Hatred of an enemy is a natural impulse of primitive peoples; willingness to forgive an enemy is a mark of advanced moral development. Jewish teaching, in Bible, Talmud, and other writings, gradually educates the people toward the latter stage. Where there are indications in the Bible of a spirit of hatred and vengeance toward the enemy (Ex. xxiii. 22; Lev. xxvi. 7, 8; Deut. vi. 19, xx. 14, xxxi. 4; Josh. x. 13; Judges v. 31; I Sam. xiv. 24; Esth. viii, 13; ix. 1, 5, 16), they are for the most part purely nationalistic expressions—hatred of the national enemy being quite compatible with an otherwise kindly spirit.Biblical Commands and Precepts.
In the earliest collection of laws, the so-called Book of the Covenant, the command is given: "If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and thou wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him" (Ex. xxiii. 4, 5). The holiness chapter of Leviticus contains the command: "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart" (Lev. xix. 17). The teaching of the Book of Proverbs is: "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth and let not thy heart be glad when he stumbleth" (xxiv. 17). This injunction is repeated as the familiar utterance of Samuel ha-Ḳaṭon (Abot iv. 26). Again, the Book of Proverbs says: "If thine enemy be hungry give him bread to eat, and if he be thirsty give him water to drink. For thus shalt thou heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee" (xxv. 21, 22). The prevailing opinion that the Jewish Bible commands hatred of the enemy rests upon the strangely misunderstood statement in the Sermon on the Mount: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies and pray for them that persecute you" (Matt. v. 43, 44; see Jew. Encyc. iii. 398, s.v. Brotherly Love).
Joseph's treatment of his brothers is exemplary: "Fear not, for am I in the place of God? and as for you, ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good. . . . Now therefore fear ye not; I will nourish you and your little ones; and he comforted them and spake kindly unto them" (Gen. l. 19-21). Similarly Moses prayed for the recovery of Miriam, who had spoken rebelliously against him (Num. xii. 13). Solomon is praised because, among other things, he did not ask for the life of his enemies (I Kings iii. 11; II Chron. i. 11). I Kings xx. 31 is further evidence that a loftier ethical spirit prevailed in Israel than among the surrounding nations; the servants of the defeated King of Syria urged him to throw himself upon the mercy of his triumphant foe, the King of Israel, for "we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings." As a final instance from the Bible the words of Job (xxxi. 29-30, R. V.) may be quoted: "If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, Or lifted up myself when evil found him; (Yea, I suffered not my mouth to sin By asking his life with a curse)."In Apocrypha, Talmud, and Midrash.
The author of Ecclesiasticus counsels: "Forgive thy neighbor the hurt he hath done thee; and then thy sins shall be pardoned when thou prayest" (xxviii. 2). Talmudical and Midrashic literature contains many fine teachings on this subject. Mar Zuṭra prayed every evening upon retiring: "O my God, forgive all such as have wronged me" (Meg. 28a; B. B. 15b). "Be ever flexible as a reed [kindly toward all], never as inflexible as a cedar [unforgiving toward such as have harmed thee]" (Ta'an. 20b). "Even as God forgives transgressions without harboring revenge, so be it also with thee, harbor no hatred in thy heart" (Yalḳ. Lev. 613). "Why is the 'Hallel' [the psalms of praise] recited only on the first day of Passover and not on every day during the Passover week, as it is recited every day during the week of the Feast of Tabernacles? Because the Egyptians were sunk in the sea, and I have caused it to be written—'Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth'" (Yalḳ. Prov. 960). In a similar passage the angels are rebuked by God for singing at the time of the catastrophe that overtook the Egyptians: "The work of My hands sinks into the sea, and you would sing before Me?" (Sanh. 39b). Again, "If a man finds both a friend and an enemy requiring assistance he should assist his enemy first in order to subdue his evil inclination" (B. M. 32b). In the Abot de-Rabbi Natan (23) is found this passage: "Who is strong? He who converts an enemy into a friend." Talmudical teachers held that David's action in cutting off the skirt of Saul's robe, in order to present it as an evidence of magnanimity and as a reproach to Saul, was blame-worthy, and robbed an otherwise noble deed of its fine flavor (Ber. 62b).Toward Non-Jews.
Nor does Judaism, as is often claimed, inculcate unfriendly sentiments toward non-Jews. Rabbi Joshua taught: "An evil eye, the evil nature, and hatred of men put one out of the world" (Ab. ii. 15). "It is a law of peace to support the poor of all peoples as well as the poor of Israel, to assist their sick, to bury their dead" (Giṭ. 61a). "God judges the nations by their righteous members" ('Ab. Zarah 3a). Of similar import are Joshua ben Hananiah's words: "The pious ones of the nations of the world have a share in the future life." "What is the significance of the thirty coins (xi. 12) in the vision of the prophet Zechariah?" Rabbi Judah answered: "They indicate the thirty righteous men who arealways to be found among the heathen, and whose merits save their peoples" (Ḥul. 92a). Samuel says: "It is forbidden to deceive any one, even a heathen" (ib. 94a). "Cultivate peace with thy brethren, thy neighbors, with all men, even the heathen" (Ber. 17a). Medieval teachers urged similar maxims. "Deceive none, either Jew or non-Jew," wrote Rabbi Lipman Mühlhausen in the fifteenth century (comp. Güdemann, "Geschichte des Erziehungswesens der Juden in Deutschland," p. 243), and the "Sefer Ḥasidim" enjoins: "Deceive no one intentionally, not even the non-Jew; quarrel with none, no matter what his belief" (comp. Zunz, "Z. G." p. 135). Baḥya ibn Paḳuda, in his "Ḥobot ha-Lebabot," mentions dislike of all that is hateful, as the third of the ten requirements of an exemplary life, and quotes Shabbat 88b in support of his statement: "Such as suffer ill but do it not, answer not insults, and are actuated in their conduct by love only, are referred to in the Scriptural passage: 'They who love Him are as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.'"Modern Teachings.
Rabbi Israel Lipschütz of Danzig bade his heirs: "Do good to all men, evil to none; do good even to the non-Jew in the street, even to an enemy who has pursued you with relentless hate. If you have an opportunity for revenge, do not avail yourselves of it, but load your adversary with favors. Never refuse a favor to any person, be he non-Jew or even an enemy. If your foe is seeking your hurt you may prevent him, but you must not injure him beyond the point of making him powerless to harm you. If an opportunity offer of serving him thank God for the chance, and though he has done you the most fearful wrongs, forget the injuries you have sustained at his hands. Make yourselves wings like eagles to succor him, and refrain from reminding him by a word of his former conduct" ("J. Q. R." iii. 474). Joel Shamariah wrote in his last will and testament: "If any one did aught to injure me, yet I loved him in my heart. If I felt inclined to hate him, I at once began to utter praises, so that gradually I brought my heart to genuine love of the man who had wronged me (ib.)