The Controversy of Zion
by Douglas Reed
The Start of the Affair
The true start of this affair occurred on a day in 458 BC which this narrative will reach in its sixth chapter. On that day the petty Palestinian tribe of
At the time
The creed born in
The creed which a fanatical sect produced that day has shown a great power over the minds of men throughout these twenty-five centuries; hence its destructive achievement. Why it was born at that particular moment, or ever, is something that none can explain. This is among the greatest mysteries of our world, unless the theory that every action produces an equal and opposite reaction is valid in the area of religious thought; so that the impulse which at that remote time set many men searching for a universal, loving God produced this fierce counter-idea of an exclusive, vengeful deity.
Judah-ism was retrogressive even in 458 BC, when men in the known world were beginning to turn their eyes away from idols and tribal gods and to look for a God of all men, of justice and ofneighbourliness. Confucius and Buddha had already pointed in that direction and the idea of one-God was known among the neighbouring peoples of
Today the claim is often made that the religious man, Christian, Muslim or other, must pay respect to Judaism, whatever its errors, on one incontestable ground: it was the first universal religion, so that in a sense all universal religions descend from it. Every Jewish child is taught this. In truth, the idea of the one-God of all men was known long before the tribe of Judah even took shape, and Judaism was above all else the denial of that idea. The Egyptian Book of the Dead (manuscripts of which were found in the tombs of kings of 2,600 BC, over two thousand years before the Judaist “Law” was completed) contains the passage: “Thou art the one, the God from the very beginnings of time, the heir of immortality, self-produced and self-born; thou didst create the earth and make man.” Conversely, the Scripture produced in
The sect which attached itself to and mastered the tribe of
destroy it, and to set up the creed based on its denial. It is denied subtly, but with scorn, and as the creed is based on the theory of the master-race this denial is necessary and inevitable. A master-race, if there be one, must itself be God.
The creed which was given force of daily law in
Obviously all of them could not live there, but if they lived elsewhere, whether by constraint or their own choice, they automatically became “captives” of “the stranger,” whom they had to “root out,” “pull down” and “destroy.” Given this basic tenet of the creed, it made no difference whether the “captors” were conquerors or friendly hosts; their ordained lot was to be destruction or enslavement.
Before they were destroyed or enslaved, they were, for a time, to be “captors” of the Judahites, not in their own right, but because the Judahites, having failed in “observance,” deserved punishment. In this way, Jehovah revealed himself as the one-God of all-peoples: though he “knew” only the “chosen people,” he would employ the heathen to punish them for their “transgressions,” before meting out the foreordained destruction to these heathen.
The Judahites had this inheritance thrust on them. It was not even theirs, for the “covenant,” according to these Scriptures, had been made between Jehovah and “the children of Israel,” and by 458 BC the Israelites, spurning the non-Israelitish Judahites, had long since been absorbed by other mankind, taking with them the vision of a universal, loving God of all men. The Israelites, from all the evidence, never knew this racial creed which was to come down through the centuries as the Jewish religion, or Judaism. It stands, for all time, as the product of
What happened before 458 BC is largely lore, legend and mythology, as distinct from the period following, the main events of which are known. Before 458 BC, for instance, there were in the main only “oral traditions”; the documentary period begins in the two centuries leading up to 458 BC, when
In the earlier tradition Moses was a great tribal leader who heard the voice
of one-God speak from a burning bush and came down from a mountain bearing this one-God's moral commandments to the people. The time when this tradition took shape was one when the idea of religion was first moving in the minds of men and when all the peoples were borrowing from each other's traditions and thought.
Whence the idea of one-God may have come has already been shown, although the earlier Egyptians themselves may have received it from others. The figure of Moses himself, and his Law, both were taken from material already existing. The story of Moses's discovery in the bulrushes was plainly borrowed from the much earlier legend (with which it is identical) of a king of Babylonia, Sargon the Elder, who lived between one and two thousand years before him; the Commandments much resemble earlier law codes of the Egyptians, Babylonians and Assyrians. The ancient Israelites built on current ideas, and by this means apparently were well on the way to a universal religion when they were swallowed up by mankind.
Thus they founded the permanent counter-movement to all universal religions and identified the name
The perversion thus accomplished may be traced in the Old Testament, where Moses first appears as the bearer of the moral commandments and good neighbour, and ends as a racial mass-murderer, the moral commandments having been converted into their opposites between Exodus and Numbers. In the course of this same transmutation the God who begins by commanding the people not to kill or to covet their neighbours' goods or wives, finishes by ordering a tribal massacre of a neighbouring people, only the virgins to be saved alive!
Thus the achievement of the itinerant priests who mastered the tribe of Judah, so long ago, was to turn one small, captive people away from the rising idea of a God of all men, to reinstate a bloodthirsty tribal deity and racial law, and to send the followers of this creed on their way through the centuries with a destructive mission.
The creed, or revelation of God as thus presented, was based on a version of history, every event of which had to conform with, and to confirm the teaching.
This version of history went back to the Creation, the exact moment of which was known; as the priests also claimed to possess the future, this was a complete story and theory of the universe from start to finish. The end was to be the triumphant consummation in
The theme of mass-captivity, ending in a Jehovan vengeance (“all the firstborn of Egypt”), appears when this version of history reaches the Egyptian phase, leading up to the mass-exodus and mass-conquest of the promised land. This episode was necessary if the Judahites were to be organized as a permanent disruptive force among nations and for that reason, evidently, was invented; the Judaist scholars agree that nothing resembling the narrative in Exodus actually occurred.
Whether Moses even lived is in dispute. “They tell you,” said the late Rabbi Emil Hirsch, “that Moses never lived. I acquiesce. If they tell me that the story that came from
Whether Moses lived or not, he cannot have led any mass-exodus from
A most zealous Zionist historian, Dr. Josef Kastein, is equally specific about this. He will often be quoted during this narrative because his book, like this one, covers the entire span of the controversy of
Dr. Kastein, a fervent Zionist, holds that the Law laid down in the Old Testament must be fulfilled to the letter, but does not pretend to take the version of history seriously, on which this Law is based. In this he differs from Christian polemicists of the “every word is true” school. He holds that the Old Testament was in fact a political programme, drafted to meet the conditions of a time, and frequently revised to meet changing conditions.
Historically, therefore, the Egyptian captivity, the slaying of “all the firstborn
It was evidently invented to turn the Judahites away from the earlier tradition of the God who, from the burning bush, laid down a simple law of moral behaviour and neighbourliness; by the insertion of imaginary, allegorical incident, presented as historical truth, this tradition was converted into its opposite and the “Law” of exclusion, hatred and vengeance established. With this as their religion and inheritance, attested by the historical narrative appended to it, a little band of human beings were sent on their way into the future.
By the time of that achievement of 458 BC, many centuries after any possible period when Moses may have lived, much had happened in
From the moment when it first appears as an entity this tribe of
This tribe with the curious air was the one which set out into the future saddled with the doctrine drawn up by the Levites, namely, that it was Jehovah's “chosen people” and, when it had done “all my statutes and judgments,” would inherit a promised land and dominion over all peoples.
Among these “statutes and judgments” as the Levites finally edited them appeared, repeatedly, the commands, “utterly destroy,” “pull down,” “root out.”