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The Jews As A Separate People
by [?]

The argument for the separation and distinct current of the Jews, flowing as they pretend of the river Rhone through the Lake of Geneva–never mixing its waters with those which surround it–has been by some infidel writers defeated and evaded by one word; and here, as everywhere else, an unwise teacher will seek to hide the answer. Yet how infinitely better to state it fully, and then show that the evasion has no form at all; but, on the contrary, powerfully argues the inconsistency and incapacity of those who urge it. For instance, I remember Boulanger, a French infidel, whose work was duly translated by a Scotchman, answers it thus: What is there miraculous in all this? he demands. Listen to me, and I will show you in two minutes that it rests upon mere show and pure delusion. How is it, why is it, that the Jews have remained a separate people? Simply from their usages, in the first place; but, secondly, still more from the fact that these usages, which with other peoples exist also in some representative shape, with them modify themselves, shift, alter, adapt themselves to the climate or to the humour or accidents of life amongst those amidst whom chance has thrown them; whereas amongst the Jews every custom, the most trivial, is also part of their legislation; and their legislation is also their religion. (Boulanger, by the way, is far from expressing that objection so clearly as I have here done; but this is his drift and purpose, so far as he knew how to express it.) Take any other people–Isaurians, Athenians, Romans, Corinthians–doubtless all these and many others have transmitted their blood down to our ages, and are now living amongst us by representation. But why do we not perceive this? Why do the Athenians seem to have perished utterly? Simply for this reason: they were a plastic, yielding, unobstinate race. An Athenian lived in a port of Italy, married an Italian woman; thence threw out lines of descent to Milan, thence to Paris; and because his Attic usages were all local, epichorial, and tied to a particular mythology which has given way, or to a superstition which is defunct, or to a patriotic remembrance which has vanished with the land and the sympathy that supported it; hence, and upon other similar arguments, the Athenian has long since melted into the mass with which he was intermixed; he was a unit attached to a vast overpowering number from another source, and into that number he has long since been absorbed; he was a drop in a vast ocean, and long ago he has been confounded with the waters that did not differ, except numerically, from his own. But the Jews are an obstinate, bigoted people; and they have maintained their separation, not by any overruling or coercing miracle, but in a way perfectly obvious and palpable to themselves–obvious by its operation, obvious in its remedy. They would not resign their customs. Upon these ordinances, positive and negative, commanding and forbidding many peculiar rites, consecrating and desecrating many common esculent articles, these Jews have laid the stress and emphasis of religion. They would not resign them; they did not expect others to adopt them–not in any case; a fortiori not from a degraded people. And hence, not by any mysterious operation of Providential control, arose their separation, their resolute refusal to blend with other races.

This is the infidel’s attempt to rebut, to defeat, utterly to confound, the argumentative force of this most astonishing amongst all historical pictures that the planet presents.

The following is the answer:

It is forgotten that along with the Jews there is another people concerned as illustrations of the same prophetic fatality–of that same inevitable eye, that same perspective of vision, which belonged to those whose eyes God had opened. The Arabs, as children of a common ancestor, ought not to be forgotten in this sentence upon their brother nation. They through Ishmael, the Jews through Isaac, and more immediately through Israel the son of Isaac, were two diverging branches of one original stem; and to both was pronounced a corresponding doom–a sentence which argued in both a principle of duration and self-propagation, that is memorable in any race. The children of Ishmael are the Arabs of the desert. Their destiny as a roving robber nation, and liable to all men’s hands, as they indifferently levied spoil on all, was early pronounced. And here, again, we see at once how it will be evaded: it is the desert, it is the climate, it is the solemnity of that unchanging basis, which will secure the unchanging life of its children. But it is remarkable enough that Gibbon and other infidels, kicking violently against this standing miracle (because, if not so in itself, yet, according to Bishop Butler’s just explanation concerning miraculous per derivationem as recording a miraculous power of vision), have by oscillation clung to the fixture of basis, and rejected it; for now Gibbon denies that the Arabs have held this constant tenor of life; they have changed it, he asserts, in large and notorious cases. Well, then, if they have, then at once falls to the ground this alleged overruling coercion a priori of the climate and the desert. Climate and desert do not necessarily coerce them, if in large and notorious cases they have failed to do so. So feels Gibbon; and, by an instinct of timidity, back he flies to the previous evasion–to the natural controlling power of climate and soil, admitting the Scriptural fact, but seeking for it an unscriptural ground, as before he had flown in over-precipitate anxiety to the denial of the Scriptural fact, but in that denial involving a withdrawal of the unscriptural ground.