Read CHAPTER I of Chosen Peoples Being the First "Arthur Davis Memorial Lecture" delivered, free online book, by Israel Zangwill, on

The claim that the Jews are a “Chosen People” has always irritated the Gentiles. “From olden times,” wrote Philostratus in the third century, “the Jews have been opposed not only to Rome but to the rest of humanity.” Even Julian the Apostate, who designed to rebuild their Temple, raged at the doctrine of their election. Sinai, said the Rabbis with a characteristic pun, has evoked Sinah (hatred).

In our own day, the distinguished ethical teacher, Dr. Stanton Coit, complains, like Houston Chamberlain, that our Bible has checked and blighted all other national inspiration: in his book “The Soul of America,” he even calls upon me to repudiate unequivocally “the claim to spiritual supremacy over all the peoples of the world.”

The recent revelation of racial arrogance in Germany has provided our enemies with a new weapon. “Germanism is Judaism,” says a writer in the American Bookman. The proposition contains just that dash of truth which is more dangerous than falsehood undiluted; and the saying ascribed to Von Tirpitz in 1915 that the Kaiser spent all his time praying and studying Hebrew may serve to give it colour. “As he talks to-day at Potsdam and Berlin,” says Verhaeren, in his book “Belgium’s Agony,” “the Kings of Israel and their prophets talked six thousand years ago at Jerusalem.” The chronology is characteristic of anti-Semitic looseness: six thousand years ago the world by Hebrew reckoning had not been created, and at any rate the then Kings of Jerusalem were not Jewish. But it is undeniable that Germanism, like Judaism, has evolved a doctrine of special election. Spiritual in the teaching of Fichte and Treitschke, the doctrine became gross and narrow in the Deutsche Religion of Friedrich Lange. “The German people is the elect of God and its enemies are the enemies of the Lord.” And this German God, like the popular idea of Jéhovah, is a “Man of War” who demands “eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” and cries with savage sublimity:

I will render vengeance to Mine adversaries,
And will recompense them that hate Me,
I will make Mine arrows drunk with blood,
And my sword shall devour flesh.

Judaism has even its Song of Hate, accompanied on the timbrel by Miriam. The treatment of the Amalekites and other Palestine tribes is a byword. “We utterly destroyed every city,” Deuteronomy declares; “the men and the women and the little ones; we left none remaining; only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves with the spoil of the cities.” David, who is promised of God that his seed shall be enthroned for ever, slew surrendered Moabites in cold blood, and Judas Maccabaeus, the other warrior hero of the race, when the neutral city of Ephron refused his army passage, took the city, slew every male in it, and passed across its burning ruins and bleeding bodies. The prophet Isaiah pictures the wealth of nations the phrase is his, not Adam Smith’s streaming to Zion by argosy and caravan. “For that nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish.... Aliens shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee. Thou shalt suck the milk of nations.” “The Lord said unto me,” says the second Psalm, “Thou art My son, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of Me and I will give the nations for thine inheritance.... Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron.”

Nor are such ideas discarded by the synagogue of to-day. Every Saturday night the orthodox Jew repeats the prayer for material prosperity and the promise of ultimate glory: “Thou shalt lend unto many nations but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt rule over many nations but they shall not rule over thee.” “Our Father, our King,” he prays at the New Year, “avenge before our eyes the blood of Thy servants that has been spilt.” And at the Passover Seder Service he still repeats the Psalmist’s appeal to God to pour out His wrath on the heathen who have consumed Jacob and laid waste his dwelling. “Pursue them in anger and destroy them from under the heavens of the Lord!”