The Ancient Scriptures and the Modern Jew/Chapter 9

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Numbers and Distribution of the Jewish People

THE subject of Jewish statistics is a very difficult one, for in some parts of the world where they are scattered, it is almost impossible to obtain exact data as to their actual numbers.

From earliest times in their national history, the Jews have had a religious aversion to being systematically counted, and in modern times, especially in countries where they are only "aliens," with scarcely any civil rights, and where the forced military service without any chance for a Jew of rising above the ranks is greatly hated, the ancient superstitious feeling against registration is strengthened by the desire to save as many of their sons as possible from military bondage, or themselves from the extortions and persecutions of corrupt officials.

That the difficulty is a very ancient and continuous one may be gathered from the conflicting figures which are handed down to us by contemporaries of different periods of their history since the destruction of their Temple, and the desolation of their land, by the legions of Vespasian and Titus. Take, for instance, the number given of those who left Spain to commence their



unparalleled and woeful experiences after the cruel edict of expulsion, which was signed by Ferdinand and Isabella at Granada in March, 1492. Zurita reckons their number at 170,000; Cardoso at 120,000; Abar- banel, the Jew, who was Minister of State in the Spanish Court at the time, in the Preface to his Commentary to the Book of Kings, puts them down at 300,000 ; while Miguel de Barrais and Mariana give us as high a figure as 800,000. Now all these were contemporaries.

In an old history of Poland it is related that King Sigismund Augustus (1548-1572), alarmed at the fact that the Jews were increasing so rapidly in his kingdom, and also desiring to replenish his empty coffers, deter- mined on subjecting them to a capitation tax, from which, at a florin per head, he calculated on receiving about 200,000 florins. His surprise and that of his court, however, was very great, on rinding that the registration roll did not contain more than about 17,000 names. Of course scarcely a tenth of their actual number was returned by the Jews. Sigismund com- plained of this to his friend, the Bishop of Cracow, a prelate remarkable for the fact that in his superstitious age he did not believe in magic. " Bishop," said the king, "you, who do not believe in magic, or that the Evil One has anything to do with human affairs, tell me, I beseech you, how the Jews who yesterday were 200,000, have to-day, that a capitation tax is wanted, been able to conceal themselves so as to count scarcely 17,000?" The bishop is said to have replied that his Majesty must be aware that the Jews are clever enough for anything without requiring the help of the devil ; but if he had been less prejudiced he might have told him that if he had tried the same process of persecution and extortion on his Orthodox Catholic subjects, he


would have found them equally clever in concealing themselves, with or without the help of the devil. I only mention these instances as illustrations of the difficulty connected with the subject of Jewish statistics.

The tables in the footnotes are taken from "The Jewish Year Book" for 1899-1900, a fairly reliable work, edited by Mr. Joseph Jacobs, who bases his calculations on a statistical article by I. Loeb in " Diet, de Geographic," 1879.*

Some of the figures are obviously below the actual number, and the totals put down for Africa and Asia ought, according to my estimation, to be at least doubled.

1 For the sake of comparison I give here also Professor Gustaf H . Dalman's figures in his " Kurzgefasstes Handbuch Der Mission Unter Israel," published Berlin, 1893, which are based on Pro- fessor Juraschek's " Geographisch-Statistischen Tabellen iiber alle Lander der Erde," compared with the " Annuaire des Archives Israelite" for 1886-1891. Professor Dalman's tables are as follows :

(a) Europe : Austro- Hungary, 1,652,000 ; Belgium, 5,000 ; Bulgaria, 24,000 ; Denmark, 4,000 ; Germany, 579,000 ; France, 80,000 ; Greece, 6,000 ; Great Britain, 60,000 ; Italy, 45,000 ; Luxemburg, 850 ; Netherlands, 90,100 ; Portugal, 300 ; Roumania, 400,000 ; Russia, 3,236,000 ; Sweden, 3,800 ; Switzerland, 8,800 ; Servia, 4,400 ; Spain, 6,900 ; Turkey in Europe, 94,600. Total number of Jews in Europe, 6,301,550.

(6) Asia : Afghanistan, 14,000 ; British India, 26,000 ; Persia, 19,000 ; Russian- Asia, 40,000 ; Turkish Possessions, 195,000 ; Palestine, 50,000. Total number of Jews in Asia, 294,000.

(c) Africa : Abyssinia, 200,000 ; Egypt, 8,000 : Algeria, 48,500 ; Morocco, 200,000 ; Tripoli, 6,000 ; Tunis, 45,000. Total number in Africa, 507,500.

(d) America : British North America, 2,500 ; Dutch Possessions, 2,700; Central and South America, 50,000; United States, 300,000. Total number in America, 356,200.

(e) Australia and Polynesia : 16,000 Jews.

Professor Dalman estimates the total number of Jews in the whole world between seven and half and eight millions, but his figures are in many cases below the actual number.


At the end of these tables, however, Mr. Jacobs says, " There are probably eleven millions of Jews existing in the world at this present time"

Jews in Europe.

Country. 1881 1891.

Austro-Hungary 1,643,708 1,860,106

Belgium* 3,000

Denmark 3,94 6 4,8o

England, &c 60,000* 101,189

France 63,000* 72,000

Germany 561,612 567.884

Greece 2,652 5,79 2

Holland 81,693 97,324

Italy 40,43 50,000*

Luxembourg 777 I ' oo *

Norway 34

Portugal 200* 300

Roumania 265,000* 300,000*

Russia 2,552,145! 4,500,000*

Servia 3,49 2 4, 6 52

Spain 1,902 2,500*

Sweden 2,993 3,4 2

Switzerland 7,373 8 .69

Turkey 115,000* 120,000*

Total ... 5,408,957 7.701,266

  • Estimated numbers.

f M. Loeb omitted 1,000,000 in Poland, 1881.

Jews in Asia (after I. Loeb).

Turkey in Asia 150,000

Persia 30,000

Russia in Asia 47,000

Turkestan, Afghanistan 14,000

India and China 19,000


1 In "The Jewish Year Book" for 1900-1901, edited by Rev. Isidore Harris, M.A., other tables are given, but the totals are about the same. The new editor adds : " The Jewish population of the world at the present time can hardly be less than eleven millions, and in all likelihood it is in excess of that number.


Personally, I believe that the actual number cannot be much under twelve millions.

Note this remarkable fact : Less than two hundred years ago the historian Basnage, who devoted much time and careful labour to this subject, estimated that the number of Jews had in his day, after centuries of untold sufferings, dispersions, and massacres, been

Jews in Africa (after I. Loeb).

Egypt 8,000

Abyssinia, Fellashas 50,000

Tripolis 60,000

Tunis 55,ooo

Algeria and Sahara 43,5oo

Morocco 100,000

1 Cape of Good Hope 1,500

318,000 yews in America.

2 United States 750,000

Canada, &c 7,000

Antilles 3,ooo

South America 12,000


Jews in Australasia. Australasia 15,268

Jews in the World.

Europe 7,701,266

Asia 260,000

Africa 318,000

America 772,000

Australasia 15,268


1 There are now probably some 20,000 in South Africa.

2 In 1882 a statistical inquiry established that there were 250,000 Jews in the United States. Between that date and 1891 380,000 were added by immigration, not to mention the natural increase.


reduced to about 3,000,000 x in fulfilment of the inspired prediction, that among the nations where they would be scattered, in case of apostacy from God, they would become " few in number " (Deut. iv. 27).

But in less than two centuries they have multiplied again fourfold.

This rapid increase, which has been specially notice- able since their so-called emancipation in this nine- teenth century, is a great puzzle to statisticians and statesmen who study the Jewish Question apart from Holy Scripture.

The following is from a recent work which must be described as anti-Jewish in its tendency and un- satisfactory in many respects, except for some of its statistical information :

" The first complete census of the Russian Empire was taken in February, 1897. The figures are not yet complete, but the Central Statistical Commission of the Minister of the Interior annually publishes figures of the rate of increase of the Russian population which de- monstrate the overwhelming importance of the Jewish Question to the ruler and people of Russia. In most of the text-books published on the subject of the Jewish population in the world the number of Jews in Russia is greatly underrated.

"The late Sir Robert Morier, G.C.B., as British Ambassador for many years at St. Petersburg, gave great attention to the subject In 1891 he was of opinion that the Jewish population in Russia was about 5,250,000, the figures being arrived at by the statistics of birth-rate, death-rate, and conscription. The totals of the deaths, births, and marriages of the

1 See his " History of the Jews from Jesus Christ to the Present Time." English translation by Theo. Taylor, published London, 1708, chap, xxxiv., pp. 744-748.


various religions in European Russia supply the abso- lute data. These figures have been elaborated by Mr. E. J. Dillon. The figures of the birth- and death- rates, when compared, establish the ratio between the two. For every 100 Russian Jews who died during the decade ending 1892, the number born was 171*42. The number of Orthodox Christians per cent, born in Russia during the same period was only I38'i4 per cent. This fecundity of the Jewish race is attributable to the universal practice of marriage, and to the phenomenally low death-rate ; 407 Orthodox Russian infants died out of every thousand. Only 232 Jewish children died. But these figures do not really indicate the rapidity with which the Jewish population is growing. Military service is immensely unpopular among the Jews, and they resort to many devices in order to free their sons from liability to serve in the army. One method is the concealment of the births of their children, and the number of Jews is therefore greater, and the death- rate is therefore lower than the official statistics actually show.

" This relatively small death-rate of the Jews is noticeable, not only in Russia, but also in New York and Roumania. The Jews form but one-fifth of the urban population of Roumania, but they contribute no less than 63 per cent, of the entire annual increase, whereas the Orthodox Christians, who amount to 72 per cent, of the inhabitants of the towns and cities, contribute no more than 39*9 per cent, to the total increase. Both in Russia and Roumania the Jewish element is better fitted for the struggle for existence than any of the Christian sects. The devotion bestowed by Jewish parents on their children, the respect and tenderness paid to women during the critical events of their family life, enable the Jewish element in Poland to increase


twice as rapidly as the Christian sects. One-third of the population of Warsaw is Jewish, but the Hebrew increase is equal to that of the Christians, who form two-thirds of the population. The more Jews there are in a city the smaller the death-rate among the children. In Warsaw the Jews are one-third of the population, and the death-rate of 1,000 children during the first year of their lives is only 187. In Moscow, where the Jews are only 2 per cent, the death-rate of infants is 391.

" The Russian people, with the exception of the Jews, have the highest birth-rate and the highest death-rate of all the peoples of Europe. Of all the races and religious faiths professed in Russia the Jewish element is the most fruitful.

"In the cities and towns of the sixteen provinces which constitute the Jewish Pale, the Israelitish increase is four times more rapid than that of their Christian fellow-subjects. Their net annual increase amounts to 71-4 as compared with that of all the Christian de- nominations, which is only 17 souls. Their annual increase appears to amount to 80,000 a year, a rate which will continue to increase in the absence of pesti- lence, famine, or extermination." x

The rapid increase of the Jews at the present day is a most significant sign of the times. The only parallel to it is to be found in the history of the last days of their sojourn in Egypt, in reference to which we read that "the more they afflicted them the more they multi- plied and grew." The same God who caused them to multiply so marvellously after centuries of cruel bondage, just before the deliverance from Egypt, is repeating the miracle now that the time is drawing nigh for the " dayspring from on high " once again to visit them. Anyhow, it is a powerful reminder to all 1 "The Modern Jew," by Arnold White.


intelligent observers, even apart from prophecy, that the Jewish nation is not dead, nor is it likely to become defunct from exhausted vitality.

The perplexity of some even Christian people on witnessing the revival of the Jewish nationality is very natural, because they can find no place for a revived literal Israel in their political or theological programmes. The attitude of such Christians in relation to the Jews has been humorously illustrated by that prominent Jewish witness for Christ, the late Joseph Rabinowitch, in the following story : During the last Russo-Turkish war, after a great battle, a certain number of men in a particular regiment were returned in the list as dead, and an officer with a company of soldiers were com- missioned to attend to the sad duty of seeing them decently buried. While engaged in this task they came across a poor man who was badly wounded, and left on the field for dead, but who had life enough in him to refuse to be buried. But the amusing part of the business was that the officer in command seemed very much perplexed. He asked the poor man's name, looked at his list, and then said, " Well, I do not know what to do with you ; in my list you are put down as dead." This, Mr. Rabinowitch said, is the attitude of many Christians in relation to the Jew. In their political and religious creeds the Jews as a nation are put down as dead, and even many true Christians, when reading in the Scriptures the exceeding great and precious promises which God made to Israel, say, " Oh yes, Israel that is a nation that once lived, but died some nineteen centuries ago, when they rejected Christ, and now ' Israel ' means no longer Israel, but the Church which has entered into their inheritance." But Israel, though seriously wounded, is not dead, and refuses to be buried ; and the remarkable signs of vitality which as a


people they are now manifesting, are in themselves sufficient to show that they are not merely a nation of the past, but pre-eminently the nation of the future.

In reference to their distribution, there is this re- markable fact to be noted that although scattered over the whole surface of the globe, in fulfilment of the Word of God, " Lo, I will command and I will sift (or toss) the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve," yet the great bulk more than two-thirds of the entire nation have for many centuries past been located in Europe, and more especially in Central and South-Eastern Europe. Thus in the two great empires of Austria and Russia alone there are at least six and a half million of the Diaspora. Is it a mere coincidence that God, who has foreordained the course of Israel's wanderings, has in His providence arranged it so that the bulk of the nation should, during all these centuries, have been sojourners in that part of the world where the name of Jesus of Nazareth, the rejection of whom brought about their banishment, is at least nominally professed ? I humbly believe that God had a design in it. Israel, even in unbelief, is God's witness, and He intended that they should be a continual object- lesson and a reminder to the so-called Christian nations that " they also, if they abide not in His goodness, shall be cut off" (Rom. xi. 22).

Then what a splendid opportunity was given to Christendom by the preaching of the gospel, and the exhibition of the power of Christ in their life, to pro- voke Israel to a holy emulation, and to make them feel that they have committed a grievous mistake in reject- ing their own Messiah and King, in whom the Gentiles have found life and salvation ! But alas ! Christendom, instead of being able to impress the Jew with the attrac- tiveness of Christ, and the transforming power of His


gospel, has, on account of its idolatries and cruelties, proved a great repellent force and stumbling-block to the Dispersion in their midst. In one of his last addresses on the Jewish Question, the late Dr. Adolph Saphir pointed out the sad fact that, instead of the pro- fessing Church proving itself a power in the conversion of the Jews, it, from a very early period of its history, became corrupted by the great errors of Rabbinism. The two outstanding errors of modern Judaism are these : They have perverted and made of none effect the Word of God by their traditions, which they have exalted to an almost higher place than the Scriptures ; and secondly, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, they set about seeking to establish their own righteousness.

Now these are also the two outstanding errors of Christendom. There is a Christian as well as a Jewish Talmud, and Christendom also, since it lost the understanding of Scripture, has departed from the simplicity of the gospel, and has substituted for it a system of salvation by works, which is not different from Rabbinism.