Steiner was addressing workmen who were raising the Anthroposophical headquarters, the Goetheanum. He often took questions and gave his answers extemporaneously. Thus, some of these “lectures” were more nearly informal chats. [To read another lecture he delivered to these workmen, see "Forbidden". To walk through a Steiner lecture with paragraph-by-paragraph commentary, see "Lecture".]
The texts of Steiner's lectures as we have them now are often disjointed and disorganized. This can be excused, perhaps, in cases when he was speaking without notes. We should also remember that the texts we have for such talks were not prepared by Steiner himself but by devoted followers who made transcripts while he spoke. As a result, there may be some errors of transcription.
 An eclipse of the Sun (the Moon passing in front of the Sun) lasts only a brief while. Indeed, the period when the Sun is totally obscured by the Moon is measured in minutes and it does not produce great darkness on the Earth.
"The light of totality [i.e., total eclipse] is much brighter than that of the full moon but is quite different in colour. The duration of totality is brief, typically lasting two to five minutes." — "eclipse." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 29 Jul. 2011.
Of course, an omnipotent God could cause an eclipse to last for hours, but Steiner does not argue that such a God exists or that He did these things. Steiner is correct, however, that the Bible speaks of the Sun becoming dark.
"It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining." — Luke 23:44-45.
Rather than saying that God caused the Sun to go dark, Steiner says that
"Christ...chose the eclipse as the time to die."
This suggests that the eclipse in question was a typical passage of the Moon across the face of the Sun.
 Steiner generally deplored intellectual thought and, indeed, use of the brain. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Specific" and "Materialism U."]
 Note that Steiner is not denying that ancient peoples were clairvoyant; he taught that, indeed, ancient peoples had instinctive clairvoyant powers. His point, here, is that ancient peoples had souls that were more deeply integrated with their bodies, thus they had access to spiritual knowledge — they were clairvoyant — and did not distract themselves with abstract, intellectual thinking.
In preference to intellect, Steiner touted the value of imagination, which he said allows people to create true mental pictures of “imaginations.” Correct imagination, he taught, is a form of clairvoyance. [See, e.g., "Steiner's 'Science'" and "Clairvoyance".]
 On another occasion, Steiner said
“It is...important that the deeds of Christ Jesus are always seen in relation to the physical sun, which is the external expression of the spiritual world that is received at the point where Christ’s physical body is walking around. When Christ Jesus heals, for instance, it is the sun force that heals. However, the sun must be in the right place in the heavens: ‘That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.’ It is important to indicate that this healing power can flow down only when the external sun has set but still works spiritually.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN: THE EVOLUTION OF INDIVIDUALITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), pp. 65-6.
Steiner’s basic proposition in all this is that Christ is the Sun God. [See "Was He Christian?" and "Sun God".] The powers that flow into us from the Sun come, spiritually, from Christ. When Christ came to Earth and assumed human form, he became our Prototype, showing us how we should be. When he was Crucified, his blood flowed into the Earth and thus his spiritual essence united with the Earth. He doesn’t say any of this very clearly to the poor workmen comprising his audience.
 Astrology forms an integral part of Steiner's teachings. See, e.g., "Astrology" and "Star Power".
 By "freedom," Steiner generally meant something quite different from the liberty affirmed in Western democracies today. [See "Freedom" and
"Democracy".] Primarily, he meant spiritual freedom from temptation and error. Here he is saying that man, with a purified soul, is not wholly controlled by forces outside himself. Rather, "free" man builds on those forces and need not fear that he will fall into a lower condition. (The image of falling into a basement is, presumably, an attempt at humor.)
 That is, they led to the fulfillment of nature by Christ: the Crucifixion and its aftermath considered as a victory.
 Steiner had many things to say about blood. [See "Blood".] At the Crucifixion, Steiner said, Christ's blood flowed into the Earth and thus Christ, the Sun God, united Himself with the Earth. [See "Sun God".] Here, he is saying that the blood in our bodies is affected by solar forces (which in Steiner's vision means influences coming to us from the realm of the Sun God, Christ).
 Again, this is the Crucifixion considered as a victory. Because of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, death has been defeated; death now leads to a higher spiritual life.
 Steiner is speaking of gods and, to a far lesser degree, nature spirits. Judaism is monotheistic. Steiner taught that polytheism — not monotheism — is true. [See, e.g., "Polytheism" and "The Gods".] Monotheism is, in Steiner's teachings, a distant ideal, not a present reality. Thus the Jews can be praised for creating the ideal of monotheism, but their actual religious beliefs are wrong, Steiner said.
 Here Steiner is mainly discussing nature spirits, which are lowly discarnate beings who have no real spirit in them. [See "Neutered Nature".]
 Steiner praises Jews for developing the concept of monotheism, but he also says they were wrong to close their eyes to all the other spiritual beings. Mankind does have one god, in a sense, Steiner taught. This may be seen as the Godhead — the supreme spiritual force. [See "God".] Viewed differently, our supreme god is Christ, the Sun God. [See "Was He Christian?"] So Steiner praises Jews for espousing monotheism, but he also denies that their god — Jehovah — is really the One and Only God of the universe. According to Steiner, Yahweh or Jehovah is a rather lowly god, residing on the Moon. [See, e.g., "Old Testament" and "Lunacy".] Thus, the Jews' monotheism is wrong — Jews fail to see all the other gods, and they mistakenly think their lowly god is the One God.
Steiner says that the name Yahweh means “I am”, and elsewhere he tied this to the idea that humans have an “I” — a divine spiritual identity. [See, e.g., "Commandments".] This is to the good. But Christ, the Sun God, is much higher that Yahweh, according to Steiner. Christ descended from the Sun and manifested for three years in the body of Jesus. Judaism prepared the way for Christianity, but the Jews did not understand what they had done, according to Steiner, and thus they failed to leave their inferior religion and embrace Christ. This is a common anti-Semitic contention. Whereas Christ is god of the Sun, Steiner said, Jehovah is a Moon god.
◊ “Yahweh [i.e., Jehovah] resides on the Moon.” — Rudolf Steiner, SLEEP AND DREAMS (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 43.
◊ "From the Moon, Jahveh [i.e., Jehovah] reigned over the heart and soul of the Jewish people..." — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS: Esoteric Studies, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), p. 203.
◊ "As you know, we distinguish the Jews from the rest of the earth's population. The difference has arisen because the Jews have been brought up in the moon religion for centuries [i.e., they worship the Moon being, Jehovah] ... The Jews have a great gift for materialism, but little for recognition of the spiritual world." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM BEETROOT TO BUDDHISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 59.
That second sentence summarizes two of the most basic smears used by anti-Semites: Jews are uncommonly materialistic and they are nearly blind to real spirituality.
 In an effort to discredit monotheism, Steiner here makes a singularly silly argument. Two people may ask God for different blessings, but this does not mean that there is no one-and-only God. God may choose to answer one prayer and not the other. This will disappoint the second supplicant, but it proves nothing about the existence or nature of God.
Steiner usually made his polytheism plain. [See "Polytheism".] Thus, he often said that the three persons of the Christian triune god are, in fact, three separate gods. He also argued that early Christians, coming out of the Jewish monotheistic tradition, took an intermediate position, seeing the three gods as different aspects of the same god. He will discuss some of this in the following passage of the lecture we are examining.
 This is a fairly typical example of anti-Semitism. Steiner differentiates Jews from others, and he attributes certain characteristics to all Jews. Thus, all Jews tend to lack pictorial abilities. There are no great Jewish sculptors or painters, but there are some great Jewish musicians, since Jews have a talent for music.
The lack of pictorial ability is a severe deficiency, from Steiner's perspective. True thinking, he said, is pictorial: It is imagination or clairvoyance, the production of spiritual true pictures in the mind. [See "Clairvoyance" and "Thinking".] Jews, according to Steiner, lack this ability and thus they lack true spiritual insight. Instead, Jews think abstractly, intellectually, which is a dead end. [See, e.g., "Materialism U."]
 Steiner was not afraid of the word "pagan" [see "Pagan"] any more than he was afraid of the word "occult" [see "Occultism"], and indeed his teachings can be characterized as both pagan and occult. Here, he seems to define "pagan" as believing in more than one god. Elsewhere, he taught that there is such a thing as "pagan Christianity" and he identified such figures as King Arthur as pagan pre-Christian Christians.
 In Roman Catholicism, the monstrance is the receptacle in which the consecrated Host is kept. [See, e.g., "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Elsewhere, Steiner says more clearly that Roman Catholics no longer remember the pagan roots of their ceremonies, and specifically they do not recognize the symbols of the Sun and Moon found in the monstrance. According to Steiner, every star and planet is the seat of a god, so the symbols of Sun and Moon actually refer to the gods of those "planets" — Christ and Jehovah.
 Odd though it may seem, Steiner is criticizing Judaism for failing to be pagan — i.e., polytheistic. And he is also saying that, although they don't remember it, Christians are at root pagans, for their faith is, at root, polytheistic. Few Christian theologians would agree.
Steiner sometimes referred to Anthroposophy as Christian, and most Anthroposophists consider themselves to be, in some sense, Christians. After all, they attach extreme importance to Christ (the Sun God). However, Steiner also sometimes drew clear lines between Anthroposophy and Christianity. Here he is saying that Christians have forgotten that they are essentially pagans or polytheists. Anthroposophy, according to Steiner, does not make this error.
 Elsewhere, Steiner says more clearly that Jewish thinking lies behind the materialism and other faults of modern culture. Here he is saying that modern medicine is as bad as it is because of the Jewish influence. Thus, Steiner created his own alternative medicine, Anthroposophical medicine. [See "Steiner's Quackery".]
"[T]he ancient Jewish people...did not wish to learn anything in addition to what the human being brings with him as a capacity because of the fact that he was an embryo ... Old Testament thinking [led to] the atheistic science of the modern age." — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES (Anthroposophic Press, 1941), pp. 28-33.
Jews stand behind the worst tendencies in our world, since they are spiritually no more than infants, Steiner alleged: Their kind of thinking leads to such abominations as atheism and modern science.
 Here Steiner is speaking of nature spirits as essentially benevolent. His doctrines about nature spirits — like those about so many things — are complex and open to varying interpretations. Essentially, Steiner said that nature spirits are lowly beings who are, to some degree, helpful to humans and, to some degree, hostile to humans. [See "Neutered Nature".]
 Steiner is saying that Jews are wrong to see only Jehovah in the natural world, and their fallacious form of thinking — abstract, materialistic — is at the root of much that is wrong in the modern world, particularly modern medicine.
Note how, in the next paragraph, Steiner sets up Anthroposophy as directly opposite to the influences of Judaism.
 Steiner argued that the Jewish people should cease to exist as a separate people, and their way of thinking should be supplanted by Anthroposophy — that is, true spiritual knowledge. We will see more of this as the lecture progresses.
 Steiner identified the Godhead as the ground of being, the primordial creative force. But he also identified the Godhead as the ultimate fulfillment of spiritual evolution, when humanity will become God. [See, e.g., "Tenth Hierarchy".]
 Zionism was the movement to establish a Jewish homeland; today it is the effort to preserve that homeland. Because, Steiner says, there is no longer any good reason for the Jewish people to exist as a separate entity, there is no need to establish a Jewish homeland. In his extremely circuitous way, Steiner is answering the question about the historical mission of the Jews. He says, in essence, that the Jews prepared the way for Christ, and having done so, they should now disperse, melting into other, more spiritually advanced populations.
 Steiner did not consider himself a racist of anti-Semite, and his followers do not consider him one. A statement like this seems to bolster this view. However, realize that Steiner means that humanity will continue evolving until there are no longer any separate races or peoples. This will happen through the agency of the most spiritually advanced race, the European white race. People who currently are incarnated in lower races and peoples (such as the Jewish people) will, ideally, evolve to higher races in future incarnations. Evil people will, meanwhile, evolve downward, and disappear from the human family. Thus, someday, we will all be white and then, all being equal, there will no longer be any races or peoples as such. [See, e.g., "Love and the Universal Human".]
We might also note the contradiction in Steiner's argument. He criticizes Zionists for wanting to distinguish one part of humanity from the rest. Yet it was Steiner who said, in the previous paragraph,
"Now it is of course true that the Jews have always been different from other peoples."
 One way to form such ties, of course, is to love and marry one another. Here, Steiner is advocating the mingling of peoples so that eventually there will no longer be separate peoples. However, on other occasions, he made his antipathy to race-mixing quite clear. [See, e.g., "Blood".] In this passage, from 1924 — when racism and nationalism were rampant — the free intermingling of peoples advocated by Steiner was rare, at best.
 The German word "Judentum" means Judaism, and in this sense Steiner is speaking of the end of the Jewish way of thinking, Jewish culture, Jewish religion. But he is also distinctly speaking of Jews as a people: "Judentum als Volk" — Judaism as a people.
Steiner presents himself as an enlightened leader who opposes racism. Yet racism is clearly present in his teachings. (To be charitable, we might say that — like many others — he recognizes that racism is wrong, but he does not perceive the racism in his own thinking.) Steiner rejects the possibility that Jews, blacks, and others can be accepted as fully equal human beings in the world today. "Lower" nations and races will rise to the level of white European humanity — and, beyond that, to the level of "universal humanity" — only when they cease to exist as separate peoples. Their racial, ethnic, and cultural characteristics must be erased before they can be recognized as truly, fully human. [See "Steiner's Racism", "Races", "Differences", "'Negro'", and "RS on Jews".]
 That is, Jews have little capacity to understand the levels of existence above the physical plain. So instead of picturing spiritual realities, they turn inward on themselves, referring only to themselves.
Note that Steiner assigns blame to the Jews themselves — they hate other peoples. This is another typical mark of anti-Semitism in particular and racism in general: blame the victim. Thus, humans would live together peacefully, merging into a single happy human family, except for such impediments as the Jews' "hatred for other peoples."
The idea that the Bible forbids Jews to make images of god because Jews are lousy artists — this is an extraordinary bit of Biblical commentary.
 Steiner is returning to the theme of pictorial or imaginative (or clairvoyant) thinking. Creating true pictures is a high spiritual activity, and Jews are deficient in it, he said. They see only themselves, not anything outside themselves.
 Again, the Jews are at fault. Hating others, selfish, turned inward and insular, they cause much difficulty for good humanity and for human evolution toward spirituality.
 Steiner gives a remarkably scrambled account. The question presumably had to do with the exile of the ancient Hebrews when they became captives in Egypt. Steiner speaks instead about the domination of Palestine by the Romans, a later development, and then mixes this with even more recent events, the scattering of the Jews throughout the many countries existing in Steiner's time ("today in every country").
 This makes little sense. Jews were exiles because, having no homeland, they lived in foreign lands, not because they preferred to marry their own kind.
Note, again, that — in Steiner's view — the Jews are responsible for their own difficulties ("this innate urge in the Jews that gave rise...").
 Here Steiner takes one of his typical swipes at historians and other modern thinkers who, he repeatedly said, had no real knowledge. [See, e.g., "Summing Up".]
 That is, if outsiders meld into the population of a country, they soon are not looked on as outsiders.
 People rarely live in ghettoes by choice. As victims of prejudice, they are restricted to ghettoes. Steiner finds the Jews' plight "heartbreaking," but he will proceed to minimize it, saying that "other peoples have endured equally terrible things...."
 By "people," of course, Steiner means non-Jews living outside the Jews' self-imposed ghettoes ("Jews stayed in their ghettoes, clinging together...).
 Steiner again minimizes Jewish suffering, claiming that others people have endured similar fates ("They, too, have suffered greatly"). "Great" suffering becomes commonplace and unremarkable if it is a general, frequent condition of many peoples.
 Steiner has said that Jews behave in a certain way because of their innate nature. Now he adds the perhaps less damning idea that people are discriminated against on the basis of appearance. Is such discrimination the fault of the people who discriminate or those who are discriminated against? Perhaps both, although much of the blame must fall on the victims of discrimination, Steiner suggests, since they created the appearances that are held against them:
"[I]t was seen that the Jews in the ghettoes clung together strongly...."
 Steiner is returning to his claim that he presents a true picture of reality, one that others have not perceived.
 Karma is a central Anthroposophical concept. [See "Karma".] According to Steiner, we create our own karma — our own actions determine our future destiny. Thus, Steiner is saying that it has been Jews created their own destiny, to live apart from other peoples, to be confined to ghettoes. They did it to themselves, in other words. As Steiner will say a few sentences down,
"[T]he Jews themselves have done a great deal to cause this state of affairs."
 This is perhaps the most philo-Semitic Steiner makes here, saying that Jews have been falsely accused of various crimes — or if not falsely accused, then accused for reasons that are unclear or false.
 So Jews are sometimes unjustly accused, but it is at least partly their own fault, Steiner says.
 Steiner reaffirms his posture as liberal and enlightened. [See note 27, above.] Having said that Jews are selfish, hateful, self-defeating, and genuinely different from others — having, that is, made numerous racist statements about Jews — Steiner suddenly says that we should see beyond race.
"And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already." [Exodus 1:5]
 Steiner is returning to his doctrine that in the future racial differences will disappear because all remaining humans will have risen to a condition of purity — spiritual whiteness. Here is says that the move toward that condition must begin now.
 Steiner taught that each nation, people, and race has a joint soul, a group soul that may also be called a folk spirit. All the individual souls within that group derive from the shared group soul. (He also said that animals only have group souls, while humans have both group souls and individual souls. Thus, for instance, all dogs share a single soul and they do not have individual spiritual identities.)
 That is, modern, materialistic, abstract thinking — the sort of thinking Jews excel at — can count the number of people in a group, but it cannot tell us much if anything about the spiritual essence of that group.
 Group souls are actually spiritual beings, Steiner says. All the members of a particular group share spiritual connections to one special spiritual being or god, and thus they possess characteristics derived from that being, characteristics that are innately different from the characteristics of other nations, peoples, and races. In Steiner's teachings, virtually anything nonphysical is deemed spiritual, and virtually anything spiritual is deemed to be a spirit. So, the "spirit" of the German nation, for example, is not a generalized abstraction. It is an actual, living spiritual being, a god. And individual Germans embody, to one degree or another, the essence of the god of Germany.
 This is not precisely what he said. Go back to earlier passages in the lecture.
 This is one of the differences between Jews and other peoples, according to Steiner. Their mission was crafted for them through the united efforts of the group souls of other peoples.
 The Bible says nothing of the sort. Look again at Exodus 1:5. That verse says that the total number of children fathered by Jacob was 70.
 That is, they received influences from all the different folk spirits, which made them cosmopolitan — i.e., conversant with (and able to live within) many different lands and cultures, while preserving their own unique characteristics. Anti-Semites often characterize Jews as cosmopolitan, attributing to them all the sins and falsehoods of big cities in contrast to the purity of simple country life.
Steiner also returns to the idea that Jews keep to themselves, even as they spread throughout the nations: Jews look inward, he has said — they have their Jewish essence within themselves, and this is all that they really want.
 Steiner had a great interest in secret societies, and he apparently joined some, such as the Freemasons. [See "Double Trouble".] Indeed, he arguably created some, in the inner councils of his Theosophical and later Anthroposophical efforts. (There is a distinct tradition of secrecy within the Waldorf school movement. [See "Secrets".]) Here he says that today's secret societies tend to retain ancient practices and terminology without retaining the knowledge originally invested in them. (Presumably he means secret societies other than his own.) In saying that such societies are "especially" influenced by the Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), he endorses the common anti-Semitic idea that Jews are busily at work, secretly, behind the scenes, steering societies for their own hidden purposes.
 That is, Steiner says that originally written Hebrew omitted all vowels. Thus, for example, "book" would be written "bk." Later, symbols were used to show the place of vowels, as in "b**k."
 In reality, the name of God was considered unutterable because God is so far above human comprehension and so supremely holy. The Ten Commandments warn against misusing the name of God, and in Jewish tradition more generally any reference to God was required to be extremely humble and circumspect.
 British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.
Here Steiner begins to contradict his contention that Jews stick to their own kind.
 Here Steiner again stresses the otherness of Jews.
 Steiner returns to his contention that Jews use abstract, logical thinking, not the superior imaginative/clairvoyant thinking that leads to spiritual advancement. Thus, a Jew has a fixed idea and he will not deviate from it — he is immune to higher truths coming from beyond himself.
 Steiner is saying that the Jews use abstract thinking, which is related to dropping the article from a term, which is related to Jewish tenacity.
 That is, sensible non-Jews form pictures in their minds (imaginations...), but Jews do not. Jews have abstractions in their minds.
 Steiner is making connections back to his earlier pronouncements about the God of the Jews, Jehovah, and the monotheistic error of Jewish thinking — the Jewish practice of attributing everything to their one god. Steiner ties this to the tendency that he attributes to Jews: dropping the articles from terms. Implicitly, Steiner is saying that a Jew does not think "a god" or "one of the gods" says thus and so; a Jew thinks "God" says thus and so: "Jehovah says".
 Steiner tries to bring his conclusion back to the question he is presumably answering, about the "seventy souls among the ancient Israelites." But precisely how the joint activities of 70 folk spirits led Jews to drop the articles from their sentences may remain, for most readers, somewhat hazy.
 The Sephiroth Tree is the Jewish Tree of Life. [See "RS on Jews".]