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The History of the Dispersion of the Jews; or an
WE concluded the second part of the antierit history
th? clearest terms, denounced all those woes which have hap■■
f See before, vol. x. p. 686, & se<j.
pened to them exactly according to his divine and infallible prediction. However had the divine vengeance stopped here, and had God contented himself with the destruction of a city and a temple, in which his worship had been so impiously prophaned; and with the dispersion of a rebellious nation, whom he had so often tried to gather under his wings; or had the effects of his vengeance fallen only on die guilty, especially on the chiefs of thp nation, the Scribes and Pharisees, who were deepest in the guilt; there would have been nothjng surprising in all their punishment how heavy soever. their <wo- But that it should have continued from generation to gesulstate neration, and from ,age to age; that their posterity should rver-since. have already groaned under the same severe captivity almost , seventeen centuries, without the least glimpse of relief or abatement, is what may justly fill us with wonder: especially if we add to it, that the Je-wi/b nation, as unhappy and numerous as it is over the world, hath preserved itself so long, under all the-contempt and hatred, ill treatment and cruelty, and sometimes under the most bloody persecutions, raised against it almost in all the places of their dispersion. Such infinite difficulties and discouragements have they met with from Christians, and Turks, as well as all other forts of nations, that their history is hardly any thing but a continued series ot woes and miseries, of injustice and violence, the most' flagrant calamities, and bloody cruelties exercised against them: so that one cannot but wonder, how a people, whom he might rather have expected to find long since Preserved drowned in those seas of blood which had been drawn from hitherto by them, stiould yet subsist in so many parts of the world; undivinepro- less we suppose, that the divine providence has preserved n/idence them hitherto for some great and glorious purpose.
And, if neither the length and dreadfulness of this their last captivity, nor the learned books which have been since written by Christians against them, exposing the poor shifts which thejr rabbies have been driven to, as well as the many palpable lies, forgeries, false glosses, and interpretations of the sacred books, to keep up their desponding hope in a Messiah not yet come, hath not hitherto been able to open their eyes to their fatal error; if all attempts made by Christians, whether by fair arguments or by violence, have hitherto proved inef-. fectual to persuade them to seek for truth, peace, and happiness, in the gospel of Christ; and, if they have all along foramira- preferred a miserable and ignominious slavery to their temculeus con- poral, as well as eternal, welfare, we may justly conclude, ■version, that the divine wisdom and goodness, which hath so wonder-i fully preserved them through such a series of ages, and thro* 8 * "such
such vast difficulties, and dreadful persecutions, designs their conversion in his'own time to be altogether as miraculous as that of the heathen world. When that.glorious and happy time will come is one of those inscrutable secrets, which Cod hath been pleased to reserve in his oWn disposal": altho' We cannot read the sacred books of the Old and New Testament with any attention, without observing indisputable promises of their call and total conversion. But, as this last is out of our province, we shall readily refer out readers to those many and learned treatises which have been written on the subject, particularly those which the reader will find iri the margin b'; whilst we confine ourselves to what more properly relates to ij-^ c^ef their history, their dispersion over the world, their various ruhjes 0r settlements in the east and west, their sufferings, their learned tbit bijfomen and writings, false Messiahs and miracles, their academies ry. and famed professors, their disputes with'Christians and other nations, as well as among themselves: likewise to such material occurrences as have happened to them since the destruction of their city and temple, by the Romans, to the" close of the foregoing century, beginning with those who retired immediately after the sad catastrophe into the eastern, and ending with those who settled in the western, parts of the world, from which they came to be distinguished into eastern and western Jews (A).
a Acts i. 7. b Vid. int. al. Jose. Mfde, Jurieu, Meklinc, Rhud, and a late-treatise ort the restoration of the Jews and Israel* Bishop Sherlock on Prophecy, &al. plar.
(A) We must here take no provinces of isaro^f, where they
tice to our readers, that, by this have had, or still have, vei^
distinction, we do not mean that considerable settlements,
ancient one which was made Besides this distinction, the
between the Jiius, who were Europeanjenxs divide themselves
transplanted beyond the Eu- into northern and southern ; the
pbrates; and whose situation be- former of whom, being those
ing easterly from those oi'JuAea, who for many ages lived in Ger
Syria, Egypt, &c. were called many, Denmark, Poland, and
eastern,andthesewestern.Eut,by other northern provinces, not
the former, we mean thole who only differ in their liturgy, ce
have dispersed themselves thro' remonies, and in some of their
the eastern part of the world, tenets; but, being more strict
fcch as Turkj, Persia, Egypt, adherers to them, do hate and'
Palestine, Sec.; and, by the lat- despise the southern ones, which
ter, or western, those who have are those chiefly of Spain and
been, or still are, tolerated in Portugal, who are not only more
Italy, Spain, Portugal, Fran/e, remiss in all these respects, but,
England, Germany, and ©their go even so far as to make outward Jewish at- By this vast scope of time, place, and matter, which this counts chapter comprehends, the reader will easily imagine, that we fraught (j0 not intend to give a full and regular history of the whole ixttb fa- nation in every place of, their dispersion, much less a chronological one through every age to this time, which would rather require some volumes; and, consequently, can have no place in a work so comprehensive as this. Neither would the greater part of it be either instructive or delightful to him, as most of our knowlege of it is fetched from the Jevji/h writers: who are justly noted not only for their more than ordinary partiality to their own, and hatred as well as contempt for other nations, but likewise for their constant dealing in the most palpable falshoods and absurdities. In reality, they outdo all the fabulous writers in the number, variety, and extraordinariness, .of their miracles and surprising events; the sublime character of their doctors, Saints, and martyrs; the exaggerated descriptions of their schools, academies, and cities, their riches, populousness, and a vast number of other pretences. The Whole calculated indeed to raise the credit of the Jewish nation above Theirchrc- an others, even under all the disadvantages lately mentioned; itolegyvery jjUt m effect thefe stupendous stories are couched in such poimperfeu ; fjtjve an(j unguarded terms, and with such magisterial confidence, as serves rather to expose either their imposture or credulity (B). To this, if we add, that they are the most
ward profession of popery in their lives,- and even deaths,
Wretched chronologists, not only in the imperfect calculations very often
of false and absurd*
have had occasion already to mention in a former part (f).
They tell us, among other things, that he and his son did, in some miraculous manner, escape the cruelj ot the emperor 7V/»j,who hadcondemned them to die; and went and hid themselves in a cavern, where they found leisure to write the book above mentioned, not without the assistance of the prophet Elijah, who was sent to him, from time to time, by God, to explain to him such mysteries of that divine science as were above his reach. The book thus miraculously compiled, Simeon came forth to communicate the contents of it to such disciples of his as were sit to receive those sublime mysteries; and whilst he wasutteringthem,such aresplendent light filled the whole house, that they were not able so much as to cast their eyes on him; and at the fame time a fire surrounded the place, which kept all other persons from coming in. At length, the double miracle ceased; by which they perceived, that the light of Israel was gone out; upon which, one disciple kissed his hand, another his feet, and vast numbers came to attend and honour his funeral.
Whilst they were carrying him to his grave, a v.;ice was heard in the sky, crying out, Come to Simeon's nuptials; he will enter in peace and repose in the bridal chamber. A bright Harae likewise .surrounded the bier, as if to set it on fire; and,
on his being let down into the grave, another voice was heard, saying, This is he who hath caused the earth to quake, and the kingdoms to tremble. These are some of the wonders, they tell you, of the author of the Zobar, whom they look upon as the chief of all the Cabaltjls; altho' his book doth not appear to have been so much as known among the sews till 1000 years after.
Nor are they less lavish of their prodigies, even to some of their ancient doctors; whom, the nation ought rather not only to have been ashamed of, but to have even execrated, for their impostures, and for the dreadful calamities which those brought upon them.
Of this number was their famed Akiba, who set up for the forerunner of the false Messiah Cuziba, who appeared under Adrian, and took upon him thenameof Bar-Chochab, theson of a star; and of whom we shall have occasion to speak more fully in the sequel. Akiba, according to them, was descended from Sisera, general of Jabin, king of Tyre, by a Jewish mother (1), who had kept the flpcks of arich inhabitant of Jerusalem 4oyears, when his daughter became enamoured of him; and, -being ashamed to marry an obscure shepherd, advised him to go and spend 1 2 years in study at some academy, which our author does not name ; and, upon his promise of doing so, was privately married to him (2). He went