THE SECOND TOLEDOTH JESCHU

[Extracted from Baring-Gould, The Lost and Hostile Gospels, (1874), pp. 102-15.]


We will now analyze and give extracts from the second anti-evangel of the Jews, the TOLEDOTH JESCHU of HULDRICH.1

It begins thus: "In the reign of King Herod the Proselyte, there lived a man named Papus Ben Jehuda. To him was betrothed Mirjam, daughter of Kalphus; and her brother's name was Simeon. He was a Rabbi, the son of Kalphus. This Mirjam, before her betrothal, was a hair-dresser to women She was surpassing beautiful in form. She was of the tribe of Benjamin."

On account of her extraordinary beauty, she was kept locked up in a house; but she escaped through a window, and fled from Jerusalem to Bethlehem with Joseph Pandira, of Nazareth.

As has been already said, Papus Ben Jehuda was a contemporary of Rabbi Akiba, and died about A.D. 140. In the Wagenseil Toledoth Jeschu, Mirjam is betrothed to a Jochanan. In the latter, Mary lives at Bethlehem; in the Toledoth of Huldrich, she resides at Jerusalem.

Many years after, the place of the retreat of Mirjam and Joseph Pandira having been made known to Herod, he sent to Bethlehem orders for their arrest, and for the massacre of the children; but Joseph, who had been forewarned by a kinsman in the court of Herod, fled in time with his wife and children into Egypt. [p.103] After many years a famine broke out in Egypt, and Joseph and Mirjam, with their son Jeschu and his brethren, returned to Canaan and settled at Nazareth.

"And Jeschu grew up, and went to Jerusalem to acquire knowledge, in the school of Joshua, the son of Perachia (B.C. 90); and he made there great advance, so that he learned the mystery of the chariot and the holy Name.2

"One day it fell out that Jeschu was playing ball with the sons of the priests, near the chamber Gasith, on the hill of the Temple. Then by accident the ball fell into the Fish-valley. And Jeschu was very grieved, and in his anger he plucked the hat from off his head, and cast it on the ground and burst into lamentations. Thereupon the boys warned him to put his hat on again, for it was not comely to be with uncovered head. Jeschu answered. Verily, Moses gave you not this law; it is but an addition of the lawyers, and therefore need not be observed.

"Now there sat there, Rabbi Eliezer and Joshua Ben Levi (AD. 220), and the Rabbi Akiba (A.D. 135) hard by, in the school, and they heard the words that Jeschu had spoken.

"Then said the Rabbi Eliezer, That boy is certainly a Mamser. But Rabbi Joshua, son of Levi, said, He is a Ben-hannidda. And the Rabbi Akiba said also, He is a Ben-hannidda.3 Therefore the Rabbi Akiba went forth out of the school, and asked Jeschu in what city he was born. Jeschu answered, I am of N'azareth; my father's name is Mezaria,4 and my mother's name is Karchat.

"Then the Rabbis Akiba, Eliezer and Joshua went into the school of the Rabbi Joshua, son of Perachia, and seized Jeschu by the hair and cut it off in a circle, and washed his [p.104] head with the water Koleth, so that the hair might not grow again."

Ashamed at this humiliation, according to the Toledoth Jeschu of Huldrich, the boy returned to Nazareth, where he wounded his mother's breast.

Probably the author of this counter-Gospel saw one of those common artistic representations of the Mater Dolorosa with a sword piercing her soul, and invented the story of Jesus wounding his mother's breast to account for it.

When Jeschu was grown up, there assembled about him many disciples, whose names were Simon and Matthias, Elikus, Mardochai and Thoda, whose names Jeschu changed.

"He called Simon Peter, after the word Petrus, which in Hebrew signifies the First. And Matthias he called Matthew; and Elikus he called Luke, because he sent him forth among the heathen; and Mardochai he named Mark, because he said, Vain men come to me; and Thoda he named Pahul (Paul), because he bore witness of him.

"Another worthless fellow also joined them, named Jochanan, and he changed his name to Jahannus on account of the miracles Jeschu wrought through him by means of the incommunicable Name. This Jahannus advised that all the men who were together should have their heads washed with the water Koleth, that the hair might not grow on them, and all the world might know that they were Nazarenes.

"But the affair was known to the elders and to the King, Then he sent his messengers to take Jeschu and his disciples, and to bring them to Jerusalem. But out of fear of the people, they gave timely warning to Jeschu that the King sought to take and kill him and his companions. Therefore they fled into the desert of Ai (Capernaum 1). And when the servants of the King came and found them not, with the exception of Jahamius, they took him and led him before the King. And [p.105] the King ordered that Jahannus should be executed with the sword. The servants of the King therefore went at his command and slew Jahannus, and hung up his head at the gate of Jerusalem.5

"About this time Jeschu assembled the inhabitants of Jerusalem about him, and wrought many miracles. He laid a millstone on the sea, and sailed about on it, and cried, I am God, the Son of God, born of my mother by the power of the Holy Ghost, and I sprang from her virginal brow.

"And he wrought many miracles, so that all the inhabitants of Ai believed in him, and his miracles he wrought by means of the incommunicable Name.

"Then Jeschu ordered the law to be done away with, for it is said in the Psalm, It is time for thee. Lord, to lay too thine hand, for they have destroyed thy law. Now, said he, is the right time come to tear up the law, for the thousandth generation has come since David said. He hath promised to keep his word to a thousand generations (Ps. cviii. 8).

"Therefore they arose and desecrated the Sabbath.

"When now the elders and wise men heard of what was done, they came to the King and consulted him and his council. Then answered Judas, son of Zachar,6 I am the first of the King's princes; I will go myself and see if it be true what is said, that this man blasphemeth.

"Therefore Judas went and put on other clothes like the men of Ai, and spake to Jeschu and said, I also will learn your doctrine. Then Jeschu had his head shaved in a ring and washed with the water Koleth.

"After that they went into the wilderness, for they feared the King lest he should take them if they tarried at Ai. And they lost their way; and in the wilderness they lighted on a shepherd who lay on the ground. Then Jeschu asked [p.106] him the right way, and how far it was to shelter. The shepherd answered, The way lies straight before you; and he pointed it out with his foot.

"They went a little further, and they found a shepherd maiden, and Jeschu asked her which way they must go. Then the maiden led them to a stone which served as a sign-post. And Peter said to Jeschu, Bless this maiden who has led us hither! And he blessed her, and wished for her that she might become the wife of the shepherd they had met on the road.

"Then said Peter, Wherefore didst thou so bless the maiden? He answered, The man is slow, but she is lively. If he were left without her activity, it would fare ill with him. For I am a God of mercy, and make marriages as is best for man."

This is a German story. There are many such of Jesus and St. Peter to be found in all collections of German household tales. They go together on a journey, and various adventures befal them, and the Lord orders things very differently from what Peter expects. To this follows another story, familiar to English schoolboys. The apostles come with their Master to an inn; and ask for food. The innkeeper has a goose, and it is decided that he shall have the goose who dreams the best dream that night. When all are asleep, Judas gets up, plucks, roasts and eats the goose. Next morning they tell their dreams. Judas says, "Mine was the best of all, for I dreamt that in the night I ate the goose; and, lo! the goose is gone this morning. I think the dream must have been a reality." Among English schoolboys, the story is told of an Englishman, and Scotchman, and an Irishman. The latter, of course, takes the place of Judas.

Some equally ridiculous stories follow, inserted for the purpose of making our blessed Lord and his apostles [p.107] contemptible, but not taken, like the two just mentioned, from German folk-lore.

"After that Judas went to Jerusalem, but Jeschu and Peter tarried awaiting him (at Laish), for they trusted him. Now when Judas was come to Jerusalem, he related to the King and the elders the words and deeds of Jeschu, and how, through the power of the incommunicable Name, he had wrought such wonders that the people of Ai believed in him, and how that he had taken to wife the daughter of Karkamus, chief ruler of Ai.

"Then the King and the elders asked counsel of Judas how they might take Jeschu and his disciples. Judas answered, Persuade Jagar Ben Purah, their host, to mix the water of forgetfulness with their wine. We will come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles; and then do ye take him and his disciples. For Jager Purah is the brother of the Gerathite Karkamus, but I will persuade Jeschu that Jager Purah is the brother of Karkamus of Ai, and he will believe my words, and they will all come up to the Feast of Tabernacles. Now when they shall have drunk of that wine, then will Jeschu forget the incommunicable Name, and so will be unable to deliver himself out of your hands, so that ye can capture him and hold him fast.

"Then answered the King and the elders, Thy counsel is good; go in peace, and we will appoint a fast. Therefore Judas went his way on the third of the month Tisri (October), and the great assembly in Jerusalem fasted a great fast, and prayed God to deliver Jeschu and his followers into their hands. And they undertook for themselves and for their successors a fast to be held annually on the third of the month Tisri, for ever.

"When Judas had returned to Jeschu, he related to him, I have been attentive to hear what is spoken in Jerusalem, and none so much as wag their tongues against thee. Yea! when the King took Jahannus to slay him, his disciples came in force and rescued him. And Jahannus said to me, Go say [p.108] to Jesus, our Lord, that he come with his disciples, and we will protect him; and see! the host, Jager Purah, is brother of Karkamus, ruler of Ai, and an uncle of thy betrothed.

"Now when Jeschu heard the words of Judas, he believed them; for the inhabitants of Jerusalem and their neighbours fasted incessantly during the six days between the feast of the New Year and the Day of Atonement,—yea, even on the Sabbath Day did some of them fast. And when those men who were not in the secret asked wherefore they fasted at this unusual time, when it was not customary to fast save on the Day of Atonement, the elders answered them. This is done because the King of the Gentiles has sent and threatened us with war.

"But Jeschu and his disciples dressed themselves in the costume of the men of Ai, that they might not be recognized in Jerusalem; and in the fast, on the Day of Atonement, Jeschu came with his disciples to Jerusalem, and entered into the house of Purah, and said, Of me it is written, Who is this that Cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me.7 For now am I come from Edom to the house of Purah, and of thee, Purah, was it written, Jegar Sahadutha.8 For thou shalt be to us a hill of witness and assured protection. But I have come here to Jerusalem to abolish the festivals and the holy seasons and the appointed holy days. And he that believeth in me shall have his portion in eternal life. I will give forth a new law in Jerusalem, for of me was it written, Out of Zion shall the law go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.9 And their sins and unrighteousness will I atone for with my blood. Bat after I am dead I will arise to life again; for it is written, [p.109] I kill and make alive; I bring down to hell, and raise up therefrom again.10

"But Judas betook himself secretly to the King, and told him how that Jeschu and his disciples were in the house of Purah. Therefore the King sent young priests into the house of Purah, who said unto Jeschu, We are ignorant men, and believe in thee and thy word; but do this, we pray thee, work a miracle before our eyes.

"Then Jeschu wrought before them wonders by means of the incommunicable Name.

"And on the great Day of Atonement he and his disciples ate and drank, and fasted not; and they drank of the wine wherewith was mingled the Water of Forgetfulness, and then betook themselves to rest.

"And when midnight was now come, behold! servants of the King surrounded the house, and to them Purah opened the door. And the servants broke into the room where Jeschu and his disciples were, and they cast them into chains.

"Then Jeschu directed his mind to the incommunicable Name; but he could not recall it, for all had vanished from his recollection.

"And the servants of the King led Jeschu and his disciples to the prison of the blasphemers. And in the morning they told the King that Jeschu and his disciples were taken and cast into prison. Then he ordered that they should be detained till the Feast of Tabernacles.

"And on that feast all the people of the Lord came together to the feast, as Moses had commanded them. Then the King ordered that Jeschu's disciples should be stoned outside the city; and all the Israelites looked on, and heaped stones on the disciples. And all Israel broke forth into hymns of praise to the God of Israel, that these men of Belial had thus fallen into their hands.

"But Jeschu was kept still in prison, for the King would not slay him till the men of Ai had seen that his words were naught, and what sort of a prophet he was proved to be.

[p.110]

"Also he wrote letters throughout the land to the councils of the synagogues to learn from them after what manner Jeschu should be put to death, and summoning all to assemble at Jerusalem on the next feast of the Passover. to execute Jeschu, as it is written. Whosoever blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him."11

"But the people of Girmajesa (Germany) and all that country round, what is at this day called Wormajesa (Worms) in the land of the Emperor, and the little council in the town of Wormajesa, answered the King in this wise, Let Jesus go, and slay him not! Let him live till he die and perish.

"But when the feast of the Passover drew nigh, it was heralded through all the land of Judaea, that any one who had aught to say in favour, and for the exculpation, of Jeschu, should declare it before the King. But all the people with one consent declared that Jeschu must die.12

"Therefore, on the eve of the Passover, Jeschu was brought out of the prison, and they cried before him, So may all thine enemies perish, Lord! And they hanged him on a tree outside of Jerusalem, as the King and elders of Jerusalem had commanded.

"And all Israel looked on and praised and glorified God.

"Now when even was come, Judas took down the body of Jeschu from the tree and laid it in his garden in a conduit.

"But when the people of Ai heard that Jeschu had been hung, they became enemies to Israel. And the people of Ai attacked the Israelites, and slew of them two thousand men. And the Israelites could not go to the feasts because of the men of Ai. Therefore the King proclaimed war against Ai; but he could not overcome it, for mightily grew the multitude of those who believed in Jeschu, even under the eyes of the King in Jerusalem.

"And some of these went to Ai, and declared that on the third day after Jeschu had been hung, fire had fallen from [p.111] heaven, which had surrounded Jeschu, and he had arisen alive, and gone up into heaven.13

"And the people of Ai believed what was said, and swore to avenge on the children of Israel the crime they had committed in hanging Jeschu. 'Now when Judas saw that the people of Ai threatened great things, he wrote a letter unto them, saying, There is no peace to the ungodly, saith the Lord; therefore do the people take counsel together, and the Gentiles imagine a vain thing. Come to Jerusalem and see your false prophet! For, lo! he is dead and buried in a conduit. Now when they heard this, the men of Ai went to Jerusalem and saw Jeschu lying where had been said. But, nevertheless, when they returned to Ai, they said that all Judas had written was false. For, lo! said they, when we came to Jerusalem we found that all believed in Jeschu, and had risen and had expelled the King out of the city because he believed not; and many of the elders have they slain. Then the men of Ai believed these words of the messengers, and they proclaimed war against Israel.

"Now when the King and the elders saw that the men of Ai were about to encamp against them, and that the numbers of these worthless men grew—they were the brethren and kinsmen of Jeschu—they took counsel what they should do in such sore straits as they were in.

"And Judas said, Lo! Jeschu has an uncle Simon, son of Kalpus, who is now alive, and he is an honourable old man. Give him the incommunicable Name, and let him work wonders in Ai, and tell the people that he does them in the name of Jesus. And they will believe Simon, because he is the uncle of Jeschu. But Simon must make them believe that Jeschu committed to him all power to teach them not to ill-treat the Israelites, and he has reserved them for his own vengeance.

"This counsel pleased the King and the elders, and they went to Simon and told him the matter.

[p.112]

"Then went Simon, when he had learned the Name, and drew nigh to Ai, and he raised a cloud and thunder and lightning. And he seated himself on the cloud, and as the thunder rolled he cried, Ye men of Ai, gather yourselves together at the tower of Ai, and there will I give you commandments from Jeschu.

"But when the people of Ai heard this voice, they were sore afraid, and they assembled on all sides about the tower. And lo! Simon was borne thither on the cloud; and he stepped upon the tower. And the men of Ai fell on their faces before him.14 Then Simon said, I am Simon Ben Kalpus, uncle of Jeschu. Jeschu came and sent me unto you to teach you his law, for Jesus is the Son of God. And lo! I will give you the law of Jesus, which is a new commandment.

"Then he wrought before them signs and wonders, and he said to the people of Ai, Swear to me to obey all that I tell you. And they swore to him. Then said Simon, Go to your own homes. And all the people of Ai returned to their dwellings.

"Now Simon sat on the tower, and wrote the commandments even as the King and elders had decided. And he changed the Alphabet, and gave the letters new names, as secretly to protest that all he taught written in those letters was lies. And this was the Alphabet he wrote: A, Be, Ce, De, E, Ef, Cha, I, Ka, El, Em, En, O, Pe, Ku, Er, Es, Te, U, Ix, Ejed, Zet.

"And this is the interpretation: My father is Esau, who was a huntsman, and was weary; and lo! his sons believed in Jesus, who Lives, as God.

"And Simon composed for the deception of the people of Ai lying books, and he called them 'Avonkelajon' (Evangelium), which, being interpreted, is the End of Ungodliness.

[p.113]

But they thought he said, 'Eben gillajon,' which means Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He also wrote books in the names of the disciples of Jeschu, and especially in that of Johannes, and said that Jeschu had given him these.

"But with special purpose he composed the Book of Johannes (the Apocalypse), for the men of Ai thought it contained mysteries, whereas it contained pure invention. For instance, he wrote in the Book of Johannes that Johannes saw a beast with seven heads and seven horns and seven crowns, and the name of the beast was blasphemy, and the number of the beast 666. Now the seven heads mean the seven letters which compose in Hebrew the words, 'Jeschu of Nazareth.' And in like manner the number 666 is that which is the sum of the letters composing this name. In like way did Simon compose all the books to deceive the people, as the King and the elders had bidden him.

"And on the sixth day of the third month Simon sat on the cloud, and the people of Ai were gathered together before him to the tower, and he gave them the book Avonkelajon, and said to them. When ye have children born to you, ye must sprinkle them with water, in token that Jeschu was washed with the water Koleth, and ye must observe all the commandments that are written in the book Avonkelajon. And ye must wage no war against the people of Israel, for Jeschu has reserved them to avenge himself on them himself.

"Now when the people of Ai heard these words, they answered that they would keep them. And Simon returned on his cloud to Jerusalem. And all the people thought he had gone up in a cloud to heaven to bring destruction on the Israelites.15

"Not long after this. King Herod died, and was succeeded by his son in the kingdom of Israel. But when he had obtained the throne, he heard that the people of Ai had made [p.114] images in honour of Jesus and Mary, and he wrote letters to Ai and ordered their destruction; otherwise he would make war against them.

"Then the people of Ai sent asking help of the Emperor against the King of Israel. But the Emperor would not assist them and war against Israel. Therefore, when the people of Ai saw that there was no help, they burned the images and bound themselves before the sons of Israel.

"And about this time Mirjam, the mother of Jeschu, died. Then the King ordered that she should be buried at the foot of the tree on which Jeschu had hung; and there he also had the brothers and sisters of Jeschu hung up. And they were hung, and a memorial stone was set up on the spot.

"But the worthless men, their kinsmen, came and destroyed the memorial stone, and set up another in its stead, on which they wrote the words, 'Lo! this is a ladder set upon the earth, whose head reaches to heaven, and the angels of God ascend and descend upon it, and the mother rejoices here in her children, Allelujah!'

"Now when the King heard this, he destroyed the memorial they had erected, and killed a hundred of the kindred of Jeschu.

"Then went Simon, son of Kalpus, to the King and said. Suffer me, and I will draw away these people from Jerusalem. And the King said. Be it so; go, and the Lord be with thee! Therefore Simon went secretly to these worthless men, and said to them. Let us go together to Ai, and there shall ye see wonders which I will work. And some went to Ai, but others seated themselves beside Simon on his cloud, and left Jerusalem with him. And on the way Simon cast down those who sat on the cloud with him upon the earth, so that they died.16

"And when Simon returned to Jerusalem, he told the King [p.115] what he had done, and the King rejoiced greatly. And Simon left not the court of the King till his death. And when he died, all the Jews observed the day as a fast, and it was the 9th of the month Teboth (January).

"But those who had gone to Ai at the word of Simon believed that Simon and those with him had gone up together into heaven on the cloud.

"And when men saw what Simon had taught the people of Ai in the name of Jesus, they followed them also, and they took them the daughters of Ai to wife, and sent letters into the furthest islands with the book Avonkelajon, and undertook for themselves, and for their descendants, to hold to all the words of the book Avonkelajon.

"Therefore they abolished the Law, and chose the first day of the week as the Sabbath, for that was the birthday of Jesus, and they ordained many other customs and bad feasts. Therefore have they no part and lot in Israel. They are accursed in this world, and accursed in the world to come. But the Lord bless his people Israel with peace.

"These are the words of the Eabbi Jochanan, son of Saccai, in Jerusalem."

That this second version of the "Life of Jeschu'' is later than the first one, I think there can be little doubt. It is more full of absurdities than the first, it adopts German household tales, and exhibits an ignorance of history even more astounding than in the first Life. The preachers of the "Evangelium" marry wives, and there is a burning of images of St. Mary and our Lord. These are perhaps indications of its having been composed after the Reformation.

Luther did not know anything of the Life published later by Huldrich. The only Toledoth Jeschu he was acquainted with was that afterwards published by Wagenseil.


FOOTNOTES

1 Job. Jac. Huldricus: Historia Jeschuae Nazareni, a Judgeis blaspheme corrupta; Leyden, 1705.

2 The mystery of the chariot is that of the chariot of God and the cherubic beasts, Ezekiel i. The Jews wrote the name of God without vowels, Jhvh; the vowel points taken from the name Adonai (Lord) were added later.

3 The story is somewhat different in the Talmudic tract Calla, as already related.

4 From Mizraim, Egypt.

5 Evidently the author confounds John the Baptist with John the Apostle.

6 Judas Iscarioth. In St. John's Gospel he is called the son of Simon (vi. 71, xiii. 2, 26). Son of Zachar is a corruption of Iscarioth. The name Iscarioth is probably from Kerioth, his native village, in Judah.

7 Isa. lxiii. 1-3. Singularly enough, this passage is chosen for the Epistle in the Roman and Anglican Churches for Monday in Holy Week, with special reference to the Passion.

8 Gen. xxxi. 47.

9 Isa. ii. 3.

10 1 Sam. ii. 6.

11 Lev. xxiv. 16.

12 This is taken from Sanhedrim, fol. 43.

13 It is worth observing how these two false witnesses disagree in almost every particular about our blessed Lord's birth and passion.

14 This is probably taken from the story of Simon Magus in the Pseudo-Linus. Simon flies from off a high tower. In the Apocryphal Book of the Death of the Virgin, the apostles come to her death-bed riding on clouds. Ai is here Rome, not Capernaum.

15 The author probably saw representations of the Ascension and of the Last Judgment, with Christ seated with the Books of Life and Death in his hand on a great white cloud, and composed this story out of what he saw, associating the pictures with the floating popular legend of Simon Magus.

16 In the story of Simon the Sorcerer, it is at the prayer of Simon Peter that the Sorcerer falls whilst flying and breaks all his bones. Perhaps the author saw a picture of the Judgment with saints on the cloud with Jesus, and the lost falling into the flames of hell.