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A Literary Tale of Ritual Murder to stir up Hatred
Ancient Anti Semitism
This terrifying tale of ritual murder supposedly performed by the Jews was written by the Jew-hater Apion who was a naturalized Alexandrian rhetorician. Here the "ritual-murder" accusation was born which left a great trail of blood upon the Jews during the Intertestamental period and later the early Christians. Josephus gives this account of Apion's version:
"... Antiochus found in the temple a couch, on which a man was reclining, with a table before him laden with a banquet of fish of the sea, beasts of the earth, and birds of the air, at which the poor fellow was gazing in stupefaction. The king's entry was instantly hailed by him with adoration, as about to procure him profound relief; falling at the king's knees, he stretched out his right hand and implored him to set him free. The king reassured him and bade him tell him who he was, why he was living there, what was the meaning of this abundant fare. Thereupon, with sighs and tears, the man, in a pitiful tone, told the tale of his distress. He said he was a Greek and that, while traveling about the province for his livelihood, he was suddenly kidnapped by men of a foreign race and conveyed to the temple; there he was shut up and seen by nobody, but was fattened on feasts of the most lavish description.
At first these unlooked for attentions deceived him and caused him pleasure; suspicion followed, then consternation. Finally, on consulting the attendants who waited upon him, he heard of the on unutterable law of the Jews, for the sake of which he was being fed. The practice was repeated annually at a fixed season. They would kidnap a Greek foreigner, fatten him up for a year, and then convey him to a wood, where they slew him, sacrificed his body with their customary ritual, partook of his flesh, and, while immolating the Greek, swore an oath of hostility to the Greeks. The remains of their victim were thrown into a pit."
Apion possessed a fierce hatred for the Jews, and resented their influence. His writing was discredited later and Pliny reports that the Emperor Tiberias called him cymbalum mundi (the idiot of the universe). Apion's book "The History of Egypt" is a scathing attack upon the Jews. He claimed that a great amount of the Jews were blind, lame, and lepers that had fled from Egypt. He said that the Sabbath originated because of a pelvic ailment forcing them to rest on the seventh day. He also said that the Jews worshipped the golden head of an ass which Antiochus Epiphanes had found in their temple."
Flavius Josephus "Against Apion, II, 8" (H. Thackeray, Josephus, Cambridge: Harvard University Press Press., 1956) I pp. 329-330.
Bibliography on Ancient Customs
The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised
by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008
© Bible History Online (http://www.bible-history.com)
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