Friedrich Nietzsche
Translation: H.L. Mencken


The history of Israel is invaluable as a typical history of an attempt to denaturize all natural values: I point to five facts which bear this out. Originally, and above all in the time of the monarchy, Israel maintained the right attitude of things, which is to say, the natural attitude. Its Jahveh was an expression of its consciousness of power, its joy in itself, its hopes for itself: to him the Jews looked for victory and salvation and through him they expected nature to give them whatever was necessary to their existence--above all, rain. Jahveh is the God of Israel, and consequently the God of justice: this is the logic of every race that has power in its hands and a good conscience in the use of it. In the religious ceremonial of the Jews both aspects of this self-approval stand revealed. The nation is grateful for the high destiny that has enabled it to obtain dominion; it is grateful for the benign procession of the seasons, and for the good fortune attending its herds and its crops.--This view of things remained an ideal for a long while, even after it had been robbed of validity by tragic blows: anarchy within and the Assyrian without. But the people still retained, as a projection of their highest yearnings, that vision of a king who was at once a gallant warrior and an upright judge--a vision best visualized in the typical prophet (i.e., critic and satirist of the moment), Isaiah. --But every hope remained unfulfilled. The old God no longer could do what he used to do. He ought to have been abandoned. But what actually happened? simply this: the conception of him was changed--the conception of him was denaturized; this was the price that had to be paid for keeping him.--Jahveh, the God of "justice"--he is in accord with Israel no more, he no longer visualizes the national egoism; he is now a God only conditionally. . . The public notion of this God now becomes merely a weapon in the hands of clerical agitators, who interpret all happiness as a reward and all unhappiness as a punishment for obedience or disobedience to him, for "sin": that most fraudulent of all imaginable interpretations, whereby a "moral order of the world" is set up, and the fundamental concepts, "cause" and "effect," are stood on their heads. Once natural causation has been swept out of the world by doctrines of reward and punishment some sort of unnatural causation becomes necessary: and all other varieties of the denial of nature follow it. A God who demands--in place of a God who helps, who gives counsel, who is at bottom merely a name for every happy inspiration of courage and self-reliance. . . Morality is no longer a reflection of the conditions which make for the sound life and development of the people; it is no longer the primary life-instinct; instead it has become abstract and in opposition to life--a fundamental perversion of the fancy, an "evil eye" on all things. What is Jewish, what is Christian morality? Chance robbed of its innocence; unhappiness polluted with the idea of "sin"; well-being represented as a danger, as a "temptation"; a physiological disorder produced by the canker worm of conscience...

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