They answered him
Not the believing Jews, whom he peculiarly addressed, but the unbelieving Jews, who were present, and heard these things:
we be Abraham's seed;
this the Jews always valued themselves upon, and reckoned themselves, on this account, upon a level with the nobles and the princes of the earth.
``Says R. Akiba F3, even the poor of Israel are to be considered as if they were (Nyrwx ynb) , "noblemen", that are fallen from their substance, because they are the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;''and were never in bondage to any man;
which is a very great falsehood, for it was declared to Abraham himself, that his seed should serve in a land not theirs, and be afflicted four hundred years, as they were; and as the preface to the law which the Jews gloried in shows, which says, that the Lord their God brought them out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; and they were frequently overcome by their neighbours, the Moabites, Ammonites, and Philistines, and reduced to servitude under them, until delivered by one judge, or another: and not to take notice of their seventy years' captivity in Babylon, they were at this very time under the Roman yoke, and paid tribute to Caesar; and yet such was the pride of their hearts, they would not be thought to be in bondage; and therefore, with an haughty air, add,
how sayest thou, ye shall be made free?
when they thought themselves, and would fain have been thought by others, to have been free already, and so to stand in no need of being made free.
F3 Misn. Bava Kama, c. 8. sect. 6. & T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 86. 1. & 91. 1.