|Part One||Franz Kobler
"The Vision Was There"
and the Creation
of the State of Israel
|Contents by Subject||
Contents in Alphabetical Order
Yet He at length, time to himself best known
Remembering Abraham, by some wondrous call
May bring them back repentent and sincere,
And at their passing cleave the Assyrian flood,
While to their native land with joy they haste,
As the Red Sea and Jordan once He cleft,
When to the Promised Land their fathers pass'd
To his due time and providence I leave them.
Israel will be restored, not by conquest but by "some wondrous call" following the repentence of the people. Of the event itself Milton had no doubt. He apparently even accepted the millenarian theory of the drying up of the Euphrates for the benefit of the returning Tribes. That this was more than a poet's fancy is evident from various passages of Milton's great theological work De Doctrina Christiana which appeared only in 1825.
A book published six years after Paradise Regained was, as its striking title Israel Redux or the Restoration of Israel indicates, entirely devoted to the subject of the Restoration. The author, Samuel Lee, a notable scholar, was the first to rescue from oblivion Giles Fletcher's treatise on the Lost Tribes (see p. 19) by incorporating its text in his book. In the preface of his own treatise Lee makes it clear that he starts out from the irrefutable premise "that the Israelites shall as certainly return to, as ever they went out of their Ancient Land, for the Mouth of the Lord hath spoken it". The object of the research, therefore, is no longer to determine whether the Restoration will come to pass. Lee discusses instead its juridical, historical and geographic premises.
In Lee's view, the divine covenant with Abraham and the other patriarchs was a legal charter. He has no hesitation in interpreting the divine promise (mainly Gen. xv, 18-21) literally and in accepting the boundaries mentioned in these verses as the frontiers of the future Jewish realm.
Samuel Lee's treatise is indicative of the now realistic trend in this field. Only ten years after the publication of Israel Redux there appeared a strange publication: The Jews' Jubilee or the Conjunction and Resurrection of the Dry Bones of the whole House of Israel; which respects their Return unto their own Land, and their Universal Conversion unto the Christian Faith. The author himself described the contents of the pamphlet as "the Sum and Substance of a Prophecy" that was revealed by him in London on January 20, 1687, to two Jews with a Spanish Protestant as witness. Conversion was for the author the first step to Restoration. The messianic era and Restoration would then follow, the enemies of the Jews would become their friends who, instead of hindering them, would help them.
Eccentric, and indeed grotesque, as this attempt to influence the destiny of the Jewish people by converting two English Jews may appear today, it was characteristic of the development of the Restoration Movement. The lack of a State of their own was recognised as the principal cause of the undignified condition to which the Jewish people was reduced. At the same time the vision of the Restoration was elevated above vague speculations by the forecast that the return of the Jews to their homeland would be aided by the temporal power.
The attempt embodied in The Jews Jubilee was by no means an isolated episode in those days. Almost simultaneously, in 1686, Pierre Jurieu, a leading French Protestant, divine who had been ordained in England, published his L'Accomplissement des Propheties, in which he visualised the re-establishment of the Jewish kingdom not later than the end of the century.
Ten years later, in 1696, on the eve of the Peace Conference at Ryswick, the Danish visionary, Holger Paulli, submitted to King William III a detailed plan for the conquest of Palestine and the re-establishment of the Jewish state, addressing the King of England as "Cyrus the Great and the Almighty's instrument thanks to whom the trite Phoenix, the last Temple, shall be born from the ashes of Herod's Temple". Holger Paulli's bold attempt to associate restorationist aspirations with current political events is memorable as a bizarre anticipation of a stage which the Restoration Movement was to reach only by a long process.
Within that process, Thomas Burnet (c. 1635-1715), the imaginative Master of Charterhouse, holds an important place. In his Dantesque Treatise concerning the State of Departed Souls, before, and at, and after Resurrection, Burnet included a special Digression concerning the State of the Jews in the Millennium, or the future Kingdom of the Messiah, which he later enlarged to an extensive Appendix de Futura Judaeorum Restauratione published with a posthumous edition of the Treatise. Burnet rejected politics as a means for provoking millenarian changes, but by presenting the Restoration of the Jews as the climax of an inevitable world process, he strengthened confidence in its coming and helped to implant in his contemporaries and in later generations the belief in the return of the Jews to their homeland.
The most eloquent confirmation of the firm hold which the Restoration idea had taken in the minds of the English thinkers on the threshold of the age of Enlightenment are the writings of John Locke and Isaac Newton. The author of the Essay on Human Understanding, John Locke, expressed his belief in the Restoration of the Jews in his Commentaries on St. Paul's Epistles, thus: "God is able to collect them into one Body . . . and set them in flourishing condition in their own Land". Newton's views on this subject are even more explicit. He hoped, by a progressive check on scriptural prophecies, to probe their mystery and to gain some insight into the future. Following this method, Newton, in his Observations upon the prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John, published in 1733 (five years after his death), arrives at the conclusion that the passage in the Book of Daniel ix, 25, is a prophecy yet unfulfilled. He tried to lift the mysterious veil which surrounds this verse in the memorable conjecture "that 'the commandment to return' may perhaps come forth not from the Jews themselves, but from some other kingdom friendly to them".
With this cautiously formulated "Observation" historical-political reality entered the Restoration Doctrine. Newton tried to predict with considerable accuracy a limited order of events, expecting the intervention of an earthly power in the destiny of the dispersed people, an intervention that will cause its Restoration. But declining to make more particular assertions regarding the event itself, he concludes cautiously: "The manner I know not. Let time be the interpreter".
William Whiston (1667-1752), Newton's temporary successor to the Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge, was another prominent spokesman of the Movement. It was characteristic of this religious revivalist and translator of Josephus that he felt personally concerned in the resurrection of the Jewish Nation. In his Memoirs (1753), the coming Millennium and Restoration of the Jews were recurrent themes. A memorable entry -of Whitsunday, June 7, 1747- records that on that day he "called to mind a very remarkable prophecy of Isaiah's concerning the restoration of the Jews (Ix 9-10) 'Surely the isles wait for Me, and the ships of Tarshish (the Mediterranean sea, Jonah i, 3) first to bring thy sons from far'," and concluded from it "that the first return of the Jews shall be by ships, passing along the Mediterranean, from remote islands: which agrees to no nation so expressly, as to the British nation..." With this association between the Restoration of the Jews and England's foreign policy, a new element, destined to have a lasting effect upon its subsequent development, had been added to the Restoration Doctrine.
The ranks of the restorationists were strengthened by the accession of devout evangelists such as Philipp Doddridge (1702-1751) -who hoped for a speedy Restoration of the Jews as a great religious mystery -and Bishop Richard Hurd (1720-1808), author of An Introduction to the Prophecies (1772). Wesleyan Methodism, too, imparted a strong impulse to the Movement, though not so much through original theological interpretations as by the poetic achievement of John Wesley's brother Charles, who sang his belief in the Millennium and Israel's restoration in many an inspired verse.
Samuel Collet's Treatise on the Future Restoration of the Jews and Israelites to their own Land, published in 1746, regarded the Restoration solely in the light of Jewish Messianism and expressly excluded the question of conversion to Christianity.
In Collet's realistic view the return of the twelve tribes would be a gradual process spread over a long period. He, too, expected some Commandment to cause them to return from their present Dispersion and to build Jerusalem, which would, however, at first be obeyed only by a section of, the people; the early settlers would enjoy a period of peace and prosperity, thus attracting the rest of the people to Palestine. Yet the first period would be followed by one of hard struggle with "invading Turks". In describing the process of rebuilding, Collet assumed the existence of agricultural settlements.
In 1749 the question of the Restoration of the Jews was for the first time subjected to a systematic scrutiny within a scientific work of a general character. In his Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty and His Expectations, David Hartley, the renowned physician and philosopher, devoted a special section to the "Expectation of Bodies Politic, the Jews in particular, and the world in General during the Present State of the Earth". By this inclusion of the Jews among "the bodies politic" Harley acknowledged that, despite their dispersion, the Jews constituted a united political entity and shared a common destiny. Moreover, by incorporating the religious idea of Restoration into the structure of his philosophical system, Hartley made a truly historic contribution to the Restoration Movement. Starting out from arguments based on the Prophets, he adds to them seven historical, sociological and psychological arguments.. Only the first two assertions concerning the national distinction of the Jewish people and their dispersal derive from religious tradition, while others testify to Hartleys critical faculty and powers of observation. He saw the Jewish people not as a scattered and disintegrating mass -"a fossil", as Arnold Toynbee saw fit to call Israel in our own day -but as a living organism held together by common language ("Rabbinic Hebrewe") and extensive correspondence. With astonishing foresight he recognised these links as important factors likely to assist the Restoration. The listing of reasons justifying the hope of Restoration is rounded off with a reference to the Messianic hopes entertained by the Jews themselves. For the first time these hopes were interpreted not merely as a religious phenomenon but also as a historical force.
Shortly after the publication of Collet's and Hartley's contributions to the development of the Restoration idea, the Jews became an object of general political interest in England. In 1753 Pelhani's "Bill granting naturalisation to all British Jews on application to Parliament" was passed but, in face of vehement anti-Jewish agitation, both Houses revoked the Bill in the following year. The Restoration Movement played a considerable part in these campaigns. The opponents tried to prove that, pending their return to Palestine, the Jews could lay no claim to another homeland, but the idea of Restoration was advanced in some quarters in support of the Bill. The most remarkable publication of this trend was the anonymous tract The Full and Final Restoration of the Jews and Israelites, evidently set forth to be nigh at hand: with their happy settlement in their own Land, when the Messiah will establish his glorious Kingdom upon earth and begin the Millennium; with some hints that the late Act for the Naturalisation of the Jews, may contribute towards their more easy and speedy departure Addressed to all Christians as well as Jews (1753). Clearly influenced by Whiston, the author urged England to identify her realm with the remote island mentioned in prophecy and at once to accomplish the Restoration of the Jews to Palestine.
Of quite a different character was an important theological work by Thomas Newton, later Bishop of Bristol, which strongly influenced subsequent development. His Dissertations on the Prophecies which have remarkably been fulfilled and at this time are fulfilling in the World appeared in 1754. While paying a fine tribute to the indestructibility of Israel, he stressed that conversion must precede Restoration. Other representatives of this school were John Gill, renowned for his extensive and profound knowledge of Rabbinic literature, John Jortin, the biographer of Erasmus of Rotterdam, and Robert Lowth, Lord Bishop of London, who treated the subject of Restoration in his commentary on Isaiah. The return of the conversionist element was also accompanied by a tendency to allegoric interpretations of the Prophecies. William Warburton in his Divine Legation of Moses went so far as to say: "The Jews vainly flatter themselves with expectations of a recovery of their civil policy and a repossession of the Land of Judaea".. It is evidence for the vitality of the Restoration Doctrine that new defenders of it appeared at this stage of its development. In 1771, Joseph Eyre, a clergyman, published his Observations upon the Prophecies, relating to the Restoration of the Jews. With an appendix in answer to the objections of some later writers. Eyre dismissed Warburton's arguments as untenable and placed on record that "there are some indeed who are of opinion that the restoration of the Jews shall be prior to their conversion".
In 1787 Joseph Priestley, already then world renowned as naturalist, philosopher and theologian, published his Letters to the Jews, inviting them to an amicable discussion of the evidences of Christianity. Priestley was a Unitarian and thought that the barrier between Judaism and Christianity was not insurmountable. Being also a profound believer in the Messianic mission of the Jewish people, he was convinced that the Jews would fulfill it once they were settled again in their homeland. His plea to the Jews to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah was therefore coupled with the ardent prayer that "the God of Heaven, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whom we Christians as well as you worship (and whom we have learned from you to worship) may be graciously pleased to put an end to [your sufferings], gather you from all nations, resettle you in your own country, the land of Canaan and make you the most illustrious of all nations of the earth".
David Levi, a shoemaker turned hatter who had translated the Pentateuch into English, responded to Priestley's appeal by publishing in the same year a rejoinder, Letters to Dr. Priestley, in answer to those he addressed to the Jews. The book reflects the revulsion of the faithful Jew from accepting the doctrine of a Messiah already come but also reveals how anemic had become the Messianic hope of even many devout Jews in the era of Enlightenment. In Levi's opinion, the exile was likely to be prolonged for an immeasurably long time. While attributing to the Messianic idea as such an exclusively consolatory role, he maintained that the Jewish people would fulfill its mission of redemption while scattered rather than on returning to its homeland.
The irony of a clergyman defending the tenets of the Restoration doctrine against the famous theologians of the epoch, while a celebrated Christian scholar argued with a Jewish layman about the return of the Jews to their home-land, was not the only paradox of the historic moment which terminated an epoch of the Restoration Movement. The most striking paradox of that phase of the Movement was that the idea which for two centuries had stirred the imagination of many English thinkers and poets had remained virtually unknown to its political leaders. The fall of the Ottoman Empire, which restorationists regarded as inevitable, was by no means desired by the British government. Indeed, William Pitt, whose rise coincides with the last phase of the period under discussion, initiated the Eastern policy aimed at the preservation of Turkey. This contradiction was bound to impair for a long time to come the translation of the Restoration idea into reality visualised as England's task by the most far-sighted representatives of the Movement.
II. THE MILLENARIAN REVIVAL IN THE ERA OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
No event since the Great Civil War had given so powerful an impulse to the British Restoration Movement as the unprecedented upheaval into which Europe was thrown by the French Revolution, by the ensuing wars and by the rise of Napoleon. History seemed to have assumed apocalyptic proportions, with one kingdom after another being broken up and institutions believed immutable exposed to shattering blows. It had indeed become difficult for students of the prophecies not to find references to these happenings in Daniel or the Revelation.
In November 1790, Richard Beere, rector of Sandbroke, appealed to William Pitt, the Prime Minister, to assist in bringing about the impending "final restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land" by keeping the Fleet in the alert "until a universal peace can be established". Richard Beere rightly sensed that Palestine must become embroiled in historic conflict and that the English Navy would have to defend it against the French, as, in fact, nine years later Nelson and Sidney Smith did.
While this rare piece of millenarian diplomacy remained a scarcely noticed episode, the hardly credible bizarre prophet Richard Brothers, "Prince of the Hebrews", dominated the scene of the Restoration Movement soon after the outbreak of hostilities between England and revolutionary France. Brothers, a former British naval officer, tried to prove in his book A Revealed Knowledge of the Prophecies and Times . . . that the French Revolution was the calamity foretold by Scripture and must therefore succeed. The Millennium and "the restoration of the Hebrews" the "visible Hebrews" as well as the "invisible Hebrews", descendants of the Ten Tribes, now chiefly members of the English nation -were at hand. He, Richard Brothers, would lead the Hebrews back to their land and accomplish the restoration in 1798. The Revealed Knowledge became one of the most widely read books of the time.
What substantially contributed to the belief in Brothers was the puzzling rightness of his prediction about the inevitable and utter defeat of France's enemies. More surprisingly still, in 1798 the world was startled by the news that a huge army of the Mamelukes had been completely routed at the foot of the Pyramids. The year 1798 had scarcely gone by when Bonaparte invaded Palestine. On March 18, 1799, he stood before Acre, and on April 16, at the foot of. Mount Tabor, he defeated an army which had been sent from Damascus to relieve Acre. After this victory, Bonaparte, sure of becoming the master of Palestine, issued a Proclamation to "the rightful heirs of Palestine", offering to the Jewish nation their ancestral land, "Israel's patrimony". The Proclamation closed with an appeal to the Jews to make use of "the moment, which may not return for thousands of years, to claim their political existence as a nation among the nations. . . ." But Bonaparte, hard pressed by the stubborn defenders of Acre and by the plague, had to retreat to Egypt in May 1799.
Nowhere were these events watched with closer attention than among the adherents of the British Movement for the Restoration of the Jews. On the eve of the 1798 Expedition, a manifesto had been published on the Continent in the form of a Letter to the Brethren. In it the author, probably an Italian Jew, proposed the election of a representative Jewish assembly in order to conduct negotiations with the French Government about the Restoration of a Jewish commonwealth. The Letter was enthusiastically approved by the French press and soon reached England. On June 10, 1798, the Courier de Londres reproduced the appeal in full. The widely circulated literary magazine The Monthly Visitor reprinted the manifesto under the title: "Letter recently written from a Jew to his Brethren concerning the establishment of a new Jewish Republic". The publication of the full text by the semi-official St. James' Chronicle on July 14, 1799, lent even greater significance to this document.
The great debate about the Restoration was by then in full swing. In Remarks on the Signs of the Times which appeared in 1798, Edward King interpreted the happenings in France and in the Near East as a fulfillment of Isaiah xviii. King's remarks gave expression to the feelings of many, but the prospect of the return of the Jews with the help of the "atheistic" French with whom England was at war caused considerable alarm. The stir caused by King's book can best be judged from the fact that Samuel Horsley, Lord Bishop of Rochester, replied at length in Critical disquisitions on the eighteenth Chapter of Isaiah (1799). The, Bishop, while rejecting King's political conclusions, did not deny the possibility of a "partial restoration". In this manner, the King-Horsley controversy disposed of the view' that the Restoration and conversion were indissolubly linked.
Foremost among the pioneers of this new realistic theory was Henry Kett, who in his three-volume History, the Interpreter of Prophecy (1799) drew a clear distinction between the physical return of the Jews and the religious implications of this event. "Is it an improbable conjecture" he asked, "...that this maritime commercial, Protestant kingdom England should take the lead in executing the Divine will on such an occasion?"
At this juncture, Joseph Priestley, the great scientist, again resumes the role of a pioneer of the Restoration Movement. In his book A Comparison of the Institutions of Moses with those of the Hindoos and other ancient Nations, published in 1799, Priestley addressed the "Descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacobs":
"Palestine, the glory of all lands, which is now part of the Turkish empire, is almost without inhabitants, it is wholly uncultivated, empty and ready to receive you. But till the fall of this power, which, without deriving any advantage from it, keeps possession of that country, it is impossible that it can be yours. I, therefore, earnestly pray for its dissolution."
He saw manifest symptoms of the time of Restoration being at hand. "But when I say 'at hand'," he added, "I do not mean this year or the next, or the next twenty or thirty years: for what are twenty or thirty years to the duration of your sufferings, and especially to that of your future prosperity?"
Contemporaneously with Priestley's message, Thomas Corbet, one of the United Irishmen, and a friend of revolutionary France, undertook the bold attempt to promote the Restoration through a direct approach to the French Government. Cheered by the glorious progress of, Bonaparte's expedition, he expressed the opinion that there was only one prospective ally in sight, one whose "interests and desires were in accordance" with those of the French and Irish: the dispersed people of the Jews. Writing from Lorient on February 17, 1799, he submitted to Paul Barras, the powerful member of the Directory, a project that "France may grant to the Jewish people a territory on which, to lay the foundation of their restored republic". In an elaborate memorandum, Corbet suggested negotiations with Jewish representatives about the purchase of that portion of Egypt which adjoins the Isthmus and the Red Sea. Faithful to the prophecies, they would soon push further ahead, leaving Egypt to the influence of France, while carrying into Asia European industry, arts and enlightenment. Thomas Corbet's attempt to co-ordinate the efforts for the Restoration of the Jews with those for Ireland's independence holds a unique place in the history of the British Restoration Movement.
The transformation which the Restorationist tenets were rapidly undergoing in these momentous years obviously called for a restatement of the Movement's principles and programme. Appearing in 1800, The Restoration of the Jews -the Crisis of all nations, by its title alone indicated the intention of the author, James Bicheno, to present the Restoration of the Jews as one of the world problems then awaiting solution. With a logic hitherto foreign to Restoration literature Bicheno applied political criteria and was at pains to elucidate the principles of the doctrine. He declared with great emphasis that he was speaking on behalf of a centuries-old movement supported by "the brightest luminaries of the Christian Church in all ages" and went on to quote from Isaac Newton, William Whiston, Dr. Hartley, Thomas Newton, Joseph Priestley and others. Bicheno thought that the Restoration was due "in these days" and that it was not conditional upon the conversion of the Jews. Bonaparte appeared to him not as the Anti-Christ but as an instrument, albeit an unconscious and reluctant one, of Divine will. This is his proposal:
Let the rulers of this country use their influence with the Porte [i.e. rulers of the Turkish Ottoman Empire] to give up that part of their territory from which the Jews have been expelled, to its rightful owners, and thus whilst they perform the most generous of deeds, do all they can at least to prevent those possible consequences, which, were they to take place, would prove most fatal to our government and commerce.
His proposal recalled the scheme conceived in 1797 by the Prince de Ligne for the establishment of a Jewish state within the Turkish Empire. Seen in conjunction with other contemporary projects, Bicheno's book, though basically religious in character, emerges as a synthesis of all the existing tendencies of his time towards a political realisation of Restoration. .
In the same year Thomas Witherby published his Observations on Mr. Bicheno's book entitled "The Restoration of the Jews -the Crisis of all nations", a work of more than 300 pages, dedicated "To the Jews' Distinguished Nation", in which he proved himself no less enthusiastic a Restorationist than Bicheno. But he rejected all interference in current world politics and, more specifically, any alliance with a Power "which had turned away from God", ' i.e., revolutionary France. In his opinion, only an inner transformation of the Jewish Nation and the fulfillment of the tasks assigned to it by Providence would, through the medium of a Christian Power, bring about the Restoration. Three years later he further developed his views in a second work, Attempt to remove Prejudices concerning the Jewish Nation. In it he maintained that the simultaneous existence of Jewish groups in the Diaspora and in Palestine was unavoidable but not contradictory, in other words, that civic equality and the national claim to Restoration were not incompatible. At the same time he felt confident that England under a "new Cyrus" would be chosen to perform "God's purposes of mercy towards Israel".
Bicheno's conviction was not shaken by the opposition which his theory encountered. In a new edition of his book, published in 1807, he not only reprinted the Letter to the Brethren but also inserted a brief history of the Jewish people from the first dispersion until the convocation of Napoleon's Great Sanhedrin (October 6, 1806). In his opinion, this act constituted only one link in the chain of events which were to bring about the Restoration of the Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine. The same view was expressed by F. D. Kirwan in his preface to the English translation of the report on the sessions of the Sanhedrin, published in 1807.
Thus, even in the heat of the war between England and France, some of the British Restorationists expected the realisation of their ideal through Bonaparte himself.
III. THE MOVEMENT GATHERS STRENGTH
The impetus given to the Restoration Movement by Bonaparte's Oriental Expedition continued to be felt in the first decades of the nineteenth century. The Restoration seemed to have come within perceptible distance: all that remained doubtful was its exact date and the manner of its realisation. At the same time, however, the "Judaising" tendency, ascribed to the founders of the new trend, was counterbalanced by a strengthening of conversionism -a phenomenon deriving from the general evangelising drive of the period. Louis Mayer who, in his Restoration of the Jews published in 1806, predicted that the Restoration of the Jews will be accomplished in or before the year 1815 is an example of neo-millenarian boldness, while the neo-conversionist tendency can best be illustrated by a passage from The Rise, Fall and Future Restoration of the Jews, 4 to which are annexed six sermons, addressed to the seed of Abraham by several evangelical ministers concluding with an elaborate discourse by the late Dr. Hunter:
It is indeed now pretty generally agreed upon by the learned that we are warranted by the Scriptures to expect a national conversion of the Jews and their return to their own land; and the chief thing which has prejudiced so many persons against this hypothesis is that some divines have carried it too far, almost to the restitution of Judaism itself...
The outstanding figure among the many restorationist writers was George Stanley Faber (1773-1854). Faber was still young when in 1799 he delivered at the University of Oxford -where almost two centuries earlier John Prideaux had ridiculed the millenarian views of Sir Henry Finch -two sermons "to explain by recent events five of the Seven Vials mentioned in Revelation". His first book appeared in 1807 in two volumes and bore the title : A Dissertation on the Prophecies that have been fulfilled, are now fulfilling, or will hereafter be fulfilled, relative to the Great Period of 1260 years: the Papal and Mahommedan Apostacies; the Tyrannical Reign of Antichrist, or the infidel Power and the Restoration of the Jews. Scarcely a year elapsed before Faber published another two volumes comprising over 700 pages: General and connected View on the Prophecies relative to the conversion, Restoration, Union, and future Glory of the House of Judah and Israel. . . . The great events which followed prompted him to supplement the Dissertation by observations and additions. There appeared a second edition of this work, amplified by a third volume, which was published as a kind of postscript to the Napoleonic epoch during 1814-1818. Faber predicted a conflagration between an Antichristian Confederacy headed by France, and a Protestant maritime Power, both of which would attempt to restore the Jews, though only the former would try to resettle them in an "unconverted state ".
Faber's fame has eclipsed the imposing output of his contemporaries like John Fry, author of the much discussed The Second Advent; the forceful Scottish preacher, Edward Irving; the noted writer William Cunninghame, whose Letters and Essays contained a study concerning The Literal Restoration of Israel to their own Land, and the evangelical preacher Hugh McNeile, subsequently Dean of Ripon, who, in 1830, published his Popular Lectures on the Prophecies relative to the Jewish Nation. An anonymous writer, though an, opponent of the Restoration Movement, became a telling, witness to its importance by publishing the Objections to the doctrine of Israel's future Restoration to Palestine, in twelve letters to a friend, in which he admitted
" ... That the doctrine of Israel's restoration to Palestine is a popular one that it has been favoured by some of the wisest, most learned, and best men in the Church of Christ, and that it is still maintained by the majority of Christians."
But the most original literary document of the period was a slim tract, Call to the Christians and the Hebrews published in 1819 by Theaetetus. The anonymous author envisaged the re-establishment of the Jews through peaceful co-operation of Christians and Jews. His enthusiastic appeal to Britain to "assume the glorious enterprise" was coupled with a similar call to the Jews. It was the first call for Zionist activity sounded by a British Restorationist.
In 1807, the "London Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews" was established. The founders of the Society, although adopting the belief "that the, prophecies which relate to the Restoration of the Jews will not be less faithfully accomplished" than those which had been already fulfilled, explicitly dissociated themselves from the political wing of the Restorationists. Thomas Scott, editor of the popular Bible with explanatory notes, in a sermon delivered to the Society on June 13, 1810, attempted to strike a compromise between the Society's missionary activities and the Restoration idea. But the strongest impulse to combine the evangelising and conversionist tendency of the Movement with immediate political activity came from Lewis Way, millenarian and romantic, lawyer, theologian, preacher, poet and diplomat. When, in 1804, at the age of 32, he inherited a large fortune, he was so struck by the mysterious clause "For the Glory of God" in his benefactor's will that he took up the study of theology and joined the "Evangelical School". At that time, Jane Parminter, became one of the first women to join the ranks of the Restoration Movement. Feeling great sympathy for the Jews, she believed in their Restoration and proved it by leaving instructions concerning a group of oaks on her Devonshire estate at Exmouth. "These oaks shall remain and no human hand shall touch them until such time as Israel shall return into the Promised Land". Lewis Way learned of this last wish from a friend in whose company he was riding past the Parminter estate in 1811, a few weeks after Jane's death. It made him feel that his vocation had at last been revealed to him.
The new "Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews" seemed to him the proper medium through which to work on behalf of the Jews. In 1815, he turned over a part of his fortune to the Society and placed himself entirely at its service. It was mainly thanks to him that the Society adopted the Restoration idea as a fundamental principle and became a repository of the doctrine.
In September 1818 a Conference of the members of the Holy Alliance met at Aix-la-Chapelle to discuss a European settlement. Way went to Aix and submitted a "Memoir sur l'etat des Israelites", to Czar Alexander I whom he had managed, on a journey through Russia, to interest in his scheme for the establishment in South Russia of settlements for baptised Jews.
In his memorandum Way was anxious to combine civic and national emancipation. Way argued that the Jews should be given emancipation, but without interfering with their national status, and expressed the hope that the Powers assembled at Aix would act in this sense. Czar Alexander in fact instructed his representatives to lay the memorandum before the Congress. But the only record is a brief note in the minutes of the Congress signed by all the participants, taking notice with a complimentary reference to the author of the "attached printed document on the subject of a reform of civil and political legislation in regard to the Jewish people".
Even so, Way's appearance in Aix-la-Chapelle represented a milestone in the history of the Restoration Movement. He was the first spokesman of the British Movement personally to plead the cause of the Jews as a nation in an inter-governmental assembly.
IV. THE VOICE OF POETRY
No more telling testimony to the depth to which the idea f Israel's revival has sunk its roots in the English people can be found than the English poetry and fiction voicing in manifold variations the perennial hope of the Jewish people. After Samuel Gott's Nova Solyma and John Milton's Paradise Regained, Alexander Pope's Messiah renewed the vision of a restored Jewish kingdom. Although based on a christological interpretation of the scriptural text, the Messiah contains passages of lofty beauty presenting Israel's revival as far more than a mere transcendental event. Jerusalem reborn is pictured unmistakably as inhabited by the returned Jewish people, and the tribute paid by Gentiles to the "imperial Salem" echoes Henry Finch and his predecessors.
Other poetical voices joined in the chorus. While Charles Wesley adopted the millennial hope for his hymnal poetry, William Cowper in his Expostulation invested the Puritan identification of Israel and England with a new meaning. Israel is represented as England's ideal example:
What nation will you find, whose annals prove
So rich an interest in Almighty love?
'Twas theirs alone to dive into the plan
That truth and mercy had reveal'd to man.
In one of the most pathetic apostrophes in poetical literature, Cowper implores Israel to teach the nations of the world, above all England, the lesson of its own tragic experiences:
Oh Israel! Of all nations most undone,
Thy diadem displaced, thy sceptre gone,
Cry aloud, thou that sittest in the dust,
Cry to the proud, the cruel, the unjust!
'Knock at the gates of nations, rouse their fears,
Say wrath is coming, and the storm appears,
But raise the shrillest cry in British ears!
But in the closing verses Cowper visualises Israel's restoration as a by-product of universal redemption.
In a manner quite different from Pope's and Cowper's, William Blake renewed the Puritan conception of a Zion midway between ideal and reality. With him, the millenarian longing assumed the character of a "spiritual revolt".
The desire for the blend of Jerusalem with England inspired Blake to the famous lines:
England awake! Awake! Awake!
Jerusalem thy sister calls!
Why Wilt thou sleep the sleep of death
And close her from thy ancient walls?
A section of Blake's Jerusalem is addressed to the Jews. In terms of the Restoration Doctrine, he was a convetsionist like William Cowper. Yet a line like "O Jew, leave counting gold! Return to thy oil and vine!" in Song of Liberty makes one suspect that the author of Jerusalem and Job, the prophet of a Messianic Albion, may have glimpsed a vision of Israel once again toiling on the soil of its forefathers.
Bonaparte's invasion of Palestine prompted the twenty year-old Reginald Heber (1783-1825) to compose his prize poem Palestine, a passage of which reveals his profound belief in Israel's Restoration :
Yet shall she rise; but not by war restored,
Nor built in murder, planted by the sword;
Yes, Salem, thou shalt rise: thy Father's aid
Shall heal the wound His chastening hand has made.
Entirely different from the spirit of all these poetical works is Lord Byron's tribute to the Jewish people. In his great cycle Hebrew Melodies (1815), set to music by the Jewish composer Isaac Nathan, Byron is a bard of Jewry's steadfast faith, its grief for the lost country, its sorrows over the desolation of the sacred earth and the people's homelessness rather than a voice clamouring for the Restoration. To him the dispersion of the Jews was not a curse or a chastisement, but a national misfortune which, in the famous Oh I Weep for these, he asked the world to pity. He represented the condition of a people without a country as a unique political and historical anomaly:
The wild dove hath her nest, the fox his cave,
Mankind their country -Israel but the grave!
He saw and at the same time admired, the greatness inherent in this tragic fate. His verse conjures up the image of a people to whom the past -a shrine destroyed, a country lost- is more real than actual reality. He neither demanded nor expected a conversion of the Jews to the Christian faith.
Byron was moved by the misery of a derelict Holy Land no less than by the sufferings and heroism of its wandering people. The poems The Wild Gazelle and On the Day of Destruction of the Temple by Titus evoke a landscape awaiting redemption. The poet's influence was like an isolated but mighty torrent mingling its waters with the broadening stream of the traditional Restoration Movement.
The Hebrew Melodies must not be allowed to overshadow the similarly inspired Sacred Songs by Thomas Moore, Byron's friend and biographer, published in 1816. Moore, like Thomas Corbet an Irishman, succeeded in imparting a national note to the religious idea. His Advent of the Millennium is both a document of the Millenarian Revival and a song of a new restorationist generation:
Then, Judah, thou no more shalt mourn
Beneath the heathen's chain ;
Thy days of splendour shall return,
And all be new again.
It would be a sin of omission not to mention in this context once again the name of Lewis Way. In 1824 he published a poem, Palingenesia, or The World to Come, which accurately recorded the contemporary stage of the Restoration Movement. In the seventh canto of this poem are resuscitated the author's great predecessors -Thomas Burnet, John Milton, Isaac Newton -and the living advocates of the Restoration doctrine are praised as those who
. . . march with faces Zionward, the Word
The Lantern of their path, to lighten them
Where others walk in darkness. -They are set
As midnight watchers waiting on the wall
Of their belov'd Jerusalem. . . .
V. THE RESPONSE OF JEWRY—AN AMERICAN INTERLUDE
Jewry's reaction to the strengthening of the Restoration Movement was very complex. The Western Jews had entered the emancipation epoch and were beginning to feel optimistically secure in the Diaspora. In addition, they were apt to interpret not without reason the Restorationist message as an invitation to conversion. Thus, the predominant response of Jewry, and particularly of English Jewry, was either silence or polite rejection.
For a long time David Levi (see p. 42) was the only spokesman of the Jewish community in the dispute about Restoration. When the discussion grew fiercer in the seventeen-nineties, he came out with a three-volume work between 1796 and 1800 entitled: Dissertations on the Prophecies of the Old Testament, containing all such prophecies as are applicable to the Coming of the Messiah; the Restoration of the Jews and the Resurrection of the dead; whether so applied by Jews or Christians. In this work Levi opposed the Jewish interpretation of the prophecies to the Christian conception and sought to bring out the differences between the Jewish and Christian doctrines of Restoration. He accepted unquestionably the belief in the Restoration of the entire Jewish people. But he refused -in accordance with Rabbinical strictures against the "calculations of the end" -to indulge in any speculation concerning the date of the Messianic age. Like the exodus from Egypt, the Restoration, too, he felt, would be the work of God alone. For Solomon Bennett, whose Constancy of Israel was published in 1809, belief in a Messiah was essential to Christians but not to Jews. For him the Diaspora was the "absolute will of God ".
Yet there also existed other currents flowing in the opposite direction. In the second half of the eighteenth century the famous "Baal Shem of London", Dr. Samuel Jacob Hayim de Falk, headed a congregation who sought to hasten the Messiah's advent by exercises of exemplary piety, and towards the end of the century there lived in London the Hebrew scholar Abraham ben Elyakim who engaged in calculations of the date of the Messianic time supposed to be more or less imminent.
Then, early in the nineteenth century, the Restoration Movement found its perfect Jewish partner, not in England but in the English-speaking community on the American continent, where an offshoot of the British Movement was in the making since the eighteenth century. In his History of Redemption, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), America's great reformer and philosopher, expressed the hope that "in future glorious times, both Judah and Ephraim (shall be brought together and shall be united as one People". Hannah Adams (1755-1831), the first woman to become a restorationist writer, had no doubt of the ultimate, reunion of Israel with its land. Her History of the Jews, published in 1812, appeared in London in 1818. In the same year, John McDonald, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Albany, published a tract Isaiah's Message to the American People, in which he argued that the "messenger people" chosen to realise the Restoration of the Jews was the American nation and that the time for this was at hand.
These restorationist documents are strongly related to the religious current which in the Revolutionary War led to a revival of the Puritan spirit displayed 150 years earlier in the Great Revolution. If Oliver Cromwell identified himself and his army with the Maccabees, the fighters for Independence regarded themselves as "God's American Israel" led by the "American Joshua", George Washington. In a commonwealth founded under such auspices, Jewish Messianism found a fertile soil. Gershom Mendes Seixas (1745-1816), first minister of North America's oldest synagogue Shearith Israel in New York, time and again re-echoed Israel's claim to Restoration. It was, however, in the person of Mordecai Manuel Noah (1785-1851) that the Restorationists met a spokesman of Jewry at large, eager to treat with Gentiles interested in the Restoration of the Jewish people. Indeed, Noah lawyer, playwright, journalist, Army Major, High Sheriff and diplomat, versed in Jewish lore and history felt himself a second Menasseh ben Israel, chosen to lead the Jewish people to the Promised Land, though by way of America instead of England. His appearance coincided with that of Lewis Way, both men distinguished by the tendency to work out a synthesis between legal and national emancipation. Serving as American Consul in Tunis, Noah came into direct contact with the Jewish masses. His experiences there inspired the act with which Noah inaugurated his Jewish political activities: the Discourse at the Congregation Shearith Israel, delivered on April 17, 1818. Noah spoke of the seven million Jews in the world, "a number greater than at any period of our history" and predicted that they would "march in triumphant numbers, and possess themselves once more of Syria and take their rank among the governments of the earth". But his primary objective remained the freeing of the Jewish people from political incompetence and insecurity. Only on the soil of free America, he felt, could this be done, only the United States could become a "Zion pro tempore".
Noah sent copies of the Discourse, with a covering letter, to three ex-Presidents of the United States -John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. A reply written by Adams when nearly in his ninetieth year contained the following passages:
I really wish the Jews again in Judea, an independent nation, for, as I believe, the most enlightened men of it have participated in the amelioration of the philosophy of the age.
When the persecution of the Jews in Germany began in 1819, with the "Hep-Hep" storms, Noah issued a call in Hebrew and English to "the Children of Israel, my beloved brethren who believe in Moses and the prophets", which found its way even into the German press, Noah sounds this clarion call: "The time has come for this great people, weakened and suppressed during its exile, to gather again and raise itself up". In face of the impossibility to "go to Palestine for the purpose of restoring their former national glory", Noah urges the Jews "to create a new Jewish state in America, under the protection of the great American Union".
On September 15, 1825, Mordecai Manuel Noah, then a judge, proceeded to the diocesan church of St. Paul in Buffalo in midst of a splendid procession, for the solemn inauguration of Ararat, A City of Refuge for the Jews, on Grand Island in the Niagara River, in the State of New York. The foundation-stone with an inscription commemorating the event was displayed upon the communion table. The service was conducted by the Rector, the Reverend Addison Searle. Passages from the Prophets and Psalms were recited, followed by a prayer and a blessing in Hebrew.
Noah addressed the congregation, delivering what he called "a Jewish Declaration of Independence". "In calling the Jews together", Noah declared, "under the protection of the American Constitution . . . it is proper to state that this asylum is temporary and provisional. The Jews never should and never will relinquish the just hope of regaining possession of their ancient heritage."
Noah waited in vain for inhabitants to people his city. The city of Ararat was never built. Its foundation-stone became an exhibit in the collection of the Buffalo Historical Society. History, however, has invested this monument of failure with a different meaning. It marks the spot where a Jew together with Christians of good will attempted for the first time to realise the revival of the Jewish people an independent commonwealth.
|Part One||Franz Kobler
"The Vision Was There"