Last week I blogged on this site about the controversy with Mel Gibson’s upcoming film. As NewsMax reports, one scene that the ADL finds especially troubling is one in which the high priest Caiaphas exclaims, “His blood be on us and on our children.” Apparently there is confusion over whether Gibson will take this scene out of the final cut; another NewsMax article quotes Abraham Foxman as saying, “This has been like a yo-yo. He takes it out. He puts it back in.”
What’s wrong with the scene? The first article quotes a New York Times article:
Jewish leaders had warned that the passage from Matthew 27:25 was the historic source for many of the charges of deicide and Jews’ collective guilt in the death of Jesus,” the Times said.
For those of you who brought your Bibles, turn to Matthew 27:24-26:
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
“Let his blood be on us” is an expression of accepting responsibility for someone’s death. Joshua 2:17-20 records its use by the spies who went into Jericho prior to the siege. They told Rahab that her family would remain safe as long as they stay in her home, which the troops would be ordered to leave untouched; if any should be killed, fault would lie with whomever failed to follow instructions.
The Times source is correct: There is a history of Christians using Matthew 27:25 to justify “Jews’ collective guilt in the death of Jesus.” But that history has largely ended. And with good reason: the fallacy assumes that the mob made a legitimate claim. Pilate was wrong to disavow himself of blame; he was the worst kind of appeaser, one who did the dirty work for the appeased. The people demanding Jesus’ execution were right to claim responsibility for themselves but wrong to include their descendents in the blame pool.
Yes, the Old Testament speaks of punishment for fathers’ sins falling on their sons; one site lists four of them here. But those verses make no claim that blame is inherited. In each of those cases, the punishments come about because a) the fathers’ transgressions naturally have a negative impact on future generations, and b) the sons were not innocent bystanders – they were emulating the family tradition. (Just ask Hank Williams, Jr.)
There is no such parallel today in the Jewish commmunity with regard to the Crucifixion. Sure, Jesus can be killed only once, but a murder can be condoned by future generations. There is no such history among Jews – or Italians, for that matter. Abraham Foxman needs to stop worrying about an old heresy that’s in no danger of resurfacing to any significant degree. He should worry more about how whiny paranoid leftist Jews reinforce stereotypes about Jews in general.