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eBook History of the Jews: Complete Set in 6 Volumes
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Publisher:  Varda Books
Original Publisher:  The Jewish Publication Society
Published:  2002
Language:  English
Pages:   4112


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ISBN: 1-59045-152-X

File size: 29.566 Mb




About the Book -- History of the Jews: Complete Set in 6 Volumes

This work of Graetz was the first comprehensive attempt to write the history of the Jews as the history of a living people and from a Jewish point of view. With deep feeling, he describes the struggle of Jews and of Judaism for survival, their uniqueness, the sufferings of the Exile, and the courage of the martyrs, and in contrast, the cruelty of the enemies of Israel and its persecutors throughout the ages. The writing of such a Jewish history in German for a public which in its vast majority identified itself with German nationalism and Christian culture was a heroic achievement.

English readers, to whom the forefathers of the Jews of today—the patriarchs, heroes, and men of God—are familiar characters, will the better understand the miracle which is exhibited in the history of the Jews during three thousand years. The continuance of the Jewish race until the present day is a marvel not to be overlooked even by those who deny the existence of miracles, and who only see in the most astounding events, both natural and preternatural, the logical results of cause and effect. Here we observe a phenomenon, which has developed and asserted itself in spite of all laws of nature, and we behold a culture which, notwithstanding unspeakable hostility against its exponents, has nevertheless profoundly modified the organism of nations.

It is the heartfelt aspiration of the author that “The History of the Jews, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day,” in its English garb, may attain its object by putting an end to the hostile bearing against the Jewish race, so that it may no longer be begrudged the peculiar sphere whereto it has been predestined through the events and sorrows of thousands of years, and that it may be permitted to fulfill its appointed mission without molestation.

This translation, in six volumes, is not a mere excerpt of the “Geschichte der Juden” (like the author's “Volksthümliche Geschichte der Juden”), but a condensed reproduction of the entire eleven volumes. But the foot-notes have been omitted, so as to render the present work less voluminous for the general reader. Historical students are usually acquainted with the German language, and can read the notes in the original.

In this English edition the “History of the Present Day” is brought down to 1870, while the original only goes as far as the memorable events of 1848. The last volume will contain a survey of the entire history of the Jewish nation, together with a comprehensive index of names and events.



About the Book

Contents

Volume I

From the Earliest Period to the Death of Simon the Maccabee (135 B.C.E.)

Volume II

From the Reign of Hyrcanus (135 B.C.E.) to the Completion of the Babylonian Talmud (500 C.E.)

Volume III

From the Revolt against the Zendik (511 C.E.) to the Capture of St. Jean d'Acreby by the Mahometans (1291 C.E.)

Volume IV

From the Rise of the Kabbala (1270 C.E.) to the Permanent Settlement of the Marranos in Holland (1618 C.E.)

Volume V

From the Chmielnicki Persecution of the Jews in Poland (1648 C.E.) to the Present Time (1870 C.E.)

Volume VI

A Memoir of the Author by Dr. Philipp Bloch, A Chronological Table of Jewish History, An Index to the Whole Work, and Four Maps


An Excerpt from the Book -- History of the Jews: Complete Set in 6 Volumes

From Volume I

David had left affairs in Israel in such perfect order that his successor, unless he were a fool or a knave, or the victim of evil advice, would have but little trouble in governing. Solomon, however, carried David's work still further. He shed such lustre upon Israel that even the most distant generations basked in the light that emanated from his wise rule. Indeed, a king who solidifies and increases, if he does not actually found, the greatness of the State; who permits his people the enjoyment of peace; who sheds the bounties of plenty over his land, driving poverty away from the meanest hovel; who opens up new channels for the development of his people's powers, and who thus increases and strengthens them; a king who has the intelligence to arouse his subjects to exercise their mental gifts, and cultivate their love of the beautiful; who, by his material and spiritual creations, elevates his country to the dignity of a model State, such as had never been before him and scarcely ever after him;—such a monarch assuredly deserves the high praise which posterity has accorded to him. Carried away by the greatness of his deeds—for all these grand characteristics were strikingly prominent in Solomon—men shut their eyes to his weaknesses, and considered them the inevitable result of human imperfection. In the first place he strove to preserve peace for his country, though his father had left him ample means for making fresh conquests. He was called the king of peace—“Shelomo.” By giving to his people the comforts of prosperity, he widened its horizon, and raised its self-respect. He ruled it with wisdom and justice, and decided with strict impartiality all contests between individuals as well as tribes. He increased the number of towns, and secured the safety of the roads and of the caravans. He filled the city of Jerusalem with splendour, and built therein a magnificent temple in honour of God. He himself cultivated the fine arts and poetry, and thereby endowed them with fresh attractions in the eyes of the people. Lastly, he set great aims before the nation, and was rightly called the wise king.

From Volume II

The period during which Christendom asserted its triumphant sway marked a decisive crisis in the history of nations, and closed also an epoch in Jewish history. The harvest which had slowly and invisibly been maturing during the preceding centuries was now ripe. Christianity, although hated and persecuted, had still remained defiant, and at last disarmed its enemies by drawing them within the circle of its influence. The Roman Empire, which seems to have felt an instinctive dread of its approaching dissolution through the religion of Christ, submitted to baptism, thus prolonging its assigned length of existence by the space of a century and a half. Heathenism, which was nourished by and in turn bred irrational ideas, deceit, and immorality, was obliged to surrender its life of shams, and make room for another form of religion.

From Volume III

As an eloquent illustration of the attitude of the Middle Ages with regard to the Jews, the conduct of the greatest and most cultured German emperor towards them may be instanced. Frederick II, the last of the Hohenstaufen line of emperors, was the most genial and unprejudiced monarch of the first half of the thirteenth century. A Sicilian rather than a German, he had a liking for the sciences, and supported men of genius with princely liberality. He took an interest in having writings on philosophy and astronomy translated from the Arabic, and for this purpose he employed many learned Jews. The emperor carried on a correspondence with a young Jewish scholar, Jehuda ben Solomon Cohen Ibn-Matka, of Toledo (born in about 1215, and wrote in 1247). His learning produced so deep an impression on Emperor Frederick that he submitted a number of scientific questions to him, and expressed pleasure at the answers returned to them. The emperor then probably induced him to come to Italy (Tuscany). Jehuda Ibn-Matka possessed the right of free entry to the imperial court.

From Volume IV

These Calibans also said, “Burn but their books; for therein lies their power.” The Dominicans wished to destroy not only the bodies, but the very soul and spirit of the Jews. Yet they were not able to quench the life of Judaism. They only succeeded in transforming the Spanish paradise into one vast dungeon, in which the king himself was not free. The Inquisition, created by the begging friars, wounded the Jew deeply, yet not mortally. His wounds are now almost healed; but Spain suffers still, perhaps beyond hope of cure, from the wounds dealt by the Inquisition. Ferdinand the Catholic and Isabella the Bigot, who, through the union of Aragon and Castile, laid the foundation for the greatness of Spain, prepared the way, at the same time, by the establishment of the Inquisition, for her decay and final ruin.

From Volume V

If for a moment fancy is allowed full play, one can imagine, not only that the houses, utensils, and pictures excavated from the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii were renewed, but also that the entombed men were suddenly aroused from their sleep of centuries, and enabled to collect their thoughts. If these resurrected Romans could recall their condition when the catastrophe befell them, could conjure up before their mind's eye the splendor of their greatness, remember the mighty institutions which they and their ancestors called into existence, realize the heroic power which the Roman people developed, and if they felt the same power still stirring within them, a not altogether unjustifiable self-esteem would seize them. His supposition is no fantastic idea: a nation actually did arise from the darkness of the tomb, the only example chronicled in the annals of man. This resuscitated people, the Jewish race, endeavored at its resurrection to collect its thoughts and memories, and recall a vision of its glorious past; feeling itself to be at once old and young, rich in memories and lacking in experience, chained to hoary antiquity by a perfect sequence of events, yet seeming as if of yesterday. The Jews first examined the monuments of their intellect, which had influenced the history of nations, and had brought forth a wealth of peculiar products. They served as signposts in the labyrinth of Jewish history. That is the science of Judaism—a vivid realization of its great history, and its peculiar doctrines. This effort of memory is not merely an amusing game, a pleasant pastime, the satisfaction of a desire for knowledge akin to curiosity, but an irresistible impulse of self-examination. It aroused the dormant strength in the breast of the inquirer, and inspired him with self-confidence to act in the future as in the past. Self-consciousness—the consciousness of being the people of God—was awakened in this old, resuscitated nation, and it at once entered into competition with the young nations, to assert its peculiar powers.

From Volume VI

Graetz left Wollstein in April, 1836, and went to Zerkow to acquaint his parents with his intentions and consult with them. Letters of recommendation to families in Prague were obtained, and his parents and other relatives made up a small purse for him. Graetz secured a passport, packed his modest belongings in a handbag, and set out on his journey in high spirits. Partly afoot, partly by stage when the fare was not forbidding, he made his way to Breslau, and thence through the Silesian mountains to the Austrian boundary, which he reached not far from Reinerz. Here, though he was fortified with a passport, the frontier inspector, like a cherub with a flaming sword, opposed his entrance into Austria. He was unable to produce ten florins ($5) cash, the possession of which had to be demonstrated by the traveler who would gain admission to the land of the double eagle, unless he came as a passenger in the mail-coach. Dismayed our young wanderer resorted to parleying, and appealed to his letters of recommendation. In vain; the official would hear of no compromise. Too proud and inflexible to have recourse to entreaty or trickery, Graetz grimly faced about, and much disheartened journeyed as he had come, over the same road, back to Zerkow. His parents were not a little astonished at his return, and equally rejoiced to have their son with them for some time longer. The adventure may be taken as typical of the curious mishaps that befell him in practical life, particularly at the beginning of his career. They often cut him to the quick, but never shook his belief in his lucky star. His originative and impressionable nature carried with it the power of discerning important points of view and valid aims, but he seems to have been too far-sighted and impetuous to lay due stress upon the means and levers necessary for the attainment of ends.


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