I pass now to the second question: whether the social and political conditions of the time were not causes of the religious movement. Let us see briefly where we are. You are aware that at the time of which we speak the peaceful days of the Jewish theocracy were long past. For two centuries blow had followed upon blow; from the terrible days of Antiochus Epiphanes onwards the nation had never had any rest. The kingdom of the Maccabees had been set up, and through inner strife and external foe had soon disappeared again. The Romans had invaded the country and had laid their iron hand upon everything. The tyranny of that Edomite parvenu, King Herod, had robbed the nation of every pleasure in life and maimed it in all its members. So far as human foresight went, it looked as if no improvement in its position could ever again be effected; the lie seemed to be given to all the glorious old prophecies; the end appeared to have come. How easy it was at such an epoch to despair of all earthly things, and in this despair to renounce in utter distress what had once passed as the inseparable accompaniment of the theocracy. How easy it was now to declare the earthly crown, political possessions, prestige and wealth, strenuous effort and struggle, to be one and all worthless, and in place of them to look to heaven for a completely new kingdom, a kingdom for the poor, the oppressed, the weak, and to hope that their virtues of gentleness and patience would receive a crown. And if for hundreds of years the national God of Israel had been undergoing a transformation; if he had broken in pieces the weapons of the mighty, and derided the showy worship of his priests; if he had demanded righteous judgment and mercy—• what a temptation there was to proclaim him as the God who wills to see his people in misery that he may then bring them deliverance! We can, in fact, with a few touches construct the religion and its hopes which seemed of necessity to result from the circumstances of the time — a miserabilism which clings to the expectation of a miraculous interference on God’s part, and in the meantime, as it were, wallows in wretchedness.