a Jewish view on the Sermon on the Mount

Odola

Well-Known Member
I just wanna point out that Tolkien connecting dwarves and jews in is mind is from a much later period. In his early writings the Dwarves are very norse, right out of the Eddas, they are a shady, untrustworthy, unfriendly folk, great artists and craftsmen no doubt, but also of very questionable character.cruel,warlike, treacherous.

His only few writings where he likens dwarves and jews are from the later period, and that is the time he had invented khuzdul and adunaic and based both on semitic languages, and it is the time he had invented the dwarven diaspora and the name "Moria".Analogies between numenorean religion and Judaism would interest me alot personally.

Just my 2 cents...
Yeah, as far I remembered, I have only referred to him basing Khuzdûl on Hebrew and as such as having some basic knowlegde of it, and knowing his view on the importance of placing and viewing a language in the context of its human culture I assumed it not being uneasonable for him to have tried to gain some information of the context this language has been used in and about the people who used it. So I do not think Tolkien having at least some knowledge of this context is unreasonable to assume even if I would not enter into speculate how for his knowledge went. But to assume a priori he could have none - I would be rather careful with that assumption.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I didn't say that.But i see little connection to jewish thought, history or religion in any of his early works and then later at some point it appears to be there.Doesn't mean he didn't know anything about it before, but at one point it seems to have caught his personal interest, which hadn't been visible in his writing before.

And i was more adressing towards what rachel Port wrote before.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I didn't say that.But i see little connection to jewish thought, history or religion in any of his early works and then later at some point it appears to be there.Doesn't mean he didn't know anything about it before, but at one point it seems to have caught his personal interest, which hadn't been visible in his writing before.

And i was more adressing towards what rachel Port wrote before.
Oh, great, could you specify when you seem to see this "point it appears to be there"? Maybe not in time (this would be too difficult), but story-general-idea-development-wise?
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I fear i can't pinpoint it to one specific time, but the very early texts in which dwarves are clearly soulless and evil are from 1917/18, by 1937/8 he wrote about Numenoreans, had invented earliest adunaic and used the term khuzdul and Aulean, clearly at this point the dwarves already were reconceptuated as children of Aule.But there seems to be a slow transition... in the earlier 1930ies writings published in lays of beleriand and shaping of middle earth his view on dwarves already clearly had mellowed... Telchar appears the first time and the elves have alliances and trading going on with the dwarves, yet they still aren't completely good but still a bit ambiguous.However Azaghal had not appeared yet i believe nor had Ibun or Moria i think, there clearly wasn't yet any connection between dwarfish and semitic i can think of. I might be wrong though...
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
I fear i can't pinpoint it to one specific time, but the very early texts in which dwarves are clearly soulless and evil are from 1917/18, by 1937/8 he wrote about Numenoreans, had invented earliest adunaic and used the term khuzdul and Aulean, clearly at this point the dwarves already were reconceptuated as children of Aule.But there seems to be a slow transition... in the earlier 1930ies writings published in lays of beleriand and shaping of middle earth his view on dwarves already clearly had mellowed... Telchar appears the first time and the elves have alliances and trading going on with the dwarves, yet they still aren't completely good but still a bit ambiguous.However Azaghal had not appeared yet i believe nor had Ibun or Moria i think, there clearly wasn't yet any connection between dwarfish and semitic i can think of. I might be wrong though...
Very interesting. I have not much knowledge about the earliest versions. But by the time we have Gimli, the dwarves have been already "hebraised" in Tolkien's mind - do I understand that correctly?

Also the Numenoran "Faithfull" are a concept so silmilar to both the Jewish/Christian "The Remnant of Israel" tradition (I do not know how important that Old Testament concept - that Saint Paul found so important - still is in modern Judaism, though) that I find it hard to find another possible source for that idea.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Right, 7-8 years before.Roughly same time he wrote the Hobbit and introduced the term Moria.I guess he stumbled somehow upon the idea of Dwarves as a diaspora culture and it started to afflict his ideas on their language too, as i said.Numenoreans and Adunaic appear at the same time, it was his semitic period in conlanging.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Right, 7-8 years before.Roughly same time he wrote the Hobbit and introduced the term Moria.I guess he stumbled somehow upon the idea of Dwarves as a diaspora culture and it started to afflict his ideas on their language too, as i said.Numenoreans and Adunaic appear at the same time, it was his semitic period in conlanging.
So you suggest Moria and Mount Moriah are really connected and not only a coincidence?
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
Right, 7-8 years before.Roughly same time he wrote the Hobbit and introduced the term Moria.I guess he stumbled somehow upon the idea of Dwarves as a diaspora culture and it started to afflict his ideas on their language too, as i said.Numenoreans and Adunaic appear at the same time, it was his semitic period in conlanging.
I'd be careful about reading too much into similarities in names, as it's quite easy to get words in different languages which sound quite similar but have altogether different meanings or origins. In Tolkien's own recollection of coming up with the name "Moria", he denies any intentional connection to the Biblical Moriah.

"Incidentally the ending -and (an), -end (en) in land-names no doubt owes something to such (romantic and other) names as Broceliand(e), but is perfectly in keeping with an already devised structure of primitive (common) Elvish (C.E.), or it would not have been used. The element (n)dor ‘land’, probably owes something to say such names as Labrador (a name that might as far as style and structure goes be Sindarin). But not to Scriptural Endor. This is a case in reverse, showing how ‘investigation’ without knowledge of the real events might go astray. Endor S. Ennor (cf. the collective pl. ennorath 1250) was invented as the Elvish equivalent of Middle-earth by combining the already devised en(ed) ‘middle’ and (n)dor ‘land (mass)’, producing a supposedly ancient compound Q. Endor, S. Ennor. When made I of course observed its accidental likeness to En-dor (I Sam. xxviii), but the congruence is in fact accidental, and therefore the necromantic witch consulted by Saul has no connexion or significance for The L.R. As is the case with Moria. In fact this first appeared in The Hobbit chap. 1. It was there, as I remember, a casual ‘echo’ of Soria Moria Castle in one of the Scandinavian tales translated by Dasent. (The tale had no interest for me: I had already forgotten it and have never since looked at it. It was thus merely the source of the sound-sequence moria, which might have been found or composed elsewhere.) I liked the sound-sequence; it alliterated with ‘mines’, and it connected itself with the MOR element in my linguistic construction."
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien letter 297
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
His only few writings where he likens dwarves and jews are from the later period, and that is the time he had invented khuzdul and adunaic and based both on semitic languages, and it is the time he had invented the dwarven diaspora and the name "Moria".Analogies between numenorean religion and Judaism would interest me alot personally.
Let me recommend again the recorded Mythgard class on The Shaping of Middle-earth, session 3, where Corey discusses the early descriptions of dwarves in the Quenta - and reads a description from 1930. The description is full of antisemitic stereotypes that wouldn't have been out of place in a Nazi pamphlet - they are secretive, they don't have loyalty, they know the exact value of their fortunes though they don't have much use for the items in it, they are calculating, they don't appreciate beauty, their crafts are of weapons of steel and iron, they don't work in silver and gold, they trade with both sides in the wars and don't favor either side until they see who is winning. The dwarves in The Hobbit have Norse names, but that doesn't make them Norse in other ways. I think there is a line between pre- and post-WW II.

The SPACE program has a class on the dwarves and Jewish mysticism that began last night, and it promises to be fascinating.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I never denied these stereotypes exist, but i also don't wish to hijack this discussion.

I study antisemitism for quite some time and i see an american bias and misunderstanding of the very core of antisemitism (not anti-judaism!) in Coreys comment.A central point is:in antisemitism jews are mighty, very powerful, ultra-deceptive, stay behind the scenes, control money, politics and capital, are highly clever and cunning, their unability to form a state or nation on their own makes them stay among other "natural cultures" which they contaminate and destroy with their ideas of egoism, sexual freedom, materialism, agnosticism, atheism, to the point where they partially intermix with these races and destroy their genetic pool, making these races degenerate and fall out of their natural habit, that is why the Nazis wished to eradicate them completely, even if it was contraproductive to their own war economy.

This goes too far and is in the wrong place for discussion, i apologize and think it should be continued elsewhere.
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
So you suggest Moria and Mount Moriah are really connected and not only a coincidence?
I never said that.But i wanted to point out that all of these coincidentally or not appear roughly around the same time, along with the idea of a dwarven diaspora and a new interest in semitic language and jewish motifs.intended? I wouldn't go that far.On a subconscoius level? Maybe.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
... - they are secretive, they don't have loyalty, they know the exact value of their fortunes though they don't have much use for the items in it, they are calculating, they don't appreciate beauty, their crafts are of weapons of steel and iron, they don't work in silver and gold, they trade with both sides in the wars and don't favor either side until they see who is winning. The dwarves in The Hobbit have Norse names, but that doesn't make them Norse in other ways. I think there is a line between pre- and post-WW II.
I do not know? It sounds not very similar to the anti-Semitic stereotypes that I am familiar with. Maybe the Polish pre-war anti-Semitic stereotypes were different. Mostly about luring people into loaning money that they will be not able to pay back and then taking over their livelihood or something along those lines.

Those two pictures actually bring this stereotype to life -

This one is about taking the last goat from a poor family - as such causing their starvation.

This was very tragic as Jews in Europe were forbidden to own or cultivate land and were forced into the business of lending money and got all the blame connected to it.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
I never said that.But i wanted to point out that all of these coincidentally or not appear roughly around the same time, along with the idea of a dwarven diaspora and a new interest ins emitic language and jewish motifs.intended? I wouldn't go that far.On a subconscoius level? Maybe.
Ach, now I understand better what you mean. The stem "Mor-" for black is so evident in Moria - but it could also be that - as he recalled in the statement cited above - Tolkien just liked the sound of the word and it just happened to match one of his linguistic systems.
 

Ilana Mushin

Active Member
This
I never denied these stereotypes exist, but i also don't wish to hijack this discussion.

I study antisemitism for quite some time and i see an american bias and misunderstanding of the very core of antisemitism (not anti-judaism!) in Coreys comment.A central point is:in antisemitism jews are mighty, very powerful, ultra-deceptive, stay behind the scenes, control money, politics and capital, are highly clever and cunning, their unability to form a state or nation on their own makes them stay among other "natural cultures" which they contaminate and destroy with their ideas of egoism, sexual freedom, materialism, agnosticism, atheism, to the point where they partially intermix with these races and destroy their genetic pool, making these races degenerate and fall out of their natural habit, that is why the Nazis wished to eradicate them completely, even if it was contraproductive to their own war economy.

This goes too far and is in the wrong place for discussion, i apologize and think it should be continued elsewhere.
This does capture 20th century anti-Semitism. I think Tolkien was drawing on more medieval concepts of Jews as mercentile (travelling traders bringing luxury goods from the East, for example) and secretive in the sense that they had their own ways of doing things (including their language) that they did not go out of their way to teach to others. Note that some Elves like Eöl did learn the language and customs of dwarves - so they did teach others if they had a closer personal relationship. Jews had great trade networks in the Medieval period because of the diaspora. And because they were barred from guilds and landholding, this was a niche.

I didn’t participate in the Shaping of ME class and I think I’d get frustrated listening to that discussion if I couldn’t contribute. But my understanding from my own reading was that Tolkien was drawing on conceptions of Jews as a people (not as a religion) in early conceptions of dwarves, and there is overlap with anti-Semitic tropes here. And of course we are reading a history written by Elves, so the sterotyping of Dwarves shares some resemblances with the stereotyping of Jews. Tolkien was brilliant at maintaining these perspective, with an accute sense of who was writing these histories. In Letters he talks about not really knowing Jews, just like he didn’t really know much about Dwarves (except what Gimli contributed to the Red Book.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Ther stereotype of the mercantile jew.That is already prevalent in classical antijudaism.However jews having no souls is neither modern antisemitism nor christian antijudaism, it appears in islamic antisemitism mostly.Secretive, illoyal, calculating are also already common in classic antijudaism, not only nazi antisemitism which is eliminatory antisemitism and its most extreme form.Most common is antisemitic prejudice which reflects stereotypes and is mostly unconscious.people aren't even aware of it.That is vastly different from someone who has a grounded antisemitic worldview and ideology. Not appreciating beauty, crafts of steel and iron, not working in silver and gold, are not typical antisemitic stereotypes at all.In neither. trading with both sides in the wars and don't favor either side until they see who is winning is classical again. Corey conflating all these is plainly wrong.

But i didn't want to talk about this...
I wanted to only point out that Tolkiens early concept of dwarves was from norse mythology only.His likening of dwarves to some elements of jewish culture is from a far later stage. Can one still read antisemitic stereotypes in it? Yes one could.People can even be philosemites and still cling to antisemitic stereotypes, quite common actually.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
Ther stereotype of the mercantile jew.That is already prevalent in classical antijudaism.However jews having no souls is neither modern antisemitism nor christian antijudaism, it appears in islamic antisemitism mostly.Secretive, illoyal, calculating are also already common in classic antijudaism, not only nazi antisemitism which is eliminatory antisemitism and its most extreme form.Most common is antisemitic prejudice which reflects stereotypes and is mostly unconscious.people aren't even aware of it.That is vastly different from someone who has a based antisemitic worldview and ideology. Not appreciating beauty, crafts of steel and iron, not working in silver and gold, are not typical antisemitic stereotypes at all.In neither. trading with both sides in the wars and don't favor either side until they see who is winning is classical again. Corey conflating all these is plainly wrong.

But i didn't want to talk about this...
I wanted to only point out that Tolkiens early concept of dwarves was from norse mythology only.His likening of dwarves to some elements of jewish culture is from a far later stage. Can one still read antisemitic stereotypes in it? Yes one could.People can even be philosemites and still cling to antisemitic stereotypes, quite common actually.
Were Jews not exempt from military service also? They were exempt from the "levy in mass" untill the modern citizenship has been introduced? So they were mostly dependant on whoever was in power to protect them. But the rest of the population saw this very negatively: they do not work the earth, do not produce (but only sell) goods, they sell alcohol on Sundays (seemingly increasing the alcoholism rates among the peasantry [this was already very high to begin with, so imho there was no significant increase possible]), profit from other people's vices, failings and misery (by lending money for interest and then apparently "ruining households") and do not defend the country. Bad PR for sure. But still this is not how early Tolkien dwarves are described.
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Not during the german empire, where antisemitic stereotypes already were widespread, even against very assimilated pro-german, patriotic jews. Before i am not sure, depended on time and place i believe.Jews fought under Childeric in spain, so they could become mercenaries at last.However certainly there later was a cliche that a jew was a bad soldier and not a good warrior and certainly not a good patriot. Jews were banned from the craft corporations so they couldn't work as craftsmen in many ways, except as servant class or crafts that were considered lower or were not part of the corporations (these were by definition christian fraternities), a type jewish lower class many people forget about, not all jews were traders, scholars, merchants, moneylenders, most actually were not, a lot were craftsmen and labourers.

Not much of JRRTs description of dwarves fits the antisemitic stereotype, some things do, some don't. His dwarves are small and bearded... that was not originally an antisemitic stereotype... it became part of it to a degree at some point, when antijudaism became "secular" and mixed with modern race ideology and darwinism, still the anti-jewish caricatures that came out at the time bare little resemblance to tolkien dwarves, except for Mim maybe and the petty dwarves.

The dwarves being greedy, not well integrated into other societies, being merchants and traders could be perceived as anti-jewish stereotypes. Dwarves having no souls not (not for european catholics at the time at last), being warriors not, being smiths and good craftsmen also not.Being hard workers and miners certainly not... the cliche is that a jew does not do honest work, he is unproductive.Leading to regressive antisemitic anticapitalist ideas of "creative capital" and "hoarding" (=jewish) capital.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
Not during the german empire, where antisemitic stereotypes already were widespread, even against very assimilated pro-german, patriotic jews. Before i am not sure, depended on time and place i believe.Jews fought under childeric in spain, so they could become mercenaries at last.However certainly there later was a cliche that a jew was a bad soldier and not a good warrior and certainly not a good patriot. Jews were banned from most guilds so they couldn't work as craftsmen in many ways, except as servant class or crafts that were considered lower or were not part of the mainguilds, a type jewish lower class many people forget about, not all jews were traders, scholars, merchants, moneylenders, most actually were not, a lot were craftsmen and labourers.

Not much of JRRTs description of dwarves fits the antisemitic stereotype, some things do, some don't. His dwarves are small and bearded... that was not originally an antisemitic stereotype... it became part of it to a degree at some point, when antijudaism became "secular" and mixed with modern race ideology and darwinism, still the anti-jewish caricatures that came out at the time bare little resemblance to tolkien dwarves, except for Mim maybe and the petty dwarves.

The dwarves being greedy, not well integrated into other societies, being merchants and traders could be perceived as anti-jewish stereotypes. Dwarves having no souls not (not for european catholics at the time at last), being warriors not, being smiths and good craftsmen also not.Being hard workers and miners certainly not... the cliche is that a jew does not do honest work, he is unproductive.Leading to regressive antisemitic anticapitalist ideas of "creative capital" and "hoarding" (=jewish) capital.
Was my impression, too. For example if you mention our historic Muslim minority - the "Polish Tatars" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipka_Tatars to most Poles - you will get a smile and a comment like "Ah, good loyal fighters" because they were. That was the reason they were granted Polish lands by the king in the first place. In the 19th century Jews started to join European and Russian armies, but by them the damage to their public image was already done imho.
 
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