ZIONISM is not dying out, as some of its enemies predicted it would. It progresses steadilythe last of its three annual congresses at Basle (Aug., '99) being the best attended of all and one of deep interest. Three hundred representative Jews gathered from all parts of the worldsome of them quite influential rabbis.
Three different sets of ideas prevail among Jews interested in Zionism. Some of them view the matter [R2529 : page 243] as a political measure, believing that the Jew would be more respected if he had a home of his own. Others favor it as a social move essential to the future welfare of Israelites all over Europe: they see a growing Jew-hatred in Russia, Austria, France and Germany, and even some signs of ill-will in England and the United States, and they argue truly that the day is not far distant when a still more open persecution will compel extensive emigrations of Jews to somewhere; and that Palestine has some attractions over and above any other land. The third class views the subject from the religious standpoint, looking longingly for a fulfilment of the promises of God through the prophets, recorded in the Bible. And with this view are more or less intermingled Messianic hopes: some however hold that the nation of Israel restored is to be the Messiah for the other nations. The religious standpoint of interest seems to be growingeven Dr. T. Herzl at one time regarded as an agnostican infidelis of late giving evidence of a deep interest in the movement as a prophetic fulfilment.
The religious view in Zionism is reinforced by practical experience. Baron Hirsch, disregarding the religious or prophetic view, spent millions of dollars in planting Jewish colonies in Argentina, South America, and in New Jersey, U.S., etc., but these are all failures, tho not yet wholly abandoned. On the other hand Baron Rothschild and others planted colonies in Palestine which have flourished exceedingly. If trials and discouragements arise there, they do not utterly dishearten, for the prophetically inspired hope prevents this. It is said that a portion of the Baron Hirsch funds will be hereafter used in Palestine.
The subscriptions to the Zionist Bank stock come in but slowly, however, and mostly from the poorer classes,a little over one-seventh of the L.2,000,000 ($9,750,000) being thus far taken. On this bank fund depends the present project, humanly speaking; for the scheme of the projectors seems to be to use this bank's capital in assisting commercial enterprises in the Holy Land. It is not the intention, as we understand the matter, to collect this money as a banking capital and then to offer the sum to the Turkish government as a purchase price for the freedom of Palestine: no, but to collect the sum and then, showing the facts to the Sultan, to request of him civil, commercial and religious liberty for the Jews in Palestine: guaranteeing him by this sum raised throughout the world that the territory would not be inundated by pauper Jews from whom no revenue could be derived, but by a thrifty, intelligent people, whose yearly taxes would double the imperial revenues from that quarter. When the Lord's time arrives, wealthy Jews will take a hand, and the door to Palestine closed to the Jew since 1891 will be opened.
"A great step in the Zionist movement is the establishment [R2529 : page 244] of our bank. Of this Dr. Wolffson of Cologne is president, and there are seven directors, who founded the bank at a cost of $40,000 and paid the sum out of their private purses. Since the shares of the bank have been placed on sale 300,000 have been sold; $200,000 having been taken in Russia, $40,000 in Roumania and the rest by Jews all over the world, so that now, when asking the Sultan to give Palestine to us, we have a cash guarantee with which to back our good faith.
"When Palestine is ours, every office will be filled by the elective vote of the people. It will be much the Biblical form of government; the head being a governor, supported by a privy council and a legislature. The Jewish authorities will levy taxes, and the people will reap the fruits of them.
"Turkey will derive then a greater revenue from Palestine than she does now. We have great faith in the Turks. No one who has ever lived among them will fail to uphold me when I say that there is no race more honorable nor whose word is more sacred. Their laws, if rightly administered, are even wiser and more liberal than those of the United States. And I say, and have authority for the statement, that the Turkish government never has molested, for religious reasons, a race over which they had power. The Armenians brought their troubles on themselves. Jerusalem and Palestine now are downtrodden by the Turkish officials, but unscrupulous officials are to be found in every land.
"Jerusalem is, unfortunately, a kind of a festering sore. It is there, first of all places, that 'sanitation' must take place. It is filled with beggars and with old men who have gone to lay their bones there. When my people went to Palestine, I said to them, 'Go north, for in the south are those who have gone there to die. You go to live.' In Jerusalem three religions meet, and that is a ticklish thing, and mixed with it is the depravity of the officials, living on money extorted from those under them.
"It will be a flood. They will go in millions: that is the great danger. The persecution of the race has spurred them on. They are enthusiastic nowthen they will be wild. It will be a rush that I tremble to think of. Why, our shares, now placed on sale, are being bought up by people all over the world. They are being taken by men in the mines of Siberia, in South Africa, in Russia, in the west, the United States. When a London Jew has put aside a pound he comes and buys a share, and so it is all over the world. It is the poor Jews who are buying the shares, not the rich ones. The rich are not all with us. Our movement makes them remember the past of their race, and they do not wish to remember it. They have for years been trying to open the door of society with a gold key, and they want society to forget their history. They argue against us, and say that patriotism to their native land would interfere with their new nationalism.
"We must find some way of checking this rush to Palestine when it comes. When the Jews realize that there is a landand that their mother countrywith Jews forming its government and peopled by their race, Europe will be almost depopulated by them. And when we have gone, Europe will look around her in bewilderment. The war between capital and labor is comingit is now begun, and the Jew in Europe is its natural scapegoat. When that scapegoat is gone the two powers will have to face each other.
"And nothing except Palestine will satisfy us. At Basle, when Mr. Trietsch, the American, asked for my support of his scheme to form a Jewish colony in Cyprus, I said: 'That plan now has advantages over a hasty colonization of Palestine, and I will aid you in it, but not under the flag of Zionism. Zionism means Palestine, or it means nothing.' And when he proposed his plans before the congress, the people were enraged. No sooner was his purpose put into words than every delegate was on his feet, crying as one man, 'Down with him!"
Many exaggerated statements are made respecting the numbers of Jews now in Jerusalem and Palestine: old reports are taken as a basis of a guess-work calculationin ignorance of or overlooking the fact that no Jews have been allowed to locate in Palestine for more than six years. The Hebrew Almanac, published in Jerusalem in 1897, gives that city's population as 45,420composed of 28,112 Jews, 8500 Mohammedans and 8780 Christians. The population of the whole land is estimated at 650,000, and of these about one-twelfth are Jews, viz., 55,000.
"Anti-Semitic riots broke out at Halleschau, Moravia, yesterday evening. Jewish houses were stoned, stores were pillaged, a house was burned and the gendarmes charged the rioters, killing three persons, and injuring several others. The military finally restored order."
Strange to say, the basis of these persecutions is the old charge of using Christian blood for baking, for washing and for religious ritual,the same charges brought against these innocent people in the persecutions of the long ago, without a shadow of reason. If the word blood were used figuratively as when we speak of blood-money, there would perhaps be something in it: but literal blood is meant and charged, of course by ignorant people.
Rabbi Doctor Gudeman, Jewish leader in Vienna, who opposed the Zionist movement, is now astounded and is holding public meetings at which he makes oath that nothing in the Jewish ritual sanctions blood, and points out that the Jewish law in every sense is to the contrarypointing out that all Christians have that same law in their Bibles and well know that it sanctions nothing of the kind. Speaking of the charge the Rabbi characterized it as "low, shameless falsification of the truth," and has drawn against himself considerable bitterness. Perhaps thus the Lord is teaching him and [R2529 : page 245] others the necessity for Zionism. We expect much more persecution before the Jews get thoroughly awake to the fact that "the time to favor Zion" is at hand.
Scientists and "higher critics" have for years been declaring the Bible narrative incorrect, especially its chronology;that the histories of China and of Egypt proved this conclusively, showing that the world is several thousand years older than the Bible chronology would indicate (now 6027 years A.M.). Great stress has been laid on the testimony of papyrus records found in ancient Egyptian cities, whose ruins are being exhumed: these proved the XII. Dynasty of Egypt, [R2530 : page 245] according to M. Maretta, to have held sway in 3064 B.C. or about six hundred years before the Bible's date for the floodwith no destruction of those ruins by the waters of the flood and no record of a blotting out of Egypt's population. According to Prof. Lepsius the XII. Dynasty of Egypt flourished B.C. 2380 or about 88 years after the deluge date furnished by the Bible's chronology: and of course it would be impossible for eleven dynasties to have flourished in so short a period and for Egypt to be the great country it evidently was at that timewith its pyramids already built. Hence "science" laughed the Bible to scorn and ridiculed the idea of divine providence in its preparation.
But now, what? The ruins of Egypt are contradicting the scientists and confirming in a general way the Bible chronology, by the showing of papyrus documents that were written during the reign of Usertesen III. of the XII. Dynasty of Egypt, and prove their date to be 1872 B.C. (possibly 1876)six hundred years after the Bible's date for the deluge* and about fifteen years before Joseph was sold into Egypt.
"The first fixed date in human history has been discovered. It is disclosed in Egyptian papyri nearly 4000 years old. Announcement of its discovery has just been made at the twelfth international congress of orientalists, now being held in this city.
"Last winter Dr. Borchardt, scientific attache of the German legation in Cairo, and Dr. Shaefer, assistant director of the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, discovered a mass of papyri near the pyramid of Usertesen III. at Illahun, about fifty miles above Cairo and about 175 miles above the mouth of the Nile.
"These papyri have proved of the greatest interest. They consist of a series of temple archives and records of temple administration in the twelfth dynasty, about 2000 years before Christ. They have been deposited in the Royal Museum at Berlin, and there Dr. Borchardt has spent the past summer in giving them a preliminary examination and classifying them.
"The lists of temple offerings and temple officials are chiefly of interest to the specialist, but there are many letters from one official to another particularly interesting as showing how these functionaries did business in the days of Abraham.
"It is of one particular letter in this collection, however, that I wish to speakthe letter by means of which the date referred to is established. There was no more important religious feast among the Egyptians than the celebration of the rising of the star Sirius, or, as the Greeks called this star, Sothis. It is easy to understand, therefore, why the chief temple-official should write the accompanying letter. It is in hieratic, that is, the handwriting of the ancient Egyptians, as distinguished from the elaborate hieroglyphic used in stone inscriptions. I translate the essential portions of a letter sent to Pepy-hetep, the chief ritual priest, twenty days before the rising of Sothis, in order to give him ample time to make ready for the feast:
"'Copy of the letter...which the prince, the overseer of the temple, Nub-Kau-Re, sent, saying to the chief ritual priest, Pepy-hetep: "Take note that the rising of Sothis occurs in the fourth winter month, on the xvith day. Give notice to the lay priests...and post this letter upon the bulletin board of the temple."
"The feast was duly celebrated by the chief ritual priest on the 16th, and on the 17th he made note of the various offerings consumed at the feast, as follows:"'Year vii., fourth winter month, xviith day....Gifts of the feast of the rising of Sothis: 200 various loaves, 60 jars of beer...'
"When this fact is established the chronological reckoning is very simple. The Egyptian calendar year contained 365 days, being one-fourth of one day shorter than the astronomical year. The calendar year therefore gained a quarter of a day each year on the astronomical year, or an entire day every four years. This can be made very simple in this way: Suppose we have a clock which gains a quarter of an hour every day. In four days it will have gained an hour, and in eight days two hours, etc. You will see that by comparing this clock with correct time and exactly measuring the gain, you can instantly compute how long it took the clock to make that gain. It is just so here. The occurrence of the rising of Sothis, an astronomical event, is here given in terms of the calendar year; we can thus check off this calendar and tell how far it has run ahead of real time, as we did with the fast running clock. Doing so, we find it has run ahead in all four months and nineteen days. The question now is, how long did it take the calendar to gain four months and nineteen days at the rate of a day every four years?
"Without going into the reckoning further I will only say that the result brings us either to 1872 or 1876 B.C., a margin of four years being unavoidable. [R2530 : page 246] "This is the oldest fixed date in human history. There are dates which belong at least 1000 [?] years earlier in Egyptian history, but we are unable to fix [!] them; they may be anywhere within a period of 500 or 600 years, so wide apart are the limits of possible variation.
"The date of Sargon I. in Babylonian history claimed as fixed at 3750 B.C. by many Assyriologists is supported by only one document, written over 3200 years later than the date which it is quoted to support, and as far removed in time from the date of Sargon, as Queen Victoria is from Moses. It is properly looked upon with distrust by many orientalists.
"But the date 1872 (or 1876) B.C. established by the new papyri rests upon contemporary evidence. There is no doubt of its correctness; and with this remarkable discovery we enter upon a new epoch in the chronology of oriental history.
"To Chicagoans this discovery is of especial interest, for the new date belongs to the reign of the same king whose funeral barge (or that of his family) is in the Field Museum. All will recollect the large Egyptian barge standing in the east hall of the museum. It was acquired by the enterprise of Mr. Ayer and the generosity of Mrs. McCormick. The king to whose funeral furniture this barge belongs was a Usertesen III. of the twelfth dynasty.
"The second document is dated in his seventh yearthat is, 1872 or 1876 B.C. From the middle of the nineteenth century B.C. to the end of the nineteenth century A.D. the barge lay covered by the Sahara sands beside the king's pyramid, some thirty miles above Cairo. In 1894, after its discovery by De Morgan, it was removed to Cairo and thence to Chicago. This now certain date of the barge is several centuries later than that posted on the large gilded sign hanging over it in the museum.
"Of course the announcement of this new date created great interest among the members of the congress. Unfortunately, Dr. Borchardt was called away by official duties in Egypt before the date for reading his paper announcing his discovery. The paper was read by Prof. Erman, in Borchardt's absence, and Professor Erman accepted for him the warm congratulations of the congress.Rome, Oct. 14th, 1899."