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Israel | Greece | Rome

Israel | Greece | Rome


FOR a philosophic mind there are not more than three histories of real interest in the past of humanity: Greek history, the history of Israel, and Roman history.

Greece has an exceptional past. Our science, our arts, our literature, our philosophy, our political code, our maritime law, are of Greek origin. The framework of human culture created by Greece is susceptible of indefinite enlargement.

Greece had only one thing wanting in the circle of her moral and intellectual activity, but this was an important void; she despised the humble and did not feel the need of a just God. Her philosophers, while dreaming of the immortality of the soul, were tolerant towards the iniquities of this world. Her religions were merely elegant municipal playthings.

... Israel’s sages burned with anger over the abuses of the world. The prophets were fanatics in the cause of social justice, and loudly proclaimed that if the world was not just, or capable of becoming so, it had better be destroyed—a view which, if utterly wrong, led to deeds of heroism and brought about a grand awakening of the forces of humanity.

One other great humanizing force had to be created—a force powerful enough to beat down the obstacles which local patriotism offered to the idealistic propaganda of Greece and Judea. Rome fulfilled this extraordinary function.

Force is not a pleasant thing to contemplate, and the recollections of Rome will never have the powerful attraction of the affairs of Greece and of Israel; but Roman history is none the less part and parcel of these histories, which are the pivot of all the rest, and which we may call providential.

NONE of the resplendent names in history—Egypt, Athens, Rome—can compare in eternal grandeur with Jerusalem. For Israel has given to mankind the category of holiness. Israel alone has known the thirst for social justice, and that inner saintliness which is the source of justice.

AMONG the theocratic nations of the ancient East, the Hebrews seem to us as sober men in a world of intoxicated beings. Antiquity, however, held them to be the dreamers among waking folk.
H. LOTZE, 1864.

Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz

Beautiful Moments Journal Paperback