Roman Emperors Ban Required Public Service or Court Appearance for Jews on Their Sabbath

Roman Emperors Ban Required Public Service or Court Appearance for Jews on Their Sabbath

Emperor Theodosius II

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Emperors Theodosius II and Honorius ban compulsion of public service or court appearances for Jews on the Sabbath or any other Jewish holy day. Thus all legal issues involving Jews must be completed between Monday and Friday, and the Jewish sabbath receives general protection. By the same token, Jews should not summon Christians to court on Christian holy days.

This new law says:

"On the Sabbath Day and any days when the Jews observe the reverence of their own cult, We command that they must be compelled to do anything or be sued in any way because the other days will suffice for fiscal advantages and for private litigation." [CT 2.8.26]

Jews are also to be protected generally:

"No Jew who is innocent shall be oppressed, nor shall anyone of any creed cause Jews to be exposed to insult. Their synagogues and homes must not be burned and the Jews must not be maliciously injured without reason.

If any Jew is implicated in crime, the authority of the judges and the protection of the law precludes others from taking vengeance for himself.

Nevertheless, although We provide for the personal safety of the Jews, We also think that notice should be given to prevent them from becoming arrogant lest they rashly commit some crime against Christian religion as an act of revenge." [Ci 1.9.13]

Finally, the synagogues are given explicit protection:

"No one is permitted to violate or to occupy and retain the synagogues of the Jews because everyone must be allowed to retain their own property in undisturbed right, without any claim of religion or worship. ...

We also forbid that any Jews be constrained by any summons on the Jewish sabbath, under the pretext of public or private business, because the remaining time should be sufficient to satisfy the public laws. . . ." [CT 16.8.20]

In the past only Christians had the privilege of having their holy days excluded from legal issues or anything that might conflict with or distract from religious worship services. Now, however, Jews are finally getting some of the same protections and privileges. Yet the benefits are not universal: pagans are excluded entirely because their religion is being suppressed by the Christian leadership of Rome.

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