There are three comments of interest:
(1) According to
Tacitus, these Yahudites are rumored to be a race of Ethiopian origin. .
(2) According to Tacitus,
it was rumored that the cities they founded were called "the Hebrew
(3) According to Tacitus,
these people were "the most degraded out of other races."
"Some say that
the Israelites were fugitives from the island of Crete, who settled on
the nearest coast of Africa about the time when Saturn was driven from his
throne by the power of Jupiter.
Evidence of this is sought in
the name. There is a famous mountain in Crete called Ida; the neighboring
tribe, the Idaei, came to be called Judaei by a barbarous lengthening of the
Others assert that in the reign
of Isis the overflowing population of Egypt, led by Hierosolymus and Judas,
discharged itself into the neighboring countries.
say that they were a race of Ethiopian origin, who in the time of king Cepheus
were driven by fear and hatred of their neighbors to seek a new
Others describe them
as an Assyrian horde who, not having sufficient territory, took possession of
part of Egypt, and founded cities of their own in what is called the Hebrew
country, lying on the borders of Syria. Others, again, assign a very
distinguished origin to the Jews, alleging that they were the Solymi, a nation
celebrated in the poems of Homer, who called the city which they founded
Hierosolyma after their own name.
Most writers, however,
agree in stating that once a disease, which horribly disfigured the body,
broke out over Egypt; that king Bocchoris, seeking a remedy, consulted the
oracle of Hammon, and was bidden to cleanse his realm, and to convey into some
foreign land this race detested by the gods.
The people, who had
been collected after diligent search, finding themselves left in a desert, sat
for the most part in a stupor of grief, till one of the exiles, Moyses by
name, warned them not to look for any relief from God or man, forsaken as they
were of both, but to trust to themselves, taking for their heaven-sent leader
that man who should first help them to be quit of their present misery.
They agreed, and in
utter ignorance began to advance at random. Nothing, however, distressed them
so much as the scarcity of water, and they had sunk ready to perish in all
directions over the plain, when a herd of wild asses was seen to retire from
their pasture to a rock to a rock shaded by trees.
Moyses followed them,
and, guided by the appearance of a grassy spot, discovered an abundant spring
of water. This furnished relief. After a continuous journey for six days, on
the seventh they possessed themselves of a country, from which they expelled
the inhabitants, and in which they founded a city and a temple.
Moyses, wishing to
secure for the future his authority over the nation, gave them a novel form of
worship, opposed to all that is practiced by other men. Things sacred with us,
with them have no sanctity, while they allow what with us is forbidden. In
their holy place they have consecrated an image of the animal by whose
guidance they found deliverance from their long and thirsty wanderings. They
slay the ram, seemingly in derision of Hammon, and they sacrifice the ox,
because the Egyptians worship it as Apis.
They abstain from
swine's flesh, in consideration of what they suffered when they were infected
by the leprosy to which this animal is liable. By their frequent fasts they
still bear witness to the long hunger of former days, and the Jewish bread,
made without leaven, is retained as a memorial of their hurried seizure of
We are told that the
rest of the seventh day was adopted, because this day brought with it a
termination of their toils; after a while the charm of indolence beguiled them
into giving up the seventh year also to inaction.
But others say that it
is an observance in honor of Saturn, either from the primitive elements of
their faith having been transmitted from the Idaei, who are said to have
shared the flight of that God, and to have founded the race, or from the
circumstance that of the seven stars which rule the destinies of men, Saturn
moves in the highest orbit and with the mightiest power, and that many of the
heavenly bodies complete their revolutions and courses in multiples of seven.
This worship, however
introduced, is upheld by its antiquity; all their other customs, which are at
once perverse and disgusting, owe their strength to their very badness. The
most degraded out of other races, scorning their national beliefs, brought to
them their contributions and presents.
This augmented the
wealth of the Jews, as also did the fact, that among themselves they are
inflexibly honest and ever ready to shew compassion, though they regard the
rest of mankind with all the hatred of enemies. They sit apart at meals, they
sleep apart, and though, as a nation, they are singularly prone to lust, they
abstain from intercourse with foreign women; among themselves nothing is
adopted by them as a mark of difference from other men. Those who come over to
their religion adopt the practice, and have this lesson first instilled into
them, to despise all gods, to disown their country, and set at nought parents,
children, and brethren."