May 23, 2011

Re: Gassing Jews--in the year 38 AD!


Feb. 13, 2011

From a Jim in New York City:

One should not take Philo too literally. He is using a Hellenistic literary device called a topos, in which a certain style or manner of writing dictates the contents. It is allegorical--a school of writing and religious intrepretation in which he excelled and which made him famous.  Thus, a good ruler is handsome, wise and kind, because that is what a good ruler is.
The Jewish element of Alexandria was like NYC--richer and more powerful than the motherland. And along with other ethnic groups, there were continual problems. But then again, the people of Alexandria were famous for being the most unruly in antiquity.
As for archaeological documentation of poisonous gases used in warfare--the earliest is Dura Europa the city on the border of the Classical world and Sassanian, sacked in 256-7 AD. JHS

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael <>
To: reportersnotebook <>
Sent: Sat, Feb 12, 2011 12:38 pm
Subject: Gassing Jews--in the year 38 AD!

Here is certainly the earliest recorded incident of the gassing to death of Jews.  In the year 38, the Roman viceroy of Alexandria was A. A. Flaccus.  The city had a considerable population of Jews, many of whom resented Roman rule.  To quell periodic uprisings, Flaccus rescinded their rights and initiated a pogrom.  He then confined them to one quarter of the city, effectively creating the first Jewish ghetto in history.  Once concentrated, they were sitting ducks for the local mob.  Flaccus (according to the Jewish historian Philo) "allowed anyone who was inclined to proceed to exterminate the Jews as prisoners of war." 
In a lengthy passage of his work Flaccus, Philo describes, in the best Holocaust style, the atrocities inflicted on the Jews.  In the middle of his account we find this:
"Some persons even, going still great and greater lengths in the iniquity and license of their barbarity, disdained all blunter weapons, and took up the most efficacious arms of all, fire and iron, and slew many with the sword, and destroyed not a few with flames. And the most merciless of all their persecutors in some instances burnt whole families, husbands with their wives, and infant children with their parents, in the middle of the city, sparing neither age nor youth, nor the innocent helplessness of infants. And when they had a scarcity of fuel, they collected faggots of green wood, and slew them by the smoke rather than by fire…"  (IX, 68)
One wonders how exactly this happened—in "smoke chambers"?  Open air?  Enclosed chariots?  In any case, the Nazis evidently had a good role model in the Romans.

For the whole account, see:

Thomas Dalton.


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