Martin Luther
'On the Jews and their Lies'
Chapter 17

Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is:

First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss in sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in somehellfire. That would demonstrate to God our serious resolve and be evidenceto all the world that it was in ignorance that we tolerated such houses, in which the Jews have reviled God, our dear Creator and Father, and his Son most shamefully up till now, but that we have now given them their due reward.

Second, that all their books their prayer books, their Talmudic writings, also the entire Bible, be taken from them, not leaving them one leaf, andthat these be preserved for those who may be converted. For they use all of these books to blaspheme the Son of God, that is, God the Father himself, Creator of heaven and earth, as was said above; and they will never use them differently.

Third, that they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country. They may do this in their own country or wherever they can without our being obliged to hear it or know it. The reason for this prohibition is that their praise, thanks, prayer, and doctrine are sheer blasphemy, cursing, and idolatry, because their heart and mouth call God the Father *Hebel Vorik* as they call his Son, our Lord Jesus, this. For as they name and honor the Son, thus they also name and honor the Father. It does not helpthem to use many fine words and to make much ado about the name of God. For we read, "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain" [Exod.20:7]. Just as little did it avail their ancestors at the time of the kings of Israel that they bore God's name, yet called him Baal.

Fourth, that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our hearing.For we cannot with a good conscience listen to this or tolerate it, because their blasphemous and accursed mouth and heart call God's Son *Hebel Vorik,* and thus also call his Father that. He cannot and will not interpret this otherwise, just as we Christians too cannot interpret it otherwise, we who believe that however the Son is named and honored thus also the Father is named and honored. Therefore we must not consider themouth of the Jews as worthy of uttering the name of God within our hearing. He who hears this name-from a Jew must inform the authorities, or else throw sow dung at him when he sees him and chase him away. And may no one be merciful and kind in this regard, for God's honor and the salvation of us all, including that of the Jews, are at stake!

And if they, or someone else in their behalf, were to suggest that they do not intend any such great evil, or that they are not aware that with such blaspheming and cursing they are blaspheming and cursing God the Father alleging that though they blaspheme Jesus and us Christians, they nonetheless praise and honor God most highly and beautifully we answer as we have done before: that if the Jews do not want to admit this or try to put a better face on it, we Christians at least are bound to admit it. TheJews' ignorance is not to be excused, since God has had this proclaimed for almost fifteen hundred years. They are obliged to know it, and God demands this knowledge of them. For if anyone who hears God's words for fifteen hundred years still constantly remarks, "I do not want to acknowledge this," his ignorance will provide a very poor excuse. He thereby really incurs a sevenfold guilt.

To be sure, they did not know at that time that it was God's word; but now they have been informed of it these fifteen hundred years. They have witnessed great signs. Yet they have raged against this, and because of itlived in such exile for fifteen hundred years. All right, let them even now hear and believe it, and all will be simple. If they refuse, it is certain that they will never acknowledge it but are bent on cursing it forever, as their forebears have done for these fifteen hundred years. So weChristians, who do acknowledge it, cannot tolerate or take upon everlasting ignorance and blasphemy in out midst. Let them wander back to their country, be ignorant and blaspheme there as long as they can, and not burden us with their wicked sins.

But what will happen even if we do burn down the Jews' synagogues andforbid them publicly to praise God, to pray, to teach, to utter God's name? They will still keep doing it in secret. If we know that they are doing this in secret, it is the same as if they were doing it publicly. For our knowledge of their secret doings and our toleration of them implies that they are not secret after all, and thus our conscience is encumbered withit before God. So let us beware. In my opinion the problem must be resolved thus: If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews' blasphemy and not share in their guilt, we have to part company with them. They must be driven from our country. Let them think of their fatherland; then they need no longer wail and lie before God against us that we are holding them captive, nor need we then any longer complain that they are burdening us with their blasphemy and their usury. This is the most natural and the best course of action, which will safe guard the interest of both parties.

But since they are loath to quit the country, they will boldly deny everything and will also offer the government money enough for permission to remain here. Woe to those who accept such money, and accursed be that money, which they have stolen from us so damnably through usury. They denyjust as brazenly as they lie. And wherever they can secretly curse, poison, or harm us Christians they do so without any qualms of conscience. If they are caught in the act or charged with something, they are bold enough todeny it impudently, even to the point of death, since they do not regard us worthy of being told the truth. In fact, these holy children of Godconsider any harm they can wish or inflict on us as a great service to God. Indeed, if they had the power to do to us what we are able to do to them, not one of us would live for an hour. But since they lack the power to do this publicly, they remain our daily murderers and bloodthirsty foes in their hearts. Their prayers and curses furnish evidence of that, as do the many stories which relate their torturing of children and all sorts of crimes for which they have often been burned at the stake or banished.

Therefore I firmly believe that they say and practice far worse thingssecretly than the histories and others record about them, meanwhile relying on their denials and on their money. But even if they could deny all else,they cannot deny that they curse us Christians openly -- not because of our evil life, but because we regard Jesus as the Messiah, and because they view themselves as our captives, although they know very well that the latter is a lie, and that they are really the ones who hold us captive in our own country by means of their usury, and that everyone would gladly be rid of them. Because they curse us, they also curse our Lord; and if they curse our Lord, they also curse God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth. Thus their lying cannot avail them. Their cursing alone convicts them, so that we are indeed compelled to believe all the evil things written about them. Undoubtedly they do more and viler things than those which we know and discover. For Christ does not lie or deceive us when he adjudges them to be serpents and children of the devil, that is, his and all his followers' murderers and enemies, wherever they find it possible.

If I had power over the Jews, as our princes and cities have, I would deal severely with their lying mouth. They have one lie with which they work great harm among their children and their common folk and with which they slander our faith so shameful}y: namely, they accuse us and slander usamong their people, declaring that we Christians worship more than one God. Here they vaunt and pride themselves without measure. They beguile their people with the claim that they are the only people, in contrast to an theGentiles, who worship no more than one God. Oh, how cocksure they are about this!

Even though they are aware that they are doing us an injustice and are lying on this point as malicious and wicked scoundrels, even though they have heard for fifteen hundred years, and still hear, that an of usChristians disavow this, they still stuff their ears shut like serpents and deliberately refuse to hear us, but rather insist that their venomous lies about us must be accepted by their people as the truth. This they do even though they read in our writings that we agree with Moses' words inDeuteronomy 6 [:4]: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God," and that we confess, publicly and privately, with our hearts, tongues and writings, our life and our death, that there is but one God, of whom Moses writes here and whom the Jews themselves call upon. I say, even if they know thisand have heard and read it about us for almost fifteen hundred years, it is of no avail; their lies must still stand, and we Christians have to tolerate their slander that we worship many gods.

Consequently, if I had power over them, I would assemble their scholars and their leaders and order them, on pain of losing their tongues down to the root, to convince us Christians within eight days of the truth of theirassertions and to prove this blasphemous lie against us, to the effect that we worship more than the one true God. If they succeeded, we would all on the self-same day become Jews and be circumcised. If they failed, they should stand ready to receive the punishment they deserve for such shameful, malicious, pernicious, and venomous lies. For, thanks be to God,we are after all not such ducks, clods, or stones as these most intelligent rabbis, these senseless fools, think us, that we do not know that one God and many gods cannot truly be believed in simultaneously.


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