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  • Writer's pictureAslam Abdullah

On The Jews & Their Lies: the Father of Protestantism, Martin Luther

Updated: Nov 1, 2023


The father of Protestantism, Martin Luther, was sympathetic to Jewish resistance to the Catholic Church, believing they would convert to Christianity. They did not, and he wrote The Jews & their Lies. Here are excerpts. The language is vulgar and wild. This language is offensive, and no religious community deserves it. It is being reproduced here as an example of religious bigotry and fanaticism that, unfortunately, has become part of our modern world.


In his words, this essay was to furnish a Christian (who, in any case, has no desire to become a Jew) with enough material not only to defend himself against the blind, venomous Jews but also to become the foe of the Jews’ malice, lying, and cursing, and to understand not only that their belief is false but that all devils possess them. May Christ, our dear Lord, convert them mercifully and preserve us steadfastly and immovably in his knowledge, which is eternal life. Amen.

* * *

I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that these miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves, even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book.

I would not have believed that the Jews could dupe a Christian into taking their exile and wretchedness upon himself.

* * *

He did not call them Abraham’s children but a “brood of vipers” [Matt. 3:7]. Oh, that was too insulting for the noble blood and race of Israel, and they declared, “He has a demon’ [Matt 11:18]. Our Lord also calls them a “brood of vipers”; furthermore, in John 8 [:39,44] he states: “If you were Abraham’s children ye would do what Abraham did.... You are of your father, the devil. It was intolerable to them to hear that they were not Abraham’s but the devil’s children, nor can they bear to listen to this today.

* * *

Therefore, the blind Jews are idiotic fools.

* * *

Now, behold these miserable, blind, and senseless people. Their blindness and arrogance are as solid as an iron mountain.

* * *

Learn from this, dear Christian, what you are doing if you permit the blind Jews to mislead you. Then the saying will truly apply, “When a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into the pit” [cf. Luke 6:39]. You cannot learn anything from them except how to misunderstand the divine commandments.

* * *

Therefore, be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they have their synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils in which sheer self-glory, conceit, lies, blasphemy, and defaming of God and men are practiced most maliciously and veheming his eyes on them.

* * *

Moreover, they are nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us using their accursed usury. Thus, they live daily, together with wife and child, by theft and robbery, as arch thieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security.

* * *

However, they have not mastered the art of lying; they lie so clumsily and ineptly that anyone who is just a little observant can easily detect it. But for us Christians, they stand as a terrifying example of God’s wrath.

* * *

If I had to refute all the other articles of the Jewish faith, I should be obliged to write against them as much and for as long a time as they have used for inventing their lies­­ that is, longer than two thousand years.

* * *

Did I not tell you earlier that a Jew is such a noble, precious jewel that God and all the angels dance when he farts?

* * *

Alas, it cannot be anything but the terrible wrath of God that permits anyone to sink into such abysmal, devilish, hellish, insane baseness, envy, and arrogance. Suppose I were to avenge myself on the devil himself. In that case, I should be unable to wish him such evil and misfortune as God’s wrath inflicts on the Jews, compelling them to lie and to blaspheme so monstrously in violation of their conscience. Anyway, they have their reward for constantly giving God the lie.

* * *

No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.

* * *

But then eject them forever from this country. FoAse have heard, God’s anger with them is so intense that gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse and worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!

* * *

Over and above that, we let them get rich on our sweat and blood while we remain poor, and they such the marrow from our bones.

* * *

I brief, dear princes and lords, those of you who have Jews under your rule­­ if my counsel does not please you, find better advice so that you and we all can be rid of the unbearable, devilish burden of the Jews, lest we become guilty sharers before God in the lies, blasphemy, the defamation, and the curses which the mad Jews indulge in so freely and wantonly against the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, this dear mother, all Christians, all authority, and ourselves. Do not grant them protection, safe conduct, or communion with us.... WiI wish to cleanse and exonerate my conscience with this faithful counsel and warning

* * *

Let the government deal with them in this respect, as suggested. But whether the government acts or not, let everyone at least be guided by his conscience and form for himself a definition or image of a Jew.

* * *

However, we must avoid confirming them in their wanton lying, slandering, cursing, and defaming. Nor dare we make ourselves partners in their devilish ranting and raving by shielding and protecting them, by giving them food, drink, and shelter, or by other neighborly.

* * *

Therefore, we Christians, in turn, are obliged not to tolerate their wanton and conscious blasphemy.

* * *

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 eternal death.

* * *

What shall we Christians do with these rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct now that we know their lying, reviling, and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing, and blasphemy. Thus, we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. With prayer and the fear of God, we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves. Vengeance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by the throat. I shall give you my sincere advice:

1. First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. It is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom so that God might know that we are Christians and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and his Christians. Whatever we accepted in the past unknowingly ­ and I was unaware of it ­God will pardon. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

2. Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed, for they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead, they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. It will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

3. Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, teaching such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy, be taken from them. (remainder omitted)

4. Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses adds: “What they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord.” Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people’s obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way, the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 {:18], “You are Peter,” etc., inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore, he forfeited the right to teach.

5. Fifth, I advise that safe conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. They have no business in the countryside since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let them stay at home.

6. Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess.

7. Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]}. For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting and, on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians using our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.

* * *

But what will happen even if we do burn down the Jews’ synagogues and forbid 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 they are doing this secretly, it is the same as if they were doing it publicly. Our knowledge of their secret doings and our tolerance of them implies that they are not secret after all, and thus.

* * *

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 eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is:

***

First, that their synagogues be burned down, that would demonstrate to God our serious resolve and be evidence to 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.

* * *

I wish, and I ask, that our rulers who have Jewish subjects exercise a sharp mercy toward these wretched people, as suggested above, to see whether this might not help (though it is doubtful). They must act like a good physician who, when gangrene has set in, proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bone, and marrow. We should follow such a procedure in this instance. Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish. They surely do not know what they are doing; moreover, as people possessed, they do not wish to know, hear, or learn that it would be wrong to be merciful and confirm them in their conduct. If this does not help, we must drive them out like mad dogs so that we do not become partakers of their abominable blasphemy and all their other vices and thus merit God’s wrath. I have done my duty. Now let everyone see to his. I am pardoned.”


Source: Internet Medieval Sourcebook; From Luther’s Works, Volume 47: The Christian in Society IV, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), pp. 268-­293.


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