The theologians of Christendom claim more for this Law than the scholars of Jewry. I have before me a Christian Bible, recently published, with an explanatory note which says the five books of the Torah are “accepted as true”, and for that matter also the historical, prophetic and poetic books. This logically flows from the dogma, earlier quoted, that the Old Testament is of “equal divine authority” with the New.
The Judaist scholars say differently. Dr. Kastein, for instance, says that the Torah was “the work of an anonymous compiler” who “produced a pragmatic historical work”. The description is exact; the scribe or scribes provided a version of history, subjectively written to support the compendium of laws which was built on it; and both history and laws were devised to serve a “political” purpose.
“A unifying idea underlay it all”, says Dr. Kastein, and this unifying idea was tribal nationalism, in a more fanatical form than the world has otherwise known. The Torah was not revealed religion but, as Mr. Montefiore remarked, “revealed legislation”, enacted to an end.
While the Law was being compiled (it was not completed until the Babylonian “captivity” had ended) the last two remonstrants made their voices heard, Isaiah and Jeremiah. The hand of the Levite may be traced in the interpolations which were made in their books, to bring them into line with “the Law” and its supporting “version of history”.
The falsification is clearest in the book of Isaiah, “which is the best known case because it is the most easily demonstrable. Fifteen chapters of the book were written by someone who knew the Babylonian captivity, whereas Isaiah lived some two hundred years earlier. The Christian scholars circumvent this by calling the unknown man “Deutero-Isaiah”, or the second Isaiah.
“This man left the famous words (often quoted out of their context), “The Lord hath said… I will also give thee for a light unto the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth”. This was heresy under the Law which was in preparation and the Levite apparently added (as the same man presumably would not have written) the passages foretelling that “the kings and queens” of the Gentiles “shall bow down to thee with their face towards the earth and lick up the dust of thy feet … I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I am the Lord thy Saviour and thy Redeemer” (This sounds like the voice of Ezekiel, who was the true father of the Levitical Law, as will be seen.)
Jeremiah’s book seems to have received Levitical amendment at the start, because the familiar opening passage sharply discords with other of Jeremiah’s thoughts: “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy …”
That does not sound like the man who wrote, in the next chapter:
“The word of the Lord came to me saying, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord: I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown … What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me … my people have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters …”
Jeremiah then identified the culprit, Judah (and for this offence well may have come by his death): “The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah”.
Israel had fallen from grace, but Judah had betrayed; the allusion is plainly to the Levites’ new Law. Then comes the impassioned protest, common to all the expostulants, against the priestly rites and sacrifices:
“Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord…” (the formal, repetitious incantations) “… but thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, oppress not the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place” (the ritual of blood-sacrifice and the ordained murder of apostates)…
“Will ye steal, murder and commit adultery, and swear falsely… and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations” (the ceremonial absolution after animal-sacrifice). ”
Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? . . I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices….”
In such words Jeremiah, like Jesus later, protested against the “destruction” of the Law in the name of its fulfilment. It seems possible that even in Jeremiah’s time the Levites still exacted the sacrifice of firstborn children, because he adds,
And they have built the high place… to burn their sons and daughters in the fire; which I commanded not, neither came it into my heart”.
Because of these very “abominations”, Jeremiah continued, the Lord would “cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride; for the land shall be desolate”.
This is the famous political forecast which was borne out; the Levites, with their genius for perversion, later invoked it to support their claim that Judah fell because their Law was not observed, whereas Jeremiah’s warning was that their Law would destroy “treacherous Judah”. Were he to rise from the earth today he might use the word without change in respect of Zionism, for the state of affairs is similar and the ultimate consequence seems equally foreseeable.
When Judah fell Jeremiah gave his most famous message of all, the one to which the Jewish masses today often instinctively turn, and the one which the ruling sect ever and again forbids them to heed: “Seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace”. The Levites gave their angry answer in the 137th Psalm:
“By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept….. Our tormentors asked of us mirth: Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth… O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed, happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones”.
In Jeremiah’s admonition and the Levites’ reply lies the whole story of the controversy of Zion, and of its effects for others, down to our day.
Jeremiah, who was apparently put to death, would today be attacked as a “crackpot”, “paranoiac”, “antisemite” and the like; the phrase then used was “prophet and dreamer of dreams”.
He describes the methods of defamation, used against such men, in words exactly applicable to our time and to many men whose public lives and reputations have been destroyed by them (as this narrative will show when it reaches the present century):
For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, they say, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him”.