The linguistic tragedy of the Jewish diaspora
Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, Feminist Issues, Gold Reserves, History, Media, language by Anuraag Sanghi on August 12, 2009
Our knowledge of Jewish life in the second century B.C.E. comes mainly from Flavius Josephus (37/38-95/100 C.E.), the great Jewish-Roman historian who wrote in Greek, the scholarly language of his time. The hellenization of the Jews had been thorough.The King of Judea and the High Priest of Yahweh had Greek names. (page 240).
During the third century B.C.E., the Tobiads were the principal advocates of hellenization among the Jews (Grayzel 1969:49). The Jewish family called the Tobiads (the sons of Tobias) traced their ancestry to Tobias the Ammonite, governor of the Persian province of Ammon (now Jordan), east of Jordan River, during the tenure of Nehemiah in Judea in the fifth century B.C.E. One of them, Joseph ben Tobias, became very prominent during the second half of that century. (page 219).
By the beginning of the third century B.C.E. the Jews were being hellenized rapidly. They no longer spoke Hebrew or Aramaic, but Greek. Their religious services were conducted in Greek. Their personal Hebrew names were hellenized: Honio became Onias, Ezra became Esdras, Yeshua became Iesous (Jesus), and Joshua became Jason. Some Jews had Greek names only, such as Antigonus, Hyrkanos, Aristobolus, or Philon (Philo).The choice of such names by Jews for their children indicated the degree of their hellenization. (page 219).
During the reign of Ptolemaios Philadelphos (Ptolemy II, 308-246 B.C.E.), the Torah and other Jewish holy scriptures were translated into Greek by a synod of scholars. (page 215).
During the years that he was the High Priest and ethnarch (175-171 B.C.E.) Jason promoted Greek sports at the expense of Temple worship. Jason did not last long in the office of High Priest. He was unseated in 171 B.C.E. by Menelaos, a member of the noble Jewish Tobiads and a more extreme Hellenizer than Jason himself.(page 224-225).
By the first century, Greek had become the language of the Jews in the”diaspora”. The Jews of the Hellenic world spoke Greek the way present-day American Jews speak English. During the Greco-Roman and the Byzantine periods, from the late fourth century B.C.E., to the early seventh century C.E. most Jews were thoroughly Hellenized.(page 454).
By the third century B.C.E the Jews of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt had become thoroughly hellenized. They worshipped Zeus, Hera, and the rest of the Greek pantheon. There were images of Greek sun god Helios, the wine god Dionysos, and the demigod Heracles on Jewish synagogue floor mosaics at Sepphori an other Gallilean cities as late as the sixth century C.E. But the Orthodox Jews violently resisted Hellenism. The conflict between Helenism and Judaism, or rather between hellenized and Orthodox Jews, was to lead to major trouble in the second century BCE, after Palestine was captured from Egypt by the Seleucid Greeks of Syria. (page 215).
Just as in modern America most Jews use English rather than Hebrew in their religious services and rituals, so Greek was used by the Jews of Egypt, including Judea, in their religion (page 215).
Hellenic culture was much more attractive to the young Jews of Judea than the rigid strictures of their own religion. The Greek myths and deities, projections of the deepest infantile conflicts and family relations, etched into the unconscious mind of every person, deeply appealed to the people, just as the Canaanites myths had to their ancestors. The Tobiads led the wave of hellenization among the Jews. (page 220)
Jews always spoke the language of the land which was their home. When expulsions and and persecutions eventually brought about a wider separation between the Jews and the non-Jews, the result was a growing dissimilarity between the intimate languages spoken by each group.(Grayzel quoted on page 458).
in the early fourth century, the Jews were divided into three main groupings. Those living in the Western Roman Empire of Italy, which comprised much of Western Europe, spoke mainly Latin, the lingua franca of the West, and the native European languages of the ethnic groups amongst whom they lived. The Jews of the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium, with its capital at Constantinople spoke mainly Greek, the language of the East. The Jews living in Sassanian Neo-Persian empire east of the Euphrates spoke mainly Aramaic. Hebrew continued to be spoken by Jewish scholars and by the people in their prayers. (page 337).
During the seventh and eighth centuries the lands inhabited by Jew in the Middle East and North Africa were conquered by the Muslim Arabs. Arabic became the language of the these Jews. (page 454).
Text extracts from A psychoanalytic history of the Jews By Avner Falk.
Judaism – an existential challenge
Jews - the eternal victims
One of the oldest religions in the world, the Jewish population, across the world, and in Israel, today faces an existential challenge. With 0.25% of world population, i.e. less than 1.5 crore Jews left, in a world of more than 600 crore people, they have made enemies of their neighbours around their country.
The Jewish state, dependent on US largesse, hangs by a thin thread. Without Hitler, the world population of Jews would possibly have been not much better. Maybe 2.5 crores instead of 1.5 crores (at the risk of sounding insensitive). Maybe 0.5% of world population, instead of 0.25%.
So, what is the reason for this fragile position of the Jewish population? Of course, it begs the question, was the Jewish population ever a significant part of global population?
According to James Carroll, “Jews accounted for 10% of the total population of the Roman Empire. By that ratio, if other factors had not intervened, there would be 200 million Jews in the world today, instead of something like 13 million.” Of course, there are many other complex demographic factors involved; the rate of population growth, epidemics, migration, assimilation, and conversion could all have played major roles in the current size of the global Jewish population. According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics 19.8% of the modern Iberian population has Sephardic Jewish ancestry, indicating that the number of conversos may have been much higher than originally thought. (extracted from Wikipedia on August 12th 2009).
The Israel and USA tango - who is using whom!
Jews – the eternal victims?
Of course, Jews have not been the only population group in the world who have had to face the problems of epidemics, migration, assimilation, and conversion. What could have been a significant reason for the decline in the Jewish population over the centuries?
A 2ndlook at history points out (extracts above) that the Jewish populations gave up their language and culture ab initio. Within a few centuries of its foundation, they were giving up on their culture.
Those who don’t learn from history …
The Jewish history has invaluable lessons for Indians. For one, all those who think that English is God’s special gift to India (and mankind), should look at the eclipse of the Greek language. I am yet to discover the logic which shows that English will fare better than Greek, Spanish, Persian or Urdu.
Reducing the role of the Indian State
The massive subsidy given by the Indian state towards English language education needs to be phased out. Indian languages (all of them) should start getting back on their feet. The people of India, each individual will choose their language. No bureaucrat, politician, ‘intellectual’ will decide that. Finito. Completo. Terminato. Endlich. Eindig. ändlig.
The Indian language basket also calls for diversification. India needs to learn more foreign languages. The great ’software success story is actually two countries – US and UK who give between 70%-80% of Indian software business? This is coolie labour! We are missing out on the massive Japanese, French and the Spanish markets because we have not invested in those foreign languages. And we have missed out on computing in Indian languages, because we have not invested there either.
The Israel and USA tango - who is using whom!
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Aashish Singh said, on August 12, 2009 at 12:22 pm
I wrote the following at some other blog regarding the 2nd and 3rd generation post independence Bharatiye. I’m copying and pasting here as well as it gel with your content.
The 2nd and 3rd generation post independence Bharatiye have whole heartedly accepted the fact that Bharat and everything related to it is inferior to West.
Infact majority of Bhartiye believe that the real development of self, society and country is to become westerners in every possible way and they are striving hard for it. Their only aim in life is to somehow become like Westerners. In whatever possible way and upto whatever extent they can, they want to be like westerners. They keep cursing themselves until death for not being born to white parents in West.
It is extremely difficult to get rid of our cultural values, our dharma, our language our entire heritage all of which is passed to us by the virtue of being Bhartiye. So, if our very own Bhartiye want to turn like their adorable Westerner then what should they do??. Simple and natural, Start bashing Bharat and everything related to it just like the Westerners do.
Let me give you an example for the above statement to make sense. In Bharat if you want to be like an Englishmen (which are considered to be our role model and our masters in every sense) then you should speak English to non-English speaking Bharitye. If you can not speak English then atleast try to speak Hindi like an Englishmen. This will help you distance yourself from these demine Bhartiye (at least for your fake ego).
These westerners have their purpose of diminig Bharat and its culture to project themselves as superior in everything, so that others (We) only follow them and do not compete with them. This is done to maintain their supremacy which they have acquired by faking, looting and deceit. However, our own West adoring people like Rineesh, Romila Thappar, Arundati (Suzzane) Roy etc. join them and bash Bharat and everything related to it. Doing this they think that they have at least something in common with their masters (Westerners) which gives immense pleasure to their fake ego. They think that with such an activity they can distance themselves from the Bhartiye tag and switch to other side which is the aim they are after ever since the unfateful day they were born to brown parents in Bharat.
At some point of time down the line the western masters of these West-Worshipers-Bharat-Cursers Bhartiye would recognize them for their unasked yet utmost service to the West and will award them (like Bookers prize) for their untiring services of bashing and dimining their own country and countrymen. These fellow Bhartiye will be honored with Medals (and will be inducted in Hall of ‘Flames’) by their masters, which they will flaunt to other Bhartiyes as if what great achievement they have made. They will further urge other Bhartiye to follow them and will also act as role models in the service of Bashing their own motherland and its heritage for the sake of being like their Western masters (wait for some more years for people like Rajdeep Sardasi, Barkha Dutt, Pronoy Roy, Ambika Soni, Prakash Karat, Y.S.R. Reddy etc. to be awarded by the West).
Bharat, Bhartiyeta, its heritage, its culture, its values, its religion everything is a role model for the entire world even in 21st century. Bharat is the mother and spritual capital of this world. Hindusim (Sanatan Dharma) is the spirit and the faith driving this country. The day Hinduism and Bharat is over this material world will cease to exist. We should be proud of this nation and should consider ourselves privileged to be born in Bharatvarsha.
Anuraag Sanghi said, on August 12, 2009 at 3:25 pm
I think the solution is easy. We just need to ensure that State funding of English language needs to end. All your above issues will vanish!
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