Throughout his works, Nietzsche conveys great praise for the Jewish people. However, he obviously does not admire the consequences of their accomplishments. In the first essay of On the Genealogy of Morals, section 7, he asserts:

All that has been done on earth against "the noble," "the powerful," "the masters," "the rulers," fades into nothing compared with what the Jews have done against them; the Jews, that priestly people, who in opposing their enemies and conquerors were ultimately satisfied with nothing less than a radical revaluation of their enemies' values, that is to say, an act of the most spiritual revenge...

With the Jews there begins the slave revolt in morality: that revolt which has a history of two thousand years behind and and which we no longer see because it - has been victorious.

It is well known that Nietzsche despises the effects of slave morality and the priestly-aristocracy - the inversion of values it brings; how it renders men "impotent"; how it reduces the end of life into "nothingness." (reference section 6).

What, then, leads him to praise the Jews as such?

The Jews, on the contrary [to Rome], were the priestly nation of ressentiment par excellence, in whom there dwelt an unequaled popular-moral genius: one only has to compare similarly gifted nations - the Chinese or the Germans, for instance - with the Jews, to sense which is of the first and which of the fifth rank.

It seems to me that this has something to do with "popular-moral genius," but what does this mean? Is Nietzsche praising them because they have the talent to control the masses with their slave morality? Would he perhaps have been very happy to see their talents used not as the reactive men of ressentiment, but as the active, aggressive noble men?

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    In passing, two things strike me immediately here: (a) he seems to be noting the exemplary "moral genius" of the Jewish people; and at one point he states he admires the specific model of church or temple (which Nietzsche says somewhere is the "noblest" kind of institution, moreso than the state for instance); (b) he also expresses an admiration for the literature of the Old Testament, where Nietzsche says we are introduced to "a people" -- something near-absent in the New (at one point he says it is the greatest sin on Europe's literary conscience to have adjoined the two books)
    – Joseph Weissman
    Mar 25, 2012 at 17:39
  • @JosephWeissman Ah, yes, I definitely remember your latter point; Beyond Good and Evil, I think? Maybe I'll mention that if I can find it.
    – commando
    Mar 25, 2012 at 17:49
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    If anybody is wondering, the section Joseph mentioned about the Old and New Testament is section 52 of Beyond Good and Evil. I couldn't really find a way to fit it into the question, but you may find it useful to answer.
    – commando
    Mar 25, 2012 at 20:42

2 Answers 2


There's a passage in The Gay Science (136) that may help to illuminate what Nietzsche means by referring to the moral genius of the Jews. He states their genius consists of a "more profound contempt for the human being in themselves than any other people." Also, later (in 140), Nietzsche regards Jesus as "not refined enough...being a Jew" to undertand that a God that is an arbiter of justice is not an object of love. I suppose that Nietzsche in one sense admires the Jews insofar as they are not as hypocritical as he deems Christians.

My understanding of Nietzsche's view on Judaism is influenced in large part by Walter Kaufman's insightful annotations and suggested cross references. He reminds the reader to recall the historical context of Nietzsche's comments:

...some of Nietzsche's comments on Jews... are bound to strike many of today's readers very differently from they way they struck - and were meant to strike - Victorian readers. The modern reader is apt to find evidence of anti-Semitism where Victorian readers were shocked by the suggestion that Jesus was considered a Jew not only in name... in The Antichrist: Jesus and Christianity were "Jewish" precisely in the sense in which nineteenth-century Christians used to look down on what was "Jewish."

Kaufman then goes on to suggest referencing 248, 250, and 251 in Beyond Good and Evil as well as 135 and 140 in The Gay Science.

Also, later in The Gay Science (348) I found a passage on scholarship in which Nietzsche expresses his belief that Jews hold "a high regard for logic" and that "Europe owes the Jews no small thanks for making people think more logically, and for establishing cleanlier intellectual habits." He goes on:

Wherever Jews have won influence they have taught men to make finer distinctions, more rigorous inferences, and to write in a more luminous and cleanly fashion; their task was ever to bring a people "to listen to raison."

Although this has less to do with any sense of moral genius, it still shows a respect or admiration, perhaps, by Nietzsche for Jews.


That is a mistake, Nietzsche said that perfect society combines rationality with the stimulus of the aristocratic instinct and societies fall into decline when rationality restricts instinct.

When Nietzsche speaks of "moral genius" he does not praise them, he proceeds like all anti-Semites ... His moral "genius" is a subtle way of saying "Jews are cunning", so he says "it is not compared to what the Jews They have done against them. "

When he says that the Jews were satisfied with a "radical revaluation of the values ​​of their enemies", he does as all anti-Semitism: he accuses the Jews of not being an original people, but a people copying the skills of others (can be compared with Hitler , Which says exactly the same thing in MY FIGHT).

The "spiritual" in Nietzsche is the value system, not its relation to the Divinity, to which Nietzsche always curses ... He calls it revenge, or accuses the Jews of resentment ... See what the anti-Semites now do , When dealing with issues such as the Holocaust or pogroms, accuse the Jews of victimization (resentment), revenge.

The "slaves" in morality refer to all the contempt he has not only for moral values, but for Jews, for Nietzsche the Jews were always slaves, they were not leaders, they were not warriors but slaves, resentful, repressed, etc.

To that we add that it speaks of a revolt that has 2000 years in history, that is the Christianity, that, in spite of several efforts, as it is known now it is totally divorced of its Jewish matrix (it is known that the Christians speak of the Overcoming the Torah, contempt against the Pharisees, etc.)

And none of that is praise, Nietzsche never praised the Jews, despised them. To say that Nietzsche conveyed praise to the Jewish people is similar to the justification that the anti-Semites make of Stalin by the delivery of an oblast, or of Hitler by the agreements of Haavara .... Traductor de Google para empresas:Google Translator ToolkitTraductor de sitios web

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