“I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing nations. If I were an atheist of the other sect, who believe, or pretend to believe, that all is ordered by chance, I should believe that chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty Sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization.”
–John Adams, Second President of the United States1
Arguments for the existence of God have progressed beyond the ability of ordinary people to understand them. The scientific and philosophical arguments can be so sophisticated it often takes a PhD in both fields to even understand what is being said, let alone determine which arguments are true.
Is there a practical, easily understood, argument for the existence of God?
I believe there is, and it lies in the Jewish people.
It has been widely observed that the Jewish people are truly exceptional. John Adams noticed it in the quote above. And in his essay, “Concerning the Jews,” Mark Twain made a similar observation:
If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one per cent of the human race…Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers.
Twain noted that while competing civilizations such as the Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans “filled the planet with sound and splendor” only to later vanish, the Jew, by contrast,
saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?2
Twain raised an interesting and controversial question about the phenomenon of Jewish exceptionalism. With respect to their modest population, the Jews are vastly overrepresented in every major field of human achievement. What is the explanation for their prominence? And what is the significance of it, if any?
I will argue that Jewish exceptionalism provides us with concrete evidence for the existence of the God of Israel.3 I call this “The Argument from Jewish Genius,” or more broadly, “The Argument from Jewish Exceptionalism.” My argument will proceed in this way.
First, I will establish that, according to the OT, God has both chosen the Jews and promised to bless them.
Second, I will show the OT presents evidence for God’s existence based on what He has done in and through Israel.
Third, I will show that the kind of blessings God gave to the Jews in the OT are evident today.
Finally, I will conclude that positing the existence of Israel’s God is a reasonable explanation of the evidence.
II. BIBLICAL EVIDENCE THAT GOD CHOSE THE JEWS
There is little controversy that the Jews have historically claimed to be God’s chosen people with a special claim to His blessing. That belief is written across the OT.
For example, we read that God chose the Jews out of all the nations of the earth:
“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deut 14:2).
They were chosen despite, or precisely because of, their apparent insignificance:
“The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deut 7:7-8).
In addition, this relationship was not meant to be temporary, but everlasting:
“And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you” (Gen 17:7, emphasis added).
Moreover, God promised to bless the Jews, and through them, to bless the whole world:
“I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”
(Gen 12:2-3, emphasis added).
Suffice to say, there is more than ample evidence to show that, according to Jewish self-understanding, Israel’s God exists, chose the Jews, and promised to bless them. Those are significant claims. If God existed, you would expect there to be evidence He has kept those promises. We will look at some such evidence in Section IV. However, in the next section, we will examine the kind of evidence used by the OT writers to prove God’s existence. This will help us to know what kind of evidence to look for in our own day.
III. OLD TESTAMENT EVIDENCE FOR GOD’S EXISTENCE
It has often been noted that you cannot find philosophical arguments for God’s existence in the OT.4 But it is a mistake to assume the OT makes no arguments for God’s existence at all. In fact, the OT presents some very concrete evidence in defense of the existence of Israel’s God. The OT writers believed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could, and would, demonstrate His existence to the Gentile nations (and to unbelieving Jews) through His dealings with Israel. That is to say, the apologetic evidence was Israel-centric.
A. Egypt and the Promised Land
To the OT writers, perhaps the greatest proof of God’s existence was the Exodus, when God delivered the Hebrews from the experience of Egyptian slavery.
In Deuteronomy 4, Moses recounted the story of Israel’s rebellious history and appealed to their recent escape. Moses thought the Exodus experience should have convinced Israel to believe in the Lord and to be faithful to Him:
“Has any people heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard it, and survived? Or has a god tried to go to take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown that you might know that the Lord, He is God; there is no other besides Him” (Deut 4:33-35, emphasis added).
Moses believed this evidence should have been enough to convince the Israelites to believe in God and to be faithful.
After the Exodus from Egypt, Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years before finally entering the Promised Land. To do that they had to cross the Jordan River, which was overflowing. In a striking parallel with the parting of the Red Sea, we read that God also parted the Jordan River allowing Israel to once again cross over on dry land (Joshua 3). Joshua thought this miracle was convincing proof of God’s existence. “By this you shall know that the living God is among you,” he told them (Josh 3:9). And Joshua expected the Gentile nations to come to the same realization:
“For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever” (Josh 4:23-24, emphasis added).
In point of fact, some Gentiles did come to believe in Israel’s God. For example, when the Israelite spies were sent to Jericho, they were protected by Rahab, a prostitute. She explained how she came to faith in Israel’s God after hearing about the Exodus:
“I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Josh 2:911, emphasis added).
B. Military Victories
Military victories are another OT proof for God’s existence. The most famous example would be David defeating Goliath. David expected the Gentiles to realize that, if he beat Goliath, then Israel’s God was real:
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel”(1 Sam 17:45-46, emphasis added).
Similarly, when Israel was threatened by the Assyrians, King Hezekiah prayed for their deliverance, expecting it would prove to the world that Israel’s God was the only true God:
“Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone” (2 Kgs 19:19, emphasis added).
C. Answered Prayer
A final typical category of OT proof for God’s existence is answered prayer. For example, Solomon prayed that God would use the newly built Temple to prove His existence to the Gentiles by answering their prayers:
“Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name” (1 Kgs 8:41-43, emphasis added).
We also have the famous example of Elijah, who challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest, to see which god would send fire to consume an animal sacrifice. Elijah hoped the people would know that Israel’s God was real. After Elijah won the contest, the people did confess their faith in Israel’s God:
“O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God” (1 Kgs 18:36-39, emphasis added).
Lastly, consider the case of Naaman, a commander in the Syrian army who was desperate to be cured of leprosy. Naaman went to see the prophet Elisha who instructed him to immerse himself in the Jordan River. When Naaman came up out of the water completely cured, his faith was dramatically changed:
When he returned to the man of God with all his company, and came and stood before him, he said, “Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel; so please take a present from your servant now” (2 Kgs 5:15, emphasis added).
In sum, answered prayer was thought to be evidence for the existence of Israel’s God and a reason to believe in Him.
The point of this section has been to show that the OT writers understood the importance of proving God’s existence, and they expected to do so, not based on abstract philosophical arguments for generic theism, but based on God’s interventions in and through His people, the Jews.
This raises the question: Is there comparable, contemporary, evidence that God is still acting on behalf of the Jewish people? Is there anything so noteworthy about the Jews, that God’s existence would be the best explanation for it?
IV. THE MODERN PHENOMENON OF JEWISH EXCEPTIONALISM
If Israel’s God did not exist, you would expect the Jews to be no more or less significant than any other ethnic group of comparable size. However, if Israel’s God did exist, you would expect them to have nothing less than a worldwide influence. Which option is best supported by the evidence? Are the Jews ordinary or exceptional?
This section will argue the Jewish people are clearly exceptional.
Despite the fact that Jews make up just 3% of the US population, and 0.2% of the world’s population (for an approximate total of 13,854,800 souls5) their influence and achievements far exceed the modest size of their population. As Charles Murray writes, there is an “extravagant overrepresentation of Jews, relative to their small numbers, in the top ranks of the arts, sciences, law, medicine, finance, entrepreneurship, and the media.”6 This extravagant overrepresentation is persuasive evidence for the existence of Israel’s God.
Consider several OT paradigms of Jewish blessing that are still evident today.
A. Jewish Genius
1. King Solomon and Jewish intelligence.
The Jewish reputation for intelligence has a long history, beginning, perhaps, with King Solomon. His collection of Proverbs has been studied by millions of people for thousands of years, and stands as one of the paradigmatic examples of ancient wisdom literature. We read that Solomon acquired his wisdom as a gift from God (1 Kgs 3:5-9) and became the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kgs 4:29-34). His reputation attracted the attention of the Queen of Sheba who came to see for herself whether the rumors were true. Notice how Solomon’s gift of wisdom had an apologetic effect on her:
“It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard. How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom. Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness” (1 Kgs 10:6-9, emphasis added).
The Queen recognized that Solomon’s gift was so unusual it must have had a divine origin. Despite being a Gentile, she confessed her faith in Israel’s God.
2. Modern Jewish genius.
Skeptics will dismiss as pure myth the claim that a Jewish king was the wisest man in the world. And yet, ironically, if those same skeptics were asked to name the most intelligent person of the modern era, many would cite Albert Einstein, the famed Jewish physicist.
What’s even more striking is that Einstein is only one example of the widely acknowledged phenomenon of Jewish genius,7 as confirmed by modern intelligence tests.8
In his article, “Jewish Genius,” Charles Murray documents the overrepresentation of Jews among those with exceptionally high IQs.9 Murray informs us that IQ tests are normed at 100, while the Jewish mean has been measured between 108 to 11510, putting them in the 75th percentile. The number of Jews with IQs of 140 or higher is nearly six times the number for the Gentile population.
This has been confirmed by a number of studies conducted in English and American schools. An IQ test conducted on Californian children from the 1920’s found that 10.5% of those scoring 135 or higher were Jewish. A survey of IQ scores done in London schools around the same time found that Jewish students scored nearly fifteen IQ points higher than non-Jews.11 A 1954 study in the New York public school system identifying all the children with IQ’s of 170 or higher found that twenty-four of the twenty-eight children were Jewish.12 When the SAT has only two parts and 1600 possible points, Jews had an average SAT score of 1161 (compared to the US average of 1020).13 Fully 1/4 of white Americans with IQs above 145 are Jewish.14
Put bluntly, intelligence tests have shown that God’s chosen people are the world’s smartest ethnic group.15
3. The academy.
Intelligence is a substantial determinant for success in other areas of life and the academy provides an example of how a high IQ has translated into Jewish overrepresentation in education.
For example, in turn-of-the-century Vienna, Jews comprised 40% of all gymnasium graduates, 1/3 of all students at the University of Vienna, and 17% of all Austrian university students.16 Before WWII, in Hungary and in the former Soviet Union, 1/4 of all university students were Jews.17
Jewish predominance in the academy was so prodigious it gave rise to the so-called “Jewish Quotas,” where many universities in Europe and America (including Harvard), limited the number of Jewish students allowed to be enrolled.
When the quotas were struck down, Jewish overrepresentation in the academy once again became pronounced. For example, in America, 30% of Ivy League faculty and 23% of their student bodies are Jewish,18 while in 2009, four out of eight Ivy League schools had Jewish Presidents.
4. The professions.
This emphasis on education is reflected in the Jewish presence in professions such as medicine, engineering, law, and journalism.
On the one hand, Jews have had a long history in such professions. As Richard Lynn notes, they were well known as “doctors, astronomers, and officials” in the courts of Baghdad, Cordoba, and in the Ottoman Empire.19 But the extent of Jewish predominance in these professions is supported by modern record keeping.
So, for example, in turn-of-the-century Vienna, 62% of the lawyers, 50% of the doctors and dentists, 45% of the medical faculty, and 25% of the total faculty, were Jewish.20
Similarly, in the Soviet Union, in 1939, 20% of physicians and scientists were Jews.21 To take Leningrad as one example, in 1939, Jews made up 69.4% of all dentists, 58.6% of all pharmacists, 45% of all doctors, 34.7% of all legal consultants, and 31.3% of all writers, journalists, and editors.22
5. The sciences.
Jewish achievements in the natural sciences have likewise been extraordinary. Although there is relatively little evidence of Jewish achievement in the era between AD 1150–1492,23 this is probably due to the severe legal restrictions that barred Jews from many occupations.24 However, once those legal exclusions were lifted in the 1800s, the proportion of significantly gifted Jewish scientists grew exponentially.
From 1800 to 1950, nearly 30% of all significant scientists were Jewish. Between 1951 and 2000, 29% of all Nobel Prizes in the Sciences were won by Jews.25 Likewise, Jews won 25% of all the Fields Medals for Mathematics and 37.5% of the Wolf Prizes in Mathematics.
How is it possible for such a small ethnic group to gain roughly 1/3 of the scientific world’s most prestigious prizes?
Lastly, consider how many Jewish thinkers have given birth to ideas, philosophies, and religions that have changed the course of world history.
Just think of the cumulative influence of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, the Apostle Paul, Marx, Freud, and Einstein. Is there any corner of the world that has not been changed—for good or for ill—by the teachings of these Jewish men?
What is the explanation for this Jewish genius, and the worldwide extent of its influence? Is it the result of blind chance? Or is it evidence of something—or Someone—more?
B. Jewish Wealth
From Shakespearian tragedies to wartime propaganda posters, everyone is familiar with the stereotype of the wealthy—and greedy—Jew.26 While the stereotype is loathsome, the OT does make it clear that wealth was a part of God’s blessing to His people.27 It also makes clear that this wealth would have apologetic value, by serving as a sign to unbelieving Gentiles:
“The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you… So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you” (Deut 28:8, 10-11, emphasis added).
Just so, we read that Abraham was wealthy (Gen 13:2, 6), as was Jacob (Gen 30:43), and few could match the tremendous wealth of King Solomon who was “richer and wiser than any other king in the world” (2 Chron 9:13-14, 22).
Once again, skeptics will be tempted to dismiss these accounts of prodigious Jewish wealth as myth. Was a Jewish king really the richest man in the world? However, these same skeptics would also admit that the wealthiest families and individuals in the world are disproportionately Jewish.
1. Average household incomes.
Not every single Jewish individual or family is wealthy. However, on average, Jews are wealthier than Gentiles. For example, according to the Jewish Federations of North America:
More than one-third of Jewish households (34%) report income over $75,000, compared to 17% of all U.S. households. Proportionally fewer Jewish households (22%) than total U.S. households (28%) report household income under $25,000. The current median income of Jewish households is $54,000, 29% higher than the median U.S. household income of $42,000. In 1990, the median income of Jewish households was $39,000, 34% higher than the median income of $29,000 for all U.S. households.28
2. The super-wealthy.
The evidence for Jewish financial blessing becomes more obvious among the super-rich. For example, just as Einstein’s name has become synonymous for genius, the Rothschild family has become synonymous for great wealth. In the 19th century, they were the wealthiest family in the world.29 And they were not alone.
In 1908–11, 31% of Germany’s richest families were Jewish. In 1912, 20% of all British and Prussian millionaires were Jews.
In Hungary, the numbers were even higher with 71% of the richest taxpayers being Jewish.
An Australian “Rich List” from 1986 showed that of the 200 Australians worth $100 million or more, 50 were Jewish.30 And while Jews make up just 0.5% of Australia’s population, they make up half of its billionaires.31
In 1987, 23% of the Forbes 400 were Jewish, while between the years 2009 and 2012, that percentage rose as high as 35%.32
Suddenly, the stories of King Solomon’s prodigious wealth seem modest by comparison.
3. Jewish financiers.
It is commonly known that in the Middle Ages Jews were forbidden by law from practicing a wide range of trades, with the notable exception of money-lending. But even though they went into the financial sector as a matter of necessity, Jewish pre-eminence in banking is still impressive.33
Interestingly enough, God’s blessings upon His chosen people included the promise that they would be wealthy enough to lend to all and borrow from none:
“The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow” (Deut 28:12, emphasis added).
If Israel’s God does not exist, you would not expect Jews to be very well-known in the money-lending world. However, if Israel’s God does exist, you would expect there to be evidence of an international (i.e., “many nations”) Jewish presence in banking. Where does the evidence point?
As it happens, Jewish exceptionalism in the world of finance is well known and amply documented.
In the middle of the 19th century, a third of France’s banks were run and owned by Jews (despite only being 0.2% of the population).34
In Germany, from 1819–1900, half of all bankers were Jewish, despite only being 1% of the population.35 In early 19th century Germany, 30 out of 52 private banks in Berlin were owned by Jewish families. And during the Weimar period, Jews held 80% of the positions in the stock exchange, 43% of the leading banking positions,36 and owned almost half of all private banks.
In the 1920s, Hungarian Jews owned 85% of the banks and financial institutions in that country.37
In Vienna at the end of the 19th century, all banks but one were administered by Jews.38
In St. Petersburg, between 1881–1915, 43% of the stockbrokers, 41% of the members of the stock exchange, and 40% of the bank managers, were Jewish. The Jews were overrepresented with respect to their population by a factor of 20 to 1.39
Closer to our own time, a third of the Federal Reserve chairmen have been Jewish, including the current chair, Janet Yellen.
And one needs only to mention names of such firms as Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Citigroup, and Salomon Brothers, all of which were founded and run by Jews, to recognize their extraordinary prominence in the money-lending sector.
4. Jewish philanthropy.
It is also worth noting that Jewish people are not only among the wealthiest in the world, they are also among the most charitable. A Business Week article from 2007, “The 50 Most Generous Philanthropists,” noted that 38% were Jewish.
The evidence of Jewish wealth and influence in the financial world is extraordinary. The question is, what explains it? Is all of this evidence purely accidental, the product of entirely natural forces? Or is it evidence for the existence of Israel’s God?
And if God did want to prove His existence by financially blessing His chosen people, how much wealthier and influential would Jews have to be in order for agnostics to recognize the divine origin of their blessings?
C. Jewish Management
The Bible tells some impressive stories about Jews becoming political leaders in foreign lands, often against overwhelming odds.
For example, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, only to rise up the ranks of Egyptian society to become deputy Pharaoh. Joseph’s success was so evident that his master, Potiphar, recognized the Lord’s hand in it (Gen 39:2-6), and Pharaoh himself acknowledged the divine origins of Joseph’s blessings (Gen 41:38-42). In other words, Joseph’s political success had an apologetic value.
Joseph’s story is typical of many other OT examples of Jews rising to positions of great prominence in Gentile governments (e.g., Moses as Pharaoh’s adopted grandson, Esther as a Queen of Persia, and Daniel as chief governor of Babylon).
Once again, skeptics will dismiss these kinds of stories as exaggeration or self-serving myth. They will say it is impossible to believe that Jewish people came to such prominence. And yet, ironically, many of these skeptics will also work for Jewish employers, or Jewish companies, in countries with prominent Jewish politicians.
Indeed, contemporary evidence of Jewish management both in government and in business amply testifies to the authenticity of those Biblical accounts.
1. Political influence.
Despite being a persecuted minority in Gentile countries, Jews have often risen to hold prominent political positions.
For example, in the UK, even though Jews were forbidden from becoming members of Parliament for most of the 19th century, Nathan Meyer, of Rothschild fame, became Baron Rothschild in 1885, making the family part of British aristocracy. Benjamin Disraeli became Prime Minister from 1874–1880. And in 2010, 24 out of 650 seats in the House of Commons were held by Jewish MPs.
Likewise, France has had at least six Jewish Prime Ministers, including Léon Blum, René Mayer, Pierre Mendes-France, Michel Debré, Laurent Fabius, and most recently Nicolas Sarkozy. Besides these were numerous Jewish deputies to parliament and generals.40
The Jewish political influence in Russia is most evident during the Bolshevik Revolution, when, in the First and Second Congress of Soviets, Jews made up 40% and 31% of the delegates respectively, along with 25% of the Party’s Central Committee. And the first two heads of the Soviet State were Jews (Lev Kamenev, and Yakov Sverdlov).41
In the US, in 2014, eleven senators and twenty-one representatives were Jewish. And in the 2016 election cycle, Bernie Sanders ran for the Democratic nomination for President.
Jewish achievement in business is just as impressive as in other fields of human accomplishment.
In 1895, 59.8% of all business proprietors in Germany were Jewish.42
In 1917, 90% of all Hungarian industry was owned by Jews,43 as were 50% of all company directors.44
In 1988, 41.7% of the major, and 18.1% of the minor, professional and managerial positions in France were held by Jews.45
To give just a hint of the influence of Jews on modern business, consider that many of the top technology firms in the world today were founded, co-founded, or managed by Jews. These include: Intel (Andrew Grove); Google (Sergey Brin); Oracle (Larry Ellison); Ebay (Jeff Skoll); Dell (Michael S. Dell); and Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg).
Jews also serve as CEO’s of 15% of America’s largest companies, including Citicorp, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Lowe’s, American Express, Time Warner, Toys R Us, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, and New York Life Insurance.46
Anyone familiar with the political and business worlds should have little trouble recognizing the prominent Jewish presence within them. Even the hardened skeptic should admit that Jewish exceptionalism in those spheres puts the Biblical stories of Joseph, Moses, Esther, and Daniel in a very plausible light.
The question is, what accounts for this? Are these Jewish achievements yet another coincidence, in what is becoming a long series of coincidences? Or is it part of a historical pattern, seen since ancient times, of God’s singular blessing upon His chosen people?
D. Return from Exile and the Modern State of Israel
The OT appealed to the Exodus and the entry into Canaan as proof of God’s existence. Are there any modern parallels to those events?
The most obvious example would be the reestablishment of Israel as a state in 1948.
The prophets looked to a time when the Jews would return to the Promised Land. For example, here is a selection from Isaiah:
Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth… “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? (Isa 11:11-12; 66:8).
Jeremiah even hints at the apologetic nature of this regathering, saying the Lord will be known for bringing the Jews back to Israel:
“Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers” (Jer 16:14-15).
Can such a thing happen? As Isaiah asked, can a nation be brought forth all at once? It can, and it did. Many people—both Jews and Christians—believe these prophecies were fulfilled on May 14, 1948, when the modern state of Israel was “brought forth all at once” and recognized as such by the United Nations.47 The hand of God was seen as the driving force behind that momentous event. As one Rabbi remarked,
God has performed an awesome miracle in our day—greater, Jeremiah the Prophet wrote long ago, than even the events of the Exodus—by gathering up the Jews of many nations, allowing us to reclaim our land, bestowing us with a united capital of Jerusalem and giving us the opportunity to practice Judaism in its natural habitat.48
Of course, skeptics will deny the re-establishment of Israel has any prophetic significance. But even they should still admit the establishment of Israel as a State after nearly 2000 years, eerily harmonizes with the Biblical drama of Israel’s relationship to the Promised Land, and her prophesied return.
Once again, is this really just another coincidence, or is it more evidence for the existence of Israel’s God?
Anyone looking for concrete evidence that God exists need only look at the Jewish people.
The empirical evidence—a fraction of which has been presented here—overwhelmingly shows that God’s chosen people are the smartest, richest, most accomplished ethnic group in the entire world. Jewish achievements in science, finance, politics, and business (to say nothing of literature, music, and religion), have literally enriched all of human culture.
Just as God promised, the Jews have been a blessing to the world.49
These facts must be accounted for.
Believers will see the evidence of Jewish exceptionalism as a clear confirmation of their belief in Israel’s God.
Skeptics will dismiss this evidence and appeal to completely naturalistic explanations.50 They will say that Jewish genius, and the attending benefits, are the product of purely natural forces, and not the result of divine blessing.51
Other people will find it hard to accept such a long line of coincidences. They will resist dismissing the evidence too easily. At the very least, they will admit that the existence of Israel’s God is a reasonable explanation for Jewish exceptionalism.
I am reminded of an anecdote told about Benjamin Disraeli, the Jewish Prime Minister of Great Britain, who was asked if he knew of any infallible proof of God’s existence. He is supposed to have answered, “The Jew, sir, the Jew.”52
I have come to the same conclusion.
At the beginning of this article I quoted Mark Twain as asking, “What is the secret to [the Jews’] immortality?” Maybe the answer was never meant to be a secret. Certainly, the OT writers thought it was obvious. The Jewish people have prospered through the ages against overwhelming odds, because they are chosen and blessed by the living God.
1 Quoted in Herbert Friedenwald, “Adams, John,” The Jewish Encyclopedia. See http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/767-adams-john. Accessed February 24, 2016.
2 Mark Twain, “Concerning the Jews,” in Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, and Essays: Volume 2: 1891–1910 (New York, NY: Library of America, 1992), 370, emphasis added.
3 But this argument may also serve as corollary evidence for those Christians who believe, as this author does, that God still blesses the Jews as a uniquely chosen people (e.g., Christian Dispensationalists).
4 For example, Brian Davies, Thomas Aquinas on God and Evil (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011), 121.
5 Sergio Della Pergola, “World Jewish Population, 2013,” p. 4. See http://www.bjpa. org/Publications/downloadFile.cfm?FileID=18230#page=1&zoom=auto,0,849. Accessed December 11, 2013.
6 Charles Murray, “Jewish Genius,” in Commentary Magazine (April 2007). See: http:// www.commentarymagazine.com/article/jewish-genius. Accessed February 15, 2013.
7 Mark Twain’s quote about Jewish achievement could be replicated in the works of Lord Ashley, the Count de Gobineau (1853), Francis Galton (1869), John Fraser (1915), Joseph Jacobs (1919), and Thorstein Veblen (1919). See Richard Lynn, The Chosen People: A Study of Jewish Intelligence and Achievement (Whitefish, MT: Washington Summit Publishers, 2011), 3-5.
8 For a list of such quotes see Lynn, The Chosen People, 2-5.
9 Murray, “Jewish Genius.”
10 Steven Pinker, “The Lessons of the Ashkenazim: Groups and Genes,” New Republic Online (July 26, 2006). See http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/media/2006_06_17_ thenewrepublic.html. Accessed online December 13, 2013.
11 Jon Entine, Abraham’s Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People (New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing, 2007), 300.
12 Murray, Human Accomplishment, 292.
13 Entine, Abraham’s Children, 295-96.
14 Ibid., 302.
15 Ibid., 296, 301.
16 Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), 49.
17 Entine, Abraham’s Children, 297.
18 Ibid., 296.
19 Lynn, Chosen People, 21-24.
20 Slezkine, Jewish Century, 50.
21 Entine, Abraham’s Children, 297.
22 Slezkine, Jewish Century, 224.
23 Charles Murray reports upon a study done by historian George Sarton, who surveyed the top scientists in the world, from the years 1150 to 1300. Of the 626 names, 95 were Jews, though only two (Montaigne and Spinoza) warrant mention in most histories. See Murray, Human Accomplishment (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2003), 275. By contrast, Raphael Patai estimated that Jews were overrepresented among gifted scientists by a factor of 32/1 during AD 1150–1300 and by a factor of 18/1 from AD 1000–1492, though Lynn doubts that Jewish contributions to science during this period are as notable as Patai assumes. See Lynn, Chosen People, 7.
24 Murray, Human Accomplishment, 276.
25 Ibid., 282.
26 Slezkine mentions how most socialist Jewish memoirists “remembered struggling with the twin evils of tradition and ‘acquisitiveness.’” As far as they were concerned, the Jewish tradition was about acquisitiveness, and acquisitiveness stripped of the Jewish tradition was distilled capitalism, i.e., “practical, real Judaism.” (Jewish Century, 153). Thomas Cahill remarks how the story of Abram’s journey to the Promised Land mentions the wealth he had accumulated in Haran and how Abram cleverly increased his possessions through a deception involving his wife and Pharaoh. See The Gift of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels (New York, NY: Nan A. Talese, 1998), 60, 66-67.
27 A blessing that has, tragically, led to murderous resentment throughout history. Sadly, the same could be said of all the blessings mentioned in this article. I believe that anti-Semitism has been prevalent throughout history precisely because the Jews have been resented for their tremendous achievements.
28 “NJPS: Education, Employment and Income,” http://www.jewishfederations.org/ page.aspx?id=46193. Accessed February 15, 2013.
29 Slezkine, Jewish Century, 48. See also Frederic Morton, The Rothschild: Portrait of a Dynasty (New York, NY: Kodansha International, 1962), 57.
30 Lynn, Chosen People, 36.
31 See http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/australian-jewsmay-top-forbes-rich-list-but-20-live-on-poverty-line.premium-1.491484. Accessed February 15, 2015.
32 Ranging from 29%–35%. See http://racehist.blogspot.com/2013/04/2012-forbes400-by-ethnic-origins.html. Accessed Feb 09, 2014.
33 Lynn, Chosen People, 13.
34 Ibid., 120.
35 Ibid., 136.
36 Ibid., 142.
37 Ibid., 49.
38 Slezkine, Jewish Century, 47.
39 Lynn, Chosen People, 219.
40 Lynn, Chosen People, 121.
41 Ibid., 221.
42 Ibid., 137.
43 Slezkine, Jewish Century, 48.
44 Lynn, Chosen People, 43.
45 Ibid., 125.
46 Pease, The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement (Sonoma, CA: Deucalion), 193.
47 For example, Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2004), 99-104; cf., Gary Frazier and Jim Fletcher, Miracle of Israel: The Shocking, Untold Story of God’s Love for His People (Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press, 2016), 185; John Hagee, Can America Survive?: 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation (New York, NY: Howard, 2010), 107; John F. Walvoord, “The Amazing Rise of Israel!” Moody Monthly (October 1967).
48 Stewart Weiss, “In Plain Language: Who is a ‘Good’ Jew?” The Jerusalem Post (12/6/2014). http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/ In-Plain-Language-Who-is-a-good-Jew-358152.
49 I would add that the greatest blessing of all is how the Jewish people gave us the Messiah, Jesus, who promised everlasting life to all who would believe in Him for it (John 3:16; 3:36; 5:24; 6:35).
50 For example, see Gregory Cochran, Jason Hardy, Henry Harpending, “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence.” See http://web.mit.edu/fustflum/documents/papers/ AshkenaziIQ.jbiosocsci.pdf. Accessed March 15, 2016.
51 If so, they must answer Alvin Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism. Plantinga argues that, given both evolution and naturalism, there is a very low probability that our cognitive faculties would be reliable (let alone capable of genius). See Naturalism Defeated?: Essays on Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism, ed. James K.Beilby (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002).
52 Likely apocryphal. See Stephen R. Haynes, Reluctant Witnesses: Jews and the Christian Imagination (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), 58-59.