Written by Vladimir Moss



     The question put before the Jews in Christ’s lifetime was: would they accept Him as the Messiah, “the Son of God, the King of Israel” (John 1.49)? On this would depend the salvation of the people and their State… Tragically, in their great majority the Jews failed this test; they both crucified their True King and God, and said to Pilate: "We have no other king but Caesar" (John 19.15).

     At that moment they became no different spiritually from the other pagan peoples; for, like the pagans, they had come to recognize a mere man, the Roman emperor, as higher than God Himself. As St. John Chrysostom writes: “Here they declined the Kingdom of Christ and called to themselves that of Caesar.”[1] What made this apostasy worse was the fact that they were not compelled to it by any despotic decree. Pilate not only did not demand this recognition of Caesar from them, but had said of Christ – “Behold your king” (John 19.14), and had then ordered the sign, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”, to be nailed above the cross. The Jews had in effect, without the slightest external coercion, carried out a democratic revolution against their True King, and accepted a mere mortal as their only king, thereby undermining and betraying the whole long tradition of Jewish zealotry. Of course, Christ, too, had recognized the kingship of Caesar – but only under God: He emphasized that Pilate received his earthly kingdom from the Heavenly King and never confused the kingship of God with the kingship of Caesar.

     Thus did the City of God on earth become the City of Man - and the stronghold of Satan: “How has the faithful city become a harlot! It was full of justice, righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers” (Isaiah 1.21). Thus did the original sin committed under Saul, when the people of God sought a king who would rule them "like all the nations", reap its final wages in their submission to the Emperor of Rome.

     But the positive result was that the Kingdom, with all its ineffable and inestimable benefits, was passed to other peoples. As the Lord Himself had prophesied: “The Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21.43). Or as St. Paul put it: “What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect [from the Gentiles] have obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Romans 11.7). Thus all the other peoples of the world were now given the opportunity of joining God’s Kingdom in the Church, “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6.16). 


     But for the Jews who rejected Him it was another matter. After their killing of Christ – which was not only regicide, but also Deicide, an act unparalleled in evil in the history of the world – there came upon them the punishment prophesied by Christ: “great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24.21). “That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation…” (Matthew 23.35-36). This prophecy was fulfilled in 66 AD, when the Jews, incited by the Zealots, rose up in armed rebellion against Rome. Josephus, a Jewish commander who deserted to the Romans, wrote that “all sorts of misfortunes sprang forth from these men, and the nation was infected with this doctrine [of rebellion] to an incredible degree.”

     The message of the revolutionaries was strikingly similar to that of another Jewish-inspired revolution – Russia in 1917. As Neil Faulkner writes, it was a message “of sectarian radicals and messiahs… addressed, above all, to the poor. Josephus was explicit about the class basis of the conflict: it was, for him, a struggle between dunatoi– men of rank and power, the property-owning upper classes – and stasiastai – subversives, revolutionaries, popular leaders whose appeal was to ‘the scum of the districts’. The Dead Sea Scrolls were equally explicit, though from the other side of the barricades: whereas ‘the princes of Judah… wallowed in the ways of whoredom and wicked wealth’ and ‘acted arrogantly for the sake of riches and gain’, the Lord would in due time deliver them ‘into the hands of the poor’, so as to ‘humble the mighty of the peoples by the hand of those bent to the dust’, and bring them ‘the reward of the wicked’… 

     “The popular movement of 66 CE amounted to a fusion of Apocalypse and Jubilee, the radical minority’s vision of a revolutionary war to destroy corruption having become inextricably linked with the peasant majority’s traditional aspiration for land redistribution and the removal of burdens…”[2]

     But the primary cause of the catastrophe was the rejection and murder by God’s people of their only King and God. 

     “In this striking way,” writes St. John of Kronstadt, “did the people chosen in accordance with the merits of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob stumble against the inheritance of these merits, which were being received as their own impersonal virtue; they stumbled on their preference for the earthly kingdom over the Kingdom of Heaven, on their preference for a political messiah over the Messiah Whose Kingdom is not of this world.

     “Let us look at the consequences to which this mistake led. First of all, this bitter error of the chosen people was bewailed by the Messiah Himself. In His triumphant procession into Jerusalem, when Christ came close to the city, then, looking at it, He wept over it and said: ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground, because you did not know the time of your visitation’ (Luke 19.42-44). As He ascended onto Golgotha, Christ the Saviour sorrowed, not over the torments that were facing Him, but about the torments that awaited Jerusalem. He expressed this to the women who were sympathetic to His sufferings, who wept and sobbed over Him: ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for your selves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, “Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!” Then they will begin to say to the mountains: “Fall on us!”’ (Luke 23.28-30).

     “Already in ancient times the prophets were pointing to the woes that would strike the Jewish people for its betrayal of God – the people that was nevertheless chosen for the salvation of the world, for the foreseen fall of Israel had to being salvation to the Gentiles (Romans 11.11).

     “1500 years before, the Prophet and God-Seer Moses foretold the siege, the scattering of the Jews across the whole face of the earth and the terrible trials that followed: ‘The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flied, a nation whose language you will not understand, a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favour to the young. And they shall eat the increase of your livestock, and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you. They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land, and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the Lord your God has given you. You shall eat of the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you… Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other… And among those nations you will find no rest… Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life’ (Deuteronomy 28.49-53, 64-65, 66)…

     “The holy Prophet Ezekiel points to the siege of Jerusalem as the consequence of the multiplication of lawlessnesses which attained a greater development than among the neighbouring people.

     “’Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have multiplied disobedience more than the nations that are all around you, have not walked in My statutes nor kept My judgements, nor even done according to the judgements of the nations that are all around you. Therefore thus says the Lord God, Indeed I, even I, am against you and will execute judgements in your midst in the sight of the nations. And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations. Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers, and I will execute judgements among you, and all of you who remain I will scatter to all the winds. Therefore as I live, says the Lord God, surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations therefore I will also diminish you. My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. One third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst, and one third shall fall by the sword all around you, and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them’ (5.7-12). 

     “In this way the prophets of God clearly announce the causes of the destruction of Jerusalem and what had once been the chosen people, as they were called in antiquity, according to the merits of their forefathers. What became of them with their dreams of an earthly kingdom of Israel? Their destinies serve as a vivid example for the Christian peoples, of what awaits them, too, for abandoning the ways of the commandments of God and for accepting principles that contradict the truth.”[3]

     The Roman Emperors Titus and Vespasian crushed the rebellion, destroyed the Temple by fire, and killed over a million Jews (although this figure is disputed[4]). The zealot Jews who escaped the destruction of Jerusalem fled to the fortress at Masada on the Dead Sea. After three years’ siege, the Romans captured the fortress and discovered that the zealots had killed their wives and children before killing themselves.

     In 135 there was another rebellion of the Jews under Bar Kokhba. It was crushed by the Emperor Hadrian with the deaths, according to Dio Cassius, of 580,000 Jewish soldiers.[5] The city was renamed Aelia Capitolina, Judaea was renamed Syria Palaestina and Jews were barred from entering it. Finally, the city and its ruins were ploughed over and a completely Hellenic city built in its place; a temple to Jupiter was planned for the site of the Temple, while Golgotha was covered by a temple to Venus…

     Both the destruction of the Temple in Nebuchadnezzar’s time and the ploughing up of the Temple site in Hadrian’s time took place on August 9, the day on which all the major catastrophes of Jewish history took place. Thus David Baron writes: “The fast of the fifth month, which is the month of Ab, answering to August, is still observed by the Jews on the ninth day, in celebration of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; but, according to the Talmud and Jewish historians, the following list of calamities all happened on the same day, namely: (1) On that day the decree went forth from God in the wilderness that the people should not enter the land because of their unbelief; (2) on the very same day of the destruction of the First Temple by the Chaldeans [in 586 BC], the Second Temple also was destroyed by the Romans [in 70 AD]; (4) on that day, after the rising under Bar Kochba, the city of Bethar was taken, ‘in which were thousands and myriads of Israel, and they had a great king whom all Israel and the greatest of the wise men thought was King Messiah’; but (4) he fell into the hands of the Gentiles, and they were all put to death, and the affliction was great, like as it was in the desolation of the Sanctuary; (5) and lastly, on that day ‘the wicked Turnus Rufus, who is devoted to punishment, ploughed up the (hill of the ) Sanctuary, and the parts round about it, to fulfill that which was said by Micah, “Zion shall be ploughed as a field”’.”[6]

     Paradoxically, the Jews’ last stand in both their rebellions took place in the hilltop fortresses built at Herodium and Masada by that arch-Hellenist, Herod the Great.[7] Equally paradoxically, their submission to pagan rulers was the result of their rejection of their mission to the pagans. Instead of serving as God’s priests to the pagan world, enlightening them with the knowledge of the One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they were puffed up with dreams of national glory and dominion over the nations. And so God subjected them to those same nations whom they despised, entrusting the original mission to the New Israel, the Church.

     “On coming into the world,” writes L.A. Tikhomirov, “the Saviour Jesus Christ as a man loved his fatherland, Judaea, no less than the Pharisees. He was thinking of the great role of his fatherland in the destinies of the world and mankind no less than the Pharisees, the zealots and the other nationalists. On approaching Jerusalem (during His triumphal entry) He wept and said: ‘Oh, if only thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!’…, and recalling the coming destruction of the city, He added: ‘because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation’ (Luke 19.41, 44). ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… which killest… them that are sent to thee!’ He said a little earlier, ‘how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and yet would not!’ (Luke 13.34). What would have happened if the Jews at that decisive moment had accepted the true Messiah? Israel would have become the spiritual head of the whole world, the beloved guide of mankind. At that very time Philo of Alexandria wrote that ‘the Israelites have received the mission to serve as priests and prophets for the whole world, to instruct it in the truth, and in particular the pure knowledge of God’. If they had recognized this truth in full measure, then the coming of the Saviour would have confirmed forever that great mission. But ‘the spirit of the prophets’ turned out to be by no means so strong in Jewry, and its leaders repeated the role of Esau: they gave away the right of the firstborn for a mess of pottage.

     “Nevertheless we must not forget that if the nationalist hatred for the Kingdom of God, manifested outside tribal conditions, was expressed in the murder of the Saviour of the world, all His disciples who brought the good news of the Kingdom, all His first followers and a multitude of the first members of the Church to all the ends of the Roman empire were Jews by nationality. The greatest interpreter of the spiritual meaning of the idea of ‘the children of Abraham’ was the pure-blooded Jew and Pharisee, the Apostle Paul. He was a Jew by blood, but through the prophetic spirit turned out to be the ideological director of the world to that place where ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek’.”[8]

     In the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the Jews the Scripture was fulfilled: “I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you will reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you. And after all this, if you do not obey Me, I will punish you seven times more for your sins. I will break the pride of your power… And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and eat the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols. And My soul shall abhor you. I will lay your cities waste and bring your cities to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet incense. I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas. I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you. Your land shall be desolate and your cities waste. Then the land will enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, and your are in your enemies’ land. Then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate it shall rest – for the time it did not rest on your Sabbaths when you dwelt in it… You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up… Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away; nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them…” (Leviticus 26.17-19, 27-35, 38, 44)


     The Apostles were all Jews, and, as we have seen, in spite of persecution from the Jewish authorities they did not immediately break definitively with the Jewish community in Jerusalem, continuing to worship in the Temple and to read the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament, which they saw as fulfilled in Jesus Christ. True, the first Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) established that pagan converts to Christianity did not have to practice Mosaic rites: faith in Christ and baptism was all that was required to become a fully-entitled member of the Church. And there was no question that the Christians were now the people of God, “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (I Peter 2.9), “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6.16), taking the place of the apostate Jews, who had once been “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Deuteronomy 4.23-24), but were now enemies of God. However, the Jewish Christian community in Palestine retained its outward semblance to Judaism, partly in order to facilitate the conversion of the Jews to Christianity. Although it is true, wrote Professor A.D. Belyaev, that “the sacrifices which the Jews continued to offer in accordance with the Old Testament rite were no longer necessary after the death of Jesus Christ and were invalid after the offering of the Golgotha sacrifice, nevertheless they were not yet the abomination of desolation after the death of Jesus Christ, they were not offerings to the devil. The book of the Acts of the Apostles records the daily presence of the believers in the temple (2.46) and the visits of the apostles during the hours of prayer (3.1). More than that: the Apostle Paul once even offered a sacrifice in the Jerusalem temple (Acts 21.21-26). Let it be that he did this out of condescension to the weakness of conscience of the Jews, fulfilling the rule: ‘I was for the Jews as a Jew, so as to win the Jews’ (I Corinthians 9.20). Nevertheless, he would not have offered a sacrifice if it has been an offering to the devil, as Eusebius puts it. For him it was an indifferent act, just as the fulfillment of the whole ritual law of Moses became a matter of indifference for the Christians.”[9 

     And this approach bore fruit, in that, at least in the first two generations, there was a steady trickle of converts from the Jews into the Church of Jerusalem, which was headed by the much-revered St. James the Just, the Brother of the Lord. Of course, the Christians differed fundamentally from the Jews in their worship of Christ as the Messiah and God; and the specifically Christian rite of the Eucharist was restricted only to those who believed in Christ and accepted baptism. Nevertheless, for the first forty years or so after the Resurrection the Church did not hasten to break all bonds with the Synagogue, hoping that as many Jews as possible could be converted.

    The Jews were not deprived of signs that they were losing the Grace of God. Even the fiercely anti-Christian Talmud preserves a record of some of these signs. Thus Dr. Seraphim Steger writes, commenting on Gemara, 39b, that during the last 40 years of the Temple’s existence, from 30 to 70, “a bad omen occurred on Yom Kippur every year because: 

     “(1) The Lot for the LORD came up in the left hand, not the right hand of the High Priest of Israel on Yom Kippur.  What happened in 30 CE that might have caused this?  Could it have been the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha-Maschiach?   Could it have been that the High Priest of Israel had lost his authority because now there was a new High Priest in town, Yeshua Ha-Maschiach?  In his Letter to the Hebrews the Apostle Paul speaks of Yeshua Ha-Maschiach as a High Priest after the Order of Melchezadek sitting at the right hand of the Father in the Heavens.  


     “Because the crimson ribbon tied between the horns of the bullock did not miraculously turn white for the last 40 years the Temple stood when the scapegoat was thrown over the cliff in the wilderness, we can say that the LORD did not accept the Temple sacrifice of the scapegoat for the nation of Israel on Yom Kippur.  Why?  Could it be because Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, our Passover (Pesach) Sacrifice has been slain for us once and for all had been accepted by the Father on our behalf?  Consequently, there was no more need for a scapegoat because Christ not only was a propitiation for our sins, but has carried our sins away from us as far as the East is from the West.  

     “(2).  We can say that for the last 40 years the Temple stood neither did the westernmost Menorah lamp miraculously shine longer than the others as it had once done, now indicating that the Presence of the Lord, the Shikinah glory, had deserted the Temple all those last 40 years.   Was the Shekinah, the glory of the Lord, now to be found outside the Temple?   Could it be that it was now to be found in the Church, having descended upon the Church at Pentecost some 50 days after the crucifixion and resurrection of Yeshua?  

     “(3).  We can say that during those last 40 years the Temple stood, the doors to the Hekel//Hekhal, the Holy Place/sanctuary, opened repetitively during those last 40 years by themselves, when they should have been closed, showing that access to the LORD in the Holy Place was not limited to the priests in their daily service, or the Holy of Holies to the High Priest but once a year.  Could it be that through the risen Yesua Ha-Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah, “the Door” as He is sometimes called in the New Testament Gospels, that worship in the “Holy Place” was now open not just to the priests but to all who wished to enter in and to draw close to the Holy God of Israel, through faith in Yeshua, in the Church? 


    “Now, this testimony of the last 40 years that the Temple stood, is juxtaposed to the passages about a Simeon the Righteous who ministered in the Temple for 40 years [so presumably a priest, or levite at a minimum], during whose time the Temple was blessed. 

    “Reading this gemara again we can see that during the 40 years Simeon ministered, the sacrifices for the Israel were blessed and the scapegoat accepted, (removing the sins of the entire nation) because the lot for the Lord would always come up in the right hand.   I.e., the people of Israel were being blessed by the LORD. Interestingly, after those 40 years, sometimes the sacrifices were accepted, sometimes not.  Also, the priests suffered from the curse on the omer, two loaves, and shewbread--i.e., they were not nourished by the bread of the Temple as they were before.


    “… There is controversy over who this ‘Righteous Simeon’ may have been since there are four men that have born this name in traditional Jewish history and there is some question of later Rabbinical fabrication of their tradition to favor their views at that later time.  Perhaps this Simeon was none of the four major candidates.  Could this Simeon possibly be Simeon the Just and Pious mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 2:25-36, the Simeon the Orthodox Church remembers as “Righteous Simeon” who held in his arms infant Jesus Christ at His presentation in the temple?  Let’s look into this a bit further. 

    “We can see that during the 40 years Simeon ministered the Lord forgave the sins of the nation of Israel because the crimson-coloured strap [tied between the bullocks horns] would become white after the scapegoat was sent into the wilderness.  As part of the blessing of the nation of Israel the Lord was forgiving the sins of the Israelites, sanctifying and preparing them for the enfleshment of the Logos.

    “We can see that during the 40 years Simeon ministered the Shekhinah Glory/Holy Spirit remained present in the Holy of Holies blessing the nation [in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God] because throughout those forty years the westernmost light was shining, having been lighted first and burning longer that the other lights.  The Lord was blessing and preparing the Temple and its priests for receiving God in the flesh.

    ‘Lastly, we can see that during the 40 years Simeon ministered the fire of the pile of wood kept burning strong on the altar showing that the Lord was accepting of all the animal, meal, grain, oil, and wine sacrifices commanded in the Torah, the Law of Moses, under the Old Covenant, further underscoring the sanctifying the Temple, the priests, the nation, and all the people by the various offerings.”[10]


     The Apostles rejected the possibility of salvation through the Mosaic Law and declared that salvation was only through faith in Christ. Nor, as St. Peter, the apostle to the Jews, added, “is there salvation in any other, but there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4.12). St. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, was particularly clear on this point, writing his Epistle to the Galatians precisely in order to refute the Judaizing Christians. Already in his earliest Epistle he wrote that the Jews “killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us and do not please God and are contrary to all me, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the uttermost…” (I Thessalonians 2.15-16).

     The final break between the Jews and the Christians took place after the condemnation and execution of St. James, the Brother of the Lord, the rebellion of the Jews against Rome and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The situation for the Christians now changed – first in relation to the Jews, who saw the Christians as traitors to the national cause, and consequently also in relation to the Romans, who now had to treat the Christians as a separate religion. And the Jewish religion was changed in order that the Jews should set themselves apart finally and irrevocably from Christ…

     Dr. Steger writes: “Just before the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple by the Roman army led by Vespasian, one of the leading sages of the Pharisees in Jerusalem, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, was captured by the Romans according to one early Palestinian tradition and taken against his will to the town of Yavne’el / Jamnia (modern Yavne on the Mediterranean coast) which served as a place of detention for those who had surrendered to the Romans. In Jamnia Rabban Yochannan ben Zakkai reconstituted the Sanhedrin, proclaimed New Moons and leap-years, and proceeded to construct a new religion for the war torn nation: ‘Rabbinical Judaism’ which was centered around the beliefs of the Pharisees as well as the practices of the Synagogue [the priests having become superfluous since the destruction of the Temple and the discontinuance of its services and sacrifices].  He preserved the oral traditions of the schools of the Pharisees encompassing the years 536 BC to AD 70.  Jamnia subsequently became the new spiritual center for those Jews who survived the war. 

    “Some 150 years later Rabbi Yehudah haNasi set to writing a broad and comprehensive redaction of the Oral Law known as the Mishnah.  Subsequent rabbinical commentaries, the Gamara, were added to each of the individual tractates forming two authoritative collections known as the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmudim.  These contained 700 years worth of the oral tradition of the rabbinical schools.  Their final forms were completed around AD 600.”[11]   

     The Jewish Professor Norman Cantor writes: “This withdrawal of the rabbis from the political fate of the homeland was the end result of what was already clear in the first century B.C. Pharisaic Judaism was a self-subsisting culture and a kind of mobile religious and moral tabernacle that could function autonomously and perpetually almost anywhere that the Jews had a modicum of physical security and economic opportunity. This was to be the single most continuous and important theme in Jewish history until modern times, the sacred chain that binds the generations together…”[12]


     Now the Jews constituted a large and important part of the population of the Empire. “Jewish colonies,” writes Alexander Dvorkin, “could be found in any corner of the Mediterranean world – from Cadiz to the Crimea. In all there lived up to 4 million Jews in the diaspora out of a general population of the Roman Empire of 50 million, while the Jewish population of Palestine consisted of not more than one million people.

     “In the first century after Christ there were 11 or 12 synagogues in Rome. But the highest percentage of Jewish settlement was in Alexandria: throughout Egypt (including Alexandria) there lived about a million Jews. The municipal authorities had to reckon with them, although the social isolation of the Jews did not allow them to form their own kind of ‘lobby’ for participation in the local power structures.[13] Everywhere that they lived they refused to be merged into the life of their pagan surroundings, but unfailingly kept to their own religion and customs. Every Saturday they gathered to chant psalms and to read the Scriptures, after which there followed a sermon on the subject of the Biblical extract read and common prayers.

     “Although scattered throughout the world, the Jews preserved the feeling of unity with the land of their fathers: they carried out private pilgrimages to the holy city of Zion and every year sent contributions to the Temple. Sometimes this export of currency from the provinces with its numerous Jewish population created definite difficulties for the Roman tax authorities. However, the Romans understood that in this question – as, however, in all questions connected with the basic principles of Judaism, - it was much more peaceful not to stop the Jews from acting in their own way. The Jews were not excluded from a single sphere of public life in which they themselves wanted to take part. But, of course, not all Jews observed their native customs as strictly as their religious leaders would have liked, and many of them experienced a powerful temptation to give in to seduction and live no differently from their neighbours.

     “But the Jews for their part also exerted a noticeable influence on the inhabitants of the Empire. Although both the Greeks and the Romans saw circumcision as a disgusting anti-aesthetic custom, very many of the pagans were attracted to Judaism by its strict monotheism, the purity of its moral life and the antiquity (if not the style) of its Sacred Scriptures. There was no teaching on asceticism in Judaism (if you don’t count some marginal groups), but it spoke out for chastity, constancy and faithfulness in family life. In their communities the Jews constantly practised charity, visiting the sick and giving alms to the poor.


     “Around many of the synagogues in the diaspora there formed groups of pious pagans whom the Jews usually called ‘God-fearers’ (in general this term was applied to every pious member of the synagogue). A pagan could pass through circumcision and ritual washing (immersion from the head down in a basin of water, which was required for the reception of converts into Judaism), but this did not often take place. As a rule, the Hellenized Jews of the diaspora, who were much more open to the external world than their rigorist Palestinian brethren, to the chagrin of the latter accepted converts from the pagans into their circle without insisting that circumcision was necessary for their salvation.

     “The net of synagogues covering the empire turned out to be providential preparatory path for the Christian preaching. Through it Christianity penetrated into the midst of those who were drawing near to Judaism. Among these groups of former pagans the Christian missionaries found their own first uncircumcised followers. One could liken them to a ripe fruit, for they had the advantage not only of a lofty morality but also a knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures. From them the first Christian communities were formed. They consisted of the most varied people, not only from the proletarians and lower levels of society who had despaired of finding justice in this life, as the Marxist historians and those with them affirmed. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans gives a greeting to Erastus, a city guardian of the general purse; in Athens a member of the Areopagus (the city council), Dionysius, was converted; and in Thessalonica there were ‘quite a few noble women’ (Acts 17.4). The governor of Bithynia, Pliny the Younger, in his letter to the Emperor Trajan (111-113) writes about the multitude ‘of Christians of various classes’. The majority of these people were educated pagans who came to Christianity from circles attached to the Jews.”[14]

     Many of the Christian converts, especially among the women, came from the same social strata as the Gentile converts to Judaism – and these strata could be lofty. Thus “Poppaea Sabina, the emperor Nero’s second wife, made no secret of her tendency to Judaism”[15] – while St. Paul wrote from Rome that he had made converts among the Praetorian Guard (Philippians 1.13).

     However, “as the rate of conversion to Judaism intensified, so did the government’s disquiet and the resentment on the part of many Latin intellectuals”.[16] The first recorded expulsion of Jewish converts from Rome was in 139 BC. A second was in 19 AD, when the Emperor Tiberius exiled four thousand converts to Sardinia. 

     In 49-50 the Emperor Claudius expelled the Jews again. For they were constantly “making disturbances”, according to Suetonius, “at the instigation of Chrestus [Christ]”. Of course, it was not Christ Who instigated the Jewish riots – it was rather the Jews who instigated riots against the Christians, as we see several times in the Acts of the Apostles. These anti-Christian pogroms continued and intensified after the Fall of Jerusalem. Suetonius’ confusion arose because in the beginning the Romans made no clear distinction between Jews and Christians, who lived “under the cover of Judaism”, as Tertullian put it. However, in the reign of Nero the distinction had become clear, and it was the Christians, not the Jews, who were put to the torch for supposedly burning down Rome…

     By the second century, the attitude of the Christians to the Jews had also become clear. Thus St. Justin the Martyr (+166) wrote in his Dialogue with Trypho: “The woes that have struck you have done so justly and rightly, for you killed the Righteous One [the Lord Jesus Christ] and before Him His prophets, and even now, as far as you can, despise end dishonor those who hope on Him and on God the Ruler and Creator of all, Who sent Him; and you curse those who believe in Christ in your synagogues. At the present time you do not have the power to kill us yourselves – in this you are hindered by the present powers that be [the Romans]; but you could, you would do this too… The other nations are not as guilty as you in the injustice that they show towards us and to Christ; for you are to blame for their bad prejudice against the Righteous One and against us, His followers. When you crucified Him, the only immaculate and righteous man, by Whose wounds all those who come to the Father through Him are healed, and when you learned that He had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven, as was foretold in the prophecies, you not only did not repent of your evil deeds, but even sent people chosen by you from Jerusalem throughout the earth to proclaim that the supposedly godless heresy of Christianity had appeared, and to spread slanders against us, which all those who do not know us customarily repeat. Thus you are the causes not only of your own injustice, but also of all the other people…”[17]

     The Jews were different from the other nations of the Roman Empire in three major ways. First, their faith was exclusive; they claimed to worship the one and only True God, and rejected the ecumenist tolerance of the other faiths practised by the other peoples of the empire. Secondly, and especially after the Romans’ destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, they could never reconcile themselves with their conquered status, or delight in the achievements of the Pax Romana like most of the other conquered nations. And thirdly, they were unique in that, although their homeland was Palestine, most Jews lived abroad, in the diaspora, which providentially allowed them to exert an important influence on the whole of the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, the Jewish religion, unlike Christianity, was a licit cult that was given a certain leeway by the Roman authorities. It was only when they openly rebelled against Rome - in Judea in 66-70 and 135, and again in Libya in 115-117 - that they were suppressed… 


     The Jews were powerful and successful proselytizers in the Greco-Roman world both before and after the Coming of Christ. However, as Alfred Lilienthal writes, “it was in the face of growing competition from the new Christian faith that the rabbinate and other Jewish leaders ceased proselytization.”[18] In reaction to this competition, they formed an inner ghetto around themselves, whose laws were their religion, whose lawmakers were the rabbis, and whose sacred text was not the Sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament, but the Talmud… 

     The Talmud, writes Seraphim McCune, was “a direct response to the razing of the Temple in AD 70. Its primary premise is how to be a Jew without the temple.”[19] And, of course, without Christ. Indeed, the Talmud is without doubt the most abhorrent and anti-Christian book ever written. It purports to record a secret oral tradition going back to Moses and representing the true interpretation of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. In fact, it bears only the most strained and perverse relation to the Torah, often completely corrupting the true meaning of the Holy Scriptures. It even asserts its own superiority over the Scriptures. For it declares: “The Law is water, but the Mishna [the first form of the Talmud] is wine.” And again: “The words of the elders are more important than the words of the Prophets.” Pharisaic-Talmudic Judaism is therefore a different religion from that of the Old Testament. It does not contain a formal creed in the manner of Christianity. But it does contain 613 commandments that all Jews are expected to fulfill and which constitute the essence of their religion.

     As we have seen, it was the Pharisees who incited Christ’s death because He preached a spiritual, universalist Kingdom opposed to their nationalist dreams. This opposition between the God-inspired Tradition of the Holy Scriptures and the man-made traditions of the Pharisees was pointed out by Christ when He said: “Thus have ye made the commandment of no effect by your tradition…Ye blind guides, who strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Matthew 15.6, 23.24).

     These man-made traditions were gathered together in the Talmud, whose law, as Douglas Reed writes, “governed every imaginable action of a Jew’s life anywhere in the world: marriage, divorce, property settlements, commercial transactions, down to the pettiest details of dress and toilet. As unforeseen things frequently crop up in daily life, the question of what is legal or illegal (not what is right or wrong) in all manner of novel circumstances had incessantly to be debated, and this produced the immense records of rabbinical dispute and decisions in which the Talmud abounds.

     “Was it much a crime to crush a flea as to kill a camel on a sacred day? One learned rabbi allowed that the flea might be gently squeezed, and another thought its feet might even be cut off. How many white hairs might a sacrificial red cow have and yet remain a red cow? What sort of scabs required this or that ritual of purification? At which end of an animal should the operation of slaughter be performed? Ought the high priest to put on his shirt or his hose first? Methods of putting apostates to death were debated; they must be strangled, said the elders, until they opened their mouths, into which boiling lead must be poured. Thereon a pious rabbi urged that the victim’s mouth be held open with pincers so that he not suffocate before the molten lead enter and consume his soul with his body. The word ‘pious’ is here not sardonically used; this scholar sought to discover the precise intention of ‘the Law’.”[20]

     A dominant feature of these Jewish “holy” books was their hatred of Christ and Christianity. “The Jewish Encyclopaedia says: ‘It is the tendency of Jewish legends in the Talmud, the Midrash… and in the Life of Jesus (Toledoth Jeshua) that originated in the Middle Ages to belittle the person of Jesus by ascribing to him an illegitimate birth, magic and a shameful death’. He is generally alluded to as ‘that anonymous one’, ‘liar’, ‘imposter’ or ‘bastard’ (the attribution of bastardy is intended to bring him under the Law as stated in Deuteronomy 23.3: ‘A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord’). Mention of the name, Jesus, is prohibited in Jewish households.

     “The work cited by the Jewish Encyclopaedia as having ‘originated in the Middle Ages’ is not merely a discreditable memory of an ancient past, as that allusion might suggest; it is used in Hebrew schools today. It was a rabbinical production of the Talmudic era and repeated all the ritual of mockery of Calvary itself in a different form. Jesus is depicted as the illegitimate son of Mary, a hairdresser’s wife, and of a Roman soldier called Panthera. Jesus himself is referred to by a name which might be translated ‘Joey Virgo’. He is shown as being taken by his stepfather to Egypt and there learning sorcery.

     “The significant thing about this bogus life-story (the only information about Jesus which Jews were supposed to read) is that in it Jesus is not crucified by Romans. After his appearance in Jerusalem and his arrest there as an agitator and a sorcerer he is turned over to the Sanhedrin and spends forty days in the pillory before being stoned and hanged at the Feast of Passover; this form of death exactly fulfils the Law laid down in Deuteronomy 21.22 and 17.5, whereas crucifixion would not have been in compliance with that Judaic law. The book then states that in hell he suffers the torture of boiling mud.

     “The Talmud also refers to Jesus as ‘Fool’, ‘sorcerer’, ‘profane person’, ‘idolator’, ‘dog’, ‘child of lust’ and the like more; the effect of this teaching over a period of centuries, is shown by the book of the Spanish Jew Mose de Leon, republished in 1880, which speaks of Jesus as a ‘dead dog’ that lies ‘buried in a dunghill’. The original Hebrew texts of these Talmudic allusions appear in Laible’s Jesus Christus im Talmud. This scholar says that during the period of the Talmudists hatred of Jesus became ‘the most national trait of Judaism’, that ‘at the approach of Christianity the Jews were seized over and again with a fury and hatred that were akin to madness’, that ‘the hatred and scorn of the Jews was always directed in the first place against the person of Jesus’ and that ‘the Jesus-hatred of the Jews is a firmly-established fact, but they want to show it as little as possible’.

      “This wish to conceal from the outer world that which was taught behind the Talmudic hedge led to the censoring of the above-quoted passages during the seventeenth century. Knowledge of the Talmud became fairly widespread then (it was frequently denounced by remonstrant Jews) and the embarrassment thus caused to the Talmudic elders led to the following edict (quoted in the original Hebrew and in translation by P.L.B. Drach, who was brought up in a Talmudic school and later became converted to Christianity):

     “’This is why we enjoin you, under pain of excommunication major, to print nothing in future editions, whether of the Mishna or of the Gemara, which relates whether for good or for evil to the acts of Jesus the Nazarene, and to substitute instead a circle like this: O, which will warn the rabbis and schoolmasters to teach the young these passages only viva voce. By means of this precaution the savants among the Nazarenes will have no further pretext to attack us on this subject’ (decree of the Judaist Synod which sat in Poland in 1631). At the present time, when public enquiry into such matters, or objection to them, has been virtually forbidden by Gentile governments, these passages, according to report, have been restored in the Hebrew editions of the Talmud…

     “The Talmud sets out to widen and heighten the barrier between the Jews and others. An example of the different language which the Torah spoke, for Jews and for Gentiles, has previously been given: the obscure and apparently harmless allusion to ‘a foolish nation’ (Deuteronomy 32.21). According to the article on Discrimination against Gentiles in the Jewish Encyclopaedia the allusion in the original Hebrew is to ‘vile and vicious Gentiles’, so that Jew and Gentile received very different meanings from the same passage in the original and in the translation. The Talmud, however, which was to reach only Jewish eyes, removed any doubt that might have been caused in Jewish minds by perusal of the milder translation; it specifically related the passage in Deuteronomy to one in Ezekiel 23.20, and by so doing defined Gentiles as those ‘whose flesh is as the flesh of asses and whose issue is like the issue of horses’! In this spirit was the ‘interpretation’ of the Law continued by the Talmudists.

     “The Talmudic edicts were all to similar effect. The Law (the Talmud laid down) allowed the restoration of a lost article to its owner if ‘a brother or neighbour’, but not if a Gentile. Book-burning (of Gentile books) was recommended… The benediction, ‘Blessed be Thou… who hast not made me a goi [Gentile]’ was to be recited daily. Eclipses were of bad augury for Gentiles only. Rabbi Lei laid down that the injunction not to take revenge (Leviticus 19.18) did not apply to Gentiles, and apparently invoked Ecclesiastes 8.4 in support of his ruling (a discriminatory interpretation then being given to a passage in which the Gentile could not suspect any such intention).

     “The Jews who sells to a Gentile landed property bordering on the land of another Jew is to be excommunicated. A Gentile cannot be trusted as witness in a criminal or civil suit because he could not be depended on to keep his word like a Jew. A Jew testifying in a petty Gentile civil court as a single witness against a Jew must be excommunicated. Adultery committed with a non-Jewish woman is not adultery ‘for the heathen have no lawfully wedded wife, they are not really their wives’. The Gentiles are as such precluded from admission to a future world…”[21]

     Of particular importance for the future history of the Jews was their attitude towards usury. Now the Old Testament forbids the lending of money for interest to brothers, but allows it to strangers (Exodus 22.25; Leviticus 25.36; Deuteronomy 23.24). The Talmud exploited the letter of this law to justify outright exploitation of the Christians.

     According to Oleg Platonov, it “teaches the Jew to consider the property of all non-Jews as ‘gefker’, which means free, belonging to no one. ‘The property of all non-Jews has the same significance as if it had been found in the desert: it belongs to the first who seizes it’. In the Talmud there is a decree according to which open theft and stealing are forbidden, but anything can be acquired by deceit or cunning… 

     “From this it follows that all the resources and wealth of the non-Jews must belong to representatives of the ‘chosen people’. ‘According to the Talmud,’ wrote the Russian historian S.S. Gromeka, “God gave all the peoples into the hands of the Jews” (Baba-Katta, 38); “the whole of Israel are children of kings; those who offend a Jew offend God himself” (Sikhab 67, 1) and “are subject to execution, as for lèse-majesté” (Sanhedrin 58, 2); pious people of other nations, who are counted worthy of participating in the kingdom of the Messiah, will take the role of slaves to the Jews’ (Sanhedrin 91, 21, 1051). From this point of view, … all the property in the world belongs to the Jews, and the Christians who possess it are only temporary, ‘unlawful’ possessors, usurpers, and this property will be confiscated by the Jews from them sooner or later. When the Jews are exalted above all the other peoples, God will hand over all the nations to the Jews for final extermination.’ 

     “The historian of Judaism I. Lyutostansky cites examples from the ancient editions of the Talmud, which teaches the Jews that it is pleasing to God that they appropriate the property of the goyim [Gentiles]. In particular, he expounds the teaching of Samuel that deceiving a goy is not a sin…

     “Rabbi Moses said: ‘If a goy makes a mistake in counting, then the Jew, noticing this, must say that he knows nothing about it.’ Rabbi Brentz says: ‘If some Jews, after exhausting themselves by running around all week to deceive Christians in various places, come together at the Sabbath and boast of their deceptions to each other, they say: “We must take the hearts out of the goyim and kill even the best of them.” – of course, if they succeed in doing this.’ Rabbi Moses teaches: ‘Jews sin when they return lost things to apostates and pagans, or anyone who doesn’t reverence the Sabbath.’…

     “To attain the final goal laid down in the Talmud for Jews – to become masters of the property of the goyim – one of the best means, in the rabbis’ opinion, is usury. According to the Talmud, ‘God ordered that money be lent to the goyim, but only on interest; so instead of helping them in this way, we must harm them, even if they can be useful for us.’ The tract Baba Metsiya insists on the necessity of lending money on interest and advises Jews to teach their children to lend money on interest, ‘so that they can from childhood taste the sweetness of usury and learn to use it in good time.’”[22]

     The transformation of Judaism into Talmudism marked the last, most impenetrable barrier between the Jews and the Church. From now on, as Metropolitan Hilarion of Kiev said in the eleventh century: “Christ is glorified, and the Jews are vilified. The nations are gathered, and the Jews are scattered. As the prophet Malachi pronounced: ‘I have no pleasure in the sons of Israel, and I will not accept a sacrifice at their hands. For from the east even to the west My name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, for My name is great among the Gentiles.’ And according to David: ‘All the earth shall worship Thee, and sing unto Thee’, and: ‘Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is Thy name in all the earth.’”[23]


September 20 / October 2, 2019.


[1]St. John Chrysostom, Homily 85 on John, P.G. 59:505, col. 461. See also Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), "Christ the Savior and the Jewish Revolution", Orthodox Life, vol. 35, N 4, July-August, 1988, pp. 11-31.

[2] Faulkner, “The great Jewish revolt against Rome, 66-73 CE”, History Today, vol. 52 (10), October, 2002, pp. 50, 51.

[3] St. John, Nachalo i Konets Nashego Zemnogo Mira (The Beginning and End of our Earthly Life), Moscow, 1901, 2004, pp. 49-50, 51-52.

[4] The revisionist case has been presented by the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand. Josephus, our only source for these events, writes Sand “estimated that 1.1 million people died in the siege of Jerusalem and the great massacre that followed, that 97,000 were taken captive, and that a few thousand more were killed in other cities”. (This is confirmed by St. Caesarius of Arles who says: “The Jews as if driven by the hand of God assembled in Jerusalem according to their custom to celebrate the Passover. We read in history that three million Jews were gathered in Jerusalem; eleven hundred thousand of them are read to have been destroyed by the sword of hunger, and one hundred thousand young men were led to Rome in triumph. For two years that city was besieged, and so great was the number of the dead who were cast out of the city that their bodies equalled the height of the walls.” (Sermon 127)). However, Sand argues that these figures were grossly exaggerated, and that “a cautious estimate suggests that Jerusalem at that time could have had a population of sixty thousand or seventy thousand inhabitants” (The Invention of the Jewish People, London: Verso, 2009, p. 131).

[5] Again, Sand disputes these figures. He claims that the population of Palestine “in the second century DE remained predominantly Judeans and Samaritans, and it started to flourish again for one or two generations after the end of the revolt” (op. cit., p. 133). He also denies that there was any significant exile from the land after the destruction of the Second Temple, arguing that it was only the conquest of Palestine by the Arabs early in the seventh century that “put an end to the presence of the Jewish people in its land” (p. 141).

[6] Baron, Zechariah, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1918, 1988, pp. 213-214.

[7] Mueller, “Herod: The Holy Land’s Visionary Builder”, National Geographic Magazine, December, 2008.

[8] Tikhomirov, Religiozno-Filosofskie Osnovy Istorii, Moscow, 1997, p. 142.

[9] Belyaev, in Sergei and Tamara Fomin, Rossia pered Vtorym Prishestviem , Moscow, 1994, vol. 2, p. 393.

[10] Steger, “Tidbits of 1st Century Christian History Preserved in the Babylonian Talmud and their Relationship to St. Simeon the Righteous”, See also N. Federoff & T. Peterson,Talmudic Evidence for the Messiah at 30 C.E. - Four Unique Events Point to Messiah and His Identity”, August 2, 2014, Window View. 

[11] Steger, op. cit.

[12] Cantor, The Sacred Chain, London: Fontana, 1996, p. 50.

[13] Contrast this with the power of the Jewish lobby in the United States today (V.M.).

[14] Dvorkin, Ocherki po Istorii Vselenskoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi (Sketches on the History of the Universal Orthodox Church),Nizhni-Novogorod, 2006, pp. 41-42.

[15] Sand, op. cit., p. 171.

[16]Sand, op. cit., p. 169.

[17] St. Justin, Dialogue with Trypho.

[18] Lilienthal, The Zionist Connection, New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1978, p. 10.

[19] McCune, Facebook, October 21, 2018.

[20] Reed, The Controversy of Zion, Durban, South Africa, 1978, p. 93.

[21]Reed, op. cit., pp. 89-91. The Zohar also says: “Tradition tells us that the best of the Gentiles deserves death” (Section Vaiqra, folio 14b). For a more detailed exposé of the Talmud and the religion founded upon it, see Michael Hoffman, Judaism Discovered, Independent History and Research, 2008.

[22] Platonov, Ternovij Venets Rossii (Russia’s Crown of Thorns),Moscow, 1998,

[23] Hilarion, Slovo o Zakone i Blagodati (Word on the Law and Grace), 34.6.

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