JEWISH-AMERICAN HALL OF FAME • JEWISH MUSEUM IN CYBERSPACE
ANTI-SEMITIC BIGOTRY AS CHRONICLED BY HISTORICAL MEDALS


 

One more piece made by Wermuth that may be mentioned here also appears to be designed to denigrate those who do not follow the predominant Lutheranism of Germany, in this case Jews and Muslims. It is the so-called Camel-Swallower or Pietism medal. (Pietism was a movement within Lutheranism that began in the late 17th century and ultimately influenced Protestantism and Anabaptism, as well as the Methodist and Brethren movements.) This medal (figure 12) shows on the obverse an "African" dwarf swallowing a camel while gnats swarm about, the German legend translated as: "Catcher of Gnats and Camel Swallower," referring to passages from Matthew 23 in the New Testament which read, in part:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone. Ye blind guides, who strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel!”

The reverse depicts a Jew draped in a prayer shawl, the German legend reading “The Pharisee Risen from Death.” The Pharisees were a social movement and school of thought that arose in the Holy Land during the Hasmonean dynasty (140-37 BCE) in the wake of the Maccabean Revolt. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic beliefs became the liturgical and ritualistic basis for modern Rabbinic Judaism.

Below the figure of the Jew is stamped, “Matth:XXIII.”, a reference again to Matthew 23:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves... because ye shut the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye enter not in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering in to enter... for ye devour widows' houses, even while for a pretense ye make long prayers: therefore ye shall receive greater condemnation...”

 
Figure 12. Pietism / Camel Swallower Medal

Christian Wermuth, Germany, 1687, Silver struck medal, 42mm. Ref: Kirschner 4; Friedenberg 12 and 109; Feill #3928 (p.186 & photos XIII). (Image courtesy of Tradart)

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