“…I look at modern nations: I see many lawmakers among them but not a single lawgiver. Among the ancients I see three principal ones who deserve particular attention: Moses, Lycurgus, and Numa. All three devoted their principal cares to objects which our learned men would consider laughable. All three achieved successes which would be thought impossible if they were not so well attested.

“The first formed and executed the astonishing enterprise of instituting as a national body a swarm of wretched fugitives who had no arts, no weapons, no talents, no virtues, no courage, and who, since they had not an inch of territory of their own, were a troop of strangers upon the face of the earth. Moses dared to make out of this wandering and servile troop a body politic, a free people, and while it wandered in the wilderness without so much as a stone on which to rest its head, he gave it the lasting institution, proof against time, fortune and conquerors which five thousand years have not been able to destroy or even to weaken, and which still subsists today in all its force even though the body of the nation no longer does.

“To keep his people from being absorbed by foreign peoples, he gave it morals and practices which could not be blended with those of the other nations; he weighed it down with distinctive rites and ceremonies; he constrained it in a thousand ways in order to keep it constantly alert and to make it forever a stranger among other men, and all the bonds of fraternity he introduced among members of his republic were as many barriers which kept it separated from its neighbors and prevented it from mingling with them. This is how this singular nation, so often subjugated, so often scattered and apparently destroyed, yet ever idolizing its rule, has nevertheless maintained itself down to our days, scattered among the other nations without ever merging with them, and how its morals, its laws, its rites subsist and will endure as long as the world itself does, in spite of the hatred and persecution by the rest of mankind.”

[bold mine]

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