A Little Galach wrote:
There was an unspoken agreement between BG and Jews, if I remember correctly the Jews owed the BG bigtime for helping them.
There was more than one Jewish community.
Was their purpose something a bit more widespread throughout history, other than trying to remain hidden out in the open?
If you're trying to ask if there was a large, unseen and powerful Jewish conspiracy to control the Empire, CHOAM and the media I'm going to say no. But thanks for the giggle.
Seriously, I think they just tried to hide out and be Jewish.
I think there is to more to it than this. Consider what it is to "hide out" - it means you will go unnoticed. Presumably you'll have plans or goals while hiding, but even if they are being implemented it won't be known as long as the plan remains hidden.
Now jump to the BG, who are a semi-secret society during Shaddam IV's time. Their presence is known but their secrets, plans and abilities are not. They have great power, but no official power (as someone stated in another thread), and prefer to operate behind the scenes. This allows them to avoid developing direct opponents, or to have to expend personnel defending themselves repeatedly when perceived as a threat. Notice how the "tripod" power structure of the empire implies a constant vying for resources and rights, while the BG are left out of it and can do whatever they like in peace. They are probably even considered a boon to most (other than the Guild, who most likely suspect them), since they provide both instruction, concubines, and services such as truthsaying.
Now think about the Jews in our own history; once they scattered into the diaspora, they came to realize that their only true option was to operate quietly, and if any power was accumulated, it would be through a-political avenues. I don't mean to say that the Jews ever had an organized central council ruling them as the BG seem to have, but nevertheless their methods were arguably similar. One could easily claim that the Jews were and are powerful, even though that power is implicit and not used as a club.
My point: Think of the name "Bene Gesserit." Bene
is of either Hebrew or Islamic origin, but given its transliteration I'll take it to be Hebrew. Gesserit
is a little more unclear, but Brian Herbert believes it was intended to suggest Jesuit
. Given Frank's past, as well as the BG operations with the MP (a certainly Jesuit-type activity), we can assume 'Jesuit' was the intent. "Bene Gesserit" also means "good/proper behavior" in latin, which fits them as well but here I'll just give Frank credit for giving us an intentional double-entendre in the name. So why call a group whose activities refer to the old Jesuits by the Jewish "bene", meaning children of? Perhaps the BG are a Jewish future-version of the Jesuits, spreading 'seeds' of growth about the universe?
Now reconsider the Jewish activities in our own history. In addition to the 'quiet' power they accrued through banking and other means, the Jews also privately studied their holy books and conducted contemplative study, purely for the purposes of increasing their wisdom. This scholarly behavior was probably the more powerful of the two, since Jews would regularly hide, lie, or do anything necessary to be able to pray and study their religion. I would suggest the 'rabbinic' instinct was the more tenacious.
My wild theory: What if the BG were started as a less cloistered and contemplative branch of the Jewish people, an organized political faction? The ones who could spread out into the galactic society but without having a House to themselves? We know that the BG began shortly after the Butlerian Jihad, and obviously adopted some Indian principles for breathing/muscle/nerve control. But why couldn't they have been a new female-centric Jewish sect? Note how the BG are mostly female and tend to give birth to mostly females; note that in Judaism the 'Jewishness' is passed down by the mother, and not the father. Note how the Jews are essentially the only people in world history who, in effect, maintain a breeding program, to keep 'Jewish blood' in the bloodline. Intermarriage has always been heavily frowned upon (until very recently, and even then only in the less religious quarters), conversion into Judaism is extremely difficult and frankly discouraged, and 'once a Jew always a Jew' is a notion that is oft perpetuated - by friend and foe alike. While the Jewish bloodline/breeding program isn't selective or goal-oriented like the BG one is, I still think this is a noteworthy similarity in their mindsets. The Jews are also a people who look forward still to the reception of a messiah; contrast with Christians who believe he came already. I'm not really sure about Islamic messiah beliefs. But compare the Jewish looking-forward to the messiah with the BG desire to breed their own messiah through bloodline manipulation and to educate him in their ways. Also note that the messiah, in Judaism, is meant to be of Jewish blood lineage in direct descent from King David. Compare this to the Atreides, who claim their bloodline descends directly from Agamemnon, culminating in Paul, the KH (aka messiah). Even King David and Agamemnon had similarities to each other, in terms of each having taken a mistress and subsequently being cursed to have their family doomed to strife and violence. I doubt this similarity is accidental (plus House Atreides sounds way cooler than House Davies...and directly insinuating that Paul's family descended literally from King David would have been far too on the nose for Frank and would have given the game away too early).
Now consider the ties the 'Rabbinic' Jews might have had for 15,000+ years with the BG. We'd never see the cloistered Jews around, since they would be studying and doing not much else, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be involved with the BG, maybe even in on their plans. It would, however, explain why we never hear from them for the first five books. By the time of CH:D I think the Rabbi and his group are introduced, particulars of the plot aside, because the Old Empire is finally crumbling and this would be the first time in eons when they'd have nowhere else in the Empire to hide and would have to take action and run. In a sense we could think of it as having taken 15,000 years to 'smoke them out'. Leto II most certainly knew of them but presumably he didn't bother about them since they weren't part of the galactic power structure overtly.
Much of this is supposition and circumstancial evidence but I see many commonalities between the BG and Jewish history and custom. For us to suddenly see a rapport between them and the Rabbinic Jews in CH:D - maybe it's not so sudden. And maybe it's not so random. After all, I'm sure the BG would have had many allies over the millenia, and any one of them could have been keeping RM memories for them in secret; but who do we specifically get to meet as their seemingly final allies in CH:D - the Jews. Perhaps because they were on the same side from the start and trusted each other completely?