Page 11 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 11 (1952-1952)

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COHEN — GREAT JEWI SH BOOKS AND CIVILIZATION 5
was the god against whom the God of Israel fought. Moses led a
theological war of God against god, of system against system. So,
too, the king of Babylon, and the king of Assyria, and the kings
of the ancient world were gods upon the earth. In their hands
they held the power of the state. They held in their hands the
control of the land, and the people upon the land were merely serfs
and slaves. These had no human rights. Their only right was to
die in the wars th a t the god-kings engaged in when they wanted
more land and more power.
I t was a cruel system. I t was a system th a t created great
pyramids and temples, bu t those pyramids and temples were
founded upon human suffering and human lives and the bitterness
of men and women who had no rights whatsoever upon this earth.
I t was against the idolatry-system th a t the Bible fought a
relentless war. To the Bible the land did not belong to the king;
the land belongs to God. And the people had their equal rights in
the land, tribe by tribe and family by family. So th a t the economic
system within the Bible waged war against the economic system
on which the idolatry of the ancient Bible world was based.
The king of Israel ruled with the consent of his people. He had
to study the Torah which was the Constitution and he had to
govern his people by it, for he was only a constitutional king. He
was not the representative of God upon earth. He was elected by
the people and he could be rejected by the people.
The people upon the soil had rights, not rights tha t the king
gave them or the parliament of the times. They had rights in-
herent in themselves, rights written in the pages of the Bible.
Within the Bible existed a totally different system, a system th a t
made for human well-being, for freedom, for human dignity, for
the right of the individual to his own life and his own way of life;
so tha t a citizen could defy his king to take away his ancestral
land. Only a cunning princess and queen from the pagan world
dared to deprive him of his rights in the land, of his dignity as a
human being. Meanwhile her Jewish husband-king lay on his bed
in the palace and sulked because he could not get the land so^that
he could enlarge his hunting grounds and his gardens of pleasure.
I f you lived in the ancient world when the Bible was written and
were a king, you would not have liked the writers of the Bible.
You would not have liked their teachings. You would have hated
them. I f you were par t of the pagan world and you saw this Book
challenging the very existence of the things in which you believed
and the idolatry-system from which you profited, you too would
look upon th a t Book and the people who wrote it as dangerous
to the peace of the world.