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of>tirrie, in which they vastly differ from us and other nations,
accordingly; and, at the end of 12 years, brought home 12,000 disciples; at fight of whom, she bad him go again another 12 years; at the end of which he came home to her with 24,000. She met him in tears,an J, with her cloaths rent, told him, that her father had disinherited her on his account. However the old man had no sooner set his eyes on him but he altered his mind, fell on his knees before his son in-law, and bestowed a handsome fortune on him. What they add, concerning the death of his pretended 24,000 disciples, who died every one between the feasts of Easter and Whitsuntide, for some misbehaviour to each other, and their being all buried in a valley near Tiberias along with their master and his first wife, is no less extraordinary.
As to his learning and writings, they tell us wonders of them(3): theyaflertthathecould account for the least tittle in the sacred books. They even add, that God had revealed things to him which he had concealed from Moses; and that the Mijhna and Talmud have collected 1000 of his sentences, which are esteemed so many judicious and infallible decisions: moreover that, a large volume would hardly contain all the memorable things which he wrote and did (4). They also sffirm, that he was permitted to enter into paradise, as well as the famed Rabbi Afai, to whom he was to give his sister in mar
riage. These are some of the wonders which they tell us of the celebrated Akiba, who was nevertheless the pretended forerunner and strenuous fautor of that false Messiah, whose imposture brought as great a destruction on the Jeivijh nation under Adrian, as their former had been under Titus. This we shall fee' in the sequel, where we shall take notice of the sad catastrophe of both by order of that emperor.
In like manner they extol several of his disciples, particularly those who follow Rabbi Judab, the son of Elai, not only for having" been the prince of orators, but much more so for not having committed one single fin during his whole life. He became the chief of an academy, and his comment on Leviticus, is stiled, by way of excellence, the Book. He fasted most of the year, lived upon herbs and roots ; and was ranked among their greatest saints after his death: insomuch that his tomb, which they place on a hill covered with olive-trees, near the little town of Zaitbun in Galilee, was visited and revered by all the Jewi/h devotees.
R. Chanina, the son of Chachinai, another of Akiba'% disciples in the fame reign, and one of the five judges of the Jewish tribunal at Jafbneb, is reported to have married when young, but to have left his wife and home to study the law; to which he' applied himself with
as the reader may fee by the short account which we shall
such assiduity, that, upon his return, he neither knew his wife, house, nor family. Another, named Eleaxer Ghisma, became so profound an arithmetician, that he could calculate the drops of water that were in the sea (5). We omit several others of less note to come at the most celebrated of them, called, by way of excellence, Mehir, or inlightner, and was filled, the light es the learned, as his master Akiba was the light of the world j which title descended likewise on his disciple Judah Hakkcdcsh, or the faint of whom we shall have further occasion to speak. Mehir married a wife whq became more learned than he, and whose decisions bear a much greater authority; insomuch that she is reckoned in the rank of the Tanaitet, one of the highest classes of their doctors. She has left 300 traditions.which she had learned from 30,or, according to others, 300, masters. She one day, among the rest, took upon her to correct one of her husband's interpretations in such a manner as displayed, if not a greater judgment, at least a higher degree of charity; for some loose fellows having by their noise interrupted him in his study, Mehir immediately pronounced a curse against them out of the civth Psalm Let the sinners he consumed out os the earth, &c. verse ult.; upon which (he checked him with some emotion, telling him, that the curse of the Psalmist was levelled against the sins, and not against the sinners; for that if the for
mer were routed out of the world, there would be none of the latter left in it (6). It is pity his resentment caused her end to prove dishonourable and tragical to her. For we are told, that see suffered herself to. be so far deluded by one of her huseand's disciples, who acted in concert with him, as to appoint a private meeting with him, in which bei ng caught, and unable to outlive her disgrace, see went and hanged herself; soon after which, Mehir married another, which he took care mould not eclipse his fame as this had done. , All these, as was lately observed, were the disciples of Akiba above-mentioned; and this sketch of the surprising things which the Jewish Rabbies have wrote of them, will suffice to give our readers an idea of their swollen stile and fondness for the fabulous sublime. We shall only add, what they say farther of the famed university of Bether, or Either, in which their master and his false Messiah had refuged themselves against the army of the emperor Adrian; and which had 400 schools or colleges, each college 400 professors, and each professor 400 disciples; all which formed such a potent army, that the defence they made against the Romans made not only Judea, but the whole earth to quake; there being none of them but was stout enough to pluck up a cedar by the root upon a full gallop. •
give in the margin (C); but that they are the most negligent in that important point, leaping over whole scores of years, if
(C) We need not here repeat what we have observed in our ancient history of the imperfect calculations of the antient Jews (7), before the Babylonish captivity. And though it was in some measure rectified, as we have elsewhere shewn under the Matcabitijh princes (8), yet was this amendment far enough from- being so exact as those of other nations. Besides, their writers made no scruple to compute their years from different aeras, such as from the flood, from Abraham's or Jacob's descent into Egypt, others from the exod, from their beirtgformed into a monarchy, from the first or second destruction of the temple under Nebuchadnezzar and Titus, Sec. And it doth not appear, that they began to reckon from the creation till after their Gemarrah was finished ; at which time they fixed that for their common æra.
But, in this, we must observe, that the Jews since fix the birth of Christ in the year of the world 3760, contrary to our chronology,which fixes it atthe end of the 4th millenary, so that they come short by 240 years from ours; for add that number to 3 760, and th at makes up the whole 4000 years. But, besides this, they have another, which they call the lesser reckoning, in which they throw off all the millenaries, and reckon only the years that have elapsed since the last j which being add
ed to the 240 years above-mentioned, brings it exactly to the christian æra. Thus when we read of any of their famed Rabbies who flourished, or of any persecution, or other considerable event that happened to them in the year 460, according to this lesser calculation, tKe above-mentioned addition of 249 to that number will bring it to the 7000s Jesus Christ, and so of the rest. Our readers will not be displeased to have a farther and fuller idea given them of this new way of the Jpwijh computation which is taken from the year of our Christian æra 1674, which was with them, according to their ihort reckoning, the year n?n, or 43 jth year, their chronology ran thus (9):.
From the Creation 543;
Confusion of tongues 3439
Birth of Abraham 34^7
- ■ ot Isaac 3387
of Jacob 33*7
Descent into Egypt 3'97
Birth of Moses 3067
Exod, and the giving of
the law Entrance into Canaan Anointing of Dwvidking Building of the temple Captivity of the ten tribes Destruction of the first temple 2097 Beginning of the Mede and Persian monarchy 2046
2987 2947 2547 2507 2231
not sometimes more than a whole century, to make their fabu-
For, with respect to this task, they appear wholly careless and unconcerned about it; and, as long they know, that their people never read any of our books, and wholly rely upon their own, they are in no pain about any objection we raise against them, or any error or falfhood we prove against them.
With relation to the history of the eastern Jews we are Eastern still more in the dark. The Jews themselves being ignorant of Jew*/'" what hath happened to their brethren in those remote coun- '?ore""' tries; and having received but a very imperfect intelligence nlnKn" from thence, either from books written there, or from any"'' epistolary intercourse. Their chronologers have indeed taken the pains to transmit the names of those doctors who have presided at their most celebrated schools, both in the east and in the west; but they speak rarely of those whom they styla the chiefs or princes of the captivity, in the former. We find at most bnt three of them mentioned from Huna, who was the first of them (D), to the time of the finishing of the Talmud,
From the Maimons writing his HaiBuilding of the second cad joo
temple 2027 ^iwbanistiedoutof France 279
Beginning of theGreek mo- out of Spain 183
narchy 1992 Portugal 17;
Cessation of prophecy 1982 (D) This chief did not flou
Beginning of the Afinonean rifh till about the End of the se
kingdom 1772 cond century of the Christian
Beginning of the Christian æra, and was cotemporary, ac
æra !^74 cording to the "Jeiuifr chrono
Ruin of the second tem- logers, [except D. Gantx, who
pie 1607 makes him near a century more
Compiling of the Mijhna 1534 r;cent] with the famed Jehudah
Reign of Constantine the Hakkodejb, or the faint of whom
Great 1401 we shall speak in the sequel;
Origin of the Manean sect 1382 and was chosen chief of the ori
Compleating of the Talmud ental Je-ivs about an. Cb. 220,
or Gemarra of Babylon 1196 or 222. Before him we meet
Ditto ofJerusalem 1167 with no mention of any; and
Birth of Mohammed 1184 we may affirm, that in the west
Beginning of the IJhmaeli- that dignity did not begin till
ti/h,OrMobammeden f»iihlQ2» after the destruction of Jeru/a
K 2 km }
Chiefs or that is, during the space of three whole centuries; which is princes of a plain proof that they knew little of them, or, at least, that the capti- those so much boasted dignities were inconsiderable there, and fitj. had little or nothing in them that could raise the honour or credit of the Jewish nation; as the learned Mr. Basnage, whom we have chosen to follow in the most material transactions of this history (E), hath fully proved in his. And yet some of
Jem; for till then, those that dwelt in the east sent their gifts to Jerusalem, or if they were of the schismatic leaven, to mount Carizzim ; and the chiefs of both being under the Roman power, their authority was inconsiderable.
Some critics (10) indeed pretend, that soon after the destruction of the metropolis, the Jeiuijh nation divided itself into three bodies, each of which chose achief over them. Those which remained in Judea, continued under the chief of the Sanhedrin: those that refuged themselves in Egypt set up a patriarch over them, who Is mentioned by Adrian: and those of Babylon appointed another, whom they styled the chief of the captivity; though it is still pretended, that that of Judea had some kind of jurisdiction over the Whole nation; which was the opinion of Origen and St. Jerom; and is farther confirmed by the emperor Adrian's mentioning but one patriarch over the whole Jewish nation; and whose authority extended over Egypt, as well as over the cast. The former of these is indeed more than probable; since Egypt being subject to the Ramans as well as Judea, the patriarch of the last, or of Tibe
rias, being the only one acknowleged in the Roman empire, the other seems of course to have been subject unto him. But as to that of Babylon, who was independent of the Romans, it is more likely that the Jews chose him there to exempt themselves from the homage and tribute which those of Judea exacted from them. It were presumptuous to affirm any thing positively in so dark and disputed a matter; and we shall trouble our readers no farther with it.
(E) We do here readily acknowlege, that we have for the most part chosen to follow that excellent author in the sequel of this chapter, not only as his history of the Jews from their dispersion is the most elaborate and diffused, but as it hath hitherto been esteemed by the learned the most exact and accurate; and hath stood the test of so many editions in other countries as well as in Holland; insomuch that the editor of that of Paris, the famed Dupin, who published it without the author's name, hath not been able to accuse him of any one. material error or omission ; tho* he hath made no scruple to curtail and castrate it of a great number of facts and remarks