von Hellmut Schramm, Ph. D.
a translation by R. Belser of
Der jüdische Ritualmord Eine historische Untersuchung
Old Canaan was well acquainted with human sacrifice. We may leave it as an open question whether the remains of children's bodies, which have been found in Tanaak and Mutesellim in house-tombs, came from child sacrifice or the deceased children were simply buried there in the house, as the culture of Assur perhaps did.
A genuine instance of human sacrifice by the King of Moab is found in II Kings 3:27, in which the king is under attack by the Israelites and:
"Then he took his eldest son, who was supposed to succeed him as king,
and sacrificed him as a burnt offering on the wall.
"Then a great anger came against Israel,
and they withdrew from him and returned unto their own land."
This is certainly striking at the very least. One asks oneself why the people of Israel withdrew because of this sacrifice. This becomes clear when we recall that the old Hebraic religiosity dealt with human sacrifice.
In II Judges 2:27-40, it is told how Jephtha sacrificed his daughter. In I Kings 16:34 we have a case of genuine building-sacrifice
[Many cultures sacrificed either a human being or animal during construction of a major structure such as a temple or bridge, and often sealed up the living creature in the walls.]:
"At the same time Hiel of Beth-El built Jericho.
"It took of him his eldest son Abiram when he laid the foundation and his youngest son Segub when he set the gates;
"according to the word of the Lord which he spake through Joshua, the son of Nun."
In the same category belongs the remarkable judgement of God (I Samuel 14:24-46) on account of which Jonathan was supposed to die for Yahweh. The people, however, rescued him.
These are all accounts which occur later than the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22), which is frequently interpreted as representing the overturning and replacement of human sacrifice by animal sacrifice among the Israelites.
Animal sacrifice, however, does not replace and supplant human sacrifice; rather it represents it. If there is not a human available for sacrifice or if he is supposed to be spared, an animal can be taken.
Smith-Stübe brings out quite a number of such examples (XII) from the ancient East, but also among other peoples who knew the practice of human sacrifice. In Egypt the sacrificial animal was provided with a signet which shows the image of a chained man who has a sword at his throat.
Plutarch tells that, according to a report of Aristodemos, during a plague in Sparta an eagle took from the priest the sacrificial knife with which he wanted to sacrifice the maiden Helen, and laid the knife upon a young cow.
Apollodorus reports (Bibl. I, 9, i) that during a famine the son of Athamas, named Phrixus, was supposed to be sacrificed together with his sister. His mother Nephele rescued him on a ram.
In so far as a sacrificial animal can take the place of an actual intended human sacrifice as its representation, Jewry is not distinguishable from other peoples who have known human sacrifice. But it most conspicuously has retained this custom for a very long time.
On the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the Jewish father of the family takes a piece of female fowl for each female family member, and a rooster for every male family member and says:
"Let this be my release, this be my exchange (the substitute, which steps in my place), this be my propitiatory offering."
The custom is grounded in the regulation Leviticus 16:2-19:
"And (God) spoke (to Moses): Say to thy brother Aaron, that he might not go at any time into the sanctuary behind the curtain before the seat of mercy, which is upon the ark, that he might not die;
"for I shall appear in a cloud upon the seat of mercy.
"Thusly shall he enter: with a young bullock for a sin-offering [= scapegoat] and with a ram for a burnt offering. And he shall put on a coat of linen and have linen breeches about his nakedness and gird himself with a linen girdle and have upon him a linen head-covering;
"for these are holy garments; and he shall bathe his flesh with water and put them on. Then shall he take two he-goats from the congregation of the children of Israel for a sin-offering and a ram for the burnt offering.
"And Aaron shall bring the bullock, his sin-offering, that he might atone for himself and his house.
"And he shall take the two he-goats and place them before the Lord, before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he shall cast lots over the two he-goats, one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat.
"And he shall sacrifice as a sin-offering the he-goat on which falls the lot of the Lord.
"But the (XIII) he-goat, upon which falls the lot for the scapegoat, he shall take living before the Lord, that he may be reconciled and let the he-goat go into the wilderness for a scapegoat.
"And he shall therefore bring the bullock of his sin-offering and reconcile himself and his house and slaughter it. And he shall take a basin full of burning embers from the altar which stands before the Lord, and bring his hand full of crushed incense behind the curtain.
"And put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense might cover the mercy seat, which is upon the testimony, that he might not die.
"And take from the blood of the bullock and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat in the front with his finger; but before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle seven times with his finger from the blood.
"After this, he shall slaughter the he-goat, the sin-offering of the people and bring its blood behind the curtain and do with the blood as he did with the blood of the bullock and with it also sprinkle upon and before the mercy seat.
"He shall therefore reconcile the sanctuary from the uncleanness of the children of Israel and from their transgression in all their sins. He shall also therefore do this to the tabernacle of the congregation; for they are unclean who surround it.
"No man shall be in the tabernacle of the congregation when he enters to make atonement in the sanctuary, until he comes out; he shall therefore reconcile himself and his house and the whole congregation of Israel.
"And when he goes out to the altar which stands before the Lord, he shall reconcile it and shall take from the blood of the bullock and from the blood of the he-goat and put it upon the horns of the altar round about.
"And he shall sprinkle from the blood upon it with his finger seven times and purify it and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel."
One should not press these biblical theories of the scapegoat too far, however.
For why, today, is not a he-goat, but a rooster offered? As Rabbi Isidor Scheftelowitz attests to us in his dissertation Das stellvertretende Huhnopfer [The Representative Hen-sacrifice], (Isidor Scheftelowitz: Das stellvertretende Huhnopfer.
Inaugural-Dissertation, Gießen, 1914) this Kaporoh-sacrifice on the 10th of Tishri, the Day of Atonement, continues to be practiced.
Why just a rooster or a hen? Well, because "hen" in Hebrew is called gèber -- and "man" is also gèber! Nothing could be clearer.
The hen is an excellent representative for a human being.
Is it the only one? In the year 1530 a (XIV) baptized Jew by the name of Antonius Margaritha published a book which excited sensation at the time (Der gantz Jüdisch glaub mit sambt eyner grüntlichen und wahrhaftigen anzeygunde, aller satzungen, Ceremonien, gebeten, heimliche und öffentliche gebreuch usw. Leipzig 1530, 2.A., gemehr und gebessert. Daselbst. Melchior Lotther. 1531. 109Bll.(Neu)Herausgegeben von Chr. Reineccius, Leipzig. 1705)
[The entire Jewish belief together with a true and basic report of all doctrines, rites, prayers, secret and public traditions, etc. Leipzig 1530 2.A., enlarged and improved. Melchior Lotther. 1531. 109 pages. New edition by Chr. Reinccius, Leipzig. 1705]. In this book he says expressly that for a sin-offering one "ain affen zu solchem nemen soll, dann der selb, sehe ainem Menschen am aller geleychesten" ["should take for such an ape, for that would seem most like a human being"].
According to Oskar Goldberg's book Die Wirklichkeit der Hebräer [The Reality of the Hebrews] (1925), Maimonides has mistaken the essence of Yahweh as (being) that of a god directed against the order of Nature. In this debate Goldberg, an authentic Chacham ha Yisroel, becomes at once very candid and stresses:
"What is the reason for eating? For the building of the body. Therefore the equation follows between sacrifice and eating, that the performance of sacrifice serves the formation of the divine organism. It says expressis verbis in the Pentateuch
[The first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; these are the so-called Mosaic books, which contain Mosaic Law.]
-- the sacrifice is designated as lechem Elohim [the Hebrew translated literally is: "bread of the Lord"] -- as the dish for the Lord."
And now appears a highly significant passage. Goldberg emphasizes:
"In conjunction with the laws of cleanliness and uncleanliness it should also be shown how an ethical law is derived from a ritual. The proscription 'Thou shalt not murder' is, by its character, an ethical law -- yet nonetheless it is a ritual. The Torah [Torah = Pentateuch] establishes this proscription by saying:
'The blood of the murdered man makes the land a hypocrite.'
What does this mean? As pointed out, the blood of the sacrificial animal serves the formation of the divine organism. It is essential to the history of religion, that the Jews were the first people in the world capable of ritual, who exclusively used sacrificial animals.
All other ritual-competent peoples of antiquity were dependent upon human sacrifice. That could not be otherwise, because their ritual became effective only through human sacrifice. For them, man and beast originate out of the same supernatural arrangement of Nature;
therefore a beast cannot step into the place of a man. On the contrary: The Totem-animal is holy and inviolable. Abraham was the first to achieve sacrificing a ram in the stead of his son.
In view of these things, it is unimportant that ancient peoples in times of their religious decline already placed animal sacrifice (XV) next to human sacrifice, just as it is a matter of indifference that before Abraham there were already great individuals who made use of animals for sacrifice, as for example Abel (Hewel), whom one can simply call the inventor of this type of sacrifice.
The essential point remains this, that the divine organism can make use only of animal sacrifice -- whereas human sacrifice sets off in him the hostile and powerful effects which come from the natural order. Through the killing of a human being the incarnation of a foreign, hostile natural order is abetted.
Therefore, says the Torah:
'The blood of the murdered makes the land a hypocrite.'
That means: through such an act as murder the land appears as something different from what it is in reality. The land pretends to be the realm of manifestation of the Divinity presenting itself in the world -- but in reality it is the point of invasion of an alien, hostile power of nature.
-- That Jewry so taken up with Apologetics would have had reason to occupy itself with this explanation; for the proscription against killing a man out of ritual-reasons is the true 'refutation' of ritual-murder."
Here Goldberg is playing hide-and-seek. He knows just as well as we do, that it is exactly the Gentile who is an animal according to Jewish law. The Talmud says explicitly: "You are called men, but the worldly peoples are not called men (but rather cattle)..." (Baba meçia 114b and similar passages). That the Gentile is a beast, has never seriously been contested by any Talmudist.
Now if animal sacrifice is pleasing to Yahweh, then accordingly ritual-murder is legally justified, only the sacrifice of a Jew would be a sin against the ritual laws.
"For the life of the body is in the blood, and I have given it unto you upon the altar, that your souls might be reconciled by it. For the blood is the atonement, because the life is in it" (Leviticus 17:11). Even the dismemberment of the sacrificial victim, which is typical of ritual-murder, and the dispatching of portions into other Jewish congregations, is already covered in the Old Testament.
"And he took a pair of oxen and dismembered them and sent (them) into all regions of Israel through messengers and let it be said: whoever does not follow Saul and Samuel, thus shall it be done unto his cattle"
(I Samuel 11:7),
or the story of the Levite who wanted to stop at night with his concubine in Bethlehem, whom the inhabitants of Bethlehem, "evil knaves" (XVI) wished to rape [to clarify: the men wanted to anally rape the Levite] and who delivered up to them [in his stead] his concubine; she was abused to death by the Bethlehemites:
"When he returned home, he took a knife and laid hold on his concubine and cut her up, along with her bones, into twelve pieces and sent them unto all borders of the kingdom" (Judges 19:29).
So much did Jewry have the reputation in antiquity of ritual-murder, that this horrible suspicion was even transferred to the early Christian Church. Not only the Jews, but also the early Christians were accused of slaughtering children, and that a newborn child, strewn with flour, was offered as a mystical symbol of initiation to the knife of whoever wanted to be accepted into the sect, and the blood drunk by him before those present.
One may leave it an open question whether or not we have here a matter of exaggeration and calumny; certainly a considerable portion of the early Christians upheld circumcision and other Jewish traditions.
That they were held in suspicion of also committing the horrifying practice of ritual-murder is at least psychologically understandable, even if that, which Daumer states in his Geheimnisse des christlichen Altertums [Mysteries of Christian Antiquity] probably can by no means fully pass the test of criticism.
Worthy of note, at any rate, are the remarks of Origen (Contra Celsum 1 §31): "The voluntary death of a man is a means of averting disasters and pestilence, plague, barrenness and the like." It is also unusual when Augustine says (Expositiones in Psalmos 103):
"Our works the heathens may see, but not our sacraments."
Why not? What was there to hide? These things might have haunted [the Church] up until the Middle Ages, and it might easily explain many a strange aspect of them.
What has been missing until the present has been a thorough account of ritual-murder from the sources. We now have this, based upon reports and trial documents as the result of the industrious and thorough work of Dr. Hellmut Schramm. The number of those who really work in the area of the Jewish Question scientifically in depth and at the same time without compromise and proceed without ties to the clergy, is not great.
In reality, it is much smaller than one might think. Often one will have the right instincts, another will have correct scientific methods, but both together are rarely found. Thus it is to be saluted that here in one serious work (XVII)a sharp weapon has been forged for us from brittle material for the discovery of Jewry.
Jewry is biologically hereditary criminality, religious syncretism with a strong share of demonic belief. Who struggles against Jewry, that man "does the work of the Lord" and fights a godly battle. A valuable part of this struggle lies before us here, and I wish for him, that it might have much success.
-- Berlin, at the beginning of the war year 1941
Professor Doctor Johann von Leers
Copyright 2001 by R. Belser. Reproduction in whole or in part without express written permission of the translator is not permitted. All rights reserved.