DR. JUR. EWALD (ED) METZLER, JUDGE
Master of Comparative Law
The Founder and Father of Mosaistics, being the
Scientific Study of the Law of Moses
and Mosaical Antiquity
April 12, 1999
|Herborn, Nassau, Germany –|
Western Philosophy · Musical Theory · Metzler Formula · Mosaical Religions
The Jewish past of the City of Herborn is all but omitted on its website, in spite of the fact that already back in 1377, Herborn is mentioned as having a synagogue, as well as a Jewish school in 1396, while even today it can boast a medieval Mikveh , which is one of the sights worth to be be seen, but is missing on the sightseeing tour of the town, and not mentioned in the webpage on the history of Herborn, cf. PAUL ARNSBERG, Die jüdischen Gemeinden in Hessen [The Jewish Communities in Hesse], 2 volumes (1971-72 Societäts-Verlag Frankfurt am Main); on Herborn volume 1, pp. 352-353, which reads: "Schon 1377 ist eine Synagoge, 1396 eine jüdische Schule in Herborn erwähnt. Dann gibt es erst wieder Hinweise auf Juden um 1618 bis 1620 (damals auch Juden in Dillenburg). Häufigere Erwähnungen finden sich dann im 18. Jahrhundert: 1713 einige Schutzjuden in Herborn; 1725 gab es bereits eine Judenordnung (wegen Papierlieferungen, Einzugs- und Begräbnisgeldern und dgl.). . . ."
Of course, no word about those houses on the picturesque Market Square, the Main Street, and elsewhere that once used to be Jewish property taken over by their Nazi fellow-citizens. Incidentally, Salomon Herxheimer (1801-1884), who later was to become Landesrabbiner of Anhalt-Bernburg, distinguished author, and translator of the Hebrew Bible (Torah, Prophets, and Hagiographa) into German (1841-1848), lived in Herborn as a teacher from 1818-1824, cf. the Encyclopaedia "Meyers Goßes Konversations-Lexikon" (6th ed. 1908) vol. 9 p. 244. Around 1930, the Jewish community of Herborn was just about to build a new synagogue on a nice site, facing the main gate of the former University, which now is a playground. In time for the 600th anniversary of the Jewish community of Herborn, a Mikveh was excavated in the framework building Kornmarkt 22, and should be included in any sightseeing tour of Herborn. It is accessible from the side entrance Hanauer Hof (ask for keys in the Museum).
Moreover, no mention is made of the fact that the Calvinist University of Herborn once was a Hebrew and Aramaic center of European importance, when Johann Piscator, translator of the official Bern Bible, was its head from 1584-1625. Besides John Amos Comenius, other great scholars were educated in Herborn, such as the Hebraists Johannes Buxtorf, the elder in Basle, Kort Aslakssøn from Bergen in Norway, later professor in Copenhagen and father of Scandinavian Hebraistics, and Giovanni Diodati of Geneva, the famous translator of the Bible into Italian. Appropriately, the street behind the old University is the Chaldäergasse or Chaldean (i. e. Aramaic) Lane. On Aslakssøn, cf. Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 3 at 751.
The books printed at the Herborn University Press by Corvinus played an important role in the early America of the Pilgrim Fathers, as researched by Perry Miller in his book on the New England Mind in the 17th century. Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts tried to make Comenius president of Harvard College, and the books of Johann Heinrich Alsted, who was his teacher at Herborn, were popular among their fellow Puritans, e. g. his Encyclopaedia printed in Herborn. English Comenians were the first to work for admitting Jews to England under Oliver Cromwell, and spread the philosophy of Francis Bacon. The political theory of Puritan Protestantism as formulated by John Milton was preceded by Johannes Althusius, who was law professor in Herborn, where he published his "Politica Methodice Digesta" in 1603, which inspired the political thought of the Puritan revolution and the Pilgrim Fathers.
Conversely, however well Herborn fits into the intellectual history of Holland, Switzerland, England, and New England, it remained excluded from the mainstream of German thought: Servility to monarchic absolutism as well as dictatorial totalitarianism has characterized the metaphysical mainstream of German philosophy from the 17th century onwards down to Hegel and Heidegger. The democratic tradition of Althusius was suppressed in Germany, until the great jurist Otto von Gierke rescued him from oblivion in 1880, and my Heidelberg teacher Carl Joachim Friedrich republished Althusius at Harvard in 1932, whose "Politica Methodice Digesta" was translated into English by my Dallas friend Frederick S. Carney in 1964; cf. Ed Metzler, The Impact of Israel on Western Philosophy (Herborn 1993) pp. 28-32.
The German region of Nassau, which extends from Wiesbaden in the south to Siegen in the north, and from the Rhine in the west to the Hessian border near Marburg in the east, is all but forgotten in Germany, while the Netherlands remember "Wilhelmus von Nassauen" in their national anthem as the hero of their War of Independence. William of Nassau-Orange I was born in Dillenburg near Herborn, where his brother John founded a Calvinist university in 1584, like those of Geneva and Leiden, and his great-grandson William of Orange III was made king of England in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Napoleon closed the University of Herborn in 1812, and the Calvinists of Nassau were united with the Lutherans in 1817. One of the first victims of Prussian militarism, Nassau was annexed in 1866 forming part of the Prussian province Hessen-Nassau, and after World War II the name Nassau was dropped.
Richter am Amtsgericht Herborn a.D. Dr. Jur. Ewald Metzler, Master of Comparative Law.
As a legal scientist, I had the privilege to discover in 1983 in Herborn the 3D structure of
the Ten Commandments, and succeeded in reconstructing the two stone Tablets of the Law
- Monday, April 12, 1999 at 11:31:30 (MET DST)
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by Dr. Ewald (Ed) Metzler-Moziani.