew or a Jewess without having had it bitten. I had never entrusted a Jew with a secret which he did not instantly sell cheap to my enemies. It wasn't as as if I didn't understand such things. I had myself needed help so many times in my life, and I had always been so grateful for the crumbs tossed in my direction. What was wrong with the people who accepted help from me? Was it only an accident that they were Jews?
Please believe me. I tried desperately to put aside this new, this terrible vision of mine. But the Jews themselves would not let me. Day by day, with cruel merciless claws, they dug into my flesh and tore aside the last shreds of the veins of illusion. With the subtle scheming and heartless seizing which is the whole of the Jew's fearful leverage in trade, they drove me from law office to law office and from court to court, until I found myself, before I properly realized it, in the court of bankruptcy. It became so that I could not see a Jew approaching me without my heart rising up within me to mutter: "There goes another Jew-robber, stalking his prey."
And, in the meantime, the ages-old Jewish clamor grew noisier and noisier: Help or we will be exterminated. The Jewish population of Germany was crying out, just as the Jews of Russia, Poland, France and Roumania had called out before, within my own lifetime. The appeal to me was just as personal as it had been in the days of my illusion: that is a habit one never outlives. But I could no longer make the same response. I found myself in the towering seat of judgment. I felt, in that dizzy position, as helpless as the crew of a ship described in Barbellion's celebrated Journal. This crew had become so beloused that they were unable to steer the ship, and so helplessly floated out on it into a stretch of ocean where they died of starvation. On every side I was being eaten alive by Jews. And yet I had to make some answer to that cry. The realization of what that answer must be at first horrified me. . . .
For weeks I went about in a daze. Better, I vowed to myself a thousand times, be quiet, say nothing. But how could I keep quiet? In the name of what should I say nothing? After a lifetime of honest thinking was I to hold back because I could not reconcile myself with an old and apparently unsound tradition? I must give utterance to my feelings or forever after remain in a foul and oppressive darkness. One night, after spending the whole day wandering down the long span of Manhattan, I felt that I could not return home, and since my feet would not sustain my wandering any longer, I betook myself to one of those cheap lodging houses on the Bowery where for a quarter they let you have a bed in a dormitory containing about thirty beds.
Old, unshaven, wind-bitten faces, without a trace of hope or cunning, floated by me as I undressed. And I realized with a warming of my heart why I had come here. It was not the sort of place where one was likely to find a Jew. . . None of those shrewd robber faces would appear to molest me. . . . At last I would be able to sleep. My eyes closed with almost no effort. I slid into a light comforting slumber. . . And then a face, an old familiar tortured face, floated into the subconscious area of my mind. Maybe I could keep the Jews out of a temporary shelter. But how was I to keep them out of my dreams? The face spoke to me wearily, soothingly:
"Why have you permitted yourself to get into such a fever? Do you think you are by any chance the first Jew to have been robbed by Jews? See what they did to me. Jews have always been like that. Jews always will be like that. It is not worth bothering about."
"I know," I replied. "But what do you want with me?"
"You seem angry. That is strange. You've spoken and written about me a score of times. But I cannot remember that you were ever angry with me."
"You're a Jew," I said. "And I came here to get away from Jews. What do you want with me?"
"I want to beg a consideration of you. Get out of the habit of talking and writing about my love of Jews. I know you mean well. But do you realize how you mock me when you do that? I remember gladly a warm corner in the synagogue where I first learnt my Hebrew alphabet. But what did I know then about Jews that my love should be remembered, set apart, and singled out for praise? Look at me. I live eternally in a sea of crooked noses, foul teeth, and cruel jibes which you describe as Calvary. Is it just to me that you should go on talking of my love of Jews?"
"I didn't know," I said.
"There is much more you are yet to learn. But don't be afraid. What you are now learning is to be hated, not feared." And the face and the voice vanished.
I lay back on that shallow cot, my eyes fixed on the ashen shadows moving along the old wall before me. "I may not have been the first Jew wronged by Jews," I vowed to myself. "But I will be the first Jew to arise and tell the truth about them." From that point on I slept peacefully.
Somewhere in the Bible I must have read the line I will utterly destroy this people, saith the Lord God. Was it Jehovah speaking to Moses about the people he had just led out of Egypt? Whoever wrote that line had it in his heart about the Jews as I have it in my heart today. Disraeli set the Jewish fashion of saying that every country has the sort of Jews it deserves. It may also be true that the Jews have only the sorts of enemies they deserve, too.
And suppose I wanted to keep this terrible secret of mine? Where, supposing I had the strength to bear such a burden, would I hide it? On my back? The Jews themselves would pursue me through the streets, as the children pursued Elijah, and call hunchback after me. In my heart? They would be sure to spy the swelling, mistake the bulk for hidden treasure, and I would find myself engaged in constantly tearing their filthy fingers out of my bosom. At home? I have growing children there. I would as soon think of keeping sticks of dynamite loose about my house. . . .
"But you're a Jew, our brother!" I hear a million little oilemhazainikis cry.
Very well. I have always accepted this responsibility solemnly. I shall not fail you this time, I promise. I will make myself worthy of the honor.
 The whole people.
 A son of the people.
THE JEW-HATRED OF GENESIS
The scrolls unroll before me. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep." The very first words I ever read. They are still the most beautiful words I know. Baaraishes buroo Elohim as kashamayimm vehu-uretz. Vehu-urtez hoysu sehoi uvohoi, vechoischach aal penai tekoim." That is how the words actually sounded. I read on through the unfolding scrolls, from the first word to the last, and the ancient wonder stirs into music for me again. Good, deep, true lovely old book. It tells a straightforward honest story. None of the illusions, following which I almost broke my neck, are here. Only the rabbis lied to me.
The first time I heard the words, of the poet-author of Genesis it was from the mouth of my father, and I revered him as if he were himself their author. My father's father was a great man in the country in which I was born: I heard him recite Hebrew words one Yom Kippur night, and he wavered like a great god with wings between the two tall taper lights on each side of the Ark of the Covenant. My father had three brothers, each as tall and as stalwart as himself: occasionally Hebrew words would emanate from them, and they appeared to grow into godhood in front of my eyes. They are all dead now except one. I realized long before they died that they were not gods. My father's father, his father before him, and all the Jewish fathers yielding all the way back to Abraham the father of them all - they were all Jews, far, far from gods.
No one knew this better than that wise poet-author of Genesis -- now that I have learned how to read him correctly. "And there was a famine in the land," he relates, "and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there: for the famine was sore in the land. And it came to pass when he was come near to enter into Egypt that he said unto Sarai, his wife: Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon. And it will come to pass when the Egyptians will see thee, that they will say: 'This is his wife,' and they will kill me, but thee they will keep alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister; that it may be well with me for thy sake, and that my soul may live because of thee. And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. And the princes of Pharaoh saw her, and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. And he dealt well with Abram for her sake; and he had sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and men-servants and maid-servants, and she-asses and camels. And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife. And Pharaoh called Abram and said: 'What is this that thou hast done unto me? Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou; She is my sister? so that I took her to be my wife; now therefor behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way! And Pharaoh gave men charge concerning him; and they brought him on the way, and his wife, and all that they had. And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the South. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold." 
Apparently these words describe one of the very early stages in the career of this nomad chieftain to whom the blood of our race rolls back. By the evidence of the little (practically nothing outside of his wife's beauty) he brought along with him to Egypt, Abraham was rich only in his dreams of the future. Else - supposing, as we have no right to, that he had a strength such as is not represented by worldly goods - why should he have been afraid of Pharaoh? But there can be no misunderstanding the nature of this little jaunt of Abraham's. It was only one of several such raids told with cynical politeness as to detail by the author of Genesis. There probably were more raids which it was pointless to record. One thing is certain: those visits were not motivated by friendliness. According to the most reliable historians of that period the nomads wandered through many countries, sometimes by pre-arrangement with those countries, but more frequently in the spirit of sheer invasion. The historian of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica says: "In times of draught and food-shortage such nomads as these . . . were compelled to raid their agricultural, settled neighbors." But in that first recorded trip to Egypt, Abraham, of whom the ancient historian Nicolaus of Damascus wrote that he "came with an army out of the land above Babylon" and "reigned at Damascus," was not yet strong enough to enrich himself by violence. There are, however, more ways than one of making conquest. The one chosen by Abraham, and resulting in his being laden by Pharaoh with presents for the favors of his beautiful wife, has become a very popular occupation. Apparently, also, few of the tricks in the game as it is played today were unknown to Abraham. How else are we to understand these words in Genesis: "The Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife." I cannot accept the popular anti-Semitic interpretation that Abraham and his wife suffered of a venereal disease. On the contrary I do not think anything physical is implied here at all. Whenever he means to convey the idea of a physical ailment the poet of Genesis is always at great pains to name it. Here he merely says that the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house. Is it too rash to assume that this plague sounds a little more like blackmail than syphilis? Or why, if this is not true, is the poet at pains to explain that when Abraham returned with his family out of Egypt he "was very rich in cattle, in silver and in gold."
That Abraham, having discovered this new racket, decided to practice it further, becomes apparent when he repeats the adventure in a similar manner before the king of another people. "And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the land of the South and dwelt between Kadesh and Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah and his wife: 'She is my sister.  And Abimelech King of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him: 'Behold, thou shalt die, because of the woman that thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife! Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said: 'Lord, wilt thou slay even a righteous nation? Said he not himself unto me: she is my sister? and she, even herself said: He is my brother. In the simplicity of my heart and the innocency of my hands have I done this! And God said unto him in the dream: 'Yea, I know that in the simplicity of thy heart hast thou done this, and also witheld thee from sinning against Me. Therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man's wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live; and if thou restore her not, know that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.' And Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told them all these things in their ears; and the men were sore afraid. Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him: 'What hast thou done unto us? and wherein have I sinned against thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done! And Abimelech said unto Abraham: 'What sawest thou that thou hast done this thing?' And Abraham said: 'Because I thought: Surely the fear of God is not in this place: and they will slay me for my wife's sake. And moreover, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and so she became my wife. And it came to pass when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her: 'This is thy kindness which thou shalt show unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me: he is my brother.' And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and men-servants and women-servants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife. And Abimelech said: 'Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee! And unto Sarah he said: 'Behold I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver; behold, it is for thee a covering of the eyes  to all who are with thee; and before all men thou art righted.' "
Abraham became a really rich man. There was too much for him to lose now if having tried this little game, it should happen to fail. Besides, having had the greater means, there were other grander schemes to work. The story of Abraham becomes eloquent with intrigues and alliances between himself and other desert bandits and - God. He solemnly announces his allegiance to a new Deity, and, probably to economize on the expensive materials which went into the making of idols, and to save himself the trouble of having to cart them about with him in the desert, he invented God's in-corporeality. This carried him far into the esteem of his gaping contemporaries. Only one thing seemed to trouble him: the lack of a son to inherit the spoils and found a new nation in his name, as he had promised himself in his dreams. Genesis reports that Abraham was not really very particular. Finding himself too old to beget children of his own, Abraham was quite content to let Ishmael, a son by his wife's servant Hagar, to be his heir. If the passion of the narrative here is to be trusted, Abraham was more than ordinarily fond of Ishmael. But Sarah had never forgiven Hagar for laughing at her, and as she hated Hagar she loathed Hagar's offspring. No, under no circumstances was that obnoxious handmaiden of hers to fall heir to the name and riches of Abraham. Rather, since Abraham was too old for the hope of a child by him, would it be a son of her own by the seed of another man which might fructify within her . Nothing is clearer in the book of Genesis than that Sarah was a shrew, and that Abraham was a henpecked husband.
The stream of the narrative in Genesis is often turbulent and unclear because it is really two narratives blended into one, with spots where the process of blending was not so successfully accomplished. But the unfolding of the strange circumstances leading to the birth of Isaac is not the result of this difficulty. It must have been told quite honestly by the author (or authors) of Genesis; but it was obviously tampered with by those Hebrew scholars in Alexandria who committed most of the mischief in Biblical exegesis. Here is the passage as it is given to us today:
"And the Lord appeared unto him (Abraham) by the terebinths of Mamre, as he sat in the text door in the heat of the day; and he lifted his eyes and looked, and lo, three men stood over against him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed down to the earth, and said: 'My LORD, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant. Let now a little water be fetched, and wash your feet and recline yourself under the tree. And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and stay ye your heart; after that ye shall pass on; forasmuch as ye are come to your servant.' And they said: 'So do as thou hast said.' And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said: 'Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it and make cakes! And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto the servant; and he hastened to dress it. And he took curd, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. And they said unto him: 'Where is Sarah thy wife?' And he said: 'Behold, in the tent,' And he said: 'I will certainly return to thee when the season cometh round; and lo, Sarah thy wife, shall have a son! And Sarah heard in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, and well stricken in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. And Sarah laughed within herself, saying: 'After I have waxed old shall I have pleasure  my lord being old also?' And the Lord said unto Abraham: 'Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying: Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the set time I will return unto thee ' when the, season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son! Then Sarah denied, saying: 'I laughed not,' for she was afraid. And He said: 'Nay but thou didst laugh!"
Until the very last bantering words it is wildly possible that a story as gravely beautiful, as poetically sincere as Genesis might have confused humanity and divinity so badly. But would even the most rabid apologist for Abraham and our national pride insist that the Lord carried on such petty and utterly useless banter with the woman Sarah?
Notice that three people appear before Abraham. Three people are fed by him, and fed "to stay the heart," an expression that would never have occurred to the original author if he tried to convey the impression that Abraham knew he was entertaining the Lord himself. But Abraham, you will notice, carries on his conversation with only one. The expurgators of the Bible who here did their best to veil the clear sense of the narrative, would have you believe that the trio consisted of God and two of his angels. Nothing concerning their nature is said or hinted in the first part of the narrative here quoted. But in the next part, when, their leader having remained behind to converse with Abraham, the two are described entering the city of Sodom, the Alexandria meddlers seem to have made up their minds, and those who are described as men in Chapter 18 are definitely referred to as angels in Chapter 19. This inconsistency is made plausible by the fact that the Hebrew word maluchim means both angels and messengers.
Now to any intelligent unprejudiced reader it should become obvious from the fact that Abraham greets three visitors and holds conversation with only one, that the one was some important local chieftain, on his way to prosecute an important business and that the two who accompanied him were his bodyguards. To prove that these two were servants and not angels, it is only necessary to prove that their master was a man, and not God. The Hebrew text, so inexpertly tampered with, proves this conclusively. The word Lord is written in two ways in Hebrew. When intended to denote the Deity it is spelled Yahwah, and pronounced Adenoi. But when the word is intended to denote a human master the word Adenoi is spelled as it is pronounced. In that part of the narrative where I reproduced the word LORD in capitals, the expurgators of Genesis - who faltered so frequently in their mystifications - spelled the word Adenoi, as appertaining to a man.
Instead of being, what it has been made to appear, a meeting between Abraham and God, the incident is merely that of a meeting between Abraham and one of his more powerful neighbor chieftains. His message to Abraham is in effect: Obviously, Abraham, you are not a man to trifle with. One capable of inventing your particular monstrosity of a god, should be consulted on all important desert matters. Well, I don't like the behavior of the people in Sodom. I understand the lovemaking of man and woman because it is sweet and fruitful. But what comes of the love of man and man and woman and woman? Certainly nothing that can be seen by the naked eye. And what a terrible example for our children. And what of the future of the race? Their destruction which is certain should be hastened. Towards that end I have sent my messengers ahead for a view of their fortifications. Then we'll knock hell out of them. So much for our moral chieftain's message. He began by accepting Abraham's hospitality, and, with the insolence of the just, ended by proposing to provide him with an heir. It is to be presumed from the context that the beauty of Sarah was as well known as Abraham's unfortunate lack of an heir; so that when this chieftain saw the aged desert beauty winking at him from behind the doorway it was only natural for him to become licentiously interested.
But are you not going a bit too far from the accepted reading of the story, I can hear the reader ask. In proof of my belief that the incident as I quote it from the Old Testament has been tampered with , and that the story is really as I am setting it forth, I offer the corroboration of Philo Judaeaus, the greatest Hebrew scholar of all time. Philo, who lived about 10 B.C., must have had available the unaltered text of Genesis . Here is his version of the matter:
"And when those persons, having been entertained in his house, address their entertainer in an affectionate manner, it is again one of them who promises that he will himself be present, and will bestow on him a seed of a child of his own, speaking in the following words: 'I will return again and visit thee again, according to the time of life, and Sarah thy wife shall have a son.' "
Apparently the Old Testament's tamperers cut down his lordship's proposed two visits to one, for it is only too obvious from the original, as quoted by Philo, that the first visit, "according to the time of life" was for the sowing of the seed, and the second, that he might see the seed in flower.
But Abraham lived to bitterly regret this bargain. The account Genesis gives us of Isaac, his indolence, his lack of pride and venturesomeness, makes him, a pale ragged figure beside that of the flaming Ishmael. The more Abraham looked at Isaac, the son of a stranger by his wife, the more he loved Ishmael, sprung from his own loins. He grew to hate Isaac with a terrible hatred, and it seems altogether likely to me that Abraham would have thought of the sacrifice of Isaac even without divine intervention.
If Isaac died, Abraham decided, he would never again let Sarah inveigle him into such an arrangement. And, whether Sarah liked it or not, Ishmael would inherit everything. If my suggestion that Abraham really took Isaac into the wilderness, when Sarah happened not to be aware, with the object of murdering him, is not true, why was Abraham so secretive about his operations! It could not be that he was performing a religious rite. All other religious rites Abraham performed within sight of all his family and servants.
The carelessness of our Hebrew fathers with regard to the chastity of their wives passes on in the same deliberate tradition, to Isaac. When, like his father, Isaac fell upon evil days, he wandered out with his family into the land of the Philistines, the people ruled by Abimelech whose affair with Isaac's mother had been so costly to the tribal treasury. "And," records Genesis, "Isaac dwelt in Gerar. And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said: 'She is my sister;' for he feared to say: 'My wife, lest the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah, because she is fair to look upon.' And it came to pass when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. And Abimelech called Isaac and said: "Behold of a surety she is thy wife, and how saidst thou: she is my sister?" And Isaac said unto him: 'Because I said: Lest I die because of her.' And Abimelech said: 'What is this thou hast done unto us? One of the people might easily have lain with thy wife,  and thou wouldst have brought guiltiness upon us.' And Abimelech charged all the people saying: 'He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.' And Isaac sowed in that land, and found in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. And the man waxed great, and grew more and more until he grew very great. And he had possessions of flocks, and possessions of herds, and a great household; and the Philistines envied him."
It must have been this propensity to trade the favors of their women for gold that caused the Jews to be held in such abhorrence by the ancient world. How deep-stung was this hatred of Jews in olden times is testified to eloquently by the author of Genesis in his description of the feast set by Joseph for his brethren: "And Joseph made haste; for his heart yearned towards his brother; and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber and he wept there. And he washed his face, and came out; and he refrained himself, and said: 'Set on bread.' And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves; because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination for the Egyptians."
That is all. The subject matter is never again broached either in Genesis or in the rest of the Old Testament. Why did not the author of Genesis, who had such a deep respect for Egypt, make some effort to explain Egypt's contempt for the Jews? He might at least have tried to explain why the Egyptians at that table, all inferior to Joseph in rank, would have felt it an abomination to eat with him? His complete indifference to the matter is a more terrible accusation against the Jews than any to be found in the works of Livy and Apion. But might there not have been some explanation which was torn out of its context by the great expurgators?
The portrait of the third of the great founders of our blood is done in even more lurid colors. Jacob - did not stop after stealing his brother Esau's birthright: "And it came to pass," runs the story, "that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his elder son, and said unto him: 'My son;' and he said unto him: 'Here am I' And he said: 'Behold, now, I am old, I know not the day of my death. Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me venison; and make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless me before I die.' And Rebekah heard when Isaac spoke to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it. And Rebekah spoke unto Jacob her son, saying: 'behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying: Bring me venison, and make me savory food, that I may eat, and bless thee before the Lord before my death. Now therefore, my son, hearken to my voice according to that which I command thee. Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savory food for thy father, that he may eat, so that he may bless thee before his death.' And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother: 'Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him, as a mocker; and I shall bring a curse upon me and not a blessing.' And his mother said unto him: 'Upon me be thy curse, my son only hearken to my voice, and go fetch me them.' And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother; and his mother made savory food, such as his father loved. And Rebekah took the choicest garments of Esau her eldest son, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob the younger son. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck. And she gave the savory food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. And he came unto his father and said 'My father;' and he said: 'Here am I; who art thou, my son?' And Jacob said unto his father: 'I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou hast badest me. Arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me. 'And Isaac said unto his son: 'How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son?' And he said: 'Because the Lord thy God sent me good speed! And Isaac said unto Jacob: 'Come near I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.' And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said: 'The voice is the voice of Jacob but the hands are the hands of Esau.' And he discerned him not because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands, so he blessed him. . . And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from the hunting. And he also made savory food, and brought it unto his father; and he said unto his father: 'Let my father arise and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me.' And Isaac his father said unto him: 'Who art thou? And he said: 'I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau! And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said: 'Who, then, is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? Yea, and he shall be blessed! When Esau heard the words of his father he cried with an exceeding great and bitter cry. . .' "
When the children, in the old little synagogue where I learnt my Hebrew letters, came to this portion of the Law, the rabbi would add: "And the cry which Esau uttered was so terrible that the fiery Gehannah itself opened before him." The rabbi must have added this to frighten us, to give us an inkling of what a monster out of Hell the man Esau was, so as to make us loathe the hairy man. Instead, a thrill of sympathy shot through me for the cheated Esau. In my heart, I must have loved him more than I loved Jacob.
Only one thing relieves the portrait of Jacob, this man of monstrous cunning and endless guile: his love for Rachel. The appearance of Rachel introduces a new element into the story of the Hebrew race. Unlike the wives of Abraham and Isaac, shrews of the shrillest order, Rachel was beautiful and gentle. One can almost see her softening influence on the character of her husband who combined business subtlety with a fierce determination to rise even above the birthright he had purchased. The delicate fingers of Rachel soften some of the hard lines in the portrait of Jacob.
 All Biblical quotations in this book are from the Jewish Publication Society translation, accepted by the Jews as the most faithful to the original Hebrew, obtainable in English.
 Even the bare pretense that this is done for fear of his life is abandoned in the telling of the second adventure.
 'Covering of the eyes' the oriental expression for 'hush-money.'
 A barren woman is a firm believer in her husband's barrenness.
 The issue is whether Abraham shall have an heir. But notice what the old bitch is thinking about.
 The reader might object that Abraham could hardly believe that a son would be his, if he were born of another man's seed. A modern Abraham might not. But the ancient Hebrews had a peculiar attitude in such matters. I refer you to verse 6, chapter 38 of Genesis: "And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. And Er Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord slew him. And Judah said unto Onan: 'Go in unto thy brother's wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother unto her, and raise up seed unto thy brother."' But how, it may be asked, could the chieftain so glibly promise that the issue would be a boy, and not a girl? The Arabians had a conceit about such matters, and thought they knew by position in love how to predetermine the sex of a child. Besides, an enamored man tries to be not accurate but persuasive.
 The prevailing edition of Genesis has the Lord saying to Abraham that his seed would be a stranger in a land not theirs and be afflicted for 400 years. In the version of Genesis available to Philo, the text read 40 years. Here, too, you see the hand of the expurgator attempting to connect this prophesy with the Jews' eventual sojourn in Egypt.
 A similar accusation is made in the Koran. Several instances of vital falsification are cited. But the Koran is a very poor critic of almost everything else; and so I hesitate to cite it even where it is correct.
 What a compliment this is to Rebekah's virtue!
IS MONOTHEISM A PURELY JEWISH CONCEPTION?
What have we thus far?
The portraits of three subtle barbarians. Our forefathers, yes, but barbarians. Shrewd, careful, sinister, adventurous, bargain-driving, wily men - but barbarians just the same. It is not mentioned by the author of Genesis whether they could read or write. And so steeped are their portraits in the very blackest colors of barbarism that to suppose them to have been literate is the very wildest flight of fancy.
There they are: three old barbarians. As I look upon them I wonder how their names could have inspired the world with such awe; I wonder which of the three I dislike the least. A conclusion not difficult to reach. Much can be forgiven Abraham for his power as a warrior. Much more will be conceded to Jacob for his tenderness for the woman Rachel. But what shall redeem for us the centuries of fantastic devotion which we heaped upon the lazy, stupid swaggering figure of Isaac?
But you are forgetting, I can almost hear the rabbis object. You have not only Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You have also Monotheism.
Ah, Monotheism! I had almost forgotten it!
I do not think the average scholar will attach much value to my opinion on the importance to civilization of the monotheistic conception of the universe. Philosophers, ethical philosophers in particular, usually rate it - the conception, of course, very highly. But these same kindly people invariably conceive of human history in terms of a cycle of progress, which is only one of the many ways in which they give expression to their delightful naivet‚. As for me, the word progress itself has always appeared as a sort of inverted mirage. Nevertheless I know that the world in which we live is devoted to the idea of progress, so much so that it has made of the theory of evolution - that scientific development of the idea of progress which the late Jacques Loeb riddled so devastatingly - a sort of modern religion. This same world holds in a towering esteem the monotheistic conception of the universe. So that at the basis of every reputable historian's work is the undisputed hypothesis that it is one of the three essential pillars of European civilization. Rome, he would solemnly have you believe, gave the world its laws. Athens, its arts. Jerusalem, monotheism.
It is clear that these historians build not out of what they know but of what they have been told. It is an exercise in mortification to observe them at their work. They go to the library for the bare facts, and no one can find fault with the ardor with which they pursue their studies. But when it comes to reaching the very simplest conclusion - which alone could justify their labors - they go for it to their church.
First observation: God has never offered himself in the same form to two races. To one race he has appeared in the form of the stump of a tree. To another as the sun; to still another as the moon. Depending on the nature of the recipient of the vision, God has appeared as a bull, a cow, a tiger, a donkey, a creature with two heads, one a lion, the other a dog; to another race, with an instinctive reluctance to bother with expensive images, he appeared totally invisible.
Second observation: The meaning of God has never been the same to two races of mankind. To one race he would appear as the creator of a universe the gradual dissolution of which was to him a matter of amused indifference. To another he was a vengeful demon who was continually stayed from destroying it, only by the most lavish sacrifices offered up to him by men. Man, like God, creates in his own image. And Zeus is as peculiar to the Romans as Jupiter is to the Greeks.
Now nothing has a more obvious stamp of truth than the assertion that everything in an organic universe goes back to one primal seed out of which all the known forms of life sprouted and developed. Once you have conceded this singular genesis, it is almost gratifying to personify it and endow this personality with the charm, power and humor of an omnipotent creator. And yet, except to be used by one class of people as a symbol by which to dominate another, of what use to mankind is this fictitious centralized deity?
Someone should make a creditable beginning of the denial of monotheism before the imagination of the race is completely destroyed by it. As a matter of fact, life does manifest itself to our senses in many different forms. The best we can see for the beginning of any form of life is some accident in space to which it might be traced by a wisdom as yet unknown to us. Why, therefore, should we confine all of the phenomena of life to one major accident! Why could there not have been many accidents, quite unrelated to one another?
But, to return to the original question, why cannot the historians go for their conclusions to the facts which they investigate so zealously?
If the footnotes with which these historians strew the margins of their texts tell an honest story, they do a great deal of varied reading and research. Yet you do not have to go very far into historic origins to recognize that every ancient literature embodies, in one form or another, the monotheistic idea. Indeed, many works based on it antedate the writings of Deutor-Issaiah (in whom the Jewish conception reaches a measure of clearness and sincerity) by a thousand years and more. Zarathustra who lived some time in 800 B.C., and might almost be said to have been a contemporary of Issaiah's, certainly expressed the same idea in much loftier if less passionate imagistic speech. Why, then, is Jerusalem credited with monotheism? Partly because, while the disciples of Zarathustra tended to their home-fires in India and Arabia, the Jews, through Mohammed and Jesus, shot the idea of one God to the north and the south of the Mediterranean. But chiefly because the Jews themselves, Torah in hand, and the cry Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One on their lips, insinuated Monotheism into every nook and cranny of the earth. True or not, the belief that monotheism sprang forth from the racial genius of the Jews has become so common that even the official enemies of the Jews and some of them, such as G. K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc, should know better, - do not trouble to deny it. Their attitude seems to be that it would be much simpler to deny altogether the value of monotheism and create a better repute for the virtues of paganism, than to try to wrest this brass laurel from the crown of Israel.
There have been, as a matter of fact, two dissenting voices, voices ventured forward so meekly, that they have scarcely been heard; the voice of Ernest Renan, who spent a lifetime on Semitic studies only to discover when he was too old to turn to anything else, that the whole matter (learning and people) were exceedingly distasteful to him; and the voice of William Robertson Smith, a Scottish theologian whose only radical departure from custom was to occasionally drop the William from his name.
Renan cautiously propounded the theory that monotheism was really an instinct, and that a Semitic one; therefore the universal belief that it was inimical to the Hebrew race should be modified. Smith, who probably never gained access to the writings of his delicate French contemporary, brings his even more dilatory argument to a head with the suggestion that "what is often described as a natural tendency of Semitic religion toward ethical monotheism is in main nothing more than a consequence of the alliance of religion and monarchy."
Of the Jews themselves, however, the attitude of Rabbi David Phillipson is typically cocksure: "The Hebrews alone of all Semitic peoples reached the stage of pure monotheism through the teachings of their prophets; however, it required centuries of development before every trace of idolatry disappeared even from among them, and before they stood forth as 'a unique people on earth,' worshippers of the God, and Him alone."
We must, however, get ourselves a more impartial definition of monotheism than the pronouncement of this pompous rabbi. We find one in the essays of Dr. George Galloway who describes monotheism as "the ripest expression of the religious consciousness. It rests on the conviction that the ethical and religious values must have a sufficient ground and, this is the one God on whom all existence and value depend."
A good definition this. Probably as good a one as will ever be offered. I had this definition in mind while going through the Old Testament again. During a rather careful rereading in which it became increasingly clear to me that I was the book's first intelligent reader in two thousand years.  I find that, with the exception of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, which might or might not have been written by a Jew, there is not much more than an occasional hint of the monotheistic idea to be found in this whole structure of Judges, Kings and Prophets. The conception of God in the first eleven chapters of Genesis is singularly lofty. After that, it becomes the portrait of an ordinary tribal god; except that in none of the chronicles of tribal gods that have come within my reading range, have I encountered a tribal god as cruel, jealous, lustful, mean, lying, cheating and treacherous, as that great little guinea pig the God of Israel.
The very opening words of the twelfth chapter of Genesis begin to set the character of the God of Israel: "Now the Lord said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land, that I will show thee. And I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy game great; and be thou a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
To be a true and just God, in accordance with the monotheistic ideal, God would have to be aloof from all men. So it is a bit surprising that his first human announcement should be that he has made to alliance with a man. More regrettably, no reason is assigned for his selection of Abraham for such an important business: it seems an affair like love at first sight, where the object has as yet to prove worthiness. But there is here one touch of true monotheism; for, be God's reasons for choosing Abraham sufficient or not, He does promise that "in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
The promise continues in the fourteenth verse of the next chapter: "And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him: 'Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk thou through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for unto thee will I give it."
It is only natural, if God has chosen to work his wonders for the rest of the world through Israel, that the latter should be endowed with some fertile territory to develop in. But in the opening of the fifteenth chapter the operations of the Lord become definitely suspicious: "After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying: 'Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield, thy reward shall be exceeding great.'" If Israel is to become a blessing for the nations, what evils would there be to shield Israel from? And why this offer of an excessive reward, as if it were not a reward but a bribe? What are Israel's labors to consist of? In return for what particular favors to the Lord are such lavish favors being offered?
The Lord's frankness to his dearly beloved chosen ones increases. In the opening words of the fifteenth chapter we get a rather definite intimation of what the Lord expects of his people Israel. "And he said unto Abram: 'Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance.'"
Can the last words of this momentous passage mean what they appear to tell on the surface? Is God really promising Abraham that some day the nation to develop out of his seed will be permitted by the Lord to loot a nation that is not their own? If there is any doubt that the meaning is precisely what appears on the surface of God's words, it is dispelled by verse nineteen of the third chapter of Exodus: "And I know that the King of Egypt will not give you leave to go," God says to Moses, "except by a mighty hand. And I will put forth My hand, and smite Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in the midst thereof. And after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians. And it shall come to pass that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty; but every woman will ask of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold; and raiment; and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians!"
When an English novelist, Charles Dickens, portrayed in a great novel, Oliver Twist, a Jew named Fagin, instructing little English boys in the art of pocket-kerchief snatching, a howl of protest went up from universal Jewry that resounded through every corner of the civilized world. Dickens was excoriated as a liar and a Jew-hater. The book, one of the most beautiful in all literature, was declared to be a nasty, deliberatively venomous slander of a noble, long suffering race. But when it is our own sacred book of record, instructing our children in the very lowest possible way to rob their neighbors it is to be regarded as sacred scripture and unimpeachable evidence of the nobility of our racial character.