CONCERNING THE NAMES OF JESUS CHRIST Many passages in the Talmudic books treat of the birth, life, death and teachings of Jesus Christ. He is not always referred to by the same name, however, but is diversely called “That Man,” “A Certain One,” “The Carpenter’s Son,” “The One Who Was Hanged,” etc. 1. The real name of Christ in Hebrew is Jeschua Hanotsri—Jesus the Nazarene. He is called Notsri from the city of Nazareth in which he was brought up. Thus in the Talmud Christians also are called Notsrim—Nazarenes.
Since the word Jeschua means “Savior,” the name Jesus rarely occurs in Jewish books.(1) It is almost always abbreviated to Jeschu, which is maliciously taken as if it were composed of the initial letters of the three words Immach SCHemo Vezikro—“May his name and memory be blotted out.”(2)
(1) ex. gr. in Maiene ieschua, fol. 66b
(2) cf. I. Buxtorf in Abbrev. Jeschu: “The Jews among themselves do not say Jeschu, but Isschu, so nearly corresponding to the words of this curse. When talking to a certain Jew about this some years ago he told me that it not only meant this, but also Jeschu Scheker (liar) Utoebah (and abomination). Who would not be deeply horrified at this? This Jew lived at Frankfort and at Hanover and had travelled all over the world. When he saw how this horrified me, his faith in Judaism began to weaken, for he was not adverse to the Christian faith and had often discussed it with me and Dr. Amando Polano. I also discovered here and there two other secret words from the Jewish Cabala which have to do with this name. It is well known that the Israelites are often warned in their sacred writings to shun the worship of Elohe Nekhar—strange gods or god. What does Elohe Nekhar really mean? By the numbering method of the Gammatria these letters equal 316, which taken together make the word Jeschu. This is found at the end of the book Abhkath Rokhel. They therefore teach that to dishonor God by the worship of Elohe Nekhar is the same as to dishonor him by the worship of Jeschu. Behold the malice of the serpent! Antonius also found a marginal note in a book about the Jewish faith and religion. In a Jewish prayer book there is a certain prayer beginning with Alenu… Formerly the wording contained certain things which were afterwards deleted for fear of the Christians, but the space remains vacant to warn children and adults that something is omitted there. The deleted words were hammischtachavim lehebhel varik umitpallelim lelo ioschia “Those who bow down exhibit vanity and foolishness and adore him who cannot save.” This is generally said about idols, but is secretly meant for Jesus whose name is here signified by the letters…”
2. In the Talmud Christ is called Otho Isch—’That man,’ i.e. the one who is known to all. In the tract Abhodah Zarah, 6a, we read:
“He is called a Christian who follows the false teachings of that man, who taught them to celebrate the feast on the first day of the Sabbath, that is, to worship on the first day after the Sabbath”
3. Elsewhere he is simply called Peloni—”A Certain One.” In Chagigah, 4b, we read:
“Mary…the mother of a certain one, of whom it is related in Schabbath…” (104b)
That this Mary is none other than the mother of Jesus will be shown later.
4. Out of contempt, Jesus is also called Naggar bar naggar—’the carpenter son of a carpenter’,(3) also Ben charsch etaim—’the son of a wood worker.’
(3) cf. Abhodah Zarah, 50b.
5. He is also called Talui—’the one who was hanged.’ Rabbi Samuel, the son of Meir, in the Hilch. Akum of Maimonides, refers to the fact that it was forbidden to take part in the Christian feasts of Christmas and Easter because they were celebrated on account of him who was hanged. And Rabbi Aben Ezra, in a commentary on Genes.(XXVII, 39) also calls him Talui, whose image the Emperor Constantine reproduced on his banner. “…in the days of Constantine, who made a change of religion and placed the figure of the one who was hanged on his banner.”
THE LIFE OF CHRIST/THE CHRISTIAN CROSS The Talmud teaches that Jesus Christ was illegitimate and was conceived during menstruation; that he had the soul of Esau; that he was a fool, a conjurer, a seducer; that he was crucified, buried in hell and set up as an idol ever since by his followers.
1. ILLEGITIMATE AND CONCEIVED DURING MENSTRUATION
The following is narrated in the Tract Kallah, 1b:
“Once when the Elders were seated at the Gate, two young men passed by, one of whom had his head covered, the other with his head bare. Rabbi Eliezer remarked that the one in his bare head was illegitimate, a mamzer. Rabbi Jehoschua said that he was conceived during menstruation, ben niddah. Rabbi Akibah, however, said that he was both. Whereupon the others asked Rabbi Akibah why he dared to contradict his colleagues. He answered that he could prove what he said. He went therefore to the boy’s mother whom he saw sitting in the market place selling vegetables and said to her: ‘My daughter, if you will answer truthfully what I am going to ask you, I promise that you will be saved in the next life.’ She demanded that he would swear to keep his promise, and Rabbi Akibah did so—but with his lips only, for in his heart he invalidated his oath. Then he said: ‘Tell me, what kind of son is this of yours’? To which she replied: ‘The day I was married I was having menstruation, and because of this my husband left me. But an evil spirit came and slept with me and from this intercourse my son was born to me.’ Thus it was proved that this young man was not only illegitimate but also conceived during the menstruation of his mother. And when his questioners heard this they declared: ‘Great indeed was Rabbi Akibah when he corrected his Elders’! And they exclaimed: ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel who revealed his secret to Rabbi Akibah the son of Joseph’ “!
That the Jews understand this story to refer to Jesus and his mother, Mary, is clearly demonstrated in their book Toldath Jeschu—’The Generations of Jesus’—where the birth of our Savior is narrated in almost the same words.(4)
(4) cf. Synag. Jud. Chap. VIII, p. 133.
Another story of this kind is narrated in Sanhedrin, 67a:
“Of all who are guilty of death by the Law, he alone(5) is caught by a ruse. How is it done? They light a candle in an inner room and place witnesses in an adjoining room outside where they can see him and hear his voice, but where they cannot be seen by him. Then the one whom he tried to seduce says to him ‘Please repeat here privately what you told me before.’ If the seducer repeats what he said, the others ask him ‘But how shall we leave our God who is in heaven and serve idols?’ If the seducer repents, then all is well. But if he says ‘This is our duty and it is right for us to do so,’ then the witnesses outside, who have heard him, bring him before the judge and stone him to death. This is what they did to the son of Stada in Lud, and they hanged him on the eve of the Passover. For this son of Stada was the son of Pandira. For Rabbi Chasda tells us that Pandira was the husband(6) of Stada, his mother, and he lived during the time Paphus the son of Jehuda. But his mother was stada, Mary of Magdala (a ladies’ hairdresser) who, as it is said in Pumbadita, deserted her husband.”
(5) namely, a seducer, who tries to seduce another to worship an idol and to join a false religion.
(6) A marginal note says this son of Stada was called after his father, not his mother, although he was illegitimate.
The meaning of this is that his Mary was called Stada, that is, a prostitute, because, according to what was taught at Pumbadita, she left her husband and commited adultery. This is also recorded in the Jerusalem Talmud(7) and by Maimonides.(7)
(7) cf. Sanhedrin, chap. VII near the end, and Iebhammoth, the last chap.
That the mention here is of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is verified in the Tract Chagigah, 4b:
“When Rabbi Bibhai was visited once by the Death Angel (the devil), the latter said to his assistant: ‘Go and bring to me Mary the hairdresser’ (that is, kill her). He went and brought Mary the children’s hairdresser—in place of the other Mary.”
A marginal note explains this passage as follows:
“This story of Mary the Ladies’ hairdresser happened under the Second Temple. She was the mother of Peloni, ‘that man,’ as he is called in the tract Schabbath,” (fol. 104b).
In Schabbath the passage referred to says:
“Rabbi Eliezer said to the Elders: ‘Did not the son of Stada practice Egyptian magic by cutting it into his flesh?’ They replied: ‘He was a fool, and we do not pay attention to what fools do. The son of Stada, Pandira’s son, etc.’ ” as above in Sanhedrin, 67a.
This magic of the son of Stada is explained as follows in the book Beth Jacobh, fol. 127 a:
“The Magi, before they left Egypt, took special care not to put their magic in writing lest other peoples might come to learn it. But he devised a new way by which he inscribed it on his skin, or made cuts in his skin and inserted it there and which, when the wounds healed up, did not show what they meant.”(8)
(8) This is treated at greater length in the book Toldath Jeschu, where it speaks of Jesus as a conjurer, as we shall see further on. It is also mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud in chap. 12.
“There is little doubt who this Ben Stada was, or who the Jews understood him to be. Although the Rabbis in their additions to the Talmud try to hide their malice and say that it is not Jesus Christ, their deceit is plainly evident, and many things prove that they wrote and understood all these things about him. In the first place, they also call him the son of Pandira. Jesus the Nazarene is thus called in other passages(10) of the Talmud where express mention is made of Jesus the son of Pandira. St. John Damascene(11) also, in his Genealogy of Christ, mentions Panthera and the Son of Panthera.
“Secondly, this Stada is said to be Mary, and this Mary the mother of Peloni ‘that certain one,’ by which without doubt Jesus is meant. For in this way they were accustomed to cover up his name because they were afraid to mention it. If we had copies of the original manuscripts they would certainly prove this. And this also was the name of the mother of Jesus the Nazarene.
“Thirdly, he is called the Seducer of the People. The Gospels(12) testify that Jesus was called this by the Jews, and their writings to this day are proof that they still call him by this name.
“Fourthly, he is called ‘the one who was hanged,’ which clearly refers to the crucifixion of Christ, especially since a reference to the time ‘on the eve of the Passover’ is added, which coincides with the time of the crucifixion of Jesus. In Sanhedrin (43a) they wrote as follows:
‘”On the eve of the Passover they hanged Jesus’
“Fifthly, as to what the Jerusalem Talmud says about the two disciples of the Elders who were sent as witnesses to spy on him, and who were afterwards brought forward as witnesses against him: This refers to the two “false witnesses” of whom the Evangelists Matthew(14) and Luke(15) make mention.
“Sixthly, concerning what they say about the son of Stada that he practiced Egyptian magical arts by cutting into his flesh: the same accusation is made against Christ in their hostile book Toldoth Jeschu.
“Lastly, the time corresponds. For it is said that this son of Stada lived in the days of Paphus the son of Jehuda, who was a contemporary of Rabbi Akibah. Akibah, however, lived at the time of the Ascension of Christ, and for some time after. Mary is also said to have lived under the Second Temple. All this clearly proves that they secretly and blasphemously understand this son of Stada to be Jesus Christ the son of Mary.
“Other circumstances may seem to contradict this. But that is nothing new in Jewish writings and is done on purpose so that Christians may not easily detect their trickery.”(16)
(9) cf. Lexicon. Jud. in verbo Jeschu.
(10) cf. The Jerusalem Talmud, Abhodah Zarah, ch. II, and Schabbath, ch. XIV, Beth Jacobh, 127a.
(11) Lib. 4
(12) cf. Matt. XXVII, 63
(13) cf. Sanhedrin, 107b
(14) Ch. XXVI, 60-61
(15) Ch. XX, 5
(16) There are Jews who themselves confess to this. For instance, in the book Sepher Juchasin (9b): “The Rabbis have always deceived the Nazarenes by saying that the Jesus of whom the Talmud speaks is not the Jesus Christ of the Christians. They permit themselves this falsehood for the sake of peace” in Rohling, Die Polemik und das Menschenopfer des Rabbinismus, ut supra.
2. Furthermore, “In the secret books, which are not permitted to fall easily into the hands of Christians, they say that the soul of Esau came into Christ, that he was therefore evil and that he was Esau himself.”(17)
(17) Synag. Judaica, p. 217; cf. also Buxtorf, Lexicon in verbo Jeschu.
3. By some he is called a FOOL and INSANE
In Schabbath, 104b:
“They, [the Elders] said to him [Eliezer]: ‘He was a fool, and no one pays attention to fools.’
4. A CONJURER AND A MAGICIAN
In the infamous book Toldoth Jeschu, our Savior is blasphemed as follows:
“And Jesus said: Did not Isaiah and David, my ancestors, prophesy about me? The Lord said to me, thou art my son, today I have begotten thee,(18) etc. Likewise in another place: The Lord said to my Lord, sit thou at my right hand(19). Now I ascend to my father who is in heaven and will sit at his right hand, which you will see with your own eyes. But you, Judas, will never reach that high(20). Then Jesus pronounced the great name of God (IHVH) and continued to do so until a wind came and took him up between earth and sky. Judas also pronounced the name of God and he likewise was taken up by the wind. In this way they both floated around in the air to the amazement of the onlookers. Then Judas, again pronouncing the Divine Name, took hold of Jesus and pushed him down to earth. But Jesus tried to do the same to Judas and thus they fought together. And when Judas saw he could not win out over the works of Jesus he pissed on Jesus, and both thus being unclean they fell to earth; nor could they use the Divine name again until they had washed themselves.”
(18) Ps. II, 7.
(19) Ps. CX, 1.
(20) For it is related that Judas was a competitor of Jesus in the working of miracles.
Whether those who believe such devilish lies deserve greater hatred or pity, I cannot say.(21)
(21) Wagenseil, Sota, p. 1049
In another place in the same book it is related that in the house of the Sanctuary there was a stone which the Patriarch Jacob anointed with oil.(22) On this stone were carved the tetragrammatic letters of the Name (IHVH),(23) and if anyone could learn them he could destroy the world. They therefore decreed that no one must learn them, and they placed two dogs upon two iron columns before the Sanctuary so that if anyone should learn them the dogs would bark at him coming out and he would forget the letters through fear. Then it is related: “Jesus came and entered, learned the letters and wrote them down on parchment. Then he cut into the flesh of his thigh and inserted them there, and having pronounced the name, the wound healed.”(24)
(22) cf. Genesis, XXVIII
(23) No one knows how this august name of God is to be read. It is certain, however, that it was not pronounced Jehovah, although it is thus commonly pronounced. For the vowels of this tetragrammatum are the vowels of the name Adonai, and it is thus that the Jews read IHVH. Out of reverence, however, it is never written in their books, with the exception of Sacred Scripture, but only indicated by “, or Haschem, the name.
(24) Buxtorf. Lexicon
In the Tract Sanhedrin (103a) the words of Psalm XCI, 10: ‘No plague shall come near thy dwelling,’ are explained as follows:
“That thou mayest never have a son or a disciple who will salt his food so much that he destroys his taste in public, like Jesus the Nazarene.”
To salt one’s food too much or to destroy one’s taste, is proverbially said of one who corrupts his morals or dishonors himself, or who falls into heresy and idolatry and openly preaches it to others.
In the same book Sanhedrin (107b) we read:
“Mar said: Jesus seduced, corrupted and destroyed Israel.”
Finally as punishment for his crimes and impiety, he suffered an ignominious death by being hanged on a cross on the eve of the Passover (as we have seen above).
8. BURIED IN HELL
The book Zohar, III, (282), tells us that Jesus died like a beast and was buried in that “dirt heap…where they throw the dead bodies of dogs and asses, and where the sons of Esau [the Christians] and of Ismael [the Turks], also Jesus and Mahommed, uncircumcized and unclean like dead dogs, are buried.”(25)
(25) In the book Synag. Judaica, (Ch. III, p. 75) is the following: ‘He who cuts himself off [namely, who does not believe blindly in the Rabbinical teachings] will suffer the tortures of the damned, as is decreed in the Talmudic law of punishment in the Tract de Repudiis (Gitt. c5): He who despises the words of the wise men shall be cast into the dirt heap with the damned.” I shudder to repeat that they blasphemously narrate that our Saviour Jesus Christ, whose name be forever blessed, suffered this penalty by being cast into Gehenna, although it is contrary to the traditions and teaching of the Fathers of the Church…
9. WORSHIPPED AS GOD AFTER HIS DEATH BY HIS FOLLOWERS
George El. Edzard, in his book Avoda Sara, quotes the following words of the commentator on the Hilkoth Akum (V,3) of Maimonides:
“In many passages of the Talmud mention is made of Jesus the Nazarene and of his disciples, and that the Gentiles believe that there is no other God besides him. In the book Chizzuk Emunah,(26) part I, ch. 36, we read: ‘The Christians build up an argument from this [Zachary XII, 10] and say: Behold how the Prophet testified that in future ages the Jews would lament and weep because they crucified and killed the Messiah who was sent to them; and to prove that he meant Jesus the Nazarene, possessing both the divine and human nature, they quote the words: And they looked upon him whom they transfixed and they wept over him as a mother over her first born child.’ ”
(26) cf. Wagens, Sota, p. 69
Maimonides attempts to prove how much Christians err in worshipping Jesus in his book Hilkoth Melakhim (IX, 4):(27)
“If all the things he did had prospered, if he had rebuilt the Sanctuary in its place, and had gathered together the dispersed tribes of Israel, then he would certainly be the Messiah…But if so far he has not done so and if he was killed, then it is clear he was not the Messiah whom the Law tells us to expect. He was similar to all the good and upright rulers of the House of David who died, and whom the Holy and Blessed Lord raised up for no other reason but to prove to many, as it is said (in Dan. XI, 35): And some of them who understand shall fall, to try and to purge them and to make them white, even till the end of time, because the appointed time is not yet. Daniel also prophesised about Jesus the Nazarene who thought he was the Christ, and who was put to death by the judgment of the Senate: (Dan. V.14): …and the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fail. What could be plainer? For all the Prophets said that the Christ would set Israel free, would bring it salvation, restore its dispersed peoples and confirm their laws. But he was the cause of the destruction of Israel and caused the rest of them to be dispersed and humiliated, so that the Law was changed and the greater part of the world was seduced to worship another God. Truly no one can understand the designs of the Creator, nor are his ways our ways. For all that has been built up by Jesus the Nazarene, and by the Turks who came after him, tend only to prepare the way for the coming of Christ the King, and to prepare the whole world equally for the service of the Lord, as it is said: For then I shall give a clean mouth to all peoples that all may call upon the name of the Lord, and bow down in unison before him.(28) How is this being accomplished? Already the whole world is filled with the praise of Christ, the Law and the Commandments, and his praises have spread to far distant lands and to peoples whose hearts and bodies are uncircumcized. These discuss with one another about the Law that was destroyed—some saying that the commandments were once true, but have ceased to exist; others that there is a great mystery about it, that the Messiah-King has come and that their doctrine has revealed it. But when the Christ truly comes and is successful, and is raised up and exalted, then everything will be changed and these things will be shown to be false and vain.”
(27) Ibidem, p. 346
(28) Sophon, III, 9
10. AN IDOL
In the Tract Abhodah Zarah, (21a Toseph), we read:
“It is of importance to inquire the reasons why men nowadays even sell and rent their houses to Gentiles. Some say this is legal because it is said in Tosephta: No one shall rent his house to a gentile either here [in the land of Israel] or elsewhere because it is known that he will bring an idol into it. It is nevertheless allowed to rent them stables, barns and lodging houses, even though it is known that they will bring idols into them. The reason is because a distinction can be made between a place into which an idol will be carried in order to leave it there permanently, and a place where it will not be left permanently, in which case it is allowed. And since the gentiles, among whom we now live, do not bring their idol into their homes to leave it there permanently, but only for a time—while someone is dead in the house or when someone is dying, nor do they even perform any religious rites there—it is therefore permitted to sell and rent them houses.”
Rabbi Ascher, in his Commentary on Abhodah Zarah (83d) speaks not less clearly on this matter:
“Today it is permitted to rent houses to Gentiles because they bring their idol into them only for a time, when somebody is sick.” And in the same place he says ‘Today they have a practice of incensing their idol.’ “
All this, and much more like it, proves beyond a doubt that when the Rabbis speak of the idols of the Gentiles among whom they lived at that time, when no idols were worshipped, they clearly meant the Christian “idol,” namely, the image of Christ on the crucifix and the Holy Communion.
NOTE ABOUT THE CROSS
In Jewish writings there is no directly corresponding word for the Christian Cross. The cross T on which those condemned to death were crucified, was called Tau by the Phoenicians and the Hebrews, and this name and sign for it was afterwards taken over into the alphabet of the Jews and of the Greeks and the Romans. The Cross honored by the Christians, however, is called by the following names:
1. Tsurath Haattalui—the image who was hanged.(29)
2. Elil—vanity, idol.
3. Tselem—image. Hence the Crusaders in Jewish books are called Tsalmerim (ein Tsalmer)
4. Scheti Veerebh—warp and woof, which is taken from the textile art.
5. Kokhabh—star; on account of the four rays emanating from it.
6. Pesila—a sculpture, a carven idol.
(29) Aben Ezra in Genes. XXVII, 39
But wherever it is mentioned it is always in the sense of an idol or of something despicable, as can be seen from the following quotations:
In Orach Chaiim, 113,8:
“If a Jew when praying should meet a Christian [Akum] carrying a star [a crucifix] in his hand, even if he has come to a place in his prayer where it is necessary to bow down to worship God in his heart, he must not do so lest he should seem to bow down before an image.”
In Iore Dea, 150,2:
“Even if a Jew should get a splinter in his foot in front of an idol, or if he should drop his money before it, he must not stoop down to remove the splinter or to gather up his money lest he should seem to adore it. But he should either sit down or turn his back or his side to the idol and then remove the splinter.”
But whenever it is not possible for a Jew to turn away like this, the following rule must be observed (in Iore Dea, 3, Hagah):
“It is not permitted to bow down or to remove one’s hat before princes or priests who wear a cross on their dress, as is their custom. Care must be taken, however, not to be noticed in failing to do so. For instance, one can throw some coins on the ground and stoop down to pick them up before they pass by. In this way it is permitted to bow down or to remove one’s hat before them.”
A distinction is also made between a cross which is venerated and a cross which is worn around the neck as a souvenir or as an ornament. The former is to be regarded as an idol, but not necessarily the latter. In Iore Dea, 141, 1, Hagah, it says:
“The image of a cross, before which they bow down, is to be treated as an idol, and it is not to be used until it is destroyed. However, a ‘warp and woof’ if hung around the neck as a souvenir is not to be regarded as an idol and can be used.”
The sign of the cross made with the hand, by which Christians are wont to bless themselves, is called in Jewish “the moving of the fingers here and there” (hinc et hinc).(30)
(30) cf. Kad. Hakkem, 20a
In Abhodah Zarah (6a) it says:
“A Nazarene is one who follows the false teachings of that man who taught them to worship on the first day of the Sabbath.”
In the same book Abhodah Zar. (Ch.I, 17a Toseph) mention is made of the heresy of James. A little further on (27b) we learn that this James was none other than the disciple of Jesus:
“…James Sekhanites, one of the disciples of Jesus, of whom we spoke in chapter 1.”
But James taught, not his own doctrine, but that of Jesus.
3. IMPOSSIBLE TO OBSERVE
The author of Nizzachon(31) argues as follows on this point:
“A written law of the Christians is: If a Jew strike you on one cheek, turn the other also to him and do not in any way return the blow.(32) And ch. VI, v. 27 says: Love your enemies; do good to them who hate you; bless them who curse you and pray for those who do you harm; unto him who strikes you on one cheek offer him the other. To him who takes away thy cloak do not forbid him to take thy coat also, etc. The same is found in Matthew ch. V, v.39. But I have never seen any Christian keep this law, nor did Jesus himself behave as he taught others to do. For we find in John ch XVIII, v22, that when someone struck him on the face, he did not turn the other cheek, but became angry on account of this one stroke and asked ‘Why do you strike me’? Likewise in the Acts of the Apostles, ch.XXIII, v. 3, we read: that when the High Priest ordered them that stood by to strike him on the mouth, Paul did not turn the other cheek; he cursed him saying ‘God shall smite thee thou whited wall, etc.’ This is contrary to their beliefs and destroys the foundation upon which their religion rests, for they boast that the law of Jesus is easy to observe. If Paul himself, who may be called the Dispenser of Jesus, could not preserve the precept of Jesus, who among the others who believe in him can prove to me that he can do so?”
(31) cf. Wagens. Sota, p. 822
(32) A corruption of the text in Luke ch. VI, 29
The author, however, who had the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles under his hand, could not have failed to understand in what sense Christ commanded his followers to turn the other cheek to him who would strike them, since in another place he commanded his followers to cut off a hand or an arm, and to pluck out an eye if these should scandalize them. No one who has had the least acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures ever thought that these commands should be taken literally . Only deep malice and ignorance of the times in which Jesus lived can explain why the Jews, even to this day, use these passages to detract from the teachings of Jesus Christ.(33)
(33) cf. K. Lippe, Der Talmudjude vor dem Katholisch-protestantisch orthdoxen Dreirichter-Kollegium, p. 16, 1884
1. The names by which Christians are called in the Talmud.
2. What kind of people the Talmud pictures Christians to be.
3. What the Talmud says about the religious worship of the Christians.
Article I. – The Names Given to Christians in the Talmud
As in our languages Christians take their name from Christ, so in the language of the Talmud Christians are called Notsrim, from Jesus the Nazarene. But Christians are also called by the names used in the Talmud to designate all non-Jews: Abhodah Zarah, Akum, Obhde Elilim, Minim, Nokhrim, Edom, Amme Haarets, Goim, Apikorosim, Kuthrim.
1. Abhodah Zarah—Strange worship, idolatry. The Talmudic Tract on Idolatry is thus entitled: Obhde Abhodah Zarah—Idol Worshippers. That Abhodah Zarah really means the cult of idols is clear from the Talmud itself: ‘Let Nimrod come and testify that Abraham was not a server of Abhodah Zarah.’ But in the days of Abraham there existed no strange cult either of the Turks or the Nazarenes, but only the worship of the true God and idolatry. In Schabbath (ibid. 82a), it says:
“Rabbi Akibah says: How do we know that Abhodah Zarah, like an unclean woman, contaminates those who subscribe to it? Because Isaiah says: Thou shalt cast them away like a menstruation cloth; and shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.”
In the first part of this verse mention is made of idols made from gold and silver.
The learned Maimonides also clearly demonstrates that the Jews regarded Christians as Abhodah Zarah. In Perusch (78c) he says:
“And be it known that Christian people who follow Jesus, although their teachings vary, are all worshippers of idols (Abhodah Zarah).”
2. Akum—This word is made up of the initial letters of the words Obhde Kokhabkim U Mazzaloth—worshippers of stars and planets. It was thus that the Jews formerly styled the Gentiles who lacked all knowledge of the true God. Now, however, the word Akum in Jewish books, especially in the Schulkhan Arukh, is applied to Christians. This is evident from numerous passages:
In the Orach Chaiim (113,8) those who use a cross are called Akum. In the Iore Dea (148, 5, 12), those who celebrate the feasts of Christmas and New Year, eight days afterwards, are called worshippers of the stars and planets:
“Thus if a gift is sent to the Akum, even in these times, on the eighth day after Christmas, which they call the New Year,” etc.
3. Obhde Elilim—Servers of idols. This name has the same meaning as Akum. Non-Jews are frequently called by this name. In the Orach Chaiim, for example (215, 5), it says:
“A blessing should not be pronounced over incense which belongs to the servers of idols.”
But at the same time when the Schulkhan Arukh was written there were no worshippers of the stars and planets (Akum); there were no ‘servers of idols’ among those who lived with the Jews. Thus, for example, the author of the Commentary on the Schulkhan Arukh (entitled Magen Abraham), Rabbi Calissensis who died in Poland in 1775, in note 8, on No. 244 of the Orach Chaiim (where it is allowed to finish a work on the Sabbath with the help of an Akum) says: “Here in our city the question is raised about the price of hiring worshippers of the stars and planets who sweep the public streets when they work on the Sabbath.”(34)
(34) cf. Ecker, Judensp. p. 17
4. Minim—Heretics. In the Talmud those who possess books called the Gospels are heretics. Thus in Schabbath (116a) it says:
“Rabbi Meir calls the books of the Minim Aven Gilaion [iniquitous volumes] because they call them Gospels.”
5. Edom—Edomites. Rabbi Aben Ezra, when he speaks about the Emperor Constantine who changed his religion and placed the image of him who was hanged on his banner, adds:
“Rome therefore is called the Kingdom of the Edomites.”
And Rabbi Bechai, in his Kad Hakkemach (fol. 20a, on Isaiah, ch. LXVI, 17) writes:
“They are called Edomites who move their fingers ‘here and here’ ” (who make the sign of the cross).
Likewise Rabbi Bechai, commenting on the words of Isaiah (loc. cit.), “those who eat the flesh of swine” adds: “These are the Edomites.” Rabbi Kimchi, however, calls them “Christians.” And Rabbi Abarbinel, in his work Maschima Ieschua (36d) says: “The Nazarenes are Romans, the sons of Edom.”
6. Goi—Race, or people. The Jews also call a man a Goi—a gentile; they call a gentile woman a Goiah. Sometimes, but very rarely, Israelites are called by this name.(35) It is mostly applied to non-Jews, or idolators. In Jewish books which treat of Idolatry,(36) worshippers of idols are often called by this single word Goi. For this reason, in more recent editions of the Talmud(37) the use of the word Goi is purposely avoided and other words for non-Jews are substituted.
(35) ex.gr. Genes. XII, 2; Exod. XIX, 6; Isaiah, I,4.
(36) cf. Abhodah Zarah, and Hilkoth Akum of Maimonides
(37) cf. The Warsaw Edition of 1863
It is well known that in the Jewish language, the Jews call Christians among whom they live, Goim. Nor do the Jews deny this. Sometimes in their popular magazines they say that this word means nothing harmful or evil.(38) But the contrary can be seen in their books written in the Hebrew language. For instance, in Choschen Hammischpat (34,22), the name Goi is used in a depraved sense:
“Traitors and Epicureans and Apostates are worse than Goim”
(38) cf. Israelita, No. 48, 1891
7. Nokhrim—strangers, foreigners. This name is used for all who are not Jews, and therefore for Christians.
8. Amme Haarets—People of the earth, idiots. There are some who say(39) that people of other races are not meant by this, but only crude and uneducated people. There are passages, however, which leave no doubt about the matter. In the Holy Scripture, Book of Esra, ch. X, 2, we read: We have sinned against our God, and have taken strange wives [nokhrioth] of the people of the earth. That people of the earth denotes idolators is clear from Zohar, I, 25a: “The People of the earth—Obhde Abhodah Zarah, idolaters.(40)
(39) cf. Franz Delitzsch, Schachmatt den Blutluhnern, 1883, p. 41
(40) Buxtorf is therefore correct (Lexicon, col. 1626) by translating Amme haarets as ‘gentiles,’ which displeases Prof. Delitzsch
9. Basar Vedam—Flesh and blood; carnal men who are destined to perdition and who can have no communion with God. That Christians are flesh and blood, is proved from the prayer book:
“Whoever meets a wise and educated Christian can say: Blessed art thou O Lord, King of the Universe, who dispenseth of thy wisdom to Flesh and Blood,” etc.
Likewise in another prayer, in which they ask God soon to restore the kingdom of David and to send Elias and the Messiah, etc., they ask him to take away their poverty so that they will have no need to accept gifts from “flesh and blood,” nor to trade with them, nor to seek wages from them.(41)
(41) cf. Synag. Jud. C. XII, p. 257 and 263
10. Apikorosim—Epicureans. All are called by this name who do not observe God’s precepts, as well as all those, even Jews themselves, who express private judgments in matters of faith.(42) How much more, therefore, Christians!
(42) The Jews of Warsaw showed an example of this when, in 1892, they denounced the editor of the newspaper Hatseflrah because he dared to say that everything in the Talmud was not of the same religious value nor of the same authority.
11. Kuthim—Samaritans. But since there are no longer any Samaritans, and since there are many references in recent Jewish books to Samaritans, who can doubt that this does not mean the Christians?
Furthermore, in this matter of naming those who are not Jews, it is to be particularly noted that Jewish writings apply these names indiscriminately and promiscuously when they speak of the same thing, and almost in the same words. For instance, in the Tract Abhodah Zarah (25b) the word Goi is employed, but in the Schulkhan Arukh (Iore Dea 153, 2) Akum is used. Kerithuth (6b) uses Goim; Jebhammoth (61a) uses Akum; Abhodah Zar. (2a) uses Obhde Elilim; Thoseph uses Goim and Obhde Ab., Choschen Ham (Venetian ed.) uses Kuthi; (Slav. ed.) Akum. And many more instances could be quoted.
Maimonides in his book on Idolatry indiscriminately calls all the following idolators: Goim, Akum, Obhde Kokhabhim, Obhde Elilim, etc.