Why Has the World Always Hated Jews?
Most people think vile, violent, virulent anti-Semitism (anti-Jew, anti-Israel hatred) stems from the Jewish crucifixion of Christ, and no doubt that is part of the story. When Christ declared Himself to be God, the religious leaders only had one of two choices: they could either bow down and worship Him or they could kill Him. You know their choice. However, the hatred is more complex than that. Hatred of Jews goes back to the beginning of their race.
Unbelievers and wicked men hate certitude and the Jews, while not always being right, have always been certain. While the rest of the world worshiped multiple pagan gods, the Jews demanded faithful and exclusive worship of Jehovah. Well, there goes the pagan vote!
God told them not to marry into the wicked, unbelieving nations around them and that suggested Jewish superiority. That refusal to be absorbed into the culture has been a reason for the perpetuity of them as a people but also a cause of universal hatred. Jews seemed to think they were special, and they were and still are! Others resented it and still do.
Jehovah gave the Jewish nation a code of personal behavior known as the Ten Commandments and nothing could be more absolute; they were not suggestions. Men still chafe under “Thou shalt not.” Because of such holy demands and their uniqueness, the Jews were usually considered as outcasts.
A major Jewish rebellion against Rome was triggered in 66 A.D., when a Jew-hater dumped a pot of urine outside a synagogue. Jews were rightly furious at this desecration and a riot broke out during which some Jews insulted the Roman Governor of Judea. He ordered his soldiers to destroy the market and kill everyone in sight. What had been occasional acts of rebellion became a full scale national revolt. It was all downhill from there. Josephus reported that 40,000 Jews were killed in Jotapata, a city he was defending as a Jewish leader. He wrote, “From one end of Galilee to the other there was an orgy of fire and bloodshed.”
Fighting continued and in 70 A.D. the Roman Army destroyed Jerusalem, including their holy Temple, killing more than 1 million Jews. About 100,000 Jews were taken into slavery, thousands went to the mines, and thousands scattered over the known world. All because of a pot of warm urine! A second rebellion in 135 caused by a false Messiah resulted in 500,000 more Jews being killed.
About this time more organized opposition was occasioned in the Empire when Jews were forbidden to read the Torah, circumcise their sons, and other restrictions. When Constantine the Hypocrite published the Edict of Milan in 315 providing tolerance to Christians, Jews discovered they lost some rights. With the Council of Nicaea, the first “worldwide” religious conclave in 325, Jews lost the right to Sabbath worship and the right to have Roman citizenship.
The Edict of Theodosius in 391 declared that Christianity was to be the only legal religion in the Roman Empire, bringing more pressure and persecution to Jews, although relief to Christians. Many Jewish synagogues had been destroyed earlier under the fiction that the land was “necessary.” By the end of the sixth century, Jewish children in Spain over seven years old were removed from their parents and educated as “Christians.”
Jewish persecution has been extensive, excessive, and always egregious but never excusable. However, the killing of Christ is not the only cause of such hatred since most of the persecutors had no real commitment to Christ. In many European nations Jews were forbidden to own property so they often became wealthy bankers. They were charged with usury which triggered envy, jealousy and hatred. They spoke a strange language, and usually kept to themselves resulting in wild accusations that produced further persecution.
Since Jews were “different,” “strange,” and “reserved” they were convenient scapegoats to explain bad weather, accidents, wars, and plagues. The fear, envy, and hatred prompted massive persecution, torture, ghettoization, and massacre even from professing Christians.
During these problems, persecutions, and prosecutions of the Jewish people it must be remembered that these were done by a state church run by religious tyrants, not by genuine, committed Christians teaching truth in love to every man, especially “to the Jew first.”
Moreover, the Jew-haters had better remember, or forget at their peril, that God promised to bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who curse the Jews. God keeps His word.
My religious ancestors never persecuted anyone, and I would repudiate them if they had.
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