One of the inflection points of world history which researchers into Epicurus will frequently encounter is the work of Paul of Tarsus. Norman DeWitt devoted a book to the subject (St. Paul and Epicurus), in which he explores the many references in Pauline letters which appear to be direct attacks on Epicurean philosophy.
It is also well known that Friedrich Nietzsche, a frequent admirer of Epicurus, was as much (or more) an enemy of Paul of Tarsus than of Jesus of Nazareth. In his last book, “AntiChrist,” Nietzsche explains this in detail. He directs blast after blast against Paul, specifically accusing him of perverting the progress toward human happiness that had been made under Epicurus:
But it [Roman civilization] was not strong enough to stand up against the corruptest of all forms of corruption—against Christians… These stealthy worms, which under the cover of night, mist and duplicity, crept upon every individual, sucking him dry of all earnest interest in real things, of all instinct for reality—this cowardly, effeminate and sugar-coated gang gradually alienated all “souls”, step by step, from that colossal edifice, turning against it all the meritorious, manly and noble natures that had found in the cause of Rome their own cause, their own serious purpose, their own pride. The sneakishness of hypocrisy, the secrecy of the conventicle, concepts as black as hell, such as the sacrifice of the innocent, the unio mystica in the drinking of blood, above all, the slowly rekindled fire of revenge, of Chandala revenge—all that sort of thing became master of Rome: the same kind of religion which, in a pre-existent form, Epicurus had combatted. One has but to read Lucretius to know what Epicurus made war upon—not paganism, but “Christianity”, which is to say, the corruption of souls by means of the concepts of guilt, punishment and immortality.—He combatted the subterranean cults, the whole of latent Christianity—to deny immortality was already a form of genuine salvation.—Epicurus had triumphed, and every respectable intellect in Rome was Epicurean—when Paul appeared… Paul, the Chandala hatred of Rome, of “the world”, in the flesh and inspired by genius—the Jew, the eternal Jew par excellence… What he saw was how, with the aid of the small sectarian Christian movement that stood apart from Judaism, a “world conflagration” might be kindled; how, with the symbol of “God on the cross”, all secret seditions, all the fruits of anarchistic intrigues in the empire, might be amalgamated into one immense power. “Salvation is of the Jews.”—Christianity is the formula for exceeding and summing up the subterranean cults of all varieties, that of Osiris, that of the GreatMother, that of Mithras, for instance: in his discernment of this fact the genius of Paul showed itself. His instinct was here so sure that, with reckless violence to the truth, he put the ideas which lent fascination to every sort of Chandala religion into the mouth of the “Saviour” as his own inventions, and not only into the mouth—he made out of him something that even a priest of Mithras could understand… This was his revelation at Damascus: he grasped the fact that he needed the belief in immortality in order to rob “the world” of its value, that the concept of “hell” would master Rome—that the notion of a “beyond” is the death of life. Nihilist and Christian: they rhyme in German, and they do more than rhyme.
Interestingly, Nietzsche also links Paul of Tarsus to another philosophical enemy of human happiness – the Stoics:
Once more the priestly instinct of the Jew perpetrated the same old master crime against history—he simply struck out the yesterday and the day before yesterday of Christianity, and invented his own history of Christian beginnings. Going further, he treated the history of Israel to another falsification, so that it became a mere prologue to his achievement: all the prophets, it now appeared, had referred to his “Saviour”… Later on the church even falsified the history of man in order to make it a prologue to Christianity… The figure of the Saviour, his teaching, his way of life, his death, the meaning of his death, even the consequences of his death—nothing remained untouched, nothing remained in even remote contact with reality. Paul simply shifted the centre of gravity of that whole life to a place behind this existence—in the lie of the “risen” Jesus. At bottom, he had no use for the life of the Saviour—what he needed was the death on the cross, and something more. To see anything honest in such aman as Paul, whose home was at the centre of the Stoical enlightenment, when he converts an hallucination into a proof of the resurrection of the Saviour, or even to believe his tale that he suffered from this hallucination himself—this would be a genuine niaiserie in a psychologist. Paul willed the end; therefore he also willed the means.—What he himself didn’t believe was swallowed readily enough by the idiots among whom he spread his teaching.—What he wanted was power; in Paul the priest once more reached out for power—he had use only for such concepts, teachings and symbols as served the purpose of tyrannizing over the masses and organizing mobs. What was the only part of Christianity that Mohammed borrowed later on? Paul’s invention, his device for establishing priestly tyranny and organizing the mob: the belief in the immortality of the soul—that is to say, the doctrine of “judgment.”
Both of these points – that Nietzche saw Paul as a particular enemy of Epicurean thought, and that Nietzsche saw the Stoics also as an enemy to human happiness – were familiar to me from reading “Antichrist” and other Nietzschean material.
What was not familiar to me, however, was information I recently found in researching Jewish denunciations of Epicurus in the Talmud. My work began with several fairly well known quotes from Judaism denouncing Epicurus, which appear to be genuine:
“All Israel have a share in the world to come as states [sic]: Your people are all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, wherein I glory. And these are the ones who do not have a portion in the world to come: He who maintains that there is no resurrection of the dead derived from the Torah, and [He who maintains] that the Torah was not divinely revealed, and an Epikoros.”
Cite Given: —Mishnah, Seder Nezikin, tractate Sanhedrin, 90a
“Jews who become Epicureans, who take to the worship of stars and planets and sin maliciously; also those who eat the flesh of wounded animals, or who dress in vain clothes, deserve the name of epicureans; likewise those who deny the Torah and the Prophets of Israel—the law is that all those should be killed; and those who have the power of life and death should have them killed; and if this cannot be done, they should be led to their death by deceptive methods.”
Cite given – Choschen Hamm. (425,5) it says:
“These things [supra] are intended for idolaters. But Israelites also, who lapse from their religion and become epicureans, are to be killed, and we must persecute them to the end. For they afflict Israel and turn the people from God.”
Cite given: Hilkhoth Akum (X, 2)
“Traitors and Epicureans and Apostates are worse than Goim.”
Cite Given Choschen Hammischpat (34, 22)
“Heretics and Epicureans and Traitors go down into hell.”
Cite Given Rosch Haschanach (17a)
“AN EPIKOROS. Rab and R. Hanina both taught that this means one who disrespects a Talmid Chacham [erudite Torah scholar]. R. Johanan and R. Joshua b. Levi maintained that it is one who disrespects his neighbour in the presence of a Talmid Chacham. ”
Cite given—B. Talmud, Seder Nezikin, tractate Sanhedrin, 99b
The point that is new to me from my latest research, however, is the existence of a documented internal Jewish tradition that Paul of Tarsus was essentially a double-agent of Judaism. What I did not know was that Judaism has preserved for thousands of years that Paul was deputized and sent out by the rabbis of organized Judaism for the explicit purpose of spreading misinformation among non-orthodox Jews and other converts to Christianity.
This accusation is detailed in the Toldoth Jeschu, the Jewish “Life of Jesus,” which has been handed down for many hundreds of years, and apparently dates in origins back to the time of Jesus himself. This work is very difficult to find on the internet in English translation, but it appears that soon scholars at Princeton University will be publishing a well-researched compendium of the various versions that have been preserved.
In the meantime, there is at least one reputable source freely available on Archive.org, published in England in 1903: George Meade’s “Did Jesus Live 100 BC?” The rather sensational title of the book derives from its focus on the fact that Jewish tradition associates the trial and execution of Jesus with a certain “Queen Helene” rather than with Pontius Pilate. Meade’s purpose for the book was to explore the question of whether the traditional Christian dating of the period is incorrect, since Queen Helene lived several generations before the time of Pilate. [After posting this I was able to locate an alternate translation, from a 1937 book by Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Hugh Schonfield, entitled “According to the Hebrews” – located here.]
The entire “Life of Jesus” is of significant interest, so I will paste the entire section below, which can be accessed at Meade’s book here. The allegation that Paul was a “double-agent” appears near the end, in Part 10, to which you can jump by clicking here.
If these records are true, was Paul of Tarsus the most successful double-agent the world has ever seen? That is not for me to answer, but it seems to be a question worth exploring as one considers the factors that led to the decline of Epicurean philosophy and the ultimate end of Greco-Roman civilization. I am not aware of whether Nietzsche himself made or commented on this particular aspect of St. Paul in any of his works, but if any of my readers here know of his or other commentary on this point, please feel free to comment on the Epicurus Philosophy Facebook page. For now, I will postpone analysis of this material, but the raw material is important and can be accessed here for future research. Note: On the same topic, see this article from 1928 by Marcus Eli Ravage.
The Todloth Jeschu
1. The beginning of the birth of Jeschu. His mother was Miriam [a daughter] of Israel. She had a betrothed of the royal race of the House of David, whose name was Jochanan. He was learned in the law and feared heaven greatly. Near the door of her house, just opposite, dwelt a handsome [fellow]; Joseph ben Pandora cast his eye upon her.
It was at night, on the eve of the Sabbath, when drunken he crossed over to her door and entered in to her. But she thought in her heart that it was her betrothed Jochanan; she hid her face and was ashamed. . . . He embraced her; but she said to him: Touch me not, for I am in my separation. He took no heed thereat, nor regarded her words, but persisted. She conceived by him. . . .
At midnight came her betrothed Rabbi Jochanan. She said to him: What meaneth this? Never bath it been thy custom, since thou wast betrothed to me, twice in a night to come to me.
He answered her and said: It is but once I come to thee this night.
She said to him: Thou earnest to me, and I said to thee I was in my separation, yet heeded’st thou not, but did’st thy will and wentest forth. When he heard this, forthwith he perceived that Joseph ben Pandera had cast an eye upon her and done the deed. He left her ; in the morning he arose and went to Rabbi Simeon ben Shetach.
He said to him: Know then what hath befallen me this night with my betrothed. I went in to her after the manner of men . . . ; before I touched her she said: Thou hast already this night come once to me, and I said to thee I was in my separation, and thou gayest no ear to me, [didst] thy will and wentest forth. When I heard such words from her, I left her and [went forth].
Rabbi Simeon ben Shetach said to him: Who came into thy mind?
He answered: Ben Pandera, for he dwelleth near her house and is a libertine.
He said to him: I understand that thou hast no witness for this thing, therefore keep silence; I counsel thee, if he have come once, then can he not fail to come a second time; act wisely; at that time set witnesses against him.
Some time after the rumour went abroad that Miriam was with child. Then said her betrothed Jochanan: She is not with child by me; shall I abide here and hear my shame every day from the people?
He arose and went to Babylon. After some [time she bore] a son, and they called his name Joshua after his mother’s brother; but when his corrupt birth was made public they called him Jeschu.
2. His mother gave him to a teacher, so that he might become wise in the Halacha, and learned in the Torah and the Talmud. Now it was the custom of the teachers of the law that no disciple and no boy should pass on his way by them without his head being covered and his eyes cast to the ground, from reverence of the pupils towards their teachers.
One day that rogue passed by, and all the wise were seated together at the door of the synagogue — that is, they called the school-house synagogue; that rogue then passed by the Rabbis, head on high and with uncovered pate, saluting no one, nay, rather, in shameless fashion showing irreverence to his teacher.
After he had passed by them, one of them began and said: He is a bastard (mamzer). The second began and said: He is a bastard and son of a woman in her separation (mamzer ben ha-niddah).
Another day the Rabbis stopped in tractate Nezikin; then began that one to speak Halachoth before them.
Thereupon one of them began and said to him: Hast thou then not learned: He who giveth forth a Halacha in the presence of his teacher, is guilty of death?
That one answered and said to the wise ones: Who is the teacher and who the disciple? Who of the twain is wiser, Moses or Jethro? Was it not Moses, father of the prophets and head of the wise? And the Torah, moreover, beareth witness of him: And from henceforth there ariseth no prophet in Israel like unto Moses. Withal Jethro was an alien, . . yet taught he Moses worldly wisdom, as it is written: Set thou over them rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds. But if ye say that Jethro is greater than Moses, then would there be an end to the greatness of Moses.
When the wise heard this, they said: As he is so very shameless, let us enquire after him. They sent to his mother, [saying] thus: Tell us, pray, who is the father of this boy?
She answered and said: . . but they say of him, that he is a bastard and son of a woman in her separation.
Then began Rabbi Simeon ben Shetach: Today is it thirty years since Rabbi Jochanan her betrothed came to me ; at that time he said to me: That and that hath befallen me.
He related all that is told above, . . . how Rabbi Simeon answered Rabbi Jochanan, and how when she was with child, he [R. J.] for great shame went to Babylon and did not return; but this Miriam gave birth to this Jeschu, and no death penalty awaits her, for she hath not done this of her own will, for Joseph ben Pandera laid in wait for her . . the whole day.
When she heard from Rabbi Simeon that no death penalty awaited her, she also began and said: Thus was the story; and she confessed. But when it went abroad concerning Jeschu, that he was called a bastard and son of a woman in her separation, he went away and fled to Jerusalem.
3. Now the rule of all Israel was in the hand of a woman who was called Helene. And there was in the sanctuary a foundation stone — and this is its interpretation: God founded it and this is the stone on which Jacob poured oil—and on it were written the letters of the Shem, and whosoever learned it, could do whatsoever he would. But as the wise feared that the disciples of Israel might learn them and therewith destroy the world, they took measures that no one should do so.
Brazen dogs were bound to two iron pillars at the entrance of the place of burnt offerings, and whosoever entered in and learned these letters — as soon as he went forth again, the dogs bayed at him; if he then looked at them, the letters vanished from his memory.
This Jeschu came, learned them, wrote them on parchment, cut into his hip and laid the parchment with the letters therein — so that the cutting of his flesh did not hurt him — then he restored the skin to its place. When he went forth the brazen dogs bayed at him, and the letters vanished from his memory. He went home, cut open his flesh with his knife, took out the writing, learned the letters, went and gathered together three hundred and ten of the young men of Israel.
4. He said to them: Behold then these who say of me I am a bastard and son of a woman in her separation; they desire power for themselves and seek to exercise lordship in Israel. But see ye, all the prophets prophesied concerning the Messiah of God, and I am the Messiah. Isaiah prophesied concerning me: Behold the virgin shall conceive, bear a son, and he shall be called Emanuel. Moreover, my forefather David prophesied concerning me and spake: The Eternal [Y. H. V. H.] said to me: Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. He begat me without male congress with my mother; yet they call me a bastard! He further prophesied: Why do the heathen rage, etc., the kings in the country rise up, etc., against His anointed. I am the Messiah, and they, so to rise up against me, are children of whores, for so it is written in the Scripture: For they are the children of whores.
The young men answered him: If thou art the Messiah, show unto us a sign. He answered them: What sign do ye require that I should do for you?
Forthwith they brought unto him a lame man, who had never yet stood upon his feet. He pronounced over him the letters, and he stood upon his feet. In the same hour they all made obeisance to him and said: This is the Messiah.
He gave them another sign. They brought to him a leper; he pronounced over him the letters, and he was healed. There joined themselves to him apostates from the children of his people.
When the wise saw that so very many believed on him, they seized him and brought him before Queen Helene in whose hand the land of Israel was. They said to her: This man uses sorcery and seduces the world.
Jeschu answered to her as follows: Already of old the prophets prophesied concerning me: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Isai (Jesse), and I am he. Of him saith the Scripture: Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.
She said to them: Is this truly in your law, what he saith?
They answered: It is in our law; but it hath not been said concerning him, for it is said therein: And that prophet [etc.], put the evil away from the midst of thee. But the Messiah for whom we hope, with him are [other] signs, and it is said of him: He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth. With this bastard these signs are not present.
Jesus said: Lady, I am he, and I raise the dead.
In the same hour the queen was affrightened and said: That is a great sign.
Apostates still joined themselves to him, were with him, and there arose a great schism in Israel.
5. Jeschu went to Upper Galilee. The wise assembled together, went before the queen and said to her : Lady, he practiseth sorcery and leadeth men astray therewith.
Therefore sent she forth horsemen concerning him, and they came upon him as he was seducing the people of Upper Galilee and saying to them: I am the Son of God, who hath been promised in your law. The horsemen rose up to take him away, but the people of Upper Galilee suffered it not and began to fight.
Jeschu said unto them: Fight not, have trust in the power of my Father in heaven.
The people of Galilee made birds out of clay ; he uttered the letters of the Shem, and the birds flew away. At the same hour they fell down before him.
He said to them: Bring unto me a millstone. They rolled it to the sea-shore ; he spake the letters, set it upon the surface of the sea, sat himself thereon, as one sits in a boat, went and floated on the water.
They who had been sent, saw it and wondered; and Jeschu said to the horsemen: Go to your lady, tell her what ye have seen! Thereupon the wind raised him from the water and carried him onto the dry land.
The horsemen came and told the queen all these things; the queen was affrighted, was greatly amazed, sent and gathered together the elders of Israel and spake unto them: Ye say he is a sorcerer, nevertheless every day he doeth great wonders.
They answered her: Surely his tricks should not trouble thee! Send messengers, that they may bring him hither, and his shame shall be made plain.
At the same hour she sent messengers, and his wicked company also joined itself onto him, and they came with him before the queen.
Then the wise men of Israel took a man by name Juda Ischariota, brought him into the Holy of Holies, where he learned the letters of the Shem, which were engraved on the foundation-stone, wrote them on a small [piece of] parchment, cut open his hip, spake the Shem, so that it did not hurt, as Jeschu had done before.
As soon as Jeschu with his company had returned to the queen, and she sent for the wise men, Jeschu began and spake: For dogs encompassed me. And concerning me he [David] said: Tremble not before them.
As soon as the wise men entered and Juda Ischariota with them, they brought forward their pleas against him, until he said to the queen: Of me it hath been said: I will ascend to heaven. Further it is written: If He take me, Sela! He raised his hands like unto the wings of an eagle and flew, and the people were amazed because of him: How is he able to fly twixt heaven and earth!
Then spake the wise men of Israel to Juda Ischariota: Do thou also utter the letters and ascend after him. Forthwith he did so, flew in the air, and the people marveled: How can they fly like eagles!
Ischariota acted cleverly, flew in the air, but neither could overpower the other, so as to make him fall by means of the Shem, because the Shem was equally with both of them. When Juda perceived this he had recourse to a low trick; he befouled Jeschu, so that he was made unclean and fell to the earth, and with him also Juda.
It is because of this that they wail on their night, and because of the thing which Juda did to him.
At the same hour they seized him and said to Helene: Let him be put to death. Let him tell us who smote him. So they covered his head with a garment and smote him with a pomegranate staff. As he did not know, it was clear that the Shem had abandoned him, and he was now fast taken in their hands.
He began and spake to his companions before the queen: Of me it was said: Who will rise up for me against the evil doers? But of them he said: The proud waters. And of them he said: Stronger than rocks make they their countenance.
When the queen heard this she reproved the apostates, and said to the wise men of Israel: He is in your hand.
6. They departed from the queen and brought him to the synagogue of Tiberias and bound him to the pillars of the ark. Then there gathered together the band of simpletons and dupes, who believed on his words and desired to deliver him out of the hand of the elders; but they could not do so, and there arose great fighting between them.
When he saw that he had no power to escape, he said: Give me some water. They gave him vinegar in a copper vessel. He began and spake with a loud voice: Of me David prophesied and said: When I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.
On his head they set a crown of thorns. The apostates lamented sore, and there was fighting between them, brother with brother, father with son; but the wise men brought the apostates low. He began and spake: Of me he prophesied and said: My back I gave to the smiters, etc. Further of these the Scripture saith: Draw hither, sons of the sorceress. And of me hath been said: But we held him, etc. And of me he said: The Messiah shall be cut off and he is not.
When the apostates heard this, they began to stone them with stones, and there was great hatred among them.
Then were the elders afraid, and the apostates bore him off from them, and his three hundred and ten disciples brought him to the city of Antioch, where he sojourned till the rest-day of Passover. Now in that year Passover fell on the Sabbath, and he and his sons [sic] came to Jerusalem, on the rest-day of Passover, that is on the Friday, he riding on an ass and saying to his disciples: Of me it was said: Rejoice greatly, Daughter of Zion, etc.
In the same hour they all cried aloud, bowed themselves before him, and he with his three hundred and ten disciples went into the sanctuary.
Then came one of them, who was called Gaisa [that is, Gardener], and said to the wise men: Do you want the rogue? They said: Where is he to be found? He answered: He is in the sanctuary,—that is to say, in the school-house. They said to him: Show him unto us. He answered them: We, his three hundred and ten disciples, have already sworn by the commandments, that we will not say of him who he is; but if ye come in the morning, give me the greeting, and I will go and make an obeisance before him, and before whom I make obeisance, he is the rogue. And they did so.
The disciples of Jeschu gathered together, went and gave their fellows the greeting, for they were come from all places to pray on the Mount of Olives on the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Then the wise men went into the sanctuary, where those were who had come from Antioch, and there was also the rogue among them. Thereupon Gaisa entered with them, left the rest of the company, made an obeisance before the rogue Jeschu. Whereupon the wise men saw it, arose against him and seized him.
7. They said to him: What is thy name? He answered: Mathai. They said to him: Whence hast thou a proof from the Scripture? He answered them: When (mathai) shall I come and see the face of God? They said to him: When (mathai) shall he die and his name perish?
Further they said to him : What is thy name? He answered: Naki. They said to him: Whence hast thou a proof from the Scripture? He answered: with pure (naki) hands and a clean heart. They said to him: He remaineth not unpunished.
Further they said to him: What is thy name? He answered: Boni. They said: Whence hast thou a proof from the Scripture? He answered: My first-born son (beni) is Israel. They said: Of thee it was said: Behold, I will slay thy first-born son.
Further they said : What is thy name? He answered: Netzer. They said: Whence hast thou a proof from the Scripture? He answered them: A branch (netzer) shall spring up out of his roots. They said to him: Thou art cast forth from thy sepulchre, like an abominable branch (netzer). And thus still more, as he gave himself many names.
Forthwith they seized him, and his disciples could not deliver him. When he saw himself brought to death he began and spake: Verily hath David prophesied of me and said: For Thy sake are we smitten every day. And of you said Isaiah: Your hands are full of blood. And of you said the prophet before God: They slew Thy prophets with the sword.
The apostates began to lament and could not deliver him. At the same hour was he put to death. And it was on Friday on the rest-day of Passover and of the Sabbath. When they would hang him on a tree (Holz), it brake, for there was with him the Shem.
But when the simpletons saw that the trees brake under him, they supposed that this was because of his great godliness, until they brought him a cabbage-stalk. For while he was yet alive he knew the custom of the Israelites, that they would hang him, he knew his death, the manner of his being put to death, and that they would hang him on a tree. At that time he brought it to pass by means of the Shem, that no tree should bear him; but over the cabbage-stalk he did not utter the pronounced name, for it is not tree but green-stuff, and so [in special years there are] in Jerusalem cabbages with more than a hundred pounds [of seed] unto this day.
When they had let him hang until the time of afternoon prayer, they took him down from the tree, for so it is written: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, etc. They buried him . . . on Sunday, and the apostates of his people wept over his grave.
8. Some of the young men of Israel passed by them. They spake to them in the Aramaic tongue: Why do the foolish ones sit by the grave? Let us look! The foolish ones said in their heart, that they [the young men] would see him in the grave, but they found him not.
Thereupon the foolish ones sent to Queen Helene, saying: He whom they put to death was a Messiah, and very many wonders did he show while living, but now after his death they buried him, but he is not in the grave, for he is already ascended to heaven, and it is written: For He taketh me, Sela! Thus did he prophesy concerning himself.
She sent to the wise men and said: What have ye done with him? They answered her: We have put him to death, for that was the judgment concerning him.
She said to them: If ye have already put him to death, what have ye done then? They answered her: We have buried him. Forthwith they sought him in the grave and found him not.
Thereupon she said to them: In this grave ye buried him; where is he therefore ?
Then were the wise men affrightened and wist not what to answer her, for a certain one had taken him from the grave, borne him to his garden, and stopped the water which flowed into his garden; then digged he in the sand and buried him, and let the water flow again over his grave.
The queen said: If ye show me not Jeschu, I will give you no peace and no escape. They answered her: Give us an appointed time and terms.
When she had granted them an appointed time, all Israel remained lamenting in fasting and prayer, and the apostates found occasion to say: Ye have slain God’s anointed !
And all Israel was in great anguish, and the wise men and all the land of Israel hurried from place to place because of the great fear.
Then went forth an elder from them, whose name was Rabbi Tanchuma; he went forth lamenting in a garden in the fields.
When the owner of the garden saw him, he said to him: Wherefore lamentest thou? He answered: For this and this; because of that rogue who is not to be found; and lo, already is it the appointed time which the queen granted, and we are all in lamentation and fasting.
As soon as he heard his words, that all Israel is as them who mourn, and that the rogues say: He is gone up into heaven, the owner of the garden said: To-day shall joy and gladness reign in Israel, for I have stolen him away because of the apostates, so that they should not take him and have the opportunity for all time.
Forthwith they went to Jerusalem, told them the good tidings, and all the Israelites followed the owner of the garden, bound cords to his [Jeschu’s] feet, and dragged him round in the streets of Jerusalem, till they brought him to the queen and said: There is he who is ascended to heaven!
They departed from her in joy, and she mocked the apostates and praised the wise men.
9. His disciples fled and scattered themselves in the kingdom; three of them [went] to Mount Ararat, three of them to Armenia, three to Rome, the others to other places, and misled the peoples, but everywhere where they took refuge, God sent his judgment upon them, and they were slain.
But many among the apostates of our people went astray after him; there was strife between them and the Israelites, . . . confusion of prayers and much loss of money.
Everywhere where the apostates caught sight of the Israelites they said to the Israelites: Ye have slain God’s anointed! But the Israelites answered them: Ye are children of death, because ye have believed on a false prophet!
Nevertheless they went not forth from the community of Israel, and there was strife and contention among them, so that Israel had no peace.
When the wise men of Israel saw this they said: [It is now] thirty years since that rogue was put to death, [and] till now we have no peace with these misguided ones, and this hath befallen us because of the number of our sins, for it is written: They have moved me to wrath with their not-God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities, etc. ; — that is the Christians, who are not [? naught] with a base people will I provoke them; — that is, the Ishmaelites.
The wise said: How long shall the apostates profane Sabbath . . . and feasts, and slay one another? Let us rather seek for a wise man who may take these erring ones out of the community of Israel. It is now thirty years that we have admonished them, but they have not returned to God, because they have taken it into their heads that Jeschu is the Messiah, and so may they go to destruction and peace be with us.
10. The wise men agreed on a man whose name was Elijahu, and he was very learned in the Scripture, and they said to him: . . . We have agreed, that we will pray for thee, that thou shalt be counted as a good Israelite in the other world. Go, and do good for Israel, and remove the apostates from us, that they may go to destruction!
Elijahu went to the Sanhedrin at Tiberias, to Antioch, and made proclamation throughout the whole land of Israel: Whoso believeth on Jeschu, let him join himself to me! Then said he to them: I am the messenger (apostle) of Jeschu, who sent me to you, and I will show you a marvel, as Jeschu did.
They brought unto him a leper, and he laid his hand upon him, so that he was healed. They brought unto him a lame man, he uttered the Shem, laid his hand on him, and he was healed and stood upon his feet.
Forthwith they fell down before him and said: Truly thou art the messenger of Jeschu, for thou hast shown us marvels as he did.
He said to them: Jeschu sendeth you his greeting and saith: I am with my Father in heaven at His right hand, until He shall take vengeance on the Jews, as David said: Sit thou on my right hand, etc.
At the same hour they all lamented and added foolishness to their foolishness.
Elijahu said to them: Jeschu saith to you: Whosoever will be with me in the other world, let him remove himself from the community of Israel and join himself not to them; for my Father in heaven hath already rejected them and from henceforth requireth not their service, for so said He through Isaiah: Your new-moons and feasts my soul hateth, etc.
But Jeschu saith to you: Whosoever will follow me, let him profane the Sabbath, for God hateth it, but instead of it He keepeth the Sunday, for on it God gave light to His world. And for Passover which the Israelites solemnize, keep yet it on the Feast of the Resurrection, for he is risen from his grave; for the Feast of Weeks, Ascension, for on it he is ascended to heaven; for New Year, Finding of the Cross; for the Great Fast Day [Day of Atonement], the Feast of the Circumcision: for Chanuka [the Feast of Lights], Calends [New Year].
The foreskin is naught, circumcision is naught; whosoever will circumcise himself, let him be circumcised; whosoever will not circumcise himself, let him be not circumcised. Moreover, whatsoever God created in the world, from the smallest gnat to the mightiest elephant, pour forth its blood upon the ground and eat it, for so it is written: As the green grass have I given you all. If one of them compel you to go a mile, go with him twain; if a Jew smite you on the left side turn to him the right also; if a Jew revile you, endure it and return it not again, as Jeschu endured it; in meekness he showed himself, therewith he showed you also meekness as he practiced it, that ye might endure all that any should do to you. At the last judgment Jeschu will punish them, but do ye have hope according to your meekness, for so it is written: Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, etc. Until he separated them from Israel
But Elijahu who gave them these laws, the not-good ones, did it for the welfare of Israel, and the Christians call him Paul. After he had introduced these laws and commandments, the erring ones separated themselves from Israel, and the strife ceased.
11. A long time after the Persian power arose; then a Christian departed from them, made a mock of them, just as the heretics had laughed at the wise men [of Israel].
He said to them: Paul was in error in his scripture when he said to you: Circumcise yourselves not—for Jeschu was circumcised. Further hath Jeschu said: I am not come to destroy even one jot from the law of Moses, but to fulfill all his words. And that is your shame, which Paul laid upon you, when he said: Circumcise yourselves not.
But Nestorius said to them: Circumcise yourselves, for Jeschu was circumcised.
Further said Nestorius: Ye heretics! Ye say Jeschu is God, though he was born of a woman. Only the Holy Spirit rested on him as on the prophets.
Nestorius who began to argue with the Christians, persuaded their women; he said to them: I will enact that no Christian take two wives.
But as Nestorius became detestable in their eyes, there arose a strife between them, in so much that no Christian would pray to the abomination of Nestorius, or the followers of Nestorius to the abomination of the Christians.
Then Nestorius went to Babylon to another place, the name of which was Chazaza, and all fled before him, because Nestorius was a violent man.
The women said to him : What requirest thou of us? He answered them: I require only that ye receive from me the bread-and-wine offering.
Now it was the custom of the woman of Chazazd, that they carried large keys in their hands.
He gave one of them the offering; she cast it to the ground. Whereupon the women cast the keys in their hands upon him; smote him, so that he died, and there was for long strife between them.
12. Now the chief of the Sanhedrin, his name was Shimeon Kepha—and why was he called Kepha?
Because he stood on the stone on which Ezekiel had prophesied at the river Kebar, and on that stone it was that Shimeon heard a voice from heaven. When the Christians heard that Shimeon Kepha was one of those who heard a voice from heaven, and that stores of wisdom were in him, they envied the Israelites, that so great a man was found in Israel. . . . God brought it into Shimeon’s mind to go to Jerusalem . . . on the Feast of Tabernacles. And there were gathered together all the bishops and the great ancient of the Christians. They came to Shimeon Kepha to the Mount of Olives on the day of the great Feast of Willow-twigs. When they saw his wisdom, that [there was] not one in Israel like unto him, . . . to turn him to the religion of the Christians, and they constrained him, saying: If thou dost not profess our religion, we will put thee to death, and not leave even one remaining in Israel to go into the sanctuary.
When the Israelites perceived this, they besought him: Humor them, act according to thy wisdom; so shall neither sin nor guilt be on thee.
Thereupon when he perceived the hard fate for Israel, he betook himself to the Christians, and said to them: On this condition do I become a convert to your religion, that ye put no Jew to death, that ye smite him not and suffer him to go in and out in the sanctuary.
The ancient and the Christians accepted his words and all these his conditions. He made a condition with them, that they would build him a lofty tower; he would go into it, would eat no flesh, nor aught save bread and water, letting down a box by a cord, for them to supply him with only bread and water, and he would remain in the tower until his death.
All this he did with respect to God, that he might not be stained and sullied by them, and that he might not mix with them ; but to the Christians he spake in their sense as though he would mourn for Jeschu, and eat no flesh or aught else, but bread and water only.
They built him a tower, and he dwelt therein; he sullied himself not with eating, and prayed not to the Cross.
Afterwards he composed in the tower Keroboth, Jotzroth and Zulthothi in his name, like Eliezer ben Kalir. He sent and gathered together the elders of Israel, and handed over to their care all that he had found in his mind, and charged them that they should teach it to the leaders in prayer and use it for prayers, so that they might make mention of him for good.
They, moreover, sent it to Babylon to Rabbi Nathan, the Prince of the Exile, and they showed it to the heads of the schools, to the Sanhedrin, and they said: It is good, and they taught it to the leaders in prayer of all Israel, and they used it for prayers. Whosoever would mention the name of Shimeon in his chanting did so. May his memory endure to the life of the other world. But God in his mercy …. him as a good defender. Amen ! Sel a!