I don’t recall, in the ancient world, anything said about the Jews quite as nasty as that.
Polytheism was essentially tolerant, each group worshiping its own god or gods, offering no objection to the worship of others.
Taking a dislike, mild or intense, to people who are different in one way or another, by ethnicity, race, color, creed, eating habits—no matter what—is part of the normal human condition.
We find it throughout recorded history, and we find it all over the world.
Indeed, one might have been willing to offer at least a pinch of incense to some alien god, in courtesy as a visitor or, even at home, in deference to a suzerain.
Only the Jews in the ancient world insisted—absurdly, according to the prevailing view of the time—that theirs was the only god and that the others did not exist.The Christian message was presented as the fulfillment of God’s promises to the Jews, written in what Christians called the Old Testament.The rejection of that message by the Jewish custodians of the Old Testament was especially wounding.Some people have written and spoken about anti-Semitism in antiquity, but the term in that context is misleading.We do indeed find texts in the ancient world attacking and denouncing Jews, sometimes quite viciously, but we also find nasty remarks about Syrians, Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, and the rest.There is no great difference between the anti-Jewish remarks and the ethnic and religious prejudices expressed against other peoples, and on the whole the ones against Jews are not the most vicious.The Syrian-born Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus, for example, speaking of the Saracens, remarks that they are not to be desired either as friends or as enemies.In both cases the perpetrators were Arab, but in the case of Sabra and Shatila, because of the dominant Israeli military presence in the region, there was a possibility of blaming the Jews. We see other instances of differing standards and methods of judgment nearer home and in a perhaps less alarming form.In Hama, this possibility did not exist; therefore the mass slaughter of Arabs by Arabs went unremarked, unnoticed, and unprotested. We hear a great deal, for example, about the Jewish lobby and the various accusations that are from time to time brought against it, that those engaged in it are somehow disloyal to the United States and are in the service of a foreign power.The Jewish lobby is, of course, not the only lobby of its kind.Consider three others: the Irish, Greek, and Armenian lobbies.