Martin Luther On the Jews

Quotes from Martin Luther’s “On the Jews and their lies,” 1543

Luther’s Introduction:

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, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them. I would not have believed that a Christian could be duped by the Jews into taking their exile and wretchedness upon himself. However, the devil is the god of the world, and wherever God’s word is absent he has an easy task, not only with the weak but also with the strong. May God help us. Amen.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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 hear this today.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

Therefore the blind Jews are truly stupid fools…

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

Now just behold these miserable, blind, and senseless people.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

…their blindness and arrogance are as solid as an iron mountain.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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…

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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 by means of their accursed usury. Thus they live from day to day, together with wife and child, by theft and robbery, as arch-thieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

However, they have not acquired a perfect mastery of 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.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

…Christ and his word can hardly be recognized because of the great vermin of human ordinances. However, let this suffice for the time being on their lies against doctrine or faith.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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?

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

Alas, it cannot be anything but the terrible wrath of God which permits anyone to sink into such abysmal, devilish, hellish, insane baseness, envy, and arrogance. If I were to avenge myself on the devil himself 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 own conscience. Anyway, they have their reward for constantly giving God the lie.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

…but then eject them forever from this country. For, as we 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!

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

In brief, dear princes and lords, those of you who have Jews under your rule– if my counsel does not please your, 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. . . . With this faithful counsel and warning I wish to cleanse and exonerate my conscience.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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 acts…

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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

First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in some hellfire…

Second, that all their books– their prayer books, their Talmudic writings, also the entire Bible– be taken from them, not leaving them one leaf, and that these be preserved for those who may be converted…

Third, that they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country…

Fourth, that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our hearing. For we cannot with a good conscience listen to this or tolerate it…

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

He who hears this name [God] from a Jew must inform the authorities, or else throw sow dung at him when he sees him and chase him away.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

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 that they are doing this in secret, it is the same as if they were doing it publicly. For our knowledge of their secret doings and our toleration of them implies that they are not secret after all and thus our conscience is encumbered with it before God.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews’ blasphemy and not share in their guilt, we have to part company with them. They must be driven from our country.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

…they remain our daily murderers and bloodthirsty foes in their hearts. Their prayers and curses furnish evidence of that, as do the many stories which relate their torturing of children and all sorts of crimes for which they have often been burned at the stake or banished.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

…that everyone would gladly be rid of them.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

Undoubtedly they do more and viler things than those which we know and discover.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

If I had power over the Jews, as our princes and cities have, I would deal severely with their lying mouth.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

They [rulers] 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. Such a procedure must also be followed 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…

If this does not help we must drive them out like mad dogs.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

My essay, I hope, will 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 they are surely possessed by all devils. May Christ, our dear Lord, convert them mercifully and preserve us steadfastly and immovably in the knowledge of him, which is eternal life. Amen.

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)